Photo Safaris: The Key to Eliminating Stress

By Cammie Finch on September 18, 2014

You’re at school (aka Stress City). Your backpack is cramped with books. Your social calendar is bursting at the seams. You wish that you held the key to eliminating stress. Like a zombie, your legs move on autopilot as you rub the sleep out of your eyes and try to remember how you magically arrived at the correct classroom. You’re tired of inventing hours in the day. You wish there was a way that you could spice up your already hackneyed routine.

Lucky for you, there is—and all you need is a camera!

It’s time you took yourself on a photo safari. Named after African safaris, the concept of the photo safari is to capture the beauty of the urban jungle, all with a click of your camera. After all, the art of photography is firstly the art of seeing.

Bring the excitement back onto your campus—switch up your point of view, turn down a street with a name you can’t pronounce, and embark on a course of curiosity in your own school’s neighborhood. The basic principle is to observe and document the things that normally only make it into the background of shots of you and your ice cream cone (if at all). The best thing about photo safaris? You truly don’t have to be a “good” photographer. You just need an open mind.

With the world (especially your world on campus) being a big place, you might feel tempted to go completely shutter-crazy. But if you set off snapping every ivy vine, bicycle wheel, construction cone, or Hari Krishna that crosses your path, you’ll get no further than the Chem Building without falling into a creative panic.

Your imaginative powers will blossom, however, in inverse proportion to the size of the theme you give yourself. Be broad. Example themes are “yellow” (a display of honeydew melons or a cluster of  black eyed susans), “tiny” (dewdrops on grass, an army of ants) or “food” (everything from your mid-morning latte to a dropped apple core on the pavement). Here are more themes to get you started. No selfies allowed.

Play around with every button on your camera. Clamber onto bins and benches, flatten yourself on the ground, hang upside down from a tree branch. Stretch your body and your limits to capture all of the interesting angles.

Take a friend along—even take three. Split into pairs and make your photo safari a timed contest (take a peek at the Portland Grid Project for inspiration). You can compare shots and agree on a winner later in the day. Just have fun, de-stress and click away!

Come up with some stunners? Stick your project on your Instagram account for the rest of us to feel jealous about. Keep your project going! This is something you can add to throughout the year, whenever you have the itch for eliminating stress or boredom. By the time summer comes back along, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind memento of your year. And I’m positive that you won’t be able to walk to class again without noticing something that is snap-worthy.

Need some inspiration? Check out some projects that the pros have done. They are crazily creative!

Like this one!

Cammie Finch is a current student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, studying English and Creative Writing. She is an intern at the literary journal Midwestern Gothic, and a frequent volunteer at 826michigan, a non-profit writing center in the heart of Ann Arbor. She is passionate about the environment and sustainability, hula-hooping, tea, books, tap dance, the arts, linguistics, and children's imagination and development. And she somehow manages to get 8 hours of sleep every night!

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