The art (and delight) of noticing

It’s been over four years now since I began the practice of photographing my life daily. When 2020’s 365 project came to an end, I couldn’t imagine stopping. And so, without really thinking too hard about it, I woke up January 1st of 2021 and kept going. I haven’t stopped since.

My commitment to the practice has taught me a lot while yielding an awesome and honest record of my life from year to year.  Some days the photo comes easily, other days not so much.  More than anything though, I feel like I’ve really honed the act of noticing.

After 1500+ straight days of looking for something to photograph, I’ve learned that every day offers visual delights that are easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. I don’t go on a hunt for something to photograph so much as I simply pay attention to all the little visual nuances in my day. Shadows, reflections, cloud formations, the way life unfolds in a way that feels monotonous but also fleeting. I see so much more than I ever have before.

While walking around our campsite today I saw a single vibrant yellow wildflower.  The southern Arizona landscape is mostly made up of rock, creosote shrubs, and saguaro cacti, so a yellow wildflower is hard to miss. That single flower inspired me to get a camera out and see what else I could find.  Within minutes I’d found a half a dozen different kinds of wildflowers that I had yet to notice in the week we’ve been here.  Maybe they just bloomed or maybe it takes the intentional act of noticing to discover what has been at my feet all along. 

Since beginning this daily practice, I see more beauty, more detail, and more subtleties in life than I’ve ever seen before. And that awareness has led to an ongoing series of simple delights that I never otherwise would have experienced.

So if you have any interest in photography, not even in a technical sense, if you just love taking pictures, pick up your camera and go for a walk.  It could be around your yard, your block, your local park, or local trail.  Take the time to really look at things.  We spend enough time rushing from one place to the next, make it an an opportunity to slow down, meander rather than aim for a destination, and discover something new, right in your own backyard.

And a bonus, if you see something that reminds you of someone, text them the photo you take.  I always find it to be a lovely way to connect with friends and family. 

Above: What I saw at eye level
Below: What I found when I looked closer

If you enjoy macro photography…

I love this fixed 35mm 1.8 macro lens that I used for all the photos in this post.
Our camera of choice is the Canon R6.

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By michele

About

We’re Mark & Michele, modern-day nomads perfecting the art of slow, full-time travel.  Our tiny home on wheels and slow-paced travel style allows us to minimize our expenses while maximizing our freedom.  May our unconventional way of life inspire you to design a life that you love.

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