Frame of Mind

Today, after a busy morning of accounting and admin stuff, and a lovely lunch (Salmon) with Shannon (Scallops), I headed out for a quick 2-hour, very random photowalk, surely reflective of my random state-of-mind.

I’ve always been fascinated by how, as photographers, our frame of mind, so very often influences, not just what we include in our photographic frames but how we go about our photography.


This quick adventure was spontaneous and very, very care-free. No plan. No purpose. No shot list. No project in mind.

Just click after click.

In nearly five decades of capturing moments through my lens, I’ve come to realize that the camera, as powerful a tool as it is, merely follows the lead of the mind and heart orchestrating its movements. The influence of our frame of mind while photographing is profound, echoing through the very essence of what we choose to capture and how we choose to frame it.

Photography is an intimate dance between perception and expression, where the mind’s eye shapes the narrative before the shutter is even pressed. Henri Cartier-Bresson once remarked, “To photograph: it is to put on the same line of sight the head, the eye, and the heart.” This encapsulates the triad of elements that converge in the viewfinder—intellect, vision, and emotion. It is the synergy of these facets that breathes life into a photograph, transcending it beyond a mere visual representation.

Our frame of mind functions as the unseen choreographer behind the scenes, dictating the rhythm of our photographic compositions. When joy colors our perspective, the lens becomes a conduit for capturing exuberance and vibrancy. Conversely, in moments of contemplation, the frame expands to encapsulate the subtleties of silence and introspection. As Ansel Adams aptly put it, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Each photograph is a deliberate creation, sculpted by the emotions and thoughts that fuel the artist’s intent.

Consider the impact of a serene state of mind on a landscape photograph—the tranquility felt by the photographer seeps into the image, transforming it into a visual sanctuary. Dorothea Lange, known for her poignant documentary photography, asserted, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” This sentiment underscores the idea that the mind’s eye is in constant communion with the physical lens, shaping perception long before the mechanics of photography are engaged.

Furthermore, the emotional resonance within a frame can be so powerful that it transcends the boundaries of time and space, connecting the viewer with the essence of the moment captured. Steve McCurry, renowned for his iconic “Afghan Girl” portrait, once remarked, “What I find interesting is working in a society with certain taboos about the body, which I consider insane. It’s insanity to have a culture that thinks that you’re distorting the image of the body if you photograph it.” McCurry’s insight delves into the societal and emotional context that frames not only the subjects within a photograph but also the collective consciousness of the audience engaging with it.
Our frame of mind acts as a compass, guiding the photographer through the vast terrain of visual possibilities. In times of vulnerability, the camera becomes a confidant, capturing fragments of the soul in each frame. Imogen Cunningham, a pioneering figure in American photography, articulated this symbiotic relationship between the photographer’s mindset and the resultant image, saying, “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” This forward-looking perspective encapsulates the perpetual evolution of the photographer’s mind, ever attuned to the infinite tapestry of moments waiting to be encapsulated.

In conclusion, the influence of our mind and heart over our eye in photography is a symphony of perception, emotion, and intention. It’s the silent conductor shaping the visual narrative, guiding the gaze, and infusing each frame with the essence of the photographer’s being. As we navigate the labyrinth of our own thoughts and emotions, the camera faithfully translates the inner landscape into a tangible, timeless image—a testament to the indelible connection between the artist’s mind and the artistry of the photograph.



Jack Hollingsworth