TAKING PICTURES WITHOUT JUDGEMENT

In VISUAL ART by Kimberly Poppe

The basic principle of photography is viewing things as they are in their own ordinary nature. It is very simple and direct.
-Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
There is an interesting process that happens in our mind whenever we see or experience anything, but it happens so fast that we are not usually aware of it.

The first moment we see something we just simply and purely see it, the shape, the colour. In the next instant, we label it: cup, stop sign, whatever. Then, in the moment after that, we form a judgement or opinion about it. Either we like it and would like to experience more of it, or we don’t like it and want to stop experiencing it, or sometimes we don’t even notice things at all. We blank out and actually miss so much of what is happening around us.

It is this moment of subtly judging, forming an opinion about, liking, disliking, or not even noticing, everything we see or experience that is exhausting and often painful, since we rarely have control over what we see or experience. However, if we can just go back to simply seeing, purely seeing, freshly seeing and stay there, even for a little while, it is an incredible relief. There is such freedom in not having to think about everything you see, to not have to have an opinion or a stance about everything you see, but to just enjoy simply seeing it.4. No1 West Street ©KPoppe

In this way, photography is part of my spiritual practice, not spiritual in a special way, but in a very ordinary way, just simply being with whatever is. My teacher speaks about meditation not as meditating on something but being with. I find this to be an incredibly helpful instruction. When I go out to photograph, I try to just be open to seeing, to being with whatever I see, and I try to let go of my ideas of what I think will happen or should happen, my hopes of getting a good shot, my fears of getting a bad shot, or of just wanting to see something different than what I actually am.

Creativity can be understood, in essence, to be the practice of our own nature and that nature’s expression. You may find your way in to the nature through creativity; or you may come out from the nature to express creativity. Both have to be appreciated as the best of our mind’s potential.
-Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

When we are open in this way, then we are open to being surprised. Something unexpected can appear and make us stop for a moment. We see the world freshly, revealing something beyond our habitual world of thoughts and emotions and connecting us with this deeper aspect of our mind and ourselves that is always there, always present, if only we are aware of it.

Everyone can try this with a camera or without. Head out for a walk and just be open to seeing. It doesn’t have to be anywhere particularly beautiful or scenic, it could even just be your ordinary walk to work or to the shops, but whatever you see just simply see it and leave it at that. When you notice you are thinking about what you see or anything else. whether worried, daydreaming, spacing out or just playing the usual soundtrack of thoughts in your head, don’t worry, that’s normal. When you become aware of this, simply notice, let go, and try to come back to simply seeing whatever you see. You don’t have to actively look, seek out things, or dart out about in an intense way to find things to see. It is just about having a very light openness or interest in seeing whatever appears in front of you and to keep coming back to that. Give it a try and see what you discover!1. roof ©KPoppe

About the Author
Kimberly Poppe

Kimberly Poppe

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Kimberly has studied and practiced Buddhism for almost 20 years under the guidance of a number of renowned Tibetan teachers. As well as being a teacher of meditation, Kimberly is also an accomplished photographer and her work has been greatly influenced and inspired by The Practice of Contemplative Photography by Andy Karr and Michael Wood. Married to an Italian, she loves good food and being near the ocean. Kimberly’s website.

Photo by Kimberly Poppe

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