Thursday, July 31, 2014

Therapeutic Photography: A Mindfulness Process

Do you remember the first time you used a camera?


The other day we were having lunch with an associate and suddenly she said, "Wait, let's take a photo...oh, OK, a selfie!" We obliged and had a good laugh at our many attempts to make ourselves look young and gorgeous! Afterwards we got to talking about why people are so captivated by shooting and sharing photos. Do you remember the first time you used a camera? Every generation has enjoyed the latest camera invention. And for sure, when an adult hands a camera to a child to experience his or her taking that first photo it is always with a word of caution. "Be careful, don't drop the camera!"

Of course, in today's world, most people spend the day holding their hand held device or carrying it in their pocket, purse or backpack. Always being camera ready for stills or movies and sharing our productions via social media platforms is quite different than using a 35MM film camera and actually having to take the film to be developed. We have evolved!  Old photo scrapbooks have been replaced with digital images archived in desktop folders, software like "dropbox," DVDs, CDs, Instagram profiles, Google+ profiles, or FACEBOOK albums.  Photographs are an intricate part of our lives.

Broken Light: A Photography Collective


Late last week The New York Times published an interesting article in their Art and Health section: Photography as a Balm for Mental Illness. We couldn't resist sharing this with our readers.  The article introduces us to Danielle Hark who shares her story about her lifelong struggle with depression and how two years ago while taking photos on one of her worst days she suddenly found herself in the "present" and breathing normally.  Ms. Hark explains it this way:
"For me, it’s the act of shooting that helps. It doesn’t matter how the photos come out. It’s a mindfulness process that brings me into my body. I’m not worrying about the past or the future, just looking through the lens. Some people analyze their photos and use them to explore their lives. There are a lot of possibilities that are therapeutic.”

She created a website Broken Light Collective. It is an online gallery which now has contributors from 150 countries. Each contributor is also struggling with behavioral health problems like bipolar, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, PTSD, anxiety, or eating disorders.

The Mission Statement:
Broken Light Collective’s mission is to enhance the lives of people living with or affected by mental illness through the use of therapeutic photography; to provide opportunities to share photographic work in supportive environments both online and through live exhibition; and to raise awareness and fight stigma through art, education, advocacy, and outreach.

Learn more by watching Amazing Photos by People with Mental Illness




If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here. 

The New York Times article is careful to point out: "Broken Light Collective makes no medical or treatment claims; Ms. Hark and many of the contributors to her site still keep the demons at bay with talk therapy and medication. But the site offers a support system free from the shame that often accompanies their diagnoses."  

If you are in New York City...


Tomorrow is August 1st.  Many people are still making summer trips, even business trips that may take them to New York City. The good news is that the photography of Broken Light: A Photography Collection is on exhibit at the Fountain Gallery in New York City. The show closes on August 13, 2014.

What an interesting way to start a conversation!

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CARF - Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation FacilitiesNATSAP | National Association of Therapeutic Schools and ProgramsNBCCNAADAC