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Tao of Photography by Philippe Gross

My reflections on the fascinating book, Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing:

  1. “Don’t believe everything you think” (bumper sticker) – it is sometimes difficult to remember that we are not our thoughts and then trick ourselves into arguing our own limitations. This limits our capacity to adapt to the new and see things with a fresh perspective. (Forward)
  2. ‘In photography, receptivity is described as freedom from premeditated ideas, openness to seeing the world freshly, renouncing expectations, being immersed in the photographic moment, and sensitivity to one’s emotions’. (Part 1)
  3. ‘a photographer who works only on comfortable sunny, windless days may thereby be excluded from many other dimensions of life and, consequently, of photographic vision.’ (Part 1)
  4. “Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are “camera lies” inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a “naturalistic” medium of rendition and that striving for “naturalism” in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.” (Andreas Feininger) (Part 2)
  5. “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place … I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” (Elliott Erwitt) (Part 2)
  6. Break the habits of convention by:
    1. Expanding repertoire of photographic positions
    2. Experiment with juxtaposition of objects – see the world dance
    3. Rule breaking – write down a list of a list of all the rules we assume to be true of photography …. and break them. (Part 2)
  7. “Changing lenses causes major shifts in perception, running up and down the ratios of person-to-universe intimacy, altering sensory awareness almost as with Alice in Wonderland as she obeyed the signs that said EAT ME and DRINK ME” (Jeff Berner) (Part 2)
  8. “We look at the world and see what we have learned to believe is there. We have been conditioned to expect ….. but as photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs’. (Part III)
  9. “It is part of a photographer’s job to see more intensely than most people do. He must have and keep in him something of the receptiveness of the child who looks at the world for the first time or of the traveller who enters a strange country” Bill Brandt (Part IV)
  10. “I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new.” Ernst Haas (Part IV)

Reference list

Gross P L & Shapiro I S (2001) Tao of photography: seeing beyond seeing published in US by Ten Speed Press, Amazon Kindle [accessed 8.2.15]

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