Sometimes following the itinerary on a Japan Photo Tour feels like following a rainbow to a hidden cache of treasure, but a seasoned adventurer already knows that not every rainbow ends with a pot of gold when chasing the light on unknown pathways. The beginner’s mindset means that you approach every adventure into the field as an opportunity to discover something new about a photographic subject that you have experienced before, perhaps 1000s of times before.
As an educated of the visual arts and a Photo Workshop Leader, I sometimes pose questions to my colleagues to help spark conversation and build insight among our group of photo adventurers. The last question I raised during a team meeting was: “Do you want to have the ‘professional’ or the ‘beginner’s’ mindset?” The room went quiet while everyone thought about what the answer was. After a few minutes, I followed up, saying, “If you’re thinking about it this long, then you’re definitely in the obverse mindset.” I then explained with the beginner’s mindset and zen Buddhism; the beginner sees myriad possibilities. The professional is stubborn and refuses to heed warnings and myriad possibilities. After a few short weeks, my annual Hokkaido Birding Photo Workshop season begins, and I sure am looking forward to photographing, White-Tailed Eagle, Red-Crowned Cranes, Eizo Sika Deer - the largest herd on the planet, Ezo Red Foxes, the migratory Steller's Sea Eagle and several other species that inhabit Japan’s northernmost island in which I have been leading Hokkaido photo adventure workshop tours for more than 20 years. Yet, I still relish the idea of visiting my third home in Japan every year for several months, and my enthusiasm for leading international photographers on a Hokkaido adventure Photo workshop tour seems to increase every year.
The discussion deepened after I was asked for a recent illustration of my point. I replied mentioning that on my last Autumn Leaves Photography Workshop, on the path both to and from the daily destinations, I found the tunnels on the road and byways remarkable. I added that a strictly professional photographer would neglect or not even see the tunnels as anything except a conveyance, only interpreting the tunnels in the way for which they were constructed; however, I said I knew there was art being expressed in the tunnels and their construction, so I took a few moments to get his camera settings just right, and I took several pictures while traveling inside the tunnels. One of those artistic photos is attached to this newsletter. As an educator of photography and a Photography Workshop Lead instructor, I feel that any subject constitutes a work of art, and it is the trained eye and experience that makes it possible to translate artistic interpretation into visual art, and onto print form that hang in photographic museums, galleries, or purchased by my friends and clients for their homes or offices and gifts. Even in this day of the digital age, print is paramount for me, just sharing on a handphone screen or computer screen is so mundane.