5 Simple Mindful Photography Tips to Connect You to the Now

by | Mindful Photography, Photography Inspiration | 2 comments

Mindful Photography Tips

This post was first published at sixtyandme.com.

Mindful Photography Tips

Mindfulness is about slowing down, being fully present in the moment, and receiving that moment.

The exact same words apply to the process of making photographs.

For me, to photograph is to be fully present in the moment. Because when I photograph nothing else enters my mind. I’m in a state of flow where worries, the past, and the future have disappeared.

Many creative endeavors will get you in a state of mindful flow. What’s so unique about photography is that it connects you to the outside world.

Power of Mindful Photography.

Photography and reality are inextricably connected. If you want to take a picture of a tree you’ll have to go outside to do that.

As a result, mindful photography gets you in an active state, takes you out of your head, and encourages you to connect to the world.

I’ve experienced the power of mindful photography over and over in my life.

That’s why I love to share these 5 creative ways photography can help you to invite more mindfulness in your life.

But before I do that I want to give you some general mindful photography tips to make the most out of your experience with mindful photography.

mindful photography tips, mindful photography ideas | Photo: ©Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground ~ Grass, Parque Florestal de Monsanto, Lisbon, Portugal

It’s About the Process.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that mindful photography is more about the process than the result, aka your photos. Harshly judging the results is counterproductive in mindful photography.

Instead, let go of attachment to outcome and reflect on your photos with appreciation and gratitude. 

It’s Not About the Camera.

Mindful photography is not about taking photos with a fancy camera. You can of course, but your smartphone camera will work just as well. 

Be Intentional.

In mindful photography, you cannot unintentionally snap away. Instead, step away from your busy life for a moment and slow down. Create space to truly observe what you’re about to photograph so it becomes an intentional act. Allow yourself to be so present in the moment you become one with it.

When you keep these 3 things in mind your mindful photography practice will be full of joy. So, let’s get you started!

mindful photography tips, mindful photography ideas | Photo: ©Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground ~ green wall in Tavira, Portugal

#1 Photograph Color.

When you step into your day with a goal for what you want to photograph you’ll align your eyes with your mind. This is a perfect way of sharpening your observation skills and you become more mindful in the process. 

The funny thing is that when you decide you’re going to photograph colors all of a sudden you’ll notice color all around you. More importantly, you’ll start to notice that apart from the color itself color can have many different qualities. For instance, you’ll start to notice a color can be abundantly vibrant or whispering subdued. 

When you’re photographing color focus only on the color because it’s not about the things you photograph. Let go of thoughts that it should ‘be’ something more than color. In other words, when you photograph a red bicycle it’s not about the bicycle it’s about red. 

Hone in on the color and let it fill your frame.

Read More: 5 Creative Ways to Find the Magic of Color.

#2 Go on a Mindful Photo Walk.

There are many ways to go on a photo walk but a mindful photo walk is aimed at getting you in a contemplative and meditative state. It is a way of observing your surroundings with appreciation that is free of judgment. 

It is about awakening your senses. Apart from seeing, listen to the sounds around you and notice the smell in the air. Then connect to and engage with the world around you. 

When you go on a mindful photo walk it’s important to go alone and to let go of any preconceived ideas of where you want to go and what you’ll encounter. This is an exercise in going with the flow.

And please, don’t get caught up in the technical aspects. Select Auto Mode if you’re shooting with a DSLR or just take your phone camera with you. 

This exercise is about appreciation and connection.

mindful photography tips, mindful photography ideas | Photo: ©Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground ~ White Flower, Parque Florestal de Monsanto, Lisbon, Portugal

#3 Limit the Number of Photos.

This might feel counterintuitive but limiting yourself expands your creativity. Because it forces you to come up with a different approach. By removing All The Options your mind focuses on what is possible within your self-imposed boundary. 

If you’re allowing yourself to take only 5 pictures for the day you better make each of them count. When you’re drawn to taking a photo first pause, take a clear look at what you want to photograph and ask yourself if it is worth one-fifth of your daily quotum.

You’ll discover that a lot of what you want to photograph is mostly just because you can. With digital cameras, the number of pictures you can take is almost endless often resulting in a mindless snapping away at the world. This is the opposite of mindful photography. 

This exercise will help you to become focused and intentional.

#4 Examine Different Points of View.

This is an exercise that’s perfect to do at home.

The idea is to decide on one subject and examine this subject from every imaginable angle. 

Then take as many photos as you can from different points of view. Discovering new angles will completely occupy your mind making this a simple yet very effective mindful photography exercise. 

Don’t stop after the first few shots. The fun starts when you think you’ve covered every imaginable angle. 

Get in a playful state and convince yourself there’s another new angle to be discovered, and then another, and another. Until you’re starting to repeat yourself. Only then can you stop.

This exercise will expand your creative thinking.

Check out this post for more creative photography projects at home.

mindful photography tips, mindful photography ideas | Photo: ©Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground ~ Shells in the window, Porto, Portugal

#5 Create A Gratitude Journal.

This is a mindful photography project you can create over a longer period. 

It’s no secret that actively practicing gratitude makes you a more mindful and happy person.

Collecting and photographing the things, people, and moments you’re grateful for is a wonderful way to become aware of the beauty that surrounds you.

It entices you to actively pursue the boundless reasons for gratitude in your life.

Creating a gratitude journal is about being grateful for the little things in your life. The things that are easily overlooked. 

The purpose is to become aware of the little things that bring you joy and documenting them. 

Final Thoughts.

If you want to take your mindful photography practice to the next level print your photos, buy a notebook and paste in your photos accompanied by a few words. It makes your journey in mindful photography tangible and it is a wonderful way to look back and reflect. 

What I want most for you is to have fun, to be intentional, and to think process not result!

What does photography mean to you? Has it helped you to navigate through challenging times because of its mindful nature? Let us know in the comments!

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Karin van Mierlo is a pro photographer with 25+ years of experience in family, documentary, travel, and street photography. She is the driving force behind Photography Playground and loves to write about all things photography related. She teaches aspiring photographers to photograph their world as it FEELS like ~ not what it looks like.

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  1. Beth Cross

    I’ve been running wellness sessions for post graduate students in these disruptive times. One of our activities encourages pairs to take a mindfulness walk, taking turns listening and to pace this listening by sharing photographs they frame and send in the moment. Your suggestions here are very helpful and enrich what we can learn and offer going forward.

    • Karin van Mierlo

      That sounds amazing! I’m glad I could help 🙂


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