Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Contemplative Eye...

   What does it mean to nurture a "contemplative eye"?  As a photography major in the mid-1970's, the term "photographic eye" was extolled in great detail.  By that, they were referring to the ability to instinctively frame a masterful image - composition was crucial and we spent a great deal of time discussing concepts such as the "Golden Mean" and the "Rule of Thirds".  It was, and still is, a very formalistic approach.

Taking the Plunge
   So then, how does a "contemplative" eye differ from a "photographic" one?  The difference lies, I believe,with intent.  The contemplative eye looks for the metaphoric capability in anything they are photographing before they consider the more formal considerations of composition and exposure...the "Why I should make this photograph..." comes before the "How should I compose this photograph...".  The intent is to create a meaningful image more than it is to create a "masterful" one, at least initially.

   But I believe the contemplative photographer goes one step further.  When an image is made it is done - finished - technically speaking.  The photograph becomes an object to the traditional photographer but contemplative photographers view their images as adjectives rather than nouns and the meaning of the image can evolve and change overtime as the photographer herself evolves and changes.

   A contemplative eye is more fluid, more searching, more inner-directed than the photographic eye which is bound more by conventional artistic rules and considerations.  The best contemplative photographer, however, values both.  If we think of the right brain/left brain dichotomy, we could ascribe the contemplative eye to the more intuitive right side of the brain and the photographic eye to the analytical left side of the brain. As we know, it is always best to keep both eyes open!  Use your contemplative eye and your photographic eye in partnership to create masterful, and more importantly, meaningful, images.

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