Friday, June 26, 2015

Book Spotlight: Closer: Seeing the World in Details

I love photography very much. Capturing a beautiful landscape or a moment in time has always been so intriguing to me. I thoroughly enjoy a photograph that shows an incredible panoramic view, but there's also something to treasure in looking closely at the little things...the details that are all around us. When we allow ourselves to slow down and take in the small details that are there all the time, just waiting to give us a richer, deeper experience of a place and time, I think that our experience as human beings is heightened.

Author/Photographer Michael Clinton
In the new book, Closer: Seeing the World in Details by Michael Clinton, published by Glitterati Incorporated, the photographer/author offers a unique view of the world through his photographs that focus on the small, often overlooked details. Michael Clinton is the president as well as the marketing and publishing director of Hearst Magazines. He is a globetrotter and has visited over 120 countries. He takes readers along on an intriguing journey as he shares photographs depicting the magical details that are all around us every day.

Jaipur, India - From Closer: Seeing the World in Details by Michael Clinton, © 2015, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated

In the following excerpt, the author tells us about the idea behind this wonderful book:


We live in a fast world. Click, swipe, ping, touch, tweet, delete. These have become the actions of our lives. As we stay fixated on our devices, we begin to miss the human nuances that can make all the difference to us: a smile, a friend’s hand on your shoulder, a child’s hug. In so many ways, the digital world enhances our lives and in so many ways it endangers the important moments that help to define us.

In The Art of Stillness, writer Pico Iyer reminds us how stillness opens us up in a way that counters the madness of modern life. For me, it is the concept of getting closer, or seeing the world in details, whether it is at home, or while traveling the world. Stay still and look at the world around you.

This approach can take on many forms: a family dinner without smartphones, which makes us concentrate on the conversation and hear what is important in our loved ones’ lives, and reminding us that nonverbal cues are as important as verbal ones; noticing that someone at work is struggling a bit, allowing you to lend a quiet and helpful hand; or something as simple as offering a nice gesture to a stressed-out stranger. Being closer to the details of our lives keeps us connected to our world in a way that a digital device never can.

One of my favorite moments is waking up at my house and walking around the yard, looking at the trees and flowers and shrubs. That 20-minute ritual with latte in hand is the magic of the day. It is then that I get to look at the wonders of nature and how they envelop our house in a way that is both comforting and secure. After that walk, it seems that every problem can be solved, once I know that my favorite Atlas tree is thriving and that the peonies will bloom once again.

A friend once asked me, “What brings you joy?” Give a quick response, he said, don’t linger too much on your answer. Well, certainly the people (and animals, too) who are important to me fill me up. But my answer was running in Central Park, skiing down a slope on a crisp winter day, hiking in the hills above Santa Fe, gazing at a sunset in any Western sky, reading great literature, looking at art and photography, finding ways to give random acts of kindness through a foundation that some friends and I started, called Circle of Generosity. They all bring me joy.

My career has afforded me a big New York life with fancy dinners, events, red carpets, and celebrities. And while I wouldn’t trade it for anything, more and more I realize that the simple details of everyday life can bring so much pleasure.

As an adventurer and traveler, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit more than 120 countries, run seven marathons on seven continents, and meet incredible people. Standing atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, in Tiananmen Square, or at the Pyramids of Giza all bring a wonder that stays with us forever.

But as time has gone on, I’ve also come to realize that while the big sweeping views are grand and exhilarating, it is the small details in the world that have made my travels richer over time. Walking past a small shop in Place des Vosges in Paris, my eye caught some small figurines of French dance-hall girls. I pulled out my camera and took some wonderful photos of these girls.While taking the elephant ride to the Red Fort in Jaipur, India presents a scene that is spectacular and chaotic, it is the whimsical multicolors applied to the elephant’s trunk in exquisite detail that will mesmerize you. Plates of food, local posters, statues and their details, signs, flora, local handicrafts—all add up to getting closer to a place, a culture, and its people.

During my travels, I find myself taking in the big picture, but more often I get still in a scene and I take it all in, getting down to the most granular level possible. It adds a completely different level of experience.

You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to do get closer. In fact, you can practice this in your everyday life. Put down your device and concentrate on the people around you, your surroundings, and all of the details that are in your house or neighborhood or office or favorite place to visit. You’ll be surprised at how much depth it adds to your day.

We are surrounded by memories, sensory stimuli, and the specifics of our lives that help to define who we are as people. Seeing the world in details is the message of this book. The photos inside take you on a journey that is closer than most. There are no sweeping landscapes or familiar landmarks and monuments. Instead, there are moments of discovery.

The cover photo is a good example. While walking through a park in Oslo, I came across this small metal sculpture of a man doing something basic in life—simply drinking water, a universal experience that is shared by every other human on the planet. Around me, many people didn’t even notice the statues as they went about their business. For me, it was a beautiful detail in the park that deserved some attention. Using my macro lens allowed me to see it in even greater detail.

As you flip through this book, I hope it will inspire you to take out your own macro lens, literally and figuratively. Get closer to your own life. The rewards will astonish you.

—Michael Clinton

(Excerpt From Closer: Seeing the World in Details by Michael Clinton, © 2015, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated

Oslo, Norway - From Closer: Seeing the World in Details by Michael Clinton, © 2015, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated

Paris, France - From Closer: Seeing the World in Details by Michael Clinton, © 2015, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated

This is a delightful book that celebrates the little things in order to help us see the big things more clearly.

Closer: Seeing the World in Details can be purchased here.

*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

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