A still photograph captures a moment. It may or may not capture stillness.
I recall being taught many ways to capture motion with my camera. I do not recall being taught how to capture stillness. But it is stillness that I so often seek—both in life and in my photographs.
In stillness lives wisdom. In quiet you’ll find peace. In solitude you’ll remember yourself.
Some find stillness through meditation, or by quietly sitting and observing—perhaps in a sacred place. I most often seek stillness in nature—the reflections in a quiet pool of water, the fog hovering over the marsh, a forest in the mist or a snow-covered field in winter.
Stillness can be found on a sunny day with crystal-clear air, yet fog, snow or mist often contributes to the atmosphere of stillness because they simplify a scene and hide many details. Stillness can most often be found at dawn and dusk when there is less wind; the light is softer then, too. And stillness can often be found in winter when deciduous trees stand leafless.
Stillness appreciates breathing room. It should not feel cluttered, tight, tense or forced. It should lie gently upon the land.
Sometimes we create the sense of stillness in the camera. Just as we can pan a camera to give a still subject a sense of movement, we can photograph a moving subject, such as a body of water, with a long exposure to give a sense of stillness.
“Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooting in being. Allow nature to teach you stillness.”
There are those who cannot experience the stillness of nature first hand, or at least not on a regular basis. Those who are hospitalized come immediately to mind. But in our rapidly growing cities, both children and adults often suffer from a deficit of exposure to nature and find it difficult to escape the constant noise and activity around them. While it doesn’t replace the stillness found in nature, perhaps viewing a photograph of stillness in nature can, for a brief moment, help them to find that place of stillness and peace inside.
Where do you find stillness? How do you capture the essence of stillness?