Author Archives: Mark Petersen
I have just returned from a trip to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to present A New Perspective in Seeing to 12 inspiring and enthusiastic photographers.
Each new workshop brings with it a renewed sense of inspiration and passion for this art, and it was no different in Zimbabwe as the participants engaged in the assignments and the teaching with a sense of adventure and innocence. The warmth of the people and the country were demonstrated so beautifully in the portrait images. Each one capturing something unique and original in that individual.
This was the largest group yet that I have had on a single workshop and the size of the group meant that certain elements of what I teach on this workshop were skipped over in order to accommodate individual attention. One of the aspects that was not covered in any detail, was the question and enquiry of what it is we are seeing? I watched a fascinating program on television a couple of evenings ago, The Invisible World and this lead me to look out how this entire world we live in has been constructed in order to accommodate “seeing from a human perspective”. We are so opinionated about what we see and that what we see is real and true, that we forget there are any number of realities at any one moment. So which one is real? From the perspective of a fly, the world is a very different construct and reality to that of a human being, and even amongst human beings, what we see is largely determined by our culture and language. So once again I ask, what is true with regards to what I am seeing? It brings into question again how much of the reality we experience is determined by what we choose to see, and how what we choose to see is essentially “unconsciously seen” as it is always coming from a point of view that has identified a subject or an object. I am not sure why but it reminds me of the opening words of A Course in Miracles “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God”
For a moment, just a moment, forget everything you think you know, about who you think you are, about who you think another is, and about what you think you are seeing. What remains is always that which has always been and always will be. Mystery, unknowable, infinite possibilities.
Everything that we see is reflected light. The object that we appear to be seeing, is nothing other than light being reflected off an object, and the colour, shape, texture etc that we actually see, is reflected light. The camera is recording reflected light. So if we are to start exploring photography we need to know light, know it for all you are worth. I see so many people exploring consciousness who seek, and see only light when in truth this is only half the journey. In order to fully know light we have to also know the absence of light, or darkness. In photographic terms it is the absence of light (shadow, darkness) that creates texture in your image so it is essential in our studying and knowing of light that we explore and know darkness as well.
This is one of the subjects I speak of in A New Perspective in Seeing, how light and shadow influence the image we are seeing and creating. What interests me in this subject is the parallel with life as well. How it is most essentially the darkness of who we are that provides the texture, the depth and the shade we are.
When we consider that what we are seeing is reflected light, then we get a sense that possibly what we think we are seeing in life is not actually what is. We are seeing from a point of view, a point of view that has already identified what is being seen. And in that sense we are blinded by the light, blinded in that we see only what is reflected. Seeing without a point of view and allowing what we have identified to fall away and lose significance, allows us to see beyond our point of view, to include another and another point of view until ultimately we are aware only of Seeing, and not Seeing a subject or an object.
What is the relevance in all this to photography? As we lose our point of view, we become aware of seeing with innocence, seeing as if for the first time, seeing without identification. It is then that we become receptive to the possibilities of what it is we are seeing and we gain access to perspective, seeing the subject without a point of view. In becoming receptive to the possibilities we start to see and create images that are fresh, new, innocent and free of any rules or points of view. We become the artists creating on a blank canvas, creating what it is that we see, and creating it new each time.
I am, Seeing!
I am feeling incredibly grateful and inspired after this last weekend. Grateful in that I had 10 participants join me for A New Perspective in Seeing (10 on Day 1, and 7 on Day 2), and inspired in that I am constantly amazed and in awe of some of the photographic talent that is being revealed. This was our largest workshop to date and it was an experience of grace and simplicity in bringing it all together. There were a number of other milestones in this workshop. It was the first time the workshop was presented with the option of attending only the first day to learn the technical elements. We had three people attend on this basis, and all three have confirmed that they will be back soon to participate on the second day. It was also the first time that we had repeat enrolments, two of the particpants who attended earlier workshops came for a refresher, one of them now the proud owner of a new Nikon D3100 camera. It was interesting to see their progress as well as to receive their feedback on what value they gained second time round.
Witnessing individuals connecting with their creativity, and expressing it is one of the most rewarding aspects of what I get to see and participate in on each workshop. To everyone who has participated to date, my hearfelt thanks for your participation and sharing and for the value you have bought to each workshop.
One of the companies that has been promoting this workshop is Photo Freedom in Kloof, KwaZulu Natal. A few days ago I was contacted by Hilary the branch manager, and she informed me of an exciting project that they are embarking on. Photo Freedom in Kloof is establishing a gallery wall at their premises, and the first batch of images to go up there will be images from A New Perspective in Seeing graduates. The images will all be printed and framed by Photo Freedom and put on display for a period of two weeks. We will have another opportunity to exhibit graduates work in a couple of months time.
I must also use this opportunity to acknowledge all the other people who have been sharing their experience with friends. I am receiving enquiries almost on a daily basis regarding the workshop and when the next one is going to be held. So to all of you who have shared, thank you.
The dates for the next workshop in KZN will be published as soon as I have had confirmation from Wirikuta. In the interim it is all systems go for our next workshop in Zimababwe, happening over the weekend of 28th and 29th June at Stillhaven in Bulawayo. To date we have 12 enrolments for this workshop, with the possibility of a few more! The manifestation of this particular workshop is another demonstration of clarity and intention. When the possibility of running “A New Perspective in Seeing in Zimbabwe” was first discussed, it was mentioned that it was unlikely that there would be sufficient people interested in photography, with the right equipment, who would be open to attending a workshop. Whilst in Zimbabwe a couple of months ago running Consciously Creating, a one day workshop I present teaching the process of creating, and working with intention, I mentioned in closing that I also present a two day photographic workshop. To my amazement, six of the people present all said yes to the idea immediately, and two months later, here we are, ready to launch this workshop in Zimbabwe.
The name, A New Perspective in Seeing, implies that there is an alternate vieing point, a different way or view on what it is that we are seeing. In the pages of this blog, I intend to share my thoughts on Seeing, and how and what it is we are seeing.
In my enquiry and contemplation of this, it has become apparent to me that we do not see clearly, everything we see is always filtered by who and what we are identified with and as. In this state, it is not possible to see with innocence, to see simply what is. “What is” will always be filtered by that which we have identified ourselves to be, and that which we have identified what we are seeing to be. An example of this in photography would be when photographing something, an insect, a flower, a landscape, a person. Our eyes see the subject, identify it, form an opinion as to whether it will look “good” or “bad” in an image, and then either proceed to take the image or not. In seeing the subject, and identifying it, we no longer see the possibilities. It becomes for us what we are seeing. This is not seeing in the true sense. True seeing will only occur when we drop identification, and in this become receptive to what is.
Let me clarify this for you. You see an insect in a flower. From that moment on you only see the insect in the flower, you are not available and receptive to shape, texture, patterns, light, shadow, colour etc etc. Focussing on what it is you have identified you do not see any more, your viewing point becomes limited to what you have identified.
The objective of teaching A New Perspective in Seeing is quite simple, to encourage you to open your eyes and start to see the world around you from a “pointless” point of view. It is not relevant that we find a more attractive or better looking point of view, as that merely becomes another form of identification. It is relevant that we notice who is it that is seeing?
As we become more willing to let go of our point of view, we discover all that we are not seeing, and ultimately we become aware of Seeing, seeing.
In seeing and clarity