Photographer Sonja Stich became interested in photography when her children were small. As a photographer who also practiced meditation and yoga, she wanted to be open and mindful with her children while still documenting their lives. Thus, it seemed logical to her to transfer this mindful attitude to photography. The result was that she became more confident with her art.
Once Sonja began taking a mindful approach to photography choosing a subject, point of view and the technical settings suddenly became more natural to her because she began to trust her intuition not only in photography, but also in parenting. For Sonja, practicing mindfulness in her daily life helps her to take better photos and practicing mindfulness while taking photos brings her deeper satisfaction in her daily life.
Here, Sonja offers five tips covered in her extensive workshop.
1. Know your subject matter
For Sonja, the core decision in photography is what the subject matter will be. What is it that captured your attention and that you want to express with this photo? If you don't know the subject matter, other decisions, such as where to point the camera, where to position yourself, choice of angle, settings, etc. will be little better than random. Trust your feelings when it comes to choosing a subject, whether it is a child at a table or just his little hand holding a fork. Composition, depth of field, shutter speed, and framing will unfold effortlessly when you know your subject matter. For Sonja, trusting her inner voice as to the final image she wants to create allows her to craft her photos more precisely.
2. Know your motivation
Your motivation evolves from your unique story and you don't have to dig deep into your past to know what inspires you. Your past has led you right to this very moment and being honestly aware of how you feel right now will help you discover your motivation for taking a photo at a given time. When you get rid of the bias between your pure perception and the photo you are taking, chances are that the result will be honest. Your images will become a glimpse into your soul and others will be moved by them. Stay connected to your motivation and be true to yourself and you will create powerful images.
3. Trust your intuition
You intuition will help you to react quickly to capture the decisive moment. Your intuition is faster and precise than rational thinking when it comes to creating art. To avoid becoming overwhelmed by the innumerable choices you have in making a photo, you must prioritize what is important to you in creating the images. Your conscious mind cannot handle all this on it's own and cannot do so quickly. In order to be able to react quickly and not to miss the essential moment, trusting your subtle inner whisper is an enormous help.
4. Be open, avoid preconceptions
Accept what is and work with it, letting go of judgments. If you don't have preconceptions about how people should behave, look, act, how the light and environment should be, etc. then you are left free to experience everything how it actually is. When you are attentive to the present moment and mood, you will notice interesting emotions, moments, glances, touches. Then you will be able to react quickly and capture the most powerful moment instead of trying to create an emotion that isn't present or spending your time being disappointed by a sunset that isn't as gorgeous as you had hoped.
5. Embrace your senses
As photographers, we tend to rely on our sight, but there is so much more beyond what we can see. We are surrounded by a field of energy and our body and mind are constantly interacting with this energy. At times, we are more open to it, at others, less. When you practice openness with all your senses, a myriad of experiences of all kinds will unfold around you. With these experiences, innumerable photo opportunities will emerge. Awakening all of your senses while taking photos will help you recognize the sensuality of the world around you and make your photos more original, unique -- more your own. Nobody else in this world hears, smells or feels like you. Your perception is absolutely unique and you should embrace it.
Try being more mindful when taking photos and see the difference.
All photos Sonja Stich and used with permission.