Saturday, March 23, 2013

Doing and Being...

"Great understanding is broad and unhurried;
Little understanding is cramped and busy."


   Those who follow a Taoist path often point out the wisdom of animals.  I thought about that when I watched my cat, Emerson, sitting placidly in the sun staring out the window.  Animals know how to be still.  Only people see mediation as something they "do"; for Emerson, it is simply his way of "being".

Church Shadows - Madrid, New Mexico
   Photography can be like that as well.  You can chose to "do" it or you can simply live it.  It has become a state of being for me over the seems as natural as breathing.  In many respects and at the risk of sounding a bit esoteric, I've become my camera.  I suppose the natural progression of this thought is to imagine a time when I will be able to dispense with the actual camera itself but I'm certainly not there a long shot.

   There are times, however, when I find myself slipping back into "doing"...when I worry too much about the technical aspects of the medium or the constraints of time and weather when on location.  Then I become, as Chuang-tzu describes, "cramped and busy" with it.  That never feels comfortable for me.  Fortunately, I've trained myself to recognize the symptoms of "doing" and I can step back, put down the camera and relax into the moment.  I can return to being a photographer and not just doing photography.  Then, and only then, am I able to make the kinds of images I need to make.

   Being a photographer is simply being an attentive and active observer of the world around me.  I search for the reality behind the reality...the message in the light and shadow.  I frame the world with the viewfinder of my heart for what I see is only a reflection of who I am.  Those who chose simply to "do" photography are detached from the process...they are the mind behind the camera instead of the heart. The next time up pick up your camera, try being instead of just doing.  I think you might be surprised at the result.

No comments: