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Photography as therapy for anxiety, depression, low mood and mental health

I have chosen to write about photography as therapy as it is a passion of mine but I want to take a closer look at it with regards to using it as a therapy. I took thousands of photographs when I was younger, even when I had to pay to have each and every one of them processed, waiting a week to collect them, down to an hour in time. Nowadays, digital photography is instant and can be manipulated via a digital device. Photographs can be taken for memories, but it’s also the act of taking them that counts. A desire to be creative with photography can lead us to go out (great for those who have little to go out for or who feel isolated) and take part in society or nature – capture it however we want to. Close up, certain angles, looking for ‘moments’ or even talking photos of ourselves can be expressive. I was behind a camera a lot, engrossed in my surroundings and taking shots that meant something to me. It took me ‘out of myself’ and I felt integrated into the bigger world. It made me look for more detail instead of taking my surroundings for granted. In this way it helped to make me more mindful and ‘in the moment’.

We can look to photos we have taken in the past and work out what was behind the photo at the time and how we feel about it now, Or even photos of us, that someone else took. They can be permanent and have a place in our history which helps to remember our story. Studying a photo we took twenty years ago we might remember the same or a different experience depending on what was happening at the time, who was in it or who we were with etc, but also if we have healed from a difficulty at the time, we might view it more pleasantly.

There is an interesting article on photography on Canva, as cited below, which confirms my thoughts and experiences, but also talks about photography as ‘play’. I like the idea of play as therapy as it’s more fun than being serious and we are at our most open when we are at play. Maybe we could see some inner child come out as we ‘play’ with photography. I like to talk about re-writing our stories, or noticing when we are making up stories (assumptions), so to think about photography as a way to rework a story we are in by what we choose to include in a photo and what we choose to exclude is very interesting indeed, and I am sure valuable in a therapeutic way to understand ourselves. 

An article on vice.com as cited below, tells stories of six photographers who use photography as therapy for depression, loneliness and anxiety in many ways. The visuals are vastly different as an end product, but each come up with their styles as their own personal way to portray or deal with their thoughts and emotions, just as so many painters or sculptures do. They are extremely creative and the images are very powerful for them and also for the viewer.

Sources for this article

https://www.canva.com/learn/photography-as-therapy

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/mbw7a3/six-photographers-using-the-camera-as-therapyPhoto

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