"To follow the Way removes
the need for fulfillment."
I must say that when I first read this quote by the great Taoist master, Lao Tzu, it puzzled me. After all, isn't it the goal of following a path to reach some destination? On a spiritual path, wouldn't that goal be the fulfillment of a spiritual need? As often happens, the moment I translated this idea into photographic terms, it made perfect sense.
If one follows the path of becoming a contemplative photographer then there is no need to reach any arbitrary destination like an exhibition, publishing or sale of one's work. Critical acclaim is nice but it is not the point of the journey; the point of the journey is the journey!
I've gotten great joy this past year by sharing the journey with my blog readers. It has helped me clarify my own intentions and given me greater understanding of the importance of process. Yes, I want to make beautiful and well composed images but I no longer value the images I make merely for their aesthetic or monetary appeal.
In addition, I am no longer an image hoarder, making the accumulation of vast numbers of photographs a bench mark of my "success" as a photographer. I work much more slowly now and the time between making photographs when I am on location is now minutes...even hours...not seconds. If I come away with only one significant image from a day of photographing, I am content.
Again, I mine great wisdom from the well thumbed pages of my copy of the Tao Te Ching...
"The Way produces but does not possess;
it fosters growth without ruling."