How can you stay present and fully appreciative of your environment, no matter where you are in the world? One of the reasons I love traveling is because my mind can never go on ‘autopilot.’ There are too many new sights, smells, noises and navigating a new culture in a foreign language always keeps my mind on hyper alert. With my mind focused, I not only enjoy the standard joyous culture shock from being forced to take in an entirely new environment, but I realized I gain an appreciation for more subtle nuances that I might otherwise overlook. The electric company logo that I see on sewer caps around Taipei, an animated neon sign of a guy filling himself with beer in Cologne, the way the street vendors prepare morning bao in Beijing, or even the realization that a door in Paris is likely older than my country, the USA.
When I am home, however, I usually don’t stop and notice these little surprises. I am too busy running errands, thinking about work, or texting on my phone while listening to a podcast on noise canceling headphones.
Enter photography. A few years ago, I fell in love with taking photos. After about a year of diving into my new hobby, I challenged myself to shoot one good photograph per day no matter what I was doing. I work from home, so the vast majority of photographs I took ended up to be taken within walking distance of my front door. Armed with my camera whenever I left my apartment, my mind was no longer on ‘autopilot.’ I didn’t wear headphones, my phone would stay in my pocket, and my focus was always on finding something interesting to photograph.
I started noticing how light during different times of the day affected the way certain parts of my neighborhood looked, interactions people were having with each other on the streets, interesting features of buildings. My mind became a sponge because looking through a lens forced me to look at everything through fresh eyes, like a tourist.
Below are some photos I took during that time period. No photographss were taken doing anything I wouldn’t do on a typical day. No photographs were planned. All of them came from being present and appreciative of my environment because I had my camera.