Artists and the Ta Chuan


One of my favorite activities is photography.  This is a picture that my brother took of me, 2 days ago when we were in freezing cold San Francisco (it’s June, for heaven’s sake!).

I love taking pictures even though I’m not very good at it, but that’s ok.  This is the classic sign of an artist.  We do things, not because we are good at doing them, but because we are driven to do them.  The only reason why it seems as if we’re good at what we do is because after years of being driven to do something, we tend to get a little bit better than the person who has never attempted to do whatever it is that drives us.

I am the only person I know who get heapings of scorn from family and friends because I go around holding a professional camera, looking as if I know what I’m doing, but zoom in on my camera’s display and the awful truth is revealed.

I always keep it on automatic point/shoot mode.


To be fair, it’s not because I don’t know how to adjust the camera.  I do know how to use it well.  It’s just…I simply do not want to be standing there, twisting dials and punching in numbers when I can just point and click away at the fleeting moments of life.

Small caveat:  This disregard for the finer points of photography does not include times of low light (where I have to fiddle with the ISO) or portrait photography (where I have to adjust focal lengths, aperture, and other such fussy details).

For me, the world changes with the blink of an eye.  In the space between breathing in and breathing out, a million things change.  I can see the changes, and I am constantly driven to capture at least a fraction of that change.  My brother does not seem to notice this mad shifting of reality.

Every time I get together with my youngest brother and we go on a photo trek, he’s constantly losing the best pictures and the best light because he is so focused on the numbers and the dials on the camera, completely disregarding everything that’s happening around him.

He feels sorry for me because all I do is aim and shoot, and the pictures don’t come out perfect, straight from the camera.



He tells me I’m wasting the potential of an amazing camera.

I tell him to go mind his own damn business and just worry about his own camera.  I got Photoshop at home that I can use to balance out the light and colors. Within the amount of time that he managed to take a couple of pics of me, I had snapped several dozen pictures of everything else (including him).

Since my brother is Catholic, not Taoist, I can’t just tell him to go read Book 2 of the Ta Chuan:  Chapter 6.

The Creative knows through the easy.
The Receptive can do things through the simple.  ~  Ta Chuan

He wouldn’t understand.

He wouldn’t understand because it would be too simple.  It’s the same reason why he shakes his head to see me do artwork and then repaint over it to create another work of art, or give away all my sculptures/knitted garments/gourmet creations/etc. after they have been created because I am no longer interested in them once they are completed.

For me, it’s the process of creating that’s fun and worthy.  The results of my creative endeavor–those are just by-products of my having a blast while sharpening my skills.  After all, when I die, I cannot take my paintings and sculptures and food with  me.  I can only take the skills that I have honed, along with all the love that I have managed to give to those around me over the years.

So I laugh.  Act like I’m an idiot for not understanding the complexities of a very expensive camera.  And I give my brother lots of love.  And I bumble along and take my pictures the quickest, simplest way I am able to.  And I live the Taoist life in my own way.

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9 thoughts on “Artists and the Ta Chuan

Add yours

  1. Do you like urban or natural photography, or both? Or something different? I’ve known people who like to do one or the other or both. I feel silly when talking about it with them because I have very little experience myself.


  2. Stephen, I take artistic shots. I love portrait photography as well as macro photography. I also enjoy taking pictures of random people on the street and in the urban setting. Anything that catches my eye…anything that speaks to me. I capture life in all its resplendent glory, and I use these photos as inspirations for my artworks.


  3. I used to be really into photography, when I was 15 my dream was to work for National Geographic

    But… *swoon* it would hurt the world any if more cameras were pointed AT you. God you’re gorgeous.


  4. (I’m sorry if that comment was inappropriate. I’m a dunce sometimes, so I’m not always sure if I’m being a jackass).


  5. Hi Ron
    😀 No apologies needed. It’s all good. Thank you for your enthusiastic support, and thank you for the email address. Posting it here though might cause spam from spam bots. I hope it’s not your usual email address.


  6. Thanks for the heads up ron, I’ll go ahead and do absolutely whatever you want me to do. Good luck and may the Tao be with you.


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