Why Therapists Recommend Nature Photography



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My husband, Charles, tried his hand at nature photography just last year, and it puzzled me then. Sure, he has always loved communing with nature – he can almost instantly distinguish a type of bird from the shape of the nest and the color of its feathers. But Charles has gone through anxiety and was also diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He is over-energetic, and he finds it hard to focus and sit still.

This is why I found it strange that he preferred to be quiet and still in a peaceful bird hide for several hours, concentrating on feeding the birds so that he could take pictures of something enchanted on his camera.

Most of us often believe that we must stop and look directly at nature for us to benefit from nature. However, Charles had discovered something therapeutic in wildlife and nature photography.

The Healing Effects

He is not the only one reaping the benefits of nature photography. Liz Brewster, a doctor at Lancaster University, studied the connection between mental health and photography. She studied the impact of sharing and capturing images on individuals who reported a range of diagnoses and those who were not diagnosed with anything at all.

After her study, she established that nature photography could be valuable for all forms of mental health problems. She claims that it permits mastery of practical skills, offers a creative outlet, and takes much focus and patience, especially for wildlife and nature photographs. She adds, “I believe there is something relevant in that. It decelerates us amidst this quick-moving society.”

A participant in the study of Dr. Brewster describes how she felt. She says that nature photography forced her to take another view of the world. She also added that taking photos is a postural thing. When a person is depressed or anxious, he is often looking down or hunched over. Taking photos of nature encourages you to position your head up, or perhaps squat down and view something extraordinary, like ‘stopping and smelling the flowers.’


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An Essential Part Of Healing

Photography alone is beneficial, but when it is mixed with nature and wildlife, it appears to have even more benefits. Tony Darwin from California is diagnosed with anxiety and clinical depression and has experienced several mental breakdowns, two of which have resulted in hospital admissions. He utilizes landscape and wildlife photography as an essential aspect of his healing. He says that unraveling a passion for nature and photography is a therapeutic thing for him.

Tony describes getting out of the hospital for the second instance. He became agoraphobic and didn’t want to leave his house. “My mom encouraged me to commune with nature by visiting the gardens, turning on the timer to take selfies with the nature around me, and jotting down the ways of how I felt while I was there.”

He felt more comfortable and eventually more relaxed to go out of his house, slowly increasing his time until he was strolling down the nearby beaches. On the beach with the blue waters and clear skies, just being there made him feel amazing. When he began capturing images of his walks, he discovered that focusing on that exact moment provided him some headspace, and his anxieties eventually disappeared.

The Social Aspect

Aside from the therapeutic effects of being outdoors and viewing life from a different angle, Dr. Brewster’s study also revealed some social benefits of nature photography. She reports that people who tried their hand at photography projects established better connections and relationships. This is perhaps achieved through photo sharing and social media interactions and through getting together with members of the photography community.

According to Dr. Brewster, most individuals can use captured images to open up about aspects of their lives that they find challenging to talk about, including mental health issues. “Photography,” she says, “can be a vital kind of self-care.”

The doctor’s study entailed photography of all types, but she observed that nature and wildlife photography appears to bring certain benefits. A participant diagnosed with cancer explained elaborately how he had been capturing images of garden plants and birds and how this has altered his entire routine. She claimed that discussing her long walks on the forests and coasts and taking pictures of these amazing creatures seemed to give her peace and healing.


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Discovering Calm Behind The Camera

Nature photography can surely be appreciated alone, but getting into a photography community can provide more social opportunities that could be therapeutic and beneficial. Broken Light Collective is a group created by Danielle Hark, a professional photographer based in New York. He has an online gallery that is devoted to individuals who were affected with mental health conditions. Danielle went through major depressive bouts and had discovered that photography was an effective instrument that helped her go through life with lesser pain and misery. She then created Broken Light Collective to inspire others to try their hand at photography as well.

You could take a leisurely walk taking spring hues using your latest iPhone lens or simply nestle in the lakeside with a Nikon, just waiting for an hour or two for that egret to do its first catch. Either way, it appears that nature and wildlife photography can navigate you serenely into the moment. All you need to do is to step outdoors to reap its benefits.





Photography As A Form Of Self-Therapy



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These tips for self-therapy using photography comes from no less than licensed art therapists that we have talked with. Most of these professionals refer to their experiences with their clients, but we are also hoping that these recollections will serve as inspiration. Many activities can be applied for individuals utilizing therapeutic photography strategies to help themselves enhance their mental and emotional well-being. Of course, not all strategies will work for everybody, so you are encouraged to try those you are comfortable with.

While you can check out these tips to discover new things in your life, it is vital to remember that there is always a possibility that applying the strategies might elicit unexpectedly tough memories or emotions within you. If you realize this happening, you could choose to scrutinize this further by visiting a professional therapist.

Learn To Do Meditation

This entails encouraging the clients to try mindfully and deliberately connecting within while studying everyday things and circumstances. Observing your own emotional responses is a crucial factor of transformation, as one cannot change what he is not conscious of. It is also a way of helping an individual slow down, mindfully observe, and connect to his internal world.

After taking some photos, it would be beneficial to engage in a brief writing exercise regarding the photos brought. Art therapists typically ask their patients to utilize non-judgmental words while seeing the photos, like, “I’m noticing that these shades are opening up emotions of happiness and calm right now.” They may also say how they feel when they were taking those pictures.

Experiment On Collage

Collage is a method that experts we spoke with mentioned often. They said that cutting figures from a picture and placing them into a fresh context encourages a discussion about ways to improve their lives. They add that we are really not as trapped as we may think sometimes. Recontextualization can be done.


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The initial project that these experts talked about was making a series of collages from photos that displayed and honored their significant others. Actual pictures of family members and also photocopies were utilized to make beautiful collages. Phrases that portrayed each member of the family, colored paper, and clip art were integrated with the images for every college page.


For seasoned photographers, a challenge regarding therapeutic photography strategies is letting go of expectations. Another means to do that is by investigating and exploring new things. Don’t focus too much on doing it the right way. Rather, focus on what makes you feel curious or what interests you most.

You don’t really have to own an expensive DSLR. You can use a toy camera or your smartphone. Barter your regular gadget for something else, or take pictures of a brand-new thing or place.

Try Recording Events From Your Life

To be clear, you can attempt to do this activity by yourself, but if you were not doing it with the supervision of an art therapist, it wouldn’t be described as art therapy. Literally, art therapy occurs when a patient or client works with an art therapist – someone who is trained in the mental health field.

However, it doesn’t imply that reflective activities like art-making by yourself are not beneficial. It is crucial that if an individual who is not a therapist utilizes therapeutic strategies, they use them only personally without another individual.

Envision Your Feelings

One mental health professional that was interviewed recalled having his patients record their feelings and study them figuratively. He says that another patient of his also used photography as self-therapy to record her emotional process and other feelings. This particular patient would break some dishes and then take pictures of the shards – where they fell and sometimes arranged intentionally. The photographs that the patient took had a significant definition as it had helped with the feelings that she was having a hard time managing.

Seeking A Professional


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Ultimately, photography as a form of self-therapy is effective, although seeking the help of a therapist can help individuals reflect in various ways than they could on by themselves. Anybody who attempts these activities on their own and perhaps does not find much should not set aside the idea. The process of photograph therapy will be smoother, more organized, and more powerful with the supervision of mental health professionals.

Individuals can utilize therapeutic photography strategies on their own or in groups. Still, a licensed therapist can make a safe space for unraveling these strategies more completely and at the same time evading possible triggers. Naturally, if at some point you realize that mental health problems are interfering or impacting your life, the initial step must be to contact a mental health provider for help.

Photography as a therapeutic tool can be subtle, and occasionally, what is uncovered is unnerving. This is a great reason why it can encourage individuals to do therapeutic work with a qualified professional.