heART of Seeing
What it means to see with the contemplative eye? Patricia Turner, a contemplative photographer, revealed that
The Contemplative Eye
- Sees beauty in the commonplace
- Looks for the subtle language of pattern and texture
- Seeks out the metaphoric capabilities of the landscape
- Develops a personal symbol system
- Is unhurried and patient
- Looks beneath the surface qualities to reveal the hidden layers of meaning
- Revels in the interplay of light and shadow
I vaguely recall the day my hands wrapped around my dad’s camera at the ripe young age of eight, it was a special and exciting moment, because it meant that I was given the go ahead for my school’s photography club trip to the Lake Gardens. I would not have known then, that today, I would still feel as special and excited with a camera in my hand as when I was at eight.
Being around friends with a liking for photography ensured it was a hobby that stuck with me all through my teens and onto my late twenties. Unfortunately, from then on, other priorities took over and photography was mainly restricted to the customary family and travel snaps.
That is until recently, where events happened that nudges me to look at my life differently. I think I had been searching for a way to re-awaken my creativity that was more in alignment with my life and that would also help me to cultivate mindfulness in my daily life. The result was that my passion for photography was reignited, not unlike the feeling of being reunited again with a true love after being separated.
Also, I think I was looking for something that would help me to balance my work, which is mostly spent sitting in front of a computer. I needed something to get my body moving yet calming for the mind. What is wonderful about photography is that it doesn’t have to take a big chunk of time. All it takes is one click!
Contemplative photography enables me to experience the world in a metaphoric way, that has a special meaning for me, through the lens of my heart. It’s an intensely personal interpretation of the world around me, often discovering that it is more rich, and wondrous than I ever imagined. To me, being able to see in this way carries over into many other areas of my life, learning to see people, situations, and everyday life with expanded awareness.
It acts as a form of dynamic meditation to me too, by paying attention, right now, wherever I am. It helps me to feel and notice things that cannot be accessed by language. It connects to my spiritual side.
“Contemplative Photography forges a connection between the exterior world around us and the interior world of the human heart. One’s ideas of both will never be quite the same.” – Patricia Turner
It allows me to experience clarity and calmness within my surroundings, where the thinking mind stops, even if it’s just for a moment. It is as Thomas Merton called it, “…the direct intuition of reality…a direct grasp of the unity of the visible and the invisible…a plain fact, a pure experience, the very foundation of our being and thought.”
As well as helping me to bring mindfulness and awareness into my everyday life, seeing things freshly can be joyful and playful. It is exciting to discover what I haven’t seen before, that is actually right here at every moment, right in front of my eyes. The open mind is really the key to the magic moment!
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray” - Rumi
The quote above is one that resonates with me photographically. By allowing myself to be drawn in by what I truly love, I will see what my soul needs me to see. To see through the eyes of the heart is I believe an essential element of contemplative photography.
One day, I hope we can do contemplative photo walks together. It will be fun to spend the morning walking and photographing, consciously slowing down and capturing the essence of the world around us.
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” - Elliott Erwitt, 1928
By following my instinct and being true to the things that I respond deeply to, is the only way I can find my original voice.
From now, I will just enjoy my life with my camera and it will be a pleasure if you can walk with me on my contemplative journey.