Photography And Mental Health — In Front Of And Behind The Camera

PREQUEL
5 min readOct 1, 2021

How photography is influencing mental health and psychological well-being.

Today, happily, there are numerous conversations happening around the topics of mental health, wellness, and psychological well-being. Still, we observe ourselves in the world of overwhelming social media and constant stress. Is the digital world one of the reasons for overall mental health decline? The answer is not that univocal. And now you’ll find out why.

@gabrielly_wichoroski

Phototherapy as a phenomenon can be classified as a branch of art therapy. Art therapy appeared in the late 18th century, however, it was only acknowledged as an independent and officially recognized approach in the mid-20th century in English-speaking and European countries. The term “art therapy” itself appeared in the year 1942. It was first used by the British artist Adrian Hill. He noted the beneficial influence of art practice on the overall mental state — Hill has been using art as a way of getting distracted from some frustration issues in his personal life. Adrian Hill claimed that art helps the person to “build up a strong defense against [their] misfortunes.”

After Adrian Hill has published his book Art Versus Illness, dedicated to the benefits of art therapy as an approach, some other psychologists have started using it in their practices.

So, what is the main idea of art therapy in general? Well, within this single term several approaches may be understood. Two of them are mostly focused on the analysis of the art created by the person. However, the third one uses art as a real therapy. The most important part of this kind of art therapy focuses on the process of creation itself. According to research, art therapy is known to have a positive influence on self-esteem, self-awareness, emotional resilience — and to reduce distress.

@jordi.koalitic

Now over to photography and its influence on the overall mental state and well-being. In 2010, scientists analyzed the summaries of over 100 studies focusing on the effects of art on physical and psychological health in “The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature. “The findings may seem to be surprising: photography is not just a tool of expressing oneself, but also something that brings focus to positive life experiences and increases self-worth. What’s more, it even reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

How does it work? First of all, it enables the flow state. Flow, in scientific language, means the state when the person is fully involved in the process of the activity. Flow state is frequently activated by creative activities and photography is definitely one of them. During the process of shooting — while choosing a subject or discovering new angles or manipulating the light — the photographer may forget about time and some everyday life issues because they are becoming a part of something larger. In other words, photography isn’t just like mindfulness, it is mindfulness itself.

@webtek

Photography, like other creative processes, makes it possible to reform reality. How? Well, that’s an obvious idea, that photo of one subject or event made by two different people will differ a lot since each one has his own sense of the situation, own attitude, own feelings, ideas, and thoughts. And photography is a perfect way to express all the feelings instead of keeping them to yourself, which actually leads to higher rates of anxiety, insomnia, and other unhealthy outcomes.

Summing up, being a photographer has a lot to give to the person’s well-being: portrait photography helps with overcoming social anxiety, while landscape photography allows to reduce stress and anxiety, connecting to your surroundings, and freeing the emotions.

And what about being in front of the camera, by the way? Does that have any influence on mental health and well-being? The answer is positive, again. The more the person is posing, the better they know and understand their own body. And, vice versa, the better the person is at understanding the body, the more confident they feel in front of the camera and in real life. What’s more, the results of shooting photos may make the person look at themselves in a completely new way and discover other sides of their personality.

Pinterest.com

And what about being in front of the camera, by the way? Does that have any influence on mental health and well-being? The answer is positive, again. The more the person is posing, the better they know and understand their own body. And, vice versa, the better the person is at understanding the body, the more confident they feel in front of the camera and in real life. What’s more, the results of shooting photos may make the person look at themselves in a completely new way and discover other sides of their personality.

@inspoalmendra

All in all, photography is definitely a good way to become more conscious, to be fully involved at the moment, and to discover and explore one’s own personality. Seems like photography is the way to reach harmony with ourselves and the world around us!

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