Contemplative photography is based on taking the time and looking deeper into what we perceive visually. How do we do that? And how do we photograph contemplatively? Contemplation is another term for “contemplation.” The name comes from the Latin contemplation. Meditation means ‘separating something from its environment’.
Contemplation can be object-oriented, but it presupposes a degree of inner stillness and calmness and with a specific connection to the subject of meditation. People are free to be fully present, all attention.
What is Contemplative?
In this contemplative approach to photography, the emphasis is on the process of perception. We consider what we perceive visually more deeply. So that we understand what we perceive, something we see. We look deeper into something we see, that one thing we see—that one thing we see in the multitude of the entire visual environment.
- We separate it from the rest of the environment, as it were, and look at it more deeply. So that we fully understand what we are seeing.
- We see what we see apart from all the meanings we already know; we get it from the environment of what we already know.
In contemplative photography, we take our time.
We allow ourselves to take our time. We look deeper. And we are looking deeper starts with standing still. We stand still and leave our many thinking and our worries and our ruminations alone for a moment. We stand still and let our drive look for something interesting to see for a moment; we stop hunting for a photo, we stop for a moment wanting an excellent result.
To stop running around in this century, to sit quietly in the grass, to turn off the world and to feel the earth again, to allow the eye to see a willow tree, a cloud, a leaf – that is an unforgettable, wonderful experience…” Frederick Franck from ‘The Zen of Seeing’
Direct observation is the common thread in contemplative photography.
We have direct perception and indirect perception. Direct perception is what we experience sensually, and indirect perception is what we think about it. We always examine our direct visual perception in this contemplative approach, leaving what we think about it alone. The common thread is direct visual observation.
Contemplative photography is touched.
Contemplative photography is about seeing touched. Being touched is the experience of direct visual perception.
We learn to recognize how and when we feel touched as experience. We realize this experience of seeing touched, and we understand what we think. In this way, we can effortlessly connect more deeply with the immediate world around us and within ourselves.
How do we photograph contemplatively?
Always in the now. When we have taken the time to consider what we see and what we perceive as being affected, we come to understand what we see fully. Understanding what we see means understanding what is visually part of our perception and what is not. And if we indicate here photographic expression with not too much in the frame and not too little in the structure, we photograph what we see with just enough in the frame.
We photograph. We also do not postpone taking a picture, we do not take a picture later or later or tomorrow, and we do not avoid taking a picture. We sincerely express our perception.
The joy of contemplative photography
The joy of the deliberative process is from the beginning to the end. From the vibrancy of our unique direct perception of touched seeing to the result. From a successful photo that shows exactly what we saw. It completes the circle.
The photos in contemplative photography
In contemplative photography, the photos are the natural by-product of the perception process. A picture is also the result that we can share. In this reflective approach to photography, we share a moment of our unique perception through the photo, the successful photo, directly from our hearts, through the camera through the image to the viewer.
How does contemplative photography (Miksang photography) work?
The contemplative approach to Miksang photography is based explicitly on Dharma art’s teachings, the Shambhala teachings and the Tibetan Buddhist teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
This meditation teacher, scholar, and artist introduced the contemplative arts as part of his Buddhist teachings. The contemplative arts are a form of meditation-in-action and mindfulness-in-action and an expression of elegance. His teachings bring wisdom and wakefulness together very practically for our daily life and form the basis for creating an enlightened society.
Miksang is a Tibetan word.
Miksang is a Tibetan word that translates as ‘Good Eye’. The Tibetan language originated from Buddhism and, like Sanskrit, has many layers of meaning.
- “Good” here implies that we assume that everything has basic goodness: everything we can perceive around us, others, and ourselves also have innate goodness. The meaning of ‘good’ here ignores how we are used to dividing everything into good and evil. In this basic goodness lies the beauty of the everyday world, which is always and already present. ‘Good’ also refers to this everyday beauty, which is the brilliance of things as they are.
- ‘Eye’ means that we are all born with a clear vision and can see things as they are. We don’t have to bring this in from the outside because we already have this possibility within ourselves.
- “Contemplative” involves taking the time to consider our pure perceptions more deeply. Interrupting and slowing down our thinking speed creates space within ourselves to notice our direct, vivid perceptions. We practice mindful viewing and allow ourselves to take the time to consider what we are seeing. We look more profound so that we can fully understand what we are seeing.
A moment of ‘Good Eye’ comes together when we align our eyes, mind and heart. In contemplative photography, goodness is the source of everything. And this goodness is our healthy core. With every experience of Goed Oog, we come into contact with our healthy bodies.