The Journal of Seeing – a conversation on “seeing” via images and words

The Journal of Seeing – a conversation on “seeing” via images and words

How are you, my photographic friends?

The Photographic LETTERS, part of Simplicity-In-Seeing, introduced a few weeks ago got off to a great start. In fact, I got such positive feedback that I decided to expand the idea even further.

One step that I have already taken was something you’ve all been asking me for a very long time – that is, creating a Facebook group which would focus on the core of our photography – SEEING. Finally, after months of thinking and debating, this group is live. We call it THE JOURNAL OF SEEING. 

You can join us here 

This project is unlike any you have seen or experienced before. It is all about connecting, feeling and most importantly “seeing” the world around us. This is a place where image-centered discussion is encouraged. The discussion centres around taking visual risks and pushing our own visual boundaries. We have already started debating the process of crafting great imagery. Most importantly we are sharing our carefully crafted imagery and discussing it through honest and articulate comments. This is a place where “seeing” is placed before gear. In fact, no gear discussions are allowed. So if you are tired of never-ending gear comparisons and arguments about camera A vs. B, you will enjoy this FB Group. This is a gear-neutral group – whether you shoot APS-C, full frame, medium format, film or iPhone – share your great work and we will discuss it.

We got off to a fantastic start. Despite its small size, we have already been debating our imagery, sharing some fascinating thoughts and exchanging visual ideas. I haven’t had so much fun with photography for a very long time. So if you are looking for image-centered discussions and honest feedback, join us. 

For those of you who like Instagram, we’ve also started a parallel Instagram account. Please follow the Journal of Seeing and use the #journalofseeing hashtag for a chance to be featured.

That’s all for today. I will keep you updated about these exciting new developments. In the meantime, I have so much work to share with you that goes as far back as last year’s travel. Enjoy and please say hi! 

2019 © OLI Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

Open Up Your Seeing

Open Up Your Seeing

I must admit that the last few months have been intense. As you have probably noticed, I’ve been working on many projects and there is no question that I didn’t publish enough on this blog. That’s changing now! 

The first weeks of this year have been spent reducing my commitments and organizing my photographic life! Just a week ago I re-launched Simplicity-In-Seeing in a brand-new form and some of you have already contacted me saying that you like it a lot. Indeed, I find it such a joy writing personal LETTERS about photography. Now let’s get back to today’s point.

When I looked at the imagery shot over the last few months, I realized that I haven’t shown you the imagery taken in Paris last year. As I look back at the photographs, I realize that many of the shots are not typical travel images and to be honest with you, I like it this way. 

When we travel, we are intrigued by all the new things we are going to photograph. Many photographers I talk to make up must-have shot lists and detailed plans of their trip to make sure they don’t miss anything. I know because I used to do the same. 

We run from one location to the other following our list but the more I travel the more convinced I am that this approach does more harm than good to our “seeing.” 

One of the best antidotes to such pre-planned shooting is to calm down and linger in one space (thank you Ibarionex Perello for this term). It is a deliberate state of mind which slows down your visual impulses and allows your vision to linger over the spaces that surround you. You might practice this observational state on your trips. When exploring cities, I find an area, street or even a small plaza where I slow down and just linger photographically. 

This approach allows me to extract all the visual opportunities in front of me, even if they do not necessarily represent the place well. When I was shooting the streets of Paris, I let my eye and imagination lead me to unexpected places. I refused to follow well-trodden paths and allowed myself to be led by light and visuals, regardless of the route.

Why would I take such a radical stand? Because almost every time I came back from my trips, the images shot during those slow and creative periods were of much higher quality than those taken under the pressure of running around and checking items off the list. 

I noticed that during my last visit to Paris I took many let’s say “unusual” shots which some of you could argue might have been taken in any other place. Maybe you are right, maybe not. I strongly believe that when you travel, it is worth forgetting where you are and letting your “seeing” open up to the visuals around you. 

Today I’ve selected some images which I took in Paris during a photographic outing.  

next time…

2019 © OLI Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

In Paris With Ibarionex

In Paris With Ibarionex

As this year’s Photokina winds down with all its gear-related excitement, we can refocus on seeing. Two weeks ago, I was leading the Visual Poet Experience Workshop in Paris and I cannot emphasize how amazing this event was. Not only did we have a super talented group of photographers from all around the world but we also had a special guest. Ibarionex Perello was in Paris at the same time and he was kind enough to pay us a visit and chat about photography. But that’s not all.

Ibarionex and I decided to shoot together for a few hours and it proved to be a remarkable experience. Shooting street photography with someone who cares so deeply about the craft of seeing was one of the highlights of my Paris adventure. During our time together, we discussed Ibarionex’s new book, “Making Photographs: Developing A Personal Visual Workflow.” I am currently reading the book and I will write my thoughts as soon as I finish. In short, it is a no-brainer to read this book for anyone who cares about the craft of seeing and improving their photography. Highly recommended!


Today, I would like to leave you with some imagery from Paris shot with the X100F and the GFX50S and our brand-new video!


The next Visual Poet Experience Workshop takes place in San Francisco, November 9-11. I think there are two spots left so make sure to reserve them before they are gone.




2018 © Olafphoto. All rights reserved


First, there was shock, disbelief and numbness. Then there was a fierce anger and the urge to talk, but no words came out.

I did what I usually do in such moments of deep sadness. I decided to act in the best way I know. I grabbed my camera.

It was a miserable day in Vancouver – pouring rain, cold and windy, the kind of day when you want to stay at home, safe and warm. But not today! When we arrived at the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, a large crowd was already assembled.

A sea of people stood shoulder to shoulder in soaking rain, in silence. Hundreds of umbrellas opened in harmony as if they were all somehow synchronized – how strange, I thought.

At first I didn’t notice but then I realized almost everyone was holding a candle, their hands protecting the flame from the rain. They knew these candles needed to burn. Someone started playing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”  

Then I started climbing the stairs of the Art Gallery. Normally this would be almost impossible in such a crowd but somehow people were letting me in and in doing so, they smiled.

At the top I raised my camera and looked through the viewfinder as people one by one started climbing the stairs, leaving their candles, cards and flowers at the top. I saw older people, I saw a young child leaving her drawings, I could see people’s faces, crumpled with grief.  

Then I saw her. Her face was unlike any other. Her hands were wrapped tightly around a candle protecting the flame. She was climbing the stairs more slowly than others as if this climb was a ceremony itself. She approached the top of the stairs and the glow of thousands of candles lit her face. The emotions on her face were overwhelming. She didn’t make a sound but you could sense the grief. Then I noticed a tear in her eye…

I couldn’t hold it any more. My heart started beating faster, my hands were shaking and my tears fogged the viewfinder. Through this fog I saw this stoic Muslim woman praying and placing the candle gently among hundreds of others.

We both stood there for what seemed to be an eternity. We never met, we never spoke but we had so much in common. A Christian man and a Muslim woman crying together.


“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.”

Lyrics by John Lennon






















All images were taken with the Fuji X-T1, XF 35mm F1.4 & XF 56mm F1.2 , processed in LR6. The Classic Chrome film simulation.


2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.