Zen and the Art of Photography

The simple rewards of capturing a moment

Photographers have a myriad of things to consider when we practice our craft: lighting, locations, permits, working with people, gear, post processing, publicity. It can get pretty complex, and at times overwhelming. There are numerous ways of learning what we want (or think we need) to know before we get into a shoot. If you just browse through some favorite channels on YouTube or scroll your Instagram feed you really get a sense for how large this universe is.

It is easy to get caught up in all of that. The distractions are numerous. But what we often do not pay much attention to is one of the more rewarding aspects of the work. It’s what happens when we look into the viewfinder and start shooting. The dimensional limits of the viewfinder immediately shut out distractions – we literally have to focus not just the lens but our minds as well on what we are seeing. 

When we do that we begin to notice details that are not always so obvious when we go about our day-to-day lives. We can see beauty that is right before our eyes, be that the shape and texture of a flower, the placement of trees in the middle of a lake, a beautiful bird perched in a tree, or people enjoying the simple pleasures of life. At that instant all worries or concerns cease, and we are drawn into the magic of the moment, a moment that will not be repeated. We can stay there for as long as we wish. We can move the camera to explore within that scene. The opportunity to step outside of ourselves and embrace the present is right there, right now.

This way of being present is calming. While it has become a mild cliche, photography allows us to capture the moment. And it is only a moment,  an amazing, incredible moment. It has a calming effect on our brain. 

We get to relive the experience when we review the imagery that we capture. And we can review, and sometimes even see things differently, for years to come. Remembering where we were, and what we were doing right then. Right there. Beyond any financial reward or possible prestige for our work, it is this experience which is absolutely priceless and very rewarding. It reminds us over and over again how amazing this world is, and how fortunate we are to be able to experience it. 

These moments then become a reference point when we return to the world of distractions and turmoil. We can use them to help calm our minds and our hearts. It’s a resource to keep us sane and centered. It is this reward that can be experienced as bliss. 

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