Don’t Think, Feel

Photography is often thought of as a literal process. Point the camera at something interesting and shoot. Wait for the right light, find an interesting composition, expose the image properly and so on and so forth. All true! Even the most creative photographers need a solid foundation in the technical aspects of the craft. In order to capture our “vision” into a well executed photograph, one must first master the basic skills of composition, metering, exposure and so on. That being said, I have met multitudes of photographers over the years with the best equipment (often better than mine and most pro’s I know), an understanding of exposure, metering and completely capable of composing images using guidelines such as the rule of thirds ect. What the images often lacks is an emotional and spiritual connection to the subject.

Too much thinking and not enough feeling leads to images that are technically perfect, but fail to evoke an emotional response in the viewer or, as Bruce Lee puts it after slapping an overly thoughtful pupil in Enter the Dragon: “Don’t think, feel!” There is a Buddhist expression ” you are not your thoughts” which references the human tendency to get too caught up in thought, leaving us stressed and unable to step back from ourselves and experience the world around us, realizing not all we think is what we see.

While on my way this spring to Boneyard Beach of Botany Bay, I found myself daydreaming of compositions as I drove out to the island in the darkness. I have been here before. I know the lay of the land, or at least I thought I did. Once I arrived on the beach, I went from one set of trees to the next framing up all of those pre-visualized shots, and not being at all happy with any of them.  As my frustration began to rise and the light was getting good, I put my camera in the bag, dropped my tripod in the sand and went to sit down on the beach, trying  to clear my mind as best I could  and simply looked and listened to the landscape. It was in this quite moment blocking out my thoughts, that I saw the image literally lying directly in front of me. Quietly and quickly, I retrieved my gear and set up the shot. Withing seconds I had the shot I didn’t even know I was looking for. So next time your in the filed and the vision just isn’t materializing, try to relax your mind and instead don’t think, feel!