Art and Spirit

I recently had to write a short bio about me and photography for a spiritual magazine. I have trouble with art and spirituality, because although I’ve been a meditator and follow a spiritual teacher, most of what I see of “spiritual art” are photos of Buddhas or churches or bad out of focus pictures. After some reflection about the matter, here is what I wrote.

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In my late teens and early 20s I used to wander the streets of New York with my camera snapping candid photos of people on the street. There were times I would get so wrapped up in what I was doing that my mind would become very still and I would get into a kind of ecstasy. I would look at events in front of me, be thrilled by them, snap a photo and move on.

I didn’t know anything about quiet minds or spirituality at the time, and in fact I was fairly confused and unhappy in life, so while I loved these wonderful experiences, I wondered what they were about and how could I have them all the time.

One thing I noticed then that is still true today is how little I have to do with the result of my photographing efforts. While taking photos, the ones that I thought were great while taking them were not necessarily the best photos of the shoot. In some way my thoughts and opinions while shooting had very little to do with the result. Something greater was at work.

These days I love to spend my time in nature wandering around with my camera. I still get very quiet and just respond to the beauty I see in front of me. Sometimes I’ll take photographs of what I am seeing and sometimes not.

I am not a documenter of nature. If you want to experience the 360 degree wonder of being in nature, by all means go out and be there. What I’m doing in photographs is capturing my experience. If you look at my photos and are stopped, then I’ve been successful.

People like to talk about spiritual art but I don’t like to make differences. To me the purpose of all art is to stop you and take you out of yourself.

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~ by danbaumbach on December 15, 2012.

5 Responses to “Art and Spirit”

  1. Very thoughtful post… I feel much the same way. Well said.

  2. This post was a good read, in my opinion, in a number of ways including your alluding to the idea that art comes through us, that something greater is at work than our own efforts.

  3. Oh, I also meant to wish you a Merry Holiday and best wishes for the new year.

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