Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Characteristics of the Photographic Sage: part X - "With a Childs Eye"

"...innocence of eye has a quality of its own.  It means to see as a child sees, with freshness and acknowledgment of the wonder;  it also  means to see as an adult sees who has gone full circle and once again sees as a child - with freshness and an even deeper 
sense of wonder."
 Minor White

 The final characteristic of the Photographic Sage is the ability to see the world with the eye of a child.  I have mentioned before that Taoists are often perceived as having a child-like demeanor. I hope you have time to read "The Tao of Pooh"; you will understand what I mean.  They marvel at ordinary things the rest of the world over-looks.  They find every moment a miracle.  I think this is an excellent characteristic to end this series with as it also ties back very nicely to the other dimension of this blog...Contemplative Photography.

   Both the Taoist and the Contemplative Photographer are exploring souls.  It is this desire to delve deeply, to try and understand the world around them that make both extremely sensitive to the nuances of Nature, they absorb but don't judge. They  listen to the landscape and respect what they hear.  They relate to the world more through their hearts than their minds.  Children do that too.  They don't analyze what they experience, they are content with the experience itself.  They wander from moment to moment without a clear agenda and when something catches their attention they stop and explore it...and explore it in depth. A cursory look is not enough.  If you hand a small child a new toy one of the first thing they'll do with it is put it in their mouth! The Contemplative Photographer/Photographic Sage savors the world in much the same way...through all the senses.  They take joy in the experience for it's own sake and not with any hidden agenda.

   As I have progressed in my journey as a photographer I have always tried to keep to the joyous experience.  If photography gets to be "business" or I begin to take myself too seriously, I try to remember the words of the Taoist sage, Lao-tzu.   I think it is a good way to end this series.

My teachings are easy to understand
and easy to put into practice.
Yet your intellect will never grasp them,
and if you try to practice them, you will fail.

My teachings are older than the world.
How can you grasp their meaning?

If you want to know me,
look inside your heart.

 Tao Te Ching - 70

The Light from Within

    A Final Practice for the Week:

     In this final week I want you to find a place where you can wander, at your leisure. Although this may sound like last weeks practice, there is a subtle difference. If you can, turn off your adult, rationalizing brain. Try to experience the landscape as a child would.  Find a wonderfully interesting place...a park, a beach, a garden in Spring bloom, an ancient cemetery.  Go with no agenda, no expectations and no time limit. With your mind wide open to any possibility, set out to see the place with the eyes of a child...with freshness and wonder. Climb a tree, lay in the grass, play in a puddle. Don't look for the photographs, they will find you.

What caught your eye? What wonderful things did you discover? Were you compelled to try a new viewpoint?  Did  you slow your pace, wandering from place to place, and savor your time there?  Above all else, do you now look at the world with fresh, unprejudiced eyes?

   I sincerely hope you will always keep the wonder and joy alive in your work.  I also hope you will share some of your photographs on our Flickr site, along with your reflections. I look forward to hearing from my fellow Photographic Sages!




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