No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands
still long enough for the photographer It has chosen.
|The Way Through - Ireland 2009|
When I first read the above quote by Minor White back in the mid-1970's while I was studying photography and film making at university, I thought it quite odd really. That the "Spirit" chooses the photographer. I had no frame of reference for his thoughts so I simply discarded them. Now, all these years later, I finally know what he was referring to. My work as a contemplative photographer has opened up for me a whole new way of looking at landscape.
With my study of Taoism, I've come to understand the spirit of the landscape; that essential energy that flows through everything. I now equate Spirit with this energy. With a great deal of patience, I'm finally able to enter into the landscape in a spiritual way...seeking its message and not burdening it with mine. I could say, I now allow the landscape to become my co-creator and not merely my subject. We are equal partners in the process.
But does the Spirit actually choose me? Perhaps, in a way, it does. If I am still, if I quiet my mind long enough to hear it, I think it does have a power to draw me to it and inspire me to release the shutter when I might have had the idea of moving on. That spirit/energy flows through my camera's lens and into my heart in a way that I've only been able to experience when I stopped trying to control the outcome of my picture making; when I let myself become a blank slate. It requires me to step away from my ego and we humans, in general, have a hard time with that.
The first half of life is devoted to forming
a healthy ego, the second half is going
inward and letting go of it.
I invite you to visit Andy Ilachinski's wonderful blog below to read his essay on the spiritual dimension of photography. He is an amazingly gifted photographer. I also invite you to take the time to experience the Spirit of the landscape for yourself. Return to a location that has special meaning for you and this time, keep your ego in your camera bag, sit still and just listen...