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Thread: Zen Photography

  1. #1
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Zen Photography

    I believe that some images are the result of an artless art, where the image is captured devoid of conscious perception by the photographer. Would others agree?

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    tomalophicon's Avatar
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    Yes, I accidentally click the shutter about once per roll. I'm trying not to though.

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    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    Read Eugen Herrigel's Zen And The Art of Archery. Fascinating book.

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    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    I read Tao and Photography a while ago (my signature quote was used in the book) and enjoyed it. I think Eastern-philosophy has a lot to add to aesthetics and photography. I would equate your notion of artless art with HCB's decisive moment, where you shoot based on the alignment of the elements within the photograph rather than on Adam's visualized final form; one seems more emotive/impulsive to me and the other is more intentional. Both are valid in their place but neither can be fully practice in the presence of the other.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

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    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Now you're onto something cliveh. I'm convinced that when taking pictures the eye and visual mind works faster than rational mind can react. Thinking can guide the process into position, but ultimately logic has to let go and allow the plan play out at the point of exposure -- where the eye is in charge.

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    making photographs is all about being in the moment ..
    letting go and letting yourself go and letting things take
    their natural course.

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    lesm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    making photographs is all about being in the moment ..
    letting go and letting yourself go and letting things take
    their natural course.
    This is something I struggle with a lot when I ask myself (as I often do) why I take photographs. It's a curious contradiction, almost. As a photographer you want consistently "good" results (whatever "good" means to you) and that requires a certain amount of deliberation, study, practice etc. etc. At the same time, I agree with you that the more one can let the process happen and get the ego out of the way, the closer one can get to a truly spontaneous act. But that sounds like trying to practise spontaneity, which is ridiculous. I still haven't figured this out!

    Great thread. I'll follow it with interest and hope someone can show me the golden light...

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    cliveh's Avatar
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    I have read Zen and the Art of Archery and found it very close to what I am trying to express. I can’t always achieve this myself, but would suggest that you should never take a camera out expecting to take a photograph. I think the key is complete relaxation devoid of thought. I seem to recall a quote that says something along the lines of “you should not take photographs; it is the photograph that takes you”.

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    erikg's Avatar
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    If you photograph live events or even landscape I think it becomes clear that there is only the now, a moment exists and then it's gone. There is a flow. If I can tune in to that flow and tune out the noise, it feels zenlike to me. HCB certainly understood the relationship. It's pretty interesting.

  10. #10
    CGW
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    Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones" is a much better read if you're after Zen cookbooks.

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