The Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing

Don 2.jpg
Don M  .jpg
Don 2.jpg
Don M  .jpg

The Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing


Only $105 for PhotoMidwest members; enter the $10 discount code TAO at checkout in the Coupon box in lower right corner. See Store Help for details or if you have any problems making a purchase.

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Instructor: Don Mendenhall
Time & Dates: 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm Tuesdays every other week beginning October 15 and ending January 7, 2019 for a total of six class meetings. Class dates are thus Oct 15 & 29, Nov 12 & 26, Dec 12 (no class on 24 or 31), and Jan 7. There will be a group conversation time approximately two months after the last class, arranged at a time when the most people can attend.
Location: 700 Rayovac Dr., Suite 212. ADA accessible. Free convenient parking in adjacent parking lot.
Class size:  Minimum of 5 enrollments. Limited to a maximum of 12 participants.


This class covers a Taoistic approach to photography; unhurried, relaxed seeing. It is intended for advanced amateur or semi-professional photographers. You should be confident in both your camera work and also in your post-processing skills in your software of choice. Participants should be open to new insights and being bold in their photography.

Due to the nature of the subject matter an open salon format (based on 17th and 18th century coffee houses) will be used which asks each participant to offer their expertise. The Friends (Quakers) model demonstrated in their ‘clearness committee’ approach will also be used as a guide. Photographic image capture explorations to be shared during each session.

The book Tao of Photography by Phillipe Gross and S. I. Shapiro will be the required text for the class. Instructor’s input will be based upon this text and a supplemental book titled; The Practice of Contemplative Photography by Andy Karr and Michael Wood.


Session 1: The Principles of Taoistic Photography
Practice Problems: Great understanding is broad and unhurried; little understanding is cramped and busy. Chuang - tzu

Session 2: Reconstructing Reality
Practice Problems: Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for unusual subject matter but making the commonplace unusual. Edward Weston

Session 3: Barriers to Seeing
Practice Problems: We look at the world and see what we have learned to believe is there. We have been conditioned to expect…but, as photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs. Aaron Siskind

Session 4: Taoistic Camera Work
Practice Problems: The bells and stones have voices but, unless they are struck, they will not sound. Chuang -tzu

Session 5: The Path of Conscious Camera Work
Practice Problems: Seeing is perception with the original, conditioned eye. It is a state of consciousness in which separation of photographer/subject, audience/image dissolves; in which a reality beyond words and concepts opens up, whose “point” of “meaning” is the direct experience itself. John Loori

Session 6: The Principles of Taoistic Photography
Practice Problems: The smallest dewdrop, you can stand in awe of perfection. John Shaw

Follow-up Session: Two months following the class offering the instructor will hold a group conversation time to discuss how or if the Taoist way affected each photography.


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Don Mendenhall is a photographer who has this art form throughout a long career in organizational development and currently shows at several art shows throughout the Midwest region. Don has taught several Photo Midwest and with Peninsula School of Art in Door County. He also coaches photography and helped found the Deforest Photography Group. Don has been very popular and his students give him high marks for his expertise and presentation style.


All student cancellations will incur a $10.00 processing fee, which will be deducted from any refund remitted. Cancellations more than thirty (30) days before the start of the first-class session are refundable, less the above processing fee.

Cancellations at thirty (30) to fourteen (14) days before the start of the first-class session will result in refunding half (50%) of the fees except for some classes where this is not feasible due to contractual arrangements with the instructor(s) and/or venue. Such exceptions will be noted in the listing of those classes.

Cancellations less than fourteen (14) days before the start of the first-class session will result in the loss of all fees. You may arrange to have someone else fill your slot in the class but we must be notified of this substitution as soon as possible.  PhotoMidwest will not be involved in any transfer of funds related to such substitutions.  If the slot in the class is not used, we will consider it as a donation to PhotoMidwest and as such, it may qualify as tax deductible.

In the rare case, an entire class must be canceled by PhotoMidwest, all students will receive a full refund. Partial cancellation of a single class session will typically be addressed via a rescheduled session, not a partial refund of fees.


By enrolling in this course, you consent to PhotoMidwest taking and publishing photographs of the course, which may include you, in its promotional materials to communicate what our classes, events, and/or facilities are like to potential members. To clarify, PhotoMidwest will never publish photographs YOU took without your specific written permission.