Self Care for Photographers
Posted by Jana Ferreira
Updated: November 28, 2023

Mindfulness In Photography: How Meditation Elevates Your Craft

Hey there, Shutterbug! As we wrap up another rollercoaster of a year, it's the perfect time to delve into a topic that’s not just about perfecting that aperture setting or nailing your final edits. 

Nope, we’re talking about something deeper – mindfulness in photography. 

Trust me, this isn’t just another trend; it's your gateway to a more fulfilling photographic journey.

The Role of Mindfulness in Photography

mindfulness in photography

So, you’ve obviously heard the words “mindfulness” and “meditation” before, but how does it connect with your photography? 

If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to focus (no pun intended) amidst the chaos of settings and lighting, practicing mindfulness can help you cut through the noise.

It's not just about snapping pics; it's about creating a mindful space where every click is a moment of zen.

We’ve all felt that magical alignment when you're in the zone, camera in hand, and the world fades away. That was the dance of photography and mindfulness, even if you didn’t know it at the time.

It’s what happens when you’re fully present in that moment, attuned to the play of light, the textures, and the emotions that unfold before your lens.

In 21 Days of Mindful Photography, Alexandria Searls (2019) says the combination of mindfulness and photography is an opportunity to “open yourself up to new perceptions, and to understanding your own vision.”

Now, before we get into meditation as the gateway to mindfulness in photography, you might (or not) find it surprising to learn that many believe photography in itself is a form of meditation. 

There’s a book by Torsten Andreas Hoffmann that explores Photography as Meditation in more depth if you’re interested in diving deeper into the topic.

The Benefits of Meditation for Photographers

benefits of meditation

The benefits of practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation and deep breathing exercises extend beyond keeping you free from distractions on shooting days.

Photography is a passion, but it can also be a stress-inducing affair. Long hours, demanding clients, and the constant pursuit of perfection can take a toll. 

Meditation becomes your antidote, reducing stress levels, preventing you from spiraling into the black hole of burnout, and ultimately, enhancing your overall well-being. 

It’s like having a Zen master whispering, "You got this." 

Besides boosting your mental wellness, meditation can also impact your craft in more ways than one. 

You already know that it can improve your ability to focus, reminding you to step back and see the forest, not just the trees.

But did you know meditation can increase your creative thinking and potentially lead to more a-ha moments too?

The folks at Headspace explain this beautifully.

Headspace app for guided meditation

“Let’s imagine the mind as a lake and everyday thoughts as pebbles that get tossed into the water. More thoughts make more ripples and, before we know it, the lake has lost its stillness. 

Beneath the ripples — in the depths — is where our creative thoughts lie. But it’s more difficult for them to stir and rise up because of all the movement and noise on the surface.

By using meditation for creativity, we can calm the mind to create the stillness and clarity that then allows us to access our creative inspiration, giving it the space it needs to float to the top.”

How to Incorporate Meditation Into Your Photography Practice

Meditation isn’t just about sitting cross-legged and chanting "Om." Let’s look at some of the ways you could bring meditation into your photography practice.

Start a Daily Meditation Routine

Imagine a few minutes each day where it's just you and your thoughts, no distractions or urgent tasks to do.

Sounds blissful, right? So what’s stopping you?

You don’t need to meditate for hours on end. Five to ten minutes a day can make a world of difference. 

If you’re a total meditation newbie, check out “How to Meditate for Beginners” posted by the NHS.

meditation for photographers

If meditating on your own isn’t for you, try guided meditation via an application on your phone. 

Here are three meditation apps we recommend:

  1. Headspace
  2. Calm
  3. Waking Up

Practice Mindful Photography Techniques

Picture this (pun intended): you’re out there, camera in hand, but your mind is in five different places. 

Mindful photography brings you back, making each shot a deliberate and present act. We’ll even throw in some cool exercises to get you started.

1. Choose a single subject 

It could be a tree or an object around your house. Instead of wildly clicking away, take a moment to truly see your subject. Notice its colors, textures, and the way light plays upon it, and capture shots that explore its nuances. 

This exercise trains your mind to focus on a singular moment, turning a simple object into a canvas of details.

2. Go on an expedition

Go for a walk with your camera but don’t pre-plan your shots. Let your surroundings guide you and pause when something catches your eye, whether it's a play of shadows on a building or a fleeting expression on a passerby. 

This exercise encourages spontaneity and hones your ability to be fully present.

Photography and Mindfulness

3. Find emotion in still life

Choose an object that carries emotional weight for you – perhaps a family heirloom or something as simple as a cup of coffee. Take a moment to connect with the emotions it evokes. Is it nostalgia, warmth, or maybe a hint of melancholy? Focus on capturing the object in a way that relays these emotions. 

This exercise transforms your photography into a storytelling experience, adding layers of meaning to your shots.

4. A day in 10 frames

Challenge yourself to document your day using only 10 frames. Each frame should represent a moment that stands out to you. 

This exercise not only sharpens your decision-making skills but also encourages you to be mindful of the beauty in the ordinary. 

Get in the Zone while Editing Photos

We know editing is the necessary evil of every photographer and it’s usually anything but relaxing. 

Well, what if it could be a serene creative process that’s calming instead of nerve-wracking?

By using an AI editing assistant like Aftershoot EDITS, you don’t have to worry about all the nitty gritty manual edits and you save tonnes of time to go out and smell the roses instead of being cooped up behind your screen.

Imagine chucking your entire Lightroom (or Capture One) Catalog of unedited images into an app, clicking a few buttons, and then having your perfectly edited images ready in 5 minutes. 

That’s what Aftershoot can do for you. If you haven’t checked it out yet, this is your sign. Start a risk-free 30-day free trial (no credit card needed) and see how zen your editing process can be with an AI helper by your side.

Use Photography as Meditation

Photography isn’t just about clicking; it's about seeing, feeling, and experiencing. 

Here’s how you can turn your photo sessions into moments of meditation. No yoga mat required.

How to use photography as meditation

Photographers Who Meditate

Still skeptical? Perhaps these testimonials from fellow photographers will change your mind.

Benefits of Meditation

My Vision and Ideas are Clearer

“Anxiety has made photographing people very, very hard for me, so meditation clears it or minimizes it to a point where I can handle it in the situation.

With landscapes and travel, having a clear head makes me slow down so I don't rush my compositions. It can be quite overwhelming and only executing a half completed idea usually leads me to being annoyed that I got unecessarily carried away.

I've found it nothing but helpful because my mental vision and photographic ideas are clearer and more solid.”

– Kjoro, Reddit

Meditation Helped Me Develop My Approach to Photography

“When we photograph, our attention is turned to the world outside of us. In contrast, when we meditate, we turn our gaze inward. 

Combining photography and meditation may seem like nonsense. But actually, it's not, since we can practice observing the environment with a relaxed mind that has been developed using meditation.

When feeling insecure or photographing something challenging, I realize how important meditation has been in developing my approach to photography.”

– Enzo Dal Verme,

I'm More Present When Shooting

“I'm a wedding photographer and on the way to weddings I listen to Eckhart Tolle audio books as a form of meditation. 

It definitely has helped keep me more present when shooting. With less ‘monkey mind’ it leaves room for natural creative flow/ideas. I panic less when things aren't going according to plan as well.”

– Zoowicki, Reddit

In Conclusion

Mindfulness in photography isn’t a fad; it’s a game-changer. 

With meditation as your passport to a more mindful and fulfilling photographic journey, you’re well on your way to finding your focus in more ways than one. 

Remember, photography isn’t just about capturing images; it's about being present in each moment, seeing beyond the lens, and infusing your passion with purpose. 

With practical steps, mindful exercises, and the AI editing zen of Aftershoot EDITS, your photography becomes a conscious act, a visual meditation. 

So, as you step forward, let your lens be a tool that’s not just for seeing, but for experiencing the world in full color. 

Your photographic journey now has a mindful heartbeat, where each click is a step toward creativity, focus, and well-being.

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