I have been aware over many years that I do get entirely wrapped up in the spectacle of the wildlife I am observing and photographing and a sense of calm envelops me. Indeed, on many occasions when working with a group of photographers, it has become clear to them that I am in my own bubble and I don’t respond to questions and comments they might be making. I can spend hours doing this, the weather can change and the evening light might have gone, but I am still wrapped up in my own world.
I have recently become aware of the approach and work of Freeman Patterson who might be described as a philosophical photographer who has long written about his religious and spiritual connection with nature.
As Patterson himself observed:
“Creation . . . is my primary source of awe and wonder. Because I lived so close to the natural world as a child, it became my emotional home in a very tangible way and the stimulus for my creative efforts.”
Terry Graff, Director and Chief Curator of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery explained in the Foreword of Patterson’s book Embracing Creation more about his connection with nature:
“The artist’s intimate and long-lasting relationship with the land or sense of place, conjoined with imagination and an uncompromising eye for quality, has yielded an outstanding oeuvre of stunningly beautiful photographs that may be read as a form of environmental activism.”
In this regard, through my engagement with wildlife I think I share some of Patterson’s understanding and connections with nature, and aspire to being able to capture and share my emotions, and those of my subjects, in the photographs I take and the images I make. Similarly, in my Research Project, I am hoping to extend this practice in gaining an understanding and connection with the Road to Elgol.
Extending the thinking and approach of Patterson in, for me, a rather more practical way, is Torsten Hoffmann in his book Photography as Meditation. He explains the similarities between photography and meditation:
“Meditation and photography have more in common than you might initially think: both deal with the present moment, both demand the highest degree of awareness, and both are most attainable when the mind is empty and free from distracting, outside influences.”
I would agree with this statement and in particular with the suggestion that you need to be free from life’s distractions to gain that true connection with what you are photographing. Hoffmann goes on to say that:
“The pictures that we take depict the intersection of our interior perception of the world and the exterior world that we capture at a particular moment in time.
These observations also link with some of the reading I do as a management coach about “flow”. A technique and aspiration very much linked to sports performance is where a person is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus and complete absorption in a particular practice.
I will be doing more reflecting and reading on this subject in the context of my Research Project so watch this space . . .
Hoffmann, T ((2014) Photography as Meditation, Rocky Nook, California
Patterson, F (2013) Embracing Creation, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, New Brunswick, Canada