Why Photography Is Great Training for Facilitation

I’m thinking of introducing a photo shoot into my coaching program for new facilitators.

Not in the studio with lights and heaps of gear. Street photography, with a camera in hand and the eyes of a keen observer, in the tradition of Dorothea Lange, Cartier Bresson, Diane Arbus and Garry Winograndor.

I think street photography it’s a great way to learn how to ‘read a room’ when you’re facilitating.

Just like on a street, there’s so much going on when you’re facilitating. Listening to different voices, holding the space, the pressure of time and juggling different priorities, to name a few.

It’s a huge advantage if you can read the room. Facilitating is as much about observing as doing.

📷 What’s happening in the corner?

📷 What does that tilt of the head mean?

📷 What’s behind the crossed arms, those raised eyebrows or that smile?

And it’s a bonus if you have eyes in the back of your head, as I must have when I snapped this kangaroo that hopped across the path - behind me - as I walked up Mount Ainslie in Canberra.


I’ve been told I have a good eye. I capture moments as they happen. Sometimes, like with this ‘roo, I’m not even aware of what I’m shooting until I see the image.

It’s only recently that I’ve seen how beneficial filmmaking and photography are to my facilitation.

I’m still exploring why, but I reckon it’s got something to do with being a ‘first class noticer’, a term coined by Saul Bellow in The Actual.

Photography is taught in schools. Wouldn’t it be great if facilitation was part of the curriculum too? Perhaps it is – let me know. It’s an essential skill for the workplace and, I’d argue, for life.

I think you can train your eye to see and observe better. As Dorothea Lange said:

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

Our smart phones make us all photographers. A photo shoot, with phones, might just be the thing for new facilitators.

What do you think? If you’re new to facilitation or just want to get better at reading the room, would you give it a go? I’d love to hear. Tell me in the comments below.


I love helping new facilitators build their confidence and expand their toolkit. Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat.