I wish I could say that connection was automatic for me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every time we picked up our camera the masterpieces flowed forth?
To first experience that connection myself (and have something of value to share), I have to step out of my ruts and open myself up to the gifts being shared in front of me.
When I can do that, I come back with something worth sharing. When I’m more absorbed with my own preoccupations while looking through the camera, the pictures show that, too. Examples abound in my files (more of the later than the former, in case you’re wondering).
My friend Jack Johnson connects well in his photography. In Three Simple Ways to Be Present in Mindful Photography he states “Being present in the landscape will often lead us away from the tripod holes of those who have been here before us, and toward those compositions that speak to our own vision.”
Rob Sheppard shares has some wonderful insights in “Savoring vs. Harvesting Nature Photography.” He summarizes his post: “So don't be intimidated or encouraged by those who try to impress you with how many gigabytes they shot on their last outing into nature. Be impressed with the nature, savor the experiences, and allow yourself to get involved and connected with nature as you photograph it.”
Well said! Both Jack’s and Rob’s photography reflect their advice. They connect. They are present, paying attention, investing themselves in their surroundings. Isn’t that good advice all around? We all know how healing a little quiet time in nature can be.
When I’m at my best, out with my camera, I’ve taken the time to Stop the cacophony of my everyday life, Look at the gifts sprinkled under foot, and Listen to the message.
Then I can appreciate the gift in front of me and everything that came together to make it happen -- the blade of grass that grew just so tall, with just enough clear space around it; the fresh snow, which is just the right depth to allow the wind to sweep the leaf in a beautiful arch; lighting that is just right, showing texture and form with soft shadows; and me motivated enough to get out on a cold winter day and wander to this spot with a camera in gloved hands.
Then, I'm connected, in conversation with the giver. And the photograph becomes part of the conversation, a “Thank-you” that I can also share with others.
“Contemplative prayer” explains to St. Teresa, “is nothing else than a close sharing between friends.”
I think that’s a great definition of contemplative photography, too!
You can click on the image above, or here to download it as a desktop wallpaper. It is also available in fine-art prints and cards, or for commercial license.