Don't hesitate, create!

 green background statue

Don't you just love Spring? Finally little green sprouts are appearing, the days are longer, and nature invites us once again to come out and play. This Sunday is Earth Day. Why not spend some time paying attention to the beauty of the earth. That might be in your own back yard, or if you can, make time to take a walk. And of course, walk very very slowly. Now and then, just stop. Be very still and focus on your breath.  Watch the way the light dances on the leaves, or the way the surface of the water shivers at the touch of a breeze.

This practice is good for your heart and soul. Hand your camera over to your curious soul and see what images are created. Your creative self has been waiting for Spring your entire life. Don't hesitate, create something of beauty to express your love of nature. Bringing some mindfulness and creativity into your photography is the surest path to deeper satisfaction.  And if you want to join us, there will be a Flow-tography workshop to celebrate Earth Day on Sunday April 22. See the program description under contemplative classes. Love to see you there! Suzanne

Don't forget to follow me on instagram curious soul photo school and I will follow you too. Have a great weekend!

Why do you love photography?

petals on the ground.jpg

Last weekend in Chinatown one of the participants in the street photography class asked me an important question. Or actually he was asking himself. “Why am I spending my Saturday morning out here taking pictures?”   I could only answer by telling him why I take pictures.

To deepen my experience of life and feel more alive. To slow me down and help me notice what I might otherwise miss. My life is richer and more interesting because of photography. And I always learn something about my self in the process. “Exactly.” he said and headed down the street.

Today when preparing this post, I remembered I had illustrated a nice page in my book Flow-tography about why I practiced this particular form of photography. I thought I would share those reasons with you today along with an image I feel was created from within the flow state.

Ill be leading a Flow-tography workshop on Earth Day April 22nd. You if you want to join us and explore why you love photography. Understanding this is the first step toward developing your own style and visual voice. We will explore the 8 Universal Archetypes of Beauty. If you can't make the workshop you can still get the book. See details on the website.

  1. Makes me slow down to be intensely present
  2. Connects me more deeply to my life
  3. Brings me into tune with the infinite
  4. Offers me life lessons
  5. I feel more joy and less fear
  6. I appreciate something of Beauty daily
  7. Helps me remember small moments
  8. Makes me feel happy and energized
  9. Brings me a sense of wholeness
  10. It is FUN
  11. Encourages spiritual growth
  12. Inspires my creativity

I am Curious, Why do you love photography? Leave a comment and let me know.

The Next Move

 © SUZANNE MERRITT CURIOUS SOUL PHOTO SCHOOL

WE are headed to Chinatown this morning for our photo class on street photography. One of skills we will work on is moving into a spot where all the elements of the scene come together. In this moment, I loved the way the light was striking the face of the man as he considered his next move. And I was lucky to catch that small bit of red in the sea of black. 

Street photography requires that you watch and wait so you are ready when your subject makes a move. It is fun to read the scene and anticipate what might happen next. And best shots are usually the ones you did not plan at all, but happen to capture because you were in the right spot at the right time.

ready, set, go dog go

Dogs in Snow

While I am longing for spring, waiting for the first buds and bright colors, there are some among us who know better. They know that today is a day to play in the snow. To romp and run, jump and roll. Ready, set, go dog go. Soon enough the snow covered field with be grassy and green. And guess what, these three will play just the same on that sunny day.  It was a good reminder to me that it is my attitude, not the weather that determines what I make of the day.

To take this photo I set my white balance on 6200k so the snow would not be blue. I used a fast shutter speed 1/700 to catch the action  and then I moved around to all sides of the trio until I had a nice clean background.

Wizard of Oz in Boston

Sometimes there is the promise of snow, the possibility that Boston will be transformed overnight. This week the promise was kept. And I was ready. Batteries charged, boots by the door, alarm clock set. I thought I was ready, until I actually stepped outside. It was impossible to prepare for what Boston looked like completely coated in white.

Every branch, bench and brick was now candy coated. It was like stepping out into a black and white movie. Like that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door and the film goes from black and white to color, but the opposite.

 At first I was so excited by the scene I just just started snapping away for fear that it would all vanish any moment. The wind might pick and knock the snow off the trees.  Eventually I realized that the snow was here to stay so I could slow down and be more relaxed. That shift made all the difference.  Instead of taking photos, I was giving attention and enjoying the moment that ended up out lasted my batteries. 

To see the world in a grain of sand...

 To see the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour. Blake

To see the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour. Blake

One of the fastest ways to improve your photography is to slow down. The slower you go, the more deeply you can connect to your subject. It is this deep connection that creates images that feel satisfying and fresh.  Try this simple practice and before you begin snapping away. Simply take three slow, deep breaths and just stand very still. Then see what shows up for you to focus on. It may be something small and unexpected and wonderful.

I will be leading a macro class in Boston on Saturday March 17th from 10:00 to 12:30.  See details and sample photos on my website under classes/creative seeing. Love to have you join us.

I Believe in Beauty

I believe in Beauty. That it can save the world, change a mood, open a heart in an instant.  It lives in the small moments.  I judge beauty only by the the extent to which it makes me feel alive, connected and curious. Beauty is why I create photographs. When beauty calls, I respond with an image.  Life constantly surprises me with the forms of beauty it offers, unexpectedly, continuously, quietly, like secret notes being passed from the world to my soul. These moment enter my heart and live forever.

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Ghost Ship

 Ghost Ship

Ghost Ship

Right now I am in the San Francisco area enjoying some spectacular weather. Yesterday we took a day trip to the SF delta and had an inspiring day photographing the unusual landscape full of twisting, turning waterways, bridges and small towns. My memory cards were nearly full, and batteries almost empty.

Just as we were pulling out of the parking lot to head home, this ship appeared on the far side of the river. It must have been there all along, but I did not see it before.  It seemed to glow in the light as day turned to dusk. This was a stop the car moment, no doubt about it.

As suddenly as it had appeared, it was gone. The light changed and the moment passed. The lesson I learned, don't hesitate. When something magical appears before your eyes, believe it is meant for you to capture and share if you can. This is my favorite image of the day. Good thing I had not put my camera away.

It's a mystery.

 Charles River Fog Lifting

Charles River Fog Lifting

This Tuesday, when I had so much work to do updating the website, writing new workshop descriptions, following up on critiques of past classes, the last thing I needed to do was spend the morning  roaming around Boston in the fog. But I could not help myself. When I woke up and saw a whole lot of NOTHING out my kitchen window, I knew I had to get out there as soon as possible. I headed out into the fog and wandered until I came to edge of  Charles River. This familiar spot seemed entirely new to me. The fog made the familiar strange and full of possibility.

Once I got my settings right, that is remembered to over expose by 2 stops, (the camera thinks the scene is brighter than it is with fog or snow)  and use manual focus (the camera can't focus on fog). I started to really enjoy what I was seeing and not seeing. There were stories everywhere I looked. So I had to stop, take a step back and ask myself, what story wants to be told today, about this moment this place, by me? What is the mood or feeling I am experiencing. What I love about fog, is the way it does not allow us to see everything clearly. It creates an experience of mystery for me. I hope I have captured that experience in this image for you.

I’m curious… what story do you see?

Inner stance of a photographer

 Reflect Inner and outer state of being

Reflect Inner and outer state of being

One of my biggest challenges is to be open to what shows up on any given day as the perfect experience for me to photograph. If I hope for a sunny day and rain comes, I try to see the reflections on  the pavement, the patterns on the surfaces around me. If I plan to do some macro photography of flowers and the wind picks up, then I have to sift my attention to the movement of the colors and be happy with the dance. 

I have learned and relearned many times to find the gift in the unexpected, under appreciated, disruptions that get in the way of my plans. Leading photography walks in Boston this is especially true. I can't control the weather but I can control how I respond to it. We always have a great time and learn something new if we are flexible.

Next time things are not going your way, imagine you can flip a switch inside your self that sifts your inner stance. Pretend for a moment that what is getting IN your way is actually helping you ON your way. See if you can photograph the disruption and appreciate what it helps you discover about your self and your world.

Wishing You Magical Moments of Beauty

 Snow Shower

Snow Shower

This week we had an epic snow storm followed by bitter cold. So it would be wise to stay inside by the fire and sip sweet hot coco. But being photographers, the crisp, clear light and the possibility of something unnamed calls us all to come out. Out to explore, to see something fresh and feel really alive.

As I walked through the dark, silent woods near my childhood home, I suddenly stepped out into a clearing. And in that exact instant the sun broke through the clouds and lit up the scene. Time stood still, the cold did not matter and I felt a kind of excitement and joy flow through my heart. I resisted the temptation to start shooting. I just stood perfectly still, slowed my breath, and relaxed into being and seeing.  The sun began to darken. I sensed the door was closing.  Staying as still as possible I raised my camera and clicked. 

AS I walked home I realized, this is why I teach photography. I simply try to create the possibility that each of you will have more experiences of beauty and magic. It does not matter if you get the exposure right, or if your composition is perfect. What matters is the magic of the moment you fall in love with life.

I'm Curious, Have you ever had an experience like this, where time stood still? Love to hear about it. Suzanne

Disappointment

 Lifeguard Chair

Lifeguard Chair

Have you ever felt really excited about your photography while you are in the middle of taking the photos only to feel disappointed when you get home and look at them? Sometimes we have an imagined image in our minds eye. We think we captured something special in the moment, but later it seems boring. It is not unusual to feel this way. I remember having the same feeling when we would shoot with film and send the roll of 36 away to be processed. The pack would come back in the mail and I would shuffle through the deck only to find two or three that were interesting. 

Now  in a day shooting digital I might have 200 photos to look through and find two or three I feel satisfied with. But there is another step you can take if you really want to learn how to take better pictures. After you find 2 or 3 you are happy with, also find 2 or 3 that you are disappointed with. Now try to be specific about what you thought you captured and why this image is not really working. What would you do differently if you could do it over? Would you get closer? Shoot from a different angle? Change your depth of field? Imagining how to make it better will help you next time you are in a similar situation. So look at an image that disappoints you and imagine what it would take to delight you.

Photography as a creative act.

 WALK SLOWLY ALONG A LINE OF TREES AT NIGHT. THEY MAKE GOOD COMPANY AND SHARE SECRETS IF YOU ARE LISTENING.

WALK SLOWLY ALONG A LINE OF TREES AT NIGHT. THEY MAKE GOOD COMPANY AND SHARE SECRETS IF YOU ARE LISTENING.

As a photographer, you can use visual language to express the essence of an experience. Just like a poet who combines the verbs,adjectives and nouns in a certain way to evoke a knowing, and awareness of our inner experience of a moment, we use color, light, texture, combined (composed) in a particular way to express the experience we have and want to translate into a photograph.

As said Robert Henri said in The Art Spirit, "Do not paint the night, paint the feeling of the night." And this is true with your photography, you do not photograph night, you photograph those things that evoke  the feeling of the night. I did a series of trees at night and had the revelation that they have a whole other live at night, one we do not see. That is what I wanted to photograph. I stood there in the dark with them and wondered what was it like to BE a tree in the night. Only when I FELT a connection to the trees did I click the shutter. If you don't connect, don't click.

Photography is a creative act of discovery, transformation and revelation when we are fully present to what we encounter.  Summer is the perfect time to stay out after dark and discover how to capture the feeling of the night.  Give it a try. I would love to see some of your night photos.

Letting go of expectations

I just returned from leading a three day Curious Soul Photo School Retreat. It was the Spring Retreat and I had lots of expectations. I expected there to be a beautiful sunrise each morningso we could capture soft dawn light, but we had fog and rain and snow. I expected to take the group on long, slow walks along the beach relaxing to the sound of the sea. Instead we had to scurry out and shoot what we could whenever there was a break in the wild gusting winds.

Nothing went quite as I had planned. Instead, it was more wonderful than I could have imagined. The group created magical, mystical, moody images. We spent long hours by the fire looking at our photos quietly discussing our work as the storm raged outside. We relaxed deeply with guided meditations and enjoyed just being in the company of others who love photography, beauty and creativity.  

I plan to organized a Summer Retreat so will let you know when and where. For now, see if you can drop an expectation next time you take your camera out for a walk. You may be surprised what beauty comes your way when you least expect it.

Wareham MA. Spring Curious Soul Retreat 2016 Walk on the Beach.

Abandoned

You just never know what you will find while out for a walk. I started to notice how much furniture is abandoned out on the streets of Boston. With little effort you could furnish your apartment. But there is some strange sad feeling that comes up for me when I see furniture out on the street. I am not sure if it is because it feels like we are providing furniture for the homeless who sleep on park benches or under cardboard boxes in alleys and doorways. Or something else. I just know I always feel compelled to photograph these furnishings. If I figure out why I will let you know. 

 You never know what you're going to see so have your camera ready.  

You never know what you're going to see so have your camera ready.