Posts Tagged ‘senses’

Just Because…

Saccowatt Valentine….a week late.

The Wisdom of Subtraction

I don’t know about many of you, but lately I feel like a slave to my to-do list… I’m getting nowhere even though I’m doing so much….. particularly this past year because I’ve been trying to do way too many ‘big’ things at once.  I came across an article the other day, The Art of Adding by Taking Away written by Matthew May. It speaks to the value of looking at what not to do, of having the discipline to discard what does not fit or serve our purpose.  “To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, subtract things every day”   from the 2500 year old teachings of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. Wow.

I’ve often applied this ‘less is more’ concept in my photography, embracing the Zen aesthetics of  minimalism and empty space in the visual sense. In conversation as well there is richness in silence—it is in the ‘gaps’ where insights occur. How might you apply these principles in your own life?

Busyness does not equal productivity or growth. It often gets in the way in fact, creating the illusion that we’re getting things done. How about creating a not-to-do list to accompany your to-do list? Try it. Think about what you really want to be accomplishing and conserve your resources. It’s about removing just the right things in the right way; this shift in perspective will allow the universe to step in…I call it Grace. Good things are bound to follow.


Are You a (Serious) Collector?

Photography is a form of collecting. Photographs are souvenirs. We take pictures to collect memories, experiences, capture a moment in time, or fix an ephemeral moment of beauty. Some of us are creating our ‘museum of happiest moments’ whereas others are working at reinterpreting the world around them, using a camera as a way to get at some deeper truth….collecting insights, informed by our unique and particular sensibility as photographers….and people.

At the end of the day, no matter where we fit in to the above, our collections can represent our journey, or at least the parts we want to hold on to.


How Steve Jobs did his Job

‘When you ask a creative person how they did something, they may feel guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.’  —Steve Jobs

How many of us can relate to this? This speaks to the way our minds work with regard to creativity–how we get our best ideas and how we evolve. In part it’s the ‘mindpop’ thing—the seemingly unbidden insight that pops into your head when not focusing on the subject. It’s not linear and in fact it often seems disconnected from effortful work. That’s why creative professionals often don’t look like we’re working—we get this. I once had a very nervous, very tight corporate client in my studio actually ask me when we were going to start working—she was so unused to that model of creative productivity. Creative thinking actually requires, after filling your head with as much information as you can, to step back, take a break, go do something unrelated to the work at hand. That’s where the true seeing comes in— the right brained, non linear, pattern seeing, fresh and spontaneous insights that really make a difference, that make things better.  The work is everything that has led up to that moment….and the boldness to act on the insight….even though it didn’t feel like work.


“Miracles…rest not so much upon…a healing power coming suddenly near from afar, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that, for a moment, our eyes can see….what is there around us always.” –Willa Cather

We spend so much time caught up in our turbulent—disturbulent mindsets that we miss so much around us. How restorative to our mind/body/spirit to simply take a moment to bring our attention to whatever beauty is unfolding around us….to know we always have a choice about what we pay attention to, to break our habitual mindsets. Awareness is available to us always. It’s a muscle we can exercise just like any other.

The Texture of Memory

I love NPR radio. There was recently an interview with Joshua Foer talking about his fantastic new book Moonwalking With Einstein: the Art and Science of Remembering Everything. The ‘art’ he refers to is based on a set of techniques invented in ancient Greece. The ‘art’ is in creating imagery in your mind that is so dense, so colorful, so unlike anything you’ve seen before that it’s unlikely to be forgotten. Seems it’s as much about creativity as it is about memory. In relation to the passing of time, he states as we get older our experiences become less unique, therefore more forgettable, increasing the sense of one year blending in to the next. He says that’s why it’s important to pack your life with interesting experiences that make life memorable and provide texture to the passing of time. A guy called in during the interview, a photographer, saying he can remember every picture he’s ever taken. I can as well. I can also remember what I was thinking and feeling at the time. Foer’s explanation was that we remember more in our area of expertise. I think he missed part of the truth: the act of seeing the image and clicking the shutter literally fixes the memory, and everything about the moment, in the mind’s eye. This is why photography can be a wonderful tool for enhancing experience, and memory— accessible to anyone. It helps us pay attention, helps us switch from automatic to conscious mode—enlivening the mundane, enriching the everyday.

Life works…

This is in the ‘as good as it gets’ category in the life of a freelance photographer. The very personal image on the right is, simply, my back porch shot on a rainy morning. Rain and mist offer wonderful visual opportunities for capturing evocative images. This one found it’s way to a much bigger audience, ending up as the cover to bestselling author Nicholas Sparks’ latest novel, shown on the right.

Feel With Your Eyes

Lesson #1:  When on the streets of New York, always have your camera at the ready. Think The Sartorialist, a guy who built a huge career around this. I  missed a great opportunity when a perfectly groomed fellow in summer white denim shorts, sunglasses, gelled coif sporting a loud pink t-shirt with lettering spanning the length and breadth of his body that read “TOUCH IS OVERRATED. FEEL WITH YOUR EYES” approached. Try to conjure him. He was a poster boy for this blog and I missed him!  Synesthesia is the neurological condition of cross sensory perception. Among those that have it, when one sense is triggered it creates impulses in others (see ‘loud pink’ above). This leads to an intensifying of experience and therefore memory and perception. Kind of trippy…. and yet when it comes to seeing, I would imagine for most of us, our eyes are an instrument of feeling….certainly something to aspire to.

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