One of the readers of my newsletter commented that she loved the mindfulness my photography encourages (the post is about the beauty of small things where I talk about macro photography and share some macro shots, you can check it out here). While we all love compliments and I specifically loved this one, I was particularly intrigued by the connection of mindfulness and photography, a connection I have not explored until now.
How is mindfulness connected to photography?
It became clearer to me that my journey into professional photography is one about my photographic process: about being more mindful about what I include (or exclude!) in a photograph, about the mood I intend to create, and the overall “story” of the image.
Mindfulness in photography fundamentally speaks to the issue of “taking” versus “making” a picture. By making a picture I mean to capture and/or create the imagery with intention. Intention does leave room for spontaneity, and there is a place for “snapshots”. I would argue that even powerful “snapshot” photographs were shot with intention; this intent may, at least in part, distinguish great street photography from the average.
Being mindful about my photography also involves getting feedback from other photographers, art directors, creatives, clients, as well as from non-professionals. As part of this mindfulness approach to photography, I routinely pre-visualize my photographs; this ultimately results in a clear vision of the photograph, long before I touch the camera.
Previsualization as a method to be mindful in photography
I pre-visualize my photographs mentally, typically without the use of mood boards, story boards, or concept drawings. And I will use other images for inspiration. Using pre-visualization helps me bring the ideas behind the image (or the intention) to life. I do this by focusing on the key intent / message / story of the image. If there is no intent/message/story, then there is no image. As my style tends to be minimalist, I naturally strive to eliminate any distractions and reduce the image to its essence. The result is, more often than not, is that I am able to execute/capture what I have visualized beforehand.
I believe that mindfulness and photography are truly connected. Mindfulness is part of my creative process; and a strong photograph may indeed encourage mindfulness in the viewer. The compelling image is the one that lets us pause, lets our eyes wander, lets us explore. I would argue that those images tend to be the ones MADE by a mindful photographer.
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