Improve your photography through mindfulness

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Image - Abstract - Encourage mindfulness

Become mindful to mprove your photography

As photographers we generally live in a high-speed world where mindfulness is often overlooked. We are faced with decisions of whether to use freeze-action shutter speeds, bump the ISO up or down, select a camera with the highest frames/second possible, use blisteringly fast auto-focus settings etc. We often make these decisions automatically, without a thought for alternatives, because we know what works. But could we do better?

You might think that some photographers have it easier, setting up with a tripod, focusing carefully, getting everything just right at their leisure. But then the light changes, the sun is setting or rising rapidly, we have to act. Or react…

Image - Blurred shutter speed dial

Mindfulness

Consider then, mindfulness. Mindfulness practice helps us learn to be in the moment.

Mindfulness is a valuable tool, even for architectural photographers. We don’t just walk up to a building, press the shutter button, and walk away with our final image. We walk around the structure, study the angles and lines, the light, the shadow. Do we want to include people for scale? If so, where is the best vantage point to achieve this? Can we get an elevated position?

Getting started with mindfulness

To get started with mindfulness, consider embarking on a mindfulness meditation activity, leaving the camera at home while taking a walk through local woodland, and then check whether you were in the moment. What did you notice as you took your walk?

Did you notice the bird nests, and the small paths created and used by animals such as rabbits and foxes?

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What about the leaves on the trees, or the berries on the bushes? Were there leaves on the ground? Would they make a good backdrop image or texture for future use in your workflow? What type of trees were there? If you had taken a photograph of a tree, would your caption read “tree”, or, for example, something like “Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)”. Of course, you can identify trees later, but knowing what you are photographing in the first place does help inform your work.

Did you notice how the light fell on certain areas? Were there strong rays of light, or soft dappling? What time of day / month of year was it? Would going earlier or later present a better photo opportunity?

Then go back and visit the same area again. Do you notice more? Are you looking in all directions this time, including up and down?

Image of sycamore leaf with fungal spots to illustrate mindfulness post
Rhytisma acerinum fungus on Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore) leaf

The mindful bird photographer

To capture great images of birds in flight we often need to react quickly. But if we are mindful, and have done our homework, we know where the birds will be, and when. We will know the signals they give off before take-off. We know how they launch themselves (some drop like bricks from  high building ledges for example…). But what type of birds are they? Identifying birds can be tricky, but we should at least try to learn each time we venture out.

Image: Western reef heron [Egretta gularis]
Western reef heron (Egretta gularis)

About wellness and mindfulness

To learn more about the benefits of mindfulness, take a look at www.wellness-me.co.uk.

Becoming a mindful photographer

Photography and mindfulness should go hand-in-hand. Mindfulness helps us to open our mind and learn to see. As we learn to see, our “keeper” rate increases, sometimes dramatically. Practicing mindfulness deserves our consideration at the very least.

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Mindfulness is a journey; a process. To start your journey toward becoming a mindful photographer, aand developing your own mindfulness practice, why not join me on a one-to-one, or group mindfulness-focused photography workshop along the banks of the Tyne? If you would like to learn more about becoming a mindful photographer, please get in touch. Also, please use the form below to subscribe to our newsletter so that we can keep you updated with workshop schedules and more.

Be ready for a mindful start to 2021!

 

Image of path through woodland in autumn to illustrate mindfulness article

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