A Different Viewpoint

I’m a creature of habit. I find an efficient way to do something and I repeat that behavior until it no longer works. I clean the house the same way every week, I take a shower the same way, and I structure my early morning activities similarly every day.

At times I’ll change a behavior when it is no longer offering what it did in the past. I used to grocery shop at Walmart as it had everything I needed and the prices were reasonable. However, inflation and product shortages have resulted in higher prices and poorer selection. In addition, Walmart now forces customers to self-checkout. This is a minor pain when I purchase a few items but a major one when I have a week’s worth of groceries. Because of these changes I now shop at a different store.

There are situations where I will deliberately change a behavior for the sake of change. I feel that doing so increases my flexibility and creativity.

I love photography and I enjoy architectural photography. Exterior shots and interior shots have different challenges, but both require some effort to make a potentially boring image visually interesting. That additional spark can be added in many ways. You can change the characteristics of the image by adjusting or reducing its color saturation, by changing the angle that you view the object, or by controlling the distance from the object.

I enjoy going to other towns and documenting them in pictures. I especially like small to mid-sized older cities as they offer many interesting structures. Recently, I went on a photo walk accompanied by my wife and one of my daughters. They came along to help me celebrate Father’s Day.

On such adventures, I would normally bring a camera with a wide-angle zoom lens as this would offer me the greatest flexibility when trying to capture large structures. However, this time I deliberately opted to take my old Fuji X100S. That camera has a fixed (non-zoom) lens equivalent to 35 mm. If you are a photographer you know that this is a good lens for street photography, but not necessarily great for architectural photography as its angle of view isn’t quite wide enough.

So why would I do such a thing when I have other cameras that would be better suited to this situation? Such a move forces me to look at the entire project differently. It makes me break away from old patterns and it encourages me to adopt new techniques. I have to learn new skills. In other words, I have to think outside of my usual comfortable box and grow just a bit in order to successfully face this new challenge.

In life, it is important to balance efficiency vs. growth. If I always do the same thing over and over again I become more efficient at doing it. This is a good thing. However, if I change things up a bit I have to force myself to think differently and view things differently and that is also good.

Such an exercise can be expanded beyond creative tasks. What if I allowed myself to listen to someone with a different political viewpoint? It is likely that I will become more tolerant of their opinion. How about making an effort to learn more about someone else’s culture? it is likely that I will not only understand them better, but I’ll also enrich myself with this new knowledge.

This growth method can be used in all sorts of different ways. Even the act of driving home via a different route can broader my horizons. Recently, I started to take a different route from 75th street to my home. In the process, I discovered several beautifully wooded blocks that I was unaware of despite living in Naperville for over 30 years. Driving down those blocks calms me instead of agitating me in the way that my former traffic-laden path did.

Today, I am suggesting to you to deliberately change some of your routine actions or behaviors. Naturally, I want you to think of the consequences of any adjustment that you may do, and I would ask you to be reasonable and rational in your decision. Such a change can be a one-and-done option, or it may be a permanent or semi-permanent change. The purpose of such an exercise is to have you expand your boundaries and to break the constraints that your old habits enforced. Why would I ask you to do such a thing? To live purposefully is to grow.

Below are some of the architectural photos that I deliberately took using the wrong camera. I hope you like them.