Therapeutic photography and how it can help you

Discover the joys of therapeutic photography for your mental health and wellbeing.

Art of all kinds has long been known to help us in our daily lives. When we struggle with our mental wellbeing, the creative arts can help to calm our busy minds, give us an outlet for our emotions, and provide us with a sensation of being able to do something for ourselves - however small.

Photography, specifically, can be incredibly beneficial for our mental health. In a hectic world, it can be hard to see how something we enjoy so much, and perhaps even do for a living, can help with our mental wellbeing. But picking up a camera could just be the key to feeling that little bit brighter - read on to find out more.

What is therapeutic photography?

Therapeutic photography allows you to use your photos for wellbeing or personal healing purposes. Photography is great therapy for many of us, whether we know it or not. Photography has a number of therapeutic benefits linked to our mental health, as it helps us showcase our creativity, allows us to detach from otherworld responsibilities and improves our mood.

The benefits photography on mental health

The Time to Change campaign looks to raise awareness over the representation of mental health images in the media.

Mental health photography ideas

Combine your photography with creative writing and allow yourself some release. Many photographers pair their work with descriptions of the shot or their experiences on location. Of course, your creative writing can showcase both your positive and negative experiences. You may find that during what has been an incredibly tough year, that writing about your lockdown experiences along with your photography can be great therapy.

Recently, many photographers have sought to remove the stigma of mental health with their work. Time to Change, a campaign that was backed by Stephen Fry encouraged editors within the media to use alternative images to accompany stories related to mental health.

You can explore your own methods of therapeutic photography with some ideas that demonstrate the importance of mental health in photography, including:

Photography to relieve anxiety

You will have heard the word “mindfulness” mentioned a lot over the past few years. The practice of consciously partaking in an activity can have similar benefits to meditation, which is what mindfulness is all about. Photography can be an act of mindfulness in itself - when you are behind the camera, you will be in a flow which allows you to focus your energy not on your outside concerns, but solely on the moment and task at hand. When you emerge from your photography session, you can feel calmer and more present than when you began, which can help enormously in any difficult situations you may encounter across your day.

Boost your confidence through photography

When we suffer from depression, anxiety, or any other number of mental health challenges, our self-esteem plummets. We can feel as though we have nothing to offer, and that we are not achieving as we should. If it is difficult to get out of bed, how can we take pride in anything else?

Grab your camera! Choose a good day and allow yourself to sink into a photography session, no matter how short. Not only is this good for helping you tackle that feeling of not being able to do anything, actually seeing the photographs you have taken can boost your self-esteem and confidence.

Make sure to take the time to look back on the photographs you have taken. Feel proud of your achievements - art is as important as any other activity.

Express yourself with photography

Perhaps the most important way that photography can help with your mental health is as a form of self-expression. Try to think of ways that you can express how you are feeling and what your experiences are through your photography. You can use self-portraits with props to truly get to the heart of your struggles through your art. Even if you are not feeling up to setting up lavish photography scenes, you can simply keep a photo journal of your everyday life and reflect back on it.

Like any form of creative art, photography can be a wonderful way to create a personal glimpse into your world that might otherwise remain locked away forever. Taking a photograph can help you to process hard times - and make them beautiful.

So if you want to use your camera skills as a way to channel your feelings and find a moment of stillness, you might just be engaging in the kind of self-care that could help to promote better mental wellbeing both now and in the future.