Pay It Forward

Help create the Happiness!

Happy Snappers Adelaide is seeking your generosity with financial support or donations of any old bits of digital photographic equipment that you may not be using any more.

We are seeking donations of Canon EOS equipment!

If you have some Canon EOS digital photographic equipment laying around gathering dust, please consider putting it to good use by donating it to us here at Happy Snappers Adelaide.

It can be put to use in two different ways.





We need EF or EF-S mount lenses for the groups

Do you have spare or unused Canon gear that could be donated for the groups to use & explore digital photography with?
  • Telephoto lenses up to 300 mm
  • Macro lenses of any sort or extension tubes
  • 35, 40 or 50 mm prime lenses


Would you like to gift something to a participant?

We have passed on 3 cameras now to participants that otherwise could never afford to purchase one:
  • Do you have a working digital camera that is 8 MP or above?
  • It could be any type; Compact, Mirrorless, DSLR all are given new homes easily!
  • Please have the battery & charger for it, we can arrange for memory cards if needed.

“I could never have afforded this camera, not in my wildest dreams, I don’t feel worthy of such an amazing gift. This will help me to get out of the house more often, your photography groups are the only thing I normally do to get out of the house. Now I have a reason to go for a walk.” – Anonymous Participant

Want to help us with some fundraising?

There are two ways you can help us out financially.




1. Purchase a fund-raising photograph

The following images are available for purchase at a cost of $280 each. The proceeds of which will go towards helping pay for a weekend retreat for 8 participants later on in 2019 & also for entry to the Adelaide Zoo for the participants in term 4 of 2019.

These images were initially exhibited by Alex Mausolf (Happy Snappers Adelaide founder) as a part of the 2018 SALA Festival & they were nominated as a collective for the 2018 Don Dunstan Foundation Award. They are now being donated by Alex to help fund some activities for Happy Snappers Adelaide.

They are framed as pictured in simple black modern frames with white mattes.

Dimensions are:

  • 50 x 70 cm
  • 94 x 38.5 cm for the panoramic image of Victoria Square

Please email or ring 0413 549 088 with any queries.


2. Donate anonymously by Bank Transfer

Do you like or love the Happy Snappers initiative & want to help us out in some way but don’t have any equipment or the ability to help on the Management Committee? Donations via bank transfer are appreciated!
Every cent will go towards Happy Snappers Adelaide activities, including exhibitions, a weekend retreat for 8 participants, admission to the Adelaide Zoo for the participants.
  • BSB: 325 185

  • Account: 03674273

  • Name: John Alexander Mausolf *

* John is my legal or birth name, but my preference is to use Alex, one day I will blow the cash on changing it legally, so the bank account marries up to my name of preference.

Please email or ring 0413 549 088 with any queries.


Hands holding sapling in soil


Huge thanks go to

the following community centre’s, companies, NGO’s, services and groups for their invaluable assistance in helping to make Happy Snappers Adelaide become the amazingly effective thing that it has become!

Onkaparinga Seaside Walk

The Onkaparinga Seaside Walk for World Suicide Prevention Day is an annual event in our Southern coastal suburb of Moana, raising awareness & funds for suicide prevention, put on by the Seaford Rotary Club annually.

The Onkaparinga Seaside Walk for World Suicide Prevention Day very kindly donated $250 towards a much needed roller-bag to help move all the photographic equipment around in, allowing the participants the opportunity to explore their photography with more than one lens at a time, as I was previously limited to, as I could only take one backpack with me.

IT Share SA Inc.

Refurbishing discarded or donated computer parts & peripherals.

They supplied us with an incredibly priced laptop, so that at the end of a session I can import the images from those participants that use their own cameras.

Thanks for a fantastic service & an even more incredible price!

Sarah Jane W. Photography

Gorgeous newborn, portraiture and boudoir photography.

Donated some fantastic Portrait Lighting equipment (lights, stands & soft-boxes) for the groups to be able to use! Thanks so much for your generosity Sarah Jane.

Hackham West Community Centre

The heart of Hackham West.

Partnering with Happy Snappers Adelaide to create regular Mindful Photography sessions for the local community members! Thanks so much for being so progressive and seeing the worth of this unique idea.

Artworks Inc. Community Arts Studio

A unique community arts program, renowned for its innovative combination of public art and social inclusion.

Partnering with Happy Snappers Adelaide to create some special Mindful Photography sessions for the local community members as part of some different community events. Thanks for the amazing experience!

Community Health Onkaparinga

Promoting health & well-being in the City of Onkaparinga & encouraging residents to live healthy, active & creative lifestyles.

Assisting Happy Snappers Adelaide in our founding stages by helping to provide us public liability coverage & networking assistance as we grew our legs & learnt to run! Thanks so much for your assistance & seeing the potential of this simple idea.
Michelle H

Happy Helpers

Happy Helpers were formed thanks to a much appreciated piece of generosity from a local community event which raises awareness for suicide prevention as a fund-raiser so that they can put on Mental Health 1st Aid & Suicide Awareness & Prevention training courses for free in the local region. Their act of gifting us a roller-bag to transport all our photographic equipment in for the various sessions & locations we visit was able to be paid back by some of the participants & myself acting as event photographers for them. Something that I look forward to as an ongoing relationship for many years to come!

Since then the Happy Helpers have helped out & are available to help out at a range of various indoor & outdoor community events & functions; allowing groups that can’t afford photographers to have their events photographed & allowing the Happy Helper participants involved to know that they can be & in fact are of benefit to their local community.

It’s a beautiful thing!

As I now have my own UAV (drone) we can now offer that as a unique point of view for these community events too. Papers are lodged by myself to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in accordance with UAV piloting requirements for public events.

Alex has his Federal Police & DCSI general clearance, as well as clearances for working with children & the vulnerable. It is hoped that those participants offering their time voluntarily as Happy Helpers will also obtain these clearances too.

Unfortunately, we can’t share images from all of these events, but when we can, we will. Here is a gallery of images taken at the Onkaparinga Seaside Walk, that kicked off this simple community-minded initiative. The Onkaparinga Seaside Walk for World Suicide Prevention Day is an annual event held in our Southern coastal suburb of Moana, raising awareness & funds for suicide prevention, put on by the Seaford Rotary Club annually.

If you are a community group within the Onkaparinga region & are interested in the possibility of having the Happy Helpers assist you, please, get in touch with Alex Mausolf through email or by mobile on 0413 549 088.



Help spread the Happiness

Happy Snappers Adelaide is in the process of creating a managing committee so that we can become an officially approved and registered charitable body. We still need a Treasurer & some Committee members though!

If you would like to help us out in these roles, or you potentially know of someone who would be amazing in these roles, please suggest this opportunity to assist a grassroots initiative that is genuinely helping improve lives in a simple way, so that we can get this monumental shift under way.

We need Management Committee members & a Treasurer

Do You…
  • Have a passion for photography, or perhaps the arts?
  • Can you understand the importance of access to the arts & regular quality time in nature for all those living with mental health challenges in their lives?
  • Can you manage simple finances? We don’t have a complicated financial structure!
  • Would you like the opportunity to give something back to the community in some way?
  • You don’t even have to live locally to be able to fulfill this role as we can meet via digital means.

Can You uphold these 4 legal duties?

The four main legal duties are:
  • the duty to act in good faith in the best interests of the organisation and for a proper purpose
  • the duty to act with reasonable care, skill and diligence (including the duty to prevent insolvent trading)
  • the duty not to improperly use information or position, and
  • the duty to disclose and manage conflicts of interest

“Happy Snappers Adelaide has been the single-most powerful thing in my life that I have ever done for others” – Alex Mausolf

Where can I find out more?

To find out more about exactly what the legal obligations are when becoming an active management committee member of a charitable body. You can download a thorough and excellent guide that is easy to understand from: Not For Profit Law / Justice Connect.





In a nutshell…

“The law recognises that committee members (or directors) as well as some office holders in not-for-profit groups make important decisions about the strategic direction and activities of a group. Because committees have significant power, the law requires them to comply with legal duties like acting in good faith and in the best interests of the organisation. Where the standards set by legal duties are not met, penalties can apply (but this is very rare). Sometimes conflicts arise between the personal interests of a committee member, and the interests of the group. The law also provides a framework on how to deal with this situation.”






So what are you waiting for?

Get happy!

Apply now



Moving Pictures

Videos of some of the places that the various Happy Snappers Adelaide participants have visited.

Still Pictures

Some image galleries from the Happy Snappers Adelaide participants at the various normal daytime sessions & some of the special after dark trips we have held outside of normal session times also.

Arranged in terms, going back from most recent to the first groups at the beginning of 2018.

Not all participants have contributed images to these galleries, with some people not wanting to be identified as participants, some others had concerns of their images being stolen or potentially printed & sadly others were of the belief that they didn’t have images of a standard worthy to being shared, As this is an initiative that is based on wellness, I will never pressure anyone to share their imagery, if they don’t want to.




Queries that are frequently asked of us

Why the need for cameras ? Everyone already has mobile phones that can take photographs, aren't they good enough ?

It is specifically the use of a fully controllable camera that induces a state of mindfulness on the participant, partly through awareness & partly through intense observation & a deeper level of thought. When using a mobile phone for photography one does not have to concentrate or observe to the same level as when using a controllable camera. I have some excerpts of studies & web articles that talk about this in quite some depth on the “Benefits” page in the “About” section.

How difficult would this be for someone that’s never used a camera before ?

Using a camera needn’t be a complicated process to learn. I instruct this in easy to digest bite-sized chunks. The first week is spent familiarising the participants with their camera of choice, learning how to make it focus where they want it to, using it on an automatic setting to start off with. In the second week, they progress to operating the aperture, which allows them the ability to choose how much of the scene is in focus.

It really is easy to grasp, people are always surprised by how quickly they actually get it & can start exploring it further to create the images they imagined!

Are there extreme weather policies ?

Absolutely! It doesn’t happen all that often, but the weather being what it is, it could occur.

In the event of hot weather being predicted the evening before a session, indicating that the temperature for a session would be 32 degrees or higher according to the Bureau of Meteorology that session will take place indoors where alternative photography opportunities will be arranged.

In the event of wet or extremely windy weather, the same policy will take place with alternative indoor photographic activities being offered.

Who owns the rights to the images ? If they are taken using your equipment aren’t they yours ?

Absolutely not! As the creators of the images, the copyright remains that of the participants.

If the images are to be sold or used, written permission is required from the creators; unless working as a part of the Happy Helpers when we are photographing a community event as the event photographers & then the rights of the images are those of the community group we are working for.

How do I get the photographs I take ?

This has been a learning curve over the last year, trying to work out how to pass the images off to the participants easily & the following methods are the easiest ways I can think of.

Method 1
  • Get yourself two 4 – 8 GB USB sticks.
  • Bring one each week with you to the session & pass it to me.
  • I transfer the images during that week & give the USB stick back to you the following week.
  • Method 2
  • Use your own SD card or cards, make sure it is 8 GB at the smallest.
  • Bring it with you each week.
  • Be aware that it will need to be formatted specifically for the camera you are using during the sessions, so may not be used with other cameras, unless it is reformatted each session which will wipe any old images from it. So make sure you back up anything on it prior to using it in a session, so as to avoid possibly losing anything on it.

Can I use my own camera ?

If you are lucky enough to have your own camera with a controllable aperture & the modes of P, A, S & M on the control dial or that are otherwise accessible somehow, certainly!

Can I learn how to use my own camera ?

Sure! Whilst this is not strictly a photography class, instruction, hints & tips are passed on according to the individuals interest level. Make sure that you have your instruction manual for reference, the full one with hundreds of pages to it, not just the ‘getting started’ guide. I don’t know where to access every feature on every brand or model of camera. & that will make the job easier if needed.

Do you cover photographic techniques like composition, storytelling, or the like ?

This is not an instructional thing as such, but tips & techniques are shared as they come up at various locations according to the individuals interest levels.

I'm not sure I could attend every week, can I still join in ?

For sure! Just pay for the term ahead & a spot is secured for you at all sessions, allowing you to attend when you can & covering your share of the transport costs each week.

There is no possible way to charge a week to week attendance for this programme without incurring additional costs myself that I can’t afford, what with me living on a Disability Pension.

How many participants can be a part of this ?

With us using a 12 seater bus, there can now be 10 participants for each session.

Can I see the destinations you have planned ?

Yes, if you go to the “Groups” page in the “Groups” section you will find the itinerary for the groups this term, or the term ahead as that approaches.

Do I need to bring anything with me ?

Recommended items include a mobile-phone ( for emergency contact if needed), a wide-brimmed hat, water & sensible closed-in footware for walking on possibly slightly uneven or loose surfaces.

Is this physically strenuous ?

Feedback from last years programme’s has been taken into account & the places we are visiting this year are significantly easier to get around.

Average fitness is required for the places we are visiting. There are no exceedingly hard walks, climbs or hikes, but the sessions can be on uneven surfaces, like are found at beaches or trails in parks.

Walk distances would range from 1 to 4 kilometre’s in length over a period of about one & a half to two hours for normal sessions.

The longer day-trips obviously cover a longer distance, but it is spread out over the day with lots of potential for rest, drinks & food in between destinations.


What does it cost to attend ?

As this is still just a bloke (me) voluntarily holding this without any financing behind me a fee of $40 is charged per term, this is payable before the first session. This charge is to cover the costs of using the Hackham West Community Centre bus for the sessions, which they kindly allow us to use for a very low cost!

Wednesday session attendees can make payment at the Hackham West Community Centre, located at 44 Glyniville Drive, Hackham West.

Monday session attendees can pay by bank transfer to Happy Snappers Adelaide prior to commencement.

BSB: 325 185

Account: 03674273

Name: John Alexander Mausolf

My formal name is John Alexander Mausolf, but I have a strong preference for using Alex as my given name. Please do not be alarmed about a different name being used on the bank account. It is still me!

Is your equipment insured, just in case a camera gets dropped or something gets damaged during a session ?

Whilst Happy Snappers Adelaide have arranged full coverage of our photographic equipment for theft & accidental damage we ask that every due care is taken with the equipment when using it in the sessions. This means making sure that the neck strap is around your neck at all times from the moment the camera is passed to you until you return it to the Happy facilitator at the end of the session.
In the event of an accident, equipment will then be out of use until replacement/s can be arranged. There is a $500 excess fee payable to the insurance company for replacements & in all honesty this is probably more than the cost of replacements, so we would ask that a participant help us out with the replacement cost to the best of their ability, if necessary. This is so that others are not affected by the loss of a piece of equipment.

Are the cameras heavy to hold ?

There are 5 DSLR’s which are the bigger cameras, they weigh about 700 grams each with their lenses attached, these have viewfinders that you normally need to look through to use them. There are also 3 much smaller Micro-Four-Thirds cameras & they weigh under 400 grams with their lenses attached, there are 2 of these with touchscreens for those that may potentially have eyesight challenges & the other one can operate via a viewfinder or with a live view on the rear screen.

Alex Mausolf

2019 Groups

Groups for term 2 of 2019 are being held on Mondays & Tuesdays, between 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, with 2 longer sessions per term from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. There will be 9 sessions for both groups in term 2 of 2019.


Payment of $40 per person for the term is necessary up front, so as to cover the transport costs in total for the term. As Alex is voluntarily holding these sessions with no financial assistance of any sort yet, the participants will need to cover the transport costs so that he is not incurring expenses for transport that he can not afford.

This equates to less than $5 per week per person, which is exceptional value for an activity of this type.

If you can not afford to pay upfront for the term, please speak with Alex about arranging a payment plan.


  • The Monday group is being held at Artworks Community Arts Centre, located at 2 Gates Road, Hackham.
  • The Tuesday group is being held at Hackham West Community Centre, located at 44 Glynville Drive, Hackham West & créche facilities are available by enquiry to the centre on 8384 1065.

Monday Group – FULL

Bookings for Monday group are made by contacting Alex Mausolf on 0413 549 088 or by emailing

Payment for the Monday group has 2 options:

  • Cash payments can be made to in person to Alex at the first session or prior to that.
  • Electronic Bank Transfer Payments can be made to:
    •  Account: John Alexander Mausolf
    • BSB: 325 185
    • Account: 03674273
    • Reference: “Your name” & “HS Monday Group” e.g. Jane Bloggs – HS Monday Group



Tuesday Group – 1 space left

Bookings for the Tuesday group are made with the Hackham West Community Centre, by calling on 8384 1065 or by visiting the centre in person at 44 Glynville Drive, Hackham West.

Payment for the Tuesday group is made at the Hackham West Community Centre prior to the first session.


Term 2 of 2019

29th & 30th of April

Hallett Cove Ruins

9:30 am – 12:30 pm

6th & 7th of May


9:30 am – 12:30 pm

13th & 14th of May

Thorndon Park Reserve

9:30 am – 2:30 pm

20th & 21st of May

Magical Mystery Tour

9:30 am – 12:30 pm

27th & 28th of May

Tangari Regional Park

9:30 am – 12:30 pm

3rd & 4th of June

Onkaparinga Estuary

9:30 am – 12:30 pm

17th & 18th of June

Silver Sands Beach

9:30 am – 12:30 pm

24th of June

Port Adelaide – Urban Art

9:30 am – 2:30 pm

25th of June

Torrens Island Quarantine Station

9:30 am – 2:30 pm

$5 Donation

1st & 2nd of July

Kuitpo Forest

9:30 am – 12:30 pm

Alex Mausolf




2015, 11, p354-358

ABSTRACT: This study examined the affective and cognitive benefits of taking photographs of one’s everyday surroundings. Thirty-eight undergraduate participants were randomly assigned to either take photographs in a mindful, creative way; take photographs in a neutral, factual way; or do a count-your-blessings writing exercise, an activity that is known to reliably increase mood ¹. Planned contrasts revealed that those taking mindful, creative photographs were, on average, in a significantly better mood and were significantly more appreciative and motivated than those taking neutral photographs. There were no significant differences between either photography condition and the writing activity. These results suggest that, when done thoughtfully, photography can be an effective way of improving mood and appreciation of everyday life.” – Jaime L. Kurtz

The results of Jaime L. Kurtz’ study indicate that photography when undertaken ‘mindfully’ alters the operators mood substantially and for the better! Something that I and many other photographers can attest to having occurred in our lives.

To be mindful in the holding and operation of a real camera is part of the process of using it. One must establish what they want to capture, how to frame it, what to focus upon, how much to have in focus throughout the scene, etc… Many things are decided upon when taking a picture with a real camera. This focus and concentration in combination with an instinctive searching and observing of ones surroundings lead to the easy to access experience of mindfulness in photography.

DISCUSSION: The present study had two primary aims. First, it sought to examine the affective impact of photography, both with a positive and a neutral emphasis. Second, it compared the effect of photography to that of an empirically-supported happiness-increasing strategy: counting one’s blessings in a writing exercise 1. Results revealed that those who were taking photographs while looking for meaning and beauty found the activity more pleasant and absorbing and also reported significantly higher mood and higher levels of appreciation and motivation than those who were asked to take more neutral, informative photographs. In other words, the way a person engages in photography seems critical.

Results suggest that both mindful photography and counting one’s blessings seem to be similarly effective at enhancing appreciation. One might argue that the photography exercise takes more time and effort than writing, which can be done anywhere, at any time. However, these results suggest otherwise. The mindful photo condition was not only rated as the most pleasant and absorbing activity, but was also the least challenging. While these results are not significant, they do suggest that those who were asked to take pictures were not particularly overburdened, and those in the mindful photo condition actually enjoyed the activity.

To my knowledge, this is the first study to examine the psychological benefits of photography. Future studies could further address questions of implementation. Positive interventions are more effective when a certain “fit” exists between the person and the activity, such that it feels authentic and enjoyable 4. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that not everyone would enjoy and benefit from mindful photography. In addition, the current manipulation was somewhat minimal, with participants taking three photographs of each topic, twice a week for two weeks. With the practically limitless memory capacity of digital cameras, a person hoping to implement this strategy could easily take these findings to the extreme, such that they are so busy taking photographs that they cease to be fully present in and appreciative of the moment. As with most happiness-increasing strategies, the appropriate “dosage” needs to be considered ³. – Jaime L. Kurtz”

Very interesting results were gathered from this study.

That mindful photography is as effective as counting one’s blessings in a writing exercise is quite the surprise! That both of these activities lead to increased appreciation is good news indeed. That mindful photography was also the easiest accessible and least challenging as compared to thankful writing was also a pleasant surprise.

I am glad that Jaime L. Kurtz wrote the warning that there can be too much of a good thing in the final paragraph! I have personally found that around the two hour mark is the magic time limit with photography.




EXCERPT – Part 1: Recent conversations I have had about photography with friends has gotten me thinking. First one was with Sheldon Serkin in Bangkok. He asked me what getting in the zone when shooting street meant to me. He was to give a talk the following morning about this at the 8 x 8 Street Photography Conference. About how when you are out shooting, that you get in the zone. Whatever that is. For different people it is different things.

I stopped and thought.

I think, I said, for me, it is switching off. I lose sense of my surroundings, of noises. Things become narrowed. I become super-focussed on my immediate environment, and the only distractions I have are visual ones.

Later, with more reflection, I told him – when I am out shooting and I zone out I am on an accelerated path, excited, exhilarated to be in the moment. Scenes, looks, people, flash and vanish. It is dreamlike. I am – off.

When I step out of this moment, I said, it is weird. Slowly, and then suddenly, noises, like traffic, people talking, rush in. I might find myself in the middle of the road, or down on my knees on the pavement, or pushed up against a wall and realise I need to move, to get back into the normal rhythm of things. I feel invigorated, exhilarated; alive! It is euphoric and addictive. Does it happen all the time. Hell, no! But when it does – wow!

He told me for him, when he gets in the zone, he feels invincible, invisible. Instinct and intuition kick in and he feels on. Conversely I feel off. Freed. But I do agree with the instinct and intuition kicking in.” – Brendan Ó Sé

The feeling of being “in the zone” is a commonality amongst a certain subset of photographers. Those who have the ability to zone out to the surrounding noise and the distractions all around us, become one with the place they find themselves in, truly observing it in a synchronous and creative manner, much like a child being things for the first time.

This sensation that Brendan describes of being almost alienated as you return to the world is one I experience frequently when out doing my photography. Being “in the zone” everything else recedes to the background, no more intruding thoughts, no more distractions, just the place or things I’m photographing and me with my camera! When you are looking through the viewfinder of a camera, you enter another world, being whisked away quickly and easily.

Even though Brendan’s friend Sheldon described the experience as one of “feeling invincible, invisible”. They are both experiencing the same thing, it’s just described in different ways, due to their differing experiences of life and therefore their contrasting views, with Brendan feeling “off” and Sheldon feeling “on”! Me, I feel off, when I’m in this state of awareness and experience, able to react without those unnecessary procedural thoughts that go along with doing something, it’s all instinctive, almost primitive in the way I am able to react and truly observe things.

EXCERPT – Part 2: Move on to the next conversation, one I had with my friend, Paul Moore at the excellent MojoCon conference last week. He was talking about how he likes to stay up late at night and work on his photos. He said for him it was a form of mindfulness. Now, I had never ever imagined that editing images could be a form of mindfulness. But once he said it, I banked the idea, and have returned to it over the past week or so, and I have to say he is right. Very right. It is a form of mindfulness. One that suits me. One that does bring me a calm. OK, lots of times it can be frustrating when you learn that your photo is crap. But while editing, I am immersed in the process – with each Lightroom slide, I am willing the photos to life, willing them to be right. And for those moments, I am back in zone, back out on the street and the emotion, the excitement, the connection and all-consuming immediacy of that moment is there with me again, but now it is calming, rather than exhilarating.” – Brendan Ó Sé

Paul’s experience of mindfulness when editing his images is one that many photographers share! Time slips away from the editor, the world slips away, the worries of the world too! As I said above, anything can be a mindful experience, even doing the dishes if you truly want it to be.

Personally, I find the activity of editing photographs to be a meditative process, “calming, rather than exhilarating” as Brendan put it so well. I am so focused on bringing the image to life, I become inward in that time. Again, the world at large disappears along with all its intrusions and distractions!





EXCERPT – Part 1: To understand what mindfulness photography is, let’s first take a look at what it is not.

You’re out on a shoot. You’re scanning the environment, looking for a good capture and trying to avoid bad ones. In the back of your mind you’re thinking about all those great photos you’ve taken in the past, or about great images by others. You consider ways to recreate your prior success or emulate those outstanding pictures by your heroes. You’re reminding yourself of the techniques and strategies for shooting. You’re thinking about the people who will see your work. Will they like it? You anticipate their reactions. Some recognition and praise would sure feel nice. Maybe these pictures will turn out to be crap. How disappointing would that be? You’re wanting and hoping that this will be a successful shoot. You expect at least a few good photos.

I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves living out at these some aspects of this scenario. But what’s wrong with this picture? What’s wrong is that we’re not really SEEING. Our awareness is constricted by what we’re thinking, expecting, and wanting. The internal chatter and emotional desires act like smoke that clouds our vision. We’re experiencing all the stuff going on inside our heads and not much of what’s going on around us.” – John Suler

There’s no way I could have put that better! John has described what mindfulness isn’t perfectly, it’s probably a state-of-being familiar to all of us, especially with the busy-ness of life in this day and age.

EXCERPT – Part 2: … The Balance between Mindfulness & Concentration …

In his book on mindfulness meditation, Henepola Gunaratana talks about how it is actually a combination of mindfulness and concentration. Mindfulness is a process of opening up and detecting something new, like highly sensitive peripheral vision. Concentration, on the other hand, is a one-pointed awareness that zooms in to focus on an object, like a laser. In photography as well meditation, the two work as partners to balance each other. In the state of mindful awareness, you notice something in your field of view. Then, using the powers of concentration, you consciously direct your awareness to it, sink into and explore it, and finally, when doing photography, record it without memory or desire – not unlike the archer who selflessly lets loose the arrow in that fully focussed moment of Zen awareness. Once the photo is taken, your mindfulness opens up again to notice something different. During the shoot, the process repeats itself over and over again, with mindfulness providing receptivity to the “big picture” of new visual possibilities, while concentration guides the immersion into the selected subject, culminating in the photograph. Mindfulness is inclusive, concentration is exclusive. If you find yourself being overwhelmed by visual sensations – i.e., too much mindfulness, which can happen to people with acute visual sensitivities – try boosting concentration. If you find yourself slipping into a stupor-like focus on one thing, try returning to mindfulness.

a Camera IS Mindfulness

Photographers who practice mindfulness sometimes say that simply holding a camera can induce this state of awareness. It is a kind of conditioning effect: your mind associates doing photography with mindfulness. I might add that when we are mindfully aware of our surroundings, we are doing photography, even if we don’t have a camera with us.” – John Suler

John’s explanation that mindfulness meditation is “actually a combination of mindfulness and concentration” describes exactly what occurs when one enters the zone whilst doing photography using the camera as a tool to enter the state of mindfulness easily. His next sentences describe exactly what is happening when in this state. It is the action and combination of “opening up and detecting something new” along with “one-pointed awareness that zooms in to focus on an object, like a laser” that makes photography such a beneficial activity to experience regularly. There is a healing nature to this practice that is extremely beneficial for those that experience mental health challenges in their lives.

That this state of being is actually easy to enter into by using a camera is great news!

I find that the action of holding the camera, and even packing my photographic equipment, in preparation for its use helps shift my mental state from busy to calm and clear! This has been reinforced through regularity of experience over time, and hence why I feel it important for my sessions to occur for a minimum of eight weeks. An ongoing weekly activity of this nature is best though, as it allows the participants the opportunity to establish this as an entrenched experience over time and through regular repetition.


Mindful Photography

Next time you head off to do a spot of photography make the effort to look, to actually really look at what you are capturing. Take the time to do it with true intent and purpose, but without any attachment to the outcome of your images. No judgement, remember! Try not to enter into thoughts about what could go wrong, what didn’t work in the past, what you want to achieve with the shot, how you want it to look, how you might edit it, none of that. Seriously. Just remain open to what you are capturing and explore it fully.


This is a very different approach to photography from how most all of us learnt to go about it. We normally have a head full of thoughts about how to compose an image according to various rules and guidelines. We limit ourselves to what we are comfortable capturing and what we know that we can do well. Where is the challenge or potential for growth and new experience in that? Where is the deep focus and connection to the process of photography, place and subject?


Limit yourself to exploring a single subject or theme at a time. Then really explore it, investigate it in every way you possibly can, try and capture every aspect of its persona in a wide variety of photographic ways.


A great way I like to get the juices flowing is to spend some time investigating my potential subject before even getting the camera out. Notice its structure, how it is positioned within its surrounds, it’s textures, patterns, colours, shape, dimension, form, the way light plays across it.


Then, pick up the camera and explore it fully, really get engrossed and intrigued by your subject to the point of everything else disappearing from your mind so that your subject is your only thought!


Make photography an investigative exploration of your chosen subject. Don’t make it a chore though! Enjoy the process of unravelling the character of your subject, whether it is a person/persons, a place, a building, a plant, an animal, or a thing of any variety. Mindful Photography is about the journey and your absolute and full immersion in that process. It is through deep observation, inspection, surveying and probing of a subject that we form a bond with it, allowing us to truly be able to gain insight into its nature. From there we can play with how to present that in a creative and insightful way with a camera.




A very high proportion of images posted to social media every day are the here-I-am with [insert name/s here], here-I-am at [insert place here], here-I-am doing [insert activity here], here-I-am eating [insert foodstuff here], here-I-am wearing [insert favourite fashion label here], etc… They tend to lack a real exploration of subject and place or a contemplative attitude to the taking of them. Photography seems to have taken a turn towards merely being a quick snap without forethought, capturing proof of something having taken place in our lives to then be shared immediately with our friends, family and world at large.


I think the functions of photography are changing because of the technology. I don’t think we’re necessarily taking photos so we can remember our experiences. I think some of the photos we’re taking are so we can brag about our experiences and post them on Instagram and, you know, Facebook and just show other people, oh, look at the fabulous life that I’m having. And so, you know, if those are the functions that you’re trying to serve, the new technology may be doing that really well. But I don’t know that the new technology is serving the functions of preserving memories quite as well unless you take the extra step and actually look at the photos and revive those memories from them.

– Psychologist, Linda Henkel





Here are some simple suggestions and exercises that you can easily incorporate when next you find yourself out photographing.

♦ Choose a single subject or theme for your outing.

♦ Find a subject and take 20 photographs of it, allow yourself permission to explore it in ways you normally wouldn’t and DO NOT enter into processes of self-doubt and criticism at your efforts, enjoy the process and immersion of investigation through photography.

♦ Don’t look at your images, checking each and every one on the back of your camera immediately after taking them, like you normally might do. Wait till you get home before looking at the results of your efforts, allow yourself to have some failures in amongst your successes.

♦ Set your camera to shoot in jpeg and turn it to monochrome (black and white) for an entire session.

♦ Explore the myriad of patterns available in nature.

♦ Go to a place in nature and explore how many different ways you can present it through different points of view, compositions and framing of images. Maybe introduce an item that you bring along with you.

♦ Join in with a 52 week theme challenge on social media, this will give you a huge amount of themes to play with investigating over a year.

♦ There are a multitude of techniques based on camera operation available to investigate too. Choose one and investigate it thoroughly on your next outing.



Mindfulness – a simple explanation.

Here are a few definitions of Mindfulness to get you going.

  • “Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.”  1
  • “Mindfulness is wordless. Mindfulness is meeting the moment as it is, moment after moment after moment, wordlessly attending to our experiencing as it actually is. It is opening to not just the fragments of our lives that we like or dislike or view as important, but the whole of our experiencing.”  2
  • “Mindfulness is about training yourself to pay attention in a specific way. When a person is mindful, they:
    • Focus on the present moment
    • Try not to think about anything that went on in the past or that might be coming up in future
    • Purposefully concentrate on what’s happening around them
    • Try not to be judgemental about anything they notice, or label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.”  3
  • “Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment – without interpretation or judgement.”  4
  • “Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training.”  5
  • “Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.”   6
  • “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.”  7

So as can be seen, it has two major components to it. Firstly, there is observation and genuine acceptance of what is observed, which leads to being engaged in the moment. Secondly, there is the action of choosing not to react with judgement to this observation and experience of being present in the moment. Sounds easy, but it actually takes a lot of practice and commitment to consistently achieve this state of being! Especially in this day and age with so many expectations and burdens put upon us all by ourselves, those around us and our larger communities.


Absolutely not! In my opinion, this is a key instruction of all religions and spiritualities, getting us to be truly living in the moment and without judgement of the Self or others, regardless of what is occurring. This is something that many religious and spiritual texts talk about at length.

I recently read a beautiful quote of Sylvia Boorstein, in this regards and would love to share it here:

  • “The Dalai Lama once said, “My religion is kindness.” I think everybody’s religions are about kindness even if they don’t frame it that way. Either explicitly or implicitly the core teachings are that it’s a kindness to give up egocentricity and to love your neighbour as yourself.”


No, Meditation is a tool which can assist with accessing a state of Mindfulness, but it is not actually Mindfulness itself! Through practising Meditation one eventually gains the ability to quiet and still the Mind from intrusion, allowing one to be in the moment of quietness, but you can actually be Mindful at a loud concert, quietness is not necessary to be in a Mindful way. There are many things one can use to become Mindful, for some it could be playing golf, for others it could be jogging, for others it could be any process that induces a state of being in the zone, such as the process of preparing the veggies for dinner! And that is what Happy Snappers is all about. Getting in the zone, easily, through the use of photography, which has been shown in studies to be one of the simplest activities that induce this state of genuinely being in the moment. Check out our “Benefits” page for some extracts from these studies.

1Greater Good Science Centre – Berkeley
2White Wind Zen Community
3Reach Out
4Mayo Clinic
6Sylvia Boorstein
7Jon Kabat-Zinn