I've recently been rereading the Tao Te Ching with the thought of seeing how it can apply to being mindful behind the lens. I've been pleasantly surprised to find that there are many verses that we can use and think about.
For me, one of the greatest joys of photography are those times when you're clicking away, working the scene, and everything else has just fallen away. You're not thinking about your job, your family, or anything that's been troubling you. You are completely immersed in what you are doing with the scene in front of you. If you've spent any amount of time behind the lens, you know what I'm talking about. The objects arrange themselves perfectly, the light is right where you want it and you know you are getting the shots you want. I liken this to 'Being in the Zone' athletically. It simply becomes effortless.
I think at that point, we have tapped into something bigger than ourselves. It's almost as though everything has aligned to come together in front of your lens at that very moment. I don't think we can call on this moment when we need it. It resists being controlled. I think the best you can do is to know your gear, head into the world with an open mind, put yourself in a spot you think worthy, and simply wait to see what happens. Wait for whatever "it" is to reveal itself.
It won't always happen, but when it does, you will know it for what it is and be grateful. With that in mind, the Tao Te Ching speaks to this idea:
If you're not familiar with Ibarionex Perello's excellent blog The Candid Frame, please go spend some time there. He interviews some of the world's best photographers and it's great to hear their insights into their work.
Last November he sat down with nature and travel photographer Brenda Tharp, author of Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography . Very interesting to hear her take on the challenges of shooting out of focus, the lack of passion in her images when shooting for stock, and many other ideas.
You can listen to the entire podcast here or here.