Can photography improve mental health? In February 2020 we interviewed Colin about how working with Create has unlocked a passion for photography and positively impacted his mental health.
Before the pandemic, Colin was attending a Create photography project developed in collaboration with Mind in Tower Hamlets and Newham and funded by Reed Smith. Since the lockdown, Colin has participated in our Create Live! online interactive project initiative, offering a creative lifeline to the most vulnerable children and adults in isolation.
Six months on, we’ve caught up with Colin about how photography helped him cope during the lockdown and how he’s been using the skills he developed with Create to help others.
“Lockdown has forced me to be creative at home and to come up with new ideas and think of things to do. I’ve got asthma so I’ve got to be really careful about this virus.
“If I’ve got to go out, I wear my mask and I can breathe for about 20 minutes in it. I go to my local shop and just come straight back. I do miss going out, to places just for myself like the comic shops in the West End, but that’s not an option at the minute. Photography and running workshops is giving me something to do at home.
“When the lockdown started, I was really bored. I couldn’t find anything to do and I was desperate to do something. It forced me to be creative indoors and look for stuff around the house to take pictures of. We’ve got some lights for the patio and I did a lot of light-painting photographs.
“After the Create Live! photography project ended, someone from Mind phoned me and asked me if I wanted to run some workshops of my own. They said someone had recommended me.
“I was hesitant at first because I get nervous when people want sudden things to happen. I spent some time thinking about it and I managed to think up three ideas for sessions the next day, so I thought ‘I’ll do it’.
“One or two of the participants were from the Create groups but a few are from other groups that just know me, and they wanted to give photography a try.
“A couple of the participants have never tried photography before. They don’t go out that much. We had a woman who was really nervous, and she didn’t know how to do WeTransfer [a way of sharing photographs via a digital link]. I want to be as accommodating as possible so I encouraged her just to hold her phone close to the screen so that everyone could see her photography and she could participate. I try to make it as easy for everyone as possible.
“Photography gives me an outlet to express myself, which I’ve found useful during lockdown. I enjoy running a photography group. It feels rewarding to be helping other people like myself by giving them something they can participate in and hopefully have fun.”