New Forest photographer tackles mental health with photography

A NEW forest photographer encourages people to feel inspired by nature and to use photography as a way to help mental health.

Independent administrator Claire Sheppard “rediscovered her passion” for photography during the first national lockdown in 2020.

Since then she has shared her photographs with the New Forest and wider Hampshire community and is keen to show the positive effects of her favorite hobby.

Claire Shepard

The 49-year-old from Fordingbridge said: ‘During Covid I’ve had all this time to think ‘what do I want to do? and I realized that life is too short, so do it.

“I started photography in my late teens but then life took over. I rediscovered my passion for it and created Bramble and Beach in August 2020.

“I always wanted to share my work but I didn’t have the courage to do it, but my friend told me I had to go and it took off. It was amazing.

“I have three children and life has been busy. It was tough when they were younger, but I think if I had done more photography back then it would have really helped me.

“Going out into the New Forest and taking pictures is like mindful walking for me.

Daily Echo: photo by Claire SheppardPhoto by Claire Sheppard

“When you look into the lens, you don’t think of anything else and focus on that exact moment. You walk away completely and think of nothing else.”

Two of Claire’s children are teenagers and she says she’s noticed the impact social media can have on people’s lives, especially young adults.

Daily Echo: Claire Sheppard with her three childrenClaire Sheppard with her three children

She said: “The pressures of social media and looking good are there.

“I’m starting to think more young people should get in touch with something like this, by going out into nature and taking pictures.

“Social media is about how people look, but I think if young people get out a little more and get more creative, that will help.

Daily Echo: photo by Claire SheppardPhoto by Claire Sheppard

“They might walk away from technology and go out and feel like kids again. It makes you feel good and takes you away from everyday life.

“Also, teenagers can become more creative and be a part of something. I want nature photography to be seen as a natural and cool thing to do.”

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