The EYE, HEART & MIND …. Keeping Focused on INTENT.


The quest for me has always been to stay focused with my eye, heart and mind. I’ve managed to do so in spurts of time and energy and at the same time, get unfocused as well. I remember sitting against a tall oak tree with Minor White. The class was all about making photos that may or may not in time have or have not any value.

Minor related to me more so than the others because I was a combat vet  from Nam and really because I was always asking him questions. He told me that the hardest part of living was not in finding subject matter to focus on but focusing on my inner self. 07-13-0558

I came to understand what Minor meant but so far, I have failed to find the inner self and stay focused on it for a prolonged period of time. This is what he meant as explained to me. The words may not be exact anymore but the meaning lives in me and will forever.

The single word that maintains value above and beyond all others is...“INTENT’. So maybe I have photos of flowers as above. The thing is, to most they see pretty flowers. To me and other photo warriors, we see INTENT. I see that what I felt at the moment of exposure is realized in these images. No, it’s not The Decisive Moment. (I’m not a firm follower in that saying anymore. Besides there are about 3600 seconds in a moment here in Philly. YMMV. That’s not using any fraction of seconds. So, today shooters have destroyed the essence of what Bresson was talking about. I choose not to subscribe to that ruination.)




So, if one’s intent is intact, then whether another gets the photo or not doesn’t matter at all. Photography being a form of visual communication needs to communicate. But with whom? If the photo lacks intent, it’s just like writing hogwash with words. The words are there but there is no intent and thus no message.

Photographers are more prone to suffer a lack of communication than other communicative arts. You can buy all the cameras, lenses, darkrooms, lightrooms etc you can afford. Shoot countless hours, days, weeks months etc. Take as many workshops as you can all the while, what you need to succeed in your quest is just plain and simple…INTENT.

Intent is the focusing of your….Eye, Heart and Mind.


5 thoughts on “The EYE, HEART & MIND …. Keeping Focused on INTENT.”

  1. Another good one Don. I am currently reading “Minor White: The Eye that Shapes” so your remarks are timely for me. I also took some sunflower shots today with the NEX6, a Canon 85mm lens and a Nikon closeup filter. How is that for being ecumenical?

    1. Thanks Dan. Yeah, Minor was a trip and a half. It was a timely experience for me and there’s a very good chance he saved my life.

      I gotta say, the Nex 6 is an amazing camera and I feel so relaxed using it. How do you steady the camera with that lens on?

  2. Judging from what I have read, I can imagine the truth of both things you say about Minor. As for steadying the camera, I have fairly steady hands, and I watch that shutter speed is sufficient. I don’t like carrying a tripod even in my own garden, so I try to do without it unless it is necessary.

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