I started photography as a child and this elephant was one of my first sharp photos. The whole purpose of photography seemed obvious to me: it was to capture images of objects.
After the animals at the zoo came people, landscapes, churches, places around the world, flowers, birds, butterflies and much more. As the years passed and both technology and skill developed, it became possible to photograph what was previously impossible, like tiny beetles or dragonflies in flight. But what had not changed was that almost all of the tens of thousands of photos were of objects. However, just a few had a contemplative feel and a selection of these is shown on the Other Galleries page.
This began to change when in 2012 I attended two contemplative photography days at Hawkwood College in Gloucestershire.
Although continuing to take conventional photos, I understood how contemplative photography was a completely different way of seeing and wished to learn more. This led to me contacting Hèlen Vink, and going on her Miksang courses a few years later.
I never owned a camera or took a photograph until deciding to study Miksang in 2017. Richard took beautiful photos of all the amazing places we visited – landscapes, birds, animals, architecture. So there seemed no reason for me to try to do the same. But when Richard showed me one of Hèlen’s blogs, her description of using Miksang as a way of ‘clear seeing’ resonated with me and I saw the connection with the spiritual path that I was following. Previously, my spiritual teacher, Rupert Spira, had said to me ‘can’t you find something more creative to do with your time?’ I immediately felt that Miksang was a possibility. The later stages of Rupert’s teaching involve expressing, sharing and celebrating one’s deepest love and understanding with others. Miksang is a perfect way of doing that for one who has never developed other artistic skills. In comparison with other art forms such as painting, sculpture, or music, the level of technical skill required is minimal, using today’s digital camera equipment. And Miksang has the added advantage that it is based on ‘true perception’ of the world around us, before the mind leaps in with judgements and analysis of what is seen. In that regard it is very similar to Rupert’s teaching:
“It is our exclusive interest in objects that gives them their apparently independent reality. When attention shifts from the seen object to pure seeing, the apparently separate reality of the object disappears and its true reality – the light of pure Knowing – shines.” (Rupert Spira)
When we mentioned our intention of going on a Miksang course to Rupert, he turned to me and said ‘it would be very good for you’. It has indeed changed my habitual way of seeing the world and provided a means of expressing that fresh and heartfelt seeing.
“Relaxing in the discipline of clear seeing, pure perception and pure photographic expression, opens up the magical world of the unexpected beauty of the mundane.” (Chögyam Trungpa)
The basic equipment you need for Miksang is an adjustable camera with a zoom lens; ultra-wide, long telephoto, macro and prime lenses are not relevant. This rules out phones, although there will be some flashes of perception that they can capture. It is helpful if the equipment is small and light, so that you are more likely to carry it with you, and also so that it is as unobtrusive as possible. This makes medium format and full frame cameras and lenses less suitable.
We use Olympus cameras and lenses, which are easy to use and give excellent image quality:
Richard: Olympus E-M1 II with 12-100mm f/4 lens.
Jenny: Olympus E-M1 with 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II lens.
Alternative/backup very portable camera: Olympus Pen-F with Panasonic 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
(Multiply these focal lengths by 2 to get the 35mm or FF equivalent field of view.)