Photography for me has become an invaluable tool, not only in self-expression and creativity, but also as a daily practice of gratitude. Using my camera as a way to see and stay focused on the things I’m grateful for has improved my life dramatically on so many levels. I simply cannot imagine my life without camera, “my lens” of appreciation. I have moved from shooting with a heavy, clunky all-manual film camera to a great number of other cameras, until most recently the new Nokia Lumina 1020 Windows Phone, with the awesome Nokia Camera Grip and extra battery (which, I might add makes the phone feel so much more like a camera, I swear I enjoy shooting even more than before). The ease and convenience of my new muse totally makes the whole mobile phone photography experience that much more amazing. And the photos? Oh la la! I am blown away. But, I digress.
After a number of years harnessing the power of photography in a way that has improved my entire outlook on life, I have wanted nothing more than to encourage other people to do the same. It doesn’t take much, just a little shift of perspective to get you seeing and in turn, shooting the world around you in a whole new light. And I can think of no better time of the year than this month to begin. Here are a few simple ideas to get you focusing on gratitude, one picture at a time.
Finding Gratitude Through Photography 1 of 11
Use your camera for the greater good of keeping you grateful. Need some ideas right off the bat to get those gratitude juices flowing? Try the Give Thanks app available in the Windows store. Offer up your thoughts and find inspiration in all the ways other people are grateful. It's a great tool. And as for the photography part of things, here are a few ideas.
Elevate the Everyday 2 of 11
The easiest way for me to get into a grateful frame of mind is to look for the most mundane parts of my daily life and find the most beautiful way to capture them in my lens. Appreciating my life as it is, day in and day out keeps me mindful, present and appreciative. I wrote an entire book about it, which proves I believe it with my whole heart.
Set a reminder 3 of 11
Meaningful words, poignant phrases and inspiring quotes are everywhere. A simple way to use your camera on the quest for gratitude is to frame up a message that reminds you to be grateful. Never underestimate the power of positive affirmations!
Smile more 4 of 11
Sure, parts of our daily life can feel like a chore but why not challenge that perspective and choose to have a little more fun with it. I'm an advocate for playing with your food. Once you start, you won't be able to stop. And believe me, smiling is contagious. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Look up 5 of 11
The key to gratitude is perspective. There is always something to be grateful for, no matter how bad things get. When you're looking for a little perspective, just go outside and look up. There is nothing more majestic than the sky and sometimes remembering how vast the Universe is, in all it's great mystery, can help give us exactly what we need to be grateful, even for the littlest things.
Curate some cuteness 6 of 11
Cuteness cures all things. At least for a little while, and quite often it's just that moment of
pawspause that gives us what we need to be grateful.
Get grounded 7 of 11
Keeping our feet firmly planted can help keep us mindful and grounded, which is another quick shortcut to feeling grateful. Look down and shoot a shot of where you're standing right now. You never know where you might find yourself. Does the yellow brick road ring a bell?
Look for Love 8 of 11
It's no secret that I love hearts. In fact, there's rarely a day that passes that I don't find one! Once you begin looking for hearts, I swear, you can't not find them. Shooting symbols that mean something to you, something that brings you comfort or joy, can keep your heart in the most grateful of spaces.
Get some fresh air 9 of 11
Mother Nature is the most generous giver. Quite often a stroll outside (no matter the weather) is all I need to get me from grumpy to grateful. Shooting the elements of the great outdoors works wonders. And you don't even have to go far. Just get outside, get some fresh air and breathe it in. If you want to wander a little farther than your own back yard, there are lots of places you can go for photo inspiration and a gratitude check.
Seek inspiration 10 of 11
Exercising your creativity is a sure-fire way to boost your mood, which in turn affects your ability to be more grateful. If you're looking for a little inspiration, try a new muse. Shoot with a different camera, experiment with fun photo apps (I am personally loving the Fotor app that I can use on my Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone or on my Surface tablet, which makes it even more fun), or even take an online class to help prompt you along in your photography process. As a matter of fact (shameless self-promotion) I teach a class, Picture the Holidays, that is guaranteed to keep your camera focused on gratitude and it just so happens to start on Dec. 1st. Just saying.
Reflect 11 of 11
Although it's not usually our first instinct to turn our cameras towards ourselves, it can be a wonderful way to tap into our gratitude. Take a few minutes to appreciate YOU. Say hello, say thank you, ask yourself a few question, and shoot a few selfies. It's not narcissistic, it's nurturing. Being kind and gentle with yourself is perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself and in turn for others. Remember, gratitude starts at home. I used the free photo editor app on my Surface tablet to make a simple snapshot a little more artsy.
As you get into the creative spirit of giving, why not share your handiwork of gratitude with family and friends. Feeling good and grateful is a good way to feel, so why not pass it on? Try the Picasa app, which lets you create great slideshows and share them with your loved ones. Picture it forward!
All images gratefully shot with the super-sweet Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone. Swoon.
For the story about how Tracey and her teen got here, take a peek at their first post at Reframed.
For more about Tracey and how she elevates the everyday, visit her at traceyclark.com.
Want to have a better day? Check out 10 ways to do just that!