Photography as Therapy

The world looks different in a frame

taking pictures

I wonder for how many people who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders, photography helps alleviate symptoms, at least for a little while. Judging by the Broken Light Collective site, there are many of us.

What is it about photography that soothes a mind gone sideways?

One big thing for me is giving me something to focus on, something outside my head. The world framed by the viewfinder is not so overwhelming. It’s difficult to describe how the world looks when I’m depressed. It’s too big. Empty but overcrowded.

Two years ago at Family Camp was rough for me. I’m supposed to feel better at camp than at home. It’s a break from the day-to-day. But I couldn’t engage with the activities or the people. I remember at least once Jeff putting the camera in my hands, understanding my need even though I couldn’t see, let alone articulate, it. God provided perfect subjects. The robin and her babies in the nest directly behind our camper gave me something on which to focus, and demanded nothing of me. I enjoyed watching them grow as much as I could enjoy anything that week.

They were so tiny and helpless when I first photographed them.

June 30
June 30

The photo wasn’t properly focused, but there they were. Our closest neighbors. Over our time there, they grew. Posting the photo series of their growth took more energy than I thought I could muster. But they made it to my blog.

Sometimes I just need a way to get out of my head without being overwhelmed by the vastness that leaves no space for me. I can almost manage the space limited by the viewfinder.

I haven’t taken much time to take pictures in a while, though I know it steadies me. My mood has been rather stable lately, not dropping into the depths.

But creativity is important for a healthy mind. Capturing or making something different than anyone else could. Getting out of our heads. Getting outdoors.

How has creativity helped you in your struggles? I’d love have you share some encouragement.

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4 thoughts on “Photography as Therapy

  1. Photography, for me, allows me to see the mundane afresh. Like seeing the same landscape by from a different angle. Sometimes, I’ll zone out and draw. Other times I’ll work on a few guitar instrumentals to see where they lead.I think art takes us outside of ourselves. I’ve found both helpful and the outcomes have surprised me. In a way it’s part creative participation with God and part, as Lacey Sturm called the screaming in her songs, ’emotional vomit.’

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