Do You See Me?


Oakland Bay Bridge

“I believe that a spectacular photo of something ordinary is more interesting than an ordinary photo of something spectacular. The latter is about something else, the former is something else.”

– Jim Coe

My photography as evolved over the years toward more ordinary subjects. Initially I sought out spectacular sunsets, unusual places, unique landscapes. But I found that these images were about the place itself, not about the photograph and certainly not about the photographer. As an artist, I felt that there was not enough of me in these pictures. There was too much of the place or the scene.

In order to make a photograph of an ordinary subject interesting, you have to figure out how to make it different than how it is usually experienced. That only comes through the addition of your own personal vision into the process. It isn’t about the scene as much as it is now about how you are expressing the scene.

When you look at a beautiful photograph of a spectacular landscape, you learn little about the person behind the camera. Perhaps it is not the ambition of all artists to give the viewer an idea of who they are, perhaps that is a self-indulgence, but is one that motivates me.

The next time you look at a painting or a photograph ask yourself, “Am I looking at the subject of the piece or am I looking at the artist?”.

4 responses to “Do You See Me?

  1. Just came this way via flickr (

    Really love the work you have up on Flickr so I’m subbing to your blog. Looking forward to more!

    I really love this post. Right now I feel like I’m still photographing the place most times, but there are times when I want to change the photo to reflect the feeling that I felt when taking it. That last question you ask is intriguing and I think I will have to explore that about myself.

  2. I find a lot of truth in this quote. One could argue that anyone can point a camera at the Pyramids for example and produce a spectacular photograph. You can’t lose, because unless you inadvertently leave the lens cap on (been there, done that) you have captured something amazing, and your photo will be imbued with at least a little of that ‘magic dust’. Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary however, is a rare skill, and requires the artist or photographer to have more than a passing acquaintance with his or her subject, and perhaps Nature in general. It is that ability to resonate with ones subject, to see something greater and moreover, to be able to cause OTHERS to see it through your lens or your brush strokes, that reveal more about the artist than the subject. Indeed, it is far more profound to see wonder in the mundane than in the inherently spectacular.

  3. Preeti

    Thanks for the comment and the nice feedback! I find that sometimes when I am confronted with something spectacular it’s hard not to let it take precedence over anything else. I almost prefer to seek out the ordinary – gives me more opportunity to express who I am.


    It’s one of the many conundrums about photography – as you say, anyone can point a camera at something beautiful and take a beautiful picture (lens cap notwithstanding!). For that reason some people don’t believe photography has high standing as an art form. I think many photographers seek out subject matter that allows them to express their artistry and often this means going after something that presents a greater challenge to make beautiful or interesting.

    BTW good luck with the kayak!

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