Reading: Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

I don’t remember where I saw Leonard Koren’s Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers mentioned recently, but I immediately ordered a copy and read it slowly over the last few weeks.

It’s a slim book of about 100 pages with many pages having photographs rather than text. It’s said that Koren’s book of 1994 was responsible for introducing the idea of Wabi-Sabi into the aesthetic conversation in the Western world. I have no idea as I don’t remember when this idea of the veneration of the simple, imperfect and natural entered my own intellectual environment.

I’m reading books about aesthetics and creation these days. This may have been the book that tipped me over into the subject. I’m about two thirds of the way through Rick Rubin’s The Creative Act: A Way of Being, a book I’m savoring on first read and trying to digest a bit, chunk by chunk. As has been my recent practice, I take no notes on the first read, leaving notes for a review session with the book.

My photography has been casual over the last few years, but in a way it’s been a further embrace of a Wabi-Sabi approach to images. My aim has been honest capture, leaving behind some of the cinematic excess of some of my work. Now, evaluating my images of the last year, I see where I’ve pushed forward in just allowing light and exposure settings to create a relatively finished image, an approach that I’ve picked up from photographers like Phillip Penman and Greg Williams. Both work in monochrome with an approach of exposing using the dynamic range and live view that our current mirrorless cameras provide. It’s beyond pre-visulazation, it’s actual visualization at the time of capture.

For, embracing the imperfection of the casual has helped my push on with new work. Wabi-Sabi for Artists . . . has emboldened me to further embrace capturing light and nature as a simple path to creating images.

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