The Connection of Photography with Intuition

It seems to me that too much time is spent on the technical aspects of photography, rather than on a far more important issue… the connection of photography with intuition.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

We live in a world overflowing with millions of disconnected bits of information that come at us constantly, often overwhelming us. All of that noise gets in the way, obscuring simplicity and clarity from which our intuition often emanates.

When we have a camera in our hands, there are two basic paths we can take. One is that of a technician. We set out to purposely create a photograph. We are on a mission and dutifully spend time to research our subject matter. Shooting angles. Times of day.

Our concerns centre on camera sensor and lens performance. On composition. We focus on achieving perfect lighting conditions, and are consumed with the minutia of our craft.

The result may be that we create photographs of very high technical standards. Our pictures may elicit praise, for example when people see an image of a magnificent sunrise or sunset, rather than one of a dull, overcast day.

We may even make some money when someone chooses to purchase one of our prints or license an image from us.

If that is all that our photographs are to us, then we have missed a great deal and acquired nothing of real, personal value from our images.

We have missed the opportunity to increase our mindfulness. To live in the moment. To build our awareness of how the Universe works, and our place in it.

Intuition is the source of our creativity, as individuals and as a species. It is that place, well beyond logic, where breakthroughs originate and deeper understandings are revealed. Sometimes we find these things in images that simply do not resonate with other people in this manner.

When out with a camera did we take pictures of a garden pathway? A coil of rope? A leg iron? Inuksuit? A shoreline? Is that all that we saw and experienced?

Rather than being a technician, did we become an observer with a camera in our hands? Were those images of something more that was revealed to us through those objects and scenes?

There are questions that each of us can ask ourselves. When we are out with a camera does it allow¬†us to see the world differently? Do we gain insights and clarity on the human condition? Do we capture glimpses of something deeper that provides other meanings which help us on our journey here? Does the experience of being with our camera allow our intuition to emerge, sending us new understandings and directions? And most importantly when it does… do we listen?

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6 thoughts on “The Connection of Photography with Intuition”

  1. Tom, if you harken back to an earlier article, you wrote about reviewing old photos. Doing so brings back the emotional impact of those moments (trips, events, etc.). A part of photography is the ability to recreate the feelings from those times, and as such the importance of “perfection” within such photos is not as important as this benefit. While beauty has always been said to be “in the eye of the beholder”, I prefer my version of that statement: “There is no accounting for taste, or the lack thereof.”

    On my photo site ( I get very few likes. I shoot what appeals to me, and don’t worry about it. My photos are not for sale, I have no clients to please, I do this for the joy of it.

    When shooting photos of people, I have always preferred to shoot candid ones instead of posed. To me you capture the “true” person with a candid shot, instead of someone who assumes a pose for the camera. Again, a matter of taste. That could make for an interesting, though perhaps hard to do, article; pics of people taken both ways.


    1. Hi William,
      Thanks for reminding us about the benefits of bringing back the emotional impact of moments, as well as sharing your experiences! While people have never been of any interest to me as photographic subjects, your comment does raise an interesting question whether the ‘true’ person can be captured while in a pose or if this is only possible with candid photography. Perhaps readers with more experience in this subject area will add their thoughts.

  2. This post reminds me of why you’re deemed the resident philosopher over at Photography Life. It’s an important raft of topics/issues/ideas you’ve brought up especially now that “everybody is a photographer.” Are we taking pictures to please others? judges? a potential social media fan base? or our soul? Are we looking at the physical beauty of a scene? Or its emotional weight? Are we caught up in the technique? Or are we led by a heightened sense of intuition and an open heart? Things to ponder before the finger hit the shutter button.


  3. Great conversation Tom.
    There may be such a thing as philosophical photography of which things such as technical issues of camera operation, although important, once mastered become a background issue to more important things. These things include why the photograph was taken and what the photographer was thinking prior to taking the photograph. The composition of the photograph may also reveal the purpose of photograph and reveal why the photograph is important to both the photographer and the viewer. The philosophic approach to photography would also include emotions that the photographer and the viewer “feel” when the photograph is viewed. The emotions of the photographer will likely be different than that of the viewer when the photograph is viewed, because of all that happened prior to the photograph being taken. Perhaps this would include, a long hike in higher elevations or over difficult terrain, and would definitely include all the things that the photographer experienced that led to the composition of the specific photograph. When viewed later, many of these prior experiences would come to mind and add an “esoteric value” to the photographer that the viewer would not experience.

    However, if I understand the “art” of photography correctly, photographers would ultimately feel supremely satisfied if they have composed an image that captures the emotional value that they felt when the photograph was taken and the viewer also understands this value. The viewer of course would not have experienced things that happened prior to the photograph being taken but may perceive just what the photographer was trying to achieve in a specific composition.

    There is much to this discussion and I think you are correct when suggesting that “intuition” as you have labelled it, is of far more importance than the technical aspects of photography.

    1. Thanks for adding to the discussion Ray!

      Your comment raises the question whether we create our photographs for ourselves, for others, or for both. It also causes us to think about how an image may impact the intuition of others. For me, the intuitive value of one of my photographs is entirely a personal experience. Whether any of my photographs touch other people in an intuitive way is something that I cannot assess, nor predict in any way.

      When I am ‘in the moment’ creating an image that is somehow releasing or stimulating the intuitive part of me, nothing else exists for me except the insight I am receiving at that time. There is no thought or consideration about how that photograph may impact others.

      Of course other folks may have entirely different perspectives and experiences with their photographs and with the act of creating their work!


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