May 15, 2019

Photography as a Pathway to Presence

I’m very happily returning to this space after too long an absence due to a very busy few months navigating some big life changes. I’ve been dividing my time between two beautiful places I am now fortunate to call home: San Miguel de Allende, and the tiny island of Bequia in St. Vincent and The Grenadines. Of course this has somewhat upset my intended San Miguel workshop schedule; apologies (and thanks) to all who have expressed interest. New dates and locations will be available on my website soon. Life is indeed what happens when you’re making other plans, growth and expansion-wise, especially if we are paying attention in the right ways.

That said, I’m most excited to be teaching  my seminar ‘Photography as a Pathway to Presence:  Use Your Smartphone to Tune in Rather Than Tune Out’ in Santa Fe alongside Julia Cameron and others at The ‘Gathering of the Creatives’ conference this coming September. You can learn more about it here.

I’ll be talking about how to use our smartphones as a tool to heighten the quality of our day-to-day existence. Rather than as a source of perpetual distraction, our smartphones can be used as an in-the-moment stress reducer, or as a full on meditative practice.  We learn how to refresh our vision by breaking through ‘habituated’ seeing. We have a choice about what we pay attention to. We move through our days looking at everything but seeing nothing, overstimulated and under-aware. Our ability to experience our surroundings, no matter how seemingly mundane, keeps us in the present moment. With our smartphones always within reach this practice of awareness is available to us always. It’s very much about educating our process of seeing so as to become more discerning observers. By concentrating more on aspects of visual discernment, we gain the capacity to engage much more actively in this process:

‘This is about the practice of seeing deliberately. It’s a kind of sophisticated attentional training. By breaking down the ‘aspects’, we wire our visual sense to see the beauty all around us, in everything, all the time. Like anything else, the more you focus (pun intended) on a skill, the more automatic it becomes.

By educating our Seeing in this way, not only do we hone our photographic vision; we bring a new level of mindfulness, engaged presence and heightened awareness into our day-to-day lives. We feel more awake and alive, more creative and intuitive, and more in the present moment, seeing beauty all around us. We also learn how learn to create much more powerful and evocative imagery.’

One of the many gifts photography has given me is this gift of awareness. My daughter, an amazing image maker in her own right, posed the question “How do you see?” when she was 8 years old. I’ve been exploring and responding to that question ever since.

Hope to see some of you in September!

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