Sharing the Passion as an Artist and Mentor
For quite some time, my personal photography work has been moving in a direction that is more intimate and spiritual. As I immersed in this more expressive type of seeing, I was ready to share my lessons and experiences with a new group of students. This required a shift in the type of material I had previously taught, (that being more of the ‘how to’) to a more awareness-based learning. This teaching prototype with which I absolutely am smitten included practicing visual awareness, exposure to masters of photography, gallery, museum exhibitions and visiting with artists in their studios. The dialogue, practice and sharing formed the backbone of ‘The Photo Atelier’. What resulted was a cohesive, mutually beneficial experience that created bonds of trust and friendship.
In my experience, I have heard and tried to practice ‘Contemplative Photography’, but it took a lot of personal growth to leave my tendency for perfectionism behind (sadly, it still tries to vie for my attention) and make images on a more intuitive level. This learning can only grow deeper as I internalize concepts at the level of the experiences I have. The Atelier is paused for the summer as we refill our respective wells. If you have interest, we form up again in September.
images from Block Island in Black and White 2023 courtesy of Linda LaParle and Talma Nir
Selected Atelier practices were implemented in two Spring workshops, ‘Block Island in Black and White’ and ‘Newfoundland: A Sense of Place’.
Selected images from 'Newfoundland, A Sense of Place, June 2023
The experience that moved me the most was in leading my first ‘walking meditation’ lesson in Back Harbor, Twillingate, Newfoundland. After a 12-minute undistracted walk with cameras safely stowed in our cars, the world seemed to come alive and presented itself with a myriad of visual
wealth. These possibilities may not have been evident to the walker looking to make expected ‘great’ photographs. Drawing on a less judgmental, more intuitive way of seeing, looking for the metaphor and the ‘what else could it be’ (Minor White) was like opening a door in a wall I previously could only suspect. The two hours of practice were spent engaged in a level of seeing that the poet Mary Oliver calls a ‘seizure of happiness’. In my experience as an artist, this simple approach took ages to realize. The walking process stands out in my mind as the ideal form of my creative flow going forward. In the words of Rob Walker (the Art of Noticing), “being engaged with the world is not a means to an end, it is an end”.
I look forward to more teaching opportunities in this direction feeling the growth and passion of expression in myself. In seeing my students inspired to fill their lives with meaning, I am motivated to continue learning to become an even more effective teacher. In the meantime, stay tuned for future classes along the lines of the Atelier; classes that challenge our personal way of seeing and capturing the world.