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David Butow: "Seeing Buddha, the Photographic Experience"

Thursday February 12th 2015, 6:00PM
Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanities Center
David Butow: "Seeing Buddha, the Photographic Experience"


Most spiritual literature is filled with the words “see” or “vision” to describe spiritual awareness.  After three decades working as a professional photojournalist, often covering conflicts and other tragedies, David Butow decided to explore the parallels of his craft with some of the Buddhist concepts he’d been studying such as empathy, compassion and awareness of the present moment.

Looking for reflections of these concepts in the visual aesthetics and practices of traditional Buddhist cultures, he visited ten foreign countries and used a mixture of photographic techniques to capture his visual, intellectual and emotional impressions. The collection of photographs reveals a broad scope of people seeking their own transcendent experience and yet is tied together by the photographer’s singular vision. Finally, the viewers of the pictures become additional participants in the process.



California-based photojournalist David Butow has worked in over two dozen countries including Afghanistan, Burma, China, Iraq, Peru and Yemen. His coverage of subjects such as the 2011 Japanese tsunami, the 2008 China earthquake and social issues in the United States have won awards from World Press Photo, Communications Arts, American Photography Annual, Photo District News and others.

Butow’s photographs have been exhibited in various venues such at the Asia Society and United Nations in New York and at Visa Pour L'Image in Perpignan, France. He is a member of Redux Pictures and has been a guest lecturer at many institutions including the Annenberg Space for Photography, Brooks Institute of Photography and Otis College of Art and Design. His commercial and editorial clients have included National Geographic Books, Apple Computers and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Butow was born in New York City and grew up in Dallas, Texas where he began shooting professionally while in high school.  After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Government, he was a newspaper photographer in Los Angeles before beginning his work for magazines in the 1990's.



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