I snapped this from inside Montreal’s Congress Centre.
As I was post-processing this shot, I kept being distracted by its three dominant colours, as though they were each projecting/creating/illustrating their own reality. It reminded me of some of my previous readings on mental models. In short, mental models are like the lenses we see through and to make sense of the world in which we live.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
A mental model is an explanation in someone’s thought process for how something works in the real world. It is a kind of internal symbol or representation of external reality.
In there lies the danger. If our mental models go unchecked, they may literally short circuit our reality! Argyris and Senge talk about this as The Ladder of Inference. In short, it describes our congnitive process of ‘reality creation’. That is, we begin with real data & experience, the kind that would be captured by a movie camera that didn’t lie. We then choose a set of selected data & experience that we pay attention to. To this selected data & experience we affix meaning, develop assumptions, come to conclusions, and finally develop beliefs. beliefs then form the basis of our actions which create additional real data & experience… and so on, and so on. Loop!
In photography, I find this also limits my ability to see. In actively working to break my own mental models around a particular subject matter, I can stumble onto new discoveries and happy accidents. As recommended by Freeman Patterson, instead of trying to improve on present photographic approaches and techniques, consider approaches and techniques you’ve never tried!
Tips & Tricks
An easy exercise in breaking our mental models of photography is to write a list of some photographic rules, yours or some you’ve learned from others, then go out and break them!