The Mindful Photography Retreat
This weekend is designed to be your very own personal Mindful Photography Retreat as you spend the weekend immersing yourself in photography and mindfulness. You’ll stay in The Old Sheep Fold; a luxuriously appointed Shepherds hut situated in a meadow overlooking the Kent and Surrey border. Paul will be your host for the weekend, guiding you through an itinerary of exercises that focus less on photographic skill and more on building greater awareness and consciousness of your surroundings in a safe, quiet and non-judgemental space.
Retreats by Still are incredibly calm sessions; a chance to step away from the hurly burly of the every day and luxuriate in the solitude of waking up to nature. They are not designed to produce award winning images or to put you under pressure – quite the opposite, in fact.
The aim is to put you at ease, offering you the chance to step outside of your busy day to day life and enjoy switching off while exploring the mindful aspect of photography to allow you to begin to express yourself visually.
With Paul as your guide, you’ll explore the local area while concentrating on visual awareness, simplifying composition and taking your time to become aware and present in the environment. Over the course of the weekend, Paul will present you with small challenges and ideas to help you create the time and space you need to start to seeing in your own way. You will be given the basis of a practice that you can apply to your daily life.
After your arrival early on Friday evening, we will be taking an early supper together to chat about your personal goals for the weekend along with an introduction to ‘Mindful Photography’ and what it entails.
You’ll be given your very own Japanese style foldout notebook to journal your weekend as you go. Friday evening draws to a close under the stars around the fire pit (weather permitting)
On Saturday morning, wake feeling refreshed and peaceful before heading out for a full day of one to one photographic mentoring with Paul. He’ll guide you through a series of carefully structured exercises that are designed to get you thinking, including some simple but effective exercises in seeing. Throughout the day, you’ll be encouraged to tune in to your emotions – what you’re thinking, feeling and seeing as you take each photograph.
Most shoots are based in and around the hut and the surrounding countryside, opening your appreciation of what possibilities lie on the doorstep. On Saturday evening you’ll enjoy dinner together whilst reflecting upon the day and how the experience made you feel.
After breakfast, we’ll review Saturdays work and your personal goals. During the morning, we’ll look at a special print technique - Sun printing (weather permitting). The reason for using the Sun printing process is to take the technical side of photography away, as often our obsession with equipment gets in the way of seeing and connecting with the moment and location. Creating a cyanotype print is a fun way to explore shape, texture and pattern.
Later, we will print out one of your images, looking at how to process an image and bring out the mood within it. Capturing your photograph is only part of the story; interpreting it is the other, and finally printing it out gives you a tangible connection back to original location and a lasting reminder of how you felt in the moment that the photograph was taken.
A light lunch is provided before farewells in the afternoon.
You’ll be staying in the Old Sheep Fold – a luxurious shepherds’ hut that overlooks the gorgeous Kent and Surrey border. The shepherds’ hut is warm, cosy and beautifully appointed, containing all of the creature comforts you could possibly need for your stay, including hot water, electricity, tea and coffee making facilities, WC and shower.
All food and tea, coffee from 4pm Friday until 5pm Sunday (no alcoholic drinks)
One to one mentoring from Paul Sanders throughout your stay (approximately 12 hours dedicated tutorship)
Two nights’ accommodation in The Old Sheep Fold
An A3 Cyanotype print of your favourite image
Frequently Asked Questions
I love your style and would like to learn the technical aspect of long exposure photography. Will you teach me?
Thank you so much. These retreats are designed to focus on the way you see and connect with the world. It’s a hugely personal thing, and the style of photography that you might use is incidental to the greater purpose of helping you to use photography in order to express yourself. Of course I’ll show you photographic techniques but this retreat is not intended to be a photographic workshop in the traditional sense. If you’d like to find out about my one to one tutoring, please contact me and let’s discuss it from there.
What sort of photography equipment do I need?
Very little! The focus of your retreat is in how you observe the world around you and has nothing at all to do with your camera kit. Bring with you whatever you’re comfortable using - be that your camera phone or DSLR.
Is this therapy?
Based on my personal experience, I believe it’s possible to discover a profound sense of peace and contentment through the art of photography. Photography can also be an immensely powerful tool in expressing and exploring your feelings when words can’t. However, it’s important to know that this is not therapy in the formal sense, and I am not a trained therapist. What I’ll do is guide you through a process of using photography for mindfulness, encouraging you to consider how the act of really focusing on the present makes you feel.
Can I bring my partner or friend?
The retreat itself is designed to be one to one. It’s hugely personal and I feel that you’ll gain the most value when we’ve created a safe, non-judgmental space just for you. However, the accommodation will sleep two so partners are welcome. There’s an additional £150 to cover food and drink (or they can opt to pay their own meals, if they’d prefer)
I’m a professional photographer. Is this for me?
Retreats by Still are designed to explore the use of mindfulness in photography. Absolutely everyone is welcome, and I believe that almost anyone can gain value from the experience, regardless of your photographic skills or experience. Rather than focus on the technical aspect of photography, we’ll be exploring how you can use photography is a means of exploring and expressing your emotions. If you’re looking for a session that focuses on a particular style, please contact Paul to enquire about arranging a separate workshop for that purpose.
I’m a complete amateur when it comes to photography – will I be able to participate?
Workshops and retreats by Still are open to all levels of photographic experience from smart phone users through to experienced photographers. The focus is on mindfulness rather than photographic ability, and it doesn’t matter whether you use a smartphone or the latest professional equipment – you’ll gain an immense deal from the experience.