|Photograph by Mark Hirsch from his series..."That Tree"|
One of the vows Trappist monks take is the vow of stability, Brother Paul told me when I visited him at Gethsemani. I think it is an idea worth pursuing for the contemplative photographer as well. Staying true to one geographical place, to re-visit it over and over and learn from it, is a worthy pursuit. By narrowing down you subject to just one possibility, it forces you to look for new and unique ways to express it. The iphone, Mark said, even contributed to this.
It yielded images I might not have captured with my DSLR cameras because instead of reaching for a different lens I had to change my position, my perspective or my visual expectations.
This is a great exercise for for enhancing the creative dimension of our medium. Mark is a photojournalist, use to the quick, decisive image. I love how his experience with "That Tree" has altered his way of looking at the world...this is the true and lasting reward of contemplative photography.
With landscape photography and inanimate objects like my tree, I had to learn to slow down and take on a more contemplative approach to photography. I learned to become more sensitive to the subtle changes in light, the details and the textures. -Mark Hirsch
Read the interview with Mark here. Mark plans a book on his series. It will be wonderful I'm sure to see how one man and one tree entered into a conversation for a year. He says he still stops and photographs the tree from time to time. Such a powerful relationship does continue, like friendships. They only improve with time.