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Seeing Buddha is a project by photojournalist David Butow,  focusing on the places where Buddhism began or is the dominant religion today. It has been published in part in National Geographic, The New York Times, Tricycle and GEO magazine.  It is now being developed as a book which will be released in 2016. He has lectured about the project at the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University and more appearances are planned for 2016.

Most of the photographs were taken in 2012 and 2013 and were specifically for the project during travels to Bhutan, Burma, China, India, Japan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. David photographed in a varitey of formats including digital color in every country. In some places he also chose an analogue film technique that was used exclusively in that location. The final project is a combination of these techniques and all photographs, except the title digital collage from Kamakura, Japan, are completely free of any digital manipulation of the content, rendering the scenes as he saw them with his camera.

-Nelson Ching


Now based in California, David began photographing as a teenager in the 1980’s in his home town of Dallas, Texas. Combining his interest in current events with his love of photography, his career as a photojournalist has taken him to dozens of countries including Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Peru, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

His photographic coverage of subjects such as the 2011 Japanese tsunami, the 2008 China earthquake as well as social issues in the United States have won awards from World Press Photo, Communications Arts, American Photography Annual, Photo District News and others.

David’s primary interests are social issues and the effects of public policy at local and international levels. As a photographer working in the journalistic field, he hopes his craft contributes to an understanding of various peoples, their living conditions, cultural evolutions and the connections that exist between societies around the world. He tries to approach his coverage with as few pre-conceptions as possible, letting the personal experience of seeing and photographing a situation guide his viewpoint.

Since 2015 he has been leading the Zen Photography Workshop which fuses the traditions of clarity of mind with art to help those at all levels find heightened ways of seeing and communicating with the camera.

Butow’s photographs have been exhibited in various venues such at the Asia Society and United Nations in New York and 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, Stanford University and Brooks Institute of Photography. His commercial and editorial clients have included National Geographic Books, Apple and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.