... but it does get easier with practice – so a bit a conflict there. I see it as a mindset, one where your mind is running at different levels all the time. There’s the functional and technical about getting the image, there’s the composition shape form and colour, and then lastly there’s what you see in that image. Your connection.
Take this image for instance. I’d been attracted to the hoar frost on this small oak tree and wanted to get a close up of it, but only when framed did I notice the three elements; the old and dying leaf, the frost and next year’s buds. At one level three symbols of the seasons, Autumn, winter and spring to come. You could also see a more generic circle of life; age death and re-birth. The Christian might see that as analogy of baptism with the frost representing the waters of baptism and the leaf and bud representing old and new life in God.
I was obviously so excited that I didn’t get the depth of field quite right on the bud. But that’s part and parcel of this type of photography, it isn’t perfect because your mind is working at different levels. But the symbolism is important, what you see in the ordinary and what that means to you.
Karr and Wood discuss this ‘seeing’ in their book The Practice of Contemplative Photography in much more detail. They don’t take it into making spiritual connections but they do discuss the process of taking a perception and turning that into an image . On p55 they describe the process as ‘rewarding, sometimes frustrating and often pleasing’ with which I can only agree. The connection I saw in that frosted twig gave me something to think about all day!
To try: Give yourself five minutes to grab an image of something that has a connection for you and describe that to yourself.
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