Life, photography

Life Lessons from Photography

Photography is the beauty of life captured – Tara Chisholm

Photography is an art and like any other art form it teaches so many things. The practice of photography has taught me just to pay closer attention to what I see around me every day. Some of the most satisfying pictures I have taken have been of things in the immediate vicinity of where I live and work. I am sharing my reflections from the moments spent with my camera. I am sure that these five are not the only learnings and of-course there are many more, please feel free to add your learnings….

  1. Live in the moment – Photography has taught me to be in the moment. When I go out with my camera, it’s only when I am completely in the moment, I get to recognize the surroundings and hence compose an image. There are lots of times when we get swayed by the circumstances and therefore don’t acknowledge the beauty of the moment.   
  2. Accept first in order to be accepted – I have learnt this while doing nature photography. Shooting birds/butterflies is really a difficult job; the moment you enter a location or even spot a bird it flies away, as they consider you to be a potential threat. However, if you stay at the location for some time, you also become a part of the ecosystem and no more considered an outsider and hence no threat to those birds around or any other creatures like grasshopper, butterflies, dragon flies etc. One stays at a place only when it has accepted the place “as it is” and therefore the entire location including all the living creatures accept you and then you can take pictures comfortably.  
  3. Once you decide your focus, rest of the things blur on their own – Photography is all about deciding what you focus on and that focus itself differentiates from the background and comes out shining. If we can apply the same philosophy to our lives, lot of things can change significantly. Wherever we go there’s lot of beauty around, we just need to have the right focus to identify it. Even the mundane things like shoe-rack, windows outside the building can appear to be attractive, if presented the right way and to present it that way one has to first decide what needs to be focused and what not.  
  4. Contrast makes things beautiful – Pictures appear beautiful when the foreground has contrasting colours to the background. If the subject and the background are of same colour, picture doesn’t appear interesting. If the subject is really bright, then the background should be relatively darker, otherwise, the subject will not stand-out and consequently it will look boring and would not catch viewer’s attention. We all strive for happiness in life and try to avoid gloom, however, cheerfulness will have no importance without melancholy. Only when we overcome the challenges, we get the sense of achievement. We feel proud of ourselves when we have accomplished a difficult task or have created something new.  
  5. Photography is just like meditation – Taking photographs and practising meditation might seem at first glance to be completely unrelated activities. In fact, both of them are in search of light, Photography looks outwards at the visual world through the medium of a camera, meditation focuses inwards. And whereas photography is concerned with producing images of reality, meditation is about seeing reality as it is. As practices, both meditation and photography demand commitment, discipline and technical skill. To go beyond mere expertise in either domain requires a capacity to see the world in a new way. The pursuit of meditation and photography leads away from fascination with the extraordinary and back to a rediscovery of the ordinary. Both photography and meditation require an ability to focus steadily on what is happening in order to see more clearly. Seeing things this way involves “shifting” to a frame of mind in which the habitual view of a familiar world is replaced by a keen sense of the unprecedented and unrepeatable configuration of each moment. Both meditation and photography are concerned with light. Meditators speak of “enlightenment”: an experience in which “light” metaphorically dispels the “darkness” of the mind and on the other hand photography also chases light in order to create pleasing images.



Do we really get tired or it’s just a state of mind?

Imagine, it’s Monday morning, alarm bell rings at 5:30 am, with your eyes still closed, you drowsily move your hand and after dragging yourself a bit, your hand finally reaches to stop the alarm. Although it’s time to get up and start moving ahead with your routine activities like a small work-out, cup of coffee, newspaper, getting ready and finally off to office, you still lay in bed as you don’t feel like going to work today. You feel really exhausted and even before you realise, a chain of thoughts gets triggered in your mind,  

Should I go to office or take a day-off?“,  

I am badly tired”, 

I am putting so much of hard-work, I truly deserve some rest”,  

I am really exhausted”,   

It’s fine to take a day-off sometimes”  

You mentally decide to take some rest, as you really had a hectic week. You plan to take a day-off in order to refresh yourself and gather some energy. The more you think about your strenuous week and the way you had to really slog to complete your project, you feel all the more tired. While you lay in bed with this self-talk, you suddenly realise that you are so badly tired and can’t even gather the courage to move from your bed. You decide to call your boss to inform that you won’t be coming today and a minute later you finally you pick up the phone…  

Sounds Similar ???

Why do we get tired?“, I sometimes wonder……

Is it because of the physical and/or mental fatigue, that we experience after a frenetic day? 

Or, is it just a state of mind? 

If it is just because of the exhaustion that we experience after a hectic day, then how come we suddenly start oozing up with energy if we get a phone call from our best childhood buddy even if we have just entered home after a long day or if it’s a weekend and we have plans to go out

We binge-watch our favourite series for hours together and we still feel energetic but only an hour of working on a presentation or some data analysis reminds us of the screen time going higher and we start feeling our eyes burning

We get bored and feel sleepy after reading a document pertaining to the terms and conditions of the insurance policy that we have just purchased, however, we want to finish an interesting thriller novel in one sitting

Our exhaustion from the entire day melts away just after having a look at the innocent smile on our son/daughter’s face. 

What does all this suggest? 

It means tiredness is more of a psychological thing than a physical thing. Having said so, I am in no way discounting the efforts that we all put while commuting to our workplaces or while working on a challenging project or handling daily chores and so on. We all work really hard towards a lot of things and we do get tired also, nonetheless, up to a “great extent” it is psychological than anything else. 

So, what does it mean? 

Does it mean, if we are in control, we can switch-on and switch-off our mental states? 

In my opinion, the answer is “yes”. If we can prep our mind not to get overwhelmed by the challenges that we have handled “today” or the challenges that we are expecting to face “tomorrow”. I believe the key lies in training our mind to live in the “NOW”, the “present moment”, rather than living the stress of the day all over again or thinking and getting anxious about what’s going to happen tomorrow. This doesn’t mean that we should not plan things, it is very important to plan our goals but as they say “journeys are often more enjoyable than the destination”, therefore, we must learn to enjoy every moment of the journey rather than getting astounded by the complexity of the final goal.  

Robin Sharma also quoted beautifully in his bestseller, The Monk who Sold his Ferrari, 

The past is water under the bridge and the future is a distant sun on the horizon of your imagination. The most important moment is NOW”

If we can train our mind to step away from this “time-trap” of living either in the past experiences or in the anticipation of future events, we can enjoy each and every moment with almost similar energy and it will surely add more life to our lives.