Monday, April 28, 2014

The Four Pillars of Contemplative Photography...

   I've tried to distill all that I believe about contemplative photography down to four core concepts.  Of course, this is my particular take on the subject.  Since contemplative photography is a very personal process, each individual photographer has to erect their own pillars to shelter beneath.

   What we believe about the process of making our photographs is crucial...the why is as important as the how.

Life is your art; an open, aware heart is your camera; a oneness with your world is your film.  - Ansel Adams
 Here are my four pillars with a notation of who, initially, gave me the insight. (I've tucked in my four "Be's" of contemplative photography as well.)

Pillar #1: Nature is divine presence.
                   (Thomas Merton)

                Be Still

Pillar #2: Absolute attention is a
                    form of prayer. (Simone Weil)

                  Be Present

Pillar #3: The soul speaks to us through
                  images. (Carl Jung)

               Be Patient

Pillar #4: The outer landscape is a 
               metaphor for the hidden
                                                 inner landscape.                                                                     (John O'Donohue)

                       Be Persistent

   I think that all other concepts can fit under these four pillars.  Why four? This image, made at the retreat center I stayed at recently, presented me with the idea.  Four strong, straight pillars grouped closely together.  I could stand in between them and it was such a wonderful sensation of stability and safety.

   I wanted to provide the simplest notions I could...ones that you could build on...ones you could personalize and make your own...ones that would encapsulate all I've come to believe about contemplative photography.  All the posts on this blog could fit under one of these headings.  All my posts, I realized, are just subtle variations on these four themes.  These four basic concepts are all I need to use my photography as a contemplative practice.  What would serve as your four pillars?



Unknown said...

Hi Patricia, I enjoy all of your posts but this one really resonated. These are life pillars as well. Thanks for sharing.

Patricia Turner said...

Yes, wouldn't we all be better off if we embraced these pillars as our personal mantra?

Anonymous said...

Patricia, these pillars resonate with me as well. I tend to think of my contemplative photography in terms of the monastic vow of stability. To me, stability incorporates elements of your pillars, especially persistence and presence. So my photographs of some detail of nature with which I am deeply familiar tend to exhibit stability. Thank you for your words! Stacey

Patricia Turner said...

Thank you Stacey! I hadn't thought about the concept of stability but the four pillars do elude to that virtue. I know the ground me in what I feel is essential for my camera work.