Meditation and the Practice of Photography
Norman Riley created the Peace Park Perspectives exhibit after completing his artist in residence program at Glacier National Park last summer. He reflects here on his experience and how the experience was about more than photography.
I arrived at Glacier on July 3 with 200 sheets of 8×10 film, 400 sheets of 4×5 film, and the idea that something more important than any photograph I could make would come from living alone for a month in the Park, engaged only in the meditation and practice of photography.
There were days surrendered to unfavorable weather conditions, but even those offered opportunities for exploration, planning, and reflection. Most days I found myself confronted with astounding views that were technically challenging, and ultimately afforded those moments of supreme clarity when nothing exists but the connection between photographer and subject completed as the shutter opens and enduring long after it closes. Beginners think the great miracle and wonder of photography happens in the developing tray.
It does not.
I returned with 395 negatives, an average of about 4 exposures per day. Some of the resulting pictures are singular images while others are duplicates or near copies of scenes that required extra gelatin.
Twenty-four of the negatives from this collection have been printed for “Peace Park Explorations,” a solo exhibit at the Fernie Museum. The prints will be accessioned to the museum’s permanent collection afterward, and it is tentatively planned that the exhibit will travel to the Galt Museum in Lethbridge, Alberta in 2018.
I will be returning to Glacier in the next few months to continue my study of the unlimited possibilities in the “Crown Jewel of the Continent,” and contribute to the visual record by which our impact on the world is measured.
Photos – The Fernie Academy Class by Norman Riley; Island Lake Melt by Norman Riley