Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Photographing for Mental Health

This photo is called Circle of Life. I photographed this last spring while laying on my back in the middle of a majestic forest in BC. I was out with a group of other photographers getting eaten by mosquitos and taking photos of the area. It was very enjoyable, (well not the mosquito biting part) and of course that is therapeutic being with and enjoying other people.

What I really wanted to share with you tonight is an awesome website that I stumbled across. In an article called "7 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health" by Danielle Hark  on the Beliefnet website, I read the suggestion to "try art" and even take pictures with your cell phone. "The key" Hark states, "is not what you create, it is how you create it. Its about being in the present moment and enjoying the process of creating."  Of course this caught my interest because I have also been encouraging this.  Hark provided a link to her website Broken Light Collective. I'd encourage anyone who has or is struggling with mental illness or working in that area, to check out www.brokenlightcollective.wordpress.com. It's an amazing site with photos submitted by many people whose lives are impacted by mental illness.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Nature Lifts the Spirit

Photographer Freeman Patterson wrote, in Photography of Natural Things (1982), "The growth of cities has increased interest in nature photography as an antidote to the pressures of urban living, a readily available therapy, and a stimulating creative outlet".

I totally agree with this statement as I have experienced this for myself. Stepping out into nature, with camera in hand, can provide uplifting and therapeutic experiences. While driving along the highway recently I noticed Trumpeter Swans flying and landing on ponds and streams in fields within the interior of British Columbia. So as soon as I had the chance took the opportunity to pull over to observe and photograph these magnificent creatures. Witnessing these beautiful birds, ones I have rarely seen before (except in photographs made by others), got my blood pumping and although I could have easily rushed over to start snapping pictures, that would have scared them away and would have been disrespectful. Instead, I purposefully had to slow down, gently and considerately approach their environment, and patiently wait. As I did this for awhile I was able to just focus on them, noticing and appreciating every beautiful aspect from their gorgeous huge wing span, to the long curve of their necks that appear so fragile, what they eat, and how they interact with each other and the environment. As the sun was going down, it reflected on the nearby grasses and cast a golden reflection on the water. I was totally absorbed in the activity of being still, merely watching, listening, and taking photographs. I was in awe of them and the beautiful and peaceful scene. This reminded of the the connections between all living things and the need to be respectful and take care of our earth; without it there is no life and life is a gift.

There are opportunities all around us to slow down, notice and appreciate nature. If you are stuck in a city apartment you may have plants in your home or birds outside of your window.  If you have a dog that you take for walks, take your camera along on those walks and take more notice, and photograph, what is around you. It may only be a plant sprouting from a crack in concrete or a sun lit spider web with morning dew. With the seasons in transition, this is a wonderful time to witness the return of some birds, like Robins, and the new beginnings of plants sprouting through the soil. This kind of photography can awaken and lift the human spirit and is a very therapeutic activity indeed.