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Zen and the Art of Photography

Living near a beach provides one with many therapeutic benefits (when one actually makes the effort to travel those long, hard, 4 blocks – but that’s another story). Actually, this year has been better than most. So not only is my tan pretty good now, but I find appealing images on my hard drive as well.

That’s because I have gotten better at bringing a camera with me – something better than an iPhone, yet still convenient enough to always carry with me. I save the big rig for planned shoots. For spontaneity I have begun to appreciate small. And convenient.

Not only does the beach offer therapy for the soul, I have found it equally good at what photography offers: capturing moments. Feeling rather Zen? Capturing the moment seems to enhance the experience. And later, returning to the moment is possible by viewing the images.

The images, however, are not out-of-camera. The photographer knows that the camera captures only the foundation of the image. The rest is built in post processing – what was seen, what was felt, needs to be added back in. Just as the meal is more than the raw ingredients, the spice of the scene has to be added to bring out the flavor of the image. This is the difference (well, one of them at least) between the photographer and someone with a camera.

Those planned shoots I almost always create my own key. Those unplanned ones with the pocket camera I use what is there. Planned shoots use the best that I have and whatever is necessary to create the image. Unplanned ones, I use what I have at hand. But these are the only differences – what happens leading up to the moment of capture. Half the battle has been fought. After the photons have been rounded up work still needs to be done – this part is the same. Regardless if I am shooting people, or seagulls, the art of photography is in the final image. And the final image is the product of both capture and post production.

Even if it is just a Zen moment.


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