Every Wednesday I act as a volunteer at a local Community Arts centre, which supports people who are recovering from mental illness, where I offer tuition/mentoring in photography. For the most part, this has meant support to a single individual, though I’ve worked with a few others on and off – the nature of recovery seems to be intermittent.
My ‘buddy’ (I’ve been going out with him for some time now, so the title ‘client’ doesn’t seem appropriate) had some experience with photography, but digital was pretty new to him, so we’ve gradually been working in broadening his skill set in both the technicalities of digital camera use and the wider scope of image creation and composition. The nature of his recovery/support means there is a lot of repetition of detail and thinking of ways to reduce the complexity of taking photographs – many times we have resorted to setting his camera to ‘program’ (auto everything) so we could stop his enjoyment of taking pictures being marred by unnecessary complications like ISO, aperture, shutter speed, histograms and the like. Of course, all this is in the context of his mood on the day and as the session goes on. To be honest, nowadays our sessions tend to be less about the photography as such, it’s more about a walk in the countryside for a chat with a camera along for company.
He is also somebody who has absolutely no interest in computers, though I’ve managed to teach him the skills to review his pictures on the pc at the centre. He has no interest in learning how to do any ‘digital darkroom’ work – though I’ve got him to at least delete the pictures he’s not happy with. Originally, he would take the card from his camera to the local supermarket to have his pictures printed, then he would delete the card – we now copy his images to a large memory stick, so he could reprint in the future, or should he change his mind and look to getting a bit more computer savvy, he could revisit his images.
One of my biggest difficulties is finding somewhere we haven’t been before, (he’s not keen on repeat visits), but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find somewhere fresh – somewhere there is something to take photographs of on a walk of about 1/2 mile. Personally, I’m happy to ‘wing it’ but that’s not appropriate for our sessions – (between 1100 and 1400 as a general rule). This means I’ve had to start to reconnoitre potential trips – not a bad thing I guess, but it all takes time. Of course, travelling distance is also becoming a problem – the more we drive out the less time he ends up with.
I took this on our most recent trip out (there’s a sure bet, I’m not about to leave my camera in the car!).
Thank you for the amazing photo. It looked like a beautiful location.
Thank you – I quite enjoy it.
Great photo. It’s wonderful you’ve found a way to use your talents to help others!
It’s good fun and it doesn’t hurt to ‘put a little back’.
I love the rich textures in the foreground and the foggy atmosphere in the back. It’s quietly comforting to view!
I’m happy to hear of your volunteer work; it’s good to know there are generous people about! And I love the muted colors and the old bridge.
What you are doing must be even harder than what I am doing, teaching about computers… But I recognize that feeling of ‘how else can I rephrase this so it does not sound so complicated?’ 🙂 Not easy but so rewarding when there is a moment you get through…
🙂 – indeed.
One of my recurring themes seems to be the difference between composition and compensation – but I’ll get there! 😉
your volunteerism is inspiring, as are your photographs.
You are very kind, thank you!
The people the Community Arts centre serves are very lucky, as I’m sure such low-key rehabilitation services are few and far between.
So nice and generous of you to lend some of your skill and talent in service to others.
It’s a two-way street – I get an insight into a part of the community that I used to shun – because of ignorance on my part – I’m not any more knowledgeable as such but I’m a little more comfortable with myself.
Nice work on many levels Stephen! Would it be possible to introduce a series on architecture? light and shade, hard and soft edges etc. Could save going too far (at least now and then).
🙂 – Now in principle that’s a good idea – unfortunately my buddy is not very good with the abstract as such. My current thrust is in taking time to look. I’ve tried a few themes but he also struggles with these for any length of time.
sounds as though you are on the right track in the great outdoors Stephen! Very open-ended.
Very nicely composed.
Thank you. I have a few variants (like you do), but I preferred this out of the options.
I love this photograph, and as one whose life has been touched by mental illness, thank you for what you are doing. Mental illness is so complicated and frustrating. Just being your buddy’s connection to the world outside the “inside of his head” is a good thing.
(I see it useful for my growth as a human being too.)
Do you think he’d be interested in the Broken Light Collective?
I did wonder about that, but my buddy lacks even the remotest interest in computer based working…. at the moment….
Great work. MM 🍀
I commend your efforts, and your patience! And thanks for the like.
When I first looked I thought there was a dog’s head in the foreground! Not sure exactly whereabouts you are as regards walking, but good effort anyway. 🙂
Wow! You’re absolutely right! I definitely did not notice my ‘pet’ until you pointed it out – and now it’s obvious! Thanks.
The bridge is at the north end of Lindley Wood Reservoir in North Yorkshire – and the picture is taken up stream of that.
I love the link between photography and therapy. How did you set this up? I’d love to do something similar myself.
The old job search run by directgov had an option for volunteering and the Community Arts organisation put an ad up for photographers, musicians, gardeners, and other arty types – I just replied to that. You may find a similar organisation in your area, give them a call.
I’ve been very strict in saying that I’m only available for one day a week, as I know I could easily become completely engrossed – if not photography, then gardening, if not that, computing (they offer basic, ‘this is how you use the web’ advice/tuition).