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Lions Roar : November 2016
THERE ARE TWO WAYS of seeing, and they perceive different types of objects. For simplicity’s sake, let’s call these sen- sory seeing and conceptual seeing. Sensory seeing perceives things that appear to our senses, and conceptual seeing perceives things that appear to the mind’s eye. Here’s an example. You go into a restaurant for dinner and sit at a table by yourself. Instead of taking out your phone or a book, you look around at the other customers. You might see an old ANDY KARR is coauthor, with Michael Wood, of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes. couple with their granddaughter sitting in a booth, a good-looking young man at a far table, and three expensively dressed women dining together near you. Sensory seeing takes in the colors and textures of the environment—the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and so on. All the rest of your experience is conceptual. You don’t see “grandparents” and “grand- children,” only the visible forms of three people. “Good looking” and “expensively dressed” are not visible to the eye; they appear only to the thinking mind. Sometimes we are completely engrossed in the conceptual realm and notice nothing of the sensory environment. At other times, we are thought-free and fully absorbed in sensory experience. Mostly the two are blended together and we are unclear about what we are actually experiencing. We don’t distinguish sensory objects from the things we think about, and this obscures our experience of the richness and natural beauty of the sensory world. Contemplative photography trains you to see the world in fresh ways by distinguishing the sensory from the con- ceptual. It is a practice that brings out your natural ability to see clearly. It is also trains you to express what you see photographically. Both clear seeing and ILLUSTRATIONSBYCAROLEHÉNAFF HOW TO PRACTICE Contemplative Photography Contemplative photography is about more than taking pictures, says ANDY KARR. It’s about fully connecting with the visual richness of our lives. LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2016 29 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE