Friday, April 22, 2016

How Zen Photography Can Save Your Life

I have no clue if there's such a term as "zen photography" per se but it's what I do. 
sunset, yellow springs, pond, reflections
About the closest I've found online relating to zen photography is a post by Eric Kim.

Zen in the Art of Street Photography

My good friend Nicholas Susatyo recently recommended a book to me: " Zen in the Art of Archery." In-fact, it was the book that Henri Cartier-Bresson said had the deepest influence in his photography. I have been meaning to read it for a while, so on my flight to Philly I decided to give it a go.

You might be wondering how taking photograph can your life. Two years ago I faced the most painful loss in my life and I thought the grief of it was going to do me in. My health was beginning to suffer and I knew I had to do something.  So I started taking photographs and just as Eric talks, "losing ... self and getting lost in the flow". With camera in hand I started to explore the
world around me, the things that often go unseen as we hurry about our lives, or things too small to notice. Being in the moment and fully absorbed gave me time away from the torments of grief. I enjoyed the challenge of seeing if I could take something mundane and show the beauty that exists in it, from a crack in the sidewalk, to a shadow on a wall, all was fair game. 
  Photography also became a way to tell my story, like a crazy quilt, stitched together, frayed in some places, threadbare in others, and sometimes hanging by a thread, but each patch adds to this beautiful quilt we call life.  

And just to add a note about what some believe is the  true meaning of zen here is an article by Sandra Pawula from 2010.

“When you are practicing zazen, do not try to stop your thinking. Let it stop by itself. If something comes into your mind, let it come in, and let it go out. It will not stay long. When you try to stop your thinking, it means you are bothered by it. Do not be bothered by anything. It appears as if something comes from outside your mind, but actually it is only the waves of your mind, and if you are not bothered by the waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer.”

I would say photography has definitely helped the waves become calmer.
shadows, sea, whitley bay

and my health improved, well that is until I got breast cancer, but that is a whole other story. So if you are having a tough time,  get out there and take pictures of the world around you, put them in a daily journal for a year, and see if it can help you. 

ps. I am not a trained professional photographer, and you don't have to be either. Just have FUN with it.

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