Updated: Oct 30, 2018
by Douglas Beasley
In this deceptively short article, Doug Beasley covers a lot of ground connecting the philosophy of Zen to the art of photography. He notes that Zen is a term used freely and often used synonymously with “peaceful” or “serene,” but that Zen is more about experiencing fully the present moment.
He then goes on to show how this relates to photography. How we as photographers bring the past, present, and future together. The past includes our choices of location, camera, and lenses. The future is how we imagine the photograph to be. All that comes together when we press the shutter button in the moment. We capture the "now" at 1/250th of a second.
Doug encourages us no to be too attached to the results. Focus instead on the experience of photography. In Doug’s words: “It is less about what we photograph and more about how we photograph.” He encourages us to lose the separation between ourselves as the photographer and the subject.
Doug has many of these short, poignant articles on his website. In another article “Looking Within/Photographing Without," Doug talks about a ‘less is more’ approach to photography – and camera gear. He notes that most photographers decide what to take a photo of and then place it in the center of their frame. At this point, he suggests stopping and taking a breath and turning your attention inward. Ask yourself what is important about this subject, what is your relationship to this subject. Then you can re-compose to highlight these important features and remove any extraneous features.
In yet another article “Zen & the Art of Emotionally Expressive Photography", Doug challenges us to be more than a passive observer. Documentary photography, photographing for memory can sometimes substitute for genuine experience. He challenges us to not only record but also respond; to see deeper and to go past stereotypes. “Photography as a tool for connection is there for those willing to not only see, but feel."
For those unfamiliar with Zen, Doug provides a brief overview in his article “Why Zen? What is Zen?"
More of Doug’s articles on his website
Write for PhotoYoga
Have you read an article that would interest readers of PhotoYoga? Write an overview of the article and describe how it fits with or influences your photography. Share your own images if that's appropriate.