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THOUGHTFUL SEEKERS:
exploring contemplative photography


Who We Are:

We are a group of contemplative photographers inspired and trained in the principles of developing “the good eye.” After several years of meeting in person once every month Covid19 measures helped change our meeting format and opening it to long-term members who are scattered across Canada. These positive changes have knitted our group together despite social distancing measures.

We gather twice a month and offer virtual workshops upon demand.


Meetings and Workshops


Meetings

We strive to stay connected via twice monthly evening meetings to accommodate members residing in Canada from coast to coast. These meetings are not mandatory.

Membership is free and open to all who have participated and completed in our intensive 12 hour online workshop.

Workshops

In the past we offered our intensive in person weekend workshop only once a year. When Covid19 measures forced us to utilizing ZOOM we were pleased to witness greater learning success due to fewer distractions.
We are currently taking registrations for evening and weekend workshops to be offered during the spring of 2021.
Workshop Fee: Can$ 120/person

More details to follow soon!



What Workshop Participants Had to Say:


S. R. from Toronto:
Thank you for the handouts, the care in your critiques, the thought that went into the preparing the workshop, and your time in providing the workshop.I discussed the workshop with a friend who has been delivering online learning at the college level for several years and she was astounded that such a cohesive delivery of a workshop could be done with the facilitators in two different physical locations.I think a small class enabling more practices/themes and more images per theme were beneficial.  

  • It made it safe to submit images that I had high confidence met the criteria and some I wasn’t so sure of but wanted feedback
  • The limits still forced me to be thoughtful when selecting from what I took
  • It sometimes seemed easier to troll through my archive of images to support a theme, but the ground rule I perceive of taking images after the learning stretched me.  When I was reading the space handout then listened to the discussion my mind kept defining space as what I see around or prairie farm, when I am out in the mountains, on a lake, by the ocean, …   I couldn’t see at first how I would get an FOP that would represent “space” in the 2-3 blocks I was roaming near home.  As I walked outside and thought of the discussion of what makes you go “ahh”  and the quote in the second paragraph of the handout I was even more stymied.  I couldn’t seem to get a sky image that didn’t have too much other stuff in it on my iPad.  Space looking up the road didn’t make me feel “ahhh” so I decided to let myself go.  Just watch what I reacted to and see if that was a different definition of space than what I walked outside with.  The earlier successes when I was looking for patterns that were not regular that I saw as FOP enabled me to see space in a different way. 
  • While the warming up to each other was slow initially, the smaller group made it easier to connect
  • It was a safe place to be exposed – trying things out, questioning and expressing thoughts

Image critique:

  • listening to the emotion on some
  • respective disagreement or exploration on others
  • explanations of why something is level one or level two
  • the phrasing of when we were being given meeting the criteria as we are new
  • gentle questioning to the group as to why an image was a particular theme
  • Nudging to grow

Was all part of the compassionate critique that set this apart from a “craft” typical photography course and made it a contemplative practice that uses photography as a tool.  It was teaching/coaching not judging.I think my expectations of understanding the contemplative side in the first 3/4 of the workshop were too high.  I wanted to resolve various discussions with Anna, things she led me through on some of our time together during AQR, the growth I have seen in Anna’s images starting with what she sent me or blogged (forgot which channel) during her course in Haliburton, and what I had read.  Forgetting that an introductory class has to start by learning the practices (mindfulness label) / themes that support the contemplation. Vaughn’s email, book 2, reflecting on my feelings when first studying mindfulness and the way the learning was structured, really helped. Personally, I found combining mindfulness practice with a Contemplative Photography theme helped, I feel blessed that the two complement each other.  On a personal note, this is also happening during a time where I am working with the cancer rehab centre on how to post-cancer regain a level of cognitive functioning that is closer to my pre-treatment level.  Much of what I am learning is, relearning, information from studies are synergistic with Contemplative Photography. Zoom was a great way to stay focused, explore a topic and not be distracted by the social interactions or the mechanics of getting the group out for an assignment, and fuel breaks.  The idea of submitting images by a specific time, then get back together at this time was great.  I do appreciate that while I budgeted time for communication lags, I didn’t budget enough time for image selection and was delayed more than once submitting.  Your grace at not pointing that out and rolling with it was appreciated.  I haven’t made much time to explore my neighbourhood since moving here.  The assignments were a great way to do that even though I stayed pretty close to home.Knowing, at this time of year, I was two hours behind SK I did consciously time shift when I ate breakfast so I would be hungry for lunch when there was likely to be a longer break.  Having said that, the time between submission and getting back together was long enough for grabbing a snack.  I also made sure I had food ready that wouldn’t take much time to put together and eat so I could max class and assignment time. For the most part, I didn’t feel rushed on the FOP image-making side of an assignment.  It was only when I was so far into the contemplation that it was “oh no – I need to hurry back and hope that there isn’t a queue for the elevator.”  Small elevators and social distancing are not a good thing.  Generally, I tried to keep some awareness of time so I wouldn’t feel rushed getting back upstairs.  Yes, I could have made my life simpler and stayed inside for personal reasons it was important to get out.The two of you energized me and reminded me why, when my youngest nephew said to me one time how interesting he found it to have a noticing aunt (we were driving from town to the farm one night and I was pointing out things I was seeing). I have tried to continue to earn that accolade.  Also, how much joy I get from seeing the light through the trees or colours popping when it rains.  Wrapping up with Ordinary World was a good relaxed way to end.  But so many images were hard to select from. What has happened since? I do find I spend time each day noticing in a contemplative way, though I don’t often use the camera as a tool to capture and record.  I find this is helping me, though there likely would be more benefit capturing images to remember/reflect upon later.  I have also been doing more reading on contemplative photography.  It helps feed me.  I must admit I find the open shoots more contemplative for me, though I find, as I explore the FOP I do label it.For me, the intensive course option as an introduction is a positive.  Following it up with more time exploring a theme/practice more deeply would enrich my experience.  Layering new themes/practices would also be enriching.  I sometimes do a one-day silent mindfulness retreat and think something like one-day Contemplative Photography retreats would be a good thing.  A retreat is quite different from a workshop.  I do find the retreat both reminds me why doing some types of practices that I do less frequently is a good thing to do more often, it also introduces me to new practices within a type. All in all, Zoom was an effective and efficient way to experience and learn Contemplative Photography principles.  The experience was greatly enhanced by seeing others’ work from very different locales.  It broadens appreciation and understanding of the various themes. In my case, the cost of the Zoom course and the time savings of not leaving home made it something I could do. As always Anna, it was a great learning & growth time with you.  Vaughn, it was good to meet you, learn from you and I didn’t realize how much I miss that southern SK accent until I heard it again.Thank you both!

G. McD. from Saskatoon:
Just a quick note to say many thanks for all your efforts and planning to execute the weekend Contemplative Miksang Photography workshop. I enjoyed all the moments, the comfortable ones and the less comfortable ones. I was continually impressed with your positive acceptance of and positive feedback for all of our efforts to capture our FOP’s. Kudos for embracing a Zoom format. I really thought you made it work. It was great to see each person’s images on my own personal screen!  I liked that we got a preview and then commentary. (It never felt like a critique.) I particularly thought it was exciting that the Zoom format allowed for participants from across the province as well as out of province.  How lucky we were as people from the plains to see images shaped by high-rise and big city life (and visa versa). Zoom also allowed a huge variety of image subject matter. Last, but not least was the ability to see one another on Zoom. I felt like our small group came to feel like friends. Thank you for the excellent handouts full of stunning images. As I read through them today I am reading with so much more understanding. I am finding explanations that I realized I ignored in my first reading. I really will embrace this practice and look forward to future learning opportunities. Once again, many thanks for a fabulous weekend. You are excellent teachers with gifts of organization, inclusiveness and positivity. 

J. K. from Moose Jaw:
Thank you for an introduction to Miksang Contemplative Photography via Zoom. I love that it is contemplative. This learned analytical critiquing method is brand new to me (in our vast world of Art’s &Science!).  Glad to learn of it. My mind’s eye focuses most freely, on positive meditative inspirations in nature for health recoveries. Your class brought new focus points to light, for constructing skill-building. I do look forward to pacing myself further in your club endeavours so I can learn.  I hope our endeavours merge paths and our constructive road broadens. Again, bravo!  Thank you for the friendly introduction to Miksang Contemplative Photography.

K. S. from Weyburn:
Good morning! What a beautiful gift (as a memento of the workshop a book with selected images was produced by the instructors)!  The photos bring me right back to our weekend together/apart.
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.  I find myself looking for the challenges that were given to us during the weekend.  Spring is springing, and I am also busy with my yard… I want flowers! 
The times set out for our assignments were perfect, the discussion about the assignments was more enlightening when someone (me) didn’t quite get the assignment and you can see it immediately.  This brought about the discussions, and I thoroughly enjoyed that as it made the assignment clearer and I could see where I needed to improve. 
Having a virtual class was very economical for me!  I didn’t need to travel, hotel or food. Furthermore, the class discussions were very enlightening.  I like how you ended Saturday with an assignment, and when we gathered the next day, we showed our captures.  That was perfect; by the end of Sunday, I had a renewed sense of  Contemplative Photography and I felt rejuvenated.  Now, I can read the book or the lessons and get a better vision of what was needed.
Thanks to Vaughn and Anna for setting this up!  I am so glad that the virtual workshop was a success.  I would do more virtual workshops in a heartbeat.

L. K. from Rouleau, SK:
Thank you for today. I enjoyed sitting in on day two of the workshop so much! It has reignited my contemplative photography fire and wonder. I am looking forward to getting out there again with fresh eyes.You asked about workshop feedback, and from what I remember when leaving after the first workshop I attended, I was excited and a bit overwhelmed at the same time. Any apprehension I felt, left at the first monthly gathering and has not returned. Our group is so diverse and welcoming, and I feel we are genuine. I believe that this form of Contemplative Photography really has solidified the foundation for my camera skills and I am growing and building on them without judgement of myself.I absolutely loved R.’s suggestion today of meeting in the park (or wherever), then doing a zoom for the review once we are able to meet in person again. That being said, I am loving that we are still able to meet at all during this time. Miksang Contemplative Photography IS my social gathering, so for that, I thank you both for finding a way for us to carry on.Looking forward to our next zoom.Happy shooting!

M. N. from Swift Current:
I must say there were so many positives from the course weekend & the other ZOOM meetings we have had so far. .. Here are my thoughts: 1) From the bottom or top of my heart, I so appreciate ALL of the time, effort, creativity & ingenuity you give to/with “The Miksang Contemplative Photography Way”. 2) I appreciate the passion & drive to keep it going, to share with all of us. 3) To take on the task & education to get this all online & alive with Zoom is no small feat. 4) In the past, I have travelled and spent a fair amount of money on Photography Education only to return home disappointed feeling I did to not get my money’s worth. I felt there was NO follow up from instructors & to much distracting chatter among participants that detracted from our valuable learning time. I’m there to learn & improve my craft, spirituality & passion in whatever I take on to improve my mind & life. I feel that offering virtual workshops is the way to go in the future! It certainly saves money. Perhaps, participating via the computer from my own home and familiar environment offered more meaning as we are learning & growing on our own turf, so to speak. I very much enjoyed the weekend I look forward to many more.

Questions? Interested in joining our next workshop? Complete the form below and we will be in touch:

Thoughtful Seekers:

Join us in exploring the world though contemplative photography

Online Gatherings


anna@annahergert.com

Workshops

Email us:

Seminars


v.s.taylor@sasktel.net

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