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Emotional Wellness and Digital Photography

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness


When it comes to our emotional well-being, we think about exercising, practicing mindfulness, relaxation techniques, meditation, journaling, sports, taking a walk, listening to music, speaking with a friend, or talking to a therapist. But have you ever considered picking up a camera and taking pictures? Photography has been proven to benefit our emotional wellness (Davis & Pavlacic, 2020). As someone who has experienced the positive impact of photography, I want to share with you how this hobby can help improve your emotional wellness.


Having an iPhone provides a great opportunity to explore digital photography. With its advanced capabilities, you can capture impressive snapshots. However, if you have a true passion for taking photographs, consider upgrading to one of the latest digital cameras. I discovered that this dramatically enhanced my enjoyment of capturing moments and significantly improved the quality of my photographs.


Taking pictures allows us to be present and fully engage with our surroundings. Whether you're capturing the vivid colors of a sunset over water or the intricate details of a flower, photography encourages us to slow down, observe, and appreciate our surroundings (Guttentag, 2020). Being present at the moment can reduce stress and anxiety and promote gratitude.


Photography can also serve as a powerful form of self-expression. We can capture our emotions, perspectives, and unique experiences through the lens. It allows us to tell stories, share our inner world, and communicate without words. This form of self-expression can be particularly helpful for people who struggle to vocalize their feelings or find it difficult to express themselves (Hendriks, 2019). Photography provides an outlet for creativity, enabling us to experience our thoughts and feelings safely and non-judgmentally.


Photography offers a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Setting out to capture a specific place or subject gives us a goal to focus on and motivates us to engage with the world around us (Rees & Freeman, 2019). The satisfaction derived from framing the perfect shot (I'm thinking of the rule of thirds) or successfully capturing a moment can boost our self-esteem and provide a sense of achievement. This sense of purpose and accomplishment contributes positively to our emotional well-being.


Beyond taking pictures, photography also opens doors to a community of fellow enthusiasts. Being part of a community that shares your passion can provide a sense of belonging and connection (Bullingham & Vasconcelos, 2013). Engaging with others who understand and appreciate the art of photography allows for exchanging ideas, inspiration, and support. Building relationships with like-minded individuals enhances our social well-being, an important component of emotional wellness.


Photography is not just about capturing images; it's a powerful tool for enhancing emotional wellness. Through being present, self-expression, a sense of purpose, and building connections, this hobby can positively impact your mental well-being. So, pick up your camera, explore, and enjoy this wonderful hobby.


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