Confidence Through Photography – helping improve mental wellbeing – Amateur Photographer

March 12, 2022

Confidence Through Photography aims to help people with mental health problems, 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 people living with anxiety and mental health issues gain confidence and meet like-minded people. The group currently has 143 members and meets every 2 weeks in and around Coventry. This year the group plans to expand its activities with visits to Birmingham, Coombe Abbey, Leamington Spa, Stratford on Avon and include some indoor sessions in local church halls.

Creation of the group Confidence through photography

Neil said: “I created Confidence Through Photography because I felt there wasn’t much out there for people suffering from mental health issues who enjoy photography. We are a peer support group that focuses primarily on photography to help improve wellness. We usually meet at local cafes to socialize before going to take pictures. Every time we meet we focus on a different topic, such as architecture, nature and even night photography. We have had three exhibits of members’ work. We would love to do more in the future!”

neil catley

He started photographing nine years ago for the simple reason of getting out of the house, he started by 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 most importantly, be myself. When I’m stressed I go out with my camera and walk around Coventry city centre, it helps me a lot, it distracts me. Without photography, I would still be stuck at home and my confidence would still be low. Who knew it could be so powerful for health and wellness.

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I use a Nikon 7100 with a wide angle lens, most members use DSLRs, some use their phones. We also have spare DSLR cameras if anyone wants to use one.”

black and white door knocker by trust via photography member

Keith Brandon

Confidence Through Photography members Louise Price, Keith Brandon and Andrea White-Jones share their stories below:

louis price

Louise Price has had mental health issues for a number of years and joined the group 4 years ago. She commented, “It was more for me at the time, about meeting people and being out of my comfort zone.” Louise has also suffered from social anxiety, which made meeting strangers a very stressful experience.

“I found that helping Neil with the group really helped me, especially since he was being an inspiration by sharing his story. I started with my iPhone, which I still enjoy using in conjunction with my Panasonic camera. I prefer to take photos of buildings, particularly historic ones, as well as street and landscape photography.”

louis price

Keith Brandon

Keith Brandon joined CTP during the first shutdown two years ago after he was featured on Facebook. “At that time he was mentally struggling with not being able to leave the house, being in the risk category.” The first meeting he attended was an online meeting and it was some time before the group was able to meet in person.

“Having survived esophageal cancer and major surgery in 2016, I had lost the confidence and motivation to go out and take photos. Since joining the group, I’ve made new friends and discovered places I didn’t know existed. I also tried new photography techniques, night photography and looking at things from a new perspective. I enjoy street photography, historic buildings, and urban blight, as well as taking portraits. I am currently trying to teach myself how to use flash lighting creatively.”

Keith Brandon

Andrea White-Jones

“I have anxiety and the group helps me socialize with others, which has increased my confidence to take photos when I’m alone. Recently I have helped organize meetings, which is new for me. I take photos of almost anything, including The Woolly Folk of Coventry, which was created by my friend, who is also a member of the group. I love learning about the history of Coventry and I look forward to passing on my knowledge through the events I host.”

Andrea White-Jones

Learn more about the Confidence Through Photography group and upcoming events by visiting their Facebook page: Confidence through photography

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