An evolution in photography – Chapter Four – Here I Am

This entry is part of the series “An evolution in photography” that describes how my photography has evolved since I bought my first camera. Chapter One described my early approach to capturing images as naive, aggressive, slapstick and documentary. At that stage, often what I saw did not end up on print. Chapter Two described how life events dramatically changed my approach to photography (and to life), and Chapter Three, through three parts, described that approach: Miksang photography.

Since 2006 I have been studying Miksang and contemplative photography, through reading and teachings by Michael Wood, John McQuade and more recently Andy Karr. I have also been studying meditation, dharma art (through the Shambhala Buddhist teachings) and influential photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andre Kertesz and Edward Weston among others.

I have a long way to go, but there is no doubt that these teachings have genuinely changed how I see the world. My photography is now very much focused on capturing moments in life, moments that happen so quickly that, despite their beauty, so few  people notice them. They happen every day, in the home, on the street and in nature.

Of what I have read on contemplative photography, I find the writings of Chögyam Trungpa to be on the spot. They truly reach the core of contemplative photography.

There is a standing still quality…and seeing things as they are becomes the real thing. Its like a frog sitting in the middle of a big puddle, with rain constantly falling on it. The frog simply winks its eye at each raindrop that falls on it, but doesn’t change its posture. It doesn’t try to either jump into the puddle or to get out of the puddle.” Chögyam Trungpa

When you are painting or composing music, you have no mind. You just don’t think. You are inspired…It’s a complete state of existence, meditation,…With artistic creation, that’s the kind of situation we are talking about. At that level, there’s no room to think about whether what you are doing is for the public or whether it’s personal. It’s just constant self-expression. A lot of works of art have been ruined by self consciousness. As an artist, trying to be good is not so good.” Chögyam Trungpa

To close these chapters, the quote that describes best my current approach to photography is by Cartier-Bresson:

My passion has never been for photography in itself, but for the possibility-through forgetting yourself-of recording in a fraction of a second the emotion of the subject, and the beauty of the form; that is, a geometry awakened by what’s offered.” Henri Cartier-Bresson.

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