Looking Closer

You know how when you learn a new word, you suddenly find it popping up everywhere in your life?

This sort of deja vu, coincidence or syncronicity even has a name - the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

I started needing reading glasses recently, and just like that, I am encountering people all over the place using reading glasses. Last week I covered a public utility seminar at the Union League and at one point I looked around the ballroom and nearly every other participant had a pair of reading glasses on the table in front of them.

Are there suddenly more people out there with the glasses? Of course not. So why am I noticing them all of a sudden? This is what I started thinking about as I listened to a long presentation on electricity deregulation.

It's like when you discover a car model that appeals to you, when from then on everywhere you look somebody is driving one. Or like (I'm told) when a woman first finds out she's pregnant, all of a sudden she will see other pregnant women everywhere.

Our brains process and organize what we see by using patterns, so we notice the things that are repeated.

Maybe that's the reason why I am always shooting shadows, reflections, umbrellas and hats - and pigeons. (In my defense,  I shot the pigeon at City Hall, above, as I left the seminar, because I know a lot of people who can make bird hand shadows - but I didn't know some birds could make wine-bottle ones).

I guess the trick to making better photos, and not keep shooting the same things over and over, is to go against our brain's organization and try to notice the things that are not being repeated. The actions that we might normally ignore because they don't fit into some pattern. I find this happening most often when I get complacent and begin to pre-visualize my photos. My favorite pictures have always come when I keep my mind open to recognize and my camera ready to shoot when something unexpected presents itself.