During Boulder Open Studios this past fall, a couple of visitors mentioned that my images were “contemplative photographs” and asked me if I studied contemplative photography. I told them that that was the first and then second time I’d heard of contemplative photography, but I was very happy because they seemed to really “get” my photos. For me, taking and working on photographs, has always been about having a quiet mind. I’ve blogged about this in the past, but haven’t gotten much response and felt, as a photographer, I was alone in this.
So, I was heartened to know that there are other “contemplative photographers” and even courses in it.
I was very excited to get my hands on Effortless Beauty, a recent book by contemplative photographer and teacher Julie DuBose.
Julie, in beautiful and clear text, walks us through allowing our minds to become quiet, allowing ourselves to be taken in and moved by things we notice and creating meaningful photographs from our experiences.
The book is filled with beautiful, simple and quiet photographs that very well illustrate the state of mind and goal of the contemplative photographer.
I think it all comes down to what are you interested in. Are you interested in making images like some you saw online? Are you interested in making images that will impress your friends? Are you interested in making images that you can sell? Or, are you interested in taking your camera, being quiet and just looking and seeing? In that quiet space you will notice things that a busy mind would not have let you notice before. Some of these things when photographed properly will make profound and moving images. By approaching creating photographs this way, you will find that developing a style that is strictly your own is an effortless outgrowth of your photographing. You may not get famous, or rich, but you will have a great experience and fall in love with the process.
There is a very small chapter toward the end of the book where Julie and I approach things differently. For Julie, the process of seeing and creating occurs when we’re out with a camera and taking a photo. She says that post-processing should only consist of actualizing what the seeing experience was. Anything else should be discarded.
I don’t work that way. Maybe I should be called a contemplative post-processor as well as a contemplative photographer. Seeing doesn’t have to stop with the camera − and one’s experience when seeing and taking a photograph no matter how profound was only an experience in time and that moment is already gone when you’re at the computer. One can be quiet at the computer and experience discovery and excitement once more as one takes the raw material of the digital image and creates a beautiful photograph from it.
That said, I wouldn’t want to touch any of Julie’s photographs in Effortless Beauty with Photoshop. They are great as they are.
Effortless Beauty is available at Amazon, but even better give Julie all the money and purchase it at http://www.effortlessbeautybook.com/.