January 4, 2012

Lens On The Human Condition.

I had a profound experience recently. I took a photography class.

I’m a huge proponent of practicing art. Especially learning art forms aside from your primary art form. It adds dimension to your work when you can use multi-medium perspectives.

I am a writer. I want my writing to sing, to paint a picture and to get underneath your skin with visceral metaphors, so I signed up for The Photo Essay Project, taught by Bindu Wiles. I hoped I would learn how to take a photo that would read like an epic poem. Then incorporate that feeling back into my writing.


That happened. Also, so much more.

Bindu is one of these rare and precious teachers in the world who speaks from a radical, tenacious depth of experience. I hired her first as a coach and later we became friends. I was immediately attracted to her humanity, her brilliant eye for capturing tender moments and her bravery. She talks about having exceptional sensitivity paired with a lifetime of feeling isolated. I know that feeling painfully well. Instant connection. She says the practice of photographing people has brought a tremendous release from this pain. I found this idea utterly compelling.

A powerful teacher teaches both from their points of darkness as well as their brightness. We connect to them in polychromatic, full spectral light.

I’m telling you all of this, because chances are good that you are an amazing teacher. Of some kind. Maybe you teach yoga or opera or cooking classes. Maybe you teach your children how to weather the world, or, by example, you teach peace to your family and friends. We are all teachers. And it’s important to remember the power of humility, our own humanity. It’s also important to take the time to uplift each other.


So, in five weeks, The Photo Essay Project definitely took my photos to a new level of emotion. Here is my tumblr from the project if you care to check it out. We shot photos on the themes such as beginnings + endings and lost + found. She invited us to see our subjects deeply. We learned pragmatic photography tools and applications as well as a whole new way of looking.

And the photos of everyone in the class improved dramatically. But the real magic was in what happened underneath the images, through the images. What happened to us.

After this class, I understood in an experiential way the release Bindu talked about. My photo walks brought calm, purpose, and joyful effort to my life. When shooting, in my heart where there was previously anxiety and separation, there would be union. Where there was fear, I felt compassion, peace. There was a transformative, yogic, softness of spirit as I started to see the world through a literal lens, given a spiritual slant by a gifted teacher. I literally felt less alone in the world. Strangers became beautiful rather than threatening. I saw people vividly who would have been invisible to me once. It was the same rhythmic connectivity I learned through practicing and teaching yoga. Through meditation and intention.


So here’s the thing. When, as a teacher, we walk into our leadership with responsibility, respect and courage for our students and their communities we can cast wide ripples into the world. Among all of the other things I learned from Bindu Wiles, I will remember this with my own students and clients. Humanity. Honesty. Love.

Also, while art in many forms has always been a part of me, my lean towards using art to feed my life has gotten so much richer. It has become an imperative. A non-negotiable. Art is transformative, it’s uniting, synergistic and uplifting. Artists are the barometers of a culture and the true writers of the human story.

If you want more information on Bindu’s next class, go here. It’s called Lens On The Human Condition. I’ll be there. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

I would love to meet you there.


All three photo credits: Bindu Wiles


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