We go through life so often caught in our own story, filtering out anything that does not confirm our view of our world. But as I tell my students, our cameras do not have our brains attached to them, so they are a great vehicle for discovering things as they are rather than things as we think them to be. Yes, they have their technical limitations too, but so often our concepts of what we think we want to capture in a picture cause us to miss the magic and beauty of what is actually there. Or we shoot a subject that seems large and singularly compelling to us, but later find the picture seems to be flat and our subject lost in the chaos of its surroundings. Seeing fresh is the secret to compelling imagery. It also is a way of life that opens us to more skillful ways of working with the world.
“Thinking should be done before and after, not during photographing.”Cartier-Bresson
I will be teaching a Contemplative Photography class, starting May 17 for 5 weeks, that teaches us to slow down and pay attention to our process of perception so we can approach our world fresh; to experience what Robert Irwin’s biography title states, “Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees”. We approach our time with the camera as an opening of all our senses and receiving the world through the lens, rather than going on a hunt for images that confirm our view of the world. We’ll be using as our text the book “The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes” by Andy Karr and Michael Wood. I invite you to join me in that practice if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Go to my classes page for more details and the link to register.