"Macro Art In Nature"

Explorations in the artistic world of macro photography.

In Photography, Can I Really Teach Someone To See?

Probably a couple of times a month, I am asked by someone who is really getting into photography to teach them to see. Sometimes they will ask for me to teach them to see the same way that I see things.
I have been confusing myself quite a bit while thinking about this, and honestly don’t know if I have the answer to that question.
Can I teach someone to see, … or possibly to see subjects out in nature the way that I see them?
Well, … maybe there is a answer after all.

So, for the past couple of days I have been thinking of the ways that I approach certain subjects out in nature.
I think that I have found myself going one step further than most when approaching a subject and in the way that I will see it, giving me a different perspective on things which also shows in my images.

Now for instance, when I approach a flower in a garden or out in nature that has caught my eye, I will ask myself “what attracted me to this flower”? This is what everyone should do of course. Ask yourself, “what is it about this flower that attracted me to it?”
Is it the stamens, the petals, the color, the texture, the throat, the contrast ….. whatever!
Now, this is where I think that I really get a handle on it all.
Let us say that I choose the stamens as what attracted me to this flower in the first place.
I look at these graceful stamens reaching up to the sky, all neatly lined up, the filaments are glowing from the back lighting, the stamen heads are full of details.
So, I simply get a perspective that is appealing for these stamens and then photograph them, … right?
Concentrate on the stamens, and everything else will fall into place, … right?
Well, ….. no!
Going a step further, I will concentrate on photographing “grace”, or “uniformity”, or maybe the “glow”.
It’s really no different than many of those well known portraits that you sometimes will see that stays in your mind forever, where the photographer did not zero in on just a person’s face that shows wrinkles, or smoothness, etc., but focused more deeply on a face that maybe shows “strength”, “weakness”, “age”, “pain”, “fear”, “happiness”, “grace”. They have focused more on the deeper character of their subject, a bit more beyond than what is normally seen, just like we should do for any subject that we photograph out in nature, or maybe in our own gardens.

So, … can I teach someone to see?
I am still not so sure, but by me trying to get a individual to open their minds up and to tune into their selected subject, to dig deeper into their own thoughts about what they are viewing at any particular moment, and in some ways to become emotional about their subject, … then maybe one can teach another to see.

Or, ….. maybe I have just confused you and myself even more! :)
Oh well, … just some thoughts for today!!

© 2004 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

“Dogwood Petal”


Having a group outing scheduled for tomorrow, then back to shooting Tuesday.
Also have all new cameras coming in Monday.
Joy! :)

Everyone take care, and thanks for stopping by!


June 16, 2007 - Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, DSLR, fauna, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, horticulture, landscapes, life, macro, Macro Photographer, nature, Nature Photographer, outdoors, paintings, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop | , , , , ,


  1. This is a superb post.

    Years ago as a young television journalist it was my job to train interns in shooting video. I was always amazed at those who just didn’t “get it” – as if they had no real ability to see what was in front of them. I write this not out of arrogance – in fact I must’ve done a pretty poor job teaching them to see, as you put it – but I think you can teach someone up to a certain point and then that’s it.

    Your comment about really trying to figure out what attracted you to a particular scene is dead-on, however. That strikes me as an excellent technique, for those who are not visually inclined… as well as those of us who are.

    Thanks for the insightful post – you’ve really got me thinking now!

    Comment by Christopher Scholl | June 16, 2007

  2. Here’s my lesson on how to see:
    1. Open your eyes
    2. Shut off your brain.

    Comment by Daniel Sroka | June 16, 2007

  3. As we all know we see with our brain. It depends on who/what “influenced” our brain. What do you feel when you look at that flower, animal, landscape or man. Do you see your world as one large community from which you are part of. Or are they just subjects. What do you feel?
    I think you can teach someone to see, but can you teach a person to feel. Someone taught me to see nature, but did he thaught me to love nature, to get a feeling for it…

    Comment by André | June 16, 2007

  4. I forgot something.
    A beautifull, surprising shot of the dogwood.

    Comment by André | June 16, 2007

  5. I think Daniel and Andre are on the same page really. The goal is really to train someone to let go and allow themselves to respond emotionally to what they are seeing in a fundamental way. That is, as I think Daniel is saying, forget about what the subject is in any scientific or labeling way, and respond to the things that turn you on – color, light, pattern – and to the way that you see that – graceful, quieting, peaceful, sad, happy, or just interesting. Photography is the exploration of the self as much or maybe more than an exploration of the subject. We have a “Michael”, what we want is “Daniel” and “Andre”, well and for “Paul” to be themselves.

    Comment by Paul Grecian | June 16, 2007

  6. I think if you can teach somebody to not see but recognize what they are seeing it the big thing. For one since I found this site I have been spotting wild flowers all over the place and have been looking at things in a different way. Its kind of like when you get a different looking car and then you see them everywhere. They were there before you just didn’t notice. Michael I know you can teach somebody to see because you have with me. I have found so much just in my own back yard that I really didn’t see before. I just hope I can be as big of an influence on somebody else as you have been to me keep up the good work I love your pictures they have inspired me to great heights and I plan to go much further!

    Comment by Theo | June 16, 2007

  7. Simply superb image, as usual!
    Training to ‘see’: one can teach this using many tools. One such tool I found, in my early years as a photographer, was to look at picture-books created by famous photographers, to see how they saw. This fed my imagination, inspiration. I tried taking pix along similar lines, until such time as I found my own voice and felt comfortable with it. Of course, I am continually feeding my voice by surfing the web and looking at wonderful images such as yours. I am not interested in comparing, just seeing. So, you also teach in that way, Mike!

    Comment by [jm.n] | June 17, 2007

  8. Lovely post Michael. I’ll always thank you for opening my eyes to the wonders of cramming!

    Comment by BobC | June 17, 2007

  9. We all have different vision which makes us unique. If we all saw things the same way then it would be pretty mundane.

    Teaching others to see is an interesting thought. I think that it is the vision that makes the final product and I don’t know if that can be taught because while many may have similar vision, it would still be unique to each individual influenced by their environment, experiences, and personality. Maybe teaching one to see is a way to help them to find their vision?

    This photo is truly a work of art.

    Comment by Laurie | June 17, 2007

  10. Thank you for dropping by yesterday ! Love your blog and images and will have a proper longer look and read soon !

    Comment by Michèle | June 17, 2007

  11. What’s that old saying–you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink? The same is true of photography. You can share your vision and approch through your unique style, but everyone eventually finds their own way of seeing. I’ve learned a lot from studying the work of others, yet I’m sure my approach is different, too. That’s the joy of photography – there’s room for everyone to express what they see in their own way. (*Love this shot, by the way!)

    Comment by Photo Buffet | June 17, 2007

  12. Great image, Michael! Love the detail and texture on the white and the red-green dialogue (if i can say that)and tension. And interesting ideas. I agree with you in the sense that we should go deeper in our observations of the subjects when aproaching to them. Specially trying to find what they mean to us. A sort of “find the image inside”, and then we can get an “original” point of view. I try to do that, while keep on pondering… your posts make me think :)

    Comment by Jose | June 18, 2007

  13. To me, this IS the fundamental question to anyone’s growth with their images. Forget all the technical huhah – this is the stuff that people need to spend more time on. Plenty of people already bottle and sell the technical stuff. Very few can effectively bottle up the seeing part.

    Comment by Mark | June 18, 2007

  14. Thanks again everyone!

    It has been interesting to read everyone’s thoughts on this subject, and now I will go through them again and try and wrap this up into a neat package for myself. :)

    Plenty to think about, and I want to thank everyone for their thoughts/ideas.
    I really do appreciate it!

    Comment by macroartinnature | June 19, 2007

  15. I love your work, Michael. Sometimes it’s quite enough to stop for a moment, and simply see.

    Comment by joey randall | June 29, 2007

  16. These kind of arts only handful people can appreciate.

    I have been kick by some forum for exhibiting my “NaNo” arts.

    I just felt that I am home on your site. Atleast I know Mike appreciate alots & each creation is superb!!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Charlie | July 13, 2007

  17. In Two Words: Totally Awesome!

    Comment by Nawfal Nur | July 20, 2007

  18. I love this simplicity!!

    Comment by Charlie | July 21, 2007

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