definition: An attempt to achieve or acquire something especially artfully; reaching after
by Essdras M Suarez, Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer
A New Way of Seeing the World for a New Year: “ The Bubble of Perspective”
A New Year brings new thoughts, new approaches and new ideas. So let’s discuss a new tool for seeing the world around; a tool, which you can use even before you pick up a photographic device.
At first, we must understand how our brains visually interact with the world around us. This is done through a “bubble of perspective (BOP), a term that refers to a physical point of view or specific perspective. This information comes in the form of visual data packets made up of tridimensional renderings of the world. And these packets are framed within from eye-level perspective and through the equivalent of a 35mm lens.
This BOP changes as we move our eyes and our position within space. However, if you start to practice visualizing in your mind how a scene, subject or situation might look from a different angle without actually moving or changing your physical position, then you’ll start becoming privy to a whole new world of photographic possibilities.
Once you’ve grasped this concept, you can then add this knowledge to your arsenal of photo-making techniques. The use of this technique will help you further expand the types of images you can produce when making photos.
If you learn to pre-visualize the outcome of a photo, you might even be able to make these without even looking through your camera. However, it is important to remember, the only way you’ll be able to achieve this is by becoming so familiar with your photographic device that it becomes not just an extension of your eyes, but also of your mind and of your body.
Imagine how practical would it be to be able to walk into a room and to “throw” your BOP anywhere in the room in such a way that you can see in your mind all the possible photos you could create before actually making them.
Look at the example of the photo of the monks below:
When I first walked into this one- room school in the countryside of Cambodia, I saw the back of a student wearing a white t-shirt, then benches, then monks and then finally a teacher in the front of the room. In that exact moment, what I was seeing was the same thing anyone else walking through that door would have seen too.
Had I photographed this scene from there, from my original point of view. Then I’d have simply duplicated what my eyes were seeing. This is what I call “blinking with your camera.” And most of the time, the resulting images made while “blinking” tend to be boring, pedestrian images. That is unless the subject matter happens to be extraordinary. I could tell in order to create an interesting photo out of this scene; I needed it to find a unique angle or perspective.
I looked around and I threw my BOP to the different parts of the room and visualized the possibilities. After that, I decided shooting from above was a good option since the cleanest-possible background in this space was the floor of the classroom itself.
Now lets look at this other example at a market.
Few weeks back, I was in Cienfuegos, Cuba teaching a photo workshop to a group of Americans visiting this island nation. As I was explaining to one of my students the use of the BOP technique, I could see her frustration as she struggled to grasp the concept. So I had us stop and I said to her, “Wait, let’s look around and let’s see what we see.”
I noticed there were several vendors using big colorful umbrellas to protect from the sun. So, I told her, let’s use the BOP technique and try to visualize the possible photos we could make here. I turned to her and said. “Look, I’ll bring my camera down by those tables while pointing it up without looking through the lens.” I added, “The resulting photo, should be an image of the umbrellas framing a piece of the sky and in the edges there should be parts of the building around the courtyard.”
Only with practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to master this technique. And as always my mantra while shooting still applies: “Keep shooting, keep moving, keep adjusting.”
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