How to relieve the stress of the city whilst developing creatively – with your camera!
RACHEL Wegh meditates with her camera. And now she’s sharing the secrets of “Mindful Photography” with fellow enthusiasts She draws on the techniques of Mindfulness – awareness of ourselves and the world around us – to find interesting subjects in daily life.
Rachel is an award winning wildlife and environmental photographer and runs photography courses in Waterloo, London. She currently has an exhibition of her photography at Travelling Through bookshop, art space and cafe in Lower Marsh. Waterloo from 7th September through to 3rd October 2015. She will also be running a number of photography courses over the next few months, incorporating Mindful Photography.
“It not only teaches you the basics of mindfulness practice but it helps individuals to engage with their environments, learn photography techniques and ways of seeing, rooting them in present time,” she said.
“We tend to rush past things and stop noticing what is all around us, so consumed with what we need to be doing next or dwelling on past events, Mindful Photography is a way to help you see the world more deliberately and be fully present as you do it.
“To put it simply, it’s the practice of meditating with your camera.”
“Do you notice the plants that spring up through gaps in the pavement, consider the way we see and use our environments every day or really think about what comes up for us when we just stop and observe for a while. It can really help you to develop your photographic eye, alleviate stress and explore your creativity” she enthuses.
“With world Mindfulness Day approaching on the 12th September, what better way to explore mindfulness than on a Mindful Photography course.”
Mindfulness is an Eastern tradition that is gaining popularity in the West. The Headspace app – promoted by actress Emma Watson – has been downloaded more than 2 million times in 150 countries) and short mindfulness courses are increasingly popular according to the Wellcome Trust.
In 2005 Rachel left her home in Waterloo, London and the security of 15 years employment in local government to take the brave step to embark on a wildlife and environmental photography BA (Hons) degree and then an MA in wildlife documentary production. Uprooting herself from London to live three years in Blackpool and a year in Salford respectively.
“The mindful photography courses came about because of my own mindfulness practice,” she said.
“I’d worked for a number of years as a town planner which made me look at my environment in certain disciplined ways.This has proved useful in thinking about the we look at and move around our environments. I then went on to engage with the natural world and it is here I found most peace and engagement with my surroundings. This has all contributed to the development of the courses”.
Rachel then spent a few years organising trade fairs for small businesses and then managed the Film Unit in the London Borough of Greenwich.
“I found myself at the trade fairs and then on film sets with a camera, taking photographs for our brochures and local press. I took evening classes in photography and enjoyed walks and nature at weekends. I decided to take the plunge back into full-time education.”
It’s been a hard slog for Rachel, not least because of a major setback over the last two years when she lost mobility in her hips and had to have them both replaced last summer.
“I found mindfulness a great way to deal with the anxiety and frustration that built up around my condition.
Now fighting fit Rachel developed the mindful photography course and piloted it to Mental Fight Club at their Dragon Cafe which supports wellbeing in the community in Borough, South London. The course proved a huge success with participants.
One of their clients, Sharon was delighted with the course;
“”The journey of mindful photography with Rachel Wegh, has helped me to look at, and regard my surroundings from a more focused and meditative perspective. By using the strategies of mindful photography that Rachel had taught, I was able to bring back my attention to the images I wanted to discover and construct, and in doing so improve the quality and content that goes towards creating a great photograph. This was a thoroughly interesting, informative and enjoyable course provided by Rachel.”
Rachel is now offering the course to individuals and targeting Councils and larger corporates who would like to assist staff in their wellbeing and develop them as part of their staff development programmes.
You can also hear about Rachel’s extraordinary career journey at a talk at Travelling Through bookshop in Waterloo on the evening of Thursday 17th September entitled ‘One Woman’s Journey to the Wild Life’ – it’s free and bookable by emailing: [email protected]