Tyler’s Tips Episode 36: Listen with your eyes


Welcome to Tyler’s Tips. Today, I’m going to talk about listening with your eyes.

So what do I mean when I say, “Listening with your eyes”? When we talk about listening, we try to get better at it as adults. We try to teach our children. We really notice it when someone is not doing a good job of listening to us when we’re in a conversation, and often, when we find ourselves in a conversation and it doesn’t go well, it’s because we aren’t listening. It’s kind of a magical concept that makes everything easier in life and communication.

But it’s hard to do sometimes. What I’ve found is the same thing applies visually to photography. So if we take this concept of listening the way we do in interpersonal communication and we apply it to creating a composition or choosing how we’re going to arrange the elements inside our frame, instead of imposing our own view and looking at the scene and thinking about, “Okay. This is what I’m going to do. This is what I’m going to do, and this needs to change, that needs to change. Let’s remove that. Let’s light it this way.”

If we can listen a little bit to the … maybe a way to put it is the evolving story, what’s happening in front of us. What are the special characteristics of this scene, this space that we’re shooting, the people that we’re working with, the food, whatever it happens to be? What are those magical components that we need to articulate? And sometimes, those fit within our vision. Sometimes they don’t, and when they don’t, this is where it becomes really important.

We can make a course correction much more quickly than if we’re not listening with our eyes. If we’re not listening, we might not even catch it. And then what happens is we create a photo that falls flat. But if we are listening, then we can often catch those little things that can make all the difference. And instead of having a photo that falls flat, we can create a photo that’s going to touch our viewer emotionally, which is the goal, in my opinion, with this kind of work.

So, as always, I hope this was a useful tip. Thank you for your time, and if you have any ideas or questions that you’d like me to explore in a future Tyler’s Tip episode, drop me a line, and I’ll work it in. Until next time.