By Jon Shore
Photography, on its own, is an activity that requires mental and emotional focus on the moment. It is a perfect activity to use for mindfulness meditation.
To practice mindful photography requires only your time and a willingness to truly see the world around you in a new way. You can even practice mindful photography without a camera. But for the purpose of this exercise lets assume that you will use a camera.
You can use any camera at all. The quality of your camera is irrelevant for this practice. Use your phone camera, a point and shoot, a DSLR or any other camera you have access to. For some aspects of the mindful photography practice it is best to use a digital camera but it is not essential.
Begin with this basic mindfulness practice:
Stop whatever you are doing right now. With your eyes open, pay attention to every detail around you. Pay close attention without any judgement, without any desire to change anything. Just observe. Just watch. Now observe your physical body in the same way, pay attention to all physical sensations, no judgements, no desire to change anything. Just observe, nothing more. Now do the same with the emotions you may be experiencing, just observe. Do not try to deal with anything, change anything or judge any of them. Just watch.
Now you are going to apply this same perspective while taking pictures with your camera. You can practice mindful photography indoors or outdoors. Wherever you are going to practice mindful photography, go there now.
Take your camera in hand and do whatever is necessary to prepare it for picture taking.
Now look around you wherever you are. Observe mindfully, objectively. No value judgements, no need to change anything. Just observe. Look at everything around you in great detail. Observe as the camera observes. The more you observe mindfully the more details you will notice. Look at the tiny details, look at the larger picture, observe close in and far away. Pay close attention to the light. To any shadows. To any reflections that might be present. To people, animals, shapes, empty spaces, angles, windows, doors, views, nature, buildings, etc. Look for the unique and unusual from your perspective. Look for stories, emotions, history or experiences.
If you wanted to express the essence of what you are seeing, how would you frame it and take a picture of it to remember this moment or share it with others? Now imagine framing some of what you see. Pay close attention as you frame the picture. Does it have everything in it you wish to capture? Now do this with your camera and take a picture.
Now examine the photograph you have taken, if possible. Does it capture what you wanted to say or remember? Examine without any value judgement. It is not good or bad, beautiful or ugly, it is just a photograph. If it does not capture or express what you wanted, try again. Do this as many times as you wish.
Now practice mindful photography in the next location. Choose a location that you must move to. Walking, driving, riding or whatever method you are using to move. Observe mindfully, objectively as you move. Pay close attention to everything without any value judgements. At some point you will see something that inspires you to take a picture. Stop and use the same mindful practice you used for the previous photograph. Examine this place in great detail without any judgement or desire to change anything. Just observe and watch. See the various possibilities for photographs. View the details close in and see the larger and wider views. Take as many pictures as you like to capture and save these views. Examine them to see if they are capturing what you wanted to save and share. Judge nothing.
You are the camera, the objective viewer.
As you practice mindful photography you may find that you learn to use more of your camera’s features. Experiment, explore, learn and enjoy. Pay attention to how this practice affects other aspects of your life, your emotional and physical states. Explore how this affects your view of life and your reactions to events in life.
Practice being the camera and see what happens.
© 2019 Jon Shore
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