PHOTO-ASSIGNMENT 02: Look Up | Zen Camera By David Ulrich

Read: Starting A New Challenge – Zen Camera | David Ulrich

Constraints Of The Assignment:

  • Turn your devices off (silence the text alerts and telephone ringers, notifications, and vibrations). If you are using it to take pictures, place its settings on Airplane Mode.
  • Engage in deceleration (slowing down), patience, and immersive attention.
  • Go somewhere – a coffee shop, beach, or urban environment, even an art museum – and just look, examine everything you see for a predominant period of time, longer than you feel comfortable with. Don’t stand apart. Stand or sit in the middle of the space and be a part of it. For now, don’t take pictures. Just enjoy.
  • Take a journal and write down thoughts and impressions.
  • Resist the impulse to photograph now. What you see will find its way into your work – and become part of your being – over time.

Read: Creativity Thrives On Constraints.

Purpose Of The Assignment:

  • To look at the scene, to find all the details, to contemplate the significance of what we see, and finally, to attempt to fathom what it means to us. The world has both objective and subjective meaning. The purpose is to see both.
  • Deceleration allows the information we receive through the apprehension of the senses and the mind to be fully taken in, to be digested, and to become a part of our experience. Sheer looking, or observation, does not only feed our experience but if done right, with enough time involved, observation also becomes a rich source of experience.

If you plan to do these assignments, I highly insist that you get yourself a copy of ZEN CAMERA to fully understand what each assignment is actually about. I provide only the outline in my blog-articles.


Duration: 12 January, 2020. 4.30pm-6.00pm IST.

Location: Baro Mandir Ghat Panihati. (Google Map:

Excerpts From My Journal:

“People have come here in groups mostly. A man is still taking a bath in the river, and a dog is sleeping in an awkward pose. People in modern clothes are not very photogenic. Most of the people are not wearing a mask… Surprisingly, all the stray dogs near this ghat are black. The natural light is pretty flat owing to the fog. Even the orange setting sun I saw last day is not visible today. Few jetty boats are crossing the river… Loads of small children and young boys are screaming and playing. Two girls are wearing the same tops and jeans and standing together, damn!

Only 15 minutes! It felt like at least 45 minutes have passed. There are two artificial yellow and white lights being reflected in the water on the opposite bank. There is a hand-rowed black boat in the river. They must be fishermen… There is a group of school students, continuously gossiping (such a waste of time).

Eight women have come in vibrant clothes to perform some sort of rituals. The man finally completed showering. Everyone is taking selfies/groupies as they are slowly planning to leave. Now there are more lights on the opposite bank that are being reflected in the water. Two more jetty boats are crossing each other.

Welcome the mosquitos! I wonder if this place is going to be completely deserted in the late evening. People are taking out their bicycles to leave. Loads of birds are chirping as they are coming back to their nests. The dogs have started to bark too. There are way too many mosquitos now.

There is a washroom here that I have not seen before… Someone has finally switched on a small yellow light bulb in this ghat, and there is a small Diya left near the water by the women who came in vibrant colored clothes… There are three equidistant white lights at a distance (on my left)… I wonder what everyone is thinking that I am sitting here and writing in a journal… There are a lot of birds flying very swiftly around the tree branches…”

My Experience:

It was definitely hard to resist the urge to not take photographs. Another hindrance was that I was not totally comfortable in the clothes that I was wearing, and that consumed a significant part of my mind and attention. The most prominent experience was how distorted my sense of time is.

I actually took a very few photographs in the last 10 minutes after putting away my journal and before leaving the place. My photographs are gradually becoming more complex and I am able to incorporate lights and colors in my compositions in a more complex fashion.