Confidence Through Photography – helping improve mental wellbeing
March 12, 2022
Confidence Through Photography aims to help people with mental health issues, using photography as a creative outlet. Founder Neil Catley tells us more about the group, and members share their stories.
Confidence Through Photography was founded by Neil Catley in 2018 to help those living with anxiety and mental health problems gain confidence and meet with like-minded people. The group currently has 143 members and meets every 2 weeks around Coventry and the surrounding area. This year, the group plans to expand their activities with visits to Birmingham, Coombe Abbey, Leamington Spa, Stratford on Avon and including some indoor sessions at local church halls.
Setting up the Confidence Through Photography group
Neil said, “I set up Confidence Through Photography because I felt there wasn’t much out there for people who suffer with mental health problems and who enjoy photography. We are a peer support group that mainly focusses on photography for helping improve wellbeing. We tend to meet in local cafes to socialise before going to take photographs. Each time we meet we focus on a different theme – such as architecture, nature and even night photography. We have had three exhibitions of members work – we’d love to do more in the future!”
He started photography nine years ago for the simple reason to get out the house, he started out going to the local park taking photos. Neil has a passion for street photography and anything that catches his eye. “Photography for me is medication. It’s part of my coping strategies it helps me relax, focus and more importantly be me. When I’m stressed I go out with my camera and have a wonder around Coventry city centre it helps me a lot it takes my mind of things. Without photography I’ll still be stuck in the house and my confidence would still be low. Who knew it could be so powerful for health and wellbeing.
I use a Nikon 7100 with a wide angle lens, most members use DSLRs, some use their phones. We do also have spare DSLR cameras if someone wants to use one.”
Confidence Through Photography members Louise Price, Keith Brandon and Andrea White-Jones share their stories below:
Louise Price has struggled with mental health for several years and joined the group 4 years ago. She commented, “It was more for me at the time, about meeting people and being outside of my comfort zone.” Louise has also suffered with social anxiety which made meeting strangers a very stressful experience.
“I found that by helping Neil with the group really helped me, especially as he was being an inspiration by sharing his story. I started with my iPhone, which I still enjoy using along with my Panasonic camera. I prefer taking photos of building, particularly historical ones, as well as street photography and landscapes.”
Keith Brandon joined CTP during the first lockdown two years ago after it popped up on Facebook . “At the time I was struggling mentally with not being able to go out of the house, being in the at-risk category.” The first meeting he attended was an online meeting and it was some time before the group could meet in person.
“After having survived oesophageal cancer and major surgery in 2016, I had lost my confidence and motivation to get out and take photos. Since joining the group I have made new friends and discovered places that I never knew existed. I also tried new photography techniques, night photography and looking at things from a new perspective. I enjoy street photography, historical buildings and urban decay, as well as taking portraits. I’m currently trying to teach myself how to use flash lighting creatively.”
“I have anxiety and the group helps me to socialise with others, which has increased my confidence in taking photos when I am out on my own. Recently I have helped organise meets, which is new for me. I will take photos of almost anything and everything, including The Woolly Folk of Coventry, which were created by my friend who is also a member of the group. I love learning about the history of Coventry and look forward to passing on my knowledge through the meets I organise.”
Find out more about the Confidence Through Photography group and upcoming events by visiting their Facebook page: Confidence through photography