At Leica, we’ve always been inspired by the #Movember movement and the meaningful work they do every year to raise awareness across the biggest health issues facing men, mental health being one of them.
This year, in line with the movement, our focus was on presenting the positive effects photography can have on our overall well-being, boosting self-esteem, confidence, decision making, and helping us calm the mind from the everyday hustle and bustle. Photography is a great therapy for many of us, whether we know it or not.
And that’s why we invited our community to share stories on how photography is having a positive impact on their mental health. We were delighted to hear how photography is so important to many…
Meet Christian Mackie
Photography style: Film
Camera: Leica M6
First up, we hear from Christian who loves to observe and document the vibe of being a ‘local’ in unfamiliar places through film photography. But unfamiliar surroundings can also be daunting…
He says, “For several months I was in a creative black hole, and I was constantly worrying about the future. I carried a lot of stress from moving countries twice, searching for a new career, and figuring out all the adult things that come with those changes. It felt like there was no time for me to experiment and play with my work – and that perpetuated the spiral. The more dissatisfied I was with my art, the more stressful everything felt in my daily life. I make everyday progress on releasing stress, but this truly comes when I dedicate more time and patience to my photography. I’m beginning to be more patient with myself, and my Leica M6 is a daily reminder to that renewed approach to practice, not perfection.”
Meet Samuel R.J. Gillilan
Photography style: Architecture, Landscape, Cultural
Lens: Summicron-M 35mm
Next up, we hear from Samuel R.J. Gillilan on how photography has become his meditation. He says, “For me, photography has provided me with incredible experiences that I feel so grateful for. It has been a way of connecting with myself and the world more deeply.”
Samuel shoots all over the world, simultaneously studying spiritual texts and ancient works from renowned philosophers. He also says, “As I started to dive deeper into these concepts, my photography began to change; it opened up more meaning around meditation, archetypes and historical psychology. This new approach to photography has only evolved with each image and each experience, and it brings me a sense of peace when I become the creator of the moment, and not just a detached observer. Now, when I walk the streets with my camera, I focus on my breath rather than shooting – this practice then leads me to the next photograph more easily.”
Meet Ricardo RG
Photography style: Street
Camera: Leica M10
Lens: Summicron-M 28mm
Next, we’re sharing Ricardo RG’s story on fighting anxiety and stress through street photography.
He says, “Dedicating time to something creative that’s far away from work has helped me release stress and become less anxious. The shooting is therapeutic but finding surprising results after a short or long walk through the chaotic streets of London is what brings me the most joy. I even find ironic messages in my photography such as moody tones or facial expressions that I can relate my feelings or state of mind to at the time. I haven’t figured out a defined style yet, but street photography makes me feel good, and that’s most important to me.”
Meet Luke Cartwright
Photography style: Everyday stories
Camera: Leica Q2
Read Luke’s story on how photography has taught him patience and appreciation for the little things…
He says, “People struggle to find an outlet that genuinely has the ability to provide respite from everything around you. But photography for me, is just that. I’ve finally learned to take my time during the whole process; to enjoy it, to reflect on it and to seek inspiration so my photography develops. It makes you very aware of your own self-development. It has taught me patience and appreciation for the little things, the simple things or just the everyday things, and that details do matter. It’s important to recognise that your inspirations shouldn’t be your comparison but being hypersensitive to how things effect you encourages empathy and that’s something to be embraced rather than dismissed.”
Meet Paul Hollands
Photography style: Black-and-white Street
Camera: Leica M10 Monochrom
Lens: Summicron-M 35mm
Next, we hear from Paul on how photography provides the tonic to a busy and stressful life.
He says, “More frequently, the pace, structure and social norms that exist within our lives constrain what we see. Without stepping back, we limit our ability to challenge ourselves in how we observe the world around us. As my life has evolved, with jobs becoming more time consuming and looking after a young family, I found myself turning more and more frequently to street photography. This is not simply to document special moments in life, but to create a system that forces me to use my brain differently, through a creative process so far removed from my normal day to day thinking that it has an almost meditative effect. Photography has always provided a creative release for me, it has pushed me out of my comfort zone, challenging me and forcing me to look at the world in different ways. When I’m out with my camera, at first it might be a bit of a struggle, but as soon my brain starts to embrace the process, I feel a shift in how I observe interactions, people’s mannerisms, and their movement around the streets – pressing the shutter almost becomes a subconscious act. Mental health is a vitally important topic, and I truly believe photography provides the tonic to a busy and stressful life.”
Meet Bobby Tsang
Photography style: Landscape, Street
Camera: Leica M2, Leica M10
Then, Bobby shares his story and why photo walks are daily staples to everyday life.
“Photography has always been with me. I’m lucky enough to have brothers who let me play with their cameras when I was just a small lad. I never felt I was especially artistic during school, so photography was always just a means to document and capture memories. Fast forward 20 years, and I was studying a PhD in engineering, which needed thorough understanding of lens theory. I got so engaged with this that I found myself spending more time on imaging than the main research! I learned to shoot both manual and on film, and this is still my go-to combination to this day.
Photography has played a huge part in my mental wellbeing. I use photography to help me think and to engage with subjects in a different way. When I have my camera with me, I begin to think differently even on the shortest of walks. I begin taking interest in things I wouldn’t normally. The photography process puts me in a zone, and I can relax and step back from normal life. I believe a photo walk is daily staple to everyday life.”
Meet Diogo Teixeira
Photography style: Landscape, Street
Finally, we hear from Diogo. Diogo is always eager to explore, whenever he gets the chance, the life, and the landscape of his city Porto in Portugal.
He says, “My daily life is very demanding and very stressful, so I sometimes don’t have time to give free rein to my creativity. But my passion for photography is too strong and whenever I can, I go out to the streets, and I enjoy its life. From capturing the everyday moments to chasing the light across landscapes, photography calms me down, making it possible to maintain sanity during difficult times.”
If you would like to share your story or your photography experiences, message @LeicaUK on Instagram for a chance to be featured.