Yesterday I was fortunate to join friend and fellow photographer Gareth Lloyd on a long hike at Sirhowy Valley Country Park. We both had brought cameras and equipment, packed away into backpacks. This was my first visit to this particular place and it was absolutely stunning. As with much grand landscape photographing opportunities I spent much of my time putting my camera to my eye clicking the shutter and scolding myself as I searched for a good frame,
"it just doesn't look as good as what I see. It never looks as good as what I see."
Despite these feelings I take the picture, I almost always do. It's compulsive, and it's fulfilling. Photographs remind me of the sight I experienced, the one I can never capture with the camera. I think of Jerry Uelsmann and his famous quote "The camera is a licence to explore." While this seems to me an obvious truth, I wonder about all that it insinuates. So often we equate looking through a lens, or at a screen, as a negative self absorbed activity. We criticise young people who whip out their camera phones to make a video of whatever situation they come across, instead of just experiencing it. However, in counter argument to that, one could say that manoeuvring through the world in such a way motivates people to look for situations worth experiencing, worth remembering and recording. In my case, yesterday it made me seek out a hike up and down a mountain. The pictures don't do the land justice, and nor should they be taken as proof that I was there, but they serve as fulfilment for the photographer. It got me outside, exercising, and thinking critically about expression, while also removing me from a stressful environment. It has got me wondering, what can photography do for mental health and well being?
I would love to hear thoughts on this topic. Feel free to contact me via the email provided in the contact portion of the website.