Workshops in search of a date, time, and place

September 19, 2010

These are all workshops that I’ve taught at different places, and want to offer again — probably in new ways.  I’m talking with several  conference centers, but also invite you to consider these for your school, your church, or your community group.

About Listening

Listening is the core activity in almost all of our social and work lives — and yet how little time and effort we spend perfecting this skill!  And too often when we should be listening, we’re really preparing to talk, plotting our course, processing our emotions, or even tuning out completely.  In this workshop we’ll practice active listening, offering feedback to test our understanding, and formulating questions that clarify what was already said.  We’ll identify common behaviors that get in the way of listening, and best practices that can help us all.

Photography as Journal Keeping

Photography can be just snapshots, or deeper expressions of feelings, perceptions, ideas, memories. We’ll experiment with deeper ways to see, experience, and feel — using a camera.  This is NOT a technical class on photography, and in fact you don’t even need to bring a camera with you.  Just bring an open mind, open eyes, and (if you have one) an image that means a lot to you.

Art and Spirit

Our churches are blessed with many artists, for whom painting, photography, dance, drawing, writing, sculpture, and music are a form of spiritual practice.  But how does such artistic work help us find spiritual clarity, and express our spiritual beliefs.  We will spend the day sharing our work, our quest, and our leadings with each other.

Consider the term “artist” as a reflection of your passion and excitement about the artistic process, and not as any measure of your accomplishment or recognition.

Bring a piece of your work that is important to you.  It need not be finished, and you might not feel that it is fully successful but it should feel important.

Photographing from Within

Photography should be revealing to both the subject and to the photographer, should help us all see and feel, should create something new — not just a copy of what’s seen at first glance.

Photographers often ask how to take such pictures — images that evoke, that excite, that radiate. The answer to be offered here is simple, and yet complex:  See the scene, feel it and get in touch with what it evokes, take it to an inward space (perhaps a spiritual space), and then create photographs from that place.  That may be easy to say, but not always simple to do amidst the complex clutter of our connected lives.

We’ll practice this discipline, as we spend a day seeing photographs, feeling photographs, but not using a camera at all.  Our focus will be on the inner work that leads to clarity and vision.

Photography as a Spiritual Practice

This will be a weekend of photographing from within, with time for silent meditation together, for making pictures, and for sharing our work and process. Our goal is to broaden our vision, open our spiritual awareness, and, as we do this, learn how to take more expressive pictures.

Seeing Dance Like a Photographer

This is about seeing dance  and understanding how it translates into still two dimensional images.  We won’t need or use a camera.  Instead, we’ll look together at several short dance pieces — deciding exactly which images might tell the story of that dance, seeing if there is one “iconic” image, etc.  The program would be useful not just for those who want to photograph dance, but also for dancers and choreographers to better understand how their pieces might best be photographed, or for anybody seriously interested in photography.  Its lesson is,  “Look before you photograph”.

Not Consensus, but Sense of the Meeting

The  word “consensus” is often used to describe the Quaker process of making decisions, but this is not correct.  Indeed, consensus can be a limiting process in which disagreement holds the group back.  In this workshop we’ll explore the spiritually grounded Quaker “sense of the meeting” process — in which the group may disagree but still be able to move forward.  We also examine  ways that its outward form might be adapted in a more secular process.

Look Before You Photograph: A Workshop on Seeing

Learn how to take more expressive and exciting pictures, in an experience that can also inspire learning activities for children in grades 3 and up. By looking very closely at the environment around us, and by identifying what we’re seeing that we want to capture in a photograph, we’ll learn how to compose and take better pictures. And we’ll do this by using only our eyes, and not a camera at all! Learning how to look may sound simple, but it’s remarkably profound. Expect to come away with a clearer vision of what makes a successful photograph, and more ability to tell visual stories with a camera, as well as with a set of experiences that can be the basis for exciting learning experiences for your students in all subject areas. No photo experience is necessary.

About Arthur Fink

Arthur Fink is perhaps best known for his photography of dancers, which can be seen at  He also runs workshops on photography and spirituality, offers coaching on creativity and communication, and works with businesses and other organizations to help make technology simple and easy to use.  As a Quaker, he’s been Recording Clerk of Portland Friends Meeting, and of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, and he is currently serving on the committee revising the book “Faith and Practice” for New England Friends.

2 Responses to “Workshops in search of a date, time, and place”

  1. Leslie Walden said

    Will the workshop at Friends General Conference Gathering in 2011 be much like this?

    Will it differ in important ways?

    • Arthur Fink said

      Yes . . . it’s very much in the same spirit. What will be different is that we will comfortably allow time for worship together, and will be able to assume our such a worship experience is very much a “source” for each of us. Also, this workshop continues for a number of days, so should reach a greater intimacy, intensity,and level of persona importance. But each experience is an experiment, so we’ll see.

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