Experiment: Photography Without Visual Feedback

By MESAGI, the



I’m a curious guy. I was wondering for months how turning off the visual feedback of my camera will impact me. I finally have an answer. Read on if you’re also curious.

Why turn off visual feedback?

Why would I want to do photography without any visual feedback you may ask? First, to understand how it’s impacting the practice of photography. Second, could this experiment be used to evaluate and train the eyes and framing reflexes? You see, these two points are primordial for street photography.

Your eyes quickly detect a worthwhile subject and determine an appropriate point of view. You then point, shoot, and move on to the next subject. All that took a few seconds. Without the help of your camera’s screen, you’ve to compose and frame mentally. Which are awesome skills to develop.

How to cut off visual feedbacks

The basic idea is to turn the screen off from the start of the photo session till the end. If you have a viewfinder on your camera, you don’t use it either. For this experiment, you’re going to photograph blind. But before all that, first thing first: configure your camera for the kind of subjects you’re going to encounter.

I’m reporting back after experimenting

I’ve set up my GR III to AV mode, manual focus, and auto ISO. My camera was set to focus from 0.5-3 meters with an aperture of F10. For the place, I chose a familiar one: my beloved 19th district of Paris.

It was an interesting experience! I realized how much the grid lines and electronic level are essential to compose and frame quickly and correctly. The display’s preview is part of the creative process and helps to compose and adjust on the fly.

That said, doing street photography blind was really fun! It was exciting to not immediately see what I’d just captured digitally. It was indeed a good training for my eyes and framing reflexes. My arms and wrists were moving and adjusting automatically, probably drawing from my past experience.

The photographic results were surprising. A good number of missed ones as you can guess. Some of the photos look as intended but I also got (pleasant) results I wasn’t expecting. You can discover them in the gallery above.

Try it yourself

If you’ve never tried photography without visual feedback, do it! You’ll learn about yourself, and your interactions with your camera. It’s a fun and instructive experiment that I’m eager to revisit in the future.

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