The Adventures in Seeing Book
I’m sure you, like me, enjoy those times in life when you experience something rare and special – a sunset over the ocean, the view from a mountain peak, or the first blooms of spring. These times add richness to our lives and we’re grateful for them. However, there’s a different kind of satisfaction that we can experience every single day. The Adventures in Seeing book is designed to help you to do just that. It’s an ongoing practice in awareness in our daily lives.
It was 2001 and I was at a long-awaited photography workshop with Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant. My life was about to be changed as I realized how much more there was to see than at first glance. I stood in a field of fall plant decay, not knowing what to photograph. Patterson advised me to get down on my belly and put my camera right in the middle of the broken and brittle plants. Looking through the viewfinder from this perspective, I discovered a whole new world.
There are times that we all feel the way I did that day – overwhelmed and helpless – not knowing what to do next, not seeing any possibilities. We can learn to see below the surface of our lives and connect in a much deeper way.
Since then, I’ve discovered many more mentors in seeing – writers like Thomas Merton, John O’Donohue, and Mary Oliver; photographers Ansel Adams and Minor White. In studying their work and their lives, I noticed that they all shared common habits or contemplative qualities. These were people who lived rich, full lives doing what they were born to do. They were pillars of pausing in the midst of their days – with openness, humility, and acceptance. Their attention was always focused with a sense of curiosity and wonder. And, they saw possibilities everywhere. Their lives were full, yet focused on what was most essential, especially having meaningful relationships.
“The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But, and this is the point – who gets excited by a mere penny? If you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.” ~ Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Pause. Focus. Connect. The secret ingredients to a good photograph and a good life.
These mindsets or habits are antidotes to the judgments and beliefs that normally filter our experience. When we cultivate them, life becomes fuller, richer and more meaningful. The Adventures in Seeing online workshop and now the book use the camera as a tool for practicing.
The book develops these 9 habits through 45 photographic exercises or “calls to adventure.” I share my own personal story about how this workshop and book came to be. There are quotes from workshop participants, as well as stories about my mentors in seeing. The exercises can be completed with any type of camera, even a smartphone.
In Section 2, you’ll learn to focus with intention and go deeper by bringing curiosity to the table. You’ll find that wonder can be experienced anywhere and anytime.
In Section 3, you’ll learn to simplify, see more possibilities, and develop stronger relationships.
Each section invites you to go deeper, to pause and focus before you connect or click the shutter. You’ll become more aware of the filters – the judgments, labels, opinions, beliefs – that get in the way of experiencing life as it is. By listening to and trusting your own inner voice, you’ll confidently express who you are and how you see the world through your photography.
You’ll discover that ordinary, everyday reality can be quite extraordinary.
If you take a week or so to do each exercise, at the end you’ll have almost a year of consistent practice and a visual record of your expanded awareness. As a bonus, you’ll experience more consistent joy and gratitude in life and in your photography. Your newfound awareness will have a ripple effect on everyone with whom you come into contact.
Adventures in Seeing is more than a book about photography. It’s an invitation to live with more awareness and appreciation. Kim Manley Ort’s premise is that the camera is an agent for slowing down, opening our eyes, and seeing possibility all around and within us. Every day indeed can be an adventure in seeing. The world will be better off for Kim Manley Ort’s work and wisdom.Jeffrey Davis
Adventures in Seeing made me look inside and outside in new ways with my heart and my camera. As an artist and a poet, I use the camera for composition and inspiration. With new insights from Kim’s book, I will see the world in greater detail, with more curiosity and power.Norah Oulahen
This book’s a delight … a fresh and beautifully evoked pathway of loving life. Gift yourself by immersing in the journey … Kim Manley Ort is a wise and expert guide!Tara Brach
Adventures in Seeing is a beautiful guide to using photography to grow personally, emotionally and spiritually. Give yourself – or those you love – the gift of this book!Tara Mohr
As a photographer, I reached a moment when I wanted to journey beyond such questions as “What was your ISO?” Kim Manley Ort’s Adventures in Seeing has enabled me to see photography as an art form which encompasses more than mere technical prowess. Her book’s intent is summarized in its subtitle: “How the Camera Teaches You to Pause, Focus, and Connect in Life.” Drawing upon her experiences as a photographer, her extensive knowledge of the contemplative approach to living in the moment as a photographer, and an organized series of forty-five “calls to adventure” included within the seven habits that foster paying attention, she empowered me to make images that express a deeper truth within myself, a truth expressed in the photographic image. As a photographer, I now envision images that are more than representation or documentation because they express a sense of the metaphorical “place” in which I paid attention to the moment. Ort’s work is worthy of attention by any photographer who hopes to journey on beyond questions such as “What was your ISO?” I highly recommend Adventures in Seeing.Dan Meylor
Do the Exercises with a Group
Beginning January 1st 2017, we’ll be doing each exercise weekly in a private Facebook group. Join in anytime and see what others are posting. Search for an exercise using the hashtag #calltoadventure1, for example. Share your experience with others. The only price for admission is to buy the book.
If you’re not on Facebook, start your own group either in-person or online. Invite a few friends to join you in doing the exercises each week and sharing the experience and the photographs with each other. Let’s start that ripple effect of seeing our everyday lives as an adventure.
Have questions or comments? Contact me below.