A Buddhist Monk’s Camera

Nicholas Vreeland explains to how making pictures is something he does as he proceeds through life’s pathways.

"I am a monk who makes photographs."—Nicholas Freeland

“I am a monk who makes photographs.”—Nicholas Vreeland

All of Nicholas Vreeland’s cameras were stolen in 1980. “I was sad that the person who stole the equipment would probably not know what it was. Discovering that everything was lost was like a painful sting, but not one that hurt for long. I was nearly relieved that I was free of a lot of things.” The equipment was insured, so Nicholas was able to manage things for a while with the insurance money. A few years later, his stint as a commercial photographer ended, and when he went off to become a monk, he found himself unfettered and free.

Boarding School Studios and Monasteries
Nicholas started shooting when he was 13. He studied in a boarding school in America, and says that it kept him happy there. At first, he would shoot what was around him and eventually, he created a little studio in his room to make portraits of students. He even made portraits of the Headmaster on the behest of the Headmaster’s wife. This interest spun into an occupation, and photography is what Nicholas did for a living until he became a monk in 1985. Then, he stopped shooting. In fact, it was about after ten years in Rato Dratsang, Karnataka that he revisited photography. Only recently, he displayed his work in an exhibition titled Photos for Rato, which was taken to major cities all over India by Tasveer Arts with the generous support of Zuari Cements.

A Brother’s Gift
When Nicholas moved to the monastery, his brother gifted him a camera. But Nicholas kept it locked in a trunk and rarely took it out. “I did not want it to become a part of my life.” However, after a few years, he began making pictures frequently. “I would keep the camera in my desk and photograph everyone who came into my room.”

To read the full post, go to the Better Photographer blog, here. 

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