The Magic Frame: Silence

You come home to yourself so that you can enjoy the here and now in every moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh

So, you may ask the question – what does this have to do with photography? Some may think that I have gone mad, and must be wondering why I have started to write a bit more philosophically on “The Magic Frame”.

You have to be in the moment, to really photograph well.

Typically, we drown ourselves in our own inner voices, and silence can indeed be terrifying. I am giving a short quite below, from “Silence: A Fable”, by Edgar Allan Poe. It is this fable that got me started, many years back, on the subject of silence.

And I looked upon the characters of the rock, and they were changed; –and the characters were SILENCE.

And mine eyes fell upon the countenance of the man, and his countenance was wan with terror. And, hurriedly, he raised his head from his hand, and stood forth upon the rock and listened. But there was no voice throughout the vast illimitable desert, and the characters upon the rock were SILENCE. And the man shuddered, and turned his face away, and fled afar off, in haste, so that I beheld him no more.

However, it is indeed in the silent spaces that we can do our best creative work.

When I was in Rishikesh recently, I was terribly affected by the humidity. When I returned, I discovered that I was ‘clinically dehydrated’.

On the last evening, I was sitting alone by the riverside, on the rocky part of the banks. I was fascinated by the movement of the swiftly flowing river, relatively unpolluted yet by mankind’s cruel hand. The sun was dipping over the horizon, and I was listening to the sounds of the river as it flowed over the rocks. It has been like this for millions of years and, if we don’t tamper with nature, it will be like this for an age after we are gone.

I sensed the harmony, the peace, the oneness.

All thoughts of f stops, shutter speeds, HDR technologies were banished from my mind for a few moments.

When I did decide to start taking the photographs, there was much peace within, and I was no longer acutely aware of the sweat dripping down my body.

It would have been a different case if my mind was focussed on the heat and humidity, and if I had been constantly moaning inside myself.

There is power in silence, once we allow ourselves to overcome our fear of it. 

It is in the silent spaces that we can often work best.


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