Joshua Tree National Park, California
Rather than “taking” photos or “shooting” them or even “making” photos, we will practice “receiving” images as gift. The traditional words for photography are possessive and aggressive. Yet the actual mechanism of photography is that light is reflected off of a subject and received by the camera through the lens opening. We can create conditions for a “good” photo, but ultimately we must stand in a posture of receiving and see what actually shows up in the image.** -Christine Valters Paintner
The above quote reflects an attitude change in our approach to finding and making images. At one time everyone went out 'shooting' pictures or 'taking' photos. Then, some began 'making' images; less aggressive and less of a possessive approach, more of an artistic, creative leaning. But, I think Ms. Paintner has a point and it's one I have unknowingly adopted and haven't had the word for: to "Receive" an image as though a gift.
For a long time I've considered myself an opportunistic photographer. I no longer sit in one place, coffee in hand, waiting for the 'right' light to turn a bland scene into something magnificent. I wander about, knowing that something will pop up. Now, that's not to say I haven't arrived before dawn to a place like Joshua Tree, knowing the morning light will burnish the boulders to a warm golden hue, sure I do that. But, for the most part I arrive, walk about, find a scene that attracts me, make my image and move on. I take (receive?) whatever opportunities are offered...as a gift, using Ms. Painters term.
I have many keepers that I've just stumbled upon, many more than were planned using all the tools available to photographers nowadays. The one above for example, just a morning walk in a field of Joshua Trees looking for 'something.' And, not to get too metaphysical, the universe sends a crow to land atop a tree and strike a pose. I, ever vigilant for such happenings, compose and create. Okay, yeah, way too metaphysical, but heck, it happened!
Now you could argue that I was in the right place at the right time and that's all there is to it. Yes, you could argue that, I won't stand in your way. But, I think you'd be missing the point. That being, it's a change of perspective she's promoting, and how that may change your approach to your art in a positive way. We all enjoy gifts, right? Acknowledge them, accept them and be grateful.
**From Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, Center for Action and Contemplation