MASTER BLAH BLAH BLAH
I was gearing up for a recent workshop and reviewing notes from the participant and saw that she had done a number of photo workshops in the past. I was familiar with one of the photographers listed. It had been awhile since I’d checked out his website, so in one of my many daily distractions, I headed over to see what was new. The first thing I noticed was the steady dose of “Master” that was dropped all over the website. Master this, Master that. Learn from the Master. Buy the best book ever by the Master. Background of a Master. Initially, I thought it was kinda funny. Then, kinda embarrassing. Who does that? When I think of a Master, I think of a Kung Fu Master who can be challenged by 20 men and overcome them all with one hand behind his back. Or, a Zen Master who is awakened and fiercely present, burning so bright that those in his company taste nirvana. Li Mu Bai from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was a badass Master! Fo’ real!! He certainly didn’t need to go around calling himself Master. Everyone else recognized him as Master and referred to him accordingly. He had reached a level of such mastery that it spilled into all aspects of his life and rendered him egoless. Awake.
That’s what I think of when I think of “Master” - where such mastery in one area spills into all the other areas of one’s life and the result is a certain level of heightened awareness, egoless-ness, and inter-connectedness. And, let us not forget - humility! Is a Master really a Master if he/she is obviously ego-based? Ego-driven? And going around saying, “I am Master. Bow down before me.” Not in my world. Not in my eyes.
Of course, I do think there are Master photographers. Michael Kenna is a Master. Christopher Burkett is a Master. Edward Burtynsky is a Master. David Fokos is a Master. And you know what? You won’t find the use of the word “Master” anywhere on their websites!! Let us not forget, “Masters” do not have to announce themselves to the world and convince us of their mastery.