The art of seeing #11: You can see what you expect... or just see

(Image credit: Benedict Brain)
About Benedict Brain

(Image credit: Benedict Brain)

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel. He is also a past editor of Digital Camera Magazine.

Recently I found myself wandering the streets of Bintulu, Borneo. As you do. I was on a work-related trip and hadn’t factored that I might have some time off here, so I hadn’t made any arrangements to visit a ‘photogenic’ location. However, I did have several hours to aimlessly wander with my camera. Heaven.

I think it’s fair to say that Bintulu isn’t graced with wall-to-wall photographic honey-spots. It’s an average-looking port town. Some of my travelling companions and budding photo-enthusiasts were bemoaning the lack of photo opportunities. I, on the other hand, relish in these moments and set about getting into the zone and wandered off by myself.

I believe there are opportunities to make photographs just about anywhere. I get irritated by photographers with a blind hunger to seek out the classic locations and compositions, to just capture ‘The Shot’ – especially when there are visual delights everywhere and anywhere.

I’m inclined to think that the lack of an obvious go-to shot is actually a good thing. The creative boundary imposed by the banal makes you work harder, and ultimately see better.

Perhaps my favourite image from the day was of this shabby, dilapidated sink on the side of the street. The yellow walls, spreading black mould and rickety structure of the pipes and sink have come together in a harmonious and balanced composition. It reminds me of a lurching flamingo hanging on for dear life. Perhaps it could be seen as a metaphor – although I’m not sure for what... BB

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Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He graduated with a degree in photography from the Derby School of Art in 1991 (now University of Derby), where he was tutored and inspired by photographers John Blakemore and Olivier Richon, amongst others. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and also sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel.

Until July 2018 Benedict was editor of Britain’s best-selling consumer photography magazine, Digital Camera Magazine. As a journalist he met and interviewed some of the world’s greatest photographers and produced articles on a wide range of photography related topics, presented technique videos, wrote in-depth features, curated and edited best-in-class content for a range of titles including; Amateur Photographer, PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Professional Photography and Practical Photoshop. He currently writes a regular column, The Art of Seeing, for Digital Camera magazine.