Tag Archive: balance


I’m reading Micheal Freeman’s “The Photographer’s Mind”, a follow on to ‘The Photographer’s Eye”.  Oh boy, what a challenge to me as a photographer!

But on a deeper level;, when he talks about balance in an image we can apply this more widely.   “Balance invokes the idea of harmony, equilibrium, and weight.”

When we are ‘balanced’ we are in harmony with ourselves.  We have emotional, mental and physical equilibrium.  When we are out of balance, we lose this harmony. When we ignore our physical needs – nutrition, sleep, exercise – our bodies become unbalanced.  If we ignore our emotional needs we become angry and dissatisfied with the world, ourselves, our partners.  When we ignore our mental needs we follow blindly ‘leaders’ or gurus who tell us how to think, how to react. We lose  our ability to analyse, our ability to make intelligent decisions.

Balance does not mean that we have to blindly follow what came before.  We can still experiment and create.  But in the end, as Freeman says we still need “a satisfying equilibrium”.  My equilibrium need not be yours.

This week I have been out of equilibrium.  I strongly supported the right of Chinese people to stage protests – for any and every cause.  This is the right of any free peoples.  BUT… the current protests have concerned me because I believe they are instigated by the government to draw attention away from internal problems, internal conflicts.  To me they are staged protests, designed to create media coverage, and to take media coverage away from something far more important.  I am concerned because it seems to me me that people are tools to be manipulated and used.  This ‘usage’ of people seems to me to be heinous.

I am frustrated, angry and unable to do anything.  This makes me question my role and position here. Am I supporting something I DO NOT believe in, merely by being here?  Can I make changes by challenging my students and friends to analyse?? I don’t know.  I am out of equilibrium.  I have no balance.


Peace and permanency

Langmusi mountains

No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being” Ansel Adams. 

Langmusi is my favourite place in China.  A village surrounded by mountains and high grasslands.  The beauty is indescribable, and I return annually to nourish my soul, fill my eyes and heart with the beauty and spend time with my Tibetan mates.

Thinking so much about transience and change lately naturally took me in the opposite direction – thinking about permanence.  When I look at mountains, grasslands, wide plains and oceans I feel a deep comfort at what seems to be their permanence and taking it further, their endurance.  In a changing world, what looks permanent, looks safe.  The permanent seems to offer us a refuge from the restlessness around us and the constant need for us to be reacting, thinking, analysing and managing.

The mountains and oceans, these vast places do speak to the core of my being.  I can be with them in silence for many hours, letting the majesty and strength of them fill me with strength and courage.  Letting the vastness of them extend my soul a little wider and deeper.

I look at mountains and oceans and see endurance.  The mountain vegetation, nothing like the lush growth in the valleys, speak to me of endurance and strength.

But is this permanence an illusion?  Oceans are forever moving and changing, mountains rise and fall depending on seismic shifts and erosion.  The mountain vegetation or the ocean kelp beds die and renew.  Is there anything that we can call ‘permanent”?

For me their permanence lies in knowing that no matter what we as humans do, these mountains and oceans will be there for many eons after we disappear, as they were for many eons before we arrived.  The exteriors may change, but the core remains.

Having an enduring, eternal core for ourselves is necessary.  It is the basis of all else we do.  Knowing this core, strengthening it, deepening and broadening it, allows us to maintain our individuality in the face of the restless, impermanent world around us.


Fires of life and death

This photograph was taken from a train window as we returned home from the southern part of China.  I am often frustrated when I take photos from cars or trains, as they are so often blurry and indistinct.  But this one seemed to retain its essence for me, showing approaching dark, the speed of life and how we depend on fire.

A fire from a gas burning power station, providing light and warmth for thousands of people, at the same time burning the resources of our world and polluting the atmosphere.

How do we balance our need for warmth, light, cooked food and industry with our need for clean air, clean water and clean soil?  This is a battle that at the moment the environment in developing countries is losing.

This need for balance can be seen in our own lives and photography.  How to balance light and shade, how to manage contrasts to create the best shot, the shot that best expresses our vision?  How to create the space in our lives to spend hours or days taking photographs when we have family and work to consider?  The necessity of carving out time for our creative and expressive needs is great, and yet it is frequently the first piece of time we give up when our lives become busy.

By doing this,  we devaluing our need for creativity and expression. Are we denying an essential part of our psyche?  For it is often from our creativity that we can best see and understand the deeper parts or the hidden corners of our ‘self’.  To push these sections of self to the background, seeing them as luxuries rather than as part of our core being then denies their growth, and our greater understanding of ourselves.

In our busyness we must ensure we have the time to think, to create, to delve into our expressive self and in doing so aid our growth.

“Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”
Robert Fulghum