Camera Position 57 : Photographer’s Bookshelf #4

Can you become a selfless photographer and reach a state of Zen with your camera? Fourth in an irregular series of “books for photographers’ bookshelves” is Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel, where Herrigel’s works towards the “perfect shot.” Replace “bow” with “camera,” “arrow” with “shutter” and “target” with “photograph” and you have a wonderful little book about how to stop thinking and start making.

Zen in the Art of Archery - old cover art Windowsill Daydreaming - Photograph by Minor White Zen in the Art of Archery - new cover art

Left: Old cover art for book Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel

Center: Windowsill Daydreaming – Photograph by Zenmaster Photographer Minor White

Right: New cover art for book Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel

Dirk Rossler’s Megaperls weblog – Thanks for your comment, Dirk!

6 thoughts on “Camera Position 57 : Photographer’s Bookshelf #4”

  1. This is terrific as this is hitting on my parallel universe. Hopefully I can write this with some type of clarity…

    For years, I have emersed myself in photographic books, Weston’s Daybooks, Adams the Camera et al, Cunningham , Steigliez, Steichen, all of it. Then, something inside of me started to see an interesting pattern in photography, both mine and what I’ve seen. That is, there is really nothing too new and creative (although, thanks to photoshop, there are some wild possibilities on the horizon).

    I’ve turned away from “photobooks” these last 5 years and have focussed purely on the creative process. I have looked at photography purely as a medium, not an art in itself. Revelations have come in the truckloads from this switch in my views. The first book to tip me off on why I was feeling the way I do about my art was “The Artist Way” by Julia Cameron (no, not the Photographer from the late 19th century). The others are “No More Second Hand Art” by Peter London and “Art and Fear” by Ted Orland and David Bayles.

    Art and Fear, hit me on the side of the head. Because of this book, I have a rather jaded view of what photographers are trying to accomplish when they, for example, create images of Yosemite, or Slot Canyon. That is, are they creating art, or are they recreating history? Personnally, I got inspired by the works of the collaboration of Edward Weston and Margarithe Mather. I was creating these platinum looking images with my portrait studies and I knew there was something missing, but I didn’t know what it was. After Orland’s book, it then hit me. I was creating someone elses’ art.

    Your podcast is something I hope many photographers will listen to. Not for just the content, but as a lesson that to be outside of the ordinary photographer you cannot follow like sheep (parable of the sheep? 🙂 ) You need to go outside the boundries of your media and see the world and all its artistic beauty.

  2. Another book worth looking into is “Zen and the Art of Creativity”. It is written by one of the students of Minor White and is based on photography as the medium of creativity.

  3. Michael;

    Thanks for your comment. It’s always been interesting to me that many of my students tend to think that their job is to try to make interesting photographs, when my thought is that they need to make photographs of things that they are interested in. It usually takes them some time to see the difference.

    Listening to music, reading poetry, reading the thoughts of artists who don’t have to start with the “real world” (like we do)…. all of that has the net effect of forcing you to think about things that aren’t “interesting photographs.”

    And Geoff…. Zen and the Art of Creativity is a great book. Another one I like a lot is The Tao of Pooh. Don’t laugh… Pooh is really a Zen Master.

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