Radiate Arts recently ran an outdoor photography workshop for ex-army veterans in partnership with The Armed Forces Covenant Fund's 'Positive Pathways Programme'.
The course called 'Creative Freedom' saw participants roam the beautiful landscape of mid-Wales, taking photographs along the way. The aim was to increase physical and mental wellbeing, and was spread out over three days in the beautiful hillside of mid-Wales.
Words by Darren Hackshall, Local Guide
When we were invited to be part of this project, I have to admit that I was quite nervous about meeting with the participants and maybe saying the wrong thing which may upset someone. All my fears were allayed immediately upon meeting these wondrous people, so warm, friendly and approachable too.
After a briefing about the day ahead, some technical advice from Joe (our expert photographer) regarding the cameras and the obligatory coffee and cake, we headed for the hills.
The area we walked for day one, has for over three years been a goal of mine to lead a photographic walk there, it lends itself beautifully to all aspects of photography, we had perfect weather to accompany us too. Sun, rain, hail, amazing clouds with the odd roll of thunder and a flash of lightning, set amongst the stunning backdrop of The Cambrian Mountains.
I am not sure I could convey on paper the feeling and emotion experienced by guiding the group to the various locations throughout the day, witnessing their excitement and the way they reacted and used their growing technical knowledge to capture what will surely be some lovely images
As we walked into the area, everyone relaxed, we walked, we talked, the guys took photos of what they saw, and composed some lovely images. Joe was on hand to offer first class advice if the image captured wasn’t the same as the view being seen, adjustments made, and more images taken. Knowing the area, the time in hand and what was ahead, I guided the group deeper into the wilderness to their delight.
It truly was a very humbling experience for me to be able to see all the guys relax and really absorb the location and immerse themselves into the spirit of the day. I had some great chats with Dai and Mark regarding their history and involvement with Change Step and about how they go about their mentoring roles, which enabled me to engage with Bentley and Bledd without fear of upsetting them.
I am not sure I could convey on paper the feeling and emotion experienced by guiding the group to the various locations throughout the day, witnessing their excitement and the way they reacted and used their growing technical knowledge to capture what will surely be some lovely images. We all still have an ‘inner kid’ in us, and we all showed that part of our soul at some stage during the day. I said to Joe as the guys snapped away, that we’d had all the ingredients come together and we were baking the perfect cake, he agreed. The walk ended with a rain shower but certainly didn’t dampen our spirits one bit.
The evenings spent at the Bunkhouse were just a continuation of the days for me, blissful. Good conversation, emotional at times and definitely heartfelt by all. The VR that Mark set up was a great escape for all, I took a tour of Everest in my own front room, and made it out of the elevator too !!
I said to Joe as the guys snapped away, that we’d had all the ingredients come together and we were baking the perfect cake, he agreed. The walk ended with a rain shower but certainly didn’t dampen our spirits one bit.
Day two was again good weather, so we headed to two local locations for a more detailed look at the art of photography in a closer setting. The group were given more advice and off they went to capture what they wanted. We had another superb lunch at the Caffi Clywedog and then headed to the reservoir for the most beautiful afternoon walk over The Dragons Back. After some portrait photography by Joe, Bentley captured some video too.
The peaceful setting and amazing views this walk has, allowed the group to just relax, and talk. To wander at will with the odd photo taken, it really was a great way to end two days of guiding for the group.