See You in September


During the month of August, I’ll be taking a break from blogging and my weekly newsletter.

It will be a time to simplify, create, spend time with family and friends. I’ll be wrapping up my Adventures in Seeing workshop and getting ready for a Labor Day weekend on Star Island, New Hampshire.

We all need a break sometimes. Here are some photography ideas for the month.

Susannah Conway’s August Break – Susannah offers a daily photographic prompt (and email) and an opportunity for everyone to share their images.

10 Tips on How to use Photography as a Tool for Personal Development – Catherine Just. I thought the description of her Nap Series, a way to use photography to shed new light on a “problem” is fascinating, and one I will do sometime myself.

* And, check out this post on ideas for photo walks, inspired by the book On Looking.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ― John Lubbock, The Use Of Life

See you in September

Registration is now open for fall workshops – The 50mm Project (September), Keeping It Simple (October) and Going Abstract (November).

I hope you’ll join me for one or more.

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Photography as Worry Therapy

rain, green, Kim Manley Ort

Nearly 1 in 7 Americans suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder. ~ Scott Stossel, Atlantic Magazine

Scott Stossel reports this statistic from the National Institute of Mental Health in his book, The Age of Anxiety, as well as the article in Atlantic Magazine. Treatment for anxiety accounts for 31% of expenditures on mental healthcare in the U.S. (with similar percentages in Canada).

Stossel should know. He’s suffered from generalized anxiety and many phobias since he was a kid. He’s tried every therapy and drug imaginable. In his book, he shares meticulous research on the history of anxiety, as well as stories from his own experience.

Of course, acute anxiety or depression should be taken seriously. There are no one size fits all answers. If this is something you struggle with, I hope that you’re getting professional help.

While I’ve never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, I have experienced some social anxiety and, beneath my calm exterior, am a worrier (a milder form of anxiety). My mind naturally goes to worst case scenarios.

I believe that I gravitated towards photography, and especially contemplative photography, as a form of worry therapy.

Photography is one way to train our attention in the moment and away from worrying about a future that hasn’t happened.

* Contemplative photography helps us see what’s right in front of us without judging it as good or bad.

* By taking a longer look, we see perspectives and possibilities we might not have considered.

* We might even experience a moment of awe or wonder at what we see, just as we did when we were kids.

Martin Seligman, in his book, Flourish, writes,

We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well. ~ via Brain Pickings

The truth is we need some time every day where we’re just “being” and not focused on the future and our to-do lists – whether it’s meditating, photographing, dancing, or just staring out the window.

It just makes the whole day better.

Here are some more articles on this topic to consider.

Brain Pickings on Stossel’s Book – The Culture and Costs of Anxiety

Photography as a Balm for Mental Illness – NY Times (thanks to a couple of readers for pointing out this article to me)

The Broken Light Collective - an online place for photographers living with or affected by mental illness.

Art as Therapy – by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong OR see the exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The Relationship between Creativity and Mental Illness – via Brain Pickings

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Playing with Window Reflections


Woman in Space

I’m often drawn to reflections in any surface. They hint at another world, a somewhat dreamy, surreal mirror of the real thing.

Window reflections are another subject altogether. Most photography articles teach how to avoid window reflections. This past weekend, I went out in search of them.

With an effective window reflection, we get a picture of everything – the window, the inside, the outside, and often the photographer too. All of life is blended together into one image, creating something rather other-worldly.

Normally, when we look in a store window we see what’s inside and don’t even notice the reflection. Going out in search of reflections requires a different way of seeing – a more playful one.

It’s a fun photographic exercise in seeing.

When I went out this past weekend, I set an intention to just photograph window reflections and nothing else. This way I trained my eyes to see this way and not be distracted (by regular subjects).

It felt like play and I knew that many of the images would not work out. But, there are always surprises. The images here in this post are some of my favourites.

Green Jeans

To see more images from my photo walk, check out my Window Reflections Album on Flickr.

And here’s an e-book that I highly recommend if you’re interested in this type of photography, Chasing Reflections by Eli Reinholdtsen – available through Craft & Vision ($5 download).

See some of Eli Reinholdtsen’s reflection images on Flickr and read an interview with her here.

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