"Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" Fri 17-May-13 06:48 PM by spiritualized67
Western PA, US
Regardless if youíre a street shooter or a landscape photographer, being mindful requires a certain temperament that some people just donít have.
Being mindful in and of itself doesnít necessarily ensure photographic success Ė although it may lend itself to a richer, more satisfying experience.
Of course, Iíd like to believe that mindfulness can indeed open the doors of creativity Ė helping one transcend our photographs beyond an exact representation.
Whether weíre finding a painting within the chaos of a dense forest scene, or watching whimsical streaks of light and shadow lyrically dance across the landscape Ė mindfulness is less about looking, and more about seeing.
In laymanís terms, Iíd describe mindfulness as being patient and keeping an open ďunclutteredĒ mind to all the opportunities around you.
Being mindful is the difference between just breaking out your camera and firing away, and really taking your time - letting the subject reveal itself to you.
Mindfulness is about relishing in the experience of being there more than in just the physical act of taking the picture.
Case in point was my best bud Jeff who recently accompanied me for a few days of photography (on the tail end of a business trade show) to Valley of Fire State Park (and Red Rock Canyon) outside of Vegas.
Sure, he was enamored with the idea of joining me in the great outdoors for a few days of landscape photography. But after about an hour of wandering, it became readily apparent that he and I werenít cut from the same cloth.
In one humorous exchange, he tracked me down around the next bend in the trail and shouted, ďok, Iím ready to goÖwhatís next?Ē I looked at him with a smirk and explained that I hadnít even broken out my camera.
Surely many of you probably recognize this impatience from your own travels.
This type of behavior may help explain why photographing with oneís family when on vacation (or even with other photographers) can often be a challenge for the thoughtful photographer.
As the day progressed, it became plainly obvious that Jeff was bored out of his mind Ė and in an act of self-humility, admitted to me that he lacked both the patience and creative stamina required to be successful as a photographer.
Yes, not everyone is cut out for photography beyond the quick tourist snap Ė and many cannot see the point in photographing trees, rocks - or pretty flowers for that matter.
It goes without saying that lack of experience or lack of passion towards the craft can certainly impact oneís attitude and behaviors.
I realize that itís unreasonable for me to expect others who donít share my high degree of obsessive love for photography to feel the same as I do.
But I think thereís more to it than just a high degree of passion or creative inclination. I think some people just donít have the temperament required for photography.
This is neither good nor bad, it just is. Ironically, Iím a relatively impatient person in my general life. But for whatever reason, I can slip into an almost Zen-like state when photographing.
For myself and all those other folk who share this contemplative approach, itís the ultimate escape from ourselves, allowing us to exist more fully in the moment.
But for many others, they just donít get it Ė and Iím not sure they ever will.
#1. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
Punta Gorda, US
Your observation can be applied to just about anything, not just photography. I read the post again and imagined it was being written by my wife about me going shopping with her. Only a few words would have to be changed for it to apply to that situation.
All kidding aside, you state very well what I imagine many of us have experienced at some time to one degree or another. You mentioned that your buddy Jeff accompanied you for a few days of photography. How did it work out after the first day?
#2. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 1
Western PA, US
Hi Clyde...funny (yes, I can imagine my wife feeling the same about me, although I question how much true creativity and mindfulness goes into picking out shoes). Of course, she'd argue that dressing oneself is both an art and a science. It's all relative I guess.
But yes you are very correct - this can be applied to just about anything - although when exploring these type of philosophical subjects, I always try and relate it back to our craft.
As for my friend Jeff, I just calmly accepted my reality and tried to make the best of it. On a personal level, his actions did make me feel more rushed - so I knew I wouldn't necessarily create my best work. If it's the right subject, I can work it for hours.
But truth be told, I was just happy to be out there. Part of mindfulness is about releasing one's expectations - although that's easier said than done at times.
#3. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 1
Dublin, CA, US
I completely agree with your excellent and very thoughtful comments. I have been in that zen-like state that you mentioned, where time stands still, the people around me disappear, the light is magic, and I'm in that zone. Moments like that, with the resulting photos, are what off-set the shoulder ache from carrying a camera/tripod combination all day.
Case-in-point: Sunset in Muir Woods with the setting sunrays diffracted by the redwoods, capturing image after image, then noticing that there were around 20 people who had noticed me, then the light, and were then standing around me with cameras, point and shoots, and cell phones.
At times, I arrive at a location not wanting to be there due to the previous workday's or workweek's stress. But I know that I must do this and be there. After about a half-hour on location, I enter that moment. Ernest Hass stated that a photographer is like an athlete, and like an athlete must go through a warm-up period. I find that to be the case for me at times, where ths first few photos are throw-aways.
For me, I'm approaching that time in my life where I want to retire while I'm still young enough and be able enough to pursue and enjoy my photography.
#4. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 3
Thanks Dan for a great post. Several times a year my wife does half day or full day workshops for visitors to Death Valley National Park in what she calls "intentional seeing". She has had many visitor comment cards come back talking about how much the workshops had changed the visitors' experience of the Park. Sometimes the hardest thing for city folks coming to the country to do is to get outside their own heads and actually experience the physical place they're in. I do think that the ability to see (and listen, and smell) can be developed in many cases.
I conceptualise my landscape work as "having a converstion with a place". A conversation is a two way process -- one has to be able to listen, as well as to talk.
#5. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
Dan, like I've always said, nature photography is a lonely business. Great post, I enjoy your musings immensely and I have experienced everything you state here. In reflection I have to admit that I have an awesome wife - she endures our photo trips even though I know she would rather be doing something else. I try to set aside an equal amount of time to do things she wants to do and when on "official" vacations I have come to realize I need to limit camera time.
#6. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
Rancho Cordova, US
Ironically, Dan, I just had a conversation this morning with Dave Good (dwgimages) that we need to go shooting. A planned event to a destination for the explicit reason to record images. I've been wanting to do that for some time, not just record some random electrons between point A and and point B.
#8. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
San Francisco, US
Interesting topic, though I think there is room in photography for all sorts of styles - from those who take quick, intuitive snaps to people more like yourself who work more deliberately. I usually err more towards the former than the latter, but that's due to my subject matter - more people than landscapes.
I have definitely been in situations where a certain subgenre of photography seemed like a good concept until I tried it and found that it bored me to tears. Thankfully there are more varied subjects out there than there are people to shoot them!
#9. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 3
Western PA, US
Beautiful image Marion! - and thank you for sharing your thoughts. Love the Ernest Haas quote - very poignant.
I often shoot off a few rounds in the beginning just to get the act of pressing the shutter out of my system - so I can relate.
As for attracting the tourists, it's funny how a busload of foreign tourists can hone right in on a photographer with a tripod. Happened to me just last week in Valley of Fire, NV. I just run the other way, lol.
#11. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 8 Sun 19-May-13 03:03 AM by spiritualized67
Western PA, US
I agree - different strokes for different folks. There are many genres I find less than appealing myself.
Like you, I photograph people - and often at a much faster pace than with my landscapes. But even these shots require good timing and a keen understanding of your subject in order to capture nuances and gesture.
Anyone can capture what they do - but it's much more of a deliberate process to capture who they are. Snaps will never be any more than what they are - although I do agree that there's a place for many diverse styles.
#13. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
I have to admit that I'm not a contemplative photographer but, in my spastic way, I take a 'child mind' with me. Nothing is uninteresting or boring, rocks and light through leaves are art, a shadow or a dapple is a thing of beauty or a cat stretching is a dancer. Alleys and dumpsters are mysterious and don't get me started on angles and buildings! I tend to take hundreds of photos only because I can't decide what angle or light or whatever is the most interesting to me because they all are!
I go out often with a contemplative photographer and we get along just fine! He takes his time and stands for what seems like a long time to me but I find the things he might have missed because he doesn't wander off! I'm off and running shooting everything that catches my eye (pretty much everything around me!) but we never seem to lose track of each other. And neither of us ever gets bored or wants to stop before we just can't walk anymore or all of our batteries are exhausted (we both carry multiple spares so it's usually the walking thing).
I completely agree though that not everyone understands that staying out for hours and shooting is the absolute best day. And thousands of dollars worth of equipment doesn't make a photographer. And, certainly, not everyone sees the incredible life under the everyday of everyday.
All this said, thank goodness for digital and SD cards!
#16. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 5
Western PA, US
So true (about it being a lonely business) Ernesto...and very rewarding too!
As long as I can find a like-minded photographer to travel with, I always appreciate having the company (and safety in numbers). BTW, your wife sounds like an awesome lady! Mine tolerates my photography, lol.
Thanks for taking the time to comment Ernesto - it is always appreciated!
#19. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
Thank you for kicking off this thread -- your observations, and the responses so far, are illuminating.
I had an experience last weekend that fits with your idea of "mindfulness." My wife (who also is a photographer -- what a joy!) and I joined Tony Sweet and a few more of his workshop "veterans" for a day of shooting (no formal instruction) at the abandoned silk mill in Lonaconing, MD. Talk about a "target-rich environment" for those of us interested in images of urban/industrial decay and abandonment! It was also a technically challenging environment, with three floors of "stuff" and light ranging from "need a headlamp" in the basement to "need HDR to manage the dynamic range" on the third floor lit by huge windows.
Instead of casing the entire building first to see and feel what it was about, I rather quickly became fixated on what I thought was an interesting composition and began shooting -- so fixated, in fact, that when I realized I had not dialed in sufficient DOF I immediately went back and re-shot everything. Only much later (while working through the postprocessing, which is not yet finished) did I realize that all of that work was part of the "warm up" and none of those images are really keepers. The more time I spent contemplating the space, the more things I saw that were meaningful to me and worth capturing. The four hours went by in a flash!
One further observation: having spent several hours in the place, I came away with a strong sense of what it felt like to be there. This sense has been guiding my postprocessing decisions as I try to create final images that say what I saw and felt. One unexpected result is that the majority of my images are ending up as B&W conversions.
#20. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
There are days I do not have the temperment for photography...and many times I do..other responsibilities call...Funny thing is..I am for the most part a solitary person..always have been. I never minded going out alone, as a kid, into the woods to roam, out on my bike to ride into town, as an adult to go to a movie,Driving with a trailer full of horses..I like my alone time..almost too much ..lol
#21. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
New York City, US
I always wonder if there is a way that we can develop mindfulness. I've read lots of books that talk about this but few that actually succeed. My son regularly explains mindfulness to me, but when I ask him how to get there he tells me that there is no set of instructions. The only one who has even come close in writing about this for photographers is Freeman Patterson who often talks about the art of seeing. Are there books that talk about becoming more mindful that are really practical? They certainly don't need to be devoted to photography?
#22. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 21 Sun 19-May-13 06:55 PM by DonnaRead54
@Obregon .. while there is really not set ways to develop mindfulness I use a technique I've labelled 'seeing with my outward self'. I stand and let the sounds, smells, colors and things like temperature, breezes, rain, mist or any other aspects of the moment come to me. I let them come one at a time until I am fully involved with that one moment. You don't have to take a lot of time to do this! A few seconds, a minute or two takes you out of your self and allows your brain to 'reset' your body. You also actually experience what is around you to a fuller degree! I don't use this to find photos but it puts me in the right frame of mind to become aware of the photo-ops right in front of me. Then I'm off and running like a little kid, excited about everything I see! Don't worry if you don't really 'get' the mindfulness state. Chances are, if you are a photographer, you do without realizing it!
PS .. if you've ever spend 6 hours shooting and suddenly realize that your legs are killing you and you're starving ... you've been very deep in that mindful moment!
#23. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 5
Dublin, CA, US
> Ernesto Santos: "In reflection I have to admit that I have an awesome wife - she endures our photo trips even though I know she would rather be doing something else. I try to set aside an equal amount of time to do things she wants to do and when on "official" vacations I have come to realize I need to limit camera time."
I have never brought my photo kit with me on vacations with my wife, because I wanted to share those "being there in the moments" with her and not ignore her. For the first time in our marriage, I brought the entire kit to the Reno Balloon Festival, at her urging, where she then began acting as my "spotter," and a very good one at that!
The comments of being in the moment reminds me of the statements by the great jazz musicians: Coltrane, Davis, Rollins, et.al, where they describe entering that state-of-mind where they and the band are then performing without the proverbial net.
#24. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 21
Western PA, US
I agree about Freeman Pattersonís writing. And although he may not mention these concepts directly, David duChemin also appears to employ a mindful approach in his own photography.
To me personally, the closest photographers/writers that Iíve read about who most closely emulate what it means to be mindful were Minor White (Mirrors Messages Manifestations) and John Daido Loori (The Zen of Creativity).
I also think that Eugen Herrigelís classic, ďZen in the Art of ArcheryĒ touches on this subject in a way that can be applied to just about any discipline.
Outside of photography, T.S. Eliot implied mindfulness when he stated, ďMusic heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, but you are the music.Ē
Whether or not it can be taught is debatable - but I do believe we can all apply a mindful way of thinking to our own photography.
Of course, practitioners of Tao tell us that, the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For mindfulness like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue...as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.
They also state that there is no way, no method, no technique one can use to come into accord with the Tao, the Way of Nature, because every method implies a goal. And we cannot make the Tao a goal any more than we can aim an arrow at itself.
When speaking to new photography students, I always talk about their tendency to bolt out of the car, set up their tripod in the first location they find, and start firing away.
While one still has to understand the technical and compositional aspects of photography, I do believe that slowing things down and taking a more mindful approach does increase the likelihood of seeing.
Practitioners of Tao/Zen tell us that the mind is like the surface of the pond. When the wind blows, the surface is disturbed. When the wind quiets down, the surface of the pond becomes like glass. The stilled mind is like a mirror. It doesn't process; it reflects.
Mindfulness teaches how to find that still point in ourselves by simply quieting down. Or to paraphrase othersÖ
We constantly talk to ourselves. We spend time preoccupied with the past, which doesnít exist - it has already happened. Or we think about the future. It too doesn't exist - it hasn't happened yet.
As a result, we miss the moment-to-moment awareness of our life. We eat but don't taste; we listen but don't hear; we love but don't feel - we spend our lives lost in our heads.
When we can step out of the way of ourselves and connect more fully with our subjects, I believe our photography does benefit. But each of us must find his or her own way.
#25. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 24
New York City, US
Thanks, Daniel. The books you suggest have been just the ones I recommend to people, even though they haven't made me more mindful.
I have long felt that the Tao might be right in that if you search you cannot find. And yet that leaves me in the position of almost not being able to do anything about mindfulness, unless I just forget the whole thing.
Does that mean I don't have the temperament for photography?
#27. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
Powder Springs, US
If there's one thing my father instilled in me, it's patience without instant gratification. I can't tell you how many times things which could be done today were put off until tomorrow...LOL. In retrospect, it wasn't to procrastinate, but rather to teach me to be patient and think things through.
He taught me how to shoot a camera, so naturally my photography was never rushed. It's one of the reason's that I don't like being the family photographer. I like to contemplate my shots and not just run around grabbing mug shots.
I miss shooting my Hasselblad, because that machine made you really think about your shots. They had to be very deliberate.
Some folks just don't get it.
Scott Chapin Powder Springs, GA, USA Nikonians Team Member
#29. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 27
Western PA, US
Thank you for your thoughts Scott - your father sounded like a wise man. I could never argue that mindfulness (or patience) in and of itself leads to better photos, but at least for many of us, it does make the experience all the more enjoyable.
And likewise, there are many different shades of mindfulness - from the photographer who will linger for hours before taking off their lens cap to the quick "rapid fire" shooter.
Make no mistake, one can still enjoy and be good at photography without necessarily being mindful - and some genres are not as conducive to a thoughtful approach as others.
Yes, some folks just don't get it. But frankly, they probably don't know what they're missing or really don't care.
#31. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 30
I am a "student" Buddhist. I say student because allthough I have been in practice for many years we believe that one never gets to the end and, as Dan so eloquently says,focussing (no pun intended) on the goal can lead to missing it and other opportunities along the way.
Our western culture does not lend itself well to this non goal approach so it's little wonder that anyone, including myself, would struggle with the concept. It helps, I find, if I can dismiss what my intention is and only know that I am doing photography. This does not mean I am oblivious to concerns of focus, exposure, ISO etc. and their impact on the resulting image but rather that I treat them as ways, not hurdles, along the path to where I think I want to go knowing that I may not get there and I really do not have any control over what is. No judgement and letting go. It is clear from some comments here that many do get, no mater how unknowingly, this.
When I am able to go to this place I find that speed of my actions has little impact on the outcome so doing candids or thoughtful landscape is much the same. To use a well hackneyed phrase, it's being in the now. Eckhart Tolle is an author on this topic I reccomend.
#32. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
Photography as a creative endeavor can be a very personal experience, requiring as you note, going at your own pace. Not everyone has the patience and insight to be a great landscape photographer. This is not to discount being "lucky" sometimes, but more often than not, a great photo requires a lot of observation, planning and even extended periods of waiting.
#33. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
Bidford on Avon, GB
Mm, I'm going to step out of line here and say that I don't really agree that there is a 'temperament' for photography.
There are different kinds of photography, just as there are different kinds of music. A highly technical and intuitive jazz musician plays in a different frame of mind from a highly technical classical musician. The freewheeling temperament of Hendrix was utterly different from the careful preparation of Steve Morse.
I think different temperaments draw us to different kinds of photography.
Let me, following in the footsteps of the Greeks, offer four temperaments of photographers.
Some want to photographically record the scene they find, others want to arrange the scene and then photograph it Some want to work slowly, meticulously, others want to work quickly.
So we get:
Slow recorders: people who look for beauty, or strikingness, and spend a long time immaculately photographing it. Example: Ansel Adams
Fast recorders: people who want to capture the decisive moment, often photojournalists and street photographers, as well as sports and event photographers. Example: Henri Cartier-Bresson
Slow arrangers: people who elaborately and immaculately construct a scene ó these include many still-life photographers and also many working with art nudes. Example: Annie Leibovitz
Fast arrangers: people who construct a stage and then put the model or subject into it and interact with them, much like a theatre director would put actors onto the set. Example: Keith Carter
I would put myself into the category of the Fast recorder who is gradually becoming a Fast arranger. I cut my teeth in photojournalism in the 1980s and 1990s, but now I mainly create advertising and branding images involving models and props. Getting the right facial expression and body language is more important to me than the exact relationship of the elements, so I generally set the scene up, discuss it with the model, and then keep shooting until we've got something which works. I shoot with fast recycling studio strobes and will often capture 250 images in a shoot. Sometimes what we finish with has evolved from what we set out to achieve.
Somewhere among these four approaches, I firmly believe that there is a photographic style to suit every temperament.
#34. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 33
Little Rock, US
>Mm, I'm going to step out of line here and say that I don't >really agree that there is a 'temperament' for photography. >
Neither do I. In fact, I have been holding back on commenting on this thread of "mindfulness", as Dan has not defined it in any way that follows any science that I am aware of about the way the brain has to work.
My own shooting is pretty much automatic, due to my familiarity with my camera, lenses, flash, etc, and I already know what I want when I am shooting landscape, street, portrait, or architecture.
>There are different kinds of photography, just as there are >different kinds of music. A highly technical and intuitive >jazz musician plays in a different frame of mind from a highly >technical classical musician. The freewheeling temperament of >Hendrix was utterly different from the careful preparation of >Steve Morse. >
I somewhat disagree here as a person that has played classical piano and Fender Stratocasters.
While a jazz musician or rock guitarist appear to be extemporaneous during solos and interacting with others in a group or ensemble, there is a great deal of practice and enormous purpose that takes place that allows such musicians to play with "abandon" They need, like a great classical pianist playing Chopin, "Technique to burn". But when it comes down to time to perform, it flows together much like I see what happens when I am photgraphing something I am out to capture - it just begins to happen.
>I think different temperaments draw us to different kinds of >photography. >
I absolutely agree with you.
>Let me, following in the footsteps of the Greeks, offer four >temperaments of photographers. > >Some want to photographically record the scene they find, >others want to arrange the scene and then photograph it >Some want to work slowly, meticulously, others want to work >quickly. > >So we get: > >Slow recorders: people who look for beauty, or >strikingness, and spend a long time immaculately photographing >it. Example: Ansel Adams > >Fast recorders: people who want to capture the decisive >moment, often photojournalists and street photographers, as >well as sports and event photographers. Example: Henri >Cartier-Bresson
I believe I do that with all my work, not just street shots. I think for me to slow down would lose the moment and inspiration. I know I am that way with music, and at work, when I am problem solving complex network issues, I do things quite automatically, (based on 30 years of practice ).
> >Slow arrangers: people who elaborately and immaculately >construct a scene ó these include many still-life >photographers and also many working with art nudes. Example: >Annie Leibovitz > >Fast arrangers: people who construct a stage and then >put the model or subject into it and interact with them, much >like a theatre director would put actors onto the set. >Example: Keith Carter > > >I would put myself into the category of the Fast recorder who >is gradually becoming a Fast arranger. I cut my teeth in >photojournalism in the 1980s and 1990s, but now I mainly >create advertising and branding images involving models and >props. Getting the right facial expression and body language >is more important to me than the exact relationship of the >elements, so I generally set the scene up, discuss it with the >model, and then keep shooting until we've got something which >works. I shoot with fast recycling studio strobes and will >often capture 250 images in a shoot. Sometimes what we finish >with has evolved from what we set out to achieve. > >Somewhere among these four approaches, I firmly believe that >there is a photographic style to suit every temperament.
I think your point is well made, but it is my opinion you are simply describing process, purpose and focus, rather than temperament.
I also think the human brain works differently than what some people either imagine, or want to believe. Most of what we believe to be our conscious decision making was determined in our subconscious brain long before we were aware of that decision. It is an artifact of our evolved minds and has now been measured and quantified over and over again in controlled experiments and MRI scans.
Just a perspective,
"Sawed that board three times and it is still too short... "
#35. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 33
Western PA, US
Thank you for offering up your thoughts. It's always good to get another perspective, and you bring up some valid points that I agree with for the most part.
If you read my original post, you'll see that I specifically state that "being mindful" requires a certain temperament. I never stated that there is only one catch-all temperament for all photographic genres, and I even went on to add that some styles of photography lend themselves to a more mindful approach than others (such as landscape photography) - so I think we're on the same page there.
I used my impatient friend Jeff to illustrate this point - who approached every subject like an overzealous tourist on a sightseeing cruise. Having taught and observed many new photography students over the years, I see this sort of behavior all the time. And likewise (in most, but not all students), I've seen a marked improvement amongst photographers who eventually slow things down and take a more thoughtful approach to composition and subject selection.
I went on to add that both experience and passion can influence one's level of mindfulness, and even stated that how much time one spends with the subject doesn't make a photo any more or any less compelling. Much of your explanation deals with separating photographers by the speed in which they capture their subject - not by the thought that goes into making the right decisions and choices.
And while this may be a novel way in which to classify different types of photographers (I'm a slow recorder for landscape and a fast recorder for my people shots), I believe every one of the photographers you reference exhibits an evolved degree of mindfulness that goes way beyond the rapid-fire tourist shooter (who more times than not, will be unable to duplicate successful photos in a consistent way until he or she understand what made their photos work in the first place).
When studying Japanese swordsmen or archers (or those who practice the ancient art of the tea ceremony for that matter), we see that with repetitive practice and intense technical understanding, they eventually become free of that form, and a certain degree of intuition kicks in. One does not need to sit in contemplation with their subject for a long period of time to be mindful - and likewise, one can capture a decisive moment quickly snatched out of mid air (like Bresson) and still be mindful.
Truth be told, Bresson was very mindful about marrying the geometry of a scene with the apex of emotion or activity - and he would often spend hours in one location waiting for the actors to enter the stage.
I will agree that there is a photographic style to suit every temperament - and in the case of my friend Jeff, it is master of the point and shoot.
#36. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 34
Western PA, US
There is no science to mindfulness, which is sort of the point.
As for your own automatic approach to photography - that has come from years of experience, repetition and technical insight - and you have developed a certain degree of intuition as I referenced in my response to Martin.
Maybe you're being mindful and you just don't know it?
Thank you for your thoughts! Like you, mine is just one perspective of many.
#38. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 36
Little Rock, US
>There is no science to mindfulness, which is sort of the >point.
So Dan, the question I have had since this thread started, is what is mindfulness as you are defining it? The word appeared in your first post, first sentence. My first impression is that you were talking about Buddhist mindfulness, but you never really said.
"Sawed that board three times and it is still too short... "
#39. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 38 Wed 22-May-13 04:22 AM by spiritualized67
Western PA, US
I thought I explained my definition of mindfulness in the opening post - but I admit it's a rather esoteric subject. As for the Buddhist connection, it is in fact rooted in East Asian philosophy.
Photographic mindfulness can be explained a million different ways - from being patient and more thoughtful when photographing, to releasing oneself from the discriminatory intellectual mind and photographing more fully in the moment (with a heightened sense of awareness and an open mind).
Heck, even Dizzy Gillespie tried to explain it. When asked where his Jazz came from he replied, "It's out there, man. Don't you hear it?"
As it relates to my post, it really had more to do with the fact that my friend thought he was going to walk away with all these amazing photographs - but at the end of the day, he realized he just didn't have the patience nor creative endurance necessary to do it right.
I'm not going to get into what it means to get things right - as most of you probably get this concept. At least for him, he didn't have the temperament - and I thought I explained why. Whether or not others have the temperament I do not know.
This post is starting to digress a bit and it's becoming a touch of a debate. I know what mindfulness means to me, but I suppose you'll have to figure it out for yourself (and I say this respectfully, not as an insult).
#40. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 0
Mission Viejo, US
Well said Dan. I understand perfectly what you mean. I live in southern Ca. where work, family and friends keep me busy. And thatís all good. But I really enjoy wilderness and just donít get there enough. When I do it usually means a camping trip and that brings friends or family (or both) along. My goal in being in the wilderness is to slow down and take it in. And while this may be anathema in a photography forum, photography comes in second to the experience of ďbeing there.Ē
All too frequently my camp mates what to come with me to a particular location. I explain I will be leaving early or staying late for the light, yet they still insist on coming. They end up slow rising, or needing to have breakfast first, or get back in time for dinner, and I find myself annoyed. When we get to that location I like to ďscope it outĒ, see how the light is behaving and if what I hoped to find isnít there then I look for some other angle or subject. But with people in tow I always feel rushed and obligated to keep the others from being bored. My last trip (first in well over a year) was with my wife, who thankfully shares my love of wilderness and photography, and my daughter and two grandkids. Iíve just started dabbling in time lapse and clearly explained I will be leaving really early and sitting in one very cold spot for at least 2 hours. They opted to sleep in. Turned out to be the best experience Iíve had in a long time. During those 2 hours I watched the sun rise and the morning mist dance against the mountains and trees. I saw only one other person who spent only about 10 minutes there (but at a great time and Iím sure has a great image captured.)
Other than a few time lapse videos (with much room for improvement) I took almost no photographs.
Long story short if Iím doing a road trip with friends, I dedicate to that and enjoy the company. But my wife and I are to the point where we say no to camping with friends if we plan to do any photography.
I was thinking I was just becoming anti-social. But maybe itís just ďmindfulness.Ē
#41. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 39 Thu 23-May-13 12:32 AM by dagoldst
Little Rock, US
>I thought I explained my definition of mindfulness in the >opening post -
Maybe you did, but, I keep re-reading your post, and I don't find what I would call a definition. You immediately tied human temperament to mindfulness in your opening statements. I did not get the tie-in, however.
I find you provided a lot of examples of seeing, not looking, or not blasting out shots, instead waiting for the scene to make itself known, etc, but I see no definition. With that, I interpret, perhaps incorrectly, that you are really just talking about focus and purpose in one's work, and whether an individual has the temperament to allow for that sort of approach.
Or have I misunderstood you?
>This post is starting to digress a bit and it's becoming a touch of a debate. I know what mindfulness means to me, but I suppose you'll have to figure it out for yourself (and I say this respectfully, not as an insult).
It's not an insult, but, you can't say you have a definition you understand and that I need to come up with my own, or else this thread is just a series of monologs, not a dialog.
"Sawed that board three times and it is still too short... "
#42. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 40
I have read the threads and feel very good about all of them. My summation is that one needs to be in "oneness" with photography (or anything that matters) to be truly good at it. I see a New Testament Bible basic here. "One Accord," or "oneness." Oneness basically refers to the act of knowing experientially and intrinsically the art and craft of what you are doing (Photography, Music, Videography, Audio, Post-processing, Workflow, etc.), or learning (English, Mathematics, Music, Sociology, French, Engineering, Etc.,) so that it becomes "second nature" (this is a borrowed term but commonly understood) to you. You know or do it without thinking. Emotionally, love (or passion) for whatever you are doing or learning is a given for this "oneness."
I appreciate all the posts as they all are very pithy. I can trust that all posters are careful teachers and students. Thanks to all of you.
#43. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 41 Thu 23-May-13 02:44 AM by spiritualized67
Western PA, US
Let me attempt to explain one last time...
Temperament is defined as a person's nature. For example, "he had an artistic temperament." Synonyms may include disposition, capacity, or frame of mind.
Mindfulness (or mindful) is defined as attentive, aware, or careful. For example, "he was mindful of taking his time when composing the photograph in order to present the strongest way of seeing." Synonyms may include diligence, effort, forethought, or direction.
Any number of sound photographic principals can be defined in these terms. For example, one can be aware of the light falling on the scene, or aware of a fleeting moment that is about to happen; or one can be careful to exclude distracting elements from the frame. So in this sense, mindfulness can be viewed as encompassing any or all of these terms - especially as it relates to making photos that transcend beyond a simple snapshot. So yes, being focused can fall under this (so you're not misunderstanding me) - as can the term patience (e.g. patience to wait for the right light; patience to wait for the right gesture; or patience to arrange the elements in the scene optimally).
Surly (and don't call me Shirley) whipping the camera out and just blazing away is not what I'd consider to be aware, careful, diligent, patient - or mindful for that matter.
Buddhist/Tao/Zen interpretations somewhat expand on the idea of mindfulness by talking about maintaining moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves paying attention to thought and feelings without necessarily intellectualizing them too much - without believing, for example, that there's a right or wrong way to think or feel in any given moment.
Although there are many variations on the theme of mindfulness (and some are more ambiguous than others), a common chord speaks of a general receptivity and full engagement with the present moment.
In studying mindfulness as derived from Buddhist psychology (and stemming from the Pali language over 2,500 years ago), it is translated to mean awareness, circumspection and discernment. These linguistic interpretations have been considered by scholars to suggest that mindfulness ultimately means to pay attention to what is occurring in one's immediate experience with care and discernment.
Again, my friend exhibited just the opposite of this by assuming that he could just hit the shutter button rapid fire and still be able to achieve what you or I might consider to be a compelling photograph. Additionally, he didn't want to spend the time needed to figure it out (and probably had preconceived notions about what he was photographing).
When I made the opening statement: "being mindful in photography requires a certain temperament that some people just don't have," I was basically saying that some people may lack the patience or care (or as you say, focus) required to be successful in "certain types" of photography - especially at the same evolved level that many of the passionate shooters on Nikonians operate. Of course it has taken us years of trial, error, study and practice (and dedicated passion/love for the craft) to get to this point.
What I really should have said was, "some people don't have the temperament for certain types of photography - such as landscape photography."
Or, "some people don't have the temperament to attain a more advanced level of photography."
Better still, I should have said, "my friend doesn't have the disposition for certain types of photography such as landscape, and I'm sure you know of similar people."
While I always appreciate dialogue, I didn't think this was a subject that would be debated - as no advanced amateur/enthusiast, semi-pro or pro for that matter that I know of (who truly understands what it takes to consistently create compelling pictures beyond the snapshot) could rightfully argue that some degree of care, patience and awareness is not required to achieve a certain result - even if the person achieving this result has internalized the skills and knowledge to the point where they've become intuitive at an almost unconscious level.
Martin speaks of the advanced photographer who arranges models quickly in the studio. But even they take a great deal of care, effort or forethought in achieving a certain result. They just don't aim the camera in some random direction and hope for the best.
This is mindfulness and they have a certain disposition (temperament) that makes them successful at what they do - tailored to the genre in which they are shooting. One does not have to engage in Zazen or study the ripples in the water to be mindful - and mindfulness cannot be measured by the quickness in which the sand passes through an hourglass.
This is about the best I can do to explain my thinking. I think I'm going to be mindful enough to quit at this point.
#44. "Mindfulness at Obregon" In response to Reply # 21
My two-cents on mindfulness and how to get there. Mindfulness is seeing the final image before pressing the shutter (keep in mind that the camera sees differently than we do). To get there, PRACTICE without the camera in hand while you drive, walk, play, exercise, etc. Then take pictures exercising foresight based on insight that generates hindsight that has100% correspondence between foresight and hindsight.
#45. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 33
>Mm, I'm going to step out of line here and say that I don't >really agree that there is a 'temperament' for photography. > >There are different kinds of photography, just as there are >different kinds of music. A highly technical and intuitive >jazz musician plays in a different frame of mind from a highly >technical classical musician. The freewheeling temperament of >Hendrix was utterly different from the careful preparation of >Steve Morse.
Remember the old joke about the difference between a rock guitarist and a jazz guitarist...the rock guitarist plays three chords in front of thousands of people while the jazz guitarist plays thousands of chords in front of three people...
Anyway, call me a "slow arranger". I'll spend months thinking about a shoot. I'll visualize every element down to the last detail. The challenge for me is in the execution...getting every tiny detail precisely as I want it.
For a somewhat silly example, I am working on a shot where I am going to have two models surrounded by playing cards. They will be suspended from the ceiling with ultra-thin fishing line (I'll Photoshop that out later) in such a manner as they will look like they were tossed in the air. Each card is going to be deliberately selected and carefully placed so it faces precisely the direction I want. Its a tedious process, but its how I visualize the scene.
#47. "RE: Some People Donít Have the Temperament for Photography" In response to Reply # 46
Western PA, US
No worries David and thanks for the response. I probably didn't explain myself sufficiently early on and after reading my own response, I can see where some of what I said can be open to interpretation on many levels.
Everyone approaches and looks at photography in their own unique way - and I have to try and be sensitive to that. Thank you once again for your reply.