This series of photos, titled “Before and After,” comes from a larger project called “Contemplatives,” a visual exploration of the physiological qualities of meditation practice. Peter Seidler set up the “Before and After” project to explore the observable effects on practitioners after long periods of intense meditation practice. The question is: what are the observable changes after a period of intense practice?
Each participant in the project was asked to simply sit for a portrait on first day of a dathun, a month-long meditation retreat. Peter Seidler photographed them against a consistent background. Prior to the photograph, he asked each person to consider what they were looking for in the practice period ahead. This was on day number one. Then, at the end of the program, after approximately thirty days of retreat, Peter Seidler asked each participant in the project to sit in front of the same background and asked each to consider what the experience of mediation retreat had been for them. The result is the series of photos. It’s clear from results that the person in every one of the portraits has undergone an important transformative experience. I leave it to the viewer to draw their own conclusion.