Saturday, December 21, 2013

The A, B, C's of Contemplative Photography - W

W is for Watcher (and also for Waiting, and Waymarkers, and Wonderment, and Wanderer, and Wayfaring, and....)

Someone who observes something
 attentively or regularly

   Contemplative photographers are watchers.  Not only because of their focused attention but because they are willing to return, again and again to observe the same location.  It is the fourth BE...Be Persistent.

   There is a certain amount of detachment, at least initially, to the watchfulness of the contemplative photographer.  You are a bystander, or in my case, a by-sitter in the landscape. Then, you must transition from watcher to beholder.  You look beneath the surface to discover the essence of the landscape...the thing that is not apparent to the casual viewer.  You are moving from a mind's eye view to a heart's eye view.  At some point, you have to get up and move into a sentient, soulful listening encounter with what you have so closely observed.  There has to be a relationship, an interaction in some way.  You begin by watching, you evolve to beholding, you proceed to listening, and then you enter into a partnership with the landscape.  Anything less, for me at least, is not contemplative photography.

   This partnership can be defined in many ways.  For me, it is the sum total of the observing/beholding and  the listening phases.  It happens outside the rational knowing mind, on a very intuitive level.  The longer I practice contemplative photography the easier it is for me to enter into this co-conspiracy with the landscape.

    It is this final step that is most difficult to make for those new to the concept.  They often get stuck in the rational, mind-based watcher phase.  They may even try beholding what is before them but the last two steps are tenuous and unfamiliar.  The listening happens through the heart.  It is the only way the landscape can communicate with you.   That communication will then open the door for the "third eye" to respond to forge the partnership with the landscape.   Be will come.

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