As a photographer, I strive for clear-eyed observation of where I am and the people currently sharing my space. I ask myself: what makes this observation particular? And, when I reach for a camera, which lens do I choose? I know many people have only one, but we must still be aware of how cameras transform what we see.
A photograph shows us something different from our actual experience. Lenses capture only a fragment of any setting. We have grown accustomed to edges bounding photographic compositions, and we’ve become blind to the intrusiveness of those edges. Were we present at the brief moment of exposure, we would see much more than the captured image. By swiveling our heads, we would see everything to the left and right of the subject. Our vision would be continuous, as if in a movie, including the moments before and after the shot. And all of this would be fused into one impression in our mind’s eye.
My 360-degree panoramas are no closer to reality than a traditional photograph, despite faithfully presenting the same information – albeit more of it. Both are surrogates. Both conjure an image of experience. But the gift of the 360s is that they are less familiar. They invite a closer look. Their reward is often something unexpected.