2020 WEEK 8: Shoshin (aka Beginner’s Mind)

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”
– Shunryu Suzuki

I just finished reading the latest blog post from one of my favorite photographer-writer-instructors: Keeping it Fresh by Colleen Miniuk. This week’s photochallenge is based on a single concept mentioned within: Shoshin or “Beginner’s Mind.” (FWIW, if you’ve been feeling uninspired about photography lately, I highly recommend that you give the entire post a read.)

This week I want you to take a photo of a familiar subject or location, but I want you to photograph it differently than you normally would. I want you to discard your first instinct for how to photograph your subject and think of a different way to capture it that you haven’t considered before.  Maybe you’ll use a different lens or maybe you’ll change up the shutter speed or depth of field. Maybe you’ll challenge yourself to think more creatively by asking yourself “what else could this be?” (i.e. use metaphors) or “what’s a different perspective?”

Star Trails over Soderberg Open Space by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero
Star Trails over Soderberg Open Space by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

In the image above, I challenged the notion that night photography can only be done in complete darkness. Granted, it’s not your typical night sky image, but that’s what I like about it. Not only was it taken in a light polluted area, but the full moon was lighting up the landscape as if it were daytime. I had no idea what it would look like when I started taking photos or even if the final image would actually turn out, but the only thing I had to lose by trying was an hour of sleep. 😉

To achieve Shoshin, I encourage you to channel your inner child and his/her innate curiosity. Imagine how you might experience your subject if you were five years old. Be curious. Eliminate preconceptions and expectations. Be open to new possibilities. This week is about experimenting and challenging what you think you “should” do – not about achieving the perfect image.

If you would like to know more about Shoshin, I found this article enlightening. The article is not specific to photography, but most of the “10 exercises” listed can easily be applied to your photographic pursuits.

To recap this week’s challenge:

  • Take a photo of a familiar subject or location, but photograph it differently than you normally would. Be open and curious about new possibilities – even if they run counter to what you have learned you “should” do.
  • When you post your photo, I encourage you to share how you thought you “should” photograph your subject and what you did differently.
  • Post your photo during the week of Sunday, February 16 and Saturday, February 22.
  • Please remember to comment on at least FIVE photo submissions this week by answering the question “why?” in your comments. In other words, “why do I like (or not like) this photo?” or “why did this photo catch my eye?” Thank you!

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Take a new photo for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Post your photo each week to our active communities on Facebook or Flickr (or both). Tag the photo:  #2020photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2020 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

About thedigitaljeanie

I’m a self-taught photographer and way back when I used to love taking photos, but I allowed a business that I started in 2004 to take over my life and my photographic repertoire was reduced to quick product shots and how-to tutorials. When I joined the PhotoChallenge in December 2015, I was looking to rekindle my creativity and bring some joy back into my photography. I jumped in with both feet and have not looked back. I believe that photography can change the way we see and interact with the world around us. Some people may think that I hide behind the camera, but I feel that I experience the world in a much more intimate way when I am creating a composition in my viewfinder. In those moments distractions disappear, my mind focuses and I am fully present. It is just me and my camera capturing a moment in time that might otherwise go unnoticed. My background is as varied as the photos that I take. I’ve trained and worked as a software engineer, a massage therapist, an English teacher in Vietnam, a photo restoration artist (which is how I learned Photoshop) and for the past twelve years I have run a small software business with my husband where I have been published in numerous books and magazines, appeared on PBS television, created designs for fabric, quilts and machine embroidery and won awards for some of my quilts. It should come as no surprise that I am intensely curious about life and love to learn new things. I am blessed to live in the beautiful state of Colorado, USA in the Rocky Mountain foothills outside of Fort Collins with my husband and cat. You can find me online at: Photos: flickr.com/photos/the-digital-jeanie/ Day job: KaleidoscopeCollections.com Facebook: facebook.com/jeaniesa