Lancaster school pupils see the bigger picture

Pupils from a Lancaster school have been experimenting with photography to help improve their mental health.

By Louise Bryning
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 3:45 pm

The results are on exhibition at Our Lady’s Catholic College this month and the photographs will be on public display at More Music in Morecambe from March 4 – May 4.

Brain Hacks was a project specially commissioned for a cultural and creative education programme run by Lancaster District Cultural Education Partnership(Culture Co-op); Lancaster University, Curious Minds and Lancashire Youth Challenge(LYC).

The project was led by professional photographer and former Our Lady’s pupil Ginny Koppenhol and involved 10 pupils from Years 9-11 and 6th form taking photographs on their smart phones of things which made them smile.

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The launch of the Brain Hacks exhibition at Our Lady's Catholic College in Lancaster. Project leader, Ginny Koppenhol is pictured second from right.

The students learned photography skills and creative techniques to produce 170 images for the exhibitions which they also helped to plan.

Brain Hacks aimed to try out the scientific theory that by finding ways to focus on the positives in life, people can improve their mental wellbeing.

“Whenever the young people noticed moments in their daily life that prompted some appreciation or made them smile, they then created images to represent that moment,” said Ginny.

“The hope is that it would encourage them to spend a little longer in that moment than usual, helping to strengthen that feeling. The longer term effect is that we can recognise these moments more easily and we will start to notice more of them and also, during tough times, we can more easily draw on these positive memories and see the bigger picture.”

Brain Hacks exhibition. Pup by Aaliyah Wright.

The students were asked to take photos every day for five weeks and among the creative ideas tried out were shooting pictures through toilet rolls, photographing boiled eggs in dramatic lighting and making themselves tiny while playing with perspective.

"Each week, the group produced a whole range of beautiful and creative images, everything from pets to people, from sunsets to shadows. Every image represented a moment of appreciation,"Ginny said.

At the start of each session, the young people shared their favourite photo with each other and explained why they had taken it.

At the end of the course, the pupils said the project had been a positive experience and made them more open to the idea that they can positively influence their mood.

Brain Hacks exhibition. Friendship by Ana Burgin.

A visitor to the exhibition at our Lady's commented that the photographic display was a wonderful way of expressing our journey to a better outlook on life.

*Entry to the exhibition launch at More Music on March 4 from 5.30-7.30pm is free but visitors are encouraged to book here

Brain Hacks exhibition. Pop by Charlotte Smith.
Brain Hacks exhibition. Reflection by Jess Wallbank.
Brain Hacks exhibition. Window light by Serenna Davis.