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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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