Dementia and photography

After a very good sleep last night, in fact my first in over a month, I got up and decided to get my head into gear, and for once a topic came to my head, so here we go

Photography is a wonderful hobby for everyone these days,  but its also a lovely hobby for people with memory problems and dementia.

I  have many friends living with various forms of dementia, and quite a lot of them love this hobby because photography allows them to express themselves in a different way, and its very interesting looking at some of their photos as they all seem to see things in different ways.

A few years ago, I was close to giving up the hobby because, I was seeing too many professional photographs, and I knew that they left me for dead.

But a good friend in Scotland James McKillop, told me to carry on and ignore the rest.

He went on to tell me, that we see things differently to other people, and therefore our pictures are sometimes unique.

He then went on to have his own exhibition in Scotland, and I was very proud for him, perhaps not as proud as he was himself, but all the same very proud that someone with dementia could have his own photographic exhibition.

What is more his photographs were wonderful.

Yet when you look around there are few if any courses available for those who have this illness, simply I think because many people assume wrongly, that when you get this illness you are incapable of doing anything.

I know that there are days when I cannot work the settings out, so a short course would be extremely difficult to cope with, but it would be nice if someone out in the big wide world could put together a resource pack which would help those wanting to do this as a hobby.

I have noticed that some magazines are doing things like small skills cards with some settings on, and that is a good step forward as they act as a prompt when you badly need it. Perhaps someone selling these in complete sets would make like much easier

There are many short courses out in the world for carers, but when you have this illness you are largely ignored, or the course is written for people with perfect memories, unlike us where we have short term memory lose.

I can get used to something, and then the next moment its gone in to the distant, and that can be upsetting, but we just have to keep pushing forward and hope.

I do feel that sometimes a short graphic course or a small pocket sized hand book would be ideal, as it could be taken with you and used when the wheels come off.

I know that some people out there with this illness, think some of this is patronizing, but we must remember that all dementia's are vastly different and no two people are the same with the same problems.

People sometimes ask why we don't stick to automatic settings on cameras. The short answer is that we, like everyone else, all try to push the boundaries even with this illness, so manual settings becomes fun to attempt, and in this time of digital cameras, you can delete your mistakes of which there are many, each time you go out.

We hardly get a rapid response if we see something flying towards us unless its a good day, but if it works we really do get a eureka moment, and you look at this with total pride and astonishment, but along with that you get many failures.

I have had this watching swans taking off and landing, and you feel full of pride, even if you got the settings wrong at the time

But its all good fun, and while you can do it, you are keeping your brain active.

I have found that I get very tired some days when I go for a walk round the riverside park, but I have noticed that if I find a nice wall or something to sit on, and just wait things like swans and ducks come and sit down by me.

This only happens on the quiet days, but the thrill and enjoyment is amazing, because you are allowed into the animals private world, and can take photos without worrying them or being worried about swans getting too close.

 I admit that I get worried at times when these large birds get close, but that's all down to my spacial awareness, but between us we are getting better, and in some way I feel accepted by them on these quiet days. Its amazing if a swan gets close enough and allows you to touch it, it gives a true feeling of peace and nothing can ever replace that.

I have seen king fishers down there but I am not fast enough to photograph them, nor do I have a large enough lens, but its still s thrill to try.

So please encourage people with dementia to do this as a hobby, or perhaps get a local photographer involved to see if they can inspire new people to get involved with this wonderful hobby.



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