Yesterday I talked about how photography helped me with my own personal mental health. Today I would like to talk about specific ideas and exercises one might do, as a photographer, to improve their own mental health. Now, before we get started let me be clear, these are just suggestions, not law. The difference between an idea and law is that ideas are moldable. They can be changed, evolved, improved upon, and made better. So I encourage all of you reading to take my ideas and make them your own. I would even love to hear about how you have improved on these ideas on my Patreon, Twitter, Instagram, or Vero. So without further ado here are some mental health exercises for photographers.
Go On A Photo Walk-About
The first time I ever heard the term walk-about was watching the movie, Crocodile Dundee. The main character explained that it was a time to just walk around and think. No real direction or destination. You just kind of go where your feet take you. Going on a photography walk-about is not much different. You just pick a place and walk, camera in hand, and take pictures as you go. Some of my favorite walkabouts were in Cleaveland OH while there on a work trip, a local nature trail here in Orlando, and weirdly enough Disneyland. Some of my best photos ever taken have come from walkabouts, and I always feel a little better afterward both mentally and physically.
Work Through You Emotions With Self Portraits
In 2019 I decided to start taking self-portraits. I did this because I did not have a lot of good photos of myself, and I wanted some, and there were things I wanted to express that I thought I could through self-portrait photography. After I had created my first 5 or 6 self-portraits a friend told me something that I will never forget. She said that while the photos were good they lacked depth, emotion, and vulnerability, and that is what she wanted to see. So I sat down and wrote out some emotions that I have always struggled with. Emotions that I often tried to hide, but occasionally bubbled up to the surface in unhealthy ways, and decide to take a photo of those emotions. The one that really stuck with me was the photos I took of anger. Taking the photo and talking on Instagram about how anger had affected my life in the past brought a great deal of peace and closure to me. It helped me to see things about myself I had not seen before and helped me gain even greater control, in a healthy way, over my emotions.
Learn To See Art In The Ordinary and Mundane
There is this idea that we only see a small percentage of the world around us. We are bombarded by so many things that our brains can only process so much, otherwise, we would get overwhelmed and die. Because of that filter, we have on the world we often overlook or miss small things that carry great beauty. A few months ago I started taking the time to find those small items that we often overlook and turn them into beautiful works of art with nothing more than my camera and a bit of light editing. My favorite image that I have created in this endeavor so far is the one below. My wife had been doing some arts and crafts earlier and had left some colored pencils on our coffee table. I gathered up the pencils and put them inside a shot glass so they would all be held together. Using a chair I took a photo of them from overhead and this image turned into one of my most liked photos on any social media platform I am currently on. Art…made from the most simple object…a pencil.
I hope you enjoyed these mental health exercises for photographers. These are a few ideas I employ to help my mental health and I have found them helpful. What are some ways that you have used photography for your mental health? I’d love to hear! In the meantime make sure you are signed up for my newsletter where I share things that are newsletter exclusive. For example this week I will be sharing 3 great tips to take great photos with your phone!
Till next time – Keep taking great photos.