There are a great many beautiful photographs in this book. Photos that are austere, elegant, cool, detached and mostly lifeless. The photos celebrate a kind of elegant starkness that seeks to divert attention from the messy realities of life. Even those with the zen-mandated element of nature - the single leaf on the auto body, the washed-out sky with abstract looking tree branches in the corners, the reflecting pond with a single hanging branch reflected perfectly - seem poised, artificial, repulsive and monstrous in their detachment.

This is photographic art, or artistic photography, but not art that can inspire change or force us to focus on what is important or necessary. It is art that seeks the opposite: to deny our circumstances, to be, not timeless, but apart from time.

I will state my bias, if it is not already apparent: I do not like art that refuses to engage with the world, with the social world, and the many injustices and oppressions that exist there. Cold-blooded imagery, no matter how well it is created, does nothing for me.

Another reviewer found the approach and the exercises useful. I do hope others find them so, as well, and that they can combine the techniques (or ‘the way of seeing’) with a deeper vision, one that can illuminate our lives.



Book cover

Metadata Info

  • Title: The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes
  • Author: Andy Karr
  • Published: 2011
  • ISBN: 1590307798
  • Buy: Amazon search
  • Check out: Seattle library
  • Rating: 2.0 stars