This is a very valid piece of advice for life in general: relationships, career, ambition, goals etc from John Lubbock who was obviously philosophising.
However, it is even more relevant for photographers because, as I have found, your eyes focus on what your brain wants to see.
Even if you are in a visual-rich environment such as a street festival or market, if you are hunting portraits, you see faces.
If you are looking for costumes, you see those.
If you want pictures of cute lil kids…guess what? They’re everywhere.
If you want to lovely young women in unique street fashions, you’ll see those.
And if you are intent on looking for unique motifs & tiny details. that’s what pops out at you in a chaotic mix of a million details.
There’s a little bit of calming down, taking a few deep breaths, and thinking about what you are actually doing in this kind of seeing – as opposed to going out and using your camera as a machine-gun, shooting everything in sight. With the low barriers to entry and negligible cost of shooting digital, that’s what happens quite ofteen.
So go looking deliberately for what you really want to see – and you’ll find it.
Some of the best books for developing your visual sense I have found are the following from David du Chemin & others: