Community Self help tips Nature Photography We’re not talking about buying lots of expensive equipment and getting trained – most people’s phones can take a good photo these days, so why not give it a go? Nature photography can help us focus, it provides an artistic outlet and it slows us down in a fast-moving society. Taking photos of flowers, animals and insects is a way of looking at the world from a different perspective – it literally encourages us to stop and smell the flowers. Photography on its own can be a really absorbing occupation, but when it’s combined with nature it may have even greater benefits, particularly if it helps us develop a love of wildlife, or even urban green spaces. A study by Dr Liz Brewster of Lancaster University and Dr Andrew Cox of the University of Sheffield found that taking a moment to be mindful and looking for something different or unusual in the day were positive wellbeing benefits of photography. The study also found that people were able to use the photographs to talk about areas of their lives that they might otherwise have found difficult to discuss, including their health problems, so photography can be an important form of self-care. Our finance manager, Jo, takes beautiful photographs of nature. She says: "I love anything to do with the natural world and every season brings something unique. In Spring, the daffodils and crocus in the garden make everything so bright and cheerful, even on cold, damp, miserable days. The curlews and lapwings come back home with their haunting calls, and get busy, re-establishing themselves in their nesting grounds on the moors behind our house. What do I look forward to after that…? Bluebells and bright, fresh leaves on the trees. A little more warmth in the sun is always welcome too. For me, nature photography is all about mindfulness and having to look for things to photograph, then having to think about lighting, framing and technical settings which takes your mind away from stress and worries. These are the thoughts that keep me going as we ease out of peaceful lockdown and head towards the chaos of a more 'normal' world!" Here are some of the benefits we think you can get from simple nature photography. Don't think that you need to take prize-winning snaps, or that you need to capture something rare or exotic - you can start by taking photos of the birds or flowers in your garden: Observing nature can improve concentration When people observe, encounter, or otherwise positively interact with landscapes, animals, wilderness, or plants, there are several known beneficial physiological effects, including a more positive outlook There’s a sense of satisfaction and achievement that comes from taking a beautiful photo A 2013 study from the U.S. National Institutes of Health(NIH) suggested images of nature can give us a physical and mental sense of escape, from a monotonous urban environment. Going for a walk through the park, or in the hills, or along the river, with the intention of taking photos, can help relax, de-stress and revitalise. Photography can be used as a distraction from intrusive or distressing thoughts.