Random Bliss

Lidor WyssockyBlog

When I started my way as an urban photographer, I tried to maximize the potential of each photo-walk by planning my route carefully in advance. Back in those days, I was going out with the intent to find beautiful things to capture. And the guidelines for what is considered “a beautiful thing” were fairly straightforward. It included geometrical shapes, patterns, well-thought-of structures, and symmetry (or well-designed asymmetry). There was always room for surprises, but all in all, I usually got what I was looking for. Everything else was in my blind spot.

These manmade structures fascinated me because they represented total control. First by the people who created them, and then by me. Carefully planning what to capture, waiting for the right time, using the optimal settings of my camera, and looking for the perfect angle.

And then one day, while looking for that perfect angle to capture a beehive-like building, I stumbled upon this broken glass tile. And I was hypnotized.

It was the complete opposite of what I was set to capture. It was an anomaly, and not a designed one, but rather a purely random one. And within it, there was a universe of random details. It was created by accident, and upon its creation, it formed the anti-thesis of the structure I was after. And yet, I couldn’t get my eyes off it.

At first look, it was a well-designed asymmetry: the clash between the pattern and the anti-pattern; the tension between the strength of the building and the fragile glass; even the shutter-lines were in perfect angles with the geometry of the structure — it was too good to be true. Only that it wasn’t designed, nor was it planned. It was created randomly, and if I had walked by on any other day, I would have probably missed it. It was a celebration of coincidence and luck.

I realized I was not in control of the process. And I loved it.

I started to plan less and wander more. I just went out with my camera, looking for something that would catch my eyes. I didn’t know which streets I would visit and what would draw my attention. I planned to be surprised, and I embraced the accidental nature of my photo-walks. But the lack of a plan was only the first level of randomness that found its way into my work.

At first, I was exploring some streets I wasn’t familiar with. And then, I started to notice things I previously ignored. I found magic in scenes that appeared to be well-organized, but on closer look were chaotic. Take this image, for example, with the unaligned, flawed blocks, the random spots on the wall, and the newspaper lying on the pavement — it screams of tension between order and chaos.

And then I discovered the beauty of total randomness. No, it doesn’t mean the result was a chaotic collection of random pixels. Far from it — the result looked carefully staged and designed. But the process that resulted in the frame I captured was nothing more than a chain of coincidences. I caught an arbitrary scene that was created over time, by forces of nature, decay, and quite a few people who never met each other and obviously didn’t mean to create one holistic scene.

I found these scenes so powerful simply because they seemed so full of intent when they were obviously the result of random, detached actions. These scenes were collages created over time and captured at arbitrary points in time — when I happened to walk by.


Any act of Creativity is as random as any of these photos. We have to be prepared, we have to be in creative shape, and we have to nurture and maintain the right settings for Creativity to flourish. But eventually, there is no repeatable creative process that will always result in the same outcome or any outcome necessarily for that matter.

Whatever we manage to create is built on layers and layers of raw material, things we experienced and observed, ingredients we collected at different times, from different people and events, without knowing if and how we will ever use them. Just like the urban walls that capture layers of paint, graffiti, stickers, flyers, and decay until someone happens to notice their magic, our mind stores and manipulates the things we see and sense until some of them are weaved into a magical new creation. It’s a surprising, unrepeatable process. It’s a beautifully accidental process.

We have to be prepared, we have to be in creative shape, and we have to nurture and maintain the right settings for Creativity to flourish. But eventually, there is no repeatable creative process that will always result in the same outcome or any outcome necessarily for that matter.Click To Tweet


But these Insights, which are now part of every photo-walk I take, are more than just random bliss, and they are even more than merely a good metaphor for the creative process. Each of these captures, and the exploration that precedes them, is, in fact, an excellent and effective exercise of creative observation. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Leonardo da Vinci had to say:

“Look at walls splashed with a number of stains, or stones of various mixed colors. If you have to invent some scene, you can see there resemblances to a number of landscapes, adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, great plains, valleys and hills, in various ways. Also you can see various battles, and lively postures of strange figures, expressions on faces, costumes and an infinite number of things, which you can reduce to good integrated form. This happens on such walls and varicolored stones, (which act) like the sound of bells, in whose peeling you can find every name and word that you can imagine.”

When you intentionally look at random scenes like the ones created unintentionally on the street, on walls, with reflections of light and so on, you lure your mind to use different observation axes and blend them with a dose of imagination. Without realizing it, you are continually changing your perspective and your field of view. You focus on a specific subset of details first, and then move to another, just to find out that their combination is an even better catch. When you mindfully observe such a scene, your mind runs through numerous possible interpretations, until it is locked on one or two which provide the most coherent, yet surprising, sense of what you see. And often, when you look again at the same scene, you reveal new things that either fit perfectly to what you had in mind or shed new light on the scene and give it a new meaning.

When you intentionally look at random scenes like the ones created unintentionally on the street, on walls, with reflections of light and so on, you lure your mind to use different observation axes and blend them with a dose of imaginationClick To Tweet

This unstructured process is precisely how the mind is designed to work when we are creating. Therefore it is the perfect exercise to make your brain flexible and prepared for real-world challenges and opportunities.


Our mind loves patterns. We have a relatively stable mental model of the world, and the brain uses it to interpret reality. This is precisely what makes random scenes so intriguing, challenging, but also fun. Our mind tries to analyze them based on its existing mental model, to find familiar patterns in them, and ultimately, to make sense of them. It’s like a fun, surprising riddle, and when our mind, with a touch of imagination, manages to “solve it”, it is highly rewarding. Our brain wants more of that reward, and so another exploration cycle starts. It’s a perfect positive feedback loop, and it is one of the primary feedback loops that makes us creative creatures.