Beyond a book on the technical aspects of photography and not as broad in scope as a exposition on the interaction of creativity and Buddhist practice, Andy Karr and Michael Wood present instructions on how to interact with the world around you. From the mundane cracks on a sidewalk to the spiritual explosion of a sunset, the authors explain how contemplative arts go beyond what we define as “raw” talent and “learned” skill. Rather a reader is provided with the tools to develop their own insight into how to engage with the environment around them. It is a form of training the mind to see what is present rather than rely on our own perceptions and conceptions.
And I thank the Elder Gods that they did not name the book “The Zen of Photography”
This book appeals to even those that have no interest in photography. People like myself who never pick up a camera unless it is to shoot off a few rounds of holiday pictures to appease the family. Even if you never create something in the creative vein, this book walks you through how to view things through a creative and mindful lense. Most of the images included in the examples (of which there are many) are of everyday objects presented without evoking a strong emotional response. Instead they capture moments of the mundane.
When I completed this book, I didn’t have a picture to my name. Not one contemplative shot. But I do feel that I dropped a bit of my conceptual framework in how I view objects and the environment as it unfolds around me. Rather than insisting that I view it as a poet or a Buddhist or even as a human, I simply try to view it and let it unfold on its own.
The transformative process outlined in the book applies to photography as much as it applies to poetry. It applies to poetry as much as it applies to practice. It applies to practice as much as it applies to life. It applies fresh eyes to life.
This book, beyond the artistic, allows you to participate in the process of taking a clear snapshot of a moment of your life. Find it, develop it, frame it and then when you see it for what it is… you can sigh. Don’t go out looking for a life. Wander in your present state and the perfect picture will present itself.
Also check out the book’s webpage.