10 Reasons Why Photography is Beneficial for Mental Health

by | Photography Inspiration, Mindful Photography | 6 comments

Mental Health Benefits of Photography

According to a study by QJM International Journal of Medicine, mental health problems escalated during this pandemic due to the generalized fear and relentless anxiety over the COVID-19 spread. The media is considered as a huge contributing factor to this dilemma as well because the tragic stories about the effects of the virus have increased hopelessness and depressive thoughts.

The study identified several mental health consequences that rapidly increased during the outbreak. The most common ones included depression, frustration, anxiety, stress, and feelings of uncertainty.

Long-term Effects

The long-term effects of COVID-19 on the psychological well-being of a person are alarming but what is more disturbing is that it seems to be excluded among the top health priorities. Governments all over are more concerned about meeting the immediate needs which include food and water supply, medicines, and other projects that would either limit or halt the progression and spread of the infection.

Since there are no clear strategies that target mental health concerns, it is up to the affected individuals to take personal measures and combat its consequences. Since it is fairly difficult to seek professional help during this time, it is encouraged to be resourceful over what an individual can do to avoid developing different mental problems.

Photography as Self-Expression

Among the best and most accessible therapeutic activities is photography. Contrary to popular belief, photography requires minimal equipment to enjoy. The most basic requirement is a camera and the majority of smartphones nowadays are already equipped with cameras that produce great quality shots.

Researchers from Lancaster University believe that engaging in photography may help in improving the well-being of an isolated person.

Photography as a form of self-expression helps a person to reconstruct and maintain a positive identity despite the negativities brought about by the feelings of isolation. It is only one of the many mental health benefits of photography.

mental health benefits of photography

For people who are struggling with COVID-19 related stress, here are ten reasons why photography can be an effective strategy to promote and maintain a healthy mind during this quarantine season:

1. Photography brings out positive self-care habits.

Depressed people are more likely to either forget or intentionally take care of themselves. The lack of motivation for self-care stems from the fact that a person does not go out as much during quarantine.

By doing photography, a person looks forward to the next session. The new habit that is formed will motivate the person to improve self-care. The process itself is therapeutic since the brain becomes busy and refreshes the psychological well-being in order to be creative.

Read More: Mindful Photography Tips

2. Photography is an effective ice-breaker.

One of the sociological problems during quarantine is the lack of avenues to interact. People become moody and choose to isolate themselves because they feel that there is nothing worthy to share. With photography, a person becomes motivated to take new pictures that are to be shared in the community.

Online photography groups oftentimes put up challenges for the members and discuss the photos in forums. The photos become helpful in sparking conversations and making connections that will ease out the lonely feelings.

3. Photography lets you look back at good times. 

Reminiscing is one of the ways to bring back positive emotions. The unique moments that are captured in photos will make the brain active and bring back the memories of good times. It will instantly lift up the mood and will make the person take more photos for the future.

4. Photography lets you see the hidden beauty of the world.

There is beauty everywhere but you cannot see it with the naked eye. Every shot has a different story about the unique environment that you can only see through the lens of the camera.

Doing photography will make you want to discover what the world has to share. It will allow you to capture every discovery and freeze them through photos.  

5. Photography is an effective brain exercise.

When you do photography, the brain works double in order to keep up the cognitive demands of the activity. The creative process becomes a brain exercise that helps enhance episodic memory and enhance reasoning skills.

mental health benefits of photography

6. Photography keeps the body in motion. 

Aside from exercising the brain, photography also makes the body move and burn calories. A photographer typically walks around to look for a good subject.

Some angles also demand physical strength in order to get a great shot. Some photographers even climb trees or bend over just to get closer to the subject.

7. Photography gets you engaged with things you love.

A photographer is typically drawn to things that are interesting to him or her. This makes it easier for a person to focus and connect with a subject that is meaningful. It doubles the fun of taking interesting photos since it becomes rewarding when nice photos are captured.

8. Photos uplifts the mood.

There’s a study that’s titled The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature, that supports the speculation of art helping the body to reduce stress hormones.

As a form of art, photography relaxes a person and becomes a good motivating factor to see the world in a positive light.

9. Photography makes you creative.

Since photography is an art form, it makes the brain active in order to process creative thoughts. Once the body is in motion, the brain encourages it to take photos that will translate the creative thoughts into tangible representations which, in this case, are the photos.

10. Photography shows different perspectives.

The uncertainty caused by the pandemic is what makes many people feel unmotivated with their lives.

Photography is a way to escape dark thoughts by motivating the person to look at life from a different perspective.

Instead of brooding indoors, taking photos of anything worth interesting can let a person enjoy the moment and look forward to the next photo session.

It gives a person a reason to look forward to the future instead of dreading the uncertainties.

mental health benefits of photography

How to Enjoy Photography During Quarantine

Even the World Health Organization is worried about the effects of the pandemic on mental health. Stress brings about many health problems, particularly on psychological well-being. Since photography is identified as an effective hobby to ease out depressive behavior, it is only wise to give it a try.

Here is how you can enjoy photography even with all the strict implementations of quarantine protocols:

1. Take the time to learn photo editing.

One of the best ways to spend extra time around the house is to improve your photos. There are plenty of both free and paid tutorials about photo editing.

Read more: Snapseed Tutorial and Beginner Lightroom Tutorial.

You may also download applications or explore what you already have and use them to edit old photos. 

Aside from the chance of enhancing photos, it is also a good time to reminisce about the shots and see how you can improve your photography and editing skills.

mental health benefits of photography

2. Try food photography.

Many people learned to enjoy cooking during quarantine than before COVID-19 happened. To further enjoy the sumptuous food, why not try taking delectable food shots? You can create a whole album intended only for food and share them on social media or with other photographers.

3. Explore Black & White photography

It may look simple but black and white photography is actually very technical if you are aiming to get award-winning shots. You can try your hand with it and have your pet or other family members be your model.

Read More: Snapseed Black & White Tutorial.

4. Take photo challenges.

Join photography groups that hold contests and photo challenges. It will be fun to take the challenges plus there is even a chance that you will win one of the contests.

Read More: 7 Fantastic At Home Photography Ideas to Ignite Your Creativity

5. Use a free background remover to get creative with photos.

It is such a bummer to not be outdoors and do plenty of thematic shoots. Since it is risky to do just that, why not get creative and use a background remover instead?

If you try to remove background from the image, you get to practice your editing skills plus you will get inspired by all the creative pictures that you will produce later on.

Final Thoughts

With the on-going pandemic, many people find it extra-challenging to enjoy life to the fullest. Good thing that there are many ways to get out of a depressive mood and still see life from a positive perspective.

Photography is one great way to help express bottled-up emotions.

Photographers are oftentimes tasked to shoot a range of scenes both outdoors and indoors. It is an activity that can be enjoyed even when on quarantine and even outdoors as long as strict social distancing is observed.

As the outbreak progresses, it would be helpful to think that every chance of taking a photograph is an opportunity to truly see how beautiful life is.

How about you? Do you experience the mental health benefits of photography during this pandemic? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Jenn Pereira is the Product Designer of Removal.AI, an AI technology used to remove background from images

Jenn Pereira
Jenn Pereira is the Product Designer of Removal.AI, an AI technology used to remove background from images. She is passionate when it comes to designing and creating new ideas to help brands and small businesses realize and achieve their goals through innovative products, UI/UX design applications, and strategic digital marketing.

Hi, I’m Karin

I believe the world needs more authentic and open-hearted photographers. Intentional photographers who want to be inspired by love, generosity, and imagination.

It’s my mission to help you by opening up the world of authentic photography for you. So you get clarity on what truly matters in photography.

That’s why, at Photography Playground you learn to photograph life as it FEELS like, not as it looks like. 

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  1. Lauren Martin

    This is such a timely post, thank you for sharing. It is such an unstable time, and more so because we are all just confused and anxious on what can happen next. You’re right, this time where we have excess time for ourselves, it could do us some good to dive into learning new things like photography.

    • Karin van Mierlo

      Thank you! Very happy you found it helpful 🙂

    • Karin van Mierlo

      You’re welcome 🙂 Glad you liked it.

  2. Jan Olsen

    I have fought with depression off and on for many years and have found that photography gets me out of the house, even into the yard and puts me in tune with the world. I forget about problems and become absorbed in the present.

    • Karin van Mierlo

      Hi Jan, thank you so much for sharing. That’s the beauty of photography….it gets you moving 🙂


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