Windex for the eyes…Part 1

orange and gree

Part 2 is delayed due to technical difficulties….it will be posted as soon as possible.

Sometimes in life serendipity takes over. And I’ve learned that it’s kind of crazy to ignore it.

When I left Canada in January, I had no plans to take a photography workshop , but when the opportunity presented itself, I hesitated a few minutes and then decided to jump at it.

I had heard of the Miksang school from Kim Manley Ort, and I have long admired her contemplative approach to photography, which has Miksang roots.

So when I read that there were a few places left at a workshop being held at Delray Beach, only a short distance away, it all seemed quite doable.

I was also familiar with the teachings of the instructors, Julie Dubose and Michael Wood, through their books, which I owned and had pored over, fascinated by their unique approach. I had also gone through the photographs in their books marvelling at how startlingly fresh they were.

What would I learn I wondered? I still didn’t know quite what to expect, but was quite excited about the prospect of devoting four full days to photography.

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And while the workshop  was definitely about photography, it was so much more than that. There was no instruction about how to take a “good” photograph or compose a “good” image.

In fact, the desire to take a good photograph was discussed as an obstacle to direct perception! Our ideas of what is good are very conditioned by how we have been taught and can really get in the way of really seeing what is right there in front of us.

So this workshop was really about seeing. Seeing without filters — without overlays of meaning and value, pleasure, dislike, or disinterest. Seeing afresh, seeing as if for the first time.

As Julie and Michael say: “These perceptions are vibrant and vivid, pulsating with life. The visual world is our feast, our playground. Seeing in this way brings us joy in being alive.”

Who wouldn’t want to see this way?

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The camera comes in as a tool to express our visual perceptions exactly as we experience them.

Julie and Michael continue: “Through our images we can express our experience of seeing. Our photographs will carry within them our heart, our mind, the blood of our experience.”

Now that might seem easy, but it’s really incredibly difficult. I’ll talk about that in Part 2.

I loved the format of the workshop. We gathered in the morning to hear a short presentation and go through some experiential exercises designed to sharpen our perceptions. These were quite extraordinary in their effectiveness, yet so easy we learned we could do them any time we wanted to “wake up.”

Then we spent several hours working on our assignments and having lunch somewhere in the warm, colourful and visually delightful community of Delray Beach. Then back to the workshop to select the 10 images we wanted to share. The rest of the day was spent looking at each others’ work and hearing the instructors’ and other participants’ reactions.

The first two days we focused on colour, the next day on texture and the last day on pattern and light.

Stay tuned for more in Part 2…

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