Photography and the power of Now

Juhu beach, Mumbai, India

Juhu beach, Mumbai, India

Very often I come across people who say that you can't really enjoy the moment if you are busy trying to photograph it.

Is that so?

Not for me. 

Photography makes me more attentive and it opens my eyes and heart to all the beauty around us, in its many diverse forms. 

When I am photographing, there is no thinking involved, there is no past, no future; there is only that very present moment. I feel our oneness, I feel completely merged into that experience I am living.

Photography then happens almost as an instinct, an unconscious process resulting of the true happiness I feel for being there (not only with my body). Of course somewhere in my mind I have the information about the technical aspects of photography, but they don't disturb my beingness, they don't impede me from embracing the most valuable thing we have in our human experience: Now.

Our ego is always trying to prevent us from being and enjoying the Now, it is always taking us back to the past or all the way to the future. This way, the present, Now, becomes either an obstacle to be overcame in order to achieve that future, or a platform of resentment and regret about things in the past.

Frustration and unhappiness are the natural consequences of this destructive process.

All we have is Now. We can't change the past and the future is built now. So when I am photographing, it feels almost like a zen stage in which I'm present, I'm truly enjoying the Now and therefore not allowing my ego to control me. 

I feel happy, alive.

Also, to get beautiful, intimate photographs, we must interact and have the genuine curiosity, ability and openness to build relationships. Only then we are able to make sensitive pictures that tell a story. 

And since I don't use zoom lenses (I feel like I am cheating, stealing something), being 35mm my favorite focal length, I have to be close, to communicate, and this closeness opens my world to the beauty of strangeness: by being present, and close, I get access to stories that teach, inspire and expand life perspectives.

On the other hand, if photography is not aligned with your inner Being, if it is only a way to get attention ("likes") and be seen, in other words, if it becomes an activity dominated by your ego, then it will naturally take you away from that moment. (But would you really be there, if you didn't have your camera with you?)

Also, if photography is just one more way your ego found to enhance itself, your work won't be authentic, genuine; it won't be an expression of who you really are. 

In times of "social media dictatorship" in a very visual society, photography has become, for many, one more ego-enhancing instrument, aimed only at bringing attention and, hopefully, a good amount of "likes".

As a result, photography loses it soul and selfies dominate the Internet.

However, this is not the photography I am talking about. The one I am referring to is the one that is genuine, aligned with who I am; the one that truly express how I see and feel life.

This is the one that puts me in the Now, silences my ego and consequently opens the ways to inner happiness and fulfillment. 

So next time someone tells me that my camera is impeding me from enjoying that moment, I am gonna say: "In fact, my camera is exactly what fully brings me to this very moment. It is not an obstacle to my Now, it is actually my passport to it".

Bernardo Salce