Walking and Seeing

I love going out in the morning and taking photographs. There’s something that happens to me when I walk around with a camera that takes me out of my mind and allows me to get very observant. It first happened to me when I was in my late teens and I was wandering around city streets with my camera in my hand. I’d be looking and looking, and at some point, something would click and I would see things that I would ordinarily pass by: faces, relationships, attitudes. I would see interesting things to photograph everywhere.

The same thing happens today. I’ll be walking on a trail with pine trees on either side: no great changes in color, no dramatic light. But as I walk along and get quieter and quieter, I see all sorts of relationships between trees, rocks, mountains, sun the sky. I just shoot and shoot hoping that I’m able to capture what I’m seeing, but realizing that most of it is out of my hands.

People who’ve studied contemplative art tell me I’m a contemplative photographer. I generally think of contemplation as involving thought but the contemplative artists say no. The contemplative photographer label could be put on me, but I’m reluctant to put it on me. I’m not thinking of performing any spiritual practice when I go out. I have a desire to get some good photographs, but I realize if I put too much attention on that desire, it will distract me from my experience so I don’t dwell on that. I just look around and take it all in and try to capture the quiet beauty and relationships in a photograph.

The taking of the photograph is an integral part of the experience. Seeing something that I find interesting and beautiful and seeing if I can capture that in a flat image with defined borders. How to compose it. How to expose it. All of this is part of the joy. I’m getting excited just writing about it.

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~ by danbaumbach on August 29, 2016.

2 Responses to “Walking and Seeing”

  1. Hi Dan,

    LOVED this post – one of those musings I share with you, but you have put it into words much better than I could. I’m also a morning person, and I don’t mind hiking alone, actually prefer it. For some time, I wondered if that’s anti-social, but I’ve come to think that the alone hikes are a special sacred little something I give to myself. For me, I think its the combination of being outdoors, contemplating nature, open to beauty, combined with the act of trying to create. And I’m totally with you – thinking about it makes me excited too – perhaps thats why I enjoy planning these photo hikes so much.

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