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How the P.A.U.S.E Approach Can Help Your Photography

If we are serious about our pursuit of photography, we will want it to be a fulfilling pastime for ourselves, yet we will also want our photography to connect with others.

If we hope to produce images that will engage others we need to make them interesting.

When I find an image interesting and worthy of a second look it is always because I feel something. The image speaks to me in some way, touches an emotional chord even at a subconscious level.

I have referred in other posts to the importance of being in the moment while doing photography and I believe that mindful photography gives us the opportunity to respond emotionally to our external subject and our surroundings as well as becoming more aware of our inner emotional landscape.

Being aware of this emotional connection as we do photography gives us the best chance of making interesting images that elicit an emotional response in others.

Recently, while reading about mindful photography, I came across an approach called the P.A.U.S.E approach.

While I have used the headings originally suggested in this approach, the explanation of each heading is my own, as it applies to my photography.

P Be Present.

Be present in the moment; be mindful.

When we take time not just to look, but to really see, not just to listen but to really hear all that is around us, we will immediately elevate our photography to a different plane. It is by being in the moment that we connect with our subject on a deeper level and allow ourselves to feel an emotional response to our subject.

Recently, when photographing another subject, I felt drawn to this scene. When I asked myself why I felt drawn to it I realised that the earthy colours, the muddy lane, the bare trees and stone wall reminded me of childhood winters growing up in the countryside. That connection has given me a love for this image, even though the image itself may not be great.

A Be Aware

Be aware of how you are feeling as you shoot.

Sometimes it is not until afterwards, when I look at the day’s images back at home, that I consider why I was drawn to certain subjects. I am slowly learning to be more aware, as I am taking my photographs, of what I like, of what appeals to me in terms of subjects, and of how I like to frame these images.

I become more aware by constantly observing, looking for potential images around me even when I don’t have a camera and framing pictures in my mind.

This has helped me to become more emotionally engaged when I am at a scene with my camera.

U Understand

Understand why you have chosen this subject, in this location.

As I progress in my photography my understanding of what I stop to photograph, and why, is developing.

In my earlier photography days I would have walked past a stone wall without seeing it as something worth photographing. After all, it was just a wall. Now I see and understand differently. When I look closely at a stone wall, I see colours and patterns, shape and texture. It can be a boundary wall built as protection; it can be a leading line. An old stone wall has history and human influence hidden in every crevice. Rather than dismiss it as just a wall, I can highlight it’s features, tell part of its story in my images.

When I deepen my understanding, I deepen my potential for good photography.

S Shift perspective

How can you show your subject to its best potential?

Do you need to get higher and shoot down, or get lower and shoot up?

Do you need to show just part of the subject or frame it with something else?

What length of lens will you use; will you go close up or take a wide-angle shot?

I took shots of this church from different perspectives to try to best capture what I was feeling at the time – a sense of the importance of this place, both now and down through many generations past.

E Be Engaged

Enjoy what you are doing at a deep level. Let it envelop you, move you, change you.

If you are engaged with your subject you will be engaged with the way in which you represent it in your image.

Let the subject speak to you, guide you as to how to best take the photograph.

I come to this location often in the early morning. On this occasion I wanted to capture the beautiful morning sky behind the building and trees. Yet I felt that the image lacked something so I waited until some birds flew into the scene. I think it was the scene itself that suggested what was needed to complete the image!

I hope that using the P.A.U.S.E approach will help you to add something extra to your images.


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