~Photography as Therapy~
~Photography for Personal Growth and Mindfulness~
~Finding Hope and Peace through Photography (FHAPPTM applied for)
What is Therapeutic Photography
Therapeutic photography is a method in which photography is embraced as a tool for mindfulness, meditation, gaining insight, self-discovery, transformation and/or healing. The process of making photographs serves as therapy, with or without a mental health therapist involved. Therapeutic photography programs involve creating photographs and talking about them.
Therapeutic photography helps individuals explore photography as a vehicle for seeing and connecting with the world around them, and with themselves.
When individuals stop to photograph something, or someone, they stop to truly see it. Once a subject is truly seen, a more intimate, meaningful relationship to the subject can be attained. Through the process of truly seeing a subject, creativity is unleashed and there can be an increase in appreciation of life, a better understanding of self, and an enhanced ability for self-expression.
No matter how photography is practiced, it creates opportunities to experience a place where different realities intersect; individuals become aware of new perspectives, both on the world, and themselves. Photography can help people explore life, learn, grown, heal and get more joy out of life. When making photographs, we co-create the image with the subject. Cartier-Bresson and others have described this as falling into a moment of oneness.
Achieving a sense of oneness with self and/or the world can help people enter a phase of mindfulness that helps them achieve a sense of joy and contentment. When people are struggling to overcome life events such as significant loss, dealing with anxiety, depression, or other emotional or mental challenges mindfulness work can help to ease the pain and help people find their way back to peace and stability.
Photographs are specific moments frozen in time and contain multiple layers of meaning. We may see what is in the frame for exactly what it is, but composition, color, and tones of black and white offer a wealth of metaphorical meanings and associations. Developing skills and passion for photography is one path on the destination to mindfulness.
The Practice of Therapeutic Photography
Individuals draw different benefits from therapeutic photography. It is not a one size fits all program. Therapeutic photography can be practiced individually and in groups. An integral part of therapeutic photography is sharing with others, for example, with group workshop participants, family, friends, or in a public exhibit. Sharing photography work with an audience offers an opportunity for individuals to take pride in, and ownership of, their work. Sharing work builds confidence, helps individuals feel validated, heard and respected.
Photography offers naturally therapeutic healing properties. The key to therapeutic photography is having a balance of photographic instruction, creating pictures, and reviewing and discussing photography work.
Photography as therapy emphasizes well-being versus illness or struggle. Photo Voice, a U.K. based organization, uses photography as a tool for change and empowerment for disadvantaged or marginalized communities. Photo Voice has observed central therapeutic benefits of therapeutic photography workshops to include; peer support, socializing and learning new skills.
It is important to note that therapeutic photography is not within a formal counseling process like Photo Therapy. Therapeutic photography programs are facilitated by photographic and community practitioners rather than mental health professionals.
Summary of Potential Benefits of Therapeutic Photography
- Reduction in social exclusion
- Increased self-knowledge
- Increased self-awareness
- Improved well-being
- Improved relationships
- Influencing positive change
- Social healing
- Reduction in conflict
- Building self-confidence
- Improving belief in self
At the end of the day, if I can believe I have helped someone feel, even a glimmer of hope, peace, and joy within themselves I will feel successful and happy. At Robyn Graham Photography, LLC we call our therapeutic photography program “FHAPP” ~ Finding Hope and Peace through Photography. We support all individuals in the program by giving them a kind, gentle, positive environment to learn photography, to share their photography and work towards a sense of inner peace through their own creative intentions and feed back from peers in the program, and others. The studio space offers a beautiful, peaceful, inspiring environment for learning, creating and sharing. The studio is also a space for exhibits, through which program participants will be able to share their work with their family and friends and with the general public.
To enroll in FHAPP, please visit the Robyn Graham Photography, LLC website. Programs will begin the fall of 2016. We will offer programs during the week initially, and will add sessions as demand rises.
The cost for individual/private participation is $600 for 8 1 to 1.5 hour sessions or pay as you go or $75/hour.
The cost of group participation is $360 for 8 1.5-hour sessions. Space is limited to 6 participants.
Groups programs are open for ages 12 years to adult.
Individual/private sessions are available for younger children, teens and adults.
For more information and to register, please visit FHAPP page on my website.
Robyn’s original degree was a doctorate in pharmacy through which she studied mental health. In addition, she is well read in the are of anxiety which she has had first hand experience with one of her children who suffered from moderate to severe anxiety. In addition, Robyn was adjunct faculty at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, has taught CCD, and multiple teen and adult photography classes. Robyn has all clearances through the state of Pennsylvania to work with ,and teach children.
- Therapeutic Photography: Judy Weiser
- The Preconscious Eye
- Institute of Mental Health
- Best Thinking Arts and Entertainment
- Through a Different Lens
ss 1/125 f 7.1 ISO 400
To view an image of the dragonfly in black and white please visit Monochromia.
ss 1/80 f 4.5 ISO 500
About this photograph: I am teaching a teen photography camp this week. I have 15 students ranging from 11 to 15. The camp sessions are from 9am to 3:30pm Monday through Friday. During the morning hours, we simulate a classroom setting and I teach the students about photography. Thus far we have reviewed manual settings and the technicalities of cameras, which none of the kids had previously been using, composition and light. Today well talk about posing human subjects. After the lessons, we venture outside to experiment with cameras and use the information learned. After talking about light yesterday, we took a hike to a near by covered bridge. In between answering questions and guiding the teens on how to use their cameras, reminding them of compositional “rules”, and pointing out light and it’s qualities, I took a few shots myself. This photograph is taken of one of the walls of the bridge. I noticed the light peaking through the slats, between the boards. Instead of focusing, I intentionally decreased the focus so that I could create a bit of blur to capture the circles of light in each strip, which the shallow depth of field helped create. As I was shooting, my intent was to convert the file to black and white. I do think I like that edit better than the original, but the green and white strips of light are also appealing to me.
To see the photograph in black and white, please visit my Thursday post on Monochromia. Which do you prefer?
Last week when I was coming home from a run I noticed that my beloved peonies had all but wilted and the petals been discarded. At the time, there were only a few remaining flowers. Spring has been so rushed and harried with work and activities for the kids that I had almost missed the joy of photographing the peonies. That afternoon, instead of ironing and doing the banking, I cut the last of the living peonies and did some still life work. This was a time to be inspired, to create, take a deep breath and recharge my soul.
I didn’t have time to go to the studio, which means I didn’t have any back drops to use. I knew that for some of the shots I wanted a white back drop. I could have used a white table-cloth, or a sheet and hung them from a door, but, I didn’t feel like going to the trouble and I knew I could create the white back drop myself using light.
Using my Nikon D800 and my Nikkor 105mm 2.8 lens I set out to create. I grabbed some props, antique prescription bottles, an antique miniature milk bottle, a white cheese cloth, a black stool, some ribbon, and some sheets of music. I don’t know how long I moved around in front of my front door playing and creating. I lost all sense of time and felt so relaxed.
To create the white back drop effect I used only natural light. I metered my exposure on the flower so that it would be properly exposed and the backlight would be blown out. To avoid flare, I angled my lens down just enough to allow some haze, but to eliminate flare. I wanted this shot to be flawless and dreamy therefore colorful flare spots were not welcome. My settings are below for your reference:
ss 1/100 f 5.0 ISO 400
I could have worked with the above scenario for hours. But, alas, the kids needed to be picked up from school and driven to activities, and, honestly, my equipment is so heavy that after a considerable amount of time, my neck and arms begin to tire. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my equipment and the Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses that I have give me great flexibility when working in the various areas of photography that I focus on. I do love them, but I have recently been evaluating mirrorless cameras, especially for travel and street work. Lighter weight cameras and lenses would be fabulous when having to hold or carry them for any length of time. In addition, I just recently came across a new camera that I found interesting. Light, is a compact camera that appears to have many features. I don’t know that it has the flexibility I need, but I think it is worth checking into for travel and street work. I thought I would share the link with you in the event you might have interest in a compact camera that appears to have a lot of great features.
To compare this photograph in black and white, please visit my Thursday post on Monochromia.
To view more of the photographs from this still life session, check back on the blog soon or follow me on Instagram. I post to Instagram much more frequently there.
…Glistening in the sunlight.
ss 1/800 f 7.1 ISO 200
Nikon D810, Nikkor 105mm 2.8
This photo was taken Monday morning after the rain clouds cleared. The sun was warm and gorgeous, can you feel it? To see a more high-key photograph of this subject, a yellow daisy, visit Monochromia. Which do you like better?
The Center of the Flower
Dancing in the Evening Breeze
Settings: ss 1/125 f 4.5 ISO 800
Nikon D810, Nikkor 105mm 2.8
Natural, diffused, soft light.
Last week on Monochromia I posted a photograph of a pond with geese swimming in the rain. You can view the post HERE. The photographs of the poppy flowers and buds above were taken the same evening after the rain shower passed.
I have always been mesmerized by the Poppy. The detail of its creation; the incredible bud from which the flower blooms, the intricate detail of the center of the bloom, the delicate, flowing petals, and the passionate color. Unique and beautiful.
Today is Thursday so you get two posts for one, so to speak! Be sure to visit Monochromia for my Thursday black and white photography post.
“After every storm the sun will smile; for every problem there is a solution, and the soul’s indefeasible duty is to be of good cheer.” ~William R. Alger
SS 1/60 F 4.5 ISO 200
In The History and Language of Flowers the Daisy means, cheer. We are experiencing a lot of gray days this Spring, it is raining incessantly. The quote above reminded me that no matter the gray skies, my heart and soul should be full of cheer.
Dead, decaying flowers. Really? What is the allure? I cannot explain it, but I love to photograph dead or decaying flowers. I find them intriguing. So much detail comes through the petals. The colors mold into unknown shades. Decaying, or dead flowers speak to me saying, “Even in death, there is life and more to come.”
The flower in the photograph below is a white tulip. I saved the tulips a bit too long as mold was beginning to grow on the stems. Time was not permitting me to tend to them until yesterday. I finally thought “enough is enough” and decided not to let the opportunity to photograph the bouquet pass by. I noticed this particular flower was hanging in the shape of a heart. It is almost as though it is traveling through the air.
You’ll notice that there are three images for you to view. I thought the original was a bit drab despite the detail. I used backlighting and could have exposed it more, but when I did it seemed blown out and some of the details were lost.
The second version is edited in Photoshop using a curves level and then adding a texture layer. Have you used Adobe Paper Texture Pro? I love it. There are so many options and once you have applied a texture layer you can adjust the opacity in the layers panel.
Loving black and white photography the way I do, I of course had to include a third version in black and white. I left the texture layer on when converting to black and white.
Which version of the tulip speaks to you the most? What does it say?
Original “Goodness of Heart”
ss 1/60 f 4.5 ISO 400
Nikon D810, Nikkor 105mm f2.8
Curve adjustment and Adobe Paper Texture Pro Layer – Brushed Rose
Version II converted to Black and White
Last week I posted a photograph of a wilted flower on Monochromia. Sue was curious what the photograph looked like in color. Last week I was preparing for my daughter’s first communion and the celebration and had family in from out of town thus preventing me from getting extra time to create a second post. With that being said, I thought I would post the lily in color in addition to posting a color version of the image I posted on Monochromia today. Which do you like best? Do you find the black and white versions more appealing, or the color versions? When you visit Monochromia, you will also find fabulous quotes that accompany the images. I would love to hear your thoughts as to which version of each image is best accompanied by each quote.
Never Stop Fighting
SS 1/60 F 3.5 ISO 400
SS 1/250 F 5.6 ISO 400