Course: The Mindful Photographer

Tue 27 Sep 2022 - Tue 18 Oct 2022

A 4-week online course exploring photography as a tool for cultivating insight and compassion, inspired by The Mindful Photographer by Sophie Howarth

Close up selfie of the partial face and shoulder of a white woman in a swimming costume and red hat upright in a lake, on left, with a small piece of land jutting out from the distant right.

Course: The Mindful Photographer

Tue 27 Sep 2022 - Tue 18 Oct 2022

A 4-week online course exploring photography as a tool for cultivating insight and compassion, inspired by The Mindful Photographer by Sophie Howarth

18.30 - 20.30 BST

We live in hectic and distracted times. In a world where millions of images are shot every moment of every day and where fast-paced environments exhaust and stifle creativity, it is easy to feel the world spinning around us and to lose a sense of being fully present to our surroundings. This course is an opportunity to set aside competitive and creative pressures, to slow down and to strengthen the core qualities that support you as a photographer: clarity, curiosity, compassion and confidence. 

We’ll consider the work of many photographers, from the canonical to the contemporary including Saul Leiter, Rinko Kawauchi, Sally Mann, Edward Weston, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Teju Cole, Sarker Protick and many more. In addition you’ll engage in practical exercises that grow your capacity to stay alert to, and awake in, the world. There will be opportunities for sharing work and a strong emphasis on peer support.

Week 1: CLARITY

The American photographer Robert Adams argues that “a photographer can describe a better world only by better seeing the world as it is in front of him”. In this opening session we will set individual and collective challenges to seeing clearly, and consider how practicing mindfulness both with and without a camera can help us relate to an uncertain and complex world with more insight and care. 

Week 2: CURIOSITY

The mindful photographer combines an insatiable curiosity about the world with a radically open heart and mind. This sense of wonder is known in Zen Buddhism as shoshin (usually translated as ‘beginner’s mind’) and recognised as the disposition that keeps all creative possibilities open. In the second week we explore various practices to help liberate our vision, and consider the personal and political implications of seeing fresh and remaining curious. With a guest contribution from photographer Sian Davey.

Week 3: COMPASSION

Compassion means ‘to suffer together’ and is considered the highest goal of many spiritual paths. Photography has long been used as a tool for cultivating compassion, a way of moving us to connect with and care about others and help to dissolve “me and you” or “us and them” boundaries. This week we explore ways to use photography as a tool to cultivate self-compassion as well as compassion for others. With a guest contribution from photographer Leticia Valverdes.

Week 4: CONFIDENCE

Many creative people have self-sabotaging inner voices that taunt us with a dread of failure, rejection or inadequacy. Mindfulness can help us discover an unshakeable confidence known in Buddhism as ‘the lion’s roar”. In the final week we consider how to meet fear with courage, persevere in the face of adversity, and marry humility with conviction in order to bring our best work to the world.

Course tutor:

This course is devised and led by artist, writer and activist Sophie Howarth. Sophie was co-founder of The School of Life and a former curator of Public Programmes at Tate Modern. Her books include The Mindful Photographer, Street Photography Now and Family Photography Now, all published by Thames & Hudson.

Ticketing

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Bursary Places:

Two bursary places for UK-based individuals facing barriers to participation are available on a first come, first served basis. Please apply by emailing projects@tpg.org.uk from noon on Thursday 1 September, briefly stating your reason for applying for a bursary place. All information will be kept confidential and anonymous, and destroyed after processing within GDPR guidelines.