Mel Collie


How can Photography help with Anxiety Part Two.

How can Photography help with Anxiety? Part 2

In Part one of these little blog posts on how photography can help if you suffer with anxiety, I covered quite a bi of ground - the post is here if you haven’t read it.

In Part Two - Do you know which direction you are going? Are you a bit lost? Do you know what you want from your life? Do you need to know how to use the camera settings? How to show emotions through your images instead of worrying about taking a great image. What style of photography can you use that has no rules, so you can allow your imagination to run completely wild?

So lets start with your direction.

One simple technique i use every day to check if I am on the right path, because we all get distracted, we all get side tracked, we all have days we feel that we cant be bothered, feel stressed, days we want to hide and not be seen which affects self esteem, affects our hopes and dreams - my technique is this - imagination.

It seems a bit odd to say this, but we all have imagination.

We can imagine the worse is about to happen in the future.

We can imagine we are going to lose our job, our relationship, imagine we are going to be unpopular if we voice our opinion, we can imagine we will lose our home and family.

Thats all imagination.

We are playing a role in our heads. If we can do that with our imagination then surely we can re think things and flip it to imagining the opposite.

Imagine we are popular, that we are loved, that we are ok, imagine that things are going well, things are going to change, the sun is going to shine. Do you feel some resistance to that?

You are only human, and this is work that uncovers some layers.

This will take daily practice.

So I use my imagination to imagine where I want to be and what I want to be doing in that space.

This imagination is part of me reviewing my direction, checking in that i’m on the path that I said i wanted to be on, but if that path doesn’t feel right, if theres a fork in the road and i want to alter my direction, then I can, and its ok, because it is part of my goal, part of my dream of what i want to do with my life.

So when I review my direction on a weekly basis, i can check what I’m doing with my choices and if they are keeping me on my path, or taking me off it.

By doing this weekly means I won’t be a month down the path, or even more than that, going in the wrong direction, and then beating myself up for being in the wrong place, mentally and physically.

So for example, if you chose to exercise a certain way because its popular but hate it, then you wont stick at it for long. Is that way to exercise a goal for you? Are you doing it because you feel that you should?

Some of us are on a path thinking its the right thing to do because everyone else is doing it, its trendy and you feel that you “should” instead of taking a path that you really want to take.

Reading your compass correctly takes practice, checking in yourself, are you taking small steps towards your chosen direction, or are your steps taking you backwards?

Do you still want to take those steps or has your mindset changed around your goals?

We can become very anxious about pleasing other people, and putting ourselves last. We complain about it, we feel upset about up, we worry about it. Then we react to what happens during the day.

When in fact if you put your self first, you would be there for others in a stronger frame of mind, with confidence knowing you are headed in the right direction because you are looking after you. You then own your perspective, daily, you don’t focus so much on the negative when you wake up in the morning.

I can see amazing images on Instagram and hear a voice in my head saying that my images aren’t as good as theirs and become a recluse for a while, believing I’m not good enough. I take a step back. Suddenly there a hundred tabs open in my head - I should be taking these kind of images, i should be taking those kind of images, I should have that camera, oh my i need to get some of those filters, i need a better lens, I need this, I need that..before I know it Im worrying that i don’t have enough money to pay for what i need to take better images and i feel sick in my stomach.

Sound familiar?

So when i sit back and use my imagination, view my direction, some of those tabs start to close because I don’t actually want that lens or take images like they do because thats not on my path, thats no my goal.

It keeps me in check from running away with myself.

Make sense?

I didn’t say this was easy, it does take practice. You don’t need any fancy equipment, to understand your self, you need some paper and a pen to write things down, thats all..and a few minutes of peace and quiet a day to do this, but no more than 5 - 10 minutes so shut yourself in the bathroom…:)

The camera technique I used to overcome worries about the sharpness in my images or the way i portrayed a stunning vista was to discover, quite by accident, ICM , which means Intentional Camera Movement. This means you reduce the amount of light coming into the lens and move the camera from side to side (great if you are on the beach) or up and down (great if you are in the woods) or draw circles with it.

I was in Snowdonia coming down a steep slop of broken slate in an old disused quarry when it began to rain. the light over the lake to my right was amazing, I took a photo. I knew it would be rubbish because I didn’t have time to get the tripod set up in the rain, but when i got home and downloaded the images of the day, it was by far my favourite image.

The movement of the clouds, the moodiness of the weather, the shimmering light on the lake all spoke through the image.

ICM became my favourite way of experimenting with my work, then layering them, multiple exposures, to create a world I saw, in my head, what i was feeling, how that expressed the moment, more than just pressing the shutter.

For me, ICM was a key discovery for my images in moving a step forward to me being a little bit happier with them and finding a connection to them.

I bought filters (because you are supposed to have them to help reduce the light), but found they were such a faff and extra things to carry i instead went out during the blue hour, this time was percent to reduce the light into the lens to create a blurred effect that I wanted. If you have an i-Phone you can use an app called Slow Shutter.

It’s probably fortunate that I’m a morning person, the blue hour before sunrise is my favourite time to be outside. I absolutely love the atmosphere, the feeling the quiet, the stillness.

Someone else will hate it and for them to force themselves into liking that style would be the wrong path to go down

If it feels forced, you know its not right for you.

Awareness of what is right for you.

Awareness of what the stories are in your subconscious mind that are responsible for your actions, habits, behaviours. Then you see that you are accountable, you are in charge.

So grab your camera and get practicing that ICM technique

Move the camera from side to side, up and down, rotating it. See what happens, Create a blur effect. Make it fun. Forget those rules. Create your own.

Melanie Collie

Melanie CollieComment