Artist and creative individuals frequently talk about the experience of losing themselves in the work at hand, being fully in tune with the process, with the heighten sense of being completely focused – often emerging hours later as if in a trance. I know this from myself, and I also know that whenever I emerge from such a trance like state of mind after having worked hard during a photo session, I have been able to capture some great images. I can’t say which picture is going to be the good one – as some photographers immediately are able to – but I know that within the batch of photos from the shoot there is bound to be some goods one. This trance like state of mind, when I lose myself, is for me the ultimate level of creativity, when everything can happen and I am not bound by my own preconceived ideas or thoughts.
I often think of it as being in a tunnel, where all kinds of things can happen when I am in this tunnel until I finally emerge onto the other side. I wrote about this in the post «Tunnel Vision» quite some time ago. And it does resemble some of the ideas I wrote about the contemplative approach to photography in the post «Different Perspective», where I stated that contemplative photography in essence is about how to fully connect with the visual richness of our ordinary, daily experience.
Thus there is a duality to this process. It’s two worlds coming together – the outside world and the inside world. We perceive and react to what we see, and then bring our inner self and spirit into the equation, almost as if in a dialectic process. In this very concentrated process we focus deeply on a single task, and at the same time something opens, deepens and widens. We are fully absorbed and present to the activity and the moment, to the exclusion of other elements in our lives. But we are also equally attentive to ourselves; our responses, our impulses, and our creative interaction with the medium.
The late and great photographer Henry Cartier-Bresson has aptly described photographic seeing as having one eye turned outward and one eye turned inward. When the two images converge, that’s the moment for capturing the photograph. In his acclaimed book «The Decisive Moment» he writes: I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us, but which can also be affected by us. A balance must be established between the two worlds – the one inside of us and the one outside of us. As a result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. And it is this world that we must communicate.