Fine Art Photography Inspiration

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and 'Flow' theory

Photography and the Pursuit of Happiness
Link to photo from my Iceland gallery

Photography and the Pursuit of Happiness

For those of you, like me, who are fascinated by landscape photography, I wonder if you agree with me that the act of photography – that is the process of photography and of being totally absorbed in taking photos – is more important than the resulting prints that we make from those photos? In other words the process is more important than the end result?

Although I very much enjoy producing prints of the photos that I have taken and sharing them with others, the real reason that I enjoy photography so much and the reason that it has become so important in my life is for the way that it makes me feel while I’m actually taking photos.

When things are going well and I’m in a beautiful location with my camera and I have the freedom of time to immerse myself in the 3 essentials of photography - composition, light and subject – I can get to a point where I am so absorbed by the process that it almost seems that the photos are taking themselves with no conscious effort on my part.

When I’m in this zone of intense concentration, photography becomes a completely effortless process yet one that is intensely rewarding and creatively fulfilling at the same time. It makes me feel incredibly happy.

It feels like a state of grace.

Just recently I stumbled across the work of the distinguished psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his theories on what makes us happy. They best explain the reasons for the way that I feel about photography.

Wikipedia describes Csíkszentmihályi’s theory that people “are happiest when they are in a state of ‘flow’— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove. The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he is doing.”

I f you would like to learn more about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's theories take a look at this short video of his Ted lecture: