Mindfulness. It’s a term that has grown tremendously in popularity and general use in the past decade or so. So what is mindfulness? Basically, it’s the ability to be in the moment – completely aware of your surroundings, other people and your own feelings.
Why do we need to be mindful? Well, that’s an easy one. The world today is full of distractions. Who of us doesn’t compulsively check our smartphone for messages, Facebook alerts and other trivial matters? Who of us doesn’t have a million things to get done each day? Who of us doesn’t multitask? These practices have become the “norm,” but are they good for us? In most cases, they aren’t. Our stress levels are higher than ever before and it’s become difficult to make real connections with other people. To remedy that situation, many people are turning to mindfulness practices – meditation, yoga, you name it, people are trying it. So what does all this have to do with street photography? Why can we say that street photography is a practice in mindfulness?
Mindfulness on the Streets
Many street photographers have found that street photography is not just an art, it’s also a practice in mindfulness. Think about it, think about your time spent shooting streets. Isn’t it true that when you head out with your camera, your senses are heightened? You are suddenly more aware of your surroundings – the light, the shadows, the buildings. You are suddenly more aware of your fellow human beings – their facial expressions, what they talk about, how they are feeling. You are in the present. Worries about the past and future melt away and you can experience life more fully, more vividly. Heck, you might even forget to check your smartphone for an hour or two.
I can’t remember what sparked my interest in this connection between mindfulness and street photography, but when I had some time to really think about it, I came across a couple of really good articles on the matter, which I highly recommend. The first is by photographer Robert Lee Bailey. It’s called “Mindfulness and Street Photography.” Check it out for some great tips on how to boost your mindfulness on the streets even more. The second is by our friend Marie Laigneau. Her article is titled, “Storytelling in Street Photography: 5 Rules for Embracing the Moment.”
Obviously, the many benefits of practicing street photography are quite varied. You get a little more exercise than you might otherwise, you become aware and mindful, you de-stress and even make a little art. What’s not to love?