I recently came across a little book called Wayside Snapshots by Hugo van Wadenoyen, published in 1947. In the introductory piece, he talks about his foray into photography and how he had to fight against his sense of the pictorial and what constituted a suitable subject. The breakthrough for him came when he got hold of a miniature camera that allowed him to move and twist about freely to find something to his liking........to photograph, not the thing itself, but an arrangement on his focusing screen.
He goes on to explore the objective representation of reality that the camera provides as opposed to the subjective and very partial impression of reality provided by the ordinary human mind. How our mental picture of reality is a composite hotchpotch of emotionally biased impressions and notions. He describes how he then really began to understand his camera and to be able to visualise the world in photographic terms. As he goes on to say, all this seems rather obvious and simple, but working through the implications and resolving the various conflicts it sets up is no easy matter.
The really interesting thing for me is his description of the process that he then becomes engaged in as it all sounds so familiar!
First he happens upon something that seems interesting or significant or beautiful in some way. Then he uses his focusing screen to find an image that feels right; a pattern that satisfies. These patterns are groped towards; not consciously worked out or pre-planned.
And it is here that the camera eye and the human eye work together.........the way in which a personal response and sense of atmosphere start to be conveyed.
"..... if you and I were out walking together and I pointed out the various things I admired and found interesting..........I'd be reduced to saying "Look, isn't that amusing", or "Aren't those clouds marvellous", "Rather intriguing, the angles made by those roofs" and so on." Words alone, unless you're a poet, say little about what is really being responded to.