Final Major Project – Project Development – 15th January 2019

Mindfulness and Photography: Going with the flow.

Whilst I am not sure if mindfulness is the correct term it was the first steps I took in trying to process what it was that I wanted to look at in terms of mental health and photography in relation to my own experience.

I had been working through social media when I came across an image by a photographer I know who had spent the afternoon learning to capture reflections in water and how refreshed she felt afterwards.

I took this a a cue. As I have previously advised whenever I feel difficulties arising I take myself away to sit beside the water and let the sights and sounds wash over me and wait until I feel better.

I felt this was definitely the way that I needed to take my project and try out capturing the movement of the water as it is this element that I find important and turn it to be creative.

I took the images I had taken during one of my walks and edit them to be a bit more meaningful.

I was very pleased with the outcome and it has given me a really clear route forward.

Not only is this work in development helping me with my own well being, it is also allowing me to reintroduce some of the macro photography that I started my MA journey with. This is a real joy to me.

Final Major Project: Development Photo shoot, 12th January 2019

Location: Plessey Woods Country Park

Intent: I wanted to try out the techniques that I had been learning reading around the subject of mindful and contemplative photography.

I was not to look at the images until I had returned home from the shoot and had a break.

I also wanted to practice some of the breathing techniques that I had learnt as I was struggling with quite a high degree of anxiety. Which was another reason that I wanted to see if photography really could be a therapy like it had been explained in the books that I was reading.

Equipment: Nikon D3300, Tamron 70-300mm with Macro

Methodology: I wanted to focus on water primarily but if other subjects caught my eye I didn’t want to rule them out. At first I thought I would simply be looking for water reflections. However once I started shooting I had the feeling that the reflections was not what I was drawn to and in fact it was the water patterns that I was finding intriguing.

I did not look at the images in camera as per the lessons that I had learnt. I also worked with the concept that I should stop, look at what I was taking an image of, take a moment to use the breathing techniques and then take the image, and then move along on my journey, my meanderings through the forest and take the time to enjoy my surroundings.

Whilst these are unedited, I’m not sure that this is how I want to present them and I edited some of them.

Research: I started to research some photographers and came across Fleeting Reflections by Mike Curry. He also included some water pattern images but his was quite focused on the reflections that the world had as a whole on the water and I think it really was just the water itself that I was interested in.

Reflection on the shoot: I felt that this shoot not only held the therapeutic benefits that I was searching for but also the process was very enjoyable and I think the images that I achieved really speak to me. This is very much something that I want to take forward with me.

References:

Final Major Project – Project Development – 8th January 2019

I have started to contemplate how I should use my experiences of photography and how I can use it as a technique to assist in my anxiety management.

Whenever my anxiety hits a fever pitch I can feel it creeping up my throat. It is times like this that I go in search of flowing water.

The smell of the sea or a river running through a forest is powerful – as are the connotations of strength. There being no pollution, just the nature and serenity and sound of flowing water or lapping waves is instantly calming to me. The patterns the water creates, the ripples that are far reaching. The way that it finds its route no matter what helps me to feel a bud of strength and positivity return.

This week I went out for a few hours to do exactly this, allowing me to be only present in the moment not to focus on my anxiety the affects of my physical disease, or the pressures of my work circumstance. I find this is the release to help me to move forward and not get trapped into the negativity.

Water is important to me also for the metaphors I associate with it.

  • Water like time does not stand still
  • It always finds a way whatever the obstacles are put in its path
  • You don’t know how deep it goes, like the depths of my emotions.
  • Water can help wash away the negative feelings I have.

This is really important to consider in relation to maintaining my mental health.

I have also been reading around the subject of Mindfulness and contemplative photography as I have adopted it as a very important step on my journey to good long term mental and physical health.

I have prepared a shooting list to follow up with more images:

  • Plessey Woods
  • Morpeth
  • St Mary’s Lighthouse
  • Tyne
  • Holywell Dene
  • Jesmond Dene
  • Seaton Sluice Harbour and beach
  • Longsands, Tynemouth
  • Blyth Beach

Final Major Project: Project Development, Practice Shoot, 28th December 2018

After reading and researching Mindful photography I decided to give it a go. I took my partner to a local country park and we just went for a walk, I took a small bridge camera to just see what happened.

It took me back to last year, and I had gotten injured training for the London Marathon, what was expected to be a small easily fixed injury, was really quite major, but part of my physiotherapy was to go for walks in an attempt to remobilise my joint after being in a moon boot. It helped so I feel it should help again.

We came to a lake and just watched the swans and ducks and I decided to take a photo, I didn’t look at what I had taken (I guess this is what it would feel like when shooting on film!), we just continued on our walk stopping every now and then taking in our surroundings. When we finished the route we went home and then I decided to have a look and see what I had taken.

I felt relaxed and happy, and this was made even happier by my favourite image of the day.

Kirsty Logan, 2018

I have decided to keep trying this technique, as there may not only be some value to it for my FMP but I feel this will also be good for me personally. Combined with the walking it can only do me good.

Final Major Project: Project Development, 21st December 2018

Mindfulness and Photography

Recently photography has been tough because I am struggling with mental and physical issues. Whilst doing some research I came across the terms contemplative photography and mindful photography and it made me want to know more about it.

As I feel like I am in a creative fog and haven’t really found what it is I want to do for my FMP that really excites me, I felt there was no harm in having a look at some different subjects. I felt I needed to kick-start my creativity, as I had so much self doubt due to my low mood. I found lots of articles and books but I think what I take from it is as follows.

An individual needs to stop putting pressure on themselves to get a certain picture at a certain place at a certain time, and it is more about stopping for a moment to actually see what is going on around you, and not just looking but seeing, to allow yourself to breathe and not feel pressured, and once you have taken everything in then start taking some images.

Perhaps in a loose way it can be linked to Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment. You have to be able to properly see what it is you are focusing on to really make the connection and decided to commit that moment for eternity in an image.

I had been putting so much pressure on myself to find my subject, to make images of what I thought I should be doing I wasn’t even enjoying any of it. I was just trying to achieve a goal and not doing it successfully because it wasn’t about anything it was of something!!

I read an article with a viewpoint from a counsellor who advised that sometimes it isn’t so much about the photography which is beneficial but also the walk to get to it, the journey to get to the place to get the image is also part of the therapeutic benefits.

So over the next couple of weeks I have decided to try these techniques, and the activities in Zen Camera and the Practice of Contemporary Photography and see where it takes me, and also to read a bit more about the subject as a whole.

References

Karr, A. and Wood, M. (2011). The practice of contemplative photography. Boston, Mass: Shambhala.

Ulrich, D. (2018). Zen Camera. New York. Watson-Guptill

https://ayearwithmycamera.com/blog/mindful-photography-what-is-it-and-how-do-you-do-it

https://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/technique/interviews/photography-saved-my-life-photography-as-therapy-117567

Final Major Project – Project Development – 11th December 2018

I haven’t done anything photographically recently I have lots to say but my motivation is very low.

In the last month I have looked at the disease that took my Grandma from us – and in my past I have raised money fro this cause to help others.

We lost another family member this year to a different mental illness and it was this moment that made me wonder if it was time to use this project to look at me own illness.

Earlier this year I received my diagnosis – broadly Inflammatory Arthritis more specifically Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis. I suffer pain and discomfort and fatigue everyday – but now it has a name.

There are times when the joy gets sucked out of me because I can no longer to the things that I used to do (and the things that I can not at the same level) there are times when even holding a camera is difficult. Along with all of this there are the mental health affects and for me this is the hardest.

I find that when I concentrate on photography whether that is the taking or the editing, it can some times take some of the pain away, the fuzziness doesn’t make my brain feel so sad. Taking the photographs shows me that I can still do something and I would like to think that by taking about these challenges to others that it could maybe help them too.

I want to hold a workshop to talk to others as well as display my images and show the journey is the way that I would like to go.

I have brainstormed some elements that help to describe my feelings:

  • Dead Flowers with the petals missing.
  • RSVP showing non attendance
  • Tablets

I have also been reading a lot about the #VersusArthritis campaign and this has been really been powerful in showing the different ways people are affected by this disease.

Final Major Project: Group Critique with Krishna Sheth 27/11/2018

This was another great opportunity to meet up with my fellow FMP students and Krishna.

I presented the images that I had presented to Wendy earlier that day, with some really great feedback, I was advised that my images were strong. We discussed that I could look at communities were places that i could look to hold my images as my images were held in my local community.

One important point to raise is that we have to know when to stop – both through when to stop taking images, when to stop searching for what our project is and when to stick with what we should be working – and also to stop over analysing

I discussed my aim to have a workshop which was well received. I also explained that it would be on coping and photography.

References to look at:

Celene Marchbank

Bruce Naumen – at Moma

Changing Face – Telegraph Selfie Taking Campaign

Look at the website Fragmentary.Org – http://fragmentary.org/