Essay 5 - Is There A Link Between "Old Souls" and Incredible Photography?

A friend of mine sent me an article titled "The 6 Most Common Traits of Old Souls" and it got me to thinking.  In this article by Jeff Wilson, he defines ‘Old Souls’ as a special kind of being that their physical age doesn’t match their emotional or spiritual depth.   When I was younger, I was told that I was an old soul many times, now I am just old!  

When I take the time to explain my thoughts and expeirences with others about my photographs, most people are amazed at the depth of thought and emotion that I try and describe to them.  I connect the dots for people between what they are seeing in my photographs and my experiences and personal emotions that went into the creation of each image.  It is difficult for me to accurately descibe in words, it is someting that I feel deep in my gut.  

Wilson says "you can recognize an old soul by their eyes", and I have to agree with Jeff.  Wilson lists the following traits regarding old souls: 

  • Fitting In May Be Difficult
  • You Crave Knowledge And Wisdom
  • You Tend To Not Get Along With Those Your Age
  • You Have No Problem Spending Time Alone
  • You’d Rather Spend Time In Nature Than Anywhere Else
  • You Find Meaning In Life

I found myself thinking about some select photographers of the past and I feel like many of these traits likely ring true to who they really were as human beings.  I think of Irving Penn, Julie Margaret Cameron, Minor White, Paul Strand, Edward Steichen, and Ansel Adams.  I suspect that some of these traits also help shape and define the creative aspects of a photographer as well.  

The tip that I will provide for you is to slow down and be free when you are creating your photographs.  This is pretty easy to do for landscapes and nature, but maybe a little more challenging, or at least different for other genres like portraits.  No matter how you get there, free your mind from all the clutter and become part of your subject or scene.  This is when I create my best work.  I often close my eyes, listen to the sounds around me, breath in slowly and deeply and let things go.  I then open my eyes and routinely journal about my reaction and response to my scene and subjects.  I might do this many times over the course of days before I decide to create a photograph.  This process also helps me eliminate distracting elements from my compostions.  I have heard others describe photography being the opposite of painting in that we strive to remove elements from our pallet where painters add.  

I am curious to know what you think.  So, do you think you are an old soul photographer?

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-Tim Layton

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