What is Mindful Photography?

The importance of mindfulness in the psychotherapeutic practice is gaining more and more relevance in our Western world.    


A central figure on the advance and adaptation of Mindfulness in the West is Jon Kabat-Zinn. He is the founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and its renowned Stress Reduction Clinic. He teaches mindfulness and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) around the world. In his words:


"Mindfulness is being attentive in a particular way: intentionally, in the present moment, and without judgement." Jon Kabat-Zinn, 1994:


Mindful photography in particular, is a practice that probably has always been practiced intuitively by some photographers, but only now is gaining recognition as a therapeutic tool.  Sven Barlow, for example, a psychologist, scientist and passionate photographer, believes that mindful photography can help us connect more deeply with ourselves and the world around us. 


It is also important to mention that mindful photography is not about rendering photos in a technically perfect way, but rather about engaging with the situation, photographing with full presence and without judgement. One can choose any place to "dive in" and have fun simply by been truthfully present; or go into the practice with a specific theme in mind, open to have a conversation with the images that will call for attention.


Mindful photography can support the therapeutic process, as often clients show strong feelings or needs while photographing or while reflecting on the images they have taken. The attentive therapist will notice these emotional expressions and include them in the therapeutic process. I believe it can specially help people who might have difficulties on verbalizing certain feelings or fears, to get started with the action of self-expression. The photograph in this case works like a safe place, offering symbols and room for conversations that maybe, could not have started otherwise.

This method can also help  improving the brain's neuroplaticity just like other exercises tha train our hability to focus on the present environment.


The University of Gloucestershire, England, independently conducted a research that evaluated and concluded the effectiveness of the Look Again Mindful Photography® approach to improve well-being and mental health. However, as a therapeutic tool, this methodology should be applied by trained mental health professionals.


When appropriate, I use this approach during the therapeutic process and I also facilitate mindful photography sessions in different formats for groups in educational institutions, organisations or outdoors, in a park or forest.


Get in touch if you would like to try this practice in a group or one-to-one session, outside the therapeutic context.