CoverIntroductionWellbeing and Its Importance in SchoolsWhat frameworks exist to promote school wellbeing?What is the best approach for my school/district?Valuable Tools and ConsiderationYour Call to ActionStudent Wellbeing InterventionsPositive Emotion Three Good ThingsCounting BlessingsEnvisioning Your Best Possible SelfUnderstanding HumorThree Funny ThingsOutdoor LearningBringing the Outside InBibliotherapyEngagementRecognizing and Utilizing Personal StrengthsARCS Model of CuriosityCarousel BrainstormingGenius HourPerspective Taking and Role-PlayArts IntegrationDrawing and Coloring TherapyCulturally-Enriching and Arts-Based Field TripsCulturally Responsive PracticesSocial Belonging InterventionEmotional Self-Regulation: RULER methodModeling Emotional Self-Regulation SkillsTeacher PraiseRelationshipsModeling Love, Kindness and ForgivenessActive Constructive RespondingDialogue JournalsSecret Strengths SpottingPeer Praise NotesActs of KindnessVolunteeringFast FriendsBuddy BenchMeaningEducating Students about Benefit AppraisalsGratitude LettersSavoring StrategiesTaking in the Good (HEAL)Mental Time TravelBrief Mindfulness ActivitiesMindful BellMindful BreathingBody Scan RelaxationMindful Walking/MovementFive Senses MindfulnessMindful PhotographyMindful Self-CompassionAccomplishmentFuture Thinking & When/Where PlansHope MapG-POWER Goal SettingEmbedded Self-Regulation StrategiesGrowth MindsetGrit and Deliberate PracticeDeveloping Students' Resilience and Coping SkillsHealth and VitalityHealthy Sleep HabitsClassroom Physical ActivityYogaCreative Playground EquipmentHealthy Body Image InterventionStudent-Led Health ProgramSchool-Led Interventions for Teachers and StaffSupporting Teacher AutonomyMindfulness TrainingCompassion TrainingHumor TrainingIncentivizing Physical ExerciseIndividual Interventions for School EmployeesPositive and Reflective JournalingSelf-Regulation and Coping StrategiesSelf-AffirmationSelf Compassion LetterDiscovering and Utilizing Character StrengthsJob CraftingMindfulnessAdditional Interventions to ConsiderDedicated Wellbeing SpacesIndividual Wellbeing Plans for School EmployeesOther ResourcesPROSPER
Addressing Wellbeing In Schools

Mindful Photography

Keywords: High school, Middle School

For the mindful photography intervention, students are encouraged to take pictures of things that are meaningful to them throughout the week. By reflecting on these photographs either through a writing activity, or by sharing them with their peers, students will find greater appreciation for the world around them and enhance their sense of meaning and purpose (Steger et al., 2013; Kurtz,2015). In addition to reviewing the activity information below, please visit the resource section for additional curriculum guides to assist you in implementing a mindful photography intervention (Kurtz & Lyubomirsky, 2013). 

Grade Level: 6th-12th
Materials: Each student needs a cellphone or digital camera (this activity may be most successful in secondary education classes)
Duration: One week, one 30-45 minute class session to share photos and additional out of class time

1. Introduce the activity and instruct students to take up to 5 photos throughout the week of things that are meaningful to them.

2.  You may also ask students to share some of these pictures with friends and family or share them on social media.

3. Have students reflect on the activity either through a writing exercise or through sharing and presenting to the class.

Does it work?

Most studies on mindful photography have involved college students, but could easily be adapted to middle and high schools students. In a 2015 study, 38 college students participated in a four session mindful photography intervention (Kurtz). Students were asked each session to spend 15 minutes a day to take three photos of different subjects such as campus, their friends, the natural environment, and what they found most meaningful to them on campus, respectively. They were also asked to participate in a counting blessings activity. Kurtz (2015) reports that students found the mindful photography activity more enjoyable, engaging and thought-provoking than a traditional counting blessings intervention. It was also found that mindful photography boosted students’ mood, appreciation, and motivation (Kurtz, 2015). In a similar study, 86 university students, asked to take 9-12 photos of "things that make [their] life meaningful" (Steger et al., 2013, p.28). After 1 week, the students shared and described their photos with the class. It was found that this mindful photography intervention increased life meaning, satisfaction and positive affect among participants (Steger et al., 2013).


Kurtz, J. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). Happiness promotion: Using mindful photography to increase positive emotion and appreciation. In J. J. Froh & A. C. Parks (Eds.), Activities for teaching positive psychology: A guide for instructors, 133-136.

Kurtz, J.L. (2015). Seeing through new eyes: An experimental investigation of the benefits of photography. Journal of Basic & Applied Sciences, 11, 354-358.

Steger,M., Shim,Y., Barenz, J. & Shin, J.Y. (2013).Through the windows of the soul: A pilot study using photography to enhance meaning in life. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Sciences, 3(1).           


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