I’ve been recently reading some Eric Kim’s ideas about Street photography as a “walking meditation” where you ease your mind and freeze time and I realized I’ve been following those principles all my life. Street photography helps me feeling less stressed out while channeling a creative impulse. When accomplishing a good photograph you feel like you have achieved your goals but you realized that the best part is while you were trying to do it.
I learned photography with the Cartier Bresson method of catching the decisive moment. His method is full of ideas about photography as a hunting and about trying to be fast to catch the perfect photo. Now I think it all comes better when I am more focused, calmed and enjoying the process with an eased mind.
This post will help you finding some zen photography spots in Barcelona and has some tips about how to practice zen photography in the city.
1- Simplify. All that is not needed should be left outside. See the main elements of your photographs and try to discard the rest. Zen inspired photographs believe in simplicity, they are not crying out for attention, they invite to see the essential elements by removing all the unnecessary and by playing with the negative space. As in painting, removal becomes a process were the photographer has to learn to use the negative space to produce a striking image.
2- Empty your mind. Budism told us to trust in our unconscious. That we need to trascend technique through a practice that acts instintively and unconsciously, with an empty mind. When you are taking photographs you should think before or after, not while you do it.
Get used to your camera, know it to better so you can shoot without thinking. How it meters light, how it focuses, how it works at low light situations and higher iso. Use fast solutions to solve situations easily instead time consuming processes. Get used to it and transcend technique.
3. Find the essential elements. Water, clouds, sky. Landscape photography itself has a lot to do with zen inspired photography. In Barcelona there are many photography spots by the sea side where you can capture the sea, the clouds, the sand trails (early in the morning or in Winter, with no people at all). Also the beautiful yards and gardens of the palaces in the Medieval Gothic district have many fountains where you can play with the water falling at different shutter speeds. Intentional camera movement is a perfect artistic resource when there are are no solid objects in the image and you can pan along with the water or the clouds movements. By doing this you add an artistic touch of blurred lines and a fantasmagorial aspect. You can “create” nice fragments with shadows too, and the strong sunlight falling in the Ramblas and the Gothic quarter will help you to compose with shadows.
4. Fragments. The longer lens will help you to remove the unnecessary and create that fragment that your wide angle can not create. You can see the same spot with the wide angle and with a long lens to see how it looks and what a greater focal lenght can do.
The same goes for details. How many times we’ve heard that details can be more important than the whole, but when we try to do it we just forget. That is because or sight and brain betrayed us unintentionally focusing on the whole. This is one thing we have to practice again and again. Experiment with it and study with a familiar subject or place. Learn to see through details.
Zen photography spots in Barcelona
5. Barcelona photography spots. Go and look for those corners or places where you know you’ll find potential good images. During my Barcelona photography tour I have prepared a circuit that is not so full of iconic places (I include some of them also but visitors can easily find the rest on their own) but corners and places where I arrive and say, there is a good photo waiting here. One example is right in the middle of Ramblas, at the Miro mural and the Liceum where several angles worth a photo. I just need to wait there till something happen or to discover something hidden. Those are photogenic places where every day i go I discover a new photo. That process of discovering is also Zen photography.
Some spots that we recommend are in the Gothic district. The narrow lanes with a strong light falling on uneven surfaces and interesting medieval details will do as a perfect frame to practice our Zen photography.
To tell you to unlearned all you have learned is probably the best conclusion for this post. How many times I go on my photography tours and say, you are probably been told not to do this, but let’s try to see what happens if we do it. Rules of Street photography and composition are always piling up in our mind but we are suppose to break them. So, unlearn something new everyday 🙂
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