Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi coined the expression “flow” or being “in the zone”. It is the mental state a person reaches when performing a certain activity, in which he is totally immersed, with an energetic focus, total involvement and appreciation. It is those times when we don’t notice time passing because we’re so into it that time flies.
That’s something I feel when photographing. I don’t notice time passing. For example, on my recent outing to do street photography, I spent more than 30 minutes shooting, but it didn’t seem like more than five.
It is in this mental state that we will be able to do our best work. When we abstract from the “noise” and external distractions, and we focus only on photography. To better reach this state, Steve Simon suggests we scout the area we plan to shoot. Take a walk around, so we can filter the essential and be ready when we’re photographing. I confess I don’t always do this. I “register” places and photograph them as I find them. Each person will find the method that works best for them.
Going back to the beginning, I come across references to Csíkszentmihályi’s book “Flow” often. I haven’t read it yet but, being a regular reader, I believe I will soon.
My advice? Grab your camera, whichever it is, go out into the street, try to abstract from the “noise”, and start shooting. The results may surprise you.