Mindful photography

During the dislocation of last year, I instinctively started solo walks around my neighbourhood taking photos of incidental moments. I found these walks with my camera to be valuable on several levels; walking gave me an excuse to go outside while exploring my local area gathering creative inspiration.

Walking, particularly in nature is often linked to the creative process. Author Charlotte Wood [1] describes walking as:

“It is a useful trick: silent walking allows the mind to empty without the paralysing fear of stillness. A letting-go takes place. An easy, featherweight attention must be paid to the material world of the kerb, the footpath, the pedestrian crossing, which then allows the ethereal, invented world to expand inside the mind.” (Wood, C., 2021, p.18)

Not surprisingly Julia Cameron author of The Artists Way includes walking as a key creative tool [2]. But, it was only after starting these quiet photography walks that I stumbled across the term “mindful photography” [3], also known as “Zen photography” [4]. 

Mindful photography

So, what exactly is mindful photography? To find out I spoke with the mindful photographer, Margaret Soraya [5] from her solo travels around the Hebrides islands. In her image making process Margaret incorporates solitude in nature where she is drawn to the sea and wild landscapes.

Listen to Margaret’s interview:

Margaret finds that being in nature supports her creativity and builds a sense of wellbeing saying:

“We’re living in a time where people are much more indoors and it’s more on screens and connected, so I think that we just forget the simple things like going out for a walk is so good for your mental wellbeing.”

During the pandemic last year Margaret saw people reaching for creativity, as people were asking how to get through this time, and mindful photography became newfound support. Mindful photography can be practised just by walking down the local street and looking closely at your surroundings.

Both Photos by Alex Perri on Unsplash


“You going to photograph these leaves, but you take it slowly. You don’t just kind of snap, snap, and then run off, you take it slow. You look at your camera settings, you consider the light. You’re starting to think, well, you’re watching for the beauty, just in that tree, you know, it can be really, really simple.”

The good news is you don’t need expensive camera equipment to get started! Margaret is an advocate of using mobile phone cameras, as this helps us not to get caught up in the technical aspects ­– and just have fun with photography. Mindful photography programs such as Margaret’s online group Creative Haven [6] can help us to reconnect with ourselves and tap into our innate creativity. 

Author: Kerry Turnbull (Director, Engage Arts)

Feature image: Photo by Gustavo Zambelli on Unsplash

This series covers topics related to creativity and wellbeing, we acknowledge that while creativity is beneficial mental well-being is a complex issue. If this content raises issues for you, please connect with support. A list of Australian support services is provided below.

SUPPORT SERVICES

Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Headspace: 1800 650 850
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

REFERENCES

1.         Wood, C., The Luminous Solution. 2021: Allen & Unwin.

2.         Cameron, J. Why Walk? 2013  11/10/2021]; Available from: https://juliacameronlive.com/2013/11/02/why-walk/.

3.         Davey, R. Look Again. 2021  16/09/2021]; Available from: https://www.look-again.org.

4.         Ulrich, D., Zen Camera, Creative Awakening with a Daily Practice in Photography. 2018: Random House US.

5.         Soraya, M. Quiet Landscapes Fine Art by Margaret Soraya. 2021  10.11.2021]; Available from: https://www.margaretsoraya.com/.

6.         Soraya;, M. Creative Haven. 2021  11/10/2021]; Available from: https://creative-haven.newzenler.com.

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