Curiosity is key to photography. It’s what drives us to get outside and explore, discover, learn—and then photograph what we’ve found and learned so that we can share it with the world. And there’s no such thing as being too curious! I think it’s safe to say that we can throw out that old saying, “curiosity killed the cat.” So long as we’re being smart and practicing art safely, we can’t be too curious.
So that begs the question, if curiosity is essential to photography, then how do we develop more curiosity? The only way I know is to explore everything you can think to explore. This means not only going out into the world and visiting places you’ve never been, or turning down those back roads you’ve always wondered about, but also other forms of exploration.
You see, it’s not always possible to get out into the world—but we can still explore it from the comfort of our sofas. Explore by reading books on subjects that interest you, photography related or not. You may discover that some of these things are things that you might like to photograph. For instance, a book about gemology or rocks and minerals might turn into a photographic expedition to capture images of beautiful rock.
You can read books, or you can watch documentaries. Pick up magazines about things that you enjoy. Get on Youtube and browse for interesting things, or read blogs about whatever you like. Hey, you can even get on Wikipedia and click the random page button a few times until something captures your interest.
In the real world, in print, online—there are almost endless ways to explore the world, especially now that the internet brings so much of the world right to our fingertips. Getting out there in whatever format is appropriate at the time is the best way for us to dip our toes into new things and get curious about them.
Exploration is how we become more inquisitive, and you’ll probably find that this has a snowballing effect. The biggest benefit to exploration is, in fact, the fact that it is addictive. The more you explore, the more you will discover. This probably unleashes feel-good chemicals in our brains, which explains why we get adrenaline rushes or jolts of joy from our discoveries. And that makes us want to do it again and again so that we can keep triggering that reward system. It keeps us coming back to make—and hopefully photograph—even more discoveries. Whatever the physiology behind it, the need to keep exploring is the important part. The more we explore, the more we’ll want to explore, and the more we will discover to photograph. Promote curiosity in yourself to keep that drive to explore coming, and that is how you will keep new and fresh photographic ideas flowing.
Now go and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation through your lens.