As I flew back from my research conference in Miami yesterday, I noticed something peculiar as I gazed out the window. As I looked over the wing onto the clouds below, I literally could change my perspective depending on what I focused on.
Objectively it was the exact same scene, but similarly to my camera lens, I could focus on the small details with a shallow depth of field or take a broader perspective seeing the entire scene. I could focus on the dust that caked the window. I could focus on the strength of the steel wing cutting through the air. Or I could focus on the glow of the sun-soaked, cotton-like clouds below.
This is not the first perceptual perspective change that I’ve noticed. Since taking up photography, I my senses have been heightened. When I watch movies, I notice the camera shifting focus between different people and objects. Similarly, I notice how color—perhaps very bold colors or dreamy black and whites—set the tones for films. I think this has helped me to also picture the extra in the ordinary. When I form impressions of scenes in my everyday life – perhaps the sun glistening on the water or fallen leaves laying in piles on the lawn—I see the potential for beautiful bokeh backgrounds – those dreamy circles of confusion that come from out of focus points of light.
I think photography has also changed my life perspective. It reminds me that I have choices in each moment of life, much in the same way the photographer makes creative choices when developing a shot – what mood do I want to use to color my day? What do I include and exclude from the frame? Should I focus on the big picture or the small details?
In the same way that we can create a meaningful and interesting photograph (or painting, or manuscript, or whatever), we can adopt the intentional perspective to live a creative and purposeful life.
Where could you use a change of perspective?