Read on to find out what mindful / mindfulness photography is, why you should care and the simple way to get started on your phone camera, compact camera or fancy camera…
What is Mindful Photography?
Mindfulness is an everyday meditation where distractions melt into the background and you become fully present in the here and now. You could call it a micro holiday for body and brain. Mindfulness helps re-connect with our body, thoughts and feelings, and leads to improved health & happiness.
Mindfulness meditation can be worked into any activity that helps the brain rest and is easy to practice wherever you are. Popular forms include yoga, meditation, and just about anything you do in your daily life – even mindful colouring-in!
Practising mindfulness through contemplative photography is the perfect way to unwind, look at the world through fresh eyes, and express yourself creatively.
Mindfulness meditation practice has been scientifically proven to boost health and wellbeing in many areas, including significantly reducing stress & anxiety, and improving brain function as supported by these NHS findings
Studies show a significant increase in health, happiness and 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.
Combine mindful photography with time outdoors in nature for a health double whammy! Time outdoors in nature has been scientifically proven to boost many areas of health; including 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.
Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.Jon Kabat-Zinn
How To – Mindfulness Photography
I’m writing this at that time of year where 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…
- 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.
- 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?
- 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, take the photo. Doesn’t that feel good?
- 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, you’ve left your daily worries behind. Try the following exercises to help get into a mindful mindset.
Fun Mindful Exercises
- Take just 3 Photos – Taking lots of photos in a hurry is the opposite of mindful, in fact, 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
- 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 colour
Second, take a single photo that is 100% about 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 an 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 game too, doh.
Mindfulness Photography Tips:
- 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.
- 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 everyday 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.
- 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!
- 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 become a landscape photographer. The peace it brings me is something I hope viewers can also enjoy from my landscape photography.
Embracing mindfulness photography has been so important in my life. Being diagnosed with Crohn’s (an incurable long-term illness) – brought many challenges, including a change of career from office work to becoming a landscape photographer. The peace it brings is invaluable, and we all need a little break away from emails, phones and being busy, busy, busy.