Friday, January 17, 2014

Reflections on the Tao - I

   One of my 2014 New Year's resolutions for this blog is to return from time to time to the relationship of the Tao to photography.  After all, the name of the blog derives from Taoist philosophy and it has been awhile since I've considered it.

The heart that gives,
gathers. - Tao Te ching

   One of the things that I sincerely believe is that words matter.  The words you use to define yourself and your photographic practice impact what you will receive from the landscape.  A mindset of "capture" and "shooting" is predatory.  It sets up an almost adversarial relationship with the landscape. 

    I also like to think that we can never find in the landscape that which is absent from our own hearts.  That, for me, is what this quotation is all about.  If I sit prayerfully in the landscape, if I open my heart to it and its mysteries, I inevitably gather in the purest and most meaningful images.

   If, on the other hand, I am rushed, unfocused and concerned only with my agenda, the images I receive are less likely to be representative of the spirit of the place.  They will become postcards and not icons.  I may gather far fewer images if I take the time to give the landscape my heartfelt regard but it is quality and not quantity that matters most to me.  I will gather in the images that will be the most meaningful for me at that time because I've taken the time to open my heart and not just impose my will.

    At another time, the landscape may have a different message.  That is why returning again and again to the same location is valuable and something I try to do as much as possible.  Think of it as returning to visit an old friend.  Instead of dominating the conversation with your wants and needs, sit still and just listen.  Establish a relationship and you may be surprised by what you will learn.

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