Benefits of Photography for Mental Health

Photography Tips

This post will emphasize depression, as this is the mental health struggle I have experience with.

Redirected Focus

Depression is the great isolator – it strains or diminishes the sufferer’s relationship with others and one’s self. It strangles hope, and decimates one’s ability to make goals and plans for the future. Depression is an inward-focused disorder – a sufferer is overwhelmed with emotional pain and retreats deeper and deeper into his/herself. The colors of life fade, and the heart grows dull and weak.

Enter photography, an art that requires one to focus on the outside world – to search out and find pleasant or interesting subjects to photograph. This is a beautiful and healthy thing.

In the midst of a photography shoot, one can forget the pain for a while, and focus on the art of photography. One gets wrapped up in the process, and sometimes a photoshoot becomes one of the few escapes from persistent depression.

Improved Self-Worth

Photography – like all worthwhile arts – requires practice. It takes time and several duds to get results worth posting. Yet, as a photographer makes that upward climb, a sense of pride and assurance emerges.

Photography has the benefit of the improvement being obvious as one studies one’s photo journey over time. Seeing the improvement enhances one’s sense of self-worth and competence. Every bit of self-esteem is valuable to a sufferer of depression.

Physical Exercise

It is common knowledge that exercise can help ease depression. Yet summoning the will to just move can be too much.

Photography requires one to move – it can motivate the depressed and otherwise lethargic soul to get up and go. The call of adventure – and the chance to capture as yet unseen beauty – can be just the push one needs.

Connecting with God

Divinely designed beauty is everywhere (particularly in Montana!). In nature, free of the distractions and pollution of the urban atmosphere, God’s presence is magnified. Surrounded by the the sweet serenity of nature, I can hear God most clearly. I recharge and connect to my source of Strength, and I am empowered to make it through tomorrow.

Conclusion

Exercise, adventure, and connecting to Creator God combined makes photography an excellent coping mechanism for anyone who loves it. So get out there and shoot, and just maybe, photography will be the coping strategy you need.

Nature Photography: Finding Picturesque Locations

Photography Tips

There’s nothing like a stunning landscape to liven up a room, or to inspire an artist’s heart. How much more thrilling when you, with your own camera, capture a beautiful scene yourself!

Before you can start shooting landscapes, you need to find ideal locations.

Go Beyond the Highways

It’s no secret: the best way to see America’s grand landscapes is by road trip. This also means sites near the highways are the most photographed.

Go deeper for more unique photographs!

  • Ranch access exits lead to less-traveled roads through gorgeous country.
  • Fishing access sites often connect to trail systems with beautiful river views.  
  • Dirt roads penetrate deep into less-trafficked areas.

State and Regional Parks

Nature is most prominently on show in national parks (do I need to mention Yellowstone?), yet state or regional parks hold secret gems.

Some of my best landscapes (LINK) are from Headwaters State Park in Montana, and the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.

Love Hiking & Camping

The deeper you go, the more pristine the wilderness. Accessing remote sites requires an investment of time and effort. This means lots of hiking, lots of camping – you will be miserable unless you genuinely enjoy both activities.

A good trail book – by a local author – will be your best friend, and help you get started if you are new to outdoor living.

Consider Lighting

Consider the time of day you will be shooting. Try for the early morning or around twilight – both times of day that have dramatic lighting for beautiful results.

There may also be fewer people on the trails. Shooting landscapes is easier when there are not a hundred hikers passing through.

Relocate

If nature photography is your driving passion, and you have the means and opportunity to do so, consider relocating.

The reality is some areas have more wilderness locations (and thus landscape opportunities) than others. A few days or weeks is often not enough time to take full advantage of a wilderness area.

Staying Safe

  • Keep your phone charged (buy a car charger if needed).
  • Fill up the gas tank before you leave.
  • Go with a friend, or at least your dog, if you have one. Both can be deterrents to dangerous animal life (four or two-legged).
  • Bring extra water, food, and bear spray (if needed).
  • Avoid roads too rough for your vehicle (unless you have a vehicle made for rougher terrain).
  • Avoid trespassing. Not only is trespassing illegal and inconsiderate, but many property owners have dogs and/or firearms. It is not worth the risk.

At the end of the day, nature photography is an excuse to go adventuring. You will find the best landscapes the deeper you go into the wilderness, and the more you devote your time and heart to it.

What are some of your favorite sites for nature photography?