Time to be with your loved ones

Time to be with loved ones

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I'm curious about a photographic technique called 'Miksang photography.'

  1. What is Miksang photography?
  2. What are some resources for helping me to learn how to 'do' Miksang photography (or incorporate it into my photography)?
  3. Does Miksang photography have any grounding in art history (e.g. similarly to how- in a broad sense- the development of 'modernism' in art can be seen as a reaction against the more traditional 'romantic' art movement of the late 19th and early 20th century), or is the technique an outlier with no underpinning in the timeline of photography as art.
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Although I am curious, I admit that I find myself a little bit suspicious of the 'Miksang philosophy' on the whole and thus am quite curious if there really are some connections to the various stylistic schools of photographic thought to be found... Or if this really is a case of a couple of people getting together and deciding to make a little money by peddling a 'new and innovative' way of approaching photography via the time-worn practice of not saying too much about how to approach the technique... Until you shell out $$$ to attend one of their seminars. –  Jay Lance Photography May 6 '11 at 7:17
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@Jay — no worries. I bring it up so much because that's what I want to learn. Thanks! –  mattdm May 6 '11 at 12:39
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@jrista Great! I'd love some additional takes on it... I went ahead and dropped the coin to buy the book that @Sam referenced above. My hope is that it covers the techniques and exercises of all 3 'levels' in some detail... From the bits and pieces of the 'level 1' exercises that I found on the 'official' website it looks like there could potentially be some useful/practical 'meat' in there even if someone doesn't completely buy into the whole philosophy end of the technique. We'll see... –  Jay Lance Photography May 8 '11 at 3:32
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I have to admit that for me it is still residing a bit in the same space as, say... Scientology. "We have this wonderful photography technique. It'll change your photographs. You'll LOVE it. But you have to pay to take a bunch of seminars and go through levels of 'mastery' in order to learn it." :-P It makes me want to write something really concrete about the technique without all the flowery stuff simply so that someone can get the honest gist of it without having to shell out any cash. But I'm not on a crusade or anything... Just curious. :-) –  Jay Lance Photography May 8 '11 at 3:35
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@jrista — "new age" is a particular western movement, with a whole lot of other baggage (including strong roots in pseudo-Christian 19th-century mysticism, astrology, and so on). It's a mistake to lump Tibetan Buddhism in with that — or with Scientology. I just asked a Tibetan Buddhist friend of mine, and he confirms that Chögyam Trungpa is a legitimate high Tibetan lama. That doesn't mean that you have to automatically respect everything he has to say, but the distinction is important. –  mattdm May 9 '11 at 17:47
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3 Answers

The word "Miksang" is Tibetan for "Good Eye".

For me, the approach is subjective. It's effectively "Zen and the art of photography". The aim is to use photography as a vehicle to work with your sense of perception.

My interpretation is that it is the use of photography as a "practice" when approaching your state of mind/being. And using your state of mind/being with intention in your photography practice. I've found that when I see this way, that is - looking through the camera wile maintaining awareness of my state of consciousness, I tend to take different photos than I otherwise would. I think the photos I take when approaching photography this way actually capture a feeling better than when I am not shooting in this mode.

For a reasonable explanation, see the resource: http://miksang.com/miksang.html

I believe Miksang fits into art history in the line of contemplative Buddhist arts. That's a place to look.

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@jaxxon: Your answer makes it sound like you are someone who does Miksang photography. Is that true? –  Jay Lance Photography May 28 '11 at 17:12
    
I would say that I use the principals of it to some extent, but am not a serious "practitioner" in the sense of making it a daily focus in my work. I am doing a 365 photo-a-day project for the purpose of keeping my eyes open and my awareness more keen - so the principals of miksang are on my mind a lot while I shoot. But I'm not a Buddhist, nor am I very serious about applying the technique.. just that I have some practical experience with it. That is all. –  jaxxon May 30 '11 at 6:53
    
@Jaxxon: So I'm curious where you picked up your "practical experience" with Miksang... Did you attend classes? Read a book? Can you elaborate on each of the 3 Levels of mastery of the technique, and the specific exercises that are taught at each level? I'm asking because while your answer is a reasonable place to start, it's all stuff that can be found openly on the Miksang website... Unfortunately the Miksang folks are also very cagey about the specific techniques they teach... and that is primarily where I'm looking for elaboration... –  Jay Lance Photography May 30 '11 at 7:32
    
Sorry, Jay. I'm really not a major expert on the subject so perhaps should not have offered an answer to the question. I attended a Miksang workshop here in Boulder and am a daily photographer and feel like I'm a fairly "conscious" individual. I appreciate Miksang and practice it casually. That is all. Feel free to downvote my answer if you think it offers nothing of value. It sounds like you could benefit from a workshop to explore actual techniques. –  jaxxon Jun 1 '11 at 3:11
    
@jaxxon: No, don't get me wrong, I'm not picking on you... it's a good start to an answer... At this point I'm kinda annoyed that the folks who own the Miksang concept don't make more practical information available on the technique without attending classes... It makes the whole thing feel (to me) like learning about Scientology- "you can only learn how to use this 'life-changing' technique if you pay to take our classes and advance through the 'three levels' of Miksang." –  Jay Lance Photography Jun 1 '11 at 5:25
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I have taken classes in Miksang Levels 1 & 2. They were taught at a Shambhala Meditation Center, not a photography school. I did not pay big $$ to attend. In fact, I was able to take advantage of the "generosity policy" offered by most buddhist meditation centers. Miksang is not intended to be a "marketing" tool. It is intended to deepen personal contemplative practice.

In my experience, Miksang is less a "photographic technique" than a "contemplative practice" first taught by Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, along with other contemplative arts. It really has nothing to do with photographic technique and everything to do with "flash of perception" and awakening a sense of experience in simply seeing. In fact, there were very few photographers in the classes I took. There were many people who wished to learn how to see in a more profound and open way. No agenda. No conceptualizing. Simple unbiased perception. In most cases, a Miksang image should challenge your everyday perceptions of ordinary things.

Hope this helps.

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The term "levels" in Miksang refers to different levels of perception not proficiency. (See: "phenomenology"; Phenomenology of Perception by Merleau-Ponty; Cartier-Bresson; Phenomenology and Photography blog by Knut Skjærven.)

Phenomenology is about learning to see through our eyes rather than through our thoughts, as is Miksang.

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