I’m a bit of an obsessive-compulsive personality, so when I get interested in something, I tend to immerse myself in it completely (at least until I get bored with it.) There’s so much to love about photography, even as a hobby without any financial benefit. There are so many ways that photography adds to the zen of my life:
Photographer’s eye – I find myself looking at my surroundings in a totally different way. I notice the shadows and how the light reflects at certain times of the day. I notice all the different colors in the sky, not just “blue”. I look at people’s faces more closely, studying their expressions when they’re not looking. I’m constantly thinking about how I could use the camera to capture the things that I’m seeing.
Excuse to get outside – Even though it’s cold, dark, wet, early, or late, I find myself much more interested in getting out of the house to play with the camera. It’s much healthier for my body and spirit than sitting in front of the television or the computer for hours.
Local events – Now I’m checking the local listings for festivals, markets, sporting events and other happenings that might offer a chance to get some interesting photographs. So often these events sound interesting, but I just never get motivated to drive across the valley to attend them. But with a camera in hand, they become more than just a social event–they’re a source of artistic inspiration that I can try to capture.
Weather forecasting – Usually I’m only interested in the temperature and whether or not there’s even the slightest chance of rain (which is a good thing where I live). Now I’m just as interested, if not more, in what the cloud cover might be, since a partly cloudy sky can produce magnificent sunrises and sunsets. Dust storms can lead to dramatic shots when taken from a high vantage point, and even high-pollution days often end with gorgeous skies of red, orange, and purple.
So, whether or not I learn to take the perfect photograph, the zen is in the trying, and in the being in the right place at the right time. My goal is to become more in touch with the zen, and less constrained by the rational. Case in point–this morning as I was driving to work, a brightly-colored hot air balloon drifted across the freeway, traveling north-to-south, very low to the ground as it came in for a landing right in front of the Mayo Clinic building. I had my camera in the car with me, and all I had to do was make a quick exit to the right and look for a place to pull over, and I would have had a fantastic shot of this gorgeous balloon in the morning sun. But instead, I listened to my mind tell me that I would be late for work, and that I might not find a place to park, and that the balloon would probably already be on the ground before I got there, and….blah, blah, blah.
I’ll never get another chance for that shot, but I learned a lesson this morning. Take advantage of these opportunities in life, not just for taking photos, but for simply enjoying the beauty of the moment. These moments are gone in the blink of an eye and will not return. Live life in the present and capture the zen!