The Photographic Visions of Douglas Beasley
Arts Week teacher Douglas Beasley is founder and director of Vision Quest Photo Workshops. As an artist, he believes that we always have the opportunity to transform an emotional experience into a visual one. Here, he offers nine extraordinary examples of finding the sacred in every moment.
Douglas Beasley is teaching Photography & the Emotional Landscape July 6-11.
Douglas believes in making a deeper, more authentic connection to the world, and then learning to express that connection through photography.
"Photographs symbolize the beauty that resides in all things, the spirit that inhabits all objects, the temporal nature of life experiences," he says. "When I learned to interpret and start to transfer what I was feeling into my photographs, I awoke into the mystery of art."
Douglas' Vision Quest workshops are held at art and cultural centers across the United States and in Ireland, Peru, Italy, Guatemala, Norway, Japan, and China, as well as the Trade River Retreat Center, his cabin and retreat center in Northwest Wisconsin.
“Teaching and workshops have become a much bigger part of my creative life,” he says, "and the time and destinations have become a big part of where and when I do my personal work."
Douglas describes his own journey as one through religion toward spirituality, and he credits photography as helping him become more authentic in his own vision.
“My work as a photographer is about seeking the sacred,” he says, “looking to find the divine in everything. My photography is about recognizing the spirit that inhabits all things, animate and inanimate, big and small.”
Douglas has been published internationally and featured in numerous photo magazines such as Zoom, the Sun, B&W, PDN, Shots, and PhotoVision. His first book, Japan: A Nisei’s First Encounter, offers insight into his journey to his mother’s Japanese homeland. His most recent book is Earth Meets Spirit.
“More and more,” he says, “It is only the emotional and spiritual connection that are primary in my work.”
In his teaching, Douglas emphasizes heart, soul, and vision over the mechanics of camera use.
“Photography isn't about finding the most spectacular place or photographing places that you haven't been seen before,” he says. “It's more about how we approach our subject matter. What always gets my interest is the spiritual connection, whether it's to people or place.”
“‘Making’ a photograph instead of ‘taking’ a photograph is about being deeply connected, if only for an instant, to your subject,” Douglas says. "It is about an ‘honoring’ of the subject through paying attention to its essence, rather than trying to ‘take’ something away from it.”
As a creative teacher, Douglas offers this advice to aspiring photographers and artists in any field: “You have to take risks with your vision. That is at the heart of being an artist: To take risks and not fear failure. Embrace it! Embrace the process! Grow from it! Repeat as necessary.”