Tamzin Forster is a socially engaged multi-disciplined visual artist and workshop facilitator who specialises in using creativity and nature to benefit wellbeing.
It is easy to pass by places well known to us and stop seeing beyond the familiar, the mundane and, at times, the ugly. The ‘Deconstructed Landscape’ activity can remind us to notice the beauty in the everyday. This photography activity divides a landscape into sections - the top, middle and bottom. It enables absorption into the process of taking photographs outdoors - to notice surroundings, be active and connect to nature; and keep on learning - through exploration, play, discovery and re-discovery. This applies to a place as well as the camera.
As a creative it can be challenging to deliver sessions and client work and balance it with your own practice. In my work as a creative wellbeing practitioner I am witness to the positive effect that using creativity and nature has on an individual. It makes sense that I would utilise the same approach to boost and maintain my mental health and well-being. During the pandemic there was ample time to explore nine or 16 images to make up a landscape. Now I simply make the time - because the balance, relaxation and enjoyment the activity offers me. All of which help build resilience to stress; and enables me to be more efficient in all the different areas of life.
Working with ‘creative constraints’ gives a structure and direction when taking photographs - rather than being overwhelmed by options what photographs to take. Constraints can also stretch us creatively. I set myself a brief dependent on the light and once I have identified my interest. At times I might concentrate on one subject - such as ‘Trees’; or on a particular photographic technique - such as intentional camera movement - ICM ; other times, on framing techniques, or on line, or texture ,or shape, or colour and so on. (see Exploring Colour)
Usually all photographs are taken within the same surroundings at the same time, though mini-projects develop with the DL Project - such as the ‘Seasons’ image below, taken in my local park during the pandemic.
The quality and the direction of light varies at different times of the year and times of day, and is dependent on the weather. As well as the changing seasons, I really notice the seasons within a season…charcoal branches drawn across vibrant blue skies and a sea of snow; bold crocuses stretching to reach gold bracelets of light; the emergence of bright green buds on the trees, stabbing at the steel grey sky; the first probing fingers of the un-risen sun, casting a spotlight on the jewels of dew strung across the crowns of jostling daisies…
Why not give this activity a go and reflect on how doing it benefited you
Tips: What catches your eye? What is interesting about it to you?
Begin by studying the light falling on the subject that has caught your eye - what is the direction of the light? What is the quality? Is there hard, defined shadow or a soft, diffused quality to it?
Warm up by trying different ways of composing your subject. What are you trying to achieve? How will it be clear what your subject is? (Minimise to the number of things that make up your photograph - such as texture, shape, form etc so the subject stands out).
Look at the images you have taken and consider a favourite image. How can you improve further on the image in any way? For example re-framing your subject to avoid any distracting backgrounds?
How can you make each section/photograph an interesting photograph in its own right, something that is interesting for others too? Are you getting in the way of the light and casting a shadow on your subject? Set yourself mini-briefs - concentrate on: colour , or line, or shape or texture; etc.
Try deconstructed urban landscapes as well as out in nature e
To see more of Tamzin's work: