Collected Writings

Steven D. Foster
Collected Writings

This image is from the project "Prayer Stones"
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Click here to see the project

I find writing incredibly difficult.   I do however feel it is an important part of my creative process and I am compelled to share my experiences, my personal stories, whatever relates to and sheds light upon my photographs and the projects.  Writing is an important part of what in alchemy is termed the Contemplatio; it compliments and makes whole the creative process, which the practice (the making) part cannot accomplish wholly on its own.  Contemplation of symbolic images relates to what C. G. Jung and Henry Corbin termed "active imagination."  There is tremendous grace in symbolic images, and contemplation is a way of imbibing the grace within an image on the one hand, and also its a way of allowing the grace to absorb us.

I think of my entire photography website as a contemplation, as a manifestation of active imagination, what Henry Corbin termed visionary recital.  Each project on the website is introduced with writings which explore the ideas within the project, interpretations about selected images, influences, etc.

But I have also done some writing projects in their own right.  They are listed below.  My writings are usually focused on personal stories.  However, I have also included several  writings about the Symbol and the Symbolic Photograph.  The symbol is very difficult thing to write about, just as grace is difficult to write about;  indeed the the symbolic photogaph and grace are inseparably linked .  

Like my photographs, these writings constitute yet another form of self portraiture, and the image keeps changing, transforming, moving on as I work through the progression of projects within my creative process.  Revision is an important part of my creative process; thus certain pieces of writing, and even photographs in these collections could change at any time, and then change yet again at another time.  Life is always changing.


Death, Art, Writing : Personal Stories  
A collection of brief stories on the theme of Death and its relationship to my creative process.

A Personal History of Photography  
An Illustrated Annotated Chronology of my life in relation to photography.

Personal Stories: Encounters with the Sacred  
Epilogue to "An Imaginary Book"  Visionary Recitals  

The Persephone Series 
This project, made in 1976, is a real-life personal encounter with the archetypal mythological tale of Persephone, her mother Demeter, and Hades, Lord of the Underworld.  The text describes in detail the personal and archetypal aspects of the project.

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Writings about the Symbol: 

The Symbol


The Symbolic Photograph - MFA Thesis Summary  1972
"The Symbolic Photograph: A means to Self-Knowledge."

Intuition, Correspondence, Contemplation, Symbols, the Silent World   2011
This essay, from the project "An Imaginary Book" 2011, the Ta'wil chapter, attempts to outline and define the more mysterious aspects of any creative process, the parts that are psychic events, the parts that are not sayable, in short, the symbolic.

The Symbolic Photograph & The Imaginal World  2014
From the project "The Creative Process"  Chapter 4


Welcome Page  to The Departing Landscape website which includes the complete hyperlinked listing of my online photography projects dating back to the 1960's, my resume, contact information, and more.