I’ve written about Westonbirt Arboretum many times on this blog. We joined as members nearly 2 years ago now. I’ve taken my camera with me on each visit and rather than take some of the stereotypical photos of landscapes (which still have a good place in photography) I’ve tried capture the detail of the Arboretum, the things which are often walked past and not noticed. It’s such a vast expanse, forever changing with the seasons, there is always something to capture your interest. It doesn’t matter what type of camera you have, mobile phone, compact or SLR, the purpose is to take photos without judgement and to enjoy being part of the present moment, your everyday distractions left behind for a time.
I’ve recently put together a series of my photos for an exhibition hosted by Wecil who provide support to people with disabilities across Bristol. Disabilities can be mental or physical health disabilities. Selecting my photos was a really difficult task. I am trying to save money so purchased second hand picture frames from a charity shop, this made fitting the photos to the frames a challenge. Each of the 40 photos had to be stuck down with blue tack in a straight line. I won’t deny that there were tears of frustration. Even selecting the photos was hard. Instinct is to select the ones that are technically the best, but this seemed in conflict as to what the exercise was about. I chose photos which reminded me of particular moments, particular feelings or certain seasons or simply for the colours that I was drawn to. Completing putting them together did feel like an achievement, I did feel good that I had completed a task whilst in a really dark period of depression. I don’t feel a sense of pride of what I have completed, what I do feel joy from is hearing that I have helped another person by sharing something which could help their health or change how they might deal with difficult feelings, even if on just one occasion.
I want to end this blog by giving thanks to a photographer called Lee Aspland. I had been practising Mindful Photography without having a name to give to it. Discovering his website and learning more about it has helped me to develop and understand it further. Although Lee is employed in this work he is also keen to share information on his website for free, which I think is really admirable. For me sitting in a room practising mindfulness is uncomfortable at times and feels out of my understanding and abilities. Being able to be present in my surroundings is something I can understand though and photography has opened up this experience to me.
Here is my exhibition – it’s displayed as a slide show.
To read my further blogs on Westonbirt you can visit here:
- The healing power of trees.
- The power of a factory reset.
- Conversation in the outdoors.
- A year in the woods.
- Colour in the trees when my mood is grey.
I have also written a handout for the exhibition which can be downloaded here: Mindful photography
I don’t have a home for my photos once this exhibition is finished. I am not seeking payment, but if any service would like to use the exhibition (particularly a mental health or health service) please make contact.