“Landscape photography is so much more than just making a pretty photograph; it heals us, encourages us, supports us and inspires us.” Alister Benn
After a long, hard day dealing with the problems of everyday life; after a day when nothing seems to go right and we encounter one difficulty after another; after a day when we feel stressed and tired; we all need some form of relaxation and a way to unwind. We need a way to de-stress and re-energise.
For some people an evening run or walk with the dog will help, for others it might be a visit to the gym or a chat with a friend or family member.
For me, going out into nature with my camera is what helps me unwind and re-vitalise after a hard day. This is what helps me to slow down and be aware of what is going on around me.
I love to do photography at any time, and I enjoy many different types of photography, but when I am feeling particularly stressed landscape photography enables me to connect with nature and with the landscape and it helps me to re-focus and find some inner calm.
I can take a step away from the stresses of the day and feel alive and empowered as I interact with nature.
Even in winter or late at night there are possibilities for landscape photography and shooting at these times can help us appreciate the changing weather and different light.
By going out into nature I can absorb the changing light and the mood of the evening, and this in turn informs how I feel and how I make my images.
In summer I often drive to a location that I like, to reflect and enjoy taking some photographs.
I love coastal areas and seascapes and I am lucky to have a coastline close to home.
How does landscape photography help us beat stress?
There is a difference between going out for a planned photography shoot and just taking a stroll with my camera at the end of the day.
The former involves being intentional in choosing my location, packing certain lenses and giving myself a dedicated period of time to capture the images that I have in mind.
My evening stroll around my local area with my camera, or just my phone camera, is often unplanned and its primary aim is to spend time in my local landscape connecting with nature. It involves observing the environment around me and noticing the changes that happen as the season unfolds. It involves hearing the sounds of nature and being aware of the feelings evoked by the evening.
One of the things I have become fascinated with since starting photography is coming to appreciate the ever changing sky that is an integral part of our landscape - 9 Ways to Get Better Skyscape Images.
Previously I might have agreed with the commonly held belief that the only skies we get in Ireland are grey skies. But I have discovered that this certainly is a misconception.
There are grey skies of course, but there are also clear blue skies and dappled skies; skies with wispy clouds, skies with fluffy white clouds and skies with ominous dark clouds. There are dramatic fiery sunrises and gentle pink sunsets. There are skies that change every few minutes while we take a photograph and skies that bring our photographs to life.
As I go out on my photography walks I love to notice and appreciate the colours, shapes and patterns in the sky and feel part of the circle of nature.
Photography walks do not always mean returning with images, but even if I don’t end up with any photographs, I am keeping an eye out for compositions, noticing what is catching my eye, seeing where the light is falling with a view to returning if I need to. I am seeing images in my mind’s eye which often inform another photography shoot.
Mostly on an outing like this the images I take are images of things I like, subjects that speak to me in some way and that I connect with emotionally. Often my outing leads to discovering something new to photograph but mostly it is about appreciating nature just as it presents itself on that day.
But a photography outing like this also gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in the photographic process - maybe by doing a project, perfecting a technique or simply practising a skill that needs more practise.
While I am doing this, I can leave the problems of the day behind and come home re-vitalised and renewed, ready to face another day.
On these occasions I may not get an image that I am pleased with, but I will see and experience things that I would otherwise have missed, and that is the real value of doing landscape photography.
For me, my evening photography outing is therapeutic and grounding and I would highly recommend photography, especially landscape photography, as a way to shake off the stresses of the day.
You can begin gently, maybe incorporating one or two photographs into your evening walk.
When you begin to do this on a regular basis you might find that you have discovered the perfect stress buster.