David Ulrich

  • Grandmother Felicita at 94. Copyright Franco Salmoiraghi

    Grandmother Felicita at 94
  • Tulips, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Copyright David Ulrich

    Tulips, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  • Bryce Canyon, Utah 1974. Copyright David Ulrich

    Bryce Canyon, Utah 1974
  • Sliding Board, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Copyright David Ulrich

    Sliding Board, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  • Conversation. Copyright Hengki Koentjoro

    Conversation
  • Pu'u Mauna Kea, Big Island, Hawaii. Copyright David Ulrich

    Puu Mauna Kea, Big Island, Hawaii
  • Cemetery, Kona Coast, HI 1985. Copyright David Ulrich

    Cemetery, Kona Coast, HI 1985
  • Telescope Interior, Mauna Kea, Big Island, HI 2005 C David Ulrich

    Telescope Interior
  • Grandmother Felicita at 94
  • Tulips, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  • Bryce Canyon, Utah 1974
  • Sliding Board, Cape Cod Massachusetts
  • Conversation
  • Puu Mauna Kea, Big Island, Hawaii
  • Cemetery, Kona Coast, HI 1985
  • Telescope Interior

Zen and the Art of Seeing

In Resurgence & Ecologist, July/August 2018, we featured an article about photographer David Ulrich and how his Buddhist practice has led him to new understandings of his craft.

A life-changing accident at the age of 33, after which he lost the sight in his dominant right eye, his life changed dramatically.

In his autobiographical book, The Widening Stream, Ulrich recalls the moment of realisation that changed his attitude and gave him an unshakeable sense of courage: "A question unexpectedly arose in my mind: If I cannot let go of something as relatively insignificant as one eye, one small part of my body, what will happen when I have to completely let go of my entire body, when I die?"

Once he had yielded to the shocking and unexpected change, Ulrich was able to focus on the positive aspects of having survived such a traumatic event. He now embraces the experience as a profound life lesson in letting go.

"A transformation had occurred on many different levels, physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual, due to the effects of the injury. It served to break down many of the unquestioned and crystallized attitudes my psyche had developed as an armour; and provided an opportunity for renewal, for a regathering of my energies under different conditions."

On a photography trip to Hawaii a few years later, Ulrich was drawn to the transformative and 'phoenix-like' nature of the landscape, and after several more visits he realised that he "was a part of the place, and the place was a part of me". Hawaii, fertile, vibrant and colourful, would not exist without the force of the volcanic eruptions that have taken place there, and it was this juxtaposition of destruction and beauty that had resonated with him - although it took him years to realise it.

Something of that growing realisation is revealed in Ulrich's latest book, Zen Camera, in which he brings his Buddhist principles to bear on the subject of his chosen art form and its many talented practitioners - and, in particular, muses on how spiritual techniques of creativity and consciousness can be used in the modern era of smartphones and digital images.

David Ulrich's book Zen Camera: Creative Awakening with a Daily Practice in Photography is published by Watson-Guptill.

You can read the article in full in the July/August issue of Resurgence & Ecologist.

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