Finding the freedom to see

What an incredible three weeks it has been! Kasia and I just returned from a photographic trip to Europe where I was leading the Visual Poet Experience Workshops in London and Berlin. I had the privilege of working with an amazing group of photographers from around the world.

One of the features of the Visual Poet Experience Workshops is the honest, image-centred discussions we have as a group. We all come from different places and it is natural that we differ in many instances. Regardless, I urge my students to communicate their thoughts, whatever they may be, regarding their way of shooting or looking at the imagery. Instead of masking the differences with meaningless pleasantries, we underline them to challenge each other’s seeing. What’s remarkable is that once we start working together and shedding our photographic skin and ego, the dynamics in the group change radically.

When an image pops up on the projector, the free flow of ideas, observations and conclusions involve even the most reserved individuals. We become instant photographic friends when the most painful feedback is viewed as a platform for growth. It is true that we all shoot the same scene but one student captures it in such a creative bold new way that the image stands out from the others. We cherish such moments because in this way we expand our seeing horizons and regain our freedom to see. The worst you can do at this stage is to water down great work by treating bold creative imagery the same as mediocre work for the sake of widespread acceptance and sham popularity.    

There is no question that the longer we take photographs and the more experience we have, the easier it is to be pulled into a narrow tunnel of seeing. As successful and socially rewarding as it can be, it often leads to mediocre imagery. If I had to mark one fear in my photography life, that would be it!

Fortunately, this is where new, inexperienced photographers come to the rescue. They have a lightness and playfulness which knows no boundaries, nor is it limited by genres. They have freedom to see, the starting point of creative photography. Of course, this visual lawlessness needs to be taken further into crafting the great image – the phase which requires some visual eloquence and experience.

Keep in mind that these thoughts are only the tip of a huge and fascinating iceberg. I am currently working on an entire series on the subject. Stay tuned for more.


There is nothing more convincing than powerful and creative imagery. Let me share with you some images taken by my students from our recent adventures in Europe.

This stunning image was taken by Dr. Adel Al. Hunayan during the London Visual Poet Experience Workshop. This is not a double-exposure!

A super talented Nadia – London.

Susie Naye – this jaw-dropping image was taken during the Visual Poet Experience Workshop in Berlin.

A super talented Ayoub Benali – Berlin.  Instagram: @I_am_ayoub/

Celine Weller took these two incredibly creative images during the Berlin Workshop.

Courtesy of my talented friend Ascan Reimnitz. 

Christof Timmermann. His imagery says it all!

Julius Stiebert – seeing at its best! Instagram: @julius_stiebert


It was such a pleasure to work with Thomas Weller

Gerald Peterson – what visuals!

Make sure to check out Ina Peterson‘s incredible art

Richard Townsend – what seeing!


Christian Cross (London) and Kevin Pilz (Berlin) were assisting me during the workshops. I will make en entire post about their work. In the meantime take a look at these two images!

Courtesy of Christian Cross. One of my favourite images of the year! Don’t know what you are looking at? Anyone?


Courtesy of Kevin Pilz. As usual, Kevin at his best!


We just announced our fourth webinar, an exclusive to SimplicityInSeeing subscribers. Every month we have at least one webinar on different topics including an image critique and the opportunity to share your own work from your computer.




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6 thoughts on “Finding the freedom to see

  1. The first shot by Dr. Adel Al. Hunayan defies belief. The rational eye requires that escalator to be transparent, but some inner eye says to just enjoy that poetic and other-worldly vision of a stairway to heaven and not to worry how it was made. Kudos to Dr. Hunayan!

    1. Indeed, one of my favourites. I think Dr. Hunayan was shooting through prism, if I remember correctly. The image was taken inside Tate Modern in London – a truly stunning place with many art installations.

  2. Hi Olaf, I enjoyed so very much seeing all the images from my fellow photographers in your Berlin workshop as well as the one in London. Thank you for including MY work in the post.

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