Conservation & Photography

November 25, 2018

 I am bringing these quotes together, the first couple from Nature's Child by John Kaye Lister, and the second a quote by Eric Fromme...


1. Conservation isn't just about saving tigers or pandas, or even tropical rainforests for that matter - although they are tragic, high-profile symptoms of the malady. No, it's much more to do with facing up to the truth or our own origins - about acknowledging deeply within ourselves that we are a part of nature and that we desperately need its blessing and help.


In losing touch we have abandoned intuition and the spirit, art, magic and the sacred in nature, the very qualities from which we once assembled our values, which shaped our cultures. 


3. Imagine a tourist - with a camera, of course - who arrives somewhere and finds a mountain, a lake, a castle, or an art exhibit in front of him. He cannot really take in what he sees, because he is too preoccupied wth the photograph he will make of it. For him the only relevant reality is the one he can record on film and take possession of, not the one that is actually before him. The second step, the picture, comes before the first, the act of seeing itself. Once he has his picture he can show it to his friends as if to suggest that he himself created this recorded segment of the world, or ten years later he ca recall where he was at the time. But in either case the photograph, the artificial perception, has crowded out the original one. Many tourists don't even both to look first. They just grab for their cameras. A good photographer will first try to capture for himself what he will later try to capture with the camera. He will try to relate to what it is he wants to photograph. The preliminary seeing is a kind of activity... This kind of activity refreshes, brightens, and strengthens our vital energies.


Reading these two quotes helps to articulate how nature photography could refresh, brighten, and strengthen our vital energies, whilst also developing an environmental consciousness...


We need to capture first, or rather deeply acknowledge within ourselves that we desperately need nature's help. And start to develop a preliminary way of seeing that helps us to reconnect the intuition, spirit, art, magic and the sacred in nature, and thus within ourselves. This preliminary way of seeing is perhaps more of a frame of mind, rather than composing in our mind's eye an artificial perception of nature. This preliminary way of seeing does not mean that we shape nature through composition, but rather capture what is there with as little interference from us as possible. We are not the composers of pictures, we are the grateful receivers, that can hopefully through the act of photographing develop an environmental heart-mind-set.  Then once the camera is in hand relate this to what we are looking for through the viewfinder. The viewfinder can help frame & focus our seeing of nature in such a way as to accentuate this feeling. 


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