Hi, this is Dorota :). Last week we started the ONE IMAGE – MANY WORDS course on photography in coaching. I think that it is a great occasion to collect and share valuable insights from our group sessions with you. Today, it is about listening to the client, not watching their photos 😉
When we use client’s personal photos during a coaching session we do not comment or evaluate them based on artistic criteria. There is a better way to engage with the client. As coaches, we focus on personal meanings and insights from the photos. Not on the aesthetic qualities of the photos. For instance, we do not say that “it is a beautiful photo”. This would focus the client’s attention on what is not related to the coaching topic. Instead, ask about what is important in the photo or what was important in choosing and bringing this photo to the session, or how is it related to the goal of the coaching session.
The role of a coach is to create a safe and inspiring space for self-exploration for the client. Every second when a coach listens creates a second of self-reflection for the client.
That’s why we ask short, good questions and then, become listeners during a coaching session. And there are powerful coaching questions about photos that take people deep and far in their self-reflection. These powerful questions bring real value to the client who can find important answers. This is why people work with good coaches.
I hope you found this insight useful. If yes, you can leave your comment under this post, please. Thank you for reading this article and stay in touch! There will be more 🙂
Let me invite to a recent talk with Bara Belova from the Czech Republic. Bara is a coach and mentor, and a yoga teacher. She took part in the ONE IMAGE – MANY WORDS – Photography in Coaching course in August, 2020. I asked Bara about what fascinates her in photography and how it helps her to work with people in coaching. She shared many inspiring ideas! She also shared with generosity her insights about the course.
I’m grateful for this talk. I’m happy that I can share it with you.
Some inspiring ideas from Bara:
What fascinates me in photography is an immediate connection. Connection to the subconscious. Photography works like GPS for the mind. It allows you to go where it is safe to be. The picture that has so many things, so many stories behind. When I was preparing for the course, I looked at photo albums at home and it was funny to see how quickly I can remember things when I look at old photos. “O! gosh! I have this one. I remember it!” …
I’m a very visual person. I need to see things!
Photos also give you the time to reflect, to think. When a picture is stored in the mind, sometimes, people connect dots after a couple of weeks.
Whenever it is the right time, you connect to the right people and you take the journey. My personal situation brought me to your course right at this moment of time.
Bara joined the Polish taught edition as she can understand Polish very well. We spoke Polish and English during the course. And “we had photography – a connecting language”.
What was also great is the preparation for the course was important: I could answer many of my questions while I was preparing for the course.
A lot of beautiful processes. Great talks.
The answers are just around us. We don’t know. But our subconscious knows that already.
Dears, that you for reading this post and watching the video. Stay inspired. Listen to your inner voice, intuition, wisdom, and soul. Namaste! Dorota
😀 I’m happy about these three days spent together with you and your photos. For several years, in the last week of August, I have traditionally conducted the course on photography in coaching “ONE IMAGE – MANY WORDS”. It was a very inspiring time 💎 I’m thankful to you for your openness, courage, curiosity and mutual exchange 🔥
Some time ago, I followed my voice, dream, passion. I feel like I’ve come a long way with photography, and I’m still somewhere at the beginning.
One photo hides the whole story.
The Life Photo Album as a technique to work around your achievements, strenghts, supporting relationships in life and to plan next steps.
A photo as a Visual metaphor that helps to explain complex realities within us, such as feelings or emotions.
The Most Important Photo as a technique to work around your identity, values and current moment in life.
Taking photos as a technique to look for a new perspective on a defined coaching topic.
Our souvenir photo together. From the left: Olena, Marta, Joana, Marta, Bara and me, Dorota.
“A big power of photography is to keep people alive… In my heart, I still have them with me…. I can see a moment of joy when looking at the old pictures.”
“All people we meet in our lives influenced us. “Influences” – this could be a title of a family photo album as well.”
“You open an old photo album and you have all your friends with you. And you see who you became. I’m grateful. At my home, I have a lot of photographs of my friends and family members and it gives me a good feeling… it triggers many moments, times spent together. …”
I asked Tina about what was important in this course on photography in coaching:
“To realize what a photograph can really do.”
“We stopped time. We focused on a few pictures, on the essence, one image only. It was an eye-opener. A beautiful journey. Talking about things that nobody ever asks me. Today when we have thousands of photos, we talked about only one. A beautiful reduction.”
“And your questions that are so simple.”
“I learnt through you the importance of listening and asking.”
“And how important it is to focus on just one image, ask a simple question and really listen….”
Tina’s message to the people: “Trust yourself, don’t make too big steps, look at each other, trust each other, human connections are precious.”
It is so cool to have a dream and vision in life. And to go step by step the direction you want to go. No rush. You will get there if you follow the direction. I feel like I can say these words. Some years ago I started using photography that is my passion in my professional coaching practice. And I had the vision to share and teach about it to other professionals from all over the world. To connect and belong professionally regardless of nationality, country or culture. And I’m doing it. Last Thursday, on July 9th I made something really big. I hosted a large group of wonderful people from 23 countries at the “Photography in Coaching” webinar.
It was very moving to see all of us from so different places and cultures connecting, sharing and exchanging.
“When I read the list with so different countries, I start to cry…” – wrote one woman.
Yes. It was really special, inspiring, energizing. And I felt that my dream is coming true. People connected from Brasil, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, Uruguay, USA.
I’m grateful to all the people who joined the event and co-created it with me.
Moreover, it made me think that one of the strongest needs that we have as humans and which drives us through our lives, is to belong, connect, be together. In the times of isolation, this need prompted us to connect regardless of obstacles like closed borders, no flights or public places open, mental barriers to show up online. We are so creative, adaptive, and open.
May those strengths help us to build an accepting and protecting place for all the creatures on our planet. That’s my dream.
I’m very excited and happy to invite you for a free webinar on Photography in Coaching. 🚀Date and time: 9 July, at 4 pm CEST time. Agenda: 🔴 What it is really “photography in coaching” 🔴 A unique value created by clients’ photographs in coaching 🔴 Examples of techniques with clients’ photos in coaching 🔴 Examples from my real-life practice
😀 About me: I’m Dorota Do Raniszewska 😀. I’m an Accredited Coach and Mentor – EMCC Senior Practitioner. I’ve been developing my practice of photography in personal growth since more than 10 years already and my experience includes coaching, team facilitation, personal growth programs, teacher education. My course on photography in coaching is approved by the ICF for 18.5 CEE. I’m the author of a unique book in this field “ONE IMAGE – MANY WORDS. Photography in personal development, healing and education. Notes from a personal journey”, available on Amazon.
Hope to see you on 9 July with full energy for this inspiring meeting 👌, Dorota Raniszewska
Dears, photography is a way to calm yourself and return to a state of internal harmony by focusing your mind on observing the world around you, creating images, framing, moving … Notice that when you are busy taking pictures, you don’t think about the future. Your mind is busy and you are now and here. So take a walk outside or inside, move slowly and mindfully, stop here and there, breath, enjoy the sunshine or the rain, light and shadows, create, feel gratitude for the moment. Positive emotions and the state of flow are healing. The level of cortisol drops down while doing art.
Wishing you all the best! Dorota Raniszewska – Coach
“I’ve run three times since the last session, I have it in the picture and it encourages me.” – one of the clients in life coaching.
How important can image and photography have for coaching if words are very important in coaching? The “Wonderful Ear” coach is the one who is present, consciously listens, hears. He hears words, breaths, sighs. He can hear silence. He listens to the customer. And he asks powerful questions.
Next to him sits a client who looks into his soul, listens to himself. The great value of coaching is that a person can listen to themselves and be heard.
But there are many pictures deep inside his soul. Because our long-term memory saves a lot of information in the form of image — and because our language uses the image as a metaphor to explain complicated or abstract concepts, feelings and emotions, the client often sees images when he thinks and looks for answers.
For example, a coach asks: Who are you, then? And the client replies that he floats like a bird on the wings of freedom, or that he boldly follows his path.
And just like the questions, the echo, the expressed feelings of the coach stimulate the client’s thinking, so do the photographs provide material for the thinking process. When I use clients’ personal photos in coaching, they work on their illustrated resources, materialized memories.
The visual channel of perception and communication is correlated with the need for tangible facts to recognize that I achieve something, that something really happened, or that I am right. It also allows you to better explain complex issues, because it reflects the relationship between their elements.
During the coaching session, the client can listen to himself and — thanks to photographs — he can see images illustrating his thoughts and feelings.
What does his independence, closeness or courage look like, for example? Contemplating a photo and telling about it holds a person in deepening insight and broadening perspective. This develops the inner feelings of the topic and increases the chance to get emotionally closer to your desire.
What’s more, when a client finds the effect of their own aspirations in a photo during a session, it means for the brain that the implementation is already happening. It is not only in the imagination, but also in current experience. In this way, the use of photography strengthens the motivation to act.
Using photographs in coaching, I ask questions to them. Powerful questions for photos, such as:
What is important in this picture?
To make this picture perfect, what will you change on it?
I will give an example of one of the last sessions with the client.
The goal of the session was to believe in yourself. It was in a specific context. She stated that at the beginning of the session she believes in herself at 50%, and she would like to believe in herself at 70% as a result of the session.
At some point, as she has already mentioned a number of things that she knows and believes about, such as being hard-working and systematic, I suggested that she look at her profile picture:
What is important to you in this photo? I asked.
She said that what is important in this photo is that she took it herself when she wanted to, and that in this photo she is in a car that she drives. This was not visible, but it was the most important thing. Then we touched the point, which was independence. And this independence, in which she had no faith, was already in the picture, she could tell about it, set an example when she experiences it. She realized this, though at first in disbelief. Tears appeared in her eyes. We talked about the values she wants to live and the goal she pursues.
Profile pictures are placed quite consciously, and behind each such picture is a decision, something we know about ourselves, feel or want to be present. That is why they are a great source of knowledge about ourselves: what we want, how we want to live, what is important to us, who we want to be. They are excellent in career coaching or leadership. The inspiring thing is that in the profile picture we see something tangible about ourselves. And this can be a big find. A portrait is an invitation to become what we want to be.
Customers’ own photos — those from their lives, as well as portrait and profile pictures — are useful in working on identity, authenticity, public, hidden and authentic self, life change and development direction. They let you realize your strengths, powers, resources and achievements. “I can see how much I have already achieved and that I am heading in a specific direction. It’s encouraging. ” – words of a client with whom I recently worked on the album of life.
What is important about taking pictures? That we store or destroy them? We show them to children, send them to family from holidays? … What is important in that we take a selfie on a mountain top or on the ocean shore? What’s important is that our LinkedIn profile “must” have a “good” profile picture? What is important about taking hundreds of photos of our newborn babies?
I think taking pictures is a largely modern way to talk about your life, and that’s what we just need. Through a moment to stop the moment. Once the chroniclers wrote the chronicles. Famous figures write down memories and diaries. And we all photograph every day.
I think that as long as photography accompanies people in everyday life, it makes sense to use it in development and coaching processes. Because there are our moments of reflection, sensitivity, and important information.
That’s why I support multi-session coaching processes by taking photos and writing a coaching journal. And that’s why I would like to mention the pictures that are created between sessions when the client is actively experimenting with the change.
One of the clients wanted to control her constant haste. The rush she had in her head still made her feel tense and it was difficult for her to focus on more demanding activities. I suggested that she watch the time. It was one of her tasks between sessions. I didn’t say how to do it, she was just supposed to watch time.
For the next session she brought photos in which there was sourdough for bread and plants in a pot. To watch the time, she planted flowers and bred sourdough. She photographed the effects of her work and stuck the photos into a coaching journal. I was really delighted and touched by the work she did.
I asked what she had learned through this. She said that now she knows that she can stop and accomplish something in the long run – decide, focus on it and be consistent. In that she took pictures, I can see her commitment, dedication and celebration. And something more. There is something poetic about it because photography stops time. And she just caught it, stopped it, watching her.
“Do not run too fast through life, because the best things happen to us when we least expect them.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Dorota Raniszewska, firstname.lastname@example.org, photo-in-coaching.com, coach, author of the book “ONE IMAGE – MANY WORDS” available on Amazon.com
One of the training participants is Lars Neumann. Lars is a photographer and he works on personality in the portrait. Below I shared the link to some of his works: https://www.mylightphoto.de/mylightgallery/. Lars noticed that taking someone’s portrait is not only about photography and art but also the interpersonal development for both, the photographer and the person being photographed. Being a coach, I can add that the portrait and especially, a self-portrait is a very powerful technique in Photography in Coaching. It is especially useful in working on one’s values, identity and vision of the future. In my book I wrote that: “The portrait is an age-old topic of discussion. We’ve all had our portrait taken, in one way or another. Kings, queens, aristocrats and celebrities have all had their portrait done, like a painting or a photograph. To have one’s portrait taken often presupposes that it will be charismatic, representing a paragon or idealized vision of oneself. A person settled in their environment, within their role of wife, mother, artist, soldier or dancer. This is where I’d like to propose a different perspective on portraiture. In other words, a portrait that is a reflection of the self and helps a person understand him or herself. A portrait as a medium that allows us to look at ourselves through someone else’s eyes.” – “ONE IMAGE – MANY WORDS. Photography in personal development, healing and education, Notes from a personal journey.” (Kindle edition, Amazon.com).
✨Imagine a client comes to you and sais: I can’t put it in the right words but since you use photography in coaching, I took a few pictures after our last session to show how I progressed. I’m sure you will understand. This happened to me yesterday! ☺️ I was very impressed by what she showed to me. And I decided to write about it because it can be inspiring to you. At the end of our session three weeks ago, I suggested to my client to start observing time. Her life challenge is to be able to pause, to stop feeling constantly on a hurry. Yesterday, she came to the session and first, she opened her coaching diary (I usually ask my clients to have a coaching diary during the process). I saw several photos inside, that represented plants and bread. What is on these photos? – I asked. By the way, this is an example of a good coaching question about a client’s photo. “I planted flowers at home and baked bread.” “What was important in it for you?” – I asked another question. “I always dreamed about having flowers at home but never had time for it. The same about the bread. – there was a time, I used to make my own bread but with time, I forgot about it. In the last weeks, I observed flowers and took the time to bake my own bread.” “How do you feel about it now?” – I asked again. “I have satisfaction. And I feel joy and calm.” I hope you will find it useful and inspiring about using photos in coaching! Do Raniszewska