You know what I did about a year ago? I drafted a blog post pursuing the idea of using photography as a type of therapy. I never got around to fleshing out that draft, but given our current state of affairs, now seems like maybe a good time to bust this one out.
Can photography be therapeutic as a sort of mindfulness activity where you’re focused on things in the immediate present? Or does looking at your world through a lens remove you too much from the moment?
Focus On Healing
Looking back through my photos over the years, I started to lament the passing of time and good memories, and also how I used to enjoy photography a lot – I was so into it! I’m sad that I’ve lost some of that enjoyment, the passion of the hobby. The few times I seldom focus on photography, I really enjoy it. The embers get fanned into flames again, but for a short time. It makes me consider re-focusing on photography as a more full-time hobby.
I find in photography a tangible way to “get out of my head” and get into nature, the great outdoors. The camera is a tool that causes me to look and see what’s around me. It makes me study a scene, the subject, the lighting, the shadows, the little details. I think you could say it makes me mindful of the moment.
The camera is like a mindfulness tool. It sharpens my eyes while also giving me another eye through which to see the world. Yes, to some degree, I think photographing a moment removes me from it. But then again, I’m still involved with the moment. Instead of an active participant, I’m an observer. And I’d say I’m an active, not a passive, observer. Rather than being in the moment, I’m around or about the moment. I’m seeing it from a different angle, in a more mindful mode.
This mindfulness via camera seems to me like it could help deflect worry because by focusing on external objects – like a flower – I’m not dwelling, brooding, or ruminating on internal concerns.
Let me interject a caveat here about generalized anxiety disorder, which is an order of magnitude worse than worry. While I think a hobby, especially photography due to its inherent trait of observing the world outside of you, can be a good way to decrease worry, I don’t think pursuing a hobby is a cure for an anxiety disorder. Having suffered seasons of terrible anxiety and panic attacks myself, seeing a counselor, taking medications, etc, I empathize with those who suffer likewise. Each person is different, and mental health issues are complex. I can’t blanket cure such issues with a camera. Hope that makes sense.
Having been through debilitating anxiety episodes, I’m all too familiar with worry. For me, among the many aids that carried me through my anxious seasons, I think photography is a nice means to interact with nature and lessen the tendency and severity of worry.
My hope is that this seed of an idea finds fertile ground. Maybe a test or study could be undertaken that offers photo-walks, for example, as a way to introduce people to a potential means of enjoying life more rather than worrying about it. I’m using Rich Mullins’ words here, “There’s so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see. Everywhere I go, I’m looking.”
Can photography be a form of therapy for some people? I think so. Just being outside in nature is helpful. The camera is a way to focus on nature even more (pun not intended by happily embraced).
What do you think? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!
2 thoughts on “Photo Therapy”
Oh man, I’m with you here, photography as a way of life!
LikeLiked by 2 people
I know it’s not for everyone, but I’m fond of photography. I like working a scene, taking time to get to find the angles, work composition, explore the light and shadows, discover new shots, and enjoy the beauty of nature. Call it the Zen of the craft.
LikeLiked by 1 person