Do you 'see' a photo or just 'look' at it?

Posted by Tracy Duncan on Fri, Sep, 11, 2015 @ 16:09:00 PM

See versus look

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, online at www., the definition for "see" includes the phrases, to perceive by the eye; to come to know; to be aware of. And the definition for "look" includes, to exercise the power of vision.

I would interpret these terms and actions, in regards to using ours eyes to view, as two different ways and depths of viewing a photograph.

"Looking'' is taking in a quick and overall view, while ''seeing'' is actually engaging in finding the details of the photograph, movie, or visual.

Take the vintage photo below, for instance, of Hinds Community College from 1917, when it was just starting out as Hinds County Agricultural High School. Look at the photo and think about what is in the image. This is a photo that I scanned and plan to colorize for use in 2017, 100 years celebration.

Become aware, don't just use your power of vision.

Hinds Community College 1917

Circa. 1917 - Hinds Community College, in its infancy. 

The land in this photograph has since been reworked and the buildings razed and rebuilt, with the exception of the left one in the forground which was the Old Main Women's Residence and remains a girls dorm today, Pickett Hall. The Main building and the Old Main Men's Residence in the right background are gone.

When asked, you might say you saw: three buildings and some trees, a house and a car, all in a grassy area. That's what I saw, at first. Then I started ''seeing'' more subjects in the photo. My co-worker, Tammi Bowles an experienced Hinds photographer, was viewing it while I ''looked'' at it. She ''saw'' a chicken. I missed the fowl. I asked her if she ''saw'' the people way in the background, she hadn't. Then we both began to really ''see'' things in the photo that had been missed by our eyes while just looking before. See (no pun intended this time) if you can find some of the many other objects and people in the photo. You'll have to do more than just 'look'. Really try to ''see'' the details. 

Do you ''see'' any of the things I have since found?...the rooster; the hen; the bored little child waiting behind the steering wheel of one of the cars for someone (probably the photographer of this photo as noted by Tammi, ); the road sign; the resting cow; the white posts surrounding the white house; the lady in the white dress next to the man with two mules; the men in a wagon under the trees; the person in the open, dark window; the four men and the old flat-bed pick-up truck. 

I realize that you might not be able, in this blog, to zoom in on the large photo the way I could, so I helped you out here.

By the way, the original photograph hangs in the McLendon Library on the Hinds - Raymond campus, so take some time to visit the library and ''see'' what else you can find in this old photo. child




As a graphic artist, photographer and and sometimes just nit-picky person, I look for the details in photos or objects either for production purposes or just to find little things that most people don't notice. 

'See' things from a different angle in the future.

The next time you take the time to view a photograph, stop for a brief moment and really try to ''see'' it and what the photographer has captured, on purpose or just by accident. You'll be amazed at how much you will find that you never knew was there.

I suppose this ''seeing'' philosophy can be applied to everyday life, college life, raising children, a marriage or a friendship as well as many other important things in our lives. 

As the old saying goes, ''stop to smell the roses,'' and while you're at it, you might just ''see'' a few extra blooms while you're sniffing.