Tylers Tips E32 – Why we can’t see things


Welcome to Tyler’s Tips. Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about why we sometimes miss seeing things that are right in front of us.

One of the biggest challenges that we have as photographers is we need to be able to objectively see the world as we’re taking a photo. It sounds easy, it sounds obvious, but in my opinion, the human brain actually isn’t very good at that. The human brain is excellent at recognizing patterns and making sure that our conscious brain power is focused on the anomalies.

We don’t see a lot of the stuff that we’re looking at consciously because our brains are making sure we stay focused on what details it thinks are important. It’s an excellent way to stay productive and it’s a great way to move through the world without having to spend a lot of time thinking about this overwhelming amount visual data that surrounds us all the time, but it’s a real problem when you’re trying to take a picture and some of those patterns, if our brain doesn’t catch all the details we want to be paying attention to. We often see this come up in a photo after the fact.

I’m going to show you a photo that’s an example of something kind of like this. It’s a quirky photo, that in this case, I looked at the photo many times over the course of, I guess, it’s been about a year now since this photo was taken, and I never caught the error in this photo. It’s an anomaly, it’s an error, it’s like a glitch in the matrix photo because it was a panoramic taken with an iPhone, so it combined several photos together.

Here’s the photo. I love this photo. It was a really fun shoot. One of my favorite people to work with, Kelsey Floyd took this photo and it’s awesome. It shows a fun moment when I was working on a editorial shoot, actually for The Wall Street Journal. There you go. I name-dropped for you in this video.

Did you catch the glitch yet? The glitch is the shadow and me are different. You can see the position of my hand is different in both of those two parts of this photo. Now, I’ve used this photo, I’ve published it on social media, I’ve published this on my website, I think I even sent it out in a newsletter. I just dig this photo. I think it’s super fun and it’s a great composition. Anyways, of all the times I used it, I never noticed this until Kelsey and I were texting about it at one point and I thanked her again for taking this awesome photo and she laughed and said, “Hey, you know, I was so frustrated when I was taking that because I couldn’t get the iPhone to create a picture of you and your shadow that looked the same.” I just laughed out loud because I never noticed it before and there you go.

An example of how our brains, they filter things because the shadow always matches the person in real life, right? We don’t ever have to actually think about that. We don’t have to look at that and compare a person and their shadow. We just never do it. Our brains don’t do it and we miss details like this all the time in the real world, in real life. We can also easily miss them in photos like I just showed you, but it’s important when we’re composing an image to try to consciously push back against that because it can really mess up an image. In this case, it just makes a funny story but if you’re taking an image and you’re focused on your subject and you don’t notice the wacky thing going on in the background, sometimes that wacky thing going on in the background can ruin your imagine. Our brains will tune that out and they’ll make it really hard for us to see that because it’s a part of our brains job is to keep us focused on what’s important in that moment.

There you go. The tip for today, when you’re shooting, try to step a little bit outside of the normal way of engaging with the visual world around you and make sure you’re not or try to make sure you’re not allowing things to come into your photo that are not a part of the story that you want in that photo.

As always, thank you for your time. I hope this with as helpful and if you have any questions or ideas you’d like me to discuss in a future episode, drop me a line and I’ll work it in. Until next time.