Voie de Vézelay ~ Day 3

journeys of the heart, photography, pilgrimage

As I have been busy acclimating to France, and starting my walking pilgrimage, all my posts are going to be be published out of order for awhile, so bear with me!

{Voie de Vézelay ~ Day 3} I am on day 3 of about 7, and just passed through Anthien.

This is totally in the middle of farmland. These French cows must think I’m crazy! (It might be my hot pink rain jacket).

Extremes on a pilgrimage are to be expected, and so with mine:

Thursday was 106 degrees, Friday was 90 degrees with a strong breeze, and today is 70 degrees with a light drizzle. That may sound horrible, but it’s actually been fine. I take twice as long to cover one kilometer and take a ton of breaks as I go, sometimes stopping to make a photo every five minutes. My style is definitely to saunter.

My film camera on pilgrimage

photography, the creative life, the spiritual life

A run to replace the tiny battery in my trusty old film camera also yielded a colorful set of notebooks made with fancy German paper – on sale and just the right size for a portable, packable journal. Preparations for my trip abroad are coming along, and the countdown is in the single digits. Giddy excited is the operative word.

I used to shoot exclusively with film – this very camera in fact took me through my first 10 years as a photographer. Eventually it was replaced with a digital SLR, and my iPhone for daily use. But as I am about to go wandering with a backpack through gorgeous rural France, I had to rethink how I was going to approach the photo essays I want to make along the way (literally The Way: Le Chemin de Saint Jacques).

(Re)Enter my Pentax K-1000. He takes 35mm film, has travelled Europe with me before, and has made for me some of my best photographs.

There are drawbacks, however. He is all mechanical and metal and a little heavy, I will have to carry film in hot weather which could damage it, and I will not get to see how the images turn out until I am home.

Yet this pilgrimage I am making has so many themes which shooting with film will help to remind me of and ground me in. 

At least for me, photographing with film is a very different experience than photographing with a digital camera. You have to be fully present to what is in front of your lens, more deliberate about framing and exposure, and patient with the time it takes to focus the lens properly or advance the film. In particular there is a trust needed: that your discernment and judgment in the moment may indeed yield something exquisite and profound, even though you do not see the outcome until much later. 

Metaphors such as these echo the journey of the spiritual life:

Intentionality, being in the present moment (attention + presence), prudence, trusting your intuition, and a peaceful detachment from needing a thing to turn out a certain way…

The constant emphasis of these themes have been why my life has felt like a pilgrimage for awhile now. It will be interesting to see how these flesh out as I shift from my Camino, at home, to making my Camino pilgrimage along the ancient ‘way of the stars’.

Alignment: a way of life

art that inspires me, museums, photography

“To photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It’s a way of life.”

~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Balboa Park, San Diego

My recent trip to San Diego ended with two solid days spent at the museums in Balboa Park, admiring the architecture, and glorying in the sunshine. Inspirations galore, including this quote spotted on a tote bag at the Museum of Photographic Arts!

The exhibit was on Irving Penn, a fashion photographer with a wide range, whose stunning international portraits moved and surprised me.

But I was really happy to come across Henri Cartier-Bresson, a French photographer who essentially pioneered street photography and photojournalism. His work has this intimate blend of art and observation, capturing a moment simply but in a beautifully evocative way. My style, how I show up as a photographer, is I think quite similar. Aligning the eye, head and heart.

It’s good to be reminded of artists who inspire us.