Monday, April 11, 2016

"Kissed by the Muse"

by Carol

A few weeks ago Leigh let us in on her practice of meditation. You can read it here if you missed it. Many of the comments mentioned finding peace through photography. Recently I came across a book review of Torsten Andreas Hoffman's new book called Photography As Meditation. OOO! Right up my proverbial alley - I ordered it on the spot!

The book (which I am really enjoying) demonstrates how much photography and meditation have in common. For instance, photography can not be hurried - it takes a quiet mind and body to (literally) focus so intently. Like meditation, it becomes a counterpoint to our hectic pace. Hoffman makes the point that photography forces you to live in the present moment. The best pictures are taken by maintaining patience - waiting for the exact moment that seagull walks into the sunbeam - to click the shutter, or studying the subtle changes in color as the sun sinks moment to moment into the horizon.
"There is almost nothing whose existence is based more on the present moment than a photograph. Photography divides moments into an elapsed time of 1/8000 of a second."
I find that my very best photographs have happened when a full peace has settled over my mind. I am relaxed but my senses are fully involved - I am feeling the warmth of the fading sun and the gentle breeze on my skin, I am smelling the briny sea, I am hearing the gulls call and splash as they dive. I am tasting the salt air. The click of my camera seems loud even though it is so much softer than the levels of noise I am exposed to in my daily life! I am alone on the planet. This is sometimes referred to as being "in the zone," but for me its like stepping outside of the world for a minute - seeing all of life around you in greater detail.

The book makes the point that many religious figures, including Jesus, went off into the desert to consider their path before acting. This stepping away to hear your own heart seems essential in this noisy world. Hoffman tells us that "with fewer stimuli to navigate, The senses are heightened and better able to recognize significance." Stepping back allows you to find a stillness, which Zen Master John Daido Loori ( who wrote The Zen of Creativity)refers to as the still point.
"Once you have reached this still point, you have arrived at the source of all inspiration and creativity. It is in this state that you might be kissed by the muse." 

Spring is here, friends. Grab your camera, find your still point away from the world, and make an image of whatever comes into your personal consciousness. I believe its focus will be more perfect, its composition will be more intriguing and its colors will be more vibrant. When an image speaks to you, it will speak to us. I hope you get a big SMOOCH! Happy chilling......



Dotti said...

These beautiful photos make me long for the sea! They all speak of calm to me and meditation. I find it very difficult to practice meditative photography on a daily basis. Oh, I can snap photos, but seldom is it really meditative. This is something I need to work on.

This post reminds me of when we have our FOL gatherings and while we do a fair amount of babbling to one another, there are times when the 6, or 7 or 8 of us walk around in complete silence with our cameras, oblivious to one another.

kelly said...

oh wow...I just love this. as a photographer, i know this calm and still point, but sitting here in my office on a busy morning, i so appreciate the beauty and stillness in your photos. it's the gift that keeps on giving. xoxo

Cathy H. said...

You've expressed so beautifully how I feel about photography. I don't practice being still with my camera near enough. I tend to snap pictures like it's going away, which it sometimes does, but usually not. I find myself being in a meditative mood when I visit quiet gardens by myself. I seem to soak in more of my surroundings and become calm.

terriporter said...

Your beautiful photos give me a sense of calm just looking at them! And, as Dotti said, they make me long for some coastal contemplation. Yes, all photography isn't contemplative and calming but it's the kind that really reminds you of what you love about this hobby. I do a lot of snapping photos but when I can really be still and focus and take in my surroundings, that's when the magic happens, both in my photos and what the art of photography brings to my life. This spring my "still point" has been heading out to my patio with my camera first thing in the morning to see what beauty the new day as brought. Such a sweet way to start the day!

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