There are so many benefits of photography on mental health, perspective and life! Time spent taking photos is almost like an alternate therapy, it helps people overcome anxiety, daily overwhelm and depression.
Photographers have the opportunity to truly see an environment. They must use basic photography techniques AND creativity to capture the scene before them, and make the most out of any situation.
Photography can have a positive effect on your well-being, boosting self-esteem, confidence, memory, and decision making. It helps you focus and calm the mind from the everyday hustle and bustle.
We asked fellow photographers to share their story of how photography helped them through a difficult time, or how it helps them today. Thank you to all of them for sharing the benefits of photography in their life, knowing it will help others!
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THE BENEFITS OF PHOTOGRAPHY ON MENTAL HEALTH, PERSPECTIVE AND LIFE
There’s a reason we enjoy landscape photography so much. When you spend time in nature, it increases life expectancy 5 years. And when you participate in something you have a passion for, you’ll experience less depression and anxiety.
Did you know that 20 minutes a day outside has the same effect as an antidepressant? Use your camera to focus on the present to help de-stress, de-clutter and calm your mind. You will see the positive effects on your health and happiness.
Here are the stories of fellow photographers sharing the benefits of photography in their lives!
Focus on Creating Something Beautiful with Photography
I never expected to pick up photography as a hobby, but in high school I took a class on a whim and fell in love. It was a film photography class, and I was enamored by the whole process.
I loved choosing my subject, thinking about the light, and deciding what kind of emotion I wanted to evoke in viewers. It was especially exciting with film since you couldn’t see it right away – you had to be patient, and wait for it to reveal itself.
That school year was a little stressful for me as I was struggling a bit with my mental health, and photography was an amazing release. I would forget about everything when I was out shooting or developing in the darkroom. My mind would be completely focused on the task at hand, and what I could create next.
I still get that same calm, centered feeling when I take photos. There’s something about turning something in your head into art; about capturing a moment that you can have forever. I love the concentration it brings, too – I’m able to shut out everything else and just focus on creating something beautiful. Kelsey – Sights Better Seen
Photography Inspires Exploration
I’m a domestic violence survivor. When I was still married, I wasn’t allowed to keep communication with old friends, use the internet, or even get out of the car if we took a trip. Once I got out, I started hiking and exploring every part of the world around me that sparked interest. I also created social media accounts to stay connected with the friends I thought I had lost along the way and make new ones.
Portrait Photography Helps Overcome Social Anxiety
As an introvert who struggles with social anxiety, taking a photo of a stranger used to be my idea of a nightmare! Street photography has always been one of my passions, but it’s taken me a long time to work up the courage to approach someone for a portrait.
Over time, I’ve learned that my camera can in fact be a terrific icebreaker. I never know how someone is going to respond to a portrait request – but nine times out of 10, I’m met with a glowing smile and a warm ‘yes’. Now, I always ask permission before taking a photo and show my subject the end result on my digital camera.
The biggest push I got to start experimenting with portrait photography came when I was living in Southeast Asia. I remember one morning when I was photographing a wet market in Kampong Cham in Cambodia. I was lurking in the shadows (as I often did), trying to snap a picture of a woman whose face was dramatically lit by the neon market lights. She spotted me, and motioned for me to come over – for a moment I actually thought she was going to scold me! Instead, she pointed at my camera and asked to see the photos. Together, we set up a perfectly framed portrait. Two of her friends wanted to get in on the action and after a few minutes, I had a queue of people waiting for a photo.
Portrait photography has helped me meet countless people on my travels and to be more confident in my everyday life. It’s a gift for which I’ll be eternally grateful. Emily – Wander-Lush
Reduce Stress and Anxiety with Photos
Photography is one of the most powerful mediums available to convey a message. “A picture’s worth a thousand words” as the saying goes. Images can evoke emotions, both negative and positive, and therefore, repetition of similar images can impact the way you feel in the short, medium and long term.
After suffering from severe work related stress at the age of 24 while in real estate and a subsequent work-related anxiety panic attack 3 years later, I discovered the power of images to heal.
After undergoing a 10 month self-rehabilitation, I discovered that by focusing on images of nature, whether within my own mind as well as actual photographs of nature, I could induce calm and decrease feelings or sensations of stress and anxiety.
What the mind focuses on is what your body subsequently feels. If we imagine or look at photos of stressed people, we will feel stress at some level. And if focused on enough and repeated often enough, these feelings can become an almost permanent state of being.
Which is why it’s important to focus on positive images, of nature, or of anything else that evokes positive feelings within you. This simultaneously reduces stress, while increasing positive feelings of calm, peace, love, compassion, connection, etc. Surround yourself with and focus on positive images and you’ll experience positive feelings. It really is THAT simple. Matt – Work Stress Expert
Connect to Your Surroundings With Photography
My mindful photowalks came about after I started menopause and learned that cortisol plays a big part in weight gain, anxiety and depression during menopause – a double whammy for women my age (and really not cool!).
After learning how being in nature automatically reduces cortisol and knowing how lost I get in my photography, I made a conscious decision to bring these together with some mindfulness and meditation. Despite using a camera or phone, mindful photowalks are about disconnecting completely from technology, so I can be more present (my phone goes on Airplane Mode, no calls from the kids or social media notifications).
It became about me connecting with my surroundings, often using five senses meditation to hear, smell and feel the texture of the natural landscape around me. Then, calming my mind and immersing myself in the experience of truly “seeing” by using visual exploration, looking for beauty in whatever form it takes.
Mindful photowalks help shift my focus away from any negative thoughts and those little daily stresses and just for a while, I get to focus on the positive energy of life and living things found through exploring with my eyes and camera. Gabby – Do More Be More
Appreciate the Extraordinary of the Ordinary Through Photography
Photography makes you see the world with different eyes. Not just because of situations or places that might otherwise be impossible for you to explore, but also because of the very angles of the photographs themself. Apparently boring objects or scenes from everyday life can become the focus and reap attention they would have never received before. Photographic series might even allow you to approach objects from different angles and to appreciate them in all their facets. This perception of parallax (seeing objects from different angles or perceptions) is such a powerful force of photography.
Nature Photography Heals the Soul
My interest in photography began at an early age when I was gifted my very own little pink 35mm Canon camera for my 15th birthday. I’ve always been fascinated with “picture taking” but it wasn’t until a recent drastic life change due to an accident that it became much more for me.
Just over five years ago I had a bad fall at home injuring my back. Most days it left me barely able to move, let alone work, without severe pain. I became home bound, secluded and very depressed. After several months I finally decided I needed to do something different in order to heal.
I had purchased a Canon Rebel T3 on sale roughly a year before this and had been slowly teaching myself how to use it. After my accident, it became my therapy of sorts. Both physical and emotional. It got me outdoors, moving, meditating, looking for beauty in the smallest of things, enjoying Nature, and learning to live in the moments and circumstances as they pass, because they pass so quickly and often are never experienced again.
In the beginning, I had no internet access at home so I started to travel to the local Tim Hortons to use their free Wi-Fi (and for a much needed caffeine fix, a small French vanilla cappuccino). The trips became a daily necessity and I traveled all around the local areas and back roads looking for new locations and photo opportunities.
I started joining several online photography groups where I made some very good friends who encouraged my hobby and offered support whenever I needed it. One very good friend in particular from the UK, Darren, became a huge influence and taught me a lot and I owe him so much credit for getting me to where I am at now with my photography. He has always been there to answer any questions I have and if he didn’t know the answer would research it himself and then take the time to teach me. It’s funny how people we never have met can be so supportive, inspirational and encouraging.
I love that photography has taken me outside of my walls and I’ve met so many wonderful people from all over the world because of it including many here locally. It means so much when someone recognizes me out and about and takes time out of their day to stop just to say hi or tell me they enjoy the photos I’ve captured.
I am still learning daily with my hobby, still healing, still growing and always chasing the next sunset. There is nothing I have found more soothing than to sit next to the Bay, listening to the sound of the waves as they gently kiss the shore, the echoing call of a Loon across water and to just watch and capture the everchanging colours of a sunset.
I think this quote from the famous environmental author Edward Abbey explains it best: “The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.” Nature photography heals my Soul. April – Soothing My Soul, Photography by April
The Power of Photography
When I started with photography, I was in a super busy corporate job and a very unhappy relationship. I didn’t have any hobbies that helped me to reduce stress, but I had a brand new digital camera. And no idea how to use it. So I participated in a basic photography course and then decided to give this new hobby a try. I realized how photography helped me to forget about the stress and pressure in the job. And it helped me to forget about this toxic relationship.
Relive Memories With Photos
We experience life with our senses. One of our greatest senses is our eyes. With them we learn about the world. We learn how to build, read, create, and express emotion on our faces. We learn about science, math and other things. But we also see the beauty of creation. The beautiful birds are fascinating. The wild big cats are fascinating. The amazing massive sequoia trees are breathtaking. The colorful dart frogs look like they are painted with bright shiny paint. The weird and amazing glowing deep sea creatures seem to be of another world. Flashing fireflies are magical. The list is endless. We are refreshed, awed, fascinated, intrigued, informed. We have fond memories of our favorite places and things we see. That is where the beauty of photography comes in. We can capture our creator’s beautiful works with our cameras. It takes us back to that moment instantly. It reminds us how fortunate we are the experience life’s beauty.
See the Beauty of the World Through Photography
Experts in a field see things differently to the common folk. The doctor and the mechanic see the different parts of the machine. Where everyone sees only one color, the painter notices different shades. The exact same thing happens to me thanks to the camera. Since I started taking photos, the world seems to have filled up with details and patterns. I notice the light, and the shade, and how a landscape can be differently beautiful with more of one or the other.
Macro photography makes me notice peculiarities. Photographing people makes me understand facial expressions better. Landscape photography makes me realize that each mountain, each field, each tree is different. Where I saw uniformity before, I now see a world of manifold beauty.
My travels would be completely different if I didn’t take photos of what I saw. I sometimes wonder which impression my backpacking trip through South America would have made on my soul if I hadn’t seen it also through the lens. Photography has broadened my scope more than I could have guessed, giving it depth and meaning. In a way, it’s made my travels –and my life– more complete. Anthony – Green Mochila
Process Grief Through Photography
My mom was killed in an ATV accident in January of this year. It happened while she was on our property in Texas. The next day I went to the location to find some closure. I took my camera, because that is what I do. I started by taking pictures of the landscape, and a rare event happened that day – it actually snowed! This is a rare event in Texas, usually only happening once each year.
Photography is a Creative Outlet
For years I felt lost. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, what was really important to me and at one point didn’t even know what made me happy anymore.
Then I got back into photography. I had learned film in high school, and decided to teach myself digital. All of the sudden the world opened up.
I knew I loved traveling, learning about other cultures, and experiencing another way of life. With photography I now had an outlet for it. I could capture these places in a beautiful, authentic way and share it with the world!
Not to mention, I fell IN LOVE with editing and the whole creative process. Editing photos is the greatest creative outlet I have ever felt. I could do it all day and not even notice the time go by!
Now I am finding new ways to travel the world while building up my photography business, blog and Instagram. I have found new purpose and fulfillment and will be forever grateful for it. Hannah – Bad Tourist Travel & Lifestyle Blog
Your Camera is the Ideal Travel Companion
Not all travel companions are an ideal fit—except for one: your camera. While photography preserves your travel memories, it also enhances your travel experience and shifts your focus.
I’ve found this to be especially true when traveling solo. I’ve traveled to couples’ destinations like Positano Italy, watched the sunset over Laguna Beach in California, and taken morning strolls along the Caribbean’s soft sandy beaches…alone. I’ve even stayed at 5-star hotels and eaten my breakfast alone.
Was I lonely? Heck no! I had my camera for companionship. Here’s why it works.
Rather than dwelling on solitude, when you have your camera in hand, you’re looking for the perfect shot; framing up the scene to share on social media; a voyeur to beauty all around you.
Photography requires you to step outside yourself and your emotions and take on a fresh perspective regardless of your personal circumstance. It forces you to bear witness to the larger world. And in doing so, you’ve discovered a perfect companion to lighten your mood, share your experience, and bring objectivity to every moment.
In fact, I can’t think of a better travel partner. (No offense to my significant other!) Jackie – Enjoy Travel Life
AMAZON Landscape Photography Books: