Mindful Photography | learning to see
Mindful photography (or therapeutic photography) is a ‘photo image’ based activity which can either be carried out by a sole individual, or can be done as part of a wider organised group activity – or even as one-off project event. It can be done in an urban landscape, or in a greener space, say along a canal side, or in a city park, or perhaps on a walk out into a wider landscape.
Taking the images is deemed ‘therapeutic’ – but no formal therapy is taking place as no trained counsellor is involved. The follow-up process of selecting, arranging, viewing and sharing the photo images can also be an enjoyable and social activity. This in itself can improve wellbeing, by building new friendships. In so doing can reduce possible feelings loneliness or social isolation.
Nowadays, with relatively cheap digital cameras and smartphones, photography is a widely accessible and almost instant way for people to enjoy ‘being creative’. Cameras are now a integral part of mobile technology and their smaller ‘pocket’ size makes them easily transportable. It’s therefore relatively easy for anyone these days to take a good quality image, without having to lug loads of technical and cumbersome equipment around. A camera can easily be carried along, or conveniently tucked away in a pocket, while out walking or cycling.
Here at human-nature we use the Olympus Tough range of adventure cameras. They’re easy to use, and a little more robust, weatherproof and shock resistant than most cameras. They’ve also got good macro close up capability and the ability to light the subject. They’re also WiFi enabled allowing immediate download of all images from our group of cameras to a single, larger screen tablet device. So we’re able to view and share our photos, while we’re still out there in the landscape.
Digital technology is also so immediate, you can check your image there and then through the LCD viewing screen within an moment. If you like, you can re-take and improve the image at an instance, until you’re satisfied you’ve captured exactly what you’re looking for.
The Art of Seeing | see the extraordinary in the ordinary
The art of mindful/therapeutic photography is actually in the looking – and even more so in the ‘seeing’. Seeing something different, perhaps something unexpectedly beautiful, like noticing a pattern in something that wouldn’t ordinarily be perceived as beautiful. Perhaps the throw of a shadow, a shimmering reflection cast against a wall, or perhaps even something corroding or decaying away, something as simple as peeling paint or a rusting old nail. Or how about capturing something from an unusual or from a different angle, perhaps sharply in and softly out of focus, or perhaps even something in macro closeness – things can appear different close up. Sometimes surprisingly ordinary things, when seen differently and photographed in a creative way, can suddenly become rather extraordinary and even breathtaking.
Snapchat | focus on now
Focusing on taking one image after another also gets us into flow. Our minds become less busy with ‘chatter’ and very much ‘in focus’ on the here and now – right on what we are presently doing, taking each image and capturing a precise moment in time. In turn each image becomes a memory, and something we can easily look back and reflect on – to recall the day, the time and perhaps the precise moment in our lives that we took that image. Maybe we can even recall what we felt at that moment.
Often it’s quite enjoyable to arrange our photos into common themes or collages, then apply names and titles to the photo images. Sometimes we may take an image for a reason, it somehow seems necessary and meaningful to us at that moment, and its good to reflect back on what that photo means to us and why it was important enough to take the time to capture that specific image.
Nearly all of the images on this page have been captures by our own group ‘Friends with Human-Nature‘ on an early Spring morning in an inner city Staffordshire park (Festival Park, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent). Sometimes you don’t have to look that far to find something beautiful – and to feel a sense of ‘escape’ that photography can bring.
Contact Us now if we can bring our therapeutic photography techniques to your local group – either as an organised therapeutic activity or an educational workshop – using our expertise and our camera equipment.