Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Contemplative Masters Series - Minor White

Self Portrait
I have often photographed when I am not in tune with nature but the photographs look as if I had been. So I conclude that something in nature says, 'Come and take my photograph.' So I do, regardless of how I feel.

   This is a series I hope to add to over time because returning to the masters of our practice, be it photography or contemplation, is essential if we are to grow and stretch.  With Minor White, my first and perhaps primary mentor, we have a master of both.  I first mentioned White way back on May 23, 2012 and you can re-read the post here.  High time I re-visited this man's wonderful thoughts and images.

   Minor White's writing is so rich in inspiration it is very difficult to find just one quotation to illustrate his contemplative thought but the one above is one that intensely relates to my form of contemplative photography - forging the co-creative conspiracy with the landscape.  I often experience this whispered message from the landscape as it gently tugs on my perception's sleeve.
Frost on Window by Minor White

   I think that many people regard contemplation as a solitary and solely interior conversation.  I, on the other hand, see it as an external dialogue with the natural world.  I not only see what is before me as it is, in its purity and clarity, but I try to listen for its subtle message for my soul.

   If it is, as Carl Jung suggests, that the soul speaks to us through images then I feel the landscape communicates to our soul through the eyes of our hearts.  It is a circular thing.  Without this circularity of interaction, true contemplative images cannot occur for me.  And it is, as White alludes to in this quotation, sometimes a thing that happens on a more intuitive rather than a conscious level.  We may not be totally aware at all times when it is happening but we clearly recognize it when we see it in our images.  I prefer to keep some of the process mysterious.  The root of the word "mystery" comes from the Greek mystes, "to keep silence" and there is great power in silence.

   Simply being in the presence of Nature we will be silently drawn into its mystery and wisdom.  The more we remain open to the possibility of encounter the more likely it will happen.  So the next time you go out into the landscape, turn off the transmitter of your judgmental ego, become the in tune receiver of the landscape's message and see what you are gifted.



Bill DeLanney said...

Thank you for this and I look forward to this series.Between his thoughts and you thoughts and images what more could be better?

Patricia Turner said...

Thank you Bill. I look forward to delving into the contemplative minds of photographers and non-photographers alike in up-coming posts.