A Spiritual Look Into Photography

God Is At Eye Level
Photography as a Healing Art
Jan Phillips
Quest Books, 2000

In spite of its name and the identity of its publisher (Theosophical Publishing House), this book is NOT only for religious people or “believers”. Perhaps the only requirement for the reader is being an idealist.

The book, decorated by many nice and a few extraordinary photographs, can be summarized in a few words like these: Our lives have a purpose, so do the others’. Photography is a tool that helps making others’ life better while making you feel better at the same time. Caring for others and, using photography both as a sort of meditation and as a public (universal) service are the two recurring themes. The chapter headings like “Looking for the Joy of It” shows what you might expect from Phillips.

The authors’ writing style is both mature and friendly. No technical details for the photographs are given and no advice on matters like exposure or lighting exists. However, there are quite useful little projects (some only as a mental exercise, some for writing down, some for shooting…) suggested at the end of all chapters. This is just one of them: “If you were called upon to document the homeless in your community, how would you go about doing this?” You also find words of wisdom by almost a hundred others (from philosophers to photographers) scattered on almost all the pages like Margaret Atwood’s: “The act of making a photograph is less a question of what is being looked than how”.

I enjoyed reading the book and I recommend it to those who like to listen to a calm, slightly mystical voice on photography. For others, who think those may be boring, there are at least a dozen choices out there 🙂

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