Saturday, July 13, 2013

PhotoTao Card #32 - Emptiness

To be empty is the gift of the few.
To experience this emptiness is the
benediction of being human.
- Exercise -
 You cannot add anything to a full cup.
Practicing "emptiness" is allowing a place
for new ideas to rest.  Practice this as you
wander in museums - let new ideas in.  
Practice this when you wander in the
landscape - let all possibilities find a
welcoming home in your heart.  
Dorothea Lange advises that the best
way to approach a new landscape is to
"go in ignorant."

There's Always One in Every Crowd....
     "A little learning is a dangerous thing." - Alexander Pope

    I think this applies to photographers as well.  If you think you know the best way to make an image then all other ways become unsuitable.  If only certain subjects are "worthy" then others are unacceptable.  This kind of dualistic thinking is stifling to the contemplative photographer.  We must remain empty bowls so that we can be open to receive the images we need to receive. (Read my post on Empty Bowls here.)

   This type of thinking is especially harmful when it comes to exploring a familiar landscape close to home.  We think we know it...there is nothing else to find.  How wrong that is!  This photograph is of a farm near my home in Maine.  I've been by it hundreds of times, usually on my way to Portland; on my way to somewhere else.  I never, until a month or so ago, took the time to stop and observe it. 

     They raise Highland cattle on this farm and this adventurous soul was cooling off in the pond while his companions remained safely ashore.  I thought that this is the kind of photographer I want to be.  I don't want to remain safely on shore making "acceptable" images in traditional ways...I want to wade right into the landscape and see what lies under the surface.  After all, that's where the interesting stuff is!

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