Using Photography to aid Wellbeing
In one way or another, lockdown will have affected the way we view the world. It will have raised many questions particularly around how we work. Is commuting back and forth to places of work necessary all the time when we can work effectively remotely from home? Remote working has been fantastic for the environment, which began to recover during lockdown. Is it necessary to jet off to far-flung places on airplanes when we have so much beauty here at home? Lockdown has also had an effect on mental health, those cut off from their loved ones have found lockdown difficult. There has been terrible loss and bereavement due to Covid19, many have lost loved ones, their jobs or found themselves excluded from the Furlough scheme.
Personally, during lockdown my work pretty much dried up, I couldn’t see any clients and I didn’t have anyone to photograph. Still wanting to take photos, I took my camera with me on my daily walks and this is when a whole new side to photography opened up to me. I wasn’t thinking about composition or how my images would be received by my client, I was photographing for me and out of pure enjoyment and it didn’t matter what my images looked like because no one but me was going to see them. The process was liberating; lifted my spirits and made me feel at peace. This is something everyone can do, you don’t need to have a DSLR and in fact, as a DSLR is a pretty heavy camera to carry about with you on a walk, so a mobile phone is perfect for this and actually more suited.
We may never have thought about using photography to help our well-being before, but it is a practice worth trying out. The Creative Arts, have long been employed as therapeutic devices to help relieve stress and calm the mind, now with the access we all have to cameras on our smartphones photography is accessible in a way that it has never been before.
We are very fortunate that we can now take pictures easily and we don’t have to get bogged down with the technicalities of camera settings to take photos.
The actual process of taking photos is very beneficial to our everyday wellbeing, particularly when you combine it with going out for a walk into nature. In this way, photography is not only good for you physically, but mentally as well. It’s not about the outcome, it’s about the actual process of taking the photos. It’s about using photography in a non-judgemental way, the images you take are for you and are to be accepted as they are. You are photographing for yourself, it’s not about comparing your shots to anyone else’s or thinking about how well-received your images will be if you put them up on social media. It is about taking note of what you are looking at, delving into the scene to find beauty in the light, the shadows the colours and taking time to notice all of these things.
Photography can be used as a tool to help us connect to the present moment in time and to tune into the present. Tuning in to the “now” helps to calm the mind and relieve stress. The very act of photography automatically helps you focus on something and be aware of that moment so you can take a photo of it.
In our everyday lives, things happen that can throw us off balance and make us feel down, listening to a negative news item, a curt or critical email from someone or a harsh word can all affect our view of the world for the rest of the day. We are very beholden to everyday triggers that affect our mood some are positive triggers, which make us feel good, but how can we deal with a negative trigger? – This is where photography can help. We can find calm by using the practice of photography, focussing on our subject and looking at that to pull us away from any negative wanderings of our minds.
As adults we spend a lot of our time striving for the next goal, we put a lot of effort into rushing about trying to achieve one thing after another. This is another cause of huge stress, feeling low because we aren’t achieving our goals quickly enough or not even getting through our long “To Do” list.
Going out with your camera and engaging in photography whilst on a walk can still your mind. This isn’t about aimlessly snapping a few shots, this is about slowing down, tuning in with your surroundings and taking time to really look at what is around you. As you start to look around you and pause to take in your surroundings, paying attention to the present moment and being aware of what you are looking at, also aware of physical sensations like the breeze on your skin. you will start to unravel a wandering mind and be more present and feel calmer.
My advice would be to give it a go, you have nothing to lose, but lots to gain.