Updated: Oct 30, 2018
by Jared Gottlieb
In the article “The Art of Mindful Photography,” Jared Gottlieb delves into the connections between photography and meditation. Jared, as his bio notes, is a meditation teacher who happens to work at National Geographic. The article seeks to answer a question “Does photography support awareness of my immediate experience, or detract from it?” To address his question, he talked with renowned meditation instructor – and former photo journalist – Jonathan Foust.
Rather than detracting from the experience of life, Jonathan believes that photography encourages mindfulness by heightening awareness. He goes on to talk about an experiment that he picked up from a National Geographic photographer, Jim Brandenberg. Jonathan experimented with taking only 3 photographs each day for a month.
This takes a lot of restraint and patience. Have to be confident in the photographs you take and after the 3 are taken, have to be willing to enjoy life’s experiences without reaching for the camera. Jonathan began to really see the world. Photographs became precious.
Jonathan also noticed some of his thinking patterns about photography and not all of them were positive. He had to come to terms with some of his judgmental thoughts.
Outside of this experiment, Jonathan advocates taking a lot of photographs. Only a few will be keepers and that’s ok. “You have to take a lot of shots to get a few that work.” Look for the story in the scene and take the serendipitous photograph. When the world gives you an image, don’t worry about the camera settings the photograph may not be there when you look up again.
The article provides an insight into how Jonathan Foust thinks about photography as part of his daily meditation. There are practical tips included in the article including: “Take a few moments to reflect on why you take pictures. What are the stories that you’re trying to tell? Are you successful using this measure?”
To find out more about Jonathan Foust, his photographs and his writings and talks on meditation go to his website.
Article Written by Jennifer Mishra
Jennifer Mishra is an American travel photographer born in Colorado and based in the St. Louis metro area. She has a background in classical music and academia. She is the founder of PhotoYoga. Her photos are published at Wits End Photography or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.
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