Friday, April 5, 2013

Deep Play...

(dep), adj. (pla), n. 1. A state of unselfconscious
engagement with our surroundings 2. An exalted
zone of transcendence over time 3. A state of
optimal creative capacity

   I have always enjoyed Diane Ackerman's books (Natural History of the Senses and A Slender Thread: The Rarest of the Rare).  Her book "Deep Play" is the subject of this post.  It's the type of book you can pick up and read in installments and go back to over and over again for inspiration.

   "Play always has a sacred place-
some version of a playground-
in which it happens."

      If you love what you do then it is never work...that's how I feel about contemplative photography.  I play with my image making and while that might imply that I don't take it seriously, nothing could be further from the truth.  A deeply playful attitude allows for what Ackerman describes as "a state of optimal creative capacity."  If your mind is not obsessed with rules and "rightness" then it can be open to experimentation and the spontaneous.

   While it is true that I photograph in the city and other built environments, I am most at home in the natural world.  I feel more confined by rules in the city and I feel the freedom to play in the landscape...the landscape is my playground.

   "Players like to invent substitute worlds...Make-believe
is at the heart of play, and also at the heart of much of
what passes for work.  Let's make-believe we can shoot a
rocket to the moon."

   What has make-believe have to do with contemplative photography, you may well ask?  It is, I'd respond, at its very core.  Through make-believe we can imagine that our images are more than merely documents of the real fact, we can imagine another reality that lays beneath the surface of what we see.  We "make" our photographs and then "believe" what we discover within them.

   So this weekend go out and find your playground.  Experiment, explore, play around with your camera.  If you would like some instruction in the process of photography as play, give a small camera to a 5 year old and sit back and observe. Take to heart (and apply it to your camera work as well) Plato's admonition...

"Life should be lived as play."

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