I am a​ holistic photographer

I must warn you from the start that this is a long post but one I had to write because I discovered something about myself along the way. Read on if you love stories about photography and life journeys!

I’ve been on a journey into photography for many years. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I’m constantly trying to be a better photographer. Some of my posts already share my photography learning journeys – here are links to some of them.

When I first started in photography, I voraciously read about the ‘how to’s’ and technical aspects. As you will be able to tell from my posts about my journey, these days I find myself attracted to stories and articles that are more about style and analysing my own work and trying to discover who I am as a photographer.  It helps me to work out who I am by reading what other people say about themselves and their work.

I recently came across a fabulous article by Jason Row called “How to be a Holistic Photographer” on the LightStalking website. Jason opens his piece with:

Today, we are going to go a little left-field and talk about taking a holistic approach to photography. Regular readers will know that I often talk about pre-planning, particularly in travel photography but what I haven’t mentioned is that I often take an entirely unscientific and entirely random approach to shooting as well. This I like to call holistic photography.

After explaining what holistic photography is (using the principle of “interconnectedness to bring us to great pictures”), he explains how it works. I’ll summarise:

  1. Rather than doing intensive pre-planning before going on a shoot, it’s about defocusing your mind
  2. Open up your mind and senses to the world around you, not just visually but by tuning all of our senses into the world around us. “The point is that by tuning our senses to look, listen, feel, touch and indeed taste, we can open entirely new photographic possibilities.
  3. Being “technically instinctive”, i.e. knowing your camera well enough to work with it instinctively. “The first thing you should do is raise that camera to your eye and start shooting. By leaving your mind free to look for the creative possibilities in the shot, you will actually find that you will instinctively set the right aperture or shutter speed.

The final clincher was in the last paragraph “this all sounds a little bit Zen”. I loved that he used the word Zen, as my website URL includes the word ‘zen’.

This is mostly how I shoot, especially when I am travelling or I’m in a place I don’t know very well – I go by instinct or as the mood takes me. I normally plan everything (I’m a Virgo!) but somehow with photography, when I let myself be open and go with the flow, I get much better shots than I do when I plan. One of the things I learnt from doing multiple 365 photography projects is to have my camera with me all the time. Most of my best shots have been taken on the spur of the moment because I had my camera with me.  I’ve shared a couple of stories on this blog of when

One of the things I learnt from doing multiple 365 photography projects is to have my camera with me all the time. Most of my best shots have been taken on the spur of the moment because I had my camera with me.  These are some that are ‘on the spur of the moment’ shots.

I’ve shared a couple of stories on this blog of when serendipity has played a part in my photography and what happens when I get into the moment. Doing a 365 project has also taught me to be flexible and to look at anything as a potential subject – not to get in a rut. Quite often, when I arrive at a new location (particularly when I’m travelling), I will go outside with my camera just to see what I can find, especially if the light is good! Here’s some that are results of exploring a new place.

Jason eloquently managed to put into words my processes and in reading the comments at the end of the article, I was glad to see there are others who shoot the same way!

One photographer commented that “strange things in the universe frequently interrupt my photography” and that when she is in a group of photographers, she is the person who is looking for or at something completely different. Absolutely, that’s normally me too – looking at the smaller details like the shapes, textures, lines and shadows, looking for how all those things connect to tell a story of the place.

If you look at the front page of this blog, you’ll see some “Happiness Resolutions”. After reading this article, I see now that not only are these Happiness Resolutions my guides in looking for Everyday Delights but also for the way I look at my photography, particularly these ones:

  • Be observant
  • Showcase the local “local is lekker” which currently South African
  • Be in the moment (enjoy now)

And these from my original 2015 100 Happy Days project

  • Create something
  • Bless each new day
  • Notice the colour purple. Why? Because it’s my favourite colour!
  • Give thanks for the ordinary and the extraordinary

So what now?

Thanks to this article, now when people say to me, “what kind of photographer are you“, instead of sounding like a bumbling idiot (because I’m not a wedding photographer or a landscape photographer), I can confidently say “I am a holistic photographer!” – how exciting!

That should be a conversation starter!

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