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Friday, July 14, 2006

Half Sympathetic

There are several interesting discussions in the various web forums about "nonphotography day"—a proposal by Becca Bland from Brighton, England that we take July 17 as a vacation from photography, and concentrate instead on appreciating the moment instead of trying to capture it for posterity.

As a photographer with kids, I’ve often been torn between wanting to photograph that jazz band performance and wanting to just listen, or to just cheer my kids on when they run cross-country instead of make photographs of them. As a result, I’m more than half sympathetic to Ms. Bland’s point of view.

On the other hand, as a landscape photographer, I think I’m rarely as engaged with the world around me as when I’m out and about with the camera, particularly since I’m the sort of photographer who likes to visit the same spots over and over and over.

BBC news article

The official ‘nonphotography day’ website

Posted by PAUL BUTZI


Blogger Max said...

Paul, I find the difference you pointed at extremely interesting. I do feel the same about landscape photography. Having the camera almost increases my attention and perception. But there's no worries about the camera (except it being handy), untill the picture is seen.
On the other side, when you're trying to document a changing event, especially people, the attitude is much more proactive, almost like a hunter. It's less relaxed, for sure.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Impasse Lebouis said...

Here's copy of an email I send to


I will gladly celebrate photography on July 17th. I will make a special effort to use my camera all day long.

You see, photography is not just about documenting, it's about expressing one's vision.

There have never been so many treats to free speech as there are today in this world. So on July 17th, I'm expressing myself with a camera.

Thank you


4:45 PM  
Blogger wanpakboy said...

Im sorry miss Becca Bland [sic] but july 17 is already taken. Its a national holiday here in japan. Umi no hi or Sea day. As much of an idiotic idea it was in the first place Im afraid I will have to abstain from observing on the grounds that its best not to try to do too many holidays at once.

7:44 AM  
Blogger robert said...

Hey there.

Having read the "info" page on the Bland girl's website, it seems she thought up this as a reaction to lots of really bad photos that fellow "travellers" showed her in Thailand. Now having seen many such photos I agree with her to a point - and it's a small point. These people who take all these awful photographs without really thinking should not bother and would be better served by concentrating on enjoying the place, rather than waste all their time taking awful photographs that they will then proceed to bore the hell out of anyone they meet on their return to their hometowns.

Personally I think that her belief that everyone with a camera is guilty of this is heavily flawed and betrays the classic teenage position of knowing it all. She has read a few books on zen buddhism and hung out on a beach in Thailand and believes that she has understood some great secret. Bless her. I mean she's only young and we have to give her credit for trying at least to open people's eyes to the beauty of the world.

But to be righteously told by some reactionary young lass, who probably juggles, that I should not use my camera so as to better appreciate my surroundings is a little annoying. I find the world a beautiful place and I attempt, and often succeed, to capture that in my photography. I am aware thank you.

National holiday in Japan ?

I wonder if Ms Bland believes Hiroshi Sugimoto could get closer to enlightenment if he would only read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and just stop frantically snapping all those seascapes...?


10:11 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I find that I become more aware of sounds and smells when out with my camera---or when out and about, thinking in a photo-taking mode. Very peculiar.

It is true, I think, that this is connected with the urge to record, or to use, those sights/sounds/smells.

But from a Zen or at least Buddhist point of view, there's nothing wrong with that, so long as you can let go.

(And, of course, your monkey mind leaps on to the next experience, grasping it like a tourist grasping a snapshot. And so it goes.)

7:07 AM  
Blogger wanpakboy said...

Mis Bland quotes the following.
‘The thing is there before our eyes, for it refuses to be ignored; but when we endeavour to grasp it within our own hands in order to examine it more closely or systematically, it eludes us and we lose it’s track’

D.T Suzuki- Essays in Zen Buddhism...

BTW Im a Zen Buddhist
Totaly missing the point and or non applicable. as a photographer we are not capturing our subjects, those who try will meet only failure I think Diane Arbus said it much more eloquently. we are creating something with its own substance, properties and its own life (if we are lucky). Thats why most flower photos are so bad, the photographer is often competing with something so beautiful. The viewer compairs the two and the photo is found wanting. Then there is the likes of Imogen Cunningham.
and Robert, Touche! yes Sugimoto is obviously trying to capture the ocean and is so completely deluded. I will make sure he gets a copy of that book ;)

7:33 AM  

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