Bird Photography as Meditation and Prayer

In a world that can be overwhelmingly stressful, turning to nature can be not only a way to relax, but a way to truly reconnect with your inner spirit. Photographing birds will help you ignite your creativity and your inner light, because as you shoot, you are fully engaged in capturing something beautiful and meaningful. If you are like me, you will find there is also true joy in sharing the photographs you make with others. You want those photographs to communicate the joy you feel when you make the picture. In order to create photographs of birds that touch someone else, the birds have to touch you first!

You will find that connection by taking time with each bird, choosing a setting, background, or behavior you find truly compelling and trying to capture with your camera. Then, when you look back on that photo over time, you will be able to relive that moment and the connection the beauty in nature you experienced.

My wife, Rona Talcott, who created the centering meditative practice Photography as Prayer, pointed out to me that when I photograph, birds, it’s not just a way for me to make beautiful pictures, it is the way I connect to nature and celebrate the beauty I see in the world with my camera.  Photographing birds takes my fullest and most thoughtful focus. Photography as Prayer shows us that this kind of deep focus and creative expression can be a form of meditation, or mindfulness, or prayer.

Gray Heron

 Frankly, It doesn’t matter what you call it, what is important and clear in my experience is that focusing and photographing what you find beautiful in nature will help you center and regain perspective on the beauty of life.  We’re all so distracted these days that connecting to nature can be a key to our personal peace. When you make photos from a deeper place inside yourself, you’re expressing your soul and the core of your creativity. This can really help you slow and stop inside a single moment, to calm yourself and become more present in your life and the beauty around you. The photos don’t have to be perfect and you don’t need to own any special equipment. They are a way of expressing your gratitude for the beauty you see before you. You say thank you with your camera, if you say the words thank you or not.

Great Egret

Expressing that gratitude can become a deliberate part of one’s mindfulness, and a way to appreciate beauty more consciously in all its forms. The better we see and appreciate the beauty around us, the more moved we will be to preserve it, protect it, and pass it along to others.

You might consider how you turn your photography into your own mindfulness practice by downloading the free Photography as Prayer app. It has been live on app store for a few months and now has thousands of users.  It includes guidance for photographers of all levels, interests, and faiths.