10 Reasons Why Photography is Beneficial for Mental Health

by | Photography Inspiration, Mindful Photography | 20 comments

mental health benefits of photography

Mental Health Benefits of Photography

Note by Karin van Mierlo on the updated version.

This article was first published in the first year of the Covid pandemic. 

Now that we seem to have entered a post-Covid world, I have adjusted the article slightly to bring it up to date.

The idea of the article still stands, of course. And although we’ve moved on from Covid, there are other challenges in the world that can cause stress and anxiety.

I have experienced the mental health benefits of photography all my life, not only during the pandemic. I share a personal story about a difficult time in my life where photography really helped me, in an article published on Feature Shoot.

I’m so passionate about promoting the mental health benefits of photography that I’ve even created a mindful photography course called See Fresh. The photos that accompany this article were created by some of the See Fresh students.

Take it away Jenn Perreira!

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

Photo Marrilyn Hough ~ See Fresh Student

mental health benefits of photography

Photo Marrilyn Hough~ See Fresh Student

For people who are struggling with stress, here are ten reasons why photography can be an effective strategy to promote and maintain a healthy mind during stressful times.

1. Photography brings out positive self-care habits.

Depressed people are more likely to forget to 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 challenging times.

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 we’ve faced during lockdowns was the lack of avenues to interact. People became moody and chose to isolate themselves because they felt that there was nothing worthy to share. But many discovered that with photography, a person becomes motivated to take new pictures to share 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.

And many photography websites still do this. For instance, there’s a monthly photography challenge right here on Photography Playground! Feel free to join 🙂

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 in the future.

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

There is beauty everywhere but you cannot always 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 with 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

Photo Marg Becker ~ See Fresh Student

mental health benefits of photography

Photo Marg Becker ~ See Fresh Student

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 or a good angle.

Some angles also demand physical strength in order to get a great shot. Lots of 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 uplift 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 idea that art helps the body to reduce stress hormones.

As a form of art, photography relaxes someone 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 challenging times 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.

How to Enjoy Photography During Stressful Times

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

Here is how you can enjoy photography:

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

Photo Raquel Marçal ~ See Fresh Student

mental health benefits of photography

Photo Raquel Marçal ~ See Fresh Student

2. Try food photography.

Many people started 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.

Another fun idea is to get creative and use a background remover.

If you remove the 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

In today’s fast-paced world, 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. Think of making photos as an opportunity to truly see how beautiful life is.

How about you? Do you experience the mental health benefits of photography in today’s world? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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

Wanna immerse yourself in the mindful nature of photography? Check out See Fresh | Mindful Photography Course!

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

Your Photography Mentor

You want to pick up your camera with confidence and joy but the truth is your camera is a mystery to you.

You’re stuck in auto mode because you don’t want to miss the moments that matter while you’re fumbling with your settings.

I feel you and I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way. Join Photography Playground now for overwhelm-free training and creative empowerment!


“Her unique approach produced almost immediate results. I would highly recommend Karin as a warm, talented, and effective instructor.”


See Fresh

“See Fresh shifted my perspective and gave me a much-needed reminder of the beauty each day brings. It brought back freshness and zest for life.”



“Thank you Karin for your presence, generosity, and patience. I am excited to see where this photographic journey takes me!”



“Your approach to photography inspires me and is wonderful to read. In contrast to all those websites and books about technology and gear, your approach opens a completely different door for me. Instead of reasoning, it triggers my imagination.”


See Fresh

“Great examples were given to illustrate what we would try to capture via the prompts.  Most of all Karin and the other students were very supportive – a no-judgment zone.”


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  1. therapy counseling

    In this article, we will discuss how photography can help your mental health. The author discusses how photography can be utilised to enhance mood and general mental health, as well as its therapeutic effects and its function in alleviating stress and anxiety. All individuals curious about the link between photography and psychological wellness will appreciate the article’s straightforward structure and brief content.

    • Karin van Mierlo

      Thank you, glad you like the article!

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    The positive effects of photography on one’s psyche are discussed in this article. The author makes a convincing case for photography’s potential as a form of talk therapy for those struggling with their mental health. If you’re interested in the subject, you’ll learn a lot from this piece, as it’s written well and provides helpful details.

    • Karin van Mierlo

      Thank you 🙂

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    I really enjoyed reading your blog post about the mental health benefits of photography. I loved the fact that you included COVID-19 as one of the reasons why photography might be beneficial for mental health. I think it’s important to include details about studies like this because I know a lot of people like to hear about the benefits of things before they actually try it.

    • Karin van Mierlo

      Thank you 🙂

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    I love how you wrote your blog post about the benefits of photography for mental health. I especially love that you mentioned the study that found that there were long-term effects of COVID-19. It’s really helpful to hear about the ways that this could potentially play out and I appreciate your honesty about it all.

    • Karin van Mierlo

      Thank you 🙂

  5. Leon

    Very helpful Information and Keep Sharing More.

    • Karin van Mierlo

      Thank you. Glad you liked it 🙂

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    Lately, I have been seeing an increasing number of posts on social media about mental health. I feel like we are in a time where people are more open to talking about it and people are starting to realize that they have a lot of power over their mental health.

    It is such an unstable time, and more so because we are all just confused. It is not always easy to know what you should do or how you should feel, but the most important thing is that we put our feelings first and prioritize our well-being before anything else. Thanks for your sharing this article.

    • Karin van Mierlo

      Thank you, that means a lot 🙂 And yes, I do feel as well that people are more open about it. And that’s sooo important!

  7. Rachel Olivia

    This is very informative and inspirations information from this post… thanks for sharing your valuable post..

    • Karin van Mierlo

      Thank you!

  8. 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.

  9. 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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