"Be still with yourself until the object
of your attention affirms your presence."
- Minor White (1908 - 1976)
This is an update on (along with a few more details about) my upcoming Shanti Arts sponsored "Cultivating the Art of Simplicity in Photography" online workshop (scheduled for Sep 11 - Oct 23). I just learned that the 8th and last available slot has been taken. For for those of you who have signed up - thank you! - and I look forward to meeting you all (virtually), and engaging in what I hope will be a fun and stimulating couple weeks' worth of discussions and picture making :-) For those of you who wanted to participate, but were unable to sign up on time, I am sure there will be future possibilities. In the meantime, my email inbox and comment box are always open; and if there is one thing I'm always ready and eager to engage in a dialectic about, it is art, photography, and the creative process in general (well, that, and a bit of physics thrown in once in a while ;-)
There will be six sessions in all (one per week), where by "session" I mean a main topic-of-discussion that will be further elaborated upon, mused-about, and generally used as a basis for follow-up interactive engagement with other workshop participants on the ("secret") Facebook I've set up. Here's how the sessions have broken out:
Session 1 (Sep 11 - 17): Introduction and Preliminary Musings. An overview of what “cultivating simplicity in photography” really means, a discussion of various aspects of photography on which “simplicity” depends, and a few easy exercises to get us started. Introduces key themes of this workshop, before taking a deeper dive in later sessions.
Session 2 (Sep 18 - 24): The “Eye” – Seeking Simplicity in the Environment. This session will explore the idea that cultivating simplicity is synonymous with achieving an expanded awareness of place and time. We will explore how our state of mind determines what is visible to us and profoundly influences what we most strongly resonate with in our surroundings, and provide examples and exercises to heighten our powers of observation and perception.
Session 3 (Sep 25 - Oct 1): The “I” – Seeking Simplicity Within Oneself. Session 3 expands on a theme introduced during the last session, namely that all of our outwardly directed efforts to find simplicity and beauty “out there” in the world will come to naught if we cannot find the calm center in our own deepest selves, and from which all creative works naturally spring forth.
Session 4 (Oct 2 - 8): The Medium, Part I – Toward a Visual Grammar. Sessions 4 and 5 focus on the practical side of image making by introducing some of the key tools that a photographer can use to direct and sculpt a viewer’s interpretation of an image; i.e., the essential elements of a visual grammar. We will discuss the basic elements of composition (e.g., the frame, light, contrast, tone, form, texture, etc.) and how they can be combined for a specific purpose, “seeing” the world in color vs. black-and-white, camera position, focal length, depth of field, and shutter speed.
Session 5 (Oct 9 - 15): The Medium, Part II – Abstraction as simplification. Session 5 will expand will expand on the practical lessons introduced in Session 4, and focus on the art of abstraction as, somewhat paradoxically, a concrete method of "simplifying" photographs.
Session 6 (Oct 16 - 22): Photography as a Path Toward Self-discovery. The workshop concludes by exploring how (in the purest spiritual sense) the “cultivation of simplicity” while doing our photography - indeed, how art and the creative process, in general - may all be be viewed as paths toward self-discovery.
While the workshop is ostensibly a photography workshop (after all, photography is the core theme, and both the stand-alone essays and embedded exercises all stress image "seeing" and image "creating"), my hope is that the interactive part includes an equal part philosophical dialectic about the meaning of photography. If there is anything my 45+ years of "seeing" the world with a camera has taught me it is that the most meaningful images appear only when the "I" behind the "eye" ceases making distinctions between what is felt and what is seen; when inner and outer landscapes become one. It is a theme I eagerly look forward to exploring - through images and discussion - with workshop participants. Hope to see you online soon :-)