Seeing in Frames – A Guest Post by Robin Simmons

Nayad © 2010 Robin Simmons

This is the second in a series of guest posts. I asked blog visitors to answer the question “How has photography had a positive impact on your life?”  and Robin wrote this response. (Thanks Robin.) This is a question I’ve been exploring in my recent series “Why Photography?”

Seeing in Frames by Robin Simmons

A few weeks ago someone wanting to learn how to take better photographs asked me the question, “How do you decide what goes into your pictures?”  Without thinking, I answered, “I just see things in frames.”

Having considered it since then, I realize that my answer was vague and lacking in details such as how to compose a shot, the best lighting, and other technical information.  There are books and websites and classes to help you learn how to frame and/or compose a shot, and they can do a better job than I can of explaining composition, lighting, shutter speeds, and the like, as I am not formally educated in photography and prefer to work intuitively rather than by the rules.  For me, photography is play, a time to experiment with settings and framing, to lie on the ground and point up or turn the world upside down or sideways.

My answer, “I just see things in frames,” was a straightforward response.  I do see things in frames.  I wear glasses and have worn glasses since I was 7 years old.  Everything is framed to some degree by my glasses, and photography is, in some ways, an extension of that.  Photography is a medium which allows me to share with others the way I view the world and the things in the world which catch my eyes through the frames that I wear by bringing the viewer into those frames and my focus.

Through the lens of the camera I am able to see some of the details of the world, small and large, that I might otherwise miss.  When I take a photo of a tiger lily I see the flower, the tiger lily. When I put that photo on the bigger screen or a print, I see the details of the tiger lily that the camera captured, details my eyes could not see. I also see things that my eyes didn’t catch when I captured the tiger lily such as a bee buzzing around the flower like a little fairy, an ant crawling up the stem, a dot of pollen perched on the edge of a petal.  The camera, like my eyes and prescription glasses, also has its limitations.  Light and colors, fog and haze, dust motes and seeds floating in sunlight don’t always translate well in photography.  Learning post-processing techniques with Photoshop has helped me expand my vision so the photo better represents what I was seeing as I captured the scene or moment.

Photography has brought an awareness to my life and to my surroundings I don’t believe I would have without it.  It brings me into the moment, eyes and mind wide open as I hike or walk, sit or stand, connecting me to where I am right now, in this moment.  Carrying the camera makes me hyper-aware of the environment — spotting a small flower in the midst of some weeds or a colorful mushroom growing under a bush or any number of other things I might have otherwise passed on by without a glance much less a good look.

Above all, photography has taught me patience.  I cannot capture a butterfly, a dragonfly, or one of my young granddaughters without learning to be still as they dart around in their dance of life and play.  In that stillness I have learned to wait until I sense I am on the verge of the right moment and even then I may have to wait before moving slowly and cautiously to get within range of what I am trying to capture, watching the patterns that emerge, patterns I would not be able to discern without practicing stillness and patience.

Robin is a photographer living in the secondary snow-belt of northeast Ohio.  Her photography interests include nature and the outdoors as well as travel.  Her blog, Life in the Bogs, chronicles her daily life in Ohio as well as her travels.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I’m a fan of Life in the Bogs, and of Robin in general, so it’s nice to catch her gallivanting about other parts of The InterWebz.

    I like her introspection too, about looking and seeing and waiting. Thanks for guest posting her 🙂

  2. I agree with you Robin. Seeing in frames… I believe you are blessed to be able to see the moment for what it is instead of not even noticing it at all.

  3. Bo Mackison says:

    I so agree with you, Robin. Photography does put a new emphasis on seeing, on taking on’e time to look closely, on developing patience. Thank you for posting on Seeded Earth.

  4. Excellent perspective and I couldn’t agree with you more.

  5. That is a gorgeous photo, Robin, and revealing a touch of childhood magic. Seeing in frames… indeed… as I haven’t thought about it that way, and so true. Yes, I agree and understand that photography brings about an awareness to life and surroundings. Excellent writing, sharing, and perspective.

  6. What a stunning photo!! And – I love how you’ve used your glasses as a metaphor and a way to see and frame your images. Am loving this series. So glad that Bo decided to do this!!!

  7. A big thank you to everyone for your comments. And another big thank you to Bo for this series. Like Marcie, I’m so glad Bo is doing this. 🙂

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Your very wlecome, Robin. It’s been fun. And stay tuned — Marcie’s guest post will be up on Friday, October 1st!

  8. Robin, I found it fascinating that wearing glasses has helped you take pictures. It makes total sense but I would never have thought of it. I hate wearing my glasses because my vision is limited by the frames but you have completely turned that around in your favour, being the smart lady that you are. Your photo here is lovely – you have great compositional skills, and I’m not convinced that is wholly contributable to your glasses. There’s a lot of talent in there too. 🙂

  9. I’m so glad I took time to pop over here this morning. I love the photo. There is something surreal about the boulders. They look almost like normal-sized rocks, until you see the girl. Magical.

    I was also struck by how glasses might frame what one sees. My husband has worn glasses since he was a kid. I want to ask him now if that contributed to him becoming a photographer as a young man.

    BTW, what is a secondary snow belt? Is it what it sounds like–it gets less snow than a primary snow belt?

  10. Nickie: Thank you. 🙂

    Roma: Thank you. 🙂

    As for the secondary snow-belt: In theory the secondary snow-belt gets less snow than the primary but in practice there are times we get about the same or more. The primary snow-belt here is in the eastern section of Lake Erie where the lake effect really cranks out the snow. But often the lake effect snow starts a little to the west and makes its way south to us. We have also had lake effects snow from Lake Michigan and Lake Huron make their way here.

    There is an interesting article about it here:

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