Learning to Be Still…

and Putting Into practice The Law of Attraction

Most of you that know me know that I spent few years of my time in Western Virginia as a Photography Instructor at Virginia-Western Community College, Greenfield Campus.

Greenfield Campus, Daleville, VA
Nightshot, 5 separate images stacked. Nikon D700

The position at Virginia-Western was created out of a desire on my part to find a suitable venue for a local photography club that a few friends and I were trying to get started in the Roanoke Valley. Due to that and the vision of a school administrator, I was approached about establishing a curriculum and teaching it to prospective students. More on this later but I wanted to “lay some groundwork” for the start of this week’s Post.

I still maintain contact with a few of the many students who eventually attended my classes. About a month ago, I was contacted by one to inquire as to whether or not I could offer any advice to someone who is just starting out in Photography.. What would that advice be?

After some careful thought, the answer to her question came out of me that learning to Pre-visualize your image is something I wished I had known and put into practice years ago. In other words, the point I was trying to get across was to try to know what story you are trying to tell with your images before you take the shot.

Visualize what it is you would like your image to say.

Years before the “teaching gig”, I had the opportunity to study with a very respected lifestyle Pro-photographer. During my study with him he had drilled into me that a “good” photograph always “tells a story”. That small statement ties in well to the Pre-visualization concept and I use that nugget of advice to this day, every time I frame a shot.

There are questions that serve to get the Pre-visualization process started and they should be asked and answered in the mind before the actual technical process can begin.

Before I present these questions to you I will warn you at the outset that it takes a huge commitment of your time and mindful resources to get to the point of even asking yourself. That is, that they require the 3 “P’s” (Practice, Practice, Practice) in copious amounts. And many failures before the results start to show in your work and becomes an automatic process.

Do I still struggle with this? The answer is “Of course I do!” I can prove it in the amount of images I cull from every shoot I do.

Thankfully, with the advent of digital photography, which also enables almost everyone to walk around with a high quality camera disguised as a Cell phone, the learning curve has been greatly reduced in time and financial commitment.

Moving ahead. If you’re interested enough to have read this far, the following questions compose the process you should be practicing if you want to improve the number and Quality of your “keepers”.

What did you see? What did you hear? What did you experience there in that moment when you had the original urge to take the shot? When it comes to portrait photography, What do you truly know, sense and feel about that living thing or person in your viewfinder? Portraits are especially indicative of a wide range of strong thoughts and emotions.. And those qualities are (or should be) manifested everyday in photography.

“American Trucker” Valley Business Front, Roanoke.
Nikon D2H, 2011

But you say.. After I See, Hear, Experience and Feel…how can I reach past those tangible senses and get to the parts about “knowing” and “feeling”?

Believe this… You can count on the fact that most everyone else will know and feel these elements when they view your images. They may not know (or tell you) what it is they feel.. but they will know they feel something. This cannot help but be. It was once said that “the eyes are the windows into the soul”. I firmly believe and live by the fact that our viewfinders and lenses as well as our actions are the eyes into OUR souls manifested by the above process.

“Carly’s Eyes” Nikon D2h,
Summerfield, 2007

For me, approaching the proper mindset to achieve all of this starts before my camera comes out of it’s case and doesn’t end until final processing is done. Now to what brings us to the dual-topic of this post.

The Law of Attraction

If you’ve ever read the book, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, you know already what this visualization thing is all about. Using The Law of Attraction to help bring the process into focus is considerable in helping me to achieve the “Plane of Thought” level that I hope to when creating a meaningful image.

“What’s the Secret?”
Brookings Wedding, George & Beth. Nikon D700
Bayview NC 2017

Using Ms. Byrne’s thoughts and my words…

Previsualize first, what it is you want to say or do and the way you feel about your subject. Next, previsualize what you would like to have your viewer or yourself to experience when observing your work or progress

Learning to Be Still

Learning to be Still.. will enable your thoughts and senses to freely flow into and through your mind. Speaking from my own experience, learning to approach my challenges from a holistic and spiritual perspective created for me a major turning point that caused me to see improvements in what I wanted to accomplish.

While giving this much thought and trying to sort it all out, I find that it is helpful to remember the words an old Eagles song, (Learn to be Still) One that I replay in my mind or listen to from time to time to help me toward the visualization goal I hope to reach.

The last verse of the song goes like this:

There are so many contradictions

In all these messages we send

(We keep asking)

How do I get out of here

Where do I fit in?

Though the world is torn and shaken

Even if your heart is breakin’

It’s waiting for you to awaken

And someday you will-

Learn to be still

The Eagles, Album: Hell Freezes Over, 1994

If one takes the time to read, study and research, you will find that learning to be still (and the practice thereof) has been a premise that many of the world’s religions advocate.

Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and many others teach this.

Two major examples are.. the act of Meditation as a part of some Eastern religions such as Buddhism

“Look within. Be still. Free from fear and attachment, know the sweet joy of the way.”

Buddha

And again in Christianity, The Bible. (KJV)

”Be Still and know that I am God”

Psalms 46:10

…and there are others…all that seem to have the same thing in common.

Self-Portrait, 3 Cameras, 3 Locations. 3 Captures merged to produce 1 composite image
Florida, 2018

Learning to be Still has been a first step that has caused those elements and qualities of Inner peace to ultimately pave the way toward finding a path to follow in the creation of my images and enriching My life in general.

I hope that some parts of this is of some help if you are struggling to improve or just become happier with your images. practice the above and you will see. You can do this.

5 thoughts on “Learning to Be Still…

    1. As you can imagine, they didn’t like the direction at all. After I was able to got them all together, I just hid behind my camera as they watched.

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  1. Pre-visualization can be a double-edged sword, especially if it keeps us from seeing something other than what we have pre-visualized. That said, the idea of being still is very valid. Sometimes we don’t know what’s “out there” until we’ve taken the time to look and listen.

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    1. That’s exactly the reply that I would expect from you Tom. The images you have captured while everyone was looking in another direction are all awesome. The process of trying to discover something to point your lens at will oftentimes distract someone from noticing what might be a spectacular opportunity that is not immediately noticeable. You were (and still are) the Champion at finding these opportunities.
      Referring to my post, I was more trying to explain my process from a perspective of assigning yourself a “story” of sorts that one might want to convey with their image. Such as capturing a bride’s joy or the edgy domain that is the life of a trucker.

      Your ability to capture the “unseen” and capture it well has always put me in awe of your talent. I’m truly blessed to have had you as a shooting partner many times. Thank you for your input.

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      1. I absolutely agree that we need to head out with some kind of concept for what we hope to find or the story we want to tell, otherwise we might get so distracted we don’t get what we went for! Sometimes the story doesn’t make itself apparent until we’re in the moment, so we just need to be ready to grab it when it comes by. 😉

        I’m really enjoying your writing about the creative side of photographing. It’s inspired me to turn my brain back in the direction instead of just posting postcards. Not that there’s anything wrong with that sometimes!

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