Mindfulness and your photography
A few months ago one of my daughters and I visited a Buddhist temple, well, it wasn’t really a temple but I am not sure what to call it. It was a small in a small, old, neighbourhood strip mall and was once a drycleaners or something like that.
There were various Buddha posters, incense, books and videos to buy on Buddhism, candles, etc. and a few rows of foldable chairs for those who came to worship or in our case spend three hours on an introduction to meditation class.
I can’t remember exactly what the trigger was for learning about meditation but it seemed interesting and it’s always nice to learn something new.
As someone who was raised from birth in a very strict and restrictive religion somehow I emerged from that as a spiritual, non-religious and tolerant of others beliefs person. You believe what you believe. I believe what I believe and we can all live in peace and harmony together.
What brought me here on an early Saturday morning was the meditation aspect of Buddhism and not Buddhism per se. I usually prefer to learn things on my own but wondered if there was something that I was missing from books and podcasts that a real, live person might be able to impart.
As the instructor took us through a series of exercises one thing became clear to me, mindfulness.
From Google’s definition of mindfulness,
“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
Mindfulness is about clearing your mind of clutter and being an observer inside yourself. As you are reading this you are probably having a conversation with yourself. “He’s nuts.” “This is interesting.” “I need to get groceries later today.” That is the kind of thing that we all day long and never realize.
Being mindful means to me anyway, being in the moment, being aware of yourself and your surroudings without the inner dialog.
My sister in law is a very talented painter and talking with her last night she mentioned how when she is painting the colours and shapes flow from within her onto the canvas without any kind of dialog or thinking. Simply, it just happens.
The best photographs that I have ever taken were not things that I analyzed and thought deeply about. They just happened. It was as simple as being aware of what I was seeing, pointing the camera in that direction and firing away.
I could never understand the photographers that spent seemingly forever contemplating a composition. When I point the camera at my subject it either feels right or it doesn’t. It’s that simple. I don’t understand it but for me it works.
This assumes that the basics of photography, focus, exposure, etc. are understood well enough that the shooting is not about anything technical, that is automatic, the shooting is about seeing and reacting.
Many of my happiest and most peaceful moments have been when I was out alone in the country taking photos. I realized that without being aware of it, photography for me was in large part about meditating. It was being mindful without realizing it.
Yesterday afternoon I went out and took a boat load of pics. I take a bunch and move onto the next place that I am interested in. It is about seeing and reacting. Just that simple.
Only when I get home and start to edit does the process become more contemplative. Sometimes it is like looking at something for the first time. Did I take that? Yeah, I guess so.
Photography can be so many things. For me it is not nor has it ever been about making money or being the most popular photographer on the internet. Nope. Photography for me after all these years is still about being mindful. It’s about being in that quiet place in my head where all things are peaceful and calm.
Happy Sunday to you all,