This is an update on an earlier post – I hope you enjoy the improvements!
Here are my tips for a mindful photography walk. An effective way to focus your mind and connect with nature is to take a walk with a camera. The camera enables you to look with a purpose. My tips give you some simple and easy subjects to focus your lens and your mind.
‘Easy like Sunday morning’ is one of my favourite songs and there is nothing easier than a soulful, stroll along the Danube, or the Donau as it is known in Vienna. Heading out for a walk, run or cycle is quite a Viennese thing to do. The river becomes a hive of activity for the city’s inhabitants during the heat of summer. If ‘people watching’ is your thing, then there is no better place. Find a bench, sit down and watch the world pass by. The Danube guarantees there will be plenty to observe.
The speed of the river rushing past is like my life
Unstopping, pushing, silent
The walked dog wishing to sit is like my soul.
Unmoved, determined, steady
Taking time out is good for the soul and there is something rather special about a Sunday morning here in Vienna. It seems calmer. Perhaps because here most shops are shut and stay shut all day. I think this influences the atmosphere for the better. No popping off to the DIY store or out food shopping. You have to plan to do those things on a different day. To me, life often seems a relentless stream of things to do and a myriad of ‘convenient’ opportunities in which to do them. I can feel overwhelmed. Less choice has created space to do other things, for example, get the camera and go for a walk. So would you like to try, then read on?
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Here are my tips for a slow soulful Sunday stroll
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, a phone camera will do. Then again phone cameras have become pretty sophisticated nowadays. Ultimately though a good photograph is about what the photographer sees and not the equipment. This was illustrated clearly with this image taken on Derwent Water in the Lake District. A group of ten photographers stood in exactly the same place, but only one took the shot of the view and the seat and it happened to be me. I didn’t have the most sophisticated camera equipment and I had less experience than others in the workshop, but I could still see!
However, I digress. The aim of this soulful walk is to take life at a slower pace, become focused in the moment itself and come away rejuvenated – it’s called being in the ‘flow’. This is defined as becoming so engrossed in something, time stops. I sincerely hope you take an image that makes you smile with a sense of accomplishment like the one I took above, but most importantly that you enjoy the process.
Choose your location carefully. Make it a familiar place so that you can concentrate on the photography and not on trying to find your way. Remember, too, this is a mindful walk, so you might very well walk only a short distance, but it might take you several hours and that is fine. When you are ready, stand in your chosen location and take a few slow breaths to still your mind. Slowly use your senses to listen, smell, feel, and see what is around you. Now begin to walk and as you do let your eye be drawn to something interesting.
What sorts of things might you notice? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Focus on a particular shape. You may look for a simple shape like a circle, square and rectangle – an extension to this, and one that is totally absorbing is to look for letters of the alphabet hidden in the world around you.
Focus on a particular object. For example, look for leaves, flowers, tree bark, tree roots, pathways, doors, and windows. The list is endless.
Focus on colour. If you are in a woodland or green space, how many different shades of green can you find? It is fascinating to notice.
Focus on one thing, but reframe the shot. This means how many different ways can you photograph the same object. Try a landscape shot and then a portrait shot. Now you have framed your subject in two different ways. Now try a close-up shot and one from a distant and that’s two more. Mix in landscape and portrait at a distance and close up and suddenly you are starting to build an array of different images while giving your attention to one thing. Keep going, the ideas will come, time pass and you will become absorbed in one thing.
See below for my example, when I focused on this Dog Rose.
With these ideas to get you started, you can become absorbed in the image-making. Nothing else matters for those precious moments.
Once your walk is over, give yourself time to look and do something with the images you created. So often pictures are left on a phone or camera and rarely looked at. My photography often inspires me to write and this is often a good way to process my thoughts. Like the poem at the beginning. How will your photography inspire you?