‘Smile!’ – The Mental Health Benefits of Photography

The mental health benefits of photography will go under the lens of this year’s Perth and Kinross Mental Health Wellbeing Festival.

Blairgowrie-based Kelly McIntyre of Kelly McIntyre Photography is hosting a free session at the festival, highlighting her own mental health journey and the impact ‘mindful photography’ can make.

mindful photo

Supplied by Kelly McIntyre Photography.

Hosted by Perth charity Trauma Healing Together, the free weekend festival will return to Perth Concert Hall on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 August 2023.  Now in its third year, this year’s theme is ‘Mental Health for All: Promoting Inclusivity and Connection’, aimed at breaking down the barriers people face when seeking or accessing support.

Kelly, a certified Mindful Photographer through Look Again, believes the concept can make a huge impact on wellbeing.

She explained, “I got into outdoor swimming four years ago and found real joy in that. When I went outside and connected with nature, everything lifted. I lose myself in the beauty of nature. It inspires me, gives me clarity and settles my spirit. So I started to spread the word and got others involved. Now I’m taking that love and that passion, and turning it into something else. There are so many ways that being in nature is good for you. Adding in photography and being with people is a way of exploring that connection together.

“More than anything, mindful photography is about slowing down, being in the moment and really looking at what’s around us. Life is so busy that we don’t have, or take time, to bring our awareness to the present moment. It isn’t about photographic technique or equipment. It’s letting go of those expectations and maybe even exploring them, seeing how we can use our camera or smartphone as a tool towards enhancing our wellbeing, experiencing the process of creating photographs in a non-judgmental way, with gratitude and compassion.  By practising mindful photography, people can then bring that into other areas of their life, encouraging self-awareness and self-discovery.  It also leads onto discussions around feelings, thoughts and emotions which might be holding them back. It’s also just a great way to get out, enjoy the outdoors and meet new people.”

mnindful photo 2

Supplied by Kelly McIntyre Photography.

Roxanne Kerr, festival organiser and founder of Trauma Healing Together added, “While mental health is undoubtedly a serious subject, that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun supporting each other. Mindful photography is just one of the activities which is available locally and which people can tap into to relax, focus and meet new people. We’re looking forward to shining a light on this and many other activities people can enjoy right here in Perth and Perthshire.”

mindful photo rox and Kel

Roxanne Kerr and Kelly McIntyre. Supplied by Kelly McIntyre Photography.

With a programme of activities, talks and workshops taking shape to attract anyone struggling with their mental health and wellbeing, Perth and Kinross Mental Health and Wellbeing Festival will celebrate and showcase everything from arts and crafts, a silent disco and all-ability fitness to art journalling, while also tapping into local support for autism and trauma. There will also be a programme of ‘Connection Cafés’ across Perth and Perthshire, connecting local people with the myriad of agencies and charities operating locally over coffee and cake.

This year’s festival is funded by the Scottish Government’s Perth and Kinross Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund and Perth and Kinross Council’s Community Investment Fund.

Perth and Kinross Mental Health and Wellbeing Festival is organised by Trauma Healing Together with support from All Strong,  Change Mental Health, Linda’s Ladies,  Live Active Sport, Kelly McIntyre Photography, MoveAhead, Perth Autism, Perth Minorities Association, Plus Perth, Stephen Lyon Organisation, Endometriosis UK Dundee Support Group, Project Forte, ESOL, Trinity Church, Mindspace,  SCARF, Starting Step, and Vitality Me.

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For more information about Kelly’s new mindful photography sessions, email