What Do You See?

Is anyone out there?


Making my way through the pages of Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write (AF) it becomes clear that deep down we all have some aspiration to bring creativity to a certain field or hobby. We all have our outlets for the energy that we store up inside whether it be writing, photography, and powerlifting in my case or any one of the hundreds of things that creativity has a place.

The process for each of these blog posts comes as an initial challenge and thought: “What possibly could I write about now?” This is something I’ve talked about before and yet even now with quite a few posts under by belt the storyline doesn’t seem to have changed. Thankfully I find encouragement through reading books on writing and writers. It’s a large boat and we are all in it.

I picked the above photo for a reason because something occurred to me reading the paragraphs on Honesty and Vulnerability. It triggered the voice in my head to think about the reasons I enjoy photography and writing; to tell a story. To tell my story and perhaps connect and inspire someone else there to pick up a camera or pen. If you’ve been to the Louvre then this photo likely has meaning to you. You can instantly recall the feeling of being in this room and I’m willing to bet it had both positive and negative energy encompassed in that feeling. Recall the size of the room and the layout. How about the size of the painting itself and the realization that it is ensconced in glass behind a railing with security close by.The large crowds of people clamoring to get as close as possible to the small barrier erected to keep people at bay. Everyone trying to get their selfies and photos with the famous painting while capturing their own moment. The pushing and shoving. The person who takes a photo and then goes back in for more while you wait patiently for your turn growing frustrated by the whole process. The recognition that you’ve now laid eyes on the most famous painting in the world.

I’ve had the fortune of visiting this painting twice in my life with two very different experiences. All of the above feelings crowded in the first time however, it was less busy the second time and my expectations had changed. Preparation for what was to come makes the experience different for sure. Looking back on this photo I encounter a sense of loneliness. To think this painting sits here day in and day out looking back on millions of people makes you wonder what the creator would have thought.

“Observed closely enough, all of life is interesting. The practice of writing teaches this. All of life is filled with drama. Observed closely, small moments have large impact.” – Julia Cameron, The Right to Write, p. 174

To see this photo without having looked upon that same view brings a different story for you I’m guessing. You wouldn’t know the crowds or the feeling of what it’s like to be in that room so your perspective changes. You may be more critical of the photo itself considering my choice of editing style. We as observers of this world find different stories in the exact same image or experience. So you may look at this painting and be repulsed by the feeling of being in that room and say to yourself: “It was overrated.”  That was my reaction the first time. Then I look at this photo and recall the few moments spent dead center a few feet away. The millions of people who have gazed at this painting and all had their own judgments and reactions. There is a sense looking at this photo that I was the only one there. You may get that same feeling.

To write and observe is something that we all have the ability to do if given the chance and opportunity (we are generally the block ourselves). Reflecting back on my current read and this photo we have the ability to be as creative and open with ourselves as we want or stifle those creative feelings at the door. I’m left wondering what the story of this photo will mean to me in 10 years. Will I have revisited the painting or perhaps this was the last time. Will that sense of loneliness fade and be covered over by the feeling of the mob just steps away clamoring to get as close as possible. Maybe I’ll write about it again one day and revisit the story that sits here.


  1. If you are on the fence about being creative then consider a book like Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write and simply replace writing with any other creative endeavor. Those moments of block that we all encounter sometimes just need a small nudge. For me the thousands of photos and books that I read tend to be the nudge that I need.
  2. Share your experience as honestly and vulnerably as you can. Imagine back to the moment or event that you are sharing and capture those details. The details are where the story unfolds and an area where personally I need to continue to work to help strengthen my own writing.

One thought on “What Do You See?

  1. I went through my photo archives to find one with the crowd – different stories in exact same image – as many as there are people looking at it!


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