Photography is a solitary endeavor; one
must be alone. One also needs silence.
Solitude and silence are the sine qua non
of being a contemplative. In fact, a photographer
is a contemplative in his own right; he too
must become a master of attention. - page 77
I was encouraged to read Robert Waldron's book, Thomas Merton: Master of Attention by Kim Manley Ort during our recent contemplative photography retreat in Kentucky. This book fit in perfectly with our weekend study of perception and in our own small way we too tried to become "masters of attention".
All photographers, whether they call themselves "contemplatives" or not, need this skill. It is really what is meant by saying that one has a "photographer's eye". The entire world is reduced to the narrow confines of the camera's frame.
For the contemplative photographer the entire universe could be contained in that frame. All the wisdom of the ages, everything worth knowing, the divine itself, can be in that tiny space. So easy to pay attention to the big and "important" things but so much more revealing are the little and "insignificant" things.
There is a saying, "If you want to judge a person's character, observe how he treats those who can do nothing for him." I think that might be a good way to view photographers as well. Observe how they react to the insignificant, the so-called unimportant landscape. It takes no great skill to be awed by the Grand Canyon but what of a crack in the sidewalk?