Under the shade of a canopy of trees at the US National Arboretum
This spring, I took a 4-week workshop called Zen Photography that blended mindfulness and the art of photography. Our zen master, Tuan Pham, is an award winning amateur photographer. He used meditation and exercises such as one-eye seeing and relaxed awareness to teach us wise attention so we could look at the world around us with awakened awareness. Our classes included drawing and other creative exercises along with time spent taking photos in the US National Arboretum. Each class ended with a slide show of our best shots from the previous week. The course ended with a family day where everyone got to participate in mindfulness and creative exercises to see what we had been up to. There was a final exhibition of all of our favorite photos taken over the weeks.
The course focused not so much on the technical aspect of taking photographs, but on how we see things and how our thinking minds influence how we see. We were challenged to try things to get out of our comfort level and stretch ourselves. I experimented with taking some photos that were outside of my usual style and was pleasantly surprised by the results.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Reflection - one of my classmates during a moment of stillness before going off to take photos
Water series - reflections in the water
The inside of an iris growing in a neighbor's garden
Close up of the ice cubes in a glass of iced tea
The end - a dog enjoying a rest in the shade at the arboretum
I really enjoyed the course and feel that it helped me view my surroundings in a slightly different way than before. It is being offered again this fall and I've signed up to take it so that I can expand on what I've already learned and to apply it to my photography as well as all my other creative endeavors.
I hope you pause from time to time to take in the scene around you with fresh eyes and enjoy the beauty in the everyday.
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