This week’s webinar has been a complete revelation. I was able to speak with Sophie for around 45 minutes on my work and its direction.
I was struggling with finding a common link to the work and an angle that would tie all the images together. I was finding that the collecting of images was one thing, but the ability to tell a cohesive story with them was proving alluding.
We started by looking at a set of images I submitted as a pdf – some of them can be seen below:
We discussed the images at length with the aim of developing a contextual approach and a connectivity between each image. We also considered if the images were objective or subjective as a way of pushing this concept.
I now find my practice to be very much subjective in its approach.
On their own, each was seen to be different and interesting. But as a collection in a portfolio for my WIP submission, it was noted that they needed a direction.
At first, Sophie suggested a more natural, scientific link. We discussed the images as part of a project documenting different types of leaves found along the river.
We also looked at the journey itself as being the focus. Could the leaves represent a conservation issue or the wastage of modern consumerism?
After a time it was felt that there was no immediate clear option and that the subject matter was almost too large to achieve a consistent focus without a common thread.
It was at this stage of the webinar that Sophie mentioned the agenda on Nature and Wellbeing – also known as Health and Wellbeing in Nature. This is the ever growing idea that contact with nature (no matter how big or small) can radically change someone’s health and wellbeing for the better.
It is known within NHS circles that those that have the least access to nature also have the worst levels of physical health and mental wellbeing.
Throughout my career, I have worked at length to support people and communities within a wellbeing and health arena. Working mostly in the fields of hidden disabilities – such as mental ill health, learning disability, disorders and ME etc – as well as long-term physical disability, cancer and many other illnesses. I have also worked extensively in supporting the long-term unemployed, homeless, lone parents, offenders and within immigration and asylum.
I myself also have lived experience of illness and disability and have experienced first hand the stigma and discrimination that goes along with it.
All of this experience means I can confidently say I know and understand people generally. Especially those going through very challenging times.
In the context of photography, there is great relevance here.
For a long time, the connection between nature and relaxation has been known. Only recently is it being understood just how effective nature can be at relieving a range of health and stress-related conditions.
Our lives are now, more than ever, associated with stress, sedentary work and living and a consumeristic drive that seems to never end.
For many, the 9 – 5 treadmill and the life that goes with it, leads to many health issues. Simply getting out of the house and into nature – no matter how small that may be – can and does have a great impact on wellbeing.
I remember many years ago I was in London on the Southbank. I was working in London and had seen first-hand city life in all its glory. I came across a small popup gallery. Inside there was a range of images from across the UK’s countryside. All the images showed scenes of rivers, mountainscapes and open hills. Above each image, a directional speaker played sounds of winds, water and birds.
There must have been around sixty people in the gallery, all in business dress and all very clearly emotional at the works there were viewing. I overheard comments such as – “I have never seen a mountain in real life”, “I have never seen sheep” or “I have never seen such a fantastic view.” The time seemed to slow and for a moment city life was forgotten by those in the gallery.
The work at this gallery made a significant impact on those attending and clearly, this impact was very personal. It left a long-lasting memory on me as clear evidence that simple images, within the right context, can often have significant cultural effects.
To further this, Sophie and I discussed how to progress this approach into a specific subject area or range of topics. I was introduced to Louis Quail and his work Big Brother
Louis Quail – source media
Big Brother is the visual and very intimate study of Quail’s brother Justin’s struggle with schizophrenia. Its a condition I am very familiar with, having known a family member and two friends with the illness.
The images are very personal but show Justin in a light that is approachable, full of character and fun loving. This moves away from the stigmatic images of schizophrenia often associated with the affliction.
This work further compounded the idea that simple visual imagery can advocate for those who are unable.
In this case, the image very definitely speaks.
- Objective and Subjective Photography – Lucy’s Photoblog (BTEC Level 3 Photography student)
- Colin A. Capaldi, Holli-Anne Passmore, Elizabeth K. Nisbet, John M. Zelenski, Raelyne L. Dopko..2015. Flourishing in nature – A review of the benefits of connecting with nature and its application as a wellbeing intervention. International Journal of Wellbeing, see source media.
- Health and Natural Environments – An evidence-based information pack – Author unknown.
- Louis Quail – Big Brother. See source media