Conversation with a camera

This is a guest post by Debi Cates.

Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.
~Henri Cartier-Bresson

The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.
~Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching

Taking photos has become integral to how I experience life.

For some years I have been on a quest to learn how to take pictures I like. The technical and creative lessons have paled compared to what I have learned. I’ve learned how to listen in on the conversation of Now.

The act of picking up my camera starts a ritual. Holding my camera in my hands silences chatty inner voices. I focus. I listen. It is then I can begin to hear the quiet stories that are being lived out around me.

I once listened to the short story of a dead beetle at my feet. I’ve listened to the dramatic tales of seeds on voyages far from home. I’ve heard the synchronized breaths of a boy and his horse, both so young as to not have yet forgotten the art of conversing with Now. I’ve heard a whole chapter in the gesture of an old man touching the place of a missing button on his shirt.

Through my camera, I’ve learned to listen much in the way my camera sees, giving attention to that which is, to welcome those vanishing, unexpected things.

Later, I look back at a photo I took and can recall the sunshine that hid in and out of the clouds on that particular morning. I remember my dog’s nose on my neck as I knelt to get close to a small flower. In the outer edges of the image, I recognize that unnameable sense of loss I carried and struggled to let go of that day.

The photo, even a thousand photos are still just a fraction of the conversation. When I look at a wildflower photo a year later, what I see most is myself now, different and transformed by those topics then.

Perhaps we naturally love photos not only for their artistry, but because we recognize them as hints of the ongoing conversation we are all having with Time.

And the real beauty is that Now is always the subject.

©Debi Cates 2011

“Meditation on a Mesquite” ©Debi Cates

Debi Cates is a self-employed third generation computer programmer, a web designer, nature nut, and shutterbug living in the flat lands of West Texas. You can follow her streams of Now at

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6 thoughts on “Conversation with a camera

  1. Debi, your writing is eloquent. And thoughtful. And touching. It blows me away. In fact, it blows me INTO Me. Thank you for sharing the way you do. And of course, for your awesome photography. I’d love to be your student.

  2. Tara, Billy, Sue, and Maya: thank you so much for taking time to make such kind comments. I’m glad my post resonated with you. I dig this energy of like-minded souls.

    Kris: you rock. Thank you so much for hosting these guest posts. I look forward to continuing to read your thoughts (as always) and these added bonus posts by your followers and fellow bloggers.

  3. Debi, I’ve read and reread this post so many times, and find more beauty in it each time I do. You have managed, with a few words, to paint an entire landscape of images, emotions, and memories. Your writing is beautiful, and I am honored that you wrote this piece for Psychic Everyday.

    Thank you, everyone, for visiting and for your comments. I look forward to inviting many more guests here!

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