In the fall of 2011 I took a vacation to southern Spain. The architecture was spectacular and I took several hundred photos. I used a little digital snapshot camera which I had used successfully on earlier trips, but to my dismay I found that well over half of the pictures I took were unusable due to blurring caused my tremor. This was incredibly frustrating.
So a year or so after I got back I bought a serious digital SLR camera, one where I could control the shutter speed to be faster than my tremor. Suddenly I could take sharp pictures again. A happy day! After a couple years of practice and a good bit of coaching from my teachers, I feel like I’m just beginning to get some control over the technical process.
Photography is also allowing me to explore some of the use of artistic media as a meditative practice, and especially the relationship of creativity and discipline. For instance, for a couple of years I walked to work most days with my camera, and took pictures of the downtown bridges. After a year and several hundred photos, taken in all kinds of weather and light conditions, I found that I have a few which, possibly, are starting to show something interesting.
I’ve been inspired in this by the Shambhala Center’s Ikebana practice. This is the only example of the Shambhala Arts program that I’ve observed, but seems to me to show both great depth and great spontaneity. Again this seems to reflect both the skill acquired through years of dedicated practice with the materials and the freshness of the meditation practice.
I’m now moving on to my first interest in photography, portraits. My subjects are Parkinson's patients and Argentine Tango dancers. In both of these areas I hope to increase my technical skills, and I’m also hoping that something interesting will emerge out of this kind of extended collaboration.
Photo by Dale Bennett