Mindful Photography for life’s difficulties

I am currently immersed in re-writing and editing my resources for my forthcoming online course on Mindful Photography. Apart from honing my ideas and explaining how photography can help you to develop a mindful approach to life I will be sharing more than 20 mindful photography practices.

Each one of the practices is an activity designed to either apply mindfulness to the art and science of photography, or to support you to develop your own mindful life. Within this exploration of life and photography there is an opportunity to become more familiar with who and how you are. There is a mindful photography practice I will share here that can support you on this exploration.

What happens when we practice mindfulness?

When we practice mindfulness, be it simply sitting for meditation, following a mindful movement practice like yoga or engaging in a mindful photography practice, we have the potential to notice what our mind is doing. Many people new to mindfulness have an expectation that it will help them respond skillfully, rather than react habitually, to the stress in their lives. This is true it will, but there is more to be aware of.

As we focus upon just doing one thing we begin to notice how busy and noisy our mind is. As we continue to practice over many days and months this experience allows us to become more aware of our mind’s habitual thinking. It is quite possible, even likely, that the more we practice the more older thoughts and feelings will arise.

These previously well buried thoughts and feelings emerge into the space and quietness that we have created. And we may find this very uncomfortable. I have a mindful photography practice I am going to share here that may help you hold this experience with gentleness, as you move towards acceptance of what you are experiencing.

Mindful Photography practice – Feel the photo

This practice is designed to support you through a time when you are experiencing thoughts and feelings that you do not like. You may be angry, upset, annoyed, frustrated, fearful or confused. Whatever it is that you are finding uncomfortable this practice is for those times.

  • Set up your camera in a shooting mode that you can use instinctively. Auto is fine, or if you prefer a little more control use aperture priority (choose f8 and ISO auto).
  • Turn off your view screen so that you cannot see or review what you are creating. If you are not sure how to do this tape a piece of card or paper over the view screen, taking care not to cover any essential buttons. You can create photos by looking through the viewfinder or just shooting blind, from the hip!
  • The purpose of this is to tune you in to what you are feeling and release the control you may experience about creating photos.
  • When you are experiencing strong emotion, set your camera up as explained above, and go walking with your camera.
  • Choose any location you feel drawn to.
  • As you walk do not look for a photo opportunity, just walk, paying attention to what you can see
  • Notice the thoughts and feelings that relate to your difficulty.
  • At some point something will catch your eye. Stop and consider what it is.
  • Move closer. Frame tightly. Create the photo and move on.
  • Repeat this, paying attention to your feelings and the visual feast before you.
  • Act instinctively and release your attachment to what your photos look like.
  • Finish when you feel ready.
  • Return home and DO NOT LOOK at your photos! Leave it a day.
  • Next day review your photos and notice the feelings you experience.

It you find this practice of use please share with your friends. I will also be leading a workshop on the Gower 24th September that introduces more practices, skills and activities to support this process.

The photos accompanying this post were taken when I was experiencing difficulty with major changes in my life

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5 replies
  1. John Spalding
    John Spalding says:

    Hi Lee,
    I have found your mindful photography workshops have helped me a great deal. Allowing me to be in the moment and actually stop and think about the image I’m about to capture. It’s reduced the number of images I take and improved my composition.
    I am looking forward to your next on the 24th.

    Reply
  2. Sarah Fox
    Sarah Fox says:

    Great explanation of Mindful Photography Lee! I wish I could come on 24th but health issues prevent the travel unfortunately. Have you written anything about practising Mindful Photography whilst coping with disability? I use Mindfulness to cope with chronic illness and also in my photography. It is invaluable!

    Reply
    • leeaspland
      leeaspland says:

      Hi Sarah. Good to hear from you. I haven’t written anything specifically with disability in mind, though I find that all of our difficulties are relevant to the support mindfulness provides and the creative exploration of our emotional landscape through photography, relevant and helpful. Sorry to hear that you are struggling with your health and I hope that things stabilise swiftly. best wishes Lee

      Reply

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