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The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes

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4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  236 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
This book teaches us how to fully connect with the visual richness of our ordinary, daily experience. Photography is not just a mechanical process; it requires learning how to see. As you develop your ability to look and see, you will open, more and more, to the natural inspiration of your surroundings.

Filled with practical exercises, photographic assignments, and techniq
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Paperback, 226 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Shambhala
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Bill Graham
Apr 23, 2013 Bill Graham rated it it was amazing
Shelves: photography
This was my first book on contemplative photography. It gave me a real sense of how to engage what I'm seeing. Since I'm a nature photographer, this book has launched me into a much deeper worldview of engaging nature and to develop my own body of work. My only problem with their way of doing things is that they tend to be purists and reject the idea of post processing. In doing so, they seem to forget that the dynamic range of the human eye is greater than that of a camera. To me some post proc ...more
Dale
Jun 05, 2011 Dale rated it it was ok
There are a great many beautiful photographs in this book. Photos that are austere, elegant, cool, detached and mostly lifeless. The photos celebrate a kind of elegant starkness that seeks to divert attention from the messy realities of life. Even those with the zen-mandated element of nature - the single leaf on the auto body, the washed-out sky with abstract looking tree branches in the corners, the reflecting pond with a single hanging branch reflected perfectly - seem poised, artificial, rep ...more
Andrew
Nov 24, 2012 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism, art
As a young person, I developed a belief that artistic quality was directly connected to technical precision. Somehow this belief persisted as I began my training as a technical artist in 3D production, which led to a completely baseless disdain for photography. Drawing, painting, 3D, all these media forced an artist to create an entire world. But a photographer only had to push a button, and they had a finished piece. It seemed to me that the sole art of a photographer was to carefully assemble ...more
Trish
Sep 15, 2011 Trish rated it it was amazing
Shelves: perspective
4.5 stars/Non-Fiction; Photography
*Highly recommended*

Walk down any photography section in either your local bookstore or library and you are sure to be inundated with books about the technical aspects of photography. You will find books on posing your subjects, composing your shots and how to manipulate them in post production with the latest software. It is no secret that knowing the ins and outs of these things will help you produce great 'technically' correct images. But what about the all-i
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Nikko
Apr 26, 2012 Nikko rated it it was amazing
As someone who shoots both large format, which requires a lot of visualization when capturing an image, and other formats from 35mm to iphone, I really appreciated this book - it is such a different way of relating to one's environment. Often photography gives me an excuse to go out and be in different and beautiful place and after going through this book, I feel like I relate to the environment I am shooting in in a different way. It is a must have book for any photographer.
Hapzydeco
Mar 03, 2016 Hapzydeco rated it liked it
As the title implies, Karr and Wood, acting as your Buddhist muses, provide the you, the photographer, with positive ways to portray your images.
Eileen
Dec 29, 2016 Eileen rated it really liked it
Extremely niche, to be sure, but spoke to my mindful, photography-loving heart.
Trish
Mar 21, 2011 Trish rated it really liked it
One doesn't have to have a special camera, nor be a professional photographer. One does have to see. The idea proposed here is that we look and not excite ourselves with the notion of capture, but be still enough to recognize what is ready to be captured. Laid out in a series of exercises, this book leads one through ways of seeing. An exercise is suggested, then the authors or their students present their photos as examples of the exercise completed. The author stresses that these photos not be ...more
Joanna
Feb 15, 2015 Joanna rated it liked it
Some interesting techniques, aimed at getting you to stick with the original 'flash' of seeing, keeping your perception fresh rather than overlaying it with judgements from your thinking mind.

The book was very wordy though, more philosophy than an invitation to practice (there are lots of suggested exercises, it was more the style).

My main reservation was that although the book is packed full of photographs (and glossy, and expensive to go with it), I just didn't by and large like the photograph
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Sue
Feb 10, 2014 Sue rated it really liked it
This book teaches you, (as the seer/photographer), to slow down, to be mindful of the moment of seeing something.
Even seeing something that could be photographed is as good a moment as actually taking the photo. There is no need to rush, to go to faraway places to get good photos. Moments of beauty are everywhere around you wherever you are.
It is the 'seeing' of that perception, that moment in time, and taking the photo of that thing with no extraneous cropping, composing or fiddling with camera
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David Ranney
Dec 02, 2013 David Ranney rated it it was ok
"Technique is important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see . . . In any case, people think far too much about techniques and not enough about seeing."
A semi-useful book littered with Buddhist platitudes and spattered with relevant exercises in the art of "seeing." I actually agree with the general philosophy; if you walk around for twenty minutes, there are at least a hundred interesting photo opportunities that will largely go unseen. The reason? We are fo
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Ron Davidson
Feb 01, 2013 Ron Davidson rated it liked it
I lost my Muse (in several ways) a while ago, and I would like to get it back. A book really isn't the way, although it does offer some help. This book is essentially a print version of the Miksang contemplative photography classes I took about 10-12 years ago, when I was active in Shambhala Buddhism. It didn't really add anything to my knowledge base, but it is a good introduction for those who haven't had any instruction in contemplative photography. The exercises in the book could be helpful, ...more
Hanna
Aug 18, 2016 Hanna rated it liked it
Although I love the idea behind the book, I was slightly annoyed by the ever repeating notions and the somewhat pretentious writing style.
Even though the ideas behind contemplative photography are rooted in Buddhism and have a slight esoteric touch, I felt that the authors were a little bit judgmental when it came to „conventional“ photography styles.
Still some wonderful photographs and nice assignment ideas made up for the flaws of the book.
Jen Baxter
Jun 07, 2014 Jen Baxter rated it it was amazing
Excellent exercises to really slow down and wait for a flash of perception to start photographing. Would read this book again and again and do the practice over and over because it would be different every time.
Carrie
Apr 10, 2014 Carrie rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Completely changed the way I practice photography.
Pam
Dec 01, 2012 Pam rated it liked it
Shelves: photography
Much ado about nothing, could have been 1/4 the length.
Caelie
Sep 19, 2012 Caelie rated it liked it
Shelves: photography


I loved the epilogue to this book and the exercises. Great to read abt connections between Buddhist practice and photography.
Alan Grodin
Mar 01, 2013 Alan Grodin rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book and it helped me define my style of photography. I have since taken a workshop with the author and it was awesome. I heartily reccomend the book

N
Deigh
May 30, 2011 Deigh rated it liked it
This is really the practice of mindful awareness - sort of a Zen thing - applied to photography. It does offer some new and interesting ways of looking but left me a little cold.
Burning Candle
This book is more helpful to me. I am doing the research in the contemplative photography.
Deb
Nov 29, 2012 Deb rated it liked it
Shelves: hobby-art
The writing and pictures were both a bit flat, but they did get their point across,a different way to "see". The exercises are actually fun to try out, like a treasure hunt.
Briana
Mar 30, 2012 Briana rated it really liked it
This is a reference book to which I will return over and over again.
Bryan
Jan 12, 2013 Bryan rated it it was amazing
Inspiring. Practical information, fun assignments, and beautiful photography throughout.
Matthew G.
Matthew G. rated it liked it
May 02, 2013
James Marzano
James Marzano rated it it was amazing
Jan 06, 2014
EJ
EJ rated it really liked it
Mar 05, 2017
Esteban Joseph
Esteban Joseph rated it it was amazing
May 13, 2017
Ginger Harstad
Ginger Harstad rated it really liked it
Jan 16, 2015
Onion
Onion rated it it was amazing
Jan 17, 2015
Tina
Tina rated it really liked it
Sep 27, 2016
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Andy Karr is a writer, photographer, longtime meditator, and Buddhist teacher. He trained intensively with two of the great founding teachers of Western Buddhism: Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, author of Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, and other classics.

Andy’s second book (written with Mich
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“Photography is not purely a mechanical process. You need to know how to look, where to point the camera, and when to press the button. These acts depend on the eye, mind, and heart.” 3 likes
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