Japan Dispatch No.1

“ When Zen is not Zen, nothing exists” - Japanese Proverb
God's Rays. Japan, 2020.
23mm / f14 / 8s / ISO 200

It has been almost a year since I last published a newsletter with some new photographs and my conversation with Scott Reither, so I apologise for the length of this note! As continues to be the case at every step of the way on my photography journey, saying yes to one thing seems to open the door to another opportunity or experience and I was thrilled when a few months after our conversation, Scott suggested we meet up in Japan for a 3 week shooting trip. Considering that I have been seeking create a practice of meditation and mindfulness along with photography, I think there are few places I have dreamed of going to photograph more than Japan. Here, one can find so many beautiful landscapes, torii gates and other shrines and also witness a people and a culture who are so reverent in their practice of the art of Zen which was brought to Japan by 12th century buddhists. 

I originally planned to edit and release these works in the first half of 2020. Of course, our world and lives have changed so dramatically in the last 6 months that I ended up putting the work to one side for a while, feeling like I would go back to it when I was myself feeling more settled and able to give the editing and production process the calm, patient care it required. I also thought I would exhibit again this year in my new home Geneva, London and possibly New York but alas of course this could not be possible. So the work sat there. A few conversations recently with friends who reminded me that they were saving wall space for these photos, as well as a realisation that I needed to refresh my own creative mind, which had hit a bit of a wall, inspired me to begin the editing process in earnest. 

Rather than release a full series of work in one go, I’ve decided to share these photos in a series of dispatches which I will release every few weeks through the rest of the year. Once we have a clearer sense on when it will be possible to do so, I plan to then release the full collection for exhibition and sale in print format as well as hoping to create an online gallery. I hope to donate the proceeds from these new works to philanthropic causes to keep building on the money that my debut work continues to raise.  

Lastly, in thinking about just how much change this year has forced in things that we took for granted, I wanted close with a consideration about the parallels between the year that is 2020, and the art of photography. In creating landscape photographs, we are trying to enter a part of our minds which can see and present the world a little differently.  By slowing down and patiently observing the movement of the tides, or the clouds, or witnessing each second during which the sky changes colour during sunset we are able to find peace and contemplation in a purposeful and more lasting way. Additionally, by being in nature and witnessing its grandeur and scale, as well as the delicate and fragile co-existence between nature we realise our own insignificance in the grander scheme of the universe. I find that when I remember this and practice photography with a deliberate and considered manner, the work is always better and I am always more at peace. Nature, and this virus, by forcing each of us individually and collectively to slow down to observe the impact we have on our planet is giving us all a moment for reflection and contemplation from which to grow for the years head. So maybe when we look back at the growth we all went through, 2020 won’t have been such a bad year after all because it will be a step on the pathway to Zen. 

I hope the photographs which follow take you to a place of calm and contemplation. 
Sticks of stillness. Japan, 2020.
64mm / f18 / 60s  / ISO 100
Mind is an island, floating.  Japan, 2020  64mm / f18 / 60s  / ISO 100