Author to share the art of contemplative photography in Steamboat
June 23, 2011
Through a camera lens, the eye can see the world in a new way, capture moments in time and communicate through art.
But that lens also can act as a mirror, reflecting back on the camera's user, making the practice of photography a venue to contemplative thought.
It took writer, photographer and Buddhist teacher Andy Karr a long time to bridge the connection between photography and his contemplative studies, but he sees it as an accessible approach for anyone looking to expand self-reflection through art.
"The nice thing about photography for contemplative practice is that technically it's very simple," he said. "And it's gotten much simpler since the digital revolution. It means you don't have to spend a lot of time learning the craft in order to work with your mind. You can put the emphasis on perception."
Karr is on a 2 1/2-month book tour in support of his second release, "The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes," which marries photographic art with self-reflection.
He will appear at 7 p.m. Monday at Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library to discuss his book and his practices. The event is sponsored by the Steamboat Buddhist Center, which requests a $10 donation at the door.
George Danellis, Buddhist Center of Steamboat Springs council president, said the event would appeal to a wide audience.
"We're thrilled to have a person like Andy come, both for the general community of photographers as well as for our own Buddha sangha community," Danellis said. "He's someone who can help us see things with a fresh perspective at any given time."
Karr began his photographic journey as a teenager on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. He rode around on his bike capturing family, friends, flowers and buildings on film. Later in life, he was captured by the work of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
But it wasn't until about 12 years ago that his passion fully melded with his Buddhist studies.
Under photographer Michael Wood, Karr delved into photography that focused on uncovering a truth in perception.
"It was very fresh and out of the box," he said about the practice, which he first saw in the work of a Buddhist teacher in the 1970s.
With the practice of contemplative photography, Karr said the focus is more on perception and less on the emotions or memories attached to an image.
"It distinguishes what you're thinking and what you're seeing — it helps you relate more to the seeing and frees you from a lot of the baggage," he said.
With the acceleration of digital and social media and content sharing, almost everyone is an amateur photographer these days. And Karr sees that as a positive. But where most photographers look for a compelling subject and try to capture its emotion, Karr thinks that thinking often gets in the way.
"You don't have to make a lot of effort to capture something that isn't there," he said. "There are lots of things you don't need to capture."
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204
or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com
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