Yesterday I took myself off, with my camera, to join a Mindful Photography workshop on the Moray coast. A day-long session run by Kim Grant, a popular YouTube vlogger who is gathering quite a following as she shares her days out with her camera through Visualising Scotland.
It’s no secret my heart lies with wildlife when it comes to motivation to pick up my camera. But it wasn’t always like that. I had my first camera when I was maybe around 11 years old. A little Instamatic type film device which you wound on manually. I used to play with creative shots. Putting a paper cup over the lens to create a soft-focus vignette. Later I would progress to digital, but was always attracted to scenery. Perhaps a little architecture. But then elephants and red squirrels came along and I lost my mojo for scenes. If it didn’t involve wildlife then I’d rather clean the bathroom.
So when I met Kim recently and she spoke about her mindful photography, I decided I would go along and give it a go. See if I could reconnect with the beauty of our coastline – without the need to always be hoping for a seal or a dolphin. There’s disappointment right there, every time I come home with an empty card.
And what a day it turned out to be
Being present in the moment
I know, I know, it’s a phrase which gets used so much. But I can’t think of any other way to express it. A simple thing like sitting for a period, just looking, listening, using the senses to immerse ourselves in the surroundings. Eek! Sit still? Me? I am an activist. I dive in, head first. Only later wishing I had thought more about an activity.
So it was interesting just sitting on the shoreline, resisting the temptation to grab my camera. Really looking at what was around me. Texture, shape, movement, colour, perspective. Could I see anything I liked? It took a while I must confess.
But once I was sure of the places I wanted to look at, through the lens, only then did I get set up.
Here is my final collection – check the magnifying glass to zoom and scroll through.
Even processing is mindful
I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy processing my images. I came home with 70. Way less than an average wildlife day! Yet the very act of going through them, reminding myself ‘why’ (and deleting the ‘what the hell…’) has been settling too.
It’s also helped me want to get out again. I haven’t picked up my camera since Tanzania. But next week we have promised ourselves a day, back on the coast. Okay, in the interests of full disclosure – there may well be gannets involved. Just saying. But I do plan to use my new mindful photography toolbox – be it to view them differently or just to take some other shots too.
Thanks to Kim for a wonderful day on the Hopeman coast – and to David, John, Sarah-Anne, John, Nancy, Stacey and Alison for making it just the best way to spend a Saturday. My scenic mojo is back. I am so over elephants (I’m joking).
For now, I leave you with these final three interpretations of one image. I used to be nuts about taking photos of crashing waves – so I couldn’t visit the coast without doing it again. Which one do you like best?
If you fancy trying one of Kim Grant’s Mindful Photography workshops then you will find her on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram – just search for Visualising Scotland.
By the way. If you want to read about my first photography experiences you will find a wee story over on She Wordsmiths