Back in 2016, with the help of friends and locals, I launched the “Mindfulness Through Photography” retreat to foster an appreciation of our natural and cultural resources. We successfully ran programs with local primary-school students, study-abroad university students, and travelers to Bali, Indonesia. On its surface, the project provides participants with practical training on how to attend to and capture visual elements present in our surroundings to compose a rich visual narrative through their photos. When, implemented successfully, the program could have far-reaching implications for our social and environmental footprint.
June 20, 2017
It was such a pleasure having you join our Photography & Mindfulness retreat last week. We hope you enjoyed it and found it useful not only in terms of practicing photography but also in terms of rediscovering your culture and the nature surrounding us. We have summarized a few of the main points discussed during our adventure and provided you with ideas and activities on how to carry over the lessons learned into both your personal and school life (attached file). To make the most out of this experience, we highly recommend you refer to the booklet which will help you develop your visual literacy skills as well as your photo-making skills. The Scavenger’s Checklist Retreat tasks were just guidance for you to practice the lessons discussed during the retreat. On the other hand, the Scavenger’s Checklist Independent tasks represent your homework which you need to accomplish independently. Eventually, we can plan another meeting when we can sit down together, review, and critique your work collaboratively thus practicing, in particular, the Reading Photographs section (or your ability to visually interpret photographs which is a prerequisite for making good photographs). Please select 10-15 of your photos and use the following link to upload them to your respective folder: (link). In the folder Our Photos you can find and download the pictures we took during the retreat. We will be looking forward to our next retreat with you.
When adapted for early elementary age, the project takes on a slightly different focus and adopts elements of a game. Unlike with young and older adults who receive a list of photo tasks and are guided towards accomplishing them, young kids are simply encouraged to use their senses to explore the environment, capture the things that astonish them and create a photo scavenger hunt.
Preparing the ground for the retreat at Oemachi Oyama Natural Park Camping Ground
Part 1 – Creating the photo scavenger hunt
Divide the kids into two teams and hand each team one camera, list of instructions, and 6 slips of paper for kids to write the directions, explaining where they have buried the next photo-treasure.
Photographing Nature’s Treasures
From rocks to mushrooms, and flowers to pinecones, kids closely tuned their senses to the environment and felt the spirit of nature.
Writing Down the Directions
Hiding the photo clues along with the instructions on where to find the next clue
Part 2 – Playing the Scavenger Hunt
Looking for the clues
Following the instructions
Collecting the photos and compiling the map
The real treasure – cold ice cream on a hot day!
If you are based in Japan and would like to organize a photography retreat as a team-building activity for your students, staff, guests/visitors, or members of a group, feel free to get in touch! The activity can be tailored to your specific needs and circumstances and I can guide you through its implementation regardless of where you are located.