Photography has given me many experiences, and enhanced my life in myriad ways.
One of the most valuable of these, in the dozen or so years I’ve been photographing deliberately, is the form of meditation it provides.
Meditation I would define as a way of being calm and present in the moment, without the usual hectic distractions of your surroundings or your mind intruding.
Normally we might think of mediation needing a continuous and uninterrupted period of time in a quiet place, when we’re doing nothing else but sitting.
But I’ve found that on a photowalk in the countryside, making each photograph provides a form of momentary micro meditation.
String a number of these together and their impact grows further still.
Heres how and why I find it works for me.
Generally, a photowalk is a very calm pursuit overall anyway. I love the countryside and I love walking, so by combining these two I’m already on to a winner.
Then we add the photography too, an elegant, experience-elevating garnish on an already scrumptious and wholesome dish.
When you’ve found your potential scene to capture, and you’re there in the moment of composing your photo, hands steady and breath held, nothing else matters but what’s between those four corners of the viewfinder or screen.
Everything else drops away, the whole world is right there in front you.
Your usually spiralling, complex and over-thinking mind stops. Your breathing stops. Perhaps even your heart stops.
Then, the shutter clicks, there’s a momentary after echo, you exhale, and the world resumes.
Camera raised once more, you hunt for the next composition.
That sensation is worth experiencing even once, but by stringing together a series of these micro meditations in succession, the benefits expand even more.
The repeated return to stillness, for me makes the whole experience of the photowalk even greater than the sum of its parts, and the reason I’ve returned to it thousands of times.
What positive and life enhancing experiences does photography bring you?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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8 thoughts on “Photography – A Repeated Return To Stillness”
Positive and life enhancing experiences? None what-so-ever…
It’s a really expensive hobby. And I’m not even using digital as my main vehicle of expression. The technology I use is nearly 200 years old. And yes, it’s still expensive. I feel sorry for the ‘PHOTOKINA’ brigade. Thankfully the organisers came to their senses and cancelled the March 2019 show, and decided that one show per year was enough to show off all the new gear. Getting rid of all my hard earn money is not very positive as far as I’m concerned. I shudder to think how much I could have saved had I not been so dumb to get into this whole scam!
It takes me out in the world outdoors… Yes, of course. Photography takes me out to be alone, cold, wet, baking hot, windswept, shouted at, sneered at, seen as a creep, up early, out late, having an intimate knowledge of all public loos within the M25, suffer backache from carrying my kit, sore feet, knees giving in, ears bleeding because of the earphones destroying my hearing… etc, etc, etc. Yes, I love being out in the great outdoors… *sigh*
Of course, I get time to contemplate love, life and art, the meaning of it all… while my family is having fun LIVING life, and LOVING it…. Phffffffff….. Life enhancing? Give me a break…
And my entertainment. My free time is spent scoring the internet for videos of other losers taking about f-stops, developers, the Scheimpflug principle, reciprocity, D-Max values, bloody ZONE system among a few personal favorites Only books and articles must ONLY contain the words, photography and camera or I will not deem it worthy of my attention. The only pictures I study are those from the dusty recesses of history of photography. I have become such a snob, I even look down as my own images I’ve created with my mobile phone…. *groan*
If this a healthy, positive and life enhancing was of life? Do I really need to answer that? But of course I wouldn’t change it for ANYTHING. I love this great form of expression. I love everything I hate about it.
But I feel I digress as I need to get out for a little photowalk. It’s a right ol’ wet, grey and downright miserable day in Londontown… AND I LOVE IT!!
Thanks Anton, I always greatly enjoy your comments!
Thinking about what I don’t like about photography, all I come up with is things in the past I now no longer do.
The expense of film, even with my budget options of Poundland film (no longer available) and Asda supermarket lab processing became too much for me to justify. So I no longer shoot film.
Having too many cameras and lenses so I don’t know which to use. I sold all but a handful.
Having bulky, heavy cameras that make my neck ache and regularly swing into and bruise some part of my hip area. I only use compacts now, all with hand straps.
Scanning film. I handed this over to Asda, then eliminated the need entirely, see above.
Spending ages making tiny adjustments in LightRoom and/or choosing and tweaking presets. I gave up LightRoom months ago, and either use cameras that deliver straight out of the camera, or use Snapseed on my phone for a b/w conversion or slight colour enhancements.
Selling stuff I didn’t want on eBay. Everything I have kept, I want, so there’s nothing left to sell really, and no need for eBay as a buyer or seller.
I’ve just evolved the whole hobby to a point where I’ve enhanced the best bits, and let go of everything else. Which is why I write posts like this one about the pleasures of it!
Thanks for helping me further realise this.
🤣 on the floor.
Like you, I find my photographic walks quite meditative, particularly when the light is changing rapidly at sunrise and sunset. I tend to get “in the zone” while I’m concentrating on looking for the best angles to capture the scene or light patterns on close-up objects. After the light disappears and I stop taking photos, the meditation slowly comes to end and I hope I have some shots which reflect this interaction with nature. I usually walk home content, even if I haven’t got any photographs of note. Time well spent!
Paul, yes, exactly, and excellent point about walking home content anyway, even if you didn’t get any photographs of note. For me it is so much about the act and the process, and the cherry on top is coming up with a photo I like now and again.
Thanks for your comments.
I work in people’s personal space all day so when I get a chance to take a photo walk it’s like closing the door to all the distracting chaos in the world. I used to be self conscious about shooting out in public. I no longer notice people. It’s just me and my camera. And I love it.
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