Photography as a Form of Meditation
As much as I love running workshops and sharing my knowledge of photography with others, there is something special – almost therapeutic, about getting some alone time with the camera. There are times when everyday life can get a little stressful and just a bit overwhelming. Certainly 2020 and all the issues and restrictions revolving around Covid aren’t making things any easier.
Stress is inevitable, especially with today’s hectic pace of life and quite simply, stress sucks! It can zap your energy, drain your motivation and leave you totally worn out from the day to day grind. Photography to the rescue!
Being Present in the Moment
Having a hobby that helps you to escape the stress of life’s everyday challenges is good for the soul. Photography can be Zen like, a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Photography forces you to clear your mind and focus on the present, helping you to clear the clutter of everything else that is dancing around in your head. Photography can be viewed as a form of meditation. In traditional meditation you focus on your breathing in an effort to clear your mind of all other thoughts and distractions. In photography, breathing is replaced with the act of composing the image in the view finder. That moment, just before you press the shutter button, you are in the present.
Jen Johnson – a Mindfulness Coach (jenjohnson.com) describes it perfectly; “Photography meditation is a practice of being present with what is right in front of you in the moment, being still with yourself, and making a connection with the object or subject that has deeply moved you enough to want to photograph it”.
We aren’t simply talking about a state of calmness as photography most certainly has moments of intensity, as the bird you have been wanting to photograph briefly perches directly in front of you, or as the perfect sunrise begins to unfold in front of you. It’s about being present in the now – being aware and mindful of what’s happening a the very moment you are composing the image. In that moment you are not distracted by thought of the past, bills that need to be paid or worries about what may occur in the future – you are simply focused on the here and now.
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and without judgment. So how do we incorporate mindfulness into our photography? The next time you arrive at the location you are wanting to photograph, spend 5 to 10 minutes just immersing yourself in the surroundings of the location. Take a moment to just stand there and evaluate the light, study the shadows, breathe in the air. Focus on the sounds of the area, the waves on the beach, the birds singing their morning song or maybe the sounds of the city if you’re planning a day of streetscape photography. Now you are in the moment, you can unleash your creativity.
How often when you sit down to edit your images do you find that you lose track of time, briefly forgetting everything around you as you get so caught up in the editing of the images you captured earlier? This is another example of mindfulness as part of your photography. Losing yourself to your creativity as you develop your raw images into beautiful works of art. At the end of it all you’ve had a momentary escape from the hustle and bustle of life and hopefully a few lovely images to sit back and admire.
In the end, all that is required is your camera and the practice of allowing yourself to be present in the moment, allowing your creativity to truly shine – this is Zen.
Looking for a bit of motivation to get your project underway? Here are some up-coming Photography workshops you may find valuable:
Fri 2nd Dec - Sun 4th Dec - Merry Beach
Thur 28th Apr - Sun 1st May - Narooma
Thur 25th Aug - Sun 28th Aug - Capertee Valley