“Keep your mouth closed,
and let your eyes listen.”
- Lil Wayne, American Rap Artist
One of the things that I like most about photography is letting my camera do the listening, especially if I’m not talking. I find that wandering in silence with my camera is profoundly calming and fulfilling. The experience is contemplative, even on a busy city street.
A peak experience in learning how to frame photography as a contemplative act was the “Photography as a Contemplative Practice” workshop I took at the 2016 Quaker Gathering in St. Joseph, Minnesota. The instructor was Peter West Nutting, a gifted photographer from Maine.
The great gift of this workshop, about which I have written before, was Peter’s request on the first day of the workshop for the participants to change our terminology for the week. Instead of shooting, capturing, and taking photos, he asked us to consider saying that we were recording photos or making them. Although it felt odd and forced at first, it soon became easier – and I began to realize that this small change of wording ushered in a whole new appreciation for the process of making a photo – it wasn’t just a smash and grab operation any longer. It was perfect for seeing the elements of photography – photographer, camera, subject – as being part of the same collaborative process. What a valuable insight this change of wording has proven to be. It’s now a permanent part of my photography process.
To read more about Peter’s contemplative photography, please check out his article, “Listening with the Eyes,” in the September 1, 2013, Friends Journal. (link)
Which brings me to the point of this post – my very enjoyable visit last week to the farm in Prince Edward County that used to belong to my paternal grandparents, Norah and Garnet Tayler. I spent countless hours as a boy wandering the farm, often spending more time there than on my mom and dad’s farm just down the road. The property features a picture-perfect location and includes an island, reached by a causeway. When I think of paradise on earth, this place comes to mind.
The farm is now owned and stewarded by dear family cousins. With their permission, I roamed the property for several happy hours last week – with my mouth shut, allowing my eyes and my camera to do the listening. I plan to create a slideshow of the photos for the annual Tayler Family Picnic at our home next Saturday. I hope the extended Tayler clan will enjoy the slideshow. And I hope you will enjoy a small selection of the photos below.
As always, thank you for reading my blog.