Awake in the World

Brown Water, Kawaikui Beach #3, Honolulu, 2018, David Ulrich

Brown Water, Kawaikui Beach #3, Honolulu, 2018, David Ulrich An ever-increasing group of photographers and artists—and I count myself among them— believe that the arts are essential to a healthy society. Images can reflect a culture back on itself, offer hope and inspiration, highlight the myriad forms of injustice and inequality, and reflect both the sublime elements of nature as well as the rapid degradation of the environment. In the eyes […]

The Potency of Metaphor in Photography

Charleston, South Carolina, 1955 by Robert Frank

Ralph Waldo Emerson observes in his essay, Nature: “Every appearance in nature corresponds to some state of the mind, and that state of the mind can only be described by presenting that natural appearance as its picture. … A lamb is innocence; a snake is subtle spite; flowers express to us the delicate affections. Light and darkness are our familiar expression for knowledge and ignorance; and heat for love.” Our […]

The Power of Art in a Challenging Age

In these transformative times, we need art to help us navigate difficult conditions, find ways to endure and reconcile both individual and collective suffering, and locate the path towards a realistic, hopeful future. Can you name an image that has endured in your mind and served to alter and expand your consciousness? I remember many but a few stand out from my formative years. As a high school senior in […]

What Are We Working For?

Oceano Dunes #12, CA, 2019 © David Ulrich

So many heartbreaking conditions are taking place in the world today: environmental destruction, massive inequality, violence and oppression, income inequality, extreme polarization, and a vast tearing of our social fabric. As world citizens, we must not be silent. We must speak out and protest all forms of injustice to each other and to the environment by any and all means possible. That is our necessity and our responsibility. But we […]

Mirror of the Mind: Creativity and the Nature of Consciousness

Oceano Dunes #21, Oceano, CA 2018 by David UlrichOceano Dunes #21, Oceano, CA 2018 by David Ulrich

Creative work can be a pathway into the nature of the mind. I am currently exploring the science and art of creative response with a camera and in viewing art with a recent body of photographic work. The human mind runs deep. Of this there can be no doubt. Cognitive neuroscientists claim that only 5 percent of our brain is conscious while the rest lies beyond our awareness. The conscious […]

Finding Your Mojo

I have been deeply inspired by spending time on the island of Kaho‘olawe, historically sacred to the Hawaiian people and used for ordnance training by the US Military for fifty years. Crest of Moa‘ulaiki, Kaho‘olawe, HI, David Ulrich

What inspires you? When I wrote Zen Camera, you, the readers, were my constant source of inspiration and my creative, motivating catalyst. I wanted to summarize my forty plus years of teaching photography and get it right, make it clear, and speak to the development needs of creative individuals. Creativity flourishes in a full, active mind. Discovery inevitably comes to the inquisitive disposition and eludes the bored and disinterested. The […]

Featured Photographers of Zen Camera: Hengki Koentjoro and Lydia Panas

Photograph left, Hengki Koentjoro and right, Lydia Panas

Since the recent publication of my book, Zen Camera: Creative Awakening with a Daily Practice in Photography, students have asked me a surprising, but understandable, question. They want to know which photographers best exemplify the aims and goals of the book. I then ask for a clarification — contemporary or historical photographers, living or dead? They haven’t thought it through, but, in general, they are curious about contemporary photographers. I […]

Photography and the Fluid Awareness of Zen

Conversation, photography by Hengki Koentjoro

What is the relationship between photography and Zen? Both share an emphasis on cultivating presence, the capacity for being attentive to the moment, and both encourage an intuitive, spontaneous approach.  Zen has attracted many artists and musicians for good reason. It is a system of thought that allows our minds to soar, that examines the human condition, and attends to our individual evolution in fluent, effective ways without being theistic. God […]