I'm into my third week at an ashram in the south Indian state of Kerala. My days are consisting of meditation, reading Osho, practicing Kalarypiyattu (south Indian martial art) and receiving Ayurvedic massage treatments. Its been a much needed and well deserved break from life from photo life in Bombay.
Needless to say, I've had much time to think, or shall I say 'not think.'
As you photographers out there may have noticed, I rarely mention anything technical about photography on my blog. I don't talk about the latest camera, or which lenses I prefer or which strobes are better than others. There's so much of that info out there that's being articulated (and in most ways better than i could articulate). I receive many emails relating specifically to what gear I use and though i don't mind answering, I think there's better questions.
When I look at how much energy and time is spent on photography in my life, I realize that very little of it is spent taking pictures. Taking pictures is the tip of the iceberg, its what everyone sees and judges you by. But like an iceberg, so much lies below and ALL that lies below is used to create the buoyancy for that little chunk above.
Bringing a meditative approach to these 'hidden' interconnected aspects of your craft help immensely and soon you realize that its not just how you take photos but how you walk, eat, spend time with family...because EVERYTHING in life is interconnected. By 'meditative' I mean centered, unshakable within yourself. Its the place where the mind serves YOU, not the other way around which is often the case.
The mind cannot live in the present moment. It lives only in the past or future. It is either thinking about something that happened already or its anticipating some event. The present moment belongs to something beyond the mind.
Sometimes artists and athletes talk about the 'zone.' This is the place of pure awareness, of 'no-mind.' There is no past or future, you're not thinking, you're not doing... you've become.
Its a great place to be when you're shooting. Clients can feel it. Your talent will feel it. Its magic.
But what about when you're not shooting?
Being centered (in awareness) is invaluable when dealing with the difficult client who feels they need to change elements of your contract halfway through a shoot, or decides to take a few months to pay you. Being centered helps you deal with the spoilt model who won't take direction. Being centered helps you when your phone hasn't rung for a month.
Being centered saves you from yourself.
The key is awareness and awareness brings perspective and equanimity. 'Equanimity' is meeting life as it meets you...with grace. Its also understanding that everything is in a state of flux and change, all things shall pass and fortunes can reverse suddenly. Clinging to the ups and down of life can make us ill and ineffective, it creates havoc in your personal life and it becomes harder to make clear decisions.
Meditation is the process of moving beyond 'mind' to a state of pure awareness. It is in this space of awareness, without the doubts and fears and chatter that the mind continuously generates, that we can begin to tap in and manifest what it is we truly want in our lives.
From one photographer to another (or to anyone really) I recommend meditation and centeredness along with your new 5D and I think some time spent with conscious breath would go great with that 24-70.
Learning more about yourself, discovering aspects of your personality, mining the depths of your soul and turning the strobe on your shadows are as fundamental to being a great photographer as any equipment you buy.
Now THIS is the stuff i like talking about!