on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Varieties of Experience

Reframing our stories

Guy Tal

Professional photographic artist, author and speaker working primarily in the Western US. Website



The danger always exists that our technology will serve as a buffer between us and nature, a block between us and the deeper dimensions of our own experience. Tools and techniques ought to be an extension of consciousness, but they can just as easily be a protection from consciousness. ~Rollo May

Inner experience is the subjective significance, or meaning, we each associate—intuitively and/or consciously—with certain circumstances and perceptions, and the emotions inspired by this significance. While some predictable commonalities exist in the significance most may associate with some known circumstances, generally speaking, we don’t all experience the same (objective) circumstances in the same way—what one person may find beautiful, heroic, tasty, or interesting, may impart altogether different perceptions in another. For example, a person raised in a religious tradition may feel intuitive reverence for the divine in circumstances where another, raised in a different tradition, may just as intuitively experience wonder and mystery without supernatural associations; a person accustomed to a certain cuisine may delight in dishes that another person of a different culinary background may find distasteful, and so on. While it may seem obvious that such things as tradition, education, personal sensibilities, or social norms, may influence one’s intuitive perceptions, what is less obvious is that we each also possess a considerable degree of conscious control in shaping our intuitive perceptions. Indeed, in some cases, a degree of conscious thinking and cognitive training may transform our experiences—in a greater sense, our perceptions of the world, of ourselves, and the courses of our lives—in pervasive and important ways.

Indeed, in some cases, a degree of conscious thinking and cognitive training may transform our experiences—in a greater sense, our perceptions of the world, of ourselves, and the courses of our lives—in pervasive and important ways.

In past writings, I touched on the personal value of favouring qualities of experience to qualities of photographs. This attitude has been so transformative for me, that I am no longer interested in making photographs unless they ensue out of some personally-meaningful experience (even if just a moment of peace and inspiration). But experience is not a singular quantity and has dimensions and varieties that warrant discussing more specifically.



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