JWSmith Photography | An Exercise in Seeing

An Exercise in Seeing

April 12, 2018  •  2 Comments

Years ago I bought Karr and Wood's book The Practice of Contemplative Photography, not really knowing anything of the subject but it sounded interesting. After a quick scan and glossing over some of the text, I saw it wasn't as interesting as I'd hoped so I put it aside and there it collected dust for the last few years.  But, having grown tired of the same sea-land-city scapes I went to my bookshelf looking for inspiration.  I rediscovered Karr & Wood and decided to take another dive. 

They discuss ways of seeing, the practice of seeing, exploring texture & simplicity and many of the typical photographic touchstones.  Nearly all of the examples are intimate type images which I'm fond of.  The examples, though some are in B&W, have a clear, simple composition with many having rich, creative, color contrasts. Something I discovered after a quick scan of the book and images is that I've been doing this type of photography for most of my photographic life.  Yet, I wasn't confident in the look and feel as many had that 'snapshot' look and they certainly lacked the audience of a beautiful seascape or desert sunset. 

Over the past year or so I've become more comfortable in my perception of how the world should appear and less interested in audience appeal, so I'm once again gathering the clan for an attempt at creating a cohesive family of images that express something of what I see in Karr & Wood's book.  What is there today (mid-April) is my initial conception of their ideas (without having completed the book).  So, as I read deeper, expect changes if you're following along.  It's not a new direction for me, just one that has remained cloistered and forgotten in my Lightroom catalogue.

My latest in Contemplative Photography


Todd Henson(non-registered)
Joseph, your words here, and your images in the Contemplative Photography gallery, really resonate with me. Perhaps that's why I also picked up a copy of this book within the last year or so, though I've yet to read it. I am currently reading The Soul of the Camera, mentioned by Monte, and really enjoying it. I most often photograph nature and wildlife, but most of my images are the typical photo of a bird against an out of focus background. I love these images and will continue creating them, but I feel pulled towards something else that's harder to define. That's why I pick up these sorts of books and try to find galleries such as yours, to better understand what it is I'm being pulled towards and perhaps to better begin to realize it. I look forward to seeing what comes from your explorations of this topic.
Monte Stevens(non-registered)
I can agree with "the practice of seeing" that comes with time spent looking through the view finder and experiencing the world up close. I have a book called Eyes of the Heart by Christine Valters Paintner that is about seeing with our soul. It helped me to be more open to all the images given to us. I also enjoyed David Duchemin's book the Soul of the Camera. in looking at how we see the world around us. Neither book is about technical book.
I'll be looking for changes!
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