well-being

Photography for Well-being | A Personal Journey

Lee Aspland presents Photography for Well-Being 1, a new book inspired by his own journey back to physical and mental health. Through experiencing nature, inspiring creativity and sharing ideas, Aspland hopes to use photography to improve the artistic skills and  well-being of readers during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

These are extraordinary times. Our little routines, our day-to-day lives, and our hopes and dreams have all been thrown in the air. How it will all land is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile, we live in reduced circumstances, staying home, social distancing and trying not to shout at our kids and partners. All this combined can put a significant strain on our well-being.

Lee Aspland

Fortunately, there is lots of help available from various sources and experts including exercise routines, healthy eating recipes, games, and quizzes and so on. One lesser-known but equally creative experience you could try comes in the form of: Photography for Well-Being.

I am a photographer and so are you .If you have a camera – and we all have a smartphone now- you are ready to use it to support your well-being and improve your artistic skills along the way. In November of last year, I had major throat reconstruction surgery. Whilst I was recovering, I used photography and writing to support the processing and acceptance of what I was experiencing, thinking, and feeling. Each day I would go walkabout- not far, I was barely allowed out of the ward- and I created photos from what I saw and felt. The challenge of creating new photos each day in the same environment and writing about how they reflected my experience kept me occupied every morning. I noticed that the activity helped me feel more positive about the situation as well as providing an opportunity to work through what was happening to me and lean into difficult feelings.

Whilst on the ward, my thoughts turned to the next stage of recovery and how I could support my mental and physical health post-op and beyond. And so, I came up with the titles and outlines for more than 20 photographic activities for myself to complete over the next few months and these have in turn formed the basis of the book: Photography for Well-Being. Every one of the activities in the book has been used to support my well-being and will support yours too.

Photography for Well-Being  is all about doing creative, mindful photography activities and then sharing your favourite photos. Each activity has a common structure including these six features:

  1.     Creativity.
  2.     Being in the great outdoors.
  3.     Gentle physical exercise.
  4.     Love of a place, person, thing, or experience.
  5.     Mindfulness.
  6.     Social interaction via photo sharing.

This combination together is the tonic to creating a long-lasting sense of well-being. Creativity offers the mood-changing magic and through one activity, situation, or experience something new and original is formed. In this case the end product is photographs that would not exist if you were not out there, following my instructions, noticing what you see and creating photos that relate to that time, place, feeling, and your individual abilities. Creating photos whilst in nature, feeling the sun (or rain) on your face, looking in awe at natural or human-made magnificence, has the capacity to lift your mood, illuminate what you are feeling, and allow difficult thoughts to settle and soften.

Each activity is also designed to develop a specific photographic skill. What equipment you use does not matter, whether it be a smartphone or a digital camera, guidance is provided to make the activities adaptable to any model. Examples of techniques to be developed include mindful photography, composition, and technical skills. Through learning new skills or enhancing existing ones, you will experience a sense of achievement, create a purposeful attitude and develop greater belief in your abilities as a photographer.

In the strange and disorientating times of the present, embracing creativity, personal development and mindfulness through photography offers both escapism and a way of dealing with the complex emotions we are all feeling. If you are still unsure if Photography for Well-Being is right for you, there is a free, downloadable eBook Stuck in the House designed to give you a taster experience with four photographic activities. It will get you into the swing of things, out creating great photos and enthused about continuing your journey through Photography for Well-Being, which is available now.

Lee Aspland is a photographer, writer and mindful practitioner. He lives in Wales, UK and creates photography that reflects how we feel about this glorious world we live in. Lee’s photographs capture a moment in time, a fleeting feeling or thought, a hope or fear. He calls this Mindful Photography – the creation a single moment in time that shares what was seen and felt. Lee’s journey to this understanding of photography has been shaped by life experiences. His health crisis in midlife has led to an exploration of who he was before and who he is now: a life shaken and reformed on every level. Lee now uses these experiences and the knowledge gained to help others understand their own journey.