I just began reading “Ki in Daily Life,” by Koichi Tohei.

Fascinating stuff.

(Tohei Sensei was a Japanese Aikido master, the most skilled in the world, after founder Morihei Ueshiba, and a major proponent of understanding ki, which is synonymous with the Chinese concept of Qi, or Chi.)

 

 

 

Though I’m not finished with the book, right off the bat, Tohei Sensei establishes we all have ki, or life energy, and can choose whether it flows in positive or negative directions.

We develop our ki by the thoughts we make, the breath we take, and the ways in which we move our bodies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In particular, Tohei Sensei guides us to drop our “one point,” or center of gravity, (what the Chinese call the Lower Dantian,) towards the ground, focusing on relaxing it, as well as our posture.

It’s really making a difference in my overall happiness, and I just began experimenting with the practice.

But once again, you’re wondering…why is he telling me this?

Because Chinese martial arts, (the various forms of Kung Fu,) use Qigong, or energy-based, movement meditation exercises, to develop fighting power, and life energy.

Koichi Tohei Sensei, one of the great Japanese martial artists of all time, advocated doing the same thing.

 

 

And he drew acclaim for helping non-martial-arts, just regular people, understand and utilize their ki, by encouraging certain movement mediations and thought-patterns.

He was explicit in teaching the extension of ki though your fingers, out towards the world, to spread the positive energy you cultivate in yourself.

Sample quote:

“Our lives are a part of the universal ki enclosed in the flesh of our bodies,” and “…practice emphasizing the sending forth of ki aims not only at improvement in the martial techniques, but also at facilitating the conflux of our ki with that of the universal. That is an extremely wholesome way to make the maximum of one’s life power.”

That’s some secrets-of-the-Universe type shit right there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only two weeks ago, I published an advice column, suggesting you figure out new ways to chill the fuck out, while the world was going insane around you.

(Buck the trend, as it were.)

So now I’m giving you some concrete suggestions for how to accomplish that lofty goal.

These ancient practices, in which we trust old-school traditions, can help us learn to meditate, calm our minds when we’re stressed, and build up our ki, so life will get better.

(Knowing how to defend oneself is a cool side-benefit, but martial arts are really about developing internal control on a deeper level.)

If you’re not interested in Japanese or Chinese martial arts, things like Yoga, Zen meditation, Tibetan Buddhist meditation, Tai Chi, walking meditation, any of these are worth integrating into your life, to better prepare you for 2022.

I was thinking about all these things this morning, on my walk, right before I wrote this for you.

So I stopped by the stream, to capture a moment of Zen.

Hope you like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you add movement or sitting-based meditation to your self-care regimen, along with exercise, eating well, and making your art, you’ll likely find yourself a bit happier, day by day, than during the darkness of the early pandemic.

(I had to discuss photography eventually, right?)

Making art is still the most powerful self-care arrow in our quiver.

It’s why you’re reading this blog.

Because even in a world with seemingly endless forms of creative expression, so many people still love using the camera to make art.

And I’m fortunate to be able to meet a lot of photographers, view their work, and hear their stories, now that photo festivals are back, IRL.

Today, though, I chose not to do another rant about how great photo festivals are.

(As I’ve sung that song a lot lately.)

But it is finally time to show the first batch of the best work I saw at PhotoNOLA back in December.

I met a host of talented, cool, interesting artists, and am thrilled to share their work with you today.

(We’ll have another group next week.)

As usual, the artists are in no particular order, and we hope you enjoy the portfolios.

 

 

 

 

Ash Margaret is based in Houston, and showed me a bonkers project, for sure. The through-line to the series was a set of old-school gas masks, integrated into staged environments, featuring models as well.

(Talk about creative expression.)

They’re really strange, and I made a radical edit forΒ Ash, in which we divided the images I thought were too kitschy, from the ones that were ambiguous, cool, and foreboding.

Regardless, they seem the perfect example of how to use healthy ways to get your crazy out, so you don’t shine it on others.

 


 

 

Ellen Mitchell is from the Jersey Shore area, (like me,) but unlike me, she still lives there.

While I spied a series about seagulls that I loved, at the portfolio walk, when we met for our official review, Ellen showed me a group of street photos taken on the boardwalk at Seaside Heights.

(A bit South of where I’m from.)

We must have discussed consent, as it was 2021, and considering how we commodify the visual identity of strangers is a tricky topic.

I also suggested she take good care with certain techniques, like light quality and cropping.

Overall, though, the pictures definitely represent something different, (which is hard to achieve,) and I’m glad Ellen allowed us share them with you.

{ED note: I just went through the files Ellen sent, while posting the column, and have to say, upon second viewing, I think these photos are pretty great. It was very hard to edit down even to this large selection.)

 

 

 

Chad Schneider is based in Minnesota, and also has a background making films.

We’re all familiar with the genre of creepy/seductive twilight photographs of homes and buildings.

(I doubt Todd Hido invented it either, but it’s certainly something we know him for.)

However, some tropes are alluring for a reason.

Chad’s illuminated evening shots sucked me in, for sure.

They’re gorgeous in just the right ways, and I love them, even if we’re familiar with the style.

 

 

 

John Hesketh is a cool guy, and certainly knows New Orleans.

(He said an ancestor had been run out of Louisiana, at gunpoint, so he didn’t grow up down there, but had deep roots.)

John showed me multiple-image-composite photos of Mardi Gras revelers.

I would say I liked them; didn’t love them.

I mean, they’re fun.

What’s not to like?

But when John suggested he was done, that surprised me, as he didn’t seem bored or disengaged with the subject.

He agreed he was still excited, and then reconsidered, deciding to return to Mardi Gras 2022 to make more art.

Nothing gives me more pleasure, during an event, than knowing I can help get someone fired up to use their creativity, which is so good for our health.

 

 

 

Last, but not least, we have Diane Meyer, whom I met via Zoom, during the online portion of the reviews.

They happened simultaneously, and each reviewer found a nice spot in the hotel’s events building, (across the street from the International House Hotel,) to connect via WiFi to a photographer elsewhere in the country.

Diane is based in LA, and showed me some really amazing work.

I don’t normally disclose such things, but I voted for her for the PhotoNOLA Review Prize, and others must have too, because she won.

Congrats, Diane!

As to the work, they’re photographs of the location where the former Berlin Wall stood, in which parts of the photos have been sewn over.

Like fabric art had a baby with photography, and I loved it back in December.

That was before the Berlin Wall, and the resurrected Clash of Empires, was so firmly ensconced in everyone’s consciousness, under a resurgent, imperialistic Russia.

It’s just a killer project, technically and symbolically.

 

 

We’ll have more portfolios for you next week.

See you then!

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Wow! Ellen Mitchell’s Seaside Heights is the best boardwalk series I’ve seen since Bruce Gilden’s Coney Island. Didn’t quite get the vertical cropping at first, but one accommodates, particularly after seeing how it works for the ‘aerial’ background on some. Her After Dark series also contains some particularly stunning imagery…

  2. Wow to Ash Margaret and John Hesketh in particular!


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