a photo study: contemplative photography X – simplicity

Life seems to invite periods of time in which I think, “I’ve been here before.”  For example, my first readings about contemplative photography occurred about 6-7 years ago.  Even though this genre resonated with me, I chose to put it aside as there was limited resources on the internet and what training programs I was able to find were a bit outside of my financial resources.   

In June of this year, I began to explore contemplative photography as part of this A Photo Study project.  Today, this 12th posting of contemplative photography has been motivated by A Karr and M Wood’s discussion of “simplicity” within their book, The Practice of Contemplative Photography  What I find interesting is that the January, 2018,  blog of this project was, A Photo Study: Simplification and Negative Space, which was inspired by one of Ted Forbes’ composition videos.


Even though life seems to move in a linear progression from birth to death; at times like this I find myself wondering if there are periods of time in which there are episodes of circular movements within one’s life journey in which we are “presently” invited to pause and reflect upon our “past”  before time nudges us into a new present, our future.  

Well, I think I’ve digressed from this week’s photo study, simplicity.  Karr and Wood note that their simplicity exercise is to open us to the relationship between form and space, to open ourselves to the experience of simplicity without seeking an external validation of our concept of simplicity.

Space intensifies the experience of form, and simple form intensifies the experience of space.  … Simplicity and space are aspects of our perception. Visual space can be produced by a red wall, a length of gray fabric…a smooth beach…a backdrop of dark shadows, gray pavement…sky..  An object seen seen against any unadorned expanse will be surrounded by visual space. 

Their definition of space brings to mind the post, Negative Space,  in which I wrote:

In photography negative space is perhaps the most important element as it embraces the subject within your image — the element of interest — helping it stand out and inviting the viewer’s attention.  It is the aspect within a photograph that generally doesn’t attract much attention.  It is sometimes referred to as white space and has the potential to change what appears to be an average subject into an outstanding image

For this exercise, Kerr and Wood encourage a point of departure in which our intention should be to recognize perception where form and space produce strong contrasts—where the experience of form is weighted because of the space around it.   …to look at one thing at a time.  Look at objects and also look at their environment.  Don’t hurry. Proceed in a relaxed way that allow you to see the space around things, not just the things themselves.

The first series of the images in the slideshow below are of a couple of photo walks directed by my understanding, thus far, of contemplative photography especially in regards to flash of perspective, visual discernment, and forming the equivalent, comparable to what I perceived—nothing more, nothing less.  


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The second series of images in the slide show below are part of the images I created as part of the simplification and negative space blogs posted earlier this year.  These images, I believe, were created by a natural inclination towards flash of perspectives, visual discernment, and a bit of digital darkroom creative exploration.  


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I enjoy the creative playgrounds offered by Photoshop, Capture One, and Nik.  Am looking forward to a comparison of images you created in repose to the earlier blogs on simplification and negative space with those of simplicity as defined within contemplative photography.  Please tag with #aphotostudy. 

2 replies to “a photo study: contemplative photography X – simplicity

  1. Your second set of images, in particular, are fascinating. These subtle “slivers” of life are wonderful! Very Zen! Your mind imagines the “whole,” while seeing just a small sliver of it.

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