Happy Snappers 02

Black Circle with Utensils Restaurant Logo
Reading time: 7 minutes
1 Mad Idea & lots of courage

What’s this all about then?

 

Happy Snappers Adelaide is an interesting & unique initiative, revolving around Mindfulness & Photography.

Basically, it’s a wellness activity utilising the benefits of regular time in nature, some safe social interaction, a good liberal dose of creativity through the use of a controllable camera, accessing a state of Mindfulness easily through deep observation & thought about what is being captured & how that can be expressed in an image creatively.

It can be undertaken by anyone, regardless of income level, isolation, lifestyle, frame of mind, level of illness, access to NDIS funding, or any other potential hindrance to accessing this well-being activity as it costs just $5 a week to participate, with that covering the expense of transport for the weekday groups.

 

That guy with cameras wants you to play!

 

Alex Mausolf, the founder of Happy Snappers Adelaide has a lived experience of complex mental health challenges in his life. Digital photography has allowed Alex the opportunity to experience Mindfulness regularly & easily, it has also been a huge part of his journey to recovery. Sharing this experience of well-being with others on a purely voluntary basis is a driving passion for him. That there be true equity of access to this activity for all people is important to him.

Alex is an award nominated photographer, is a documentary filmmaker & has a past history of providing training through WEA & TAFESA adult community education units. He is a Social Innovator, was a Lived Experience Representative for the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, & he was an invited speaker about the unique Happy Snappers initiative at the 2018 TheMHS Mental Health Conference. He is a vocal & active advocate for better mental health treatment & rights for those living with mental health challenges in their lives through a variety of means.

Alex is accompanied & supported by his large & friendly Assistance Dog in-training at all times. She is currently going through the long & formal training process to become his publicly accredited Assistance Animal, but she has the legal right to go everywhere with him apart from places of food production & places where surgeries are performed.

From early days

In the establishing stages, the focus on offering this unique & voluntary service solely to those that experience mental health challenges shifted to offering & delivering this to the broader community as a regular well-being activity & immersion in Nature, in conjunction with some gentle social interaction. Interestingly enough though, it turns out that most all of the participants identified in their own way as living with various aspects of mental health challenges or experiences in their own lives!

Simple guidance in the use of a digital camera can allow the user the ability to experience mindful photography, leaving the world, its intrusions & distractions behind as they immerse themselves in observation, exploration & stillness. Through the use of a digital camera, you are given a myriad of opportunities to express yourself visually. Things like being able to select how much of an image is in focus, how the light will play on the scene or object, the ability to zoom in on something, & much more is offered by a controllable digital camera. These are things that a mobile phone can not really offer. Studies have shown that this is an easily accessed state of being through the use of a camera.

Sharing his passion, enjoyment and excitement for photography through simple explorations of many techniques, styles & methods will surprise the participants in what they can achieve even if they have never picked up a camera before in their lives! Nurturing this learning & exploration of photography within the participants is assisted through the use of a broad range of cameras & equipment, with them ranging from larger DSLR’s to the smaller & much lighter Micro-Four-Thirds format cameras.

Inside activities are arranged easily & quickly if poor weather is too big a challenge to head outside, such as when it’s too hot or too wet.

 

Evolution

As time has marched on & the initiative has adapted to meet the needs of the participants, things have changed a little. The beauty of this initiative basically being just this slightly eccentric guy with cameras working with local community centres has made this an easy, fluid & natural process.

In 2019, there was an investigation into creating a management committee, so that Happy Snappers could become a charity in its own right. This would have offered the benefit of being able to apply for grants & other funding sources, receive charitable donations & a couple of other things. That has since been abandoned as it is far easier to work in tandem with local community centres & groups, even when it comes to applying for grants, as they can be auspices for that process, as long as they are not applying for the same type of funding.

The first venture in this sort of regard was with Artworks Inc. Community Art centre, where rather than providing auspices for Happy Snappers, they applied for & received a grant from the City of Onkaparinga. This resulted in an Artworks driven program that is working with Happy Snappers to deliver a two term program in Mindful Photography & image editing, the culmination of which is an exhibition of the participants professionally printed & framed works.

Going forward, this means that the process of actually working under the auspices of local community entities can happen pretty easily, thanks to being an external part of the process for this program, allowing an insight into the machinations of such things. The potential to focus primarily on mental health & the expression of experience through photography is an exciting possibility that Happy Snappers looks forward to exploring with its participants!

 

Ethos

  • To provide an easy & safe exploration through digital photography, allowing the experience of Mindfulness.
  • To act ethically, honestly & with the utmost integrity towards the participant at all times.
  • To make accessible & create opportunities for Mindful experiences through digital photography regardless of financial ability or constraint.
  • To provide the opportunity for individuals to learn about & participate in digital photography, even if they do not have the potential to possibly own any photographic equipment.
  • To be known & respected as a driving & innovative force for the promotion of beneficial & meaningful experiences through digital photography.
  • To build & foster a community & culture of like minded people.
  • To be involved in & create a positive impact within local communities.
  • To enable personal growth, learning, self improvement, & positive change whenever possible through the above.

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There's More!

Evidence 03

A Psychologist shares insight into Mindful Photography

Evidence 02

A photographer reflects on their experiences of Mindfulness.