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If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, like me, then your photography or your inspiration to go take photos may have waned with the colder, dreary winter weather. How can you stay motivated to keep shooting, especially if you are stuck inside? How can photography help your mental health? How can you give yourself a creativity boost?

Read on in this edition for ideas, activities, cheat sheets, and more!

Many people feel higher levels of depression and anxiety during the winter months. Will picking up your camera help battle those feelings?

In 2010 a team analyzed more than 100 separate scientific studies related to art and mental health. The results overwhelmingly demonstrated that art of all kinds are good for your psychological health. The art world is filled with positive life experiences which lower cortisol (the stress hormone), calming effects that give one peace of mind and improved self-esteem, and encounters that allow the participant a new perspective.

Art (whether as viewer or creator) allows areas on the right side of the brain to activate. As creativity flows through these areas, the change in brain wave patterns can actually increase serotonin levels (sometimes called the “happy chemical”), thereby changing the person’s outlook on life or even how they experience life.  Art can give one feelings of energy, focus, and what some call “being in the zone” where you become immersed in the moment (forgetting time and yourself). Others might say this experience is akin to meditation or a peaceful state of “zen.”

Ok, enough neuroscience… so what about photography? Should you pick up a camera?

Photography is an act of “play.” As a photographer, you play with light, angles, composition, genres, and subjects. Even if someday you want to become a professional photographer, there are no right or wrong ways to take a photo and you can enjoy the child-like sensation of enjoying every minute of it!

To read the rest of the article above:
Photography & Mental Health

Then keep scrolling, we have even more for you!
Follow us on Twitter or Facebook (click links above). Over the next month we will be sharing tips for photography with kids, some new videos, as well as tricks, tips and cheat sheets to help improve your photography.
In a rut? Don't feel inspired? Don't know what to photograph?
Let us take care of the ideas!

This is a sample from our Inspiration Calendar.
Try February for free and if you like it you can download a whole year from our Etsy page:
Fun Photography At Home

If you have not seen our videos on our YouTube Channel, here are two that offer ideas for photography activities at home. These are great for bad weather days or for keeping the kids occupied!
Photography At Home - Scavenger Hunt!
Easy Product Photography - Using Items You Have Around the House
Sometimes the best way to reignite your love for photography is a new piece of gear (a new lens, a new filter, a new gadget).

A new piece of kit does not have to be expensive. You can do some fun things with screw on filters for less than $10. You can try some macro with a set of extension tubes for under $20. You can get a new mini LED light for cool light effects for under $30. Do a search online for DIY photography hacks and you will find many free or dollar store ideas that will inspire your creativity.

If you decide to go for bigger dollar items, like a new lens or new camera, be sure to read our recent series of posts on Buying Camera Gear (links below). And check out the cheat sheet for lens abbreviations and download our full lens abbreviations guide for major brands.

DSLR vs. Mirrorless - Which Should You Buy?
How to Save Money on Camera Gear
Safe Camera Buying Tips
What is the "Best" Camera to Buy?
Types of Cameras
Photography Opportunity & Helping Birds at the Same Time!

One great subject no matter what the weather has in store is BIRDS! They are found almost everywhere and a little birdseed will bring them right to your window where you can happily snap away and stay warm. Join the Great Backyard Bird Count and count the birds you see to help track birds and their migratory patterns and get some photos at the same time!
Wintertime is a great time to work on composition skills!
Even when it seems like there is nothing to photograph, you can choose random subjects and work on improving composition. How can you make that dull, barren tree look interesting? Look for the best light, the best angle, and use photographic compositional tools like leading lines, negative space, or rule of thirds.

Here is a cheat sheet with a composition tool to try!

We also have some Composition practice available with our daily text message class (view more info at this link) and our Etsy package of Composition Basics (sold separately or in combination with the text message class).
For an update on Industry News including new cameras, lenses, and other information from camera manufacturers visit our News Page.

The current edition covers lots of updates on new cameras, lenses and more.

Several items in our Etsy store can give you ideas to beat the doldrum of bleak winter days. Try adding some color with our Creativity "Color" Cards!

You can preview the Creativity "Color" Cards we have in the image below.
The 10 card set is $6 and it's an instant download!!

Each card provides a color prompt/task, background on the topic and its history, suggested subjects, creative ways to complete the task, an inspiration gallery, hashtags for sharing, and pro tips with addition information via QR code links! These are not your ordinary cheat sheets or "topic/task" cards. You will learn tips and tricks, composition basics, and camera settings while improving your photography at the same time!
That wraps up this edition of our newsletter. If you have ideas for content or cheat sheets you'd like to have, suggestions for lessons or videos, or just general comments or encouragement, we'd love to hear from you!

There is one final "bonus" activity at the very bottom. It is our Boredom Busters activity that most folks got when they subscribed,  we are attaching it for anyone who might have missed out!

If you find our content worthwhile and would like help support our efforts, please consider "Buying Us A Coffee." Your contribution goes toward helping us make more content for our audience! Thanks for your support!
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