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On photography study - do photos 'raise awareness?'

Opening verses to landscape photography

I am very keen to get into my studies again having taken a break for a month after completing documentary level II.


Having just browsed throughs the blog of Les, the new tutor for this course, immediately I see that some of his questions and concerns are also mine. This bodes well I hope for some interesting discussion along the way. The subject of place, landscape and environment along with documentary feels to me like some of the core contextual issues and themes of my photographic career so far. In general I am keen to explore as Bruce Davidson says: 'The human condition' via the photographic medium. Somehow whenever I am aiming the camera at something or someone, I am also looking inwards. As if the lens had a dual purpose as both the objective observer as well as the subjective witness, I see myself looking at myself, and therefore at human nature as we are in the end not so different from each other. The camera therefore in my life has been a tool of self observation. It is always a deeply reflective process for me. Tied into my buddhist life as a meditation practitioner and as someone trying to live an ethical life, I see photography as an integral part of my practice. My own teacher cultivated a keen awareness in the power of good art to at least in potential 'raise awareness'. For me the raising of consciousness, not in some abstract sense, but very real and concrete ways is the fundamental drive in picking up and being bothered with the laborious and sometimes frustrating process of trying to be a photographer.


I have often felt that photography can effect people, if only you can get it in front of the right people at the right time with enough focused attention and clarity of mind, then perhaps, maybe some shifts can take place that lead us towards are greater awareness of ourselves and our environment. We are now, it seems, in the midst of a raging battle between the privileged and corporate powers who desire more of the same, creating in many cases environmental destruction, and the nature platform from which life itself depends. We have arrived I believe as do many others, at a critical point in time. Will photography lend itself to the balancing and regenerative process that needs to happen in the world? This is my desire. Photography on many occasions has had that kind of effect on me personally, and has as a consequence brought me to a place of making more concrete and decisive decisions about my life, ethically and otherwise. But then I have a trained eye and am a practitioner.


Below on a different note, working on a project with a friend to photograph paintings. Brief excerpt of video below.


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