The Contemplative Life of Photography

Water Drop on Leaf, Bob Grytten Photo
Water Drop on Leaf, Bob Grytten Photo

This morning I’m reading from one of Joel Goldsnith’s books about the contemplative life. And I’m reminded that we often make our photography more difficult then it has to be. Just as Goldsmith reminds us that within we have all that we need to live a competent and worthwhile life, the same is true with our photography.

Like so many striving to understand how all the functions of the camera works, it wasn’t until I discovered that most everything already exists for making those images, that my results improved. I only had to recognize it. At that moment, my photography changed.

What do we need to make a meaningful image? If it’s nature – subject is all around. And the one great element that can affect an image is light. That is the common changer. It effects how every subject will look. I only had to let my understanding flow out.  Do what I know. It might be limited today, but that would change as I used what I already had.

Frog in Florida bog         Bob Grytten Photo
Frog in Florida bog Bob Grytten Photo

My job, I learned was to place myself in a position to record that image. Just be there!. My understanding and skill level would improve with practice. That’s how I learned. I already had everything inside of me to make it happen. Everyone does. Each of us just processes it in a different way.

The first thing I realized about the camera, was that if I used the Aperture Priority setting , the camera would set the shutter speed automatically. I knew where the focus ring was. And that was it. Of course I knew how to turn it on. And I knew that I needed a tripod, to hold the camera steady. I was all set.

Now, maybe I was at a different place than most – I had already decided to make photography a career, based on the Johnson O’Connor tests. So, my motivation level to make it work might have been stronger that many; but, what I discovered was a game changer. I was pretty subject about the whole thing.

Wood Poppy, Corneille Bryan native Garden, Lake Junaluska, NC made with 300mm f4.5 EDIF lens. Bob Grytten Photo
Wood Poppy, Corneille Bryan Native Garden, Lake Junaluska, NC,  Nikkor 300mm f4.5 EDIF lens. Bob Grytten Photo

What really got my juices flowing; however, was when I spotted a tiny caterpillar crawling along a branch of a tree. Looking through my view finder, bigger than I could have seen with my eye – it moved forward, then the middle part of his body rose in the air, and he inched forward. The colors struck me. So brilliant and perfectly reproduced along his body. A chill went down my spine. it was then,  the connection became obvious. I was hooked. This was far bigger than anyone could have explained. I was there for a reason. By chance? Yes, but then again, it made no difference. The connection between nature, universe, creation was real. Photography was never to be the same.

Purpose. The difference between just existing and motivation. I wish it for all. Different for all. Beginning with understanding our completeness as we are. Trusting that everything we need is already within. Then sharing what we can of ourselves – the rest is automatic.


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