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Slow down your photography

Digital Photography is fantastic. Its ability to capture what we see and allow instant review has revolutionised photography. It has changed how we create photographs and how we edit them. But perhaps the most fundamental change is that it has supercharged the creation of a photograph. Photographic creation and sharing is now more like a Ferrari 812 Superfast, when back in the film days it was more like a classic mini.

Maybe you still hanker for that classic mini experience. We are currently experiencing a growing interest in film photography. Perhaps there are elements of that slower pace, more engaged process and almost ritualistic nature that we are missing from the digital experience. But there are ways of experiencing a film like experience with your digital camera. Ways of slowing the process down and re-introducing some ritual.

So, in honour of Slow Art Day 8th April, and in a desire to provide you with techniques to connect you with the creative experience, I offer you the following 10 tips for slowing down your photography. See what I did there – or didn’t do? A whole three paragraphs without using the word ‘mindfulness’. Whoops. Now I have. But mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment and these tips will help you to do that too!

10 Tips to slow down and connect with your photography

  1. Turn off your review screen or tape a small piece of card over it – Just like a film camera you can’t see what you have just created. This assumes you have a viewfinder to compose the photo. If not you could still do it and shoot blind, imagining what is in your frame.
  2. Limit the number of photos you create – go filmic with a 12, 24 or 36 limitation
  3. Use a small packet of sweets (Skittles work well!) to count/remember the number of shots you have used – Count them out before you start. As you can’t see the screen (using number 1) use 12, 24 or 36 skittles in a little bag. After every shot eat one sweet. It’s a win win!
  4. Limit your location area – Combined with 1, 2 and 3 this encourages you to really notice what is around you. Limit the area to a 100 yard square area, or less if you are feeling bold.
  5. Turn your lens into manual focus – Turn off the auto focus. It is a great art re-learning how and where to focus, and it also slows you down!
  6. Shoot from the hip – Now this one could actually speed you up. But if you hold your camera at your hip, and compose by imagining what your camera can see, you will slow down. Especially if you combine it with 1 and 2.
  7. Return to the visual – Whenever you notice your mind thinking about your next meal, tonight’s activities or some aspect of photographic skill, STOP and return to what you can see in front of you.
  8. Do not download your photos for at least 2 days – Back in the day we had to wait. Unless you were developing your own film, but even then it took time. I used to send my film off for developing and then wait a few days before looking through the returned photos, hoping at least one was a keeper. So, wait for a few days – at least 2 – before downloading. When you do look through them, pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. Notice the judgement and the commentary.
  9. Set your own mini photo marathon – Randomly choose 4 words, set aside 4 hours and create 4 photos in order, to represent the words. Photos must be in the word order and you must finish with only 4 photos. You could limit and slow yourself even more by ONLY shooting 4 photos. No deleting.
  10. No deleting allowed – Closely linked to number 2, do not allow yourself to delete any photos. Knowing that you cannot delete will encourage choice: whether to photograph or not, and this will slow you down.

PS The three photos accompanying the post follow some of these tips

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