What is Wabi Sabi iPhoneography?

Today I am featuring a guest post from Paul Cutright on iPhoneography with Teri Lou .  Love the idea of taking the limitations of cell phone photography and making art from it.  Be sure to stop by Teri Lou’s site and check it out. Enjoy:

"The Last Red Leaf" Photo by Paul Cutright

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic arising out of the Zen tradition. It is a celebration of the beauty, harmony and authenticity of the imperfect, mundane or often overlooked. It concedes that nothing is permanent, nothing lasts and nothing is perfect.

And in that lies a unique beauty for the discerning eye. While the iPhone camera and iPhoneography itself may be considered a medium of expression of those very same wabi-sabi values, it flies in the face of the often fanatical pursuit of image “sharpness” that accompany more traditional forms and tools of photography.

According to writer Patricia Ward, “Wabi, sabi, and suki are important yet illusive concepts that explain the notion of Japanese beauty. Wabi denotes simplicity and quietude and incorporates rustic beauty, such as patterns found in straw, bamboo, clay, or stone.

Wabi refers to both that which is made by nature and that which is made by man. Sabi refers to the patina of age, the concept that changes due to use may make an object more beautiful and valuable. This incorporates an appreciation of the cycles of life and careful, artful mending of damage. Suki means subtle elegance referring to beauty in accidental creation or unconventional forms.”

Japanese architect Tadao Ando says, “Wabi-sabi is underplayed and modest, the kind of quiet, undeclared beauty that waits patiently to be discovered. It’s a fragmentary glimpse: the branch representing the entire tree, shoji screens filtering the sun, the moon 90 percent obscured behind a ribbon of cloud. It’s a richly mellow beauty that’s striking but not obvious, that you can imagine having around you for a long, long time . . .”

I believe the iPhone with its multiplicity of apps, produces all kinds of imperfect yet beautiful images, both by professional photographers and novices alike. And I observe so many of these “iPhoneographers” having a blast playing with all the creative possibilities that are contained right within the tool itself!

 And let us not forget that iPhoneography is photography and those who use the iPhone are making photographic images. As odd as the name “iPhoneography” (kind of like “Nikonography” or “Canonography”) sounds, it exists in a long tradition of technical and aesthetic practices and distinctions. And, at the same time, appears to be producing both a revolution and an evolution in the art of photographic image making. There are growing numbers of mobile phone art exhibitions in galleries and museums all around the world.

"Three Doors" Photo by PaulCutrightPhoto.com

If the notion of wabi-sabi appeals to you I encourage you to explore the idea for yourself. Go on a photo art walk around your home, your yard or neighborhood as a kind of meditation, moving slowly and allowing your unconscious to lead your eye and perhaps direct your gaze toward some previously unnoticed scene; gardening utensils lying haphazardly on a worn table or bench, blossoms in a state of early decay, some object out of place or set askew. Remember, you are looking for the imperfect, the worn and well used or ordinary and often overlooked.

See if this kind of exercise brings some new awareness and sensitivity to your image making with your iPhone. And thus producing images of exceptional beauty “that you can imagine having around you for a long, long time . . .”

About Paul Cutright

Paul is most well known as a relationship expert in creative partnership with his wife, Layne. (www.paulandlayne.com) Together they have authored books, audio and video courses and trainings for creating conscious, evolutionary relationships.

He has also been a fine art photographer for about 40 years with his images published in books, magazines and displayed in art galleries. Paul earned a BFA in Fine Art Photography at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1973 where his life-long passion for capturing the beauty and wonder of light through the lens of a camera began.

Paul explains that having found the accessibility, speed and creative tools with the iPhone has rekindled the sense of joy, passion, sheer fun and creativity he experienced in art school.

You may see more of Paul’s images at his website – www.paulcutrightphoto.com and his blog – http://wabi-sabi-iphoneography.blogspot.com

Paul Cutrighth



Finding examples of Wabi Sabi in your every day life brings peace in the midst of your current challenge?  Click here to download my newest Wabi Sabi Love Feelingization.  I will send your recording right to you.

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