Perception & Perspective

I was recently invited to lead a workshop at the 2017 Headwaters Conference at WSCU in Gunnison, Colorado. The three day long conference theme of “Science, Story and Justice” explored how language creates justice and injustices as it unfolds the diverse ways of knowing that helps us to understand the world.

The day long workshop I offered was titled “Are We the Stories We Live By?” During the workshop we investigated how over time our stories might evolve and shape our beliefs. For better or worse. And how we have the ability to choose new and different language to change our story moving forward, without taking away the injustices we’ve experienced that form who we are today. In essence, how we tell our story has the ability to provide new opportunities and understanding, when and if we are ready and open to a new perspective.

When I asked each participant why they chose my workshop over the additional five amazing and excellent workshops, one participant stated he was interested in perception and perspective.  I found this extremely interesting and began to look further into these concepts.

According to perception and perspective are two words that deal with the way we perceive, understand and interpret things.  Although these two words sound and look similar, they should not be used interchangeably. Perception basically refers to the way we think about or understand someone or something. Perspective is the way we regard something or our point of view.This is the main difference between perception and perspective. The same scene can be interpreted differently by different individuals with different perspectives and perceptions. In other words, perception and perspective might differ according to different individuals. 

Difference Between  Perception and Perspective

Perception: Perception is the way you think about or understand someone or something.
Perspective: Perspective is the way of regarding something.

Perception: Perception can be influenced by past experiences, feelings, and thoughts.
Perspective: Perspective is affected by attitude.

Perception: Perspective influences your perception.
Perspective: Looking at things in a new perspective can change your perception.

If you’re interested please read more on this here.

I can see how this fits into storytelling and multimedia approaches to conveying meaning and information, or a personal story.

Here’s a personal example. Last year in October 2016 I went to Moab, Utah. It had been several years since I had actually been there because I typically avoid the town and head straight into the surrounding backcountry.  However, on this trip I took a local hike to a nearby arch I had hiked to on many occasions over the last 15 years. In the past this hike has offered profound stillness and complete solitude, with the exception of the welcomed occasional Raven (Corvus corax) soaring nearby. Imagine a scene similar to what one might perceive this woman is experiencing in this photograph I took as I passed her on the trail.


I was originally going to post this when I returned but did not. Why? Because Moab has changed in ways I was not prepared for. I completely understand why it’s a destination many people travel to. However, in 2013 the state of Utah began a campaign called the “Mighty 5”.  You can read more about the impacts of the “Mighty 5”. In all honesty the quiet and solitude I’ve fortunately had the opportunity to experience in this wondrous, unique and fragile ecosystem may no longer exist. When I moved my lens frame just inches away from the photo above, this is what was actually happening:


A very busy trailhead with tents set up practically on top of each other along the river. The hike to the arch consisted of the same. I felt as though I was at Disney Land instead of the wild place I’ve found deep connection to in the past. It certainly wasn’t quiet and there was no solitude. This is the reality of many wild places.

As a storyteller I understand why perception and perspective play a very important role in storytelling. And how what appears to be someone’s truth, actually may not be if it is perceived incorrectly. So I will ask myself often: Is this my story to tell? And my goal will always be to to convey it in a way the person whose story it is intended it to be told.

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