The Inner Path of Photography

We yearn for the taste of the sacred…and through our cameras discover it, the world, and ourselves.

Tag: Merce Cunningham

Impermanence and the photographer’s experience

“Mr. Cunningham often spoke and wrote movingly about the nature of dance and would laugh about its maddening impermanence. “You have to love dancing to stick to it,” he once wrote. “It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.

(Quote from NY Times, Alistair Macaulay, “Merce Cunningham, Dance Visionary, Dies,” July 27, 2009)
(Bolding added by Heidi)

Yes, this is how I feel in the middle of shooting photographs, when all comes together, no mind, no planning, just being…me and the camera and all around me as one…and that is why I feel alive after a photo shoot, whether it be commercial, personal work, or casual family and friends.
Wouldn’t our lives be much better also if we could transfer this experience to each moment of our day…

Those who practice Buddhism are already aware of this approach to life…but one doesn’t have to be a Buddhist in order to live in this manner. The act of taking photographs is a spiritual practice in itself, as one connects with inner resonance and truth, and expresses it in the outer finished photograph.

The essence of shooting is an immersion in the joy of impermanence….where nothing else matters but now…and now…and now…timelessness and total feeling alive at the same moment.

Inspiration from Merce Cunningham, choreographer (a quote for you)

“…Some people  think it is unhuman and mechanistic to toss pennies in creating a dance instead of chewing the nails or beating the head against a wall or thumbing through old notebooks for ideas…”

“But…I am in touch with a natural resource far greater than my own personal inventiveness could ever be, much more universally human than the particular habits of my own practice.”

(Merce Cunningham quote, italics and bolding supplied by Heidi)
(Reference obituary, “He Took a Great Leap”, Sarah Kaufman, Washington Post, 7.28.2009

Merce Cunningham died on Sunday at 90 years old.  He followed his truth and created new ways of artistic expression that were magical, mystical, inspirational, and uplifting. Mr. Cunningham speaks beautifully to the inner experience of creating and living. I’m inspired by his style of creating from the “natural resource” rather than working from the belief that our agonizing and thinking hard is what makes the magic happen.

As you photograph and as you create your life may you, like Mr. Cunningham,  also work and live from that natural resource of Spirit, inner knowing, and connection with universal humankind.

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