Zen and the Art of Photography

After studying but putting forth little effort into the zen philosophy last year, I think I will attempt it again this year. But what if I can apply those principles into something I enjoy such as photography? I can create a hybrid of the two and enjoy both even further.
There are more than seven practices of course, but these seem to be fundamental and can be applied to photography.

Having a camera is a passport to explore the world with different perspectives. By keeping an open mind and seeing your subjects differently we can open up new opportunities and more rewarding images.

Sure, I desire to fly towards exotic destinations and capture those epic scenes, but reality says I must be present in my current situation. This requires the discipline of focus. Likewise if I try to capture all the things around me, I will capture nothing of consequence. Focus on the moment, the subject and the outcome for best results.

I am generally an optimistic person but I haven’t been lately. Staying positive in all situations makes me and those around me better. I can get frustrated if a scene or shot doesn’t go my way. If I remain calm, slow down and focus this will lead to happiness with my photography and my life. Fun fact: zen is dependent on happiness.

Seek beauty in all things
Admittingly, this is a challenge for me. I’ve been disappointed in shooting my current surroundings because they were boring, over-shot, repetitive, and wanting more. If I slow down, focus and stay positive. A good photographer sees something in the moment that no one else does. All things do have a certain beauty in them.

Live in the moment
This can be applied under “Focus” as well. A general acceptance of the here and now. An acceptance of myself, and of others. Minimizing distractions and enjoying where I am currently.

Minimalism or simplicity
I’ve done what I can do minimize possessions and to simplify my life, why not do the same for photography? Why not minimize distractions in the viewfinder and focus on something simplistic? This can include simplifying subjects or a scene, simplifying your gear and enjoying the process.

Walking meditation
A lot of issues can be solved with walking. It offers clarity, strengthens the mind and the body. Taking a camera along for a photo walk affords a lot of opportunities. Your mind and body are clear, so now too your images.

Practicing the art of zen photography emphasizes who we are and is reflected in the images we make. Do I make the world around me a better place, am I a better person for it and do my images reflect this? I don’t know but I am eager to apply these practices the next time I go out with the camera.

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