I often enjoy watching people take photographs. Most men and women approach an object or scene, quickly turn their gaze to the back of their cameras or phones, take a few photos, and move on. What strikes me is just how like a reflex the whole process can be, the act of photography has become almost entirely unconscious.
That’s why, eventually, anyone who considers her- or himself “into” photography becomes interested in beauty and uses a camera to create it. The difference between documentation and the beauty impulse is that the latter has the power to produce not just a memory, but an emotional response in any viewer. That’s very different from the impulse to record.
You do need to slow down at least a little to create beautiful photos. And yet fast photography is not the enemy of good results, by the logic of volume: If you take hundreds of photographs, one or two will turn out great.
No, the real victim of fast photography is not the quality of the photos themselves. The casualty is us. We lose something else: the experiential side, the joy of photography as an activity. And trying to fight this loss, to treat photography as an experience, not a means to an end, is the very definition of what I would like to call Pausitive photography.
As I see it, Pausitive photography is the effort to flip the usual relationship between process and results. Usually, you use a camera because you want the results, which of course are the photos. In Pausitive photography, the basic idea is that photos themselves are secondary. The goal is the experience of studying some object carefully and exercising creative choice. That’s it.
In Pausitive photography we spend a long time studying the subject. We actually use our eyes. It calls for consideration not just of what you think you see , for example a person or a landscape, but of the colors and shapes that present themselves. Thinking man or horse can blind you to what you are really seeing—which is, in the end, a series of atoms arranged in a way that for your convenience you call a cat, tree, house etc. It may sound a ridiculous, but it makes all the difference. When you look carefully and avoid trying to label what you see, you inevitably start to notice things that you mightn’t have otherwise. By pausing you start to notice the symbiotic relationship between all the things that are in front of you.
In my experience, Pausitive photography is a enjoyable and almost hypnotic experience.