The Journey Into Art: You Don't Have To Know What Is Happening

November 21, 2019

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.”

― Thomas Merton

I look forward to times when I can slow down and shoot in the moment. I don’t have to know the whys and wherefores of what I see. These times are few and far between and, because of that, cherished.

Rarely do I go to a new place for a photo shoot and have preconceived ideas about what I will capture. I look around, find something I like, and start to work on a project.

I don’t think about what the project will look like afterwards. I just start composing and shooting.

I will capture a lot of images, often hundreds for one location. There is no harm or extra cost in capturing too many images. There may be regret though for not capturing enough.

I also wander the scene to look for different perspectives and ideas. Frequently I’ll move back to places where I started. Sometimes not. What’s great about the creativity of shooting in the moment is the ability to be flexible and spontaneous.

I liken my photo shoots to going out into the forest to gather wood. Later I will build the fire.

The compelling aspect of Merton’s statement is that I don’t have to know the why of what I am doing. I just use the photographic skills I have learned with the camera and start shooting. I must only be present to the moment.

In those moments I only have to be aware of what delights me and not why it delights me. It is an opportunity for impromptu immersion and participation.

Later I will come to understand the whys and wherefores. For this brief instance though I just need to be present and capture the images I want.

These moments are times of simplicity and allow me to follow wherever my vision takes me. I hope to never forget the privilege of seeing the world as it is and transforming it into my own art.

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