"More than ordinary moment of existence"

12th October 2011
I've been reading a fascinating book, "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain", and ran across a quote this morning by a painter named Robert Henri that captured exactly what I've been trying to put into words:
"The object, which is back of every true work of art, is the attainment of a state of being, a state of high functioning, a more than ordinary moment of existence. In such moments activity is inevitable, and whether this activity is with brush, pen, chisel, or tongue, its result is but a by-product of the state, a trace, the footprint of the state."

I was out shooting on Sunday with my friend. He's a good photographer but, at that moment we were talking, was feeling frustrated by his "results". It was a gorgeous day - the leaves had just fallen from the trees and the areas still in shadow were filled with the first frost. My shots weren't anything spectacular yet I was in this incredible state of - I don't know how else to describe it other than to use the word - "grace" (gratitude? joy? 3-year-old?). I tried to express what I was feeling at that moment and the words just failed me. This morning I sent Mark the Henri quote saying "THIS is what I was trying to say!!"

The other thing that has been tugging at the back of my brain as I read this book is the notion that, for me, photography is really a right-brain activity. Nancy Rotenberg used this Monet quote:
"To see we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at."

Left-brain activity is all about naming. Right brain is all about perceiving shapes and lines and patterns. Nancy made the distinction between learning what is "in front of the lens" and "what is behind the lens". As I study more about photography, I've come to notice that the books and teachers that seem to help me the most are the ones who teach "what is behind the lens" (i.e., me!). And it seems to me that this is all about right brain stuff that, when I am fully in that place, puts me in a "more than ordinary moment of existence".