The Way of Tea


“The art of photography is a journey just as much inward as it is outward.”

Though I have never been to Japan, I have always been fascinated by traditional Japanese culture. I find certain aspects of it to be the epitome of what a civilisation can achieve in combining spirituality and logic with a way of life. The Japanese tea ceremony, for instance, may be viewed simply as the serving of tea to guests. Yet, despite its simplicity, it is done with such aesthetics and perfection, that over the centuries it has become known as the ‘way of tea’. There is a careful, elaborate ritual. There is a timing, a place, a geometry, and a method involved. There is also a certain sobriety and restraint. For both host and guests, the ceremony shows mutual appreciation and respect. All put together, the Japanese tea ceremony is a presentation so intricate, that it is a form of art on its own.

We can all extend the way of tea to photography. In this issue, we have penned down many excellent tips on travel photography, both by the BP team and travel photography experts. Travelling is a great way to unwind and to shoot some amazing photographs. At the end of your trip, when you review your photographs, ask yourself this—how should you showcase your work to your family and friends? When would be the right time? What would be the perfect place? What would make a perfect selection and what would be the sequence? Which format should you adopt to display your pictures? Would a quick, staccato slideshow or a movie of stills fading into each other with a musical score be more engaging? Or if they are to be prints, what sizes should they be, and in what type of frames? Think of it as a ceremony. The care and meticulousness with which you plan and execute will eventually come across as a sign of evolved thinking and respect for the viewers of your work.

For those who find it difficult to travel, for whatever reason, here is a tip that you willnot find inside this issue—the art of photography is a journey just as much inward as it is outward… perhaps more so, just like the Japanese tea ceremony. So whether you are able to travel or not, you can always embark on a personal journey of discovery.

— K Madhavan Pillai
Better Photography

This article originally appeared in the April 2011 issue of Better Photography.


Tags: Showcase, K Madhavan Pillai, aesthetics, april 2011, geometry, Editorial, Japanese, Tea, ceremony, ritual, timing, sense of place, perfection, elaborate