The Psychology of Photography

by, Lawrence Blau

June 2020

What do I mean by the “Psychology of Photography”? Many people think that photography is the process whereby you pick up a camera or cell phone and aim and shoot. That’s true and some of us are better than others

With the saturation of cell phones around the world, everyone takes pictures. I have never been a proponent of picture taking with my cell phone and rarely use it for that purpose.

When I started in photography, in the 1950’s, with film, I noticed that my mind would wander and that a glow would encircle me. Unfortunately, I gave up photography for about fifty years until my last two children graduated college.

Then it happened. I remember being dragged by one of my soul mates, Joe Pollock, to a camera store in Connecticut. Joe suggested a digital camera and I purchased a Nikon D40. Can you image using this camera today? A six megapixel camera with primitive ISO and white balance. Auto ISO did not exist and what was a full frame camera?

I remember going with Joe to take pictures around the neighborhood. My patience had not come back yet. After living and thinking in the fast lane for over fifty years, it was hard to immediately turn on the patience that is required.

Then it happened. My eye came back. It happened in Vietnam. In 2004, my wife and I went to there to celebrate putting our four children through various colleges and surviving emotionally and financially. The trip was for three weeks. Of course, I brought my D40 with me and consistently used it. My eye came back and the glow started to reappear. I was experiencing a brief visit to what I always wanted to do with my life. I dreamed about being a photo journalist, traveling around the world and presenting my vision of the places I visit.

Unfortunately, I do not have any images for that trip. They were all edited on an old MAC using IPhoto that I discarded many years ago. Late in 2004, I took a trip to Cambodia to get involved in a local charity. I spent ten days living in a village in Northern Cambodia that had no electricity nor any plumbing. That trip was an experience. When I returned, I suffered from social shock. I fell in love with the Cambodian people and have since made nine trips there. I am attaching some images from those trips.

It took me another ten years to start fulfilling that lifetime dream. Today, the glow and passion is stronger than ever and I have realized that I need my photography more than ever.

What do I mean by that? Every time I grab my camera, my mind goes into another realm. A calmness comes over me that I cannot describe. A part of my mind clicks into play that was not used for many years. My vision of what I am seeing and how to create what I want others to see, is all important and nothing else matters during that time.

For me, my camera and photography has been my salvation in helping me get through our crisis. Doing photography locally is far different than, let’s say, Africa. In Africa, great subject matter jumps out at you. You never have to look far. I use my creative ability to present that great subject matter the way I want it seen. I have learned that I have to use my creative mind much more now. I have to search for the subject matter I want and need. I also look at subjects, such as flowers, in a different way. I now stare at the flowers I had previously ignored and try to capture their beauty.

Today, I take pictures at least two to four times a week. I need that glow and patience that I can only get with my camera.

I plan on having my family put one of my cameras in my coffin. In this way, I will be ready for what I face on the other side.

Stay Safe