Why Photo Walks Feel like Self-Care

Yesterday pouring rain broke open to wide open blue skies and I knew this was the moment to put down the computer and work and get outside.

I had a new prompt I wanted to try for the upcoming session of Be Your Own Beloved but I didn’t know exactly where my feet would take me.

That’s the wonder of photo walks for me (and it likely is or could be for you too). I may go to the same place I went the week before but the light will be different, something I never saw before will catch my eye and new flowers will be bursting up from the ground or on the end of branches.

I headed down to  the community garden that has become my new favourite spot.  It is about a 10 minute walk from home and is on the edge of a park.  It is most definitely urban, with trucks zooming by on the street nearby, dogs barking at the SPCA across the street (and lots of cute ones being taken for walks by volunteers) and plenty of folks working on their garden plots.  Yet at the same time it is a really lovely patch of nature within the city.

On days like this, photo walks feel like a bit of a luxury, that I can put down my work and follow the lead of the light, but in a way they aren’t a luxury at all.  They are a self-care tool I’ve learned along the way.

I remember the days when I first fell in love with photography.  I was working night shifts, only getting to sleep in the morning and much of the year having only a few hours of light to experience before the darkness came again and I had to go back to work.  It was a lifeline in those days, a way to deeply experience those few hours of light I have and to feel in some way….alive and a part of the world.

I notice if I don’t get out even for a walk around the block every so often I feel it.  Yes, it is fun.  But is is also self-care, making space to just put one foot in front of the other and go seeking some beauty.   For me these walks began as self-care and now that photography is my work, I try to keep the same energy…not having it be about getting a certain shot or result.  Actually I usually come home with at least a few photos that I love, often something that I couldn’t have planned out but found from engaging in that sense of wonder of just going out and being witness to the beauty around me.

I definitely find that it isn’t just a self-care took I need on days when it is bright and sunny and I feel energized.  It is actually something I need to do on days when I don’t feel like it, as it has a way of shifting the energy, sending me home with a camera full of unexpected energy and beauty captured in my camera.  It isn’t just about getting content for blog posts, by any means.  It is about:

Engaging with the world around me

Making discoveries

Savouring light

Clearing my head

Moving my body

Slowing down

Being open to the unexpected

Do you find photo walks are self-care too?  Or could it be something you could try to create for yourself?

under the cherry treeblue and blossoms garden girl


  • gotham girlMarch 21, 2013 - 11:40 am

    Absolutely “self care” for me as well! Plus my blog is my journal and my therapy. I so understand!!ReplyCancel

  • AnnaMarch 21, 2013 - 1:56 pm

    Beautiful post!

    Also, I LOVE your outfit here. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Alison MiyakeMarch 21, 2013 - 6:02 pm

    Oh, dear Vivienne. Thank you so much for introducing me to photo walks! Since taking your course (Be Your Own Beloved), I find myself taking photos everyday. (The other day I forgot my camera when we went to lunch and was so mad at myself, because it had just stopped raining and the sun was trying to come out and the sun through the drops of rain on the restaurant window was so pretty – I was sitting at exactly the right angle to capture the moment, too.)

    I am also going macro thanks to a previous post of yours and so found myself crouching down to daffodil level the other day (with lots of cars going by behind me!). I was walking home, but then noticed more flowers just farther off around the bend and before you knew it, I came home with something like 200 photos. I even went to a friend’s nearby because there is a great hill overlooking fields and when I am driving, I never have time to stop and enjoy it. Walking, I was able to really be there in the moment and explore everything from all the angles.

    I am loving noticing the light, the colours, the close-ups and the spring all around me!

  • Alison MiyakeMarch 21, 2013 - 6:03 pm

    Forgot to say that I love all the photos in this post! (Especially the first one – the light, your pose, the forest!!)ReplyCancel

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  • […] Vivienne McMaster photo walks are self-care. They’re an opportunity to move her body, engage with the world, clear her […]ReplyCancel

  • KimMarch 15, 2015 - 7:26 am

    I love photo walks! In my case I usually tote around a 70lb chocolate lab, so the photo ops are rare, but I take in all the things you mention! When I take my hubby or son along, the pictures come easier but usually don’t include me! It’s all a balancing act!ReplyCancel