Catalina Islands. Made with iPhone. (c) Om Malik

“When people become engrossed in what they are doing, they enter a state that is called ‘flow. Flow can be achieved by engaging in mental or physical activities that we value and that require us to concentrate fully to use our skills.

When we enter a state of flow, we become absorbed and focused, and we experience momentary enjoyment. When we leave a state of flow, we are often surprised by how much time has passed.

Learning which activities might enable someone to enter a state of flow requires asking questions and listening. People tend to thrive on healthy engagement and challenge. “

John Dattilo, Penn State.

A handful of things get me in the “flow.”

I find myself in the flow when observing, thinking, and writing — primarily for private consumption. For a while in my life, my public writing brought me into a flow state. I would know that it is time for me to return to the writing arena when I find myself in the “flow.”

For now, I am just busy filling up my journal.

My camera is an excuse for me to slow down and observe. But in reality, I am just out of my routine. It is an opportunity to be alone with the rest of the planet. When I am out in nature and watching the planet’s rhythms, I start getting into the “flow.”

Photographs are simply the outcome of that state of “flow.”

What gets you in the flow? Is there a magic formula for flow?

Yale University researchers seem to think so.

“These principles underlying flow may be unconscious but they are not random — and work within a biological system that can be described in mathematical terms,” said David Melnikoff, formerly of the Yale Department of Psychology now of Northeastern University, corresponding author of the paper published in in the journal Nature Communications today.

The basic equation underlying their computational theory of flow is relatively simple: it computes the mutual information between desired end states and means of attaining them, a quantity expressed as I(M;E). Exercise is one example they use to illustrate the concept.

When people exercise, they have a desired end state, say, losing five pounds. People also have a means of attaining their end state, perhaps jogging. Whether they jog and how often and far is the means and is informative of whether they will achieve their end state.

“Our theory says that the more informative a means is, the more flow someone will experience while performing it. The formula is a way of mathematically quantifying exactly how informative a particular means happens to be.”

Optimizing I(M;E) is also a key goal of artificial intelligence programmers. In essence, AI experts are trying to build machines that behave like people in flow states, the authors argue.

Yale University Research

April 18, 2022. San Francisco.

It has been over 18 months since I got off Instagram. And by doing so, I have managed to eliminate the popular influences on my work. It has been an excellent way to overcome the meaningless metrics that assign value to a personal creative effort.

I have been able to experiment more and create with relative freedom. This exploration has allowed me to narrow down my focus and find a visual language. Photography, nevertheless, is a journey in exploration, and it is an eternal exploration, and the search continues.

That said, I do miss sharing my efforts with others. I love the feedback, including constructive criticism. How else will I become a professional amateur? And despite having my homestead on the Internet, I find myself not sharing photos. It is because of some of the shortcomings of blogging as a format.

As an experiment, I will try and share photos at least twice and up to five times a week. There will be no titles. Just the date it was published. Unless otherwise stated, I use Lecia SL and an APO-Summicron-M 2/50 ASPH lens. Everything else doesn’t matter.

You can get the daily photoblog post delivered to your email inbox by signing up for my photos-only newsletter. Here is a link to scroll through my previously shared photos.

January 27, 2022. San Francisco

Photo by Chris Michel

Every photo tells a story. And there is a story behind every image. As a writer, I found myself restricted by the social platforms when it came to telling that story.

I believe we all deserve more than a blink of an eye for our work. The web allows me to share higher quality images and gives you a chance to view them on a screen bigger than our phones.

I wanted to unshackle from the silver cage of social media, and that is why I started a small newsletter — to share my creative work.

I also sometimes share links to the work of other photographers, articles worth reading, and soon short chats with fellow photographers whose work I admire.

I hope you can join me on my journey and sign-up for this occasional newsletter.