Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Photo Student of the Tao

I was browsing in a bookstore recently and wandered into the religion section for another reason but ended up looking at books on Eastern religions, namely Taoism, which I've been a student of since 1975 when I read Alan Watt's book "Tao, The Watercourse Way".

Then I was a student in geography and hydrology, not of Taoism or other religions or philosophies. I was preoccupied with getting my bachelors and masters degrees in geography specializing in water resources. Life is like that, it consumes your attention, energy, focus and resources, and when you think you're busy enough something hits you from a direction and with a force you're not ready or prepared. The ole' mental thump on the forehead.

Well, I really didn't understand much of the book except the basic ideas and one visual image that's never left me about life. In the book he describes our being a hollow tube floating on a river. You're not interferring with the flow but moving with the flow. You can't effect the flow but you reflect the flow. You're simply being with the flow and the flow with you. And he writes, if you can understand it, then you can't describe it, and if you can describe it, then you don't understand it.

And so obviously I don't understand it. And thus, like many, I'm simply a simple student of it. And over the years I've understood it also applies to photography. It's not about you, the camera and the subject. It's about you and the flow of life, and you're holding the camera to capture instances in the flow. And the same rule applies, but to this you can add that when you capture it you're simply capturing a moment in time and place.

And in the moment, it's about being in the moment of life and the moment of photography. Bringing you and your camera into, as they say, harmony with life and the flow of life. Kinda' sounds esoteric, don't it? Well, it is philosophical and religious in one sense and on one plane of life when it's really about working. But it's also as the saying goes, it's about "being in the moment" and that moment is the Tao and Tao of photography.

And so, like many other writers on the subject (geez, do a Google search on "Tao of Photography" and you get a ton of links), I'll explore the Tao as it relates to my understanding of the Tao and of life and photography. It's all just personal and a personal exploration to finally reread all the chapters in the "Tao Teh Ching", using Henry Wei's "The Guiding Light of Lao Tzu" and Philippe Gross and S.I. Shapiro's Tao of Photography.

So it's all relative to those books and me. The rest are my wanderings in throught and images.

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