Peace and stillness / by martin bennie

I Worked and lived a life once in Korea, that was on the edge of insanity with stress and deadlines and where millions of dollars were at stake. The higher the stress, the more peaceful my photography became and i lived like this for almost 6 years. Looking back on the drink we consumed and the hangover i had, it was a wonder i even survived or had time for my photography. I wondered the south west coast of korea, and drove with no purpose, other than to see what lay at the end of the road i was on. Sometimes i turned left and sometimes i went right. I had no idea where i was going most of the time and i think this was in parallel with my life at this time. I had no direction, no goals and no meaning to my life. I was good at my job, i worked really hard and on my days off, i roamed, searching for something that i couldn’t find, because i didn’t know what it was. Its like leaving the house and thinking, shit did i leave the oven on

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I searched for stillness in my life and its evident in all my photography, though i didn’t know this at the time. I just seemed to be at peace in some of the landscapes and managed to portray my feelings into my images. I turned off all my thoughts and in these moments that i captured, i found the stillness i saught. All of my images, when i look at them years later, give me back the feeling i felt, while standing watching the light change in the landscape i happend to be standing it. I don’t know how many thousands of miles i drove, but i saw more of korea than most foreigners or Koreans could possibly hope to see and i captured a country of such stunning beauty, it stuck in my soul and even 4 years after leaving, i miss it so much.

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i once read a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh , the famous buddist monk turned teacher, where he said “Everything inside and around us wants to reflect itself in us. We don’t have to go anywhere to obtain the truth. We only need to be still and things will reveal themselves in the still water of our heart”

I wondered the country, taking long exposures of images, because i wanted to stand still and listen to the noise around me, but i didn’t know that, and i just remember the stillness and the escape from the constant chattering in my head of things to do with work, or things in my life that were not right, yet i didn’t know what to do about them. My photography is about calm, its about stillness and in most cases, there are no people in my shots, because i wish to escape people and feel the isolation off the moment.

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Now i suffer no stress and my life keeps on giving me what i need and strangers i meet tell me to slow down, stop and listen. My ife gives me jobs, where there is little to do and no way of being stressed and i get to travel to exotic locations and see wonderful things. I meet people who help me through bizarre circumstances and i strive most days to keep my mind focused and never to worry. I yearn for south korea as if it was a person that had died and i feel pangs of jealousy, when i see others going back or living there still, and i feel sad, that my life will not take me back. But yet i know, that it is not my time and jobs i apply for there, seem to come and go and i have to learn to accept my fate. But yet even as i think this, i know i can not go back. Longing and desire are things i have yet to explore, and i certainly don’t understand them yet. I miss the past and i cant change until i let go. I have no idea where my life will go from now, but i accept all that comes my way and perhaps i will just take a look down this new road that seems to have opened for me.