Foundations in Mindful Photography

Interested in developing your photography skills in a mindful way? Want become more mindful whilst using your camera? Then the Foundations in Mindful Photography Course Bundle is what you need.

Mindful Photography is all about aligning what you see, with what you know about photography and how you feel about what is right in front of you. My introductory course Mindful Photography 101 is for those of you who would like to start at a steady pace, developing both your mindfulness skills and applying mindfulness to photography development.

But if you are a little more confident with photography, and have some interest or experience of mindfulness (though that is not necessary) this course bundle will help to enhance your ability to see a photo opportunity. It will also develop your knowledge and understanding of both the technical and compositional skills required to create interesting photos.

Foundations in Mindful Photography is made up of two courses (offered at a discounted price – instead of £50 each, the two courses together are £70 if you buy them through the bundle). Let’s have a little look at each course in the bundle.

Seeing the Photo (Foundations 1)

In the online course Seeing the Photo (Foundations 1) you will learn the difference between seeing a photo, and looking for one. That might sound a little strange, but sometimes in your striving to create a good photo you miss the great opportunity that is just in front of you.

You can develop your seeing skills. You can become more skilled at seeing photo opportunities, and this course can help you to understand how to develop this key (but often overlooked) skill. Remember Jeff Berner’s wise words, “Looking is a gift. Seeing is a power”. Develop your seeing skills. Transform your photos from good to great.

Develop your ability to see by following innovative Mindful Photography Activities. Post your favourite photos in the Community Group and share your comments about other students’ photos. This is an interactive course that you can follow at your own pace, but you still get that ‘class community spirit’ by sharing photos and comments in the private social group.

Making the Photo (Foundations 2)

The Making the Photo (Foundations 2) online course will help you to mindfully develop your technical and compositional skills.

You will learn the technical photography skills through a mindful approach. The three key elements of exposure (aperture, shutter speed and ISO) are taught through video, text and activities. Something for every type of learner.

This course helps you to learn the many compositional guidelines using a simple framework. The technical and compositional skills are then developed through imaginative Mindful Photography Activities. And every activity can be used several times!

Like the Seeing the Photo Course, this online course can be taken at your own pace and you have a private social group where you can post your activity photos and comments. You also get to see and comment on everyone else’s photos, and I comment on every photo posted.

So, although both of these courses are online, and at your pace, you are not on your own. The community of fellow students and I will keep you engaged and motivated!

Foundations in Photography Course Bundle

The course bundle is the way to go! Both online courses; Seeing the Photo and Making the Photo, with 30% off the combined price. Take a look at the course pages, where all the detail is outlined and if you have any questions contact me. I’ll answer very quickly, promise.

PS The course photo was created by remaining mindful of how the bull was feeling about this strange man. I took my time, allowing him to get comfortable with my presence and holding the camera, which he was curious about, at waist level. I used my technical and compositional skills to create the final photo. Mindful Photography in action.

Developing Resilience

“Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress…..It means bouncing back from difficult experiences.”

American Psychological Association

Resilience is what gives people the ability to cope with change, loss and difficulty. It is the mental reservoir of strength that you are able to call on in times of need to carry you through without falling apart. Psychologists believe that resilient individuals are better able to handle such adversity and rebuild their lives after a catastrophe.

Dealing with change or loss is an inevitable part of life. At some point, everyone experiences varying degrees of setbacks. Some of these challenges might be relatively minor (not getting the job you wanted), while others are disastrous on a much larger scale (death of a loved one, major health crisis, end of a major relationship, pandemic). How you deal with these challenges can play a significant role in not only the outcome, but also the long-term psychological consequences.

Your life flows against a backdrop of continual change. There is nothing that remains constant or static. A few of these changes are instant; with others the speed of change is so slow that you can convince yourself that all is as it has always been. You know that there are distinct stages of life, yet often it is difficult to live harmoniously through each stage. Instead of embracing or adjusting to the challenges within each stage of life you may gallop through the early stages, with one eye the next. Then, beset by early indications of your mortality, you cling to the middle stages, believing you are still young, refusing to accept the inevitable. I know, I’ve done it. And look what a mess I got into!

What force impels us? What is it that blinds us to reality? The answer is both simple and complex. It is your mind’s habitual thinking. That is the simple bit: knowing what it is. Responding differently to change, rather than reacting in your characteristic manner is the challenging bit. This is where resilience can help. Some of us may be more naturally resilient than others but we can all develop greater reserves of resilience.

How can you develop resilience through photography?

This pandemic life is unprecedented in our lifetime. The volume and nature of the changes we are experiencing are unexpected, unwanted and so very difficult to live though. I have been shielding for nearly a year and I have used photography to help me through some of the more challenging thoughts, feelings and experiences. I believe that photography can help you too. Specifically, I believe that photography can help you to develop the resilience to cope with these massive changes. So, I am putting together an online course to do just that. It will revolve around the five pillars of resilience that I have outlined below.

Five Pillars of Resilience

Self-awareness and self-care
Taking time to readjust to changing circumstances is essential for taking care of yourself. Meditation and Mindfulness are great for developing your mind’s ability to focus on one thing at a time. Through mindful practices you can then develop clearer awareness of how you really are, and from that authentic position move towards accepting how you feel and how your life is.

Photography is a mindful practice that encourages you to focus on the present, to see clearly how things are. It also provides an opportunity to create photos that reflect what you are thinking, feeling or experiencing.

Problem Solving
Learning to accept what you cannot control or influence is a powerful problem solving skill. Photography provides you with ways to develop this skill. When you are out creating photos, you have to notice how things really are; weather, light, subjects and so on. Then you adapt to the conditions – how it really is – and change your camera settings and maybe your ideas about what photos you might create. You are problem solving by paying attention to how things really are.

Using your mind to understand and accept what you cannot control in photography, helps you to do the same in other areas of your life. This activity burns new neural pathways. As Donald Hebb said, “Cells that fire together wire together.” So, the more you do this, the more the new way of thinking becomes available to use in other areas of your life.

Positive Outlook
Reframing how your world actually is, is one of the best ways to shift from a negative to a more positive view of any situation. Fortunately, photographers reframe all the time. You may explore a subject through different frames until you find the most effective photograph. You may take a wide-angle view, or use a macro for a close-up. You may look at a subject from different angles to find the most effective version that communicates your core idea. You reframe all the time.

Looking at your life and developing a more positive outlook can be difficult when external changes have re-shaped your world in a way that you do not like or find uncomfortable. There are emotional skills that you can develop through specific photography activities that can support you to develop a positive outlook. These emotional skills include adaptability, perseverance, resourcefulness, gratitude and generosity. All of the photo tasks and activities on this course will develop these skills.

Meaning and Purpose
Photography can provide you with a passion and purpose. You can learn new skills, develop existing ones and create photos that you really love. Following interesting and challenging photography activities can provide motivation to get up and out into the big wide world, to take part in some physical activity and to interact with nature. Recent research has proven that creating and posting one photo a day supports your well-being. This type of photo activity can be a springboard to developing all of the resilience skills mentioned here.

Each of the photography activities on this course will include these six features:

  1. Creativity – Improving your seeing skills, learning and developing your photography skills and creating photos that you love.
  2. Being in the great outdoors.
  3. Gentle physical exercise.
  4. Development of emotional skills that support your development of greater resilience.
  5. Mindfulness – through a Mindful Photography Practice.
  6. Social interaction by sharing your favourite photo, thoughts and comments.

Social Support
Having strong social networks provides you with people who share things in common with you, who understand about you and what you are experiencing, and care about how you are. There are many ways that these networks develop; you will have several family and friendship groups that you belong to. Each of these may provide different types of support.
Photography can also provide you with social support. Following a course with a group of people with a common goal, especially when that common goal is developing resilience through photography can really help you through challenging times.

Developing Resilience through Photography Course


I am offering a FREE online course from 1st April 2021 which will help you to develop resilience through photography. This course will help you to not only develop resilience, but will also improve your photography skills. The course will take account of the five pillars of resilience as discussed above, and is suitable for all levels of photographer and all types of digital cameras including smartphones.

The course will be delivered online and will include a private online community group where you can share your photos and comments. This will be a secure group which only allows access to students following the course and myself. The course will also offer interactive videos, downloadable resources and mindful photography activities. The activities and posting your photos and comments to the group are what will support your development of resilience.

This course will be free, to support you at this challenging time. There will also be the opportunity to support others finding life challenging at the moment by making a donation to a national mental health charity. Let me know if you are interested and I will let you know when the course is open for enrollment.

More news soon!

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Me and ME (Multiple Exposure)

I have been somewhat occupied of late. A creative project has taken over. So much so that I have slipped to only blogging once or twice a month. I thought I had better pull myself together, and what better way than to blog about what has been swallowing my time.

Over the last six weeks or so I have been developing a new online course in Multiple Exposure (ME) and Intentional Camera Movement (ICM). That has involved developing learning materials in different formats (for all you different types of learners out there); there are Cheat Sheets, talking head slideshow videos, on location videos, an eBook and of course photography activities for you to practice the new skills.

The only thing is, I have to complete all the activities too. And I get creatively distracted. This is because at the same time as working on the online course, I am also creating ME and ICM photos for my project Pandemia. Sometimes the two blend into each other. Yesterday for example I spent 4 hours walking around the Gower creating ICM photos for the new course and then when I had finished editing them I spent another hour or so reviewing which, if any of them, could make the Pandemia shortlist.

Let me show you what I mean. First I need to go back a few days and talk about one of the four ME Modes. There is a ME mode on some advanced digital cameras called Additive. This mode adds all the light exposure from one exposure to the next, layering the photos and getting brighter each time you do it. If you went on for the maximum possible (9 exposures) you end with an almost white exposure! Not much use in that I thought.

I decided to experiment and discovered that 3 layered exposures seemed to be a maximum. Then when I edited them in Lightroom and rescued some of the highlights more colour and pattern emerged. Here’s an example.

When I first saw this I thought Wow! What can I do with that? More experiments followed, the Pollyanna Principle was fully in play. Fortunately, I noticed and pulled back on my excitement. Then I started to push at the edges of what was possible, and how I might be able to control the colours. You can find out more in the new Online Course, of course!

Then yesterday I spent 4 hours playing with ICM on a 5 mile circular walk on the Gower Peninsula. I’m fortunate to be able to live only 20 minutes drive from one of the UK’s top beaches; Three Cliffs Bay. I parked a couple of miles away in a tiny hamlet and walked through a very muddy tree lined valley, then dunes and river to the beach. Along the way I experimented with different types of intentional movement and shutter speed. Vertical for vertical things – trees for example; Horizontal for horizontal things – the horizon for example; and distinct twisting and swooping movements for subjects. Here’s my favourite photo from the walk.

As you can see there is a huge amount of scope with ME and ICM photography to create photos that evoke different feelings; that is why I am using them for Pandemia. This project will share some of my strongest images from this year of chaos. Each one illustrating a different feeling experienced during these challenging times. I plan to share the exhibition initially online in 2021. Stay tuned!

Online Course November Sale

All my online courses have 50% off for November. Just use the coupon LABF2020 at the checkout. That includes:

Mindful Photography 101 – an introduction to a mindful approach to your photo creation (Only £8 with the discount offer)

Seeing the Photo – Developing your ability to see a photo. Not looking for a photo, but clearly seeing what is there. (Only £23.50 with the discount offer)

Making the Photo – Developing your technical and compositional photography skills in a mindful manner. (Only £23.50 with the discount offer)

Foundations in Mindful Photography – a bonus bundle that includes both Seeing the Photo and Making the Photo, at a great discounted price. (Only £33.50 with the discount offer!)

All the courses offer a blended learning approach. There are slideshow videos, on location videos, fireside chat(!) videos, downloadable guided meditations, great photo activities, course eBooks and a busy community group full of people just like you!

You can do the courses at your own pace and everything remains live – for as long as I do!

Visit my Course Website to find out more

Living well with difficulty

This post is shared in support of World Mental Health Day (10th October)

Yesterday started with difficulty. I was unsettled, ragged, insecure and confused. What was going on? There was nothing I could identify as a cause. I had slept well, was generally content and the day ahead looked interesting. However, I could not shake the feelings. I became uncertain about every little thing, unable to decide what to do next.

It took me a while to realise that I did not need to know what was going on; to accept that I did not like my feelings. Finally, I remembered my own Mindful Photography Activities, and particularly the one I have created for exactly this experience. So, I picked up my camera and favourite lens, set it up in my normal mode, turned my phone to ‘Do not disturb’, set a meditation timer for an hour and set out to my local environment to complete the activity.

There is something about being out in the fresh air; creating photos that respond to what I see and how I feel. It is a grounding and enriching experience. I found that the photos I initially created were full of simple lines and barriers. Later on, as I noticeably felt calmer, they lightened in tone, even became humourous. I had returned to myself.

The photos in this post are my favourites from this mindful photography activity.

Mindful Photography for Well-Being (Zoom Workshops Course)

I have decided that I need to share my thoughts, experience and mindful photography activities that can help you to live well with difficulty.

We can all get overwhelmed by difficult feelings at times. Without doubt these challenging times we are living through can magnify this experience. Sometimes the feelings manifest as discomfort, sometimes anxiety. Sometimes it becomes debilitating. At these times we need help. Professional help can be essential, but also practical creative activities and genuine community support can help to shift our feelings.

This course explores living well with difficulty. It reviews the impact major change, significant loss and ongoing difficulty can have in our lives. I know, I have lived through some major life changes, and significant losses. I have used mindful photography to help understand what was happening and to slowly move towards the acceptance of the changes.

The course will be delivered in 6 live workshops with me in January and February 2021. There will be a maximum of 12 places available. This is so that I can support you, keep the space safe and explore the challenges in your life with compassion, honesty and authenticity, through the creation of mindful photos.

It is suitable for all levels of ability, and all cameras. And you can see more about the content by clicking on the button below. If you have any questions about the course please use the contact form

Practice makes perfect

Or does it? There is some disagreement. It generally goes like this: if you practice the wrong skills everyday you will ingrain bad habits, not perfection. I prefer Michael Jordan’s take on this.

“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.” Michael Jordan

Michael knew a thing or two about excellence. Sure he was super talented, but he still practiced – a lot. Practice is a habit, but it also needs to be mindful. You need to pay attention to what you are doing. You need advice, guidance, support and a compassionate, curious, constructively critical mind. Practice for me is honing my skills, but I know I will make mistakes. That is part of the practice; noticing them, correcting them and absorbing the difference. Then practicing again.

As Michael Jordan suggests the fundamentals are everything. So what are the fundamentals (or as I call them the Foundations) of Mindful Photography?

The Foundations of Mindful Photography

The photo above and the others illustrating this post are from one of my recent Mindful Photography Practices around a local park. I use the Insight timer (a free app) to set a one hour period and followed some creative limitations that I recommend to help develop your seeing skills and support the development of your photography skills. What are they you ask? They include the limited time period, a limit on the number of photos you create (20 in this case), no deleting, and no reviewing of each photo created.

What is the purpose of these limitations? To encourage you to pay attention to what is in front of you – what you see, and to focus upon your use of photography skills – technique and composition. There is more to it than this brief explanation, but that is at the heart of it and is at the core of the next online course I am developing, ‘Foundations in Mindful Photography’. The course will cover these foundation skills:

  • Mindfulness and meditation skills – to develop your ability to be mindful throughout your life
  • Seeing skills – “Looking is a gift. Seeing is a power” Jeff Berner
  • Technical photography skills – knowing how your camera works, lighting, exposure, focus, lens focal length, camera maintenance
  • Compositional photography skills – the guidelines for effective composition, 7 elements of visual design, framing the photo

These are the foundations of photography. Learn and practice these and you are on the way to creating great photos. Of course, I teach these foundation skills in a mindful manner. I share methods, ideas and practices that you can follow to develop and hone these skills wherever you start from. If this is of interest to you, do download the eBook below and you’ll then be on my email list, and all the news about the course launch and Mindful Photography 101 will arrive in your inbox – with special offers for early enrolment (of course).

Let me finish with a great artist’s advice on this topic of practice making perfect.

“As practice makes perfect, I cannot but make progress; each drawing one makes, each study one paints, is a step forward.” Vincent Van Gogh

PS I have shared a number of thoughts and mindful photography practices on this topic over the year, you can link to them here

Mindful Photography 101 – Coming Soon!

Mindful Photography 101 – your detailed introduction to Mindful Photography will be with you later this month. Want to know a little bit about what it covers?

Your guide to the what, why and how of Mindful Photography is coming later this month. It will include: The relationship between mindfulness and meditation, how they blend with photography to create Mindful Photography, 10 Golden Guidelines and the 4 Stage Seeing Practice. All this and 6 mindful photo activities, downloadable meditations, a private community group and a live workshop with me!

What’s not to like? More detail very soon.

If you would like to be kept in the loop, download the free eBook below!

Blending Mindfulness with Photography

I am at the beginning of a deep re-evaluation of my photography business. Central to this process is that my business offers self development and enquiry through photography, with Mindful Photography at its heart. This has encouraged me to reflect on why I have applied mindfulness to photography. Jon Kabat Zinn (Full Catastrophe Living), who has probably been one of the main catalysts for the growth in popularity of Mindfulness in the West, explains some of my thinking,

“….bringing Mindfulness to any activity transforms it into a kind of meditation. Mindfulness dramatically amplifies the probability that any activity in which your engaged will result in an expansion of your perspective and your understanding of who you are.”

Expanding your perspective

I like this a lot. “An expansion of your perspective” is a fabulous way of saying that you are totally immersed in the moment. Aware of what you are experiencing. Aware of the thinking and feelings frolicking in your mind and noticing them playing out in your body. Aware of the ground beneath you and the sky above.

As a photographer that would translate first and foremost to being completely tuned into the visual experience in front of you. The light, the colours, shapes, forms, patterns, textures and more could provide your anchor to the moment, just like the breath can in meditation.

Furthermore the relationship between this visual experience and creating an equivalent of it with your camera (a photograph) would provide the opportunity to practice mindfulness with your technical and compositional choices. This is a large subject; one I will be addressing later in the year through my online course Mindful Photography Foundation Skills. (Download the free eBook below, to get an insight into Mindful Photography and a regular newsletter from me, with news of all the forthcoming online courses.)

Understanding who you are

The final part of the sentence, “…..and your understanding of who you are,” opens the possibility of using photography as a vehicle for personal enquiry. This is something that interests me greatly. I will be creating resources throughout this year that will support you to investigate the events and circumstances you find difficult, through photography. These will form the basis of my online course, Mindful Photography for difficult times, which I hope to release before the end of 2020.

Henri Cartier Bresson provides us a glimpse of how this kind of personal enquiry is possible in his famous book ‘The Decisive Moment’ 1952

“I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us, but which can also be affected by us. A balance must be established between the two worlds – the one inside of us and the one outside of us. As a result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. And it is this world that we must communicate.”

It is these two areas: expanding our perspective and understanding who we are, that will be threads running through my new Mindful Photography Online Courses and eBooks. It is going to be a fascinating journey I do hope that you will join me.

You can subscribe to my mailing list and receive a FREE ebook using the form below.

Mindful Photography Online Courses – coming soon

I have recently been awarded a grant from the Arts Council of Wales’s National Lottery Fund that will change the way I work, and what I offer, as well as providing some stability at this challenging time. Many thanks to them and the National Lottery. This will also change what I can offer to you. Here is what I have planned.

New Online Courses in Mindful Photography

I will be creating and sharing online courses in Mindful Photography with an engaged, supportive community of like minded people – just like you! These courses will include live workshops, webinars, videos, and downloadable PDFs, audio and eBooks. The courses will support you to become more mindful and create personal resonant photos; whilst also sharing with you how Mindful Photography can help you to understand, process and accept your emotions that arise from ongoing difficulty, major change and significant loss. They will cover the three core elements of Mindful Photography that are outlined below and will include a free Introductory course, staged Mindful Photography courses and a Multiple Exposure/Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) specialist course.

The three core elements of Mindful Photography

  1. Seeing Practice – I share the Four Stage Seeing Practice in all my work. It contains two key aspects; the practice itself and the regular application of that practice.
  2. Foundation Skills Development – The foundation skills fall into two areas: mindfulness and photography. Each involves learning the skills through regular attentive practice. Just like mindfulness, all of the photography skills can be learnt with regular practice, in this case with mindful photography practices (activities).
  3. Exploring Your Life – Exploring your life experiences, events and emotional reactions is possible through the application of your mindfulness and photography Foundation Skills. These experiences, events and emotions can be illustrated by personal photographs, the creation of which supports you to process the emotional upheaval brought on by loss, change and difficulty.

Online Exhibition

The second part of my grant application is to create a series of photos, using multiple exposure and ICM, that represent our emotional experiences of lockdown and the pandemic. These photos will be inspired by mine and your emotional experience of this period and will initially be shared in an open and accessible for all Online Exhibition. I am interested to know some of the emotions you have experienced and how you think they could be illustrated in a photograph. If you would like to take part and influence my photographs please answer this question (you can use the contact form to send it)

What feelings spring to mind when you think of the lockdown, the effects of the pandemic on your life and your immediate future?

All answers will be treated confidentially and used to inspire photos that illustrate your emotional experience.

This work was made possible through funding from the Arts Council of Wales’s National Lottery Fund.

10 ways Mindful Photography can help you

Imagine that you press your camera shutter and create a photo that is imaginative, personal and that you feel great for doing it. Imagine doing this regularly. Here are 10 ways that Mindful Photography can help you to achieve this. 

  1. Learn how to use what you see as your anchor – In meditation the breath is often used as an anchor; the thing you return to when you notice sensations, thoughts or feelings playing out across your mind. A mindful approach to photography means that when you notice your busy mind you return to what you can see. Every time you notice that you’ve a busy head – planning the next shot, looking for a photo opportunity or just thinking about what you’ll be doing later – you return to what is in front of you. With this as your regular practice you will begin to see more, more of what is there and you will see more how your camera sees.
  2. Learn how to see like a camera – A camera does not know the name of anything in its viewfinder. You do. You are quite attached to the name of things. As Claude Monet said, “In order to see, we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at.” Your camera sees light. You may describe the way light plays out in your frame as including shapes, forms, colours, lines, patterns, textures and space. You can learn to see the light, but you have to practice forgetting the name of things.
  3. Don’t look for a photo, let the photo find you – This is quite a slippery idea. Almost Zen like. There you are out with your camera, with the intention of creating photos, how can you not look for a photo? It’s a state of mind. You don’t look for a photo, you see what is in front of you. You pay attention to the visual feast; the light, the shapes, forms, colours…. You know what I’m going to say. Yes, seeing like a camera, is seeing what is there. That’s all. Trust me, the photo will find you.
  4. Develop your photography skills and knowledge whilst remaining connected to the visual feast before you – My mindful approach to photography starts with the seeing practice, but extends to a mindful approach to learning photography skills and techniques. My eBook Mindful Photography: How to use photography to develop mindfulness explains how.
  5. Learn how to express how you are feeling with a photograph – Photography can be used to explore and represent emotional experiences that are current or past. It can be literal, metaphorical or symbolic. Or it can just be a photo of something that resonates for you.
  6. Learn how to use photography to help you understand and accept your difficulties – The more that you practice mindfulness the more you discover about yourself. This can be challenging. The more you notice what you are thinking and feeling, the more you need a way to help process those difficult thoughts and feelings. Mindful Photography can be used to explore your world, your thoughts and feelings. It can act as the intermediary between your inner world and the outer one. Allowing you the space to process what you are experiencing. My eBook Mindful Photography 2: How to use photography to explore your world explains how.
  7. Develop patience in your world through understanding and accepting your development as photographer – The journey to mastery in any skill may take 10,000 hours (Malcom Gladwell in Outliers), but there are mindful photography practices you can follow that support this development. These allow the quality of patience to rise unbidden as you pay attention to the challenging thoughts and feelings that arise as you learn your craft. I’m sure you’ve experienced the thought, my photos are not good enough. A mindful approach to your photography can support you to recognise this thought and treat it like a relative you’re not too fond of. You acknowledge it, but don’t spend any time with it, returning to what you can see in front of you.
  8. Develop your ability to see the world as if for the first time – Beginner’s mind is a mindful attitude. It’s one that you can apply to the practice of creating photographs. If you choose to return regularly to the same location, to spend time slowly exploring the visual feast available, you may begin to see beauty which once eluded you. As John Updike said, you can practice, “Giving the mundane its beautiful due” . This ability, cultivated through photography, can support you to look at your daily experience with fresh eyes.
  9. Develop trust in your own feelings – If you are to create photographs that are personal, unique and authentic then you must listen to your heart, as well as your head: learn to trust and follow your own intuitive guide. If you cultivate this skill it will begin to seep through to the rest of your world.
  10. Bring mindfulness into another aspect of your life – Mindfulness does not have to be limited to the meditation cushion, that is merely the training zone. As Jon Kabat-Zinn said, “Mindfulness applied to any activity turns it into a kind of meditation.” By applying and developing mindfulness to photography we expand our potential to be fully present in our life. A mindful approach to photography can help you learn and develop your photographic skills, but it can also support your well-being. My eBook Photography for Well-Being 1 shares 15 photo activities designed to develop your photography skills and support your well-being. 

PS If this has intrigued you then you can find out more below and join me in a Mindful Photography Online Workshop 18:30 – 20:00 (GMT+1) Wednesday 29th July 

Mindful Photography Online Workshop

I have been developing and sharing my vision of Mindful Photography for the last 7 years; with online courses, live workshops and 6 eBooks. This workshop distills the key aspects of a Mindful Photography practice, providing clear explanations, examples and 10 guidelines for you to follow, to help you to become a Mindful Photographer. I will also be sharing how these practices can be used at challenging times to support your well-being.

Mindful Photography for these times will be online via Zoom and Eventbrite 18:30 – 20:00 (GMT+1) Wednesday 29th July 2020. Tickets are limited and cost £6.50

Register

Multiple Exposure Online Course

Over the last two years I have been exploring the ability of Multiple Exposure and Intentional Camera Movement photography to convey my emotional landscape and the photo that illustrates this post above is my favourite from this week’s experiments. I’ll explain.

Recent government advice in the UK to cope with Covid-19 has varied by country. I live in Wales and the guidance here has been more cautious than in England. This discrepancy has caused some confusion, probably because much of our media is anglo-centric. People have started being more expansive in their behaviour, but meanwhile those like me who are shielding are still advised to stay in as much as possible. This has caused conflicting feelings in my locked down mind. Primarily the desire to do more, to socialise and see my friends in a ‘normal’ manner, versus the need to continue shielding. My photo intends to convey these conflicting emotions. Does it work for you?

The photo was created in camera using Multiple Exposure (ME), dark mode and there are three exposures each taken on a 1 sec shutter speed with some small intentional camera movement (ICM). If you are interested in learning more about these techniques in a short online course do click on the invitation below so that I can later contact you with more guidance. There is no commitment at this stage, it is just for me to gauge interest.

If you would like to see a small collection of my recent ME and ICM experiments click here.

 

Criw Celf – Photo Workshops

Over the last two weekends I have delivered photography workshops to talented young people in Bridgend. This has been organised by Criw Celf and Arts Active, organisations who provide high quality art activities and experiences. My aim of the workshops was to encourage the young people to develop their photography skills: particularly to develop their ability to see a photo. All of the photos in this post are from them.

I planned to deliver the same course for different groups each weekend, and then adjusted the content to meet the students’ needs. The central theme and starting point of both weekends was ‘Seeing’ a photo. As Jeff Berner said, “Looking is a gift. Seeing is a power.” Seeing is more than looking and one of my key themes was to encourage the students not to look for a photo, but to wait for the photo to find them.

If this Zen like aim seems slippery then you are in good company. It is challenging to walk out with your camera intending to create photos, but not to look for a photo. At the heart of this instruction is the requirement to see the world, to really pay attention. To see not just the things, in fact even to try and not see and name the things, but to see the colours, shapes, forms, lines, patterns, textures, space, and of course light. In fact, to see like a camera.

Here is a great example produced by August, one of the students. This image sub consciously picked up on many of the compositional ideas shared in the photos of great photographers I started with. In an initial slideshow of these images I asked the students to decide whether they liked, disliked or were ambivalent about a range of photos. This photo from August seems to echo some of the ideas from Lee Friedlander and Vivian Maier, demonstrating how we see things without realising they have been absorbed.

Later in the session, for both weekends, I worked with the students to see what wasn’t there. This is one of the superpowers that a camera has, to see things that we cannot. The idea I challenged the students to ‘see’, was the creation of ‘landscape’ scenes in a multi-story car park by using slow shutter speeds. The motivation for this was the students’ self chosen theme for the weekend of ‘Landscape/Nature’, a challenging theme when situated in the middle of an urban pedestrianised shopping center. Here is a great example created by Lily, which we converted to black and white to enhance its otherness. It has the look of a charcoal creation and a sense of foreboding.

The students’ chosen work will be exhibited at Arcade, a professional artist run gallery in Cardiff city centre from Saturday 17th August and on Wednesday 22nd, Thursday 23rd, Friday 24th, Saturday 25th, Wednesday 28th, Thursday 29th, Friday 30th August. This will include the other arts shared at Bridgend – illustration and textile design as well as other art works from some of Criw Celf’s other Summer Schools.

Details: Arcade web link Address: Arcade, Queens Arcade, Queen Street, Cardiff, CF10 2BY. Unit 3b, by New Look, down the escalators.

Red Sea – Olivia
Life in Nature – Mia

Photography @ Elysium

Elysium have recently opened their fabulous new gallery in Swansea High Street. This Tardis like space currently holds the best of their Espy Photography Award 2019 and ‘Reflections on Identity following Brain Injury’ – an exhibition I have been intimately involved with.

The Exhibition opened last Friday and runs until 22nd June. Not only is there some fabulous and moving photography, there’s also a great bar. It’s a win win. Don’t miss out!

Jon, with his fabulous reflection photo

‘Reflections on Identity following Brain Injury’ is the gallery’s community space, known as YOURSPACE. This is how they explain the purpose of the space, “This is the first exhibition of our YOURSPACE series of activities. YOURSPACE (in partnership with local community groups) will be a dedicated gallery for showing work, learning new skills and social development. With the support of elysium gallery, this space will be led by the Swansea community. Aimed at community groups who create artwork as a developmental resource, the space will be an outlet for artists and groups on the fringe and champion the creative and independent sectors of Swansea. The space will become a focal point for community creative growth and a place that encourages and celebrates artistic and skills achievement.”

Dan’s opening speech

The BIS exhibition was developed from photo created during three of my photography courses with their patients over the last two years, and is project managed by Emma Brunton, a brain injury survivor. Great job Emma!

The aim of the exhibition is to make visible some of the hidden challenges people experience following brain injury. Brain Injury can affect every aspect of a person’s life and fundamentally affect their sense of identity. Survivors typically struggle with the question ‘Who am I now?’ The exhibition attempts to convey conceptually difficult psychological constructs as people experience life post brain injury. The exhibition includes representations of the self before the injury, immediately after and several years down the line. The work displayed attempts to convey people’s experiences using photographs taken by survivors following brain injury, through our use of filters, colour and sizing of photographs.

It’s an interesting, challenging exhibition that goes beyond many national and international competitions and exhibitions. Do go see it!

Huw Alden Davies’ short speech of thanks

Foundation Skills Course – Week 8 Letting the photo come to you

The final week of our Foundations Skills in Mindful Photography Course finally arrived. This week we recapped on all we had covered: What Mindfulness is; What Mindful Photography is, Clear Seeing, The Four Stage Seeing Practice, Compositional Skills and Abstract Photography.

When I say recap, I actually mean an incentive flavoured Q&A. Where the incentive was chocolate for every right answer. What’s not to like? Then, after softening everybody up, I provided them with their final Mindful Photography Practice. A deceptively difficult one.

Over the next 50 minutes they had to create just one photo that illustrated how they felt today. This practice is called Letting the Photo come to you, and invites the photographers not to look for a photo, but wait for something to suggest itself. In this task they had the opportunity to bring all the foundation skills learnt to the challenge, particularly remaining present with the the task and how it made them feel. Other limitations during the practice included no looking at the final photo and no deleting.

All of this was designed to slow down the experience and attune them to their practice. Mindful Photography in action. Here are their photos.

 

 

Foundation Skills Course – Week 7 Learning from the greats

This week we continued our exploration of Abstract Photography by looking at two great photographers who share a connection: Alfred Stieglitz and Minor White. Both men were inspirational leaders, turning photography into an art form.

Stieglitz was probably responsible for the birth of abstract photography through his creation of cloud photographs he called, ‘Equivalents’. For over 10 years from 1922 Stieglitz photographed clouds with the intention that they conveyed emotion. This was very much in vogue at the time in art – the idea that colour, shape and line could convey an emotional context.

Minor White, who for a while worked with Stieglitz, was very taken with the idea of Equivalents. He used it as a basis to develop his personal explorations of how scenes in nature could resonate with the photographer and enable them to create photos of how they felt at the time. He believed that these photos had no requirement to conform to known ideas of visual design, such as red for danger.

After a discussion about these ideas the students were invited to go out into nature and create their own equivalents. Here they are.

Foundation Skills Course – Week 5 Elements of Visual Design

After a two week break we were back to Mindful Photography this week. Building upon the compositional guidelines we explored last time, I introduced the seven elements of visual design that can be used to consider how a photo can be arranged.

The seven elements are: Shape, Form, Colour, Line, Pattern Texture and Space. We explored some ideas around each one and then I set this week’s task. Every student was assigned one of the seven elements with the invitation to practice using it as their mindful anchor. Not only to create photos that represented the idea, but to come back to the element when they noticed how busy their mind was or how they were striving to create a ‘good’ photo that illustrated the concept. A zen like challenge!

The two favourite photos from each student are below. Can you identify each element they were using?

Mindful Photography and Positive Psychology

Last Friday I was invited by Professor Andrew Kemp to talk about Mindful Photography to his Positive Psychology students. I will be explaining what positive psychology in a moment and exploring the links between it and what I do. There are plenty. I should also say that it wasn’t really a ‘talk’, more an experiential workshop. After an outline of what Mindful Photography is and sharing my 4 Stage Seeing Practice, I got the students and Andrew to complete a mindful photography activity and then share and discuss some of their favourite photos.

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. University of Pennsylvania

The link above is a great starting point and there are many more resources there that will provide you with all you could ever want to know about this fascinating branch of psychology. I’m gonna relate the three pillars of positive psychology below and it is from the same source. Dr Martin E.P.Seligman is kinda regarded (informally) as one of the fathers of this and he works at the University. His book Flourish is well worth a read. (I am not an affiliate)

The Three Pillars

The Three Pillars: Positive Psychology has three central concerns: positive experiences, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future. Understanding positive individual traits involves the study of strengths, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom. Understanding positive institutions entails the study of the strengths that foster better communities, such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose, and tolerance.

University of Pennsylvania

What has Mindful Photography to do with Positive Psychology?

All mindful activities intend to bring you into the moment. Mindful Photography is no different. You use what you see as the anchor to return to, every time you notice photo thinking, looking for a photo or any other thoughts or feelings arising.

All mindful practice leads to a greater ability to notice your thoughts and feelings. Such practice is not always easy, but the intention is that by being more aware you then have the opportunity to make a more skillful response, rather than your habitual reaction. Continued practice leads to greater self awareness, and an opportunity to practice being with the difficult moments, thoughts and feelings, rather than reacting in a normal human way – denying, deluding or distracting yourself!

This is true practice. Challenging practice. It is a practice because you don’t always get it right. Your habitual patterns and reactions are well ingrained, but practice leads to new neural pathways being created and the possibility of responding skillfully and positively to life’s challenges.

It seems to me that all mindful practice provides the foundation for understanding the self, one of the three pillars of Positive Psychology. This is the area that I have developed my work with Mindful Photography, particularly to support living with difficulty after major change of significant loss. It is at this time that everything you believe you know about yourself is uprooted, the tethers to your kind of ‘normal’ dissolve, and whilst you still remain attached to the version of who you were before the change, living with who you are now brings huge difficulty.

I believe that there is an opportunity to use Mindful Photography Practices to explore and understand who you are after this major change and significant loss. Sometimes talking about your thoughts and feelings is difficult, impossible or just not something you are used to. Learning how to represent emotions and ideas in a photograph provides a visual way of representing how you are. It also allows you to get personal and share as much or as little as you are comfortable with. The photos can exist shared or kept private, with or without explanation. They can be a window to your soul and the practice allows you time to process what you are living with.

My Work

I believe that this is my work for the next few years. I am finally finishing my book on the subject, and it will be available in 2019 initially as an eBook. I will continue to offer courses and workshops and will also offer free talks on the topic to interested groups. I also have an application in with the Arts Council to fund a project called ‘Who Am I Now?’ that will create up to 15 diptych self portrait photographs with people who are living with significant loss. One photo will represent who they were before the change and one who they are now.

I plan to develop my website and newsletter to support this clear direction and would welcome and thoughts, ideas and interest from you.

The Workshop

Back to the workshop with the psychology students. We were blessed with a glorious day and they were all invited to create 5 photos in 30 minutes, without looking at their creations and not deleting any photos. Upon their return they got into small groups and chose one photo per group to share and talk about to the rest of the group.

All of this was done with smartphones and a cool app called Slack. This allowed the students to upload their photos, share a written comment and it appear instantly on the feed. Kind of a closed Facebook group but without the need for a FB account. Unfortunately, I forgot to get written permissions so I cannot share any of their photos – you’ll have to manage with mine in this post!

One of the other ideas we were exploring that links Positive Psychology with Mindful Photography is that of Psychological Flow – the moment of being completely attuned, holistically, with the one thing that you are doing. It’s the kind of experience where time dissolves and you achieve maximum performance without realising how you did it. Practicing the skill is the bedrock of this experience, then somewhere approaching 10,000 hours of practice (Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers) you slip into the flow. In photography the camera becomes an extension of your body, all of the technical and compositional decisions just happen and a great photo is born.

At the end of the workshop Andrew asked the students if any of them had the flow experience. A few put their hands up. I’m grateful they were so polite!

Many thanks for the invitation for Professor Andrew Kemp and for the students for getting fully involved

 

Foundation Skills Course Week 4 Mindful Composition

Week 4 brings us to Photography Composition, with a mindful twist. Now photography composition is an area of knowledge that generates books and courses on its own, and I cover it in two 2.5 hour lessons. Obviously, I have a particularly mindful approach, one that centres upon following a compositional guideline as a mindful practice. But I am getting ahead of myself. First a definition and then the guidelines.

Composing a photo means arranging elements within it in a way that suits the core idea or goal of your work best

As the topic of photography composition is so large I separate it out over two weeks and make use of a summative structure to help new students remember all the possible guidelines. This week I introduced the four overarching themes, each one having a few individual elements of composition that kind fit the theme. The four themes and elements are:

▪ Balance (Rule of Thirds, Weight, Frames, Diagonals, Symmetry)
▪ Subject and Background (Depth, Foreground, Isolate Subject)
▪ Point of View (Juxtaposition, Leading Lines)
▪ Simplicity (Minimal, Fill Frame)

The elements of each theme are each of themselves photographic composition guidelines, I just group them in this way to help understanding and learning. This is also backed up with visual examples and discussion. But the heart of my course is experiential mindful learning and that means a Mindful Photography Practice.

The students were invited to spend an hour following one of the themes and elements to create some engaging photos. They were encouraged to follow the 4 Stage Seeing Practice and to review each photo as they went, and then make adjustments.

The next session will cover part 2 of composition – the 7 Elements of Design. Later in the course we look at why, when and how we break the guidelines. Ooo, breaking the rules. Exciting.

Want to learn more? Come on one of my courses! Here are the students favourite photos.