Practicing yoga after attending a David duChemin seminar brought about these musings. What David was talking about, I thought, was really the yoga of photography: setting ones intent, at the outset and being true to it throughout the entire process, slowing down, trying different things especially at the risk of making mistakes, even the adage of 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, how it’s not a game (there are no winners or losers, no rules)
Beginning an asana practice, intent is set first. Intent in photography is composing the scene, the lines, light & moment, in David’s terms. The asana practice is akin to setting the aperture, exposure, leveling the camera. The mechanics of it. Seeing and balancing the contrast (color and mass in photography and in yoga, poses and counter poses, the in breath and out breath, apana and prana and all the forces that create a pose) to make it a technically “good” photograph or asana.
Before creating intent, though, is “arriving”. In yoga practice, it’s creating the space for prana to dwell, then cultivating the prana until it can express itself. In photography, sure, there’s the physically getting to the scene, but more important is the emptying of ones self so that the photographer can actually “see” what’s there, find the essence or spirit that makes them want to make a photograph in the first place. For both practices, all of the other whirlings of the mind need to cease in order to let the practice take over and do its work. Sure, yoga asanas can be done with no more intent than making it look pretty or getting a good workout, just as photographers can strive to recreate a classic photograph that everybody’s seen dozens if not hundreds or thousands of times before. But take the time to feel the moment or the timelessness, and then to translate that experience into something other people can share in. Even if their experience of it is completely different than yours was, you created something that touched them, transported them beyond the hectic quotidian.