Something I do often, or at least I did often, pre-Corona, is use photography as a tool for mindfulness. Photography makes me happy; therefore, photography is therapeutic to me. Lately, with the lack of ability to travel (the other therapy for me), I’ve been seriously lacking creativity. To be honest, I even struggled with what to write here today, before I ended up deciding that, actually, the struggle to come up with something should perhaps form the inspiration for the content.
Writing is also something I find therapeutic, for the record. I often wondered whether to push my photography and writing beyond being hobbies because I worried that if I made them “work,” they’d become tedious, like any other job does. So far, so good, and I’m glad I pushed both fields. Keeping them fun, rather than making them become “work,” has been the result of mindfulness in the application of both jobs.
So, how does it apply? Let me give you some insight into how photography is good for your mind in two different ways: –
First up, taking photos. We know photography is good for the mind—that’s why we have it as a hobby in the first place. The reason we enjoy taking photos could be because the creative process involves creating and analysing the scene and the light, flipping it into ourselves to understand personal healing, growth, and both conscious and unconscious understanding. Active and passive exploration and reflection of our photographs help us develop, and can carry a far greater strength in times such as these. To that end, let’s look at that side of things.
One of the things I first found useful in self-critique was to describe the feelings I had at a place where I took a photo and tried to realistically see whether those feelings were conveyed in the photo or not. The reason for this is to see whether I could make someone feel like they were in that place, because travel photography to me is all about making somebody want to be there. If I’d succeeded in that, I’d done my job right.
Reflecting on your own photographs is great for mental well-being and creative development. In most instances, when looking at self-critique, we are looking at technical things, such as the correct sharpness, depth of field, colour, etc. What we can do, instead, is explore the creative elements. One major factor is composition. It really isn’t that easy to compose a shot well. It’s a knack, a kind of habit, to be able to do it time after time, and that comes from reflection and practice. The things that make it up are subject placement, framing, the makeup of elements within the scene, depth, and the proper, detailed, and no-holds-barred analysis of our own images. With regard, these things can really help to make us better photographers and fill some time whilst on lockdown and unable to get out and create more images.
Taking this a step further, we can spend the time and effort also finding and reflecting our vision. Take an image to critique and think back to when and where you took it. At the time, what was the vision? Does this image describe this vision? Was your goal attained? Technical analysis aside, this is the skill that makes us consistent and separates us from others. If we are able to deliver images that are demonstrated in our portfolio. We need to create images that say more than, “Look, I was there.” We need to make images that people stop scrolling to really look at, and that make people want to be there in that place, having that experience. Taking this little bit of time in lockdown to reflect on our photos is, as I have said, good for both our mental well-being and our personal development. Here’s a little footnote rundown: –
Do we invest in time to consider our shot?
Do we consider the light?
Do we consider changing angles or perspective?
Do we crop enough on the subject?
Do we want to go back and shoot it again?