Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Contemplative Photography Workshop - Day 3

Today, Peter had us working on a 'wabi-sabi' assignment. According to Leonard Koren, the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi connotes a 'beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional."

As a group, the workshop participants walked in silent contemplation to the nearby water tower on the campus. Our challenge was to look intensely at the water tower and its surrounding farm buildings and record images that reflected wabi-sabi - "underplayed…modest…undeclared beauty that waits patiently to be discovered," according to architect Tadao Ando.

Here is the poem Peter used as a prompt.

You Reading This, Be Ready
by William Stafford

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life -

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

I was intrigued by the exercise and loved the quest for wabi-sabi images. However, when I downloaded them later, I was disappointed. Most of the images were mundane and boring. Here are the only two that I really liked.

While searching for these images, I also recorded two others that did not fit into the parameters of the assignment, but I liked them anyway. The first one is of the shadow cast by the water tower we visited on the grass below:

The second is of the electric cart that two of the nuns used to collect lilies for the monastery. As the cart whooshed by me, both nuns smiled and waved, wishing me a good day. I love this image!

Finally, a 'just because' image. Late yesterday afternoon, a wild thunderstorm galloped through the area. As the sun was going down at dusk, the storm system was still clearing out. The roiling clouds were spectacular. Enjoy!


  1. Your instructor guide sounds wonderful. I love the poem, the challenge to look for the imperfect. This sounds like the perfect retreat for you, and your openness.