Why I Love Photography
Over the years I have come to realize several reasons I love and benefit from photography. I know each of us are unique and have specific ways photography can be helpful, enjoyable or rewarding for us as an individual. As I thought about it I was able to list 6 of the main reasons why I love photography with a brief, personal explanation. In the future I may think of more to add to this list. Perhaps in the future I will go into more detail with some of these specific areas. Feel free to let me know if there are any of these specific topics you would like to hear more about. Here are the 6 items I’ve come up with:
Wordless Expression When I Cannot Speak
For me there are often times when I’m unable to speak or put what I’m experiencing or feeling into words. Through photography I can capture moments, my surroundings, objects, nature or even myself in a way that helps me express my emotions and thoughts. Once I’m able to do this I sometimes notice at least a tiny bit of relief in unpleasant feelings. Sometimes this can help in trying to share with others something that I’m not able to successfully put into words—something that’s experienced or felt rather than explained with words. I’ve also had other people tell me they can relate to my photos, they understand what I’m saying through my images.
Learning to See
Through practicing photography and working to grow in my photography skills it has been an incredible teacher of how to see. I’ve learned to watch light, see how it acts, and note its characteristics. Photography has helped me to see my surroundings in a whole new way. Things I once thought ordinary or mundane can now be beautiful and extraordinary. It’s been an amazing transformation. Through carefully viewing and capturing my surroundings I’ve grown to appreciate and be aware of the beauty of God’s blessings that surround me—even in the midst of great darkness, depression and despair. It helps me to endure and try my best to remain thankful.
A Coping Tool
Since I’ve become well acquainted with the digital photography process through repetition over several years it has become an effective coping tool for me that is very familiar. While I do not always have the capacity to engage in photography it can be a very helpful way for me to cope when I’m able to engage in some part of the process. It may be picking up my camera, framing a shot and clicking the shutter. Another time it may be sitting at my desk and editing some photos I’ve imported into Lightroom. More recently I’ve been working on learning more about film photography. The process of loading a new roll of film into a camera can be therapeutic and helpful for me in coping. Framing a film shot, focusing, pressing the shutter, hearing a vintage camera shutter snap, and then manually advancing the film can be very intriguing and capture my attention enough to bring me into the present moment. I’ve also been learning about the process of developing my own color 35mm film at home. While that process has been very overwhelming and unfamiliar for me at times it also helps to keep me grounded and in the moment which are very helpful and valuable qualities for me.
A Form of Prayer and Meditation
Recently I have realized it seems that photography can be a form of prayer and meditation for me. I can “sing” my Creator’s praise through capturing creation around me. This also helps me to focus on the beauty of creation which points me to the God who made it.
Reminder of Experiences and Blessings
Often I struggle with losing my memories. Through photography I’ve been able to capture moments, feelings and blessings that would otherwise be forgotten. Looking at the images I’ve captured takes me back to the original moment and reminds me of the circumstances, emotions, thoughts and events that happened in that moment. Without my interest in photography I would have lost and forgotten a lot of blessings and moments in my life.
Serves As a Visual Journal
There was a time when I didn’t have the strength or mental energy to write down my thoughts, feelings and experiences in a journal. So I have relied on the photos I was able to capture as a visual journal. Over time I can see growth and change within myself and my family physically. I’ve loved capturing my children from infancy through their current stages as well as “kidless” photos like my ongoing series of Kids Were Here photos. I can also see growth and change in my knowledge, understanding and style of photography. There is also a progression of my internal growth and I’ve learned to start to see myself as a person having worth and value, the reality of hardship and struggle which can produce maturity, learning and strength of character. I also have noticed a growth of my practical learning about light and how it works as well as a personal, internal struggle with darkness and light.
Photography has been a tremendous help and blessing in my life which has been filled with severe mental health struggles, difficulties and challenges. My interest and drive as a self-taught photographer combined with using my photography skills as a form of self-expression has helped to save my life. I’m thankful to have the medium of photography in my life.
What about you?
Do you enjoy engaging in a photography practice in a general or specific way? Do you enjoy digital, film or (like me) a mix of both? What do you love, appreciate, and enjoy about your photography? I’d love to hear what types of photography you love! Please feel free to share with me in the comments!