The Health Benefits of Photography
Photography can be a fun hobby to pick up and a very popular art form to get into. It allows you to capture an image of the world around you, showing others your particular point of view. Through a creative use of lighting, angles, framing, props, and scenery, you can turn everyday imagery into a unique artistic statement. But, the art you create isn’t the only way the photography can enrich your life.
As with other forms of art, there are also many ways photography is healthy for you. In fact, photography can be good for both the mind and body!
Promotes General Well-Being
Taking photos has been shown to promote many different aspects of our general well-being. In fact, one landmark study that had participants take one photo each day and share it on online (through platforms like Instagram or Flickr). The results showed general improvement in three key factors of their well-being — self-care, community interaction, and the potential for reminiscence. The findings of this study also touched on other factors of well-being that are corroborated by other findings.
Mindfulness, or being in the moment, is a particularly effective way at fighting stress. Many forms of art promote mindfulness, and photography is no different. The daily photo study found that photography offered the participants a moment to focus on the present and relax a bit. One participant even went as far to say:
My job was a very highly stressful role… There were some days when I’d almost not stopped to breathe, you know what I mean… And just the thought: oh wait a moment, no, I’ll stop and take a photograph of this insect sitting on my computer or something. Just taking a moment is very salutary I think.
Mindfulness has long been associated with photography, though, and other studies have worked to solidify this connection. One such study found that, not only does photography help you to be “in the moment,” but it also helps you appreciate that moment more. The act of taking photos can engage a group, pushing them to be more focused on that moment. The association between photography and engagement are so strong, mindful photography exists!
The daily photo study also pointed toward the potential social benefits of photography. In the case of the study, posting online allowed the participants to develop a communal feeling with those who saw and commented on their photos. These findings were backed up by other studies that found that taking part in photography programs increased social engagement, as well as provided other mental and emotional benefits.
Photography can help seniors stay social by giving them an interest they can share with others. This means more than just sharing your photos with loved ones or online followers, though. Through photography clubs or classes, you can meet and interact with other photography enthusiasts, giving you a chance to meet new friends! This is especially important for seniors since isolation can be debilitating over time.
In terms of your general health, photography is also linked with promoting healthy aging in the brain. As we’ve said in the past, our brains work in a use-it-or-lose-it way. Essentially, we need to stimulate our minds as we age in order to keep them sharp. Taking part in different forms of art is an effective way of keeping the brain active, but photography itself has been studied to analyze its value as a long-term brain strengthener.
In 2013, a group of researchers tested several hobbies with a high-cognitive demand, one of which was photography. What they found was that these activities enhanced memory in older adults, especially when compared with non-social or low-demand activities. Another study looked at the relationship between photography and memory, specifically how looking at old photos can help stimulate memory in older adults.
Provides Therapeutic Healing
Photography has also been seen as effective at promoting strong mental health, as well as helping others overcome mental health issues. Art has long been used as a method of therapy for many different anxiety or mental health disorders, with photography in particular being developed into PhotoTherapy.
The therapeutic benefits of photography are fairly well-known by many social workers and used as a tool in both individual and group settings. Practitioners utilize these methods to focus on prompting social skills, coping mechanisms, increasing self-esteem, and identity formation. One of the reasons for this is that photography acts as a way to help those suffering with mental illness express themselves, especially those who struggle with more traditional forms of therapy. Pictures have also been used to guide therapy sessions.
Gets You Outside & Exercising
One difference between photography and other forms of art is that pictures are a snapshot of reality. While you can enjoy taking pictures around your house or in a studio, many find the best subjects are out in the world. This is another reason to get out of the house. There’s wildlife or nature photography, which require you to get out in nature and hike. Even sports or event photography requires you to get out and get moving, which adds a new physical aspect to the art. While you likely won’t be ready to run a marathon just from photography, it can act as a catalyst to help you exercise more!
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So, not only is photography a fun hobby to pick up or nature photography, which require you to get out in nature and [hike](/why-seniors-should-go-hiking “Why Seniors Should Go Hiking” and an excellent form of self-expression, it can be a powerful therapeutic and health-promoting activity for people of all ages! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but it’s become clear that it may be even more valuable to your health!