For many people, photography serves as a form of meditation; a way to separate themselves from their stressful lives. In this book, Torsten Andreas Hoffmann explores an approach to artistic photography based on Japanese Zen-Philosophy. Meditation and photography have much in common: both are based in the present moment, both require complete focus, and both are most successful when the mind is free from distracting thoughts. Hoffman shows how meditation can lead to the source of inspiration.
Hoffman’s impressive images of landscapes, cities, people, and nature, as well as his smart image analysis and suggestions about the artistic process, will help you understand this approach to photography without abandoning the principles of design necessary to achieve great images. Photographing busy scenes, especially, requires an inner calm that enables you to have intuition for the right moment and compose a well-balanced image amidst the chaos.
The goal of this book is to develop your photographic expression. It provides enrichment for photographers who believe that only technical mastery produces great images and shows how important it is to engage with your own awareness to act creatively.
Torsten Andreas Hoffmann
8 x 10in
Gloria September 12, 2020
How fun to read a book about the philosophy of photography instead of just how-to. It’s great to stop and think about what we’re doing when we take a photo. Hoffman points out right away that, with the advent of digital photography, so many photographs are taken with little thought. That’s for sure, and I am guilty of that much of the time. The author’s goal in this book is to show us how to use photography as an expression of our own personalities. A worthy goal, and a book worth reading! The first couple of chapters talk about meditation itself, specifically Zen meditation. The author is quick to assure us that he does not insist on everybody practicing meditation in order to be a photographer but he does explain what it is about meditation that can help us be more authentic photographers. I enjoyed this section because mindfulness is certainly a popular modern concept and here we learn how to better achieve it. I often find that photography itself becomes a kind of mindfulness.
Hoffman poses an interesting question: can photography be as immediate and meaningful as our actual life? In other words, if we photograph an event or a scene, are we missing the experience of it? I have actually been told that this is the case, so I read this chapter with interest. I won’t ruin the surprise:)
The chapter in titled “Studium and punctum” really had me curious! Studium is what draws you to a photograph, the elements of the image. Punctum, the author says, is “the element in the image that shoots out of the context of the image like an arrow in pierces the viewer.” Wow. Helpfully, Hoffmann gives us several studies in photographs in this chapter to explain what punctum is. I think we all hope to have it in our best work.
Toward the end of this compelling book is a chapter on using photography as ink paintings and I can’t wait to try it! Hoffman tells us that such ink paintings are widely thought of as an expression of Zen meditation. I love his illustrative examples of ink photography and I’m eager to try it today. One of his final chapters is on macro photography which is one area I do a lot of work in, so I was delighted to see this discussion. Macro photography, of course, forces us to pay attention to detail, and I think that’s Hoffmann’s point. I find that it also teaches us to slow down.
Hoffman concludes with a piece on how to meditate, and also, most helpfully, how to approach a photo shoot. He also shares tips on how to analyze your work once you are in front of your computer. I will definitely re-read this book and keep it in my library because it it’s not only philosophical, but also gives us concrete suggestions for more thoughtful, and therefore improved, photography.
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