Photography as a form of art has long hooked men and women from around the world. As with all artistic forms, photography is used to express emotions, to communicate messages, and to provide hope for both artists and audiences. Whether photographs are those of nature, of people, of animals, and even abstract vision, the images provide therapeutic benefits. Likewise, capturing photos has the same effect. Hence, photographers get addicted in the sound of the shutter and the click, regardless if it’s for leisure, work, or even for healing.
As Vincent van Gogh said, “Art is to console those who are broken by life”. Here are three therapeutic benefits of photography to prove van Gogh’s statement:
- Photography communicates when words can’t.
Photography is an art. This fact has already been established centuries ago when people learned to appreciate visual creativity. More than an artistic medium, photography serves as a communication tool. “A picture tells a thousand words” – for sure, you’ve heard this a lot of times, and this is indeed true. A single photo sends hundred different stories depending on how it is framed and how it is interpreted. People who have suffered loss in the past usually don’t have the energy to talk to people. Instead, they look for other non-verbal ways to project their grief and frustration. Some resort to painting, but others get their camera and take photos of things they consider important and reminiscent of the happy times. When we want to remember a happy occasion, we dig for old albums. When we wish to tell other people of a memory without having to narrate every single detail, we send them a photograph. When we receive good news and can’t possibly contain our happiness with words, we let photos speak for us. Likewise, for people who suffer discrimination from the society, photography has become their deliverance. In 2017, an agency called “Nos, Why Not?” was founded in Spain with the main goal to empower people with intellectual disabilities. For these people which the society turned deaf on, photography provided a voice. With the agency, they were able to hold a leading role to tell their stories and make people understand their strife better. This is one therapeutic benefit of photography: it helps us tell a message when words seem difficult to find.
- Photography exposes one’s deepest thoughts.
All forms of art, including photography, is used as a form of self-expression. In our dilemma to conceal our feelings but receive compassion and understanding at the same time, art successfully serves as the mediator. Photography lets us pour our true emotions without having to explain ourselves. It liberates us from self-doubt and misunderstanding. It allows us to know our thoughts better, see more deeply within ourselves, and validate our emotions. Our most genuine psychological state comes to life when we look for subjects to photograph. They say that if we want to truly know what a person considers important, we ought to look at what they photograph. This is essentially what photography is for: exposing our personality and thoughts we struggle accepting.
- Photography heals wounds of the past and recreates optimism for the future.
Picture Me Here is a project which used photography to help earthquake victims in Nepal rebuild their lives. After the tragedy, individuals were given cameras and captured images that served as the victims’ reminder to be resilient. They looked at the photos and dreamed of building new lives. Moreover, the Langtang Photo Album Project had the same objective and resulted in people remembering the tragic incident with a burning hope to reconstruct their present and future. Photography recreates an optimistic world for people who have undergone a frustrating past. As we hunt for photos and the best angles of our subjects, we are reminded that all it takes is a shift in perspective, and that everything can become beautiful if we just try capturing it from another angle. In other words, photography allows us to find beauty in our daily lives. As such, hospitals have even embraced the power of photographs to heal their patients. Research shows that patients preferred having a photograph displayed on hospital walls rather than staring at a blank white one. For instance, Elaine Poggi, daughter of a cancer patient, launched The Foundation for Photo/Art in Hospitals which is dedicated to placing soothing pictures of nature in hospitals. The effort was inspired by the cheerfulness her mom showed when Poggi brought pictures in the hospital where the patient was battling cancer. For the one who holds the camera and the one who stares at the photos, the effects are the same: witnessing that beauty and hope are still existent.
Take your camera, tell your story, and help the world exude its timeless charm.
About Anni Gull
Anni Gull from Grafdom has served the digital industry for over 5 years. He collaborates and works alongside agencies, event organizers, and suppliers to develop and execute their marketing strategies. He is extremely passionate about education technology and also writes for various local and international publications. A graduate with High Distinction from the Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia, Fazreen holds a Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Marketing & Management.