To advertise my upcoming workshops, I wanna share some thoughts on walking meditation in the context of street photography:
Ignore ERIC KIM
First of all, don’t listen to me. I’m not a zen monk. I’m a blood thirsty American capitalist who is re-appropriating Japanese culture for my own selfish needs.
Like any good American, I love buying shit. I have consumerism in my blood.
And like any human being I want to be “happy”. And I have spent a lot of time looking to how to be “happy”.
Obviously I still don’t know the answer, but I’m getting closer.
Step I. Reduce stress
The first step: reduce stress.
Stress sucks. Many people die from stress related health problems.
I see street photography and walking as a form of “walking meditation”– the more I walk, the less stress I feel. And the less stress I feel, the less shitty of a person I am to others. And the more I have a reason to live.
Assignment: Walk the streets for an hour, and turn off your phone. Walk slower than you normally do. Take off your headphones. Soak in the street noises, smells, and pay attention to the little mini-dramas happening on the streets. Photograph whatever interests you, without prejudice.
Step II. Don’t eat before
For me, if I want a good “walking meditation” session, I don’t like to eat beforehand. Why? Because when I eat, I feel full and bloated, and have no incentive to move. Rather, I like a small bit of hunger — to stimulate my movement.
And no, human beings are not cars. We do not need to fill up gasoline in our tank to run. Humans are complex organic creatures, that can operate just fine without eating something beforehand. Even the concept of a morning 7am “breakfast” is a modern concept– that has been around for 300 years, since the royal aristocratic families of England, who wanted another meal to assuage their boredom.
Assignment: Before doing street photography walking meditation, just have a cup of black coffee or tea to get your blood flowing. And if you want to make good street photos, always go a little hungry. Treat yourself like a hungry tiger– keen, sharp, and aware of the environment.
Step III. Enjoy the walk
You don’t walk to exercise. You walk to enjoy the walk.
You walk to let your mind wander. Even now, I try not to listen to music when walking. Because it prevents me from letting my curiosity lead me down unknown paths.
The biggest problem we have in photography: we no longer pay attention to the outside world. We are all addicted to 5 inch colorful and bright screens which take us away from “reality”. Trust me, I’m plugged into the matrix as much as anyone else. But certainly spending more time with my phone off or in airplane mode has helped me regain some of my visual curiosity in photography.
Assignment: Allow yourself to get bored. Keep your phone in airplane mode more. When you’re bored, embrace it. Allow your eyes to wander. When I’m at dinner with Cindy and she goes to the toilet, I used to take out my phone or iPad to read something. Now I stand up, stretch and wander the restaurant. I look at the interior decor, and people watch other couples– both looking at their phones. I have thoughts on society and people.
I am starting to think of photography as a tool for self-reflection, meditation, and Zen bliss.
Above all, know that your life is short. Why waste it being stressed and feeling shitty?
A true Zen Photographer shoots without any obstructions, without any pride, and without any concerns or stress. A true Zen Street Photographer follows their intuition, and isn’t led by convention– but rather by their own heart and soul.
Enjoy the walk.