A few days ago I was uploading images onto my computer from a shoot I’d just completed, when I came to a series of shots that in the moment of taking I was especially excited to get. Expressions right on, the scene was storytelling, and the lighting imbued with a dreamlike quality that purely sparkled. As is typical when photographing little ones, this idyllic scenario lasted only a matter a seconds before the children moved on to new adventures. I’d been able to get 7 or 8 shots, and as they came up on my computer it immediately became evident that in my haste I’d misjudged the light, and all of these images were compromised as a result. They were completely unsalvageable.
What followed after witnessing my failure is what is worth noting though, and a dramatic departure from my past experience with these sort of things. I was terribly disappointed but somehow able to openly and honestly look at the tragic images to determine what went wrong, and then let them go. It was the letting go part that felt so revolutionary, as it came easily, and without the usual self-judgment or denigration. I wrote several times on my old blog about how the images lost always took on legendary status in my mind; how these were the unforgettable images that haunted me and became a enduring part of my portfolio even if they were not visible there. Could it be I’ve finally turned the corner on this?
Prajna is the Tibetan word for clear seeing, the innate intelligence we all possess deep inside that allows us to look at ourselves and others with humility and compassion, but without judgments of good or bad attached to those observations. I would like to think that I’m slowly opening to more moments of this clear seeing, and believe that photography has been most instrumental in teaching me to remember this fundamental practice.