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As part of FLOTSAM Festival 2024, RIPPLES will be a daily photography challenge with a unique art therapy twist.  Flotsam Ripples is a community photo project exploring ‘Blue Mind’ art therapy images that are captured, distributed and then projected on screens in locations across the city to reach those unable to make the trek to water themselves. This inclusive, all-ability project will launch during the festival with a goal to become an ongoing social initiative.

How It Works:

This community project will encourage participants to regularly take photos at any body of water – this could be at the beach, lake, or river. At these locations, the photo subject matter could be anything that provokes a feeling of gratitude. This could be the sparkle of sunlight bouncing off a river’s surface, or children’s footprints in the sandy shallows. Images are then submitted for inclusion, and a feed of submitted images will form a digital exhibition that is updated daily at locations chosen for their ability to reach audiences in need of uplifting visual cues or temporarily unable to visit blue zones themselves. This includes doctor’s waiting rooms, traffic lights, nursing homes, transit centres — the Ripples photo feed will be popping up across screens placed across the city.


How To Get Involved

From April 30, commit to taking a photo a day for one month and submit your images either by social media using the hashtag #FlotsamRipples or by uploading images to our dedicated Ripples gallery page (open April 30). There will be participation prizes awarded at random, but this is far from a contest  — these are just little tokens to keep motivation flowing, and there’s no judging or other mechanisms in place.

So what subject matter qualifies? Aside from being taken near a body of water, whatever helps you incorporate gratitude into a daily photography practice. Gratitude is a conscious, positive emotion one can express when feeling thankful for something, whether tangible or intangible. With photography, participants are literally able to focus on the things that light them up.

Depending on individual preferences, this could be through focusing on subject matter like:

Natural elements like wind and waves, sand, shells, coral, sea glass
Action like surfing, sailing, swimming or paddling
Activities like sandcastle building, sunbathing, sand dune restoration, beach cleanups
Sea creatures like starfish, crabs, mollusks, dolphins or whales
People interacting with any of the above

Be creative!

+ You can submit a single photo, or a series that will be displayed together

+ There is no limit to the amount of images you can submit

+ Selected individual submissions will be played on a slideshow paired with other images. Series submissions  can be screened together

Note: If you are photographing people, make sure you get their permission. Follow our guidelines for written permission on the submissions page.

Participant Benefits:

Ripples combines a daily challenge  – a tool commonly employed to rapidly improve a skill – with cultivating a regular gratitude practice. Practicing gratitude can have far reaching effects, from improving our mental health to boosting our relationships with others. In the past two decades, a growing body of evidence in the field of social science has found that gratitude has measurable benefits for just about every area of our lives – it’s one of the most powerful ways to rewire your brain for more joy and less stress. Meanwhile, photography as a leisure pursuit can serve as a form of mindfulness (or present state awareness), similar to meditation or “flow”, which brings many health benefits like calming the mind, providing relief from stress, depression and anxiety.  The project is designed to be inclusive – with photography as emotional communication, rather than photography as art, no prior experience with cameras or the photographic arts is needed. As participants are interacting with their own unique visual constructions of reality, it’s also accessible for people for whom verbal communication is difficult for physical, mental, or emotional reasons, as well as those in situations of social exclusion.



Viewer Benefits:

A key aim of the project is to exhibit a constantly updating gallery of imagery as a therapeutic visual tool. By intentionally encouraging participants to venture into ‘blue zones’ to capture their version of gratitude in visual form,  the project will deliver inspiring visual messages to audiences in need of a dose of hope and wonder.


Water As A Theme – For Participants and Viewers

Blue mind science is a modern term coined for the study of the health benefits of aquatic environments. However it’s not a new revelation that being near water connects to a bevy of health benefits. Research has long tied living on the coast to lowered anxiety and stress, and proximity to water has also been connected to even a longer lifespan. Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols, PhD, author of Blue Mind, coined the concept name to describe the calming benefits of water and being near it – including an improved sense of physical health and well-being, for example. And contact with water induces a meditative state that makes us happier, healthier, calmer, more creative, and more capable of awe.

“People can experience the benefits of the water whether they’re near the ocean, a lake, river, swimming pool or even listening to the soothing sound of a fountain,” Wallace Nichols said. ”Most communities are built near bodies of water not just for practical reasons, but because as humans, we’re naturally drawn to blue space…but even if you aren’t in an area where there is easy access to water, you can still experience [its] emotional benefits.”   Scientists are quantifying the positive cognitive and physical effects of just viewing an image of water or mentally visualizing water, too. “Water is considered the elixir and source of life. It covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, makes up nearly 70% of our bodies, and constitutes over 70% of our heart and brains,” says Nichols. “This deep biological connection has been shown to trigger an immediate response in our brains when we’re near water. In fact, the mere sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood flow to the brain and heart and induce relaxation.”



The Healing Power of Photography

Photography, as with most art practices, can help participants better express, understand and overcome. Therapeutic photography involves taking and analysing photos for the purpose of personal healing, growth, or understanding, whether done consciously or unconsciously. By actively constructing, exploring and reflecting on photographs, participants are able to learn more about themselves and how they see the world. In 2010, researchers analyzed and reported a summary of over 100 studies focusing on the effects of art on physical and psychological health in The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature.

A few of the positive ways visual art forms and expressive writing affect health included:

+ Art allowed them to express their feelings in a symbolic manner
+ Helped bring focus to positive life experiences
+ Opportunities to demonstrate continuity, challenge, and achievement enhanced self-worth and identity
+ Artistic self-expression can contribute to maintenance or reconstruction of a positive identity
+ Art reduced stress by actively lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol


Convinced yet? Commit to a month of shooting near water for the month of May. We look forward to to seeing your practice amplified during Ripples.



Flotsam Ripples
Photo: Ted Grambeau
Flotsam Ripples
Ted Grambeau

Flotsam Ripples


# Wed, May 1 12:00 am — 11:59 pm

# Thu, May 2 12:00 am — 11:59 pm

# Fri, May 3 12:00 am — 11:59 pm

# Sat, May 4 12:00 am — 11:59 pm

# Sun, May 5 12:00 am — 11:59 pm

# Mon, May 6 12:00 am — 11:59 pm

# Tue, May 7 12:00 am — 11:59 pm

# Wed, May 8 12:00 am — 11:59 pm

# Thu, May 9 12:00 am — 11:59 pm

# Fri, May 10 12:00 am — 11:59 pm

# Sat, May 11 12:00 am — 11:59 pm

# Sun, May 12 12:00 am — 11:59 pm


# Various

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