On Learning Photography: The Terrors and Pleasures of Instagram

SF MOMA by David Ulrich

  “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” — Anais Nïn I recently joined Instagram to promote my upcoming book, Zen Camera: Creative Awakening with a Daily Practice in Photography, and am struck by the incredible variety, range of quality, and diversity of content found within its digital realm. Everyone is a photographer. As I browse the platform, it is increasingly clear to me […]

Creativity and Zen

Escalante Falls, UT © David Ulrich

Creativity and Zen practice are deeply allied. They are both ways of life and are not just something you do. Rather, they are related to what you are—how you live your life, and on what kind of values you bestow meaning and importance. Creativity and Zen are pathways that can help make us whole and help us become more present, awake, and alive. Many artists intuitively grasp the necessity for […]

Earth Day and the Living Planet

The Social Conscience of Memory For those of us who were alive before the 70’s, we must remember. And in doing so, poignantly remind others, speak out tirelessly about our experience of the scarred earth that is forever blazed in our minds and likely still lodged in our bodies, and advocate strongly for mother earth to anyone who will listen — our elected representatives, corporate leaders, and the masses enamored […]

Zen Camera: Seeing and the Five Visual Elements of Photography

The Paradox of Permanence © Alison Beste

Each of us has in our possession a powerful and time-honored way of knowing about the world. Observation, direct perception in the present moment, teaches us about ourselves and others and helps us interpret the many dynamics that surround us. It shapes our response to the world and forms the basis for both knowledge and action. In one’s way of seeing lies one’s way of action. —Alfred Stieglitz, photographer Both […]

Photography for Social Change

Nickel Tailings, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada © Edward Burtynsky

After the election of November 8, 2016, a healthy majority of Americans feel fear and despair over the impending erosion of our constitutional liberties, the potentially shattering setbacks for our hard-won civil rights, and the likely acceleration of environmental catastrophe. Many people are asking where are we heading? What have we done? And the most important question: What can we do to avert the potential consequences of social and environmental […]

Photography in Hawai‘i: Part Two

Alison Beste, from the series: Oil Tanker SunsetsAlison Beste, from the series: Oil Tanker Sunsets

In a previous post, I wrote about accomplished photographers from elsewhere who have created bodies of work in Hawai‘i. Now I have the privilege—and the much harder to task—to write about photographers who live and work here as part of the island’s vibrant photographic community. I must disclose that I am one of those photographers and many of the others are old friends and colleagues. What I have to say […]

In Focus: Self Discovery through Photography and Art

© David Ulrich© David Ulrich

Why is art necessary? Apart from the obvious social, political, and historical functions of art, how does it serve the maker? What benefits are available from the practice of making something? Now, please remember, all of you are artists in some way or in some fashion — or can be. Many of you carry cell phones or have laptops or writing implements and voices that can sing as wells bodies […]

Photography in Hawai‘i: Part One

Richard Misrach, On the Beach book cover

During the film era, Kodak announced that more film was shot in Hawai‘i than any other state. Recently, the Improve Photography website reveals that Hawai‘i has the second most active photographic community in the country. And the State film office lists over 225 motion picture films made in Hawai‘i during the twentieth and early twenty first centuries. What makes Hawai‘i such a compelling and sought-out location for photographers and filmmakers? The […]