What is therapeutic photography?

Therapeutic photography—maybe that sounds like a strange or unfamiliar term. Over time I’ve come to realize that I believe this is an accurate description of the type of photography I personally practice. What is therapeutic photography? Let’s take a quick look in the dictionary.

Egg shells – Nikon FE, Nikon 35mm f/2, Portra 400

Defining Therapeutic

Here is one of the basic meanings of the word therapeutic: Therapeutic-having a beneficial effect on the body or mind (merriam-webster.com). Something that is therapeutic has benefits for both our body and mind. So let’s bring it together.

Self portrait – Nikon D750, Sigma 35mm f/1.4

Bringing Them Together

When we join photography with therapeutic benefits we have an amazing tool for so many aspects of well-being, health, wellness and growth. This can apply to physical, mental, spiritual, emotional health—and maybe even more areas that I have not yet thought of.

Kids were here – iPhone 11

What Does It Look Like?

Personally, I believe this can look many different ways to different individuals. For me, engaging in therapeutic photography helps me to be aware of my surroundings, noticing and appreciating what is around me. It’s a way to stay in the present moment. Practically this means using my DSLR, one of my 35mm film SLR’s or sometimes my phone to capture natural moments that I observe around me or my self and what I feel and notice within my mind, body and/or soul. I also utilize my computer and Lightroom for photo editing as well as learning the process and developing my own 35mm color film at home. These therapeutic practices can lead to the benefits of connections to myself, other people, nature, God, ideas, feelings, my surroundings and more. It can get me observing, moving and doing a host of things that benefit my physical and mental health.

For other people therapeutic photography could look completely different. I think that is the beautiful and amazing thing—therapeutic photography is completely adaptable to each of us and our specific needs. What is therapeutic for me may have unpleasant effects for you so it’s good to know what is helpful and beneficial for each of us and to adjust a potential therapeutic photography practice accordingly to fit our individual needs.

This topic really excites and energizes me. Honestly, therapeutic photography has been so uplifting and life-giving for me and is a very special concept and practice for me. It has literally helped to save my life and gives me a creative outlet to express myself when I don’t have words to share.

I am considering writing more about therapeutic photography in the future. Is there anything related this topic that you would like to know or discuss? Do you practice therapeutic photography? If so, I’d love to hear about your process if that’s something you are open to sharing. Feel free to leave a comment or contact me here.

Self portrait, walking – Nikon D750, Sigma 35mm f/1.4

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