Q&A With the Authors

We would love to hear from you. Please post your questions about contemplative photography, comments about the book, or other observations about contemplative mind and life. We will do our best to respond to whatever you post. (Please keep in mind that we are running as fast as we can, and may not get to this as soon we would like.)

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Recent Questions and Answers:

Shooting what you see


What I find is that I see something, but recognize (from experience) that the camera won't replicate it if I just shoot then and there—too far away, something in front of it, etc. So then I try to think through how it could. 

 It's true that the pictures I like best are the ones I just took—like that. But it's rare that reality presents something that right. 

 So the options often seem to be to either hold the sense of what struck me and let some fiddling happen, or else just let go and move on. Are there others? Or does cultivating the habit of fiddling cut against the ability to see it when it's there and ready to be taken as is?


Great question! 

Staying with the original perceptions is a key element of the contemplative photography practice. We call that "visual discernment." It is letting go of the desire to improve anything. Instead, rest gently with the perception and let it clarify itself. Let your basic intelligence play. You don't need to do a lot of thinking about what you are seeing.

You will eventually have to choose a framing, perhaps moving in to isolate what you see, but don't let seeing get lost in fiddling. Take your time, and let go of any excitement or agitation. Just look and see. When you are ready, shoot and keep looking. This whole process could take a few seconds or half a minute.

Spontaneity vs. contrivance


How can one avoid manipulating the way light is captured in a photo? It seems very tempting to move around and try to capture the most interesting lighting—to me. How do I know when I'm being spontaneous vs. contriving something?


Hello Emily,

At the core, contemplative photography is about seeing clearly, and replicating what you see with your camera. As soon as you think about improving what you see, seeing is covered over by thought. That's how mind works.

There is intelligence that works at the pre-thought level, that is not fabricating anything, and knows things just as they are. When you trust that intelligence, your photographs will be fresh and vivid. That's what this practice brings out.