Let’s talk about a mindset for creating photographic art courtesy of Henry David Thoreau in the book Walden.
“Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” Henry David Thoreau
Why do pop into philosophy when talking about creating art? I believe to create the best work, or to see many things to which we are exposed that could become art, we have to live and be in the moment. Many times in our lives we tend to miss out on many opportunities because we are living either in the past or the future.
“What the heck are you talking about Bob???”
How many times in the day do you put yourself in automatic mode? By that I mean as you do things are you aware that you are doing them while you are doing them? Or, are you thinking about something that happened yesterday that was a problem or worried about something that hasn’t happened yet that MIGHT be a problem? Ever driven home and wondered how you got there? Do you always brush your teeth exactly the same way? Eaten a meal but not tasted the food? These are all signs you are not in the moment and might be missing out on your life.
It is the brain’s job to create thoughts. Tons of thoughts. When chatting about this with another photographer she said, “I know what you mean! I call it my ‘circus’ when I can’t get my brain and inner voice to be quiet!” It’s also the brain’s job to do things automatically for us like regulate our heart. Make the lungs take in air and expel it. All that is great, and quite wonderful, until we allow the brain to control too many things without being in the moment concouisly thinking.
How can we start to take back the brain and make it help us better?
Learn to meditate.
Here are some simple ideas for getting into meditation. Brush your teeth or shave with your opposite hand. Take a different route to and from work or the store when driving your car. Concentrate on one thing at a time. The idea of multitasking is a misnomer. Your brain can not do multiple things at one time it must switch modes and it will actually take longer to do the tasks.
SIT for a little while and be here now. What sounds do you hear? Take control of your breathing and be aware of it. When a thought comes unbidden let it go. There is a book that I found helpful on learning how to meditate by Jon Kabat-Zinn called Wherever You Go – There You Are It gives you exercises and ideas on learning to quiet to mind so you are here now.
Ever notice when you go on a trip you find a lot more photo opportunities? That’s an example of leaving our automatic self behind and seeing what s right in front of you. That’s what I’m talking about!
As a friend of mine used to say, “I have an extremely busy day today! I better meditate for an hour rather than for fifteen minutes…”
Seems counter-intuitive but she accomplished an awful lot on a regular basis!
Yours in Creative Photography, Bob