I love photography and particularly as it relates to three important concepts – perspective, point of view and opinion. Imagine standing on a road lined by trees on either side. You will notice, as you look at the horizon, that the road and the trees appear to get smaller and smaller the further away they are from you. This is called ‘linear perspective’ – the trees and road are more or less the same dimensions as the trees and road where you are standing, but appear to be smaller, adding depth to the scene. ‘Point of view’, on the other hand, refers to the physical location of the camera with respect to the subject. Taking a picture from the road, climbing a tree and taking the shot or getting into a helicopter to take the picture of the tree-lined road will offer three very different results – there will be some perspective in the first two locations, but from helicopter height, the trees would be almost totally flattened in the image, but the height will give you a view of the countryside and an understanding of the length of the road. ‘Opinion’, however, relates to the belief of the photographer and is often expressed as a judgement in the picture that is shot. Imagine there was some garbage lying next to one of the trees or strewn over the road at a particular point – the photographer who focuses in on the garbage and not on the idyllic scene is expressing an opinion (perhaps attempting to show neglect or an uncaring attitude within the human being). All three concepts have a very important place in photography and demonstrate an understanding or interpretation of subject matter by the photographer.
These same three concepts also relate to the human being in the following ways:
- Perspective – perspective is the mental and emotional state that combines available facts and personal ideas to form and develop a meaningful whole to the individual. It is the person’s attempt to make sense of the world, formed from background knowledge, upbringing and experiences. A thirty-five year old mother of three children as opposed to a five year old little girl will have very different perspectives of femininity and the concept of being a lady. To fully understand people, one requires acknowledging that each person comes with limited amounts of information (i.e.: perspective).
- Point of View – this can be used to describe one’s mental/emotional relationship with others. You and others always have a specific point of view. Imagine yourself as a little child as a toddler walking through the mall – all you see are busy feet in shoes and legs walking past you and you will probably draw the conclusion that the mall is a frightening place and that no-one cares for you. As an adult, now much taller, the mall is far less threatening. You understand the reasons behind busy people and their activities and so you are more relaxed. The “perspective key” behind point of view is your ability to put yourself in the shoes of another – to understand life through their eyes, through their point of view.
- Opinion – this is a belief, often firmly expressed as a judgement, but which does not rise to the level of fact. Opinions can be changed as new facts and ideas are presented to the individual, but what you state about any situation beyond simple fact is your opinion.
Those that are the best listeners and subsequently those who are able to express empathy well are those who understand and can relate to perspective, point of view and opinion. They realise that we all have a limited scope of information and thus never the complete picture (perspective). They seem to be able to grasp their own position and vantage point on any issue and then are able to position themselves in the shoes of another and see the situation in the way that the other sees it (point of view). The very skilled are able to articulate the opinion of others (whilst maybe not agreeing with it) in a way that is better delivered than the one having the opinion (reflective listening). These are the complete communicators – they learn about others’ lives more quickly, have open minds and usually can offer wisdom when needed to do so.
Gaining perspective implies learning from life – gaining understanding from every interaction and experience to grow in wisdom. We all need to be able to look through the lenses of every person/group who have a stance on an issue. How you see things is all important on your journey to maturity.