Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Camera as Your Anam Cara....

     I'm re-reading John O'Donohue's best selling book, Anam Cara. It has always been a favorite of mine and it was my first introduction to this wonderful man's writing.  In Gaelic, "anam cara" means "soul friend" and it is a basic and pervading principle of Celtic Spirituality. Without much of an effort, I find that I can relate this principle to photography as well.

   As I've progressed along my path as a contemplative photographer I have come to regard my camera as not merely a mechanical device but as a dear friend that has brought me much joy over the years as all good friends do.  My camera doesn't merely record photons on it's memory translates light into an icon of experience for me.  Through my thoughts and reflections on the artifact it provides - the photographic image - it nourishes my soul as only a true friend can.  A medieval mystic once postulated this question, "Where does the light go when the candle is blown out?"  The camera holds the memory of that light and what an amazing gift that is...the gift of memory! I have no difficulty thinking of my camera as my soul's anam cara.

   If I can think of the landscape as teacher and co-creator then it is not much of a stretch to view my camera as a participating facilitator and partner in my translator.  I may direct its gaze but it holds the light for me...not only holding it but transforming and abstracting it.  What was once three dimensional is not a two dimensional page that I have come to be able to read as easily as any page in a book.

   I firmly believe that what distinguishes a contemplative photographer from any other sort of photographer is this ability  to look beyond the mere mechanics of the process...beyond the technical considerations of the medium.  When we can enter into a more personal and intimate dialogue with the world through our soul's friend, the camera, then we will understand the co-creative process and our images will become, for us, two way mirrors.

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