Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Characteristics of a Photographic Sage-Part VIII: A Resourceful Spirit

Darkness within Darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
Tao te Ching - 1

   A Photographic Sage rises to the challenge of difficult situations.  They make the proverbial "lemonade from lifes lemons". In the typical Taoist paradoxical way of thinking, they can be said to take joy in adversity.  To accomplish this, a photographer must be resourceful.  They will actively seek out novel solutions.  They exploit adversity turning it into compelling images.

   I found myself in Galway, Ireland one morning caught up in the hustle and bustle of this modern city.  Truthfully, it is not an environment I feel most at home in.  The crowds and the noise were very distracting indeed.  At first, I could find nothing joyful in the experience so I sat down on a bench for a little "time out".  From that perspective, a couple of feet lower, I could observe the street scene very differently...almost the way a child must see it.  I started to think about how much more overwhelming it must be for a small child to walk these busy streets than it was for me. I decided to try to emulate that sensation.  When I stood up, I lengthened the neck strap of my camera so that it hung about hip level.  I continued down the street releasing the shutter randomly.  By the time I sat down again I'd made these two images among many others.  The little boy seems almost threatened by the looming black figure in the foreground and the little girl seems to be day dreaming that she was somewhere else while she waits for her mother to finish buying lunch.

   I too had been day dreaming of the green hills and open spaces I'd left behind that morning when I came to Galway.  Instead of embracing the moment, I was projecting myself into another.  This is never a good thing to do.  Luckily, I did find some joy in the chaos of the city experience that day, through the eyes of a child. I realized that every moment, even uncomfortable ones, has it's hidden treasures. Photographers are always experiencing difficult situations...very often it is the weather that challenges them.  The Photographic Sage welcomes the challenges of any difficulty they may encounter knowing that something wonderful may be in store for them. 

"Often while traveling with a camera,
we arrive just as the sun slips over the
horizon of the moment, too late to
to expose film, only time enough to
expose our hearts."
Minor White

A Little Practice for the Week:

   Try to put yourself into a place where you would never, under normal situations, go to photograph. It might be a city, a flea market, race track or even the town dump!  Your challenge is to find one compelling will undoubtedly find many, many more it you tap into the spirit of the place.  There are no unacceptable locations only uninspired photographers.

 What did you find compelling about this "uncomfortable" place?  What shouted out to you,"Photograph ME!" Taking a photograph is a response to that call.  Clicking the shutter says, "Yes, I hear you."   

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