Book Review: Still – The Art of Noticing

I was once asked how I would personally define creativity. It feels like creativity is a word that is used so often and finding a definition that feels right for the artistic soul can be a challenge. After a bit of contemplation, I came up with a definition that is probably just as confusing as the rest: Creativity is finding new ideas from within and actualizing them into the tangible world. Utilizing that internal spark, that heart-powered inner drive, has been a life-long endeavor of mine. Recognizing that I don’t always have the personal fuel to ignite the flame, I often turn to other creative folks to assist me in this quest.

These guides have helped me to remember the power of our individual unique perspectives. Perspective, after all, is what makes the eye see what is both obviously present and yet continually overlooked. That brings me to Mary Jo Hoffman.

There was a moment, that now seems like a lifetime ago, in 2012 when the blog you are reading was at its early stages of development as a destination for modern makers and creative. In that same year, Mary Jo launched her celebrated STILL Blog. Her contemplative photographic collection of found objects from nature, captured on stark white backgrounds, is a revolt against the rising tide of digital input.

Mary Jo’s stunning photography, numbering over 4,000, begs you to slow down, yes to sit still, and take in the beauty. It’s a gentle rebuke, one that has filled me with awe at the sheer profundity and intricate beauty of the a natural world around us. In a gesture of great generosity, Mary Jo’s work has been compiled into one of the most gorgeous printed publications I’ve seen in a very long while: STILL – The Art of Noticing, published by Phaidon through its Monacelli Press division. (I use affiliate links for all book recommendations. It is a great way to support this indie blog and the thousands of independent book sellers bring books to hungry readers.)

Capturing six essays and over 275 of Mary Jo’s captivating images, this printed manifestation of her work is uncompromisingly magnificent. I know this might sound like hyperbolic musing, but words really don’t do this book justice. This book is a testament to the power of both observation and the often missed intrinsic beauty found in the natural world. Very few publications can take stunning photographs and transport their quiet soulfulness onto the page like STILL – The Art of Noticing does.

STILL – The Art of Noticing is designed to gracefully disengage you from the digital madness and transport you to worlds that exist just within sight and often out of view. I highly recommend getting your hands on this luxuriously-designed tome to nature and to keen creativity-fueled observation.

While creativity might be hard to define, I feel confident in telling you this: creativity is often found in the space between thinking too much and feeling too little. In that space, you will find a wealth of treasures. STILL – The Art of Noticing lives in that space and Mary Jo is the Chief Curator of Tangible Natural Wonders.

Credits: Book designed by Jessica Fleischmann,
book forward and essay collaboration by Steve Hoffman.

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View Comments(2)
  • Cassi B
    Cassi B
    4 April, 2024at 1:28 pm

    Again…. Finding the words, like no other, to explain the flame that burns inside. And the effects of that flame

    1. Brett Torrey Haynes Author
      Brett Torrey Haynes
      4 April, 2024at 2:06 pm

      I hope you get a copy of this book. You will love it!

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