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12 inches

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” – Ansel Adams

This is my most often repeated quote. I ask the question, “What is the most important part of the camera?”, a deliberately misleading question, I know. It illicits answers that reveal a technical focus and occasionally compostional awareness. Once in a while someone will answer. “You are.” And I smile.

The camera is a tool. Bewitched by advertising and media reports about the latest camera developments we become immersed in the idea that a particular camera or lens will lead to ‘better’ photographs. The Ansel Adams quote is a reminder that it is you who is the creative agent, you who make the creative decisions. Sure high quality equipment can make a difference, but knowing how to use the equipment effectively (smartphone or DSLR) and learning how to truly see are at the heart of personal resonant photography.

Mindful Photography is all about photography that is personal, resonant and true to you. It places clear seeing, learning how to see like a camera and using seeing as an anchor, at the heart of the creative art. It uses mindfulness approaches to learn and hold gently all the technical and compositional stuff, whilst you are learning. It encourages an exploration of using photography to represent your emotional experiences, and it provides a creative vehicle for personal growth and self exploration of how you are living now.

Ansel Adams was right. You are the most important component of a camera.

The Photos

I thought I would illustrate this quote with photos from my most recent practice, with my faithful assistant. All of these photos were created with a small high end compact camera. It has full manual features so I can make creative choices. But these photos illustrate clearly that the heart of an engaging photo is an emotional connection and clear seeing. When there is an alignment between your eye, your heart and your mind the photo created resonates for you. What the viewer thinks or experiences is always out of your control. Create photographs that mean something to you.

These photos, in chronological order follow our walk through, park, lane and beach. And the final one tells the tale of its impact. Monty’s version of savasana (corpse pose)!

 

Honesty

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”  Pema Chodron

Looking at ourselves ‘honestly and gently’ is perhaps the most courageous act of our life. Gentle honesty requires a non judgmental attentive mind set where we remain present with our thoughts and feelings as they ebb and flow. We meditate to train the mind in this mindful practice and then life happens.

As we start a new year there is an opportunity and inclination to consider how we are living and how we feel about that living. These are the fundamental questions that Pema refers to. Fundamental, as they go to the root of our day to day living and experiences.

If you have read this blog over the last six months or so you will know that 2015 was a particularly challenging year. I often referred to these challenges without going into personal detail where I felt they might compromise other people’s feelings. This is an intention I intend to continue and in the spirit of gentle honesty I feel I should share a recent decision Beci and I have made.

We have decided to divorce. After 21 years of marriage this is a major decision and hopefully one that will allow both of us to continue our own gentle honesty and personal growth. I know that we both hope to get through the next few months with grace and dignity and emerge with a respectful relationship that still supports our kids and those we love. Mediation and living a mindful life, aware of those thoughts and feelings that swirl and eddy, is at the centre of that intention and I consider myself fortunate that I have embraced this path less traveled. I will continue to consider how photography can also support this way of living and look forward to the experiences along the path.