Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Spiritual Dimension of Photography...

No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands
 still long enough for the photographer It has chosen.

-Minor White

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.

-Carl Jung

   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...

1 comment:

Lynley said...

The call of spirit began is a mere whisper for me in the recent past. I cannot even give a time frame and I still am not able to describe it well in words and not necessarily in my photos.

I just know how much I enjoy the subtle guidance, the surprises, the metaphors, the "noticing", the intense feelings of peace and inner satisfaction.

Technically I know almost nothing but I am not letting that deter me.

I am really enjoying searching through your blog and that of Kim Manley Ort. I follow you both.
Thank you:-))