Mindfulness Photography: For Relaxation, Health & Happiness

(Serenity – Seascape Print)

Mindful photography is perfect for finding calm in your day, de-stressing and boosting your mood. Find out more about the health benefits and the easy way to start today

Reading time – 5 mins

What is Mindful Photography?

Mindfulness is an everyday calming meditation where distractions melt into the background and we become fully present in the here and now. You could call it a micro holiday for the body and brain.

Mindfulness helps us reconnect with our body, thoughts and feelings and leads to improved health, happiness and clarity of thought. Photography is the perfect mindful pursuit because it combines creativity and being fully aware and present in your surroundings. Mindfulness and photography go hand in hand.

Mindfulness is often associated with meditation but there’s no need to roll out a yoga matt or be in silent surroundings. That’s the beauty of mindfulness photography – it can be worked into your day even just for a few minutes to centre yourself and relax.

Practising mindful photography is the perfect way to gift yourself time, unwind, look at the world with fresh eyes, and express yourself creatively. The best thing is that it can fit into brief moments throughout the day. Imagine escaping the cold grey streets in urban areas by looking to the sky and picking out compositions.

Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Health Benefits

Mindfulness meditation practice has been scientifically proven to boost health and well-being in many areas.

Mindfulness and Mental Health

Mindfulness significantly reduces stress & anxiety and improves brain function as supported by these findings from the UK NHS and American Psychological Association.

Studies show a significant increase in health, happiness and a feeling of connection to nature when mindfulness is used – both immediate benefits and longer-term through regular practice.

Health benefits are said to include improved management of mental health issues (such as anxiety and depression) and in some cases complete recovery.

Nature and Health Benefits

Combine mindful photography with time outdoors in nature for a health double whammy! Time in nature or urban green areas has been scientifically proven to boost many areas of health. Benefits include a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease. 

I’ve used both time in nature and a mindful approach to help manage long-term health issues and can vouch for the benefits. If you’re stuck at home more often than you’d like (home office anyone?), think about popping some calming seascape art on your wall for a mini mindful moment or create a view using indoor or outdoor plants.

Limbs | Seascape Print

How To – Mindfulness Photography

I’m writing this at that time of year when seasons change and the beauty of autumn arrives, but the move towards winter isn’t always all that easy, or enjoyable! Short days and long periods between Holidays can lead many to feel a little blue.

It’s important to stay healthy and happy all year round. So, beat the blues, get outdoors and use a mindfulness approach to photography. Read on for greater happiness and improved mental health…

  1. Equipment – The most important thing is to have a camera with you! Plan a time to head out with a camera or use your phone camera to make it a daily routine.

  2. Relax And Be In The Moment – Pop your phone on silent and take a deep calming breath. Look around. What catches your eye? Colours reflecting off the clouds, interesting shadows, the sway of a tree in the breeze? 

  3. Take The Photo – Walk around the subject that caught your eye, look for different angles and perspectives, and carefully observe how the elements interact. Notice what you previously had not. Now, Click, and take the photo. Doesn’t that feel good?

  4. Review And Recompose – Check the photo and look for small changes that could take it up a notch. Could your timing be better or perhaps there’s a litter bin just poking into the photo?! Scan the outside of the photo for any clutter, recompose and Click

Before you know it, you’ve left your daily worries behind. Try the following exercises to help get into a mindful mindset.

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Fun Mindful Exercises

  1. Take just 3 Photos – Taking lots of photos in a hurry is the opposite of being mindful it’s mindless! 🙂
    Treat each photo as a precious and rare commodity. Take your time, explore a little to find the best perspective, on a cloudy day wait for the right light as the clouds pass over etc

  2. Colour / Texture / Shape – An extension of the above, in a single mindful photography session, do the following

    First, take a single photo that is 100% about the colour
    Second, take a single photo that is 100% about the texture
    Third, you guessed it… take a single photo that is 100% about the shape

    For example – take a photo that captures interesting colour combinations, perhaps block colours on a wall, the orange of a sunset contrasting against the blue sea. Then a photo of interesting texture – could be stone, a woolly jumper etc. And next – perhaps an interesting silhouetted shape that’s pleasingly composed for a photo.

    You must take them in this order – but remember what you’ve seen earlier and come back to it! Now it’s a memory workout too!

Mindfulness Photography Tips:

  1. Zoom with your feet. Don’t be afraid to move closer if the subject is too distant. The zoom on most phones quickly becomes unflattering and can’t replace a few steps forward. 

  2. You don’t need a big beautiful mountain range or paradise beach to practise mindful photography. Engage your mindfulness and explore where you are to discover the beauty in every day e.g. fluffy clouds, interesting textures, blocks of colour and repeated shapes.  A mindful photo can open up new creative options that you’d never have known.

  3. Daily practice will help get into the zone so don’t be afraid to use a phone camera or compact digital camera. That way you can carry it with you so there are no excuses! 

  4. Taking photos can become ‘snap happy’ and quantity gets the better of quality. Embrace the mindful approach to explore your surroundings and craft a photo before clicking the shutter. Imagine your camera can only store 5 photos a day and make each one count. 

About Me and My Mindful Photography Practice

Embracing a mindful approach to photography has been so important in my life. Being diagnosed with Crohn’s – an incurable life-long illness – brought many challenges, including a change of career from office work to becoming a landscape photographer.

The peace that photography brings me is something I hope viewers can also enjoy from my landscape photos.

If you have any questions or thoughts on this guide, please get in touch.

To unlock your creativity and learn how your camera really works – contact me for 1:1 photography lessons in Sussex (South England), and Brighton Photography courses.

Citations and references

Mindfulness and Mental Wellbeing – https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/tips-and-support/mindfulness/
Health Benefits of Green Spaces – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935118303323
Stress Reduction – https://www.apa.org/topics/mindfulness/meditation

Picture of Matt Goddard

Matt Goddard

Matt is a professional landscape photographer and the sole content author here. Based in Sussex, he centres his work around his home county and surrounding South East England landscape. Matt has taught photography to over 150 students on a one to one and group basis since 2016. Visit Full Biog
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