Photography Therapy: Utilizing Visual Footprints For Mental Health





Considered as footprints of one’s mind, photographs hold that silent stillness which reflects memories that a person holds dear. Nonetheless, snapshots are documentations of people’s lives that may significantly encourage positive ideations leading to a healthier state of mind.


Creating Meaning From Imaging


“Most people have a loud inner critic which makes their life more stressful.”  David Klow, a licensed therapist said. With that, the substantial context of any photograph prevails less in its visual meaning and more on what the information or details evoke within the heart and mind of the viewer. Reminiscence also includes the one who took the pictures and the people who appear in it.


Gazing at an image, people automatically, spontaneously create prolific meanings based on what they see and not necessarily what the photographer initially intended it to be. For this reason, any picture is open to interpretation. Thus, a photograph’s emotional message is entirely dependent upon the person looking because different life encounters and perceptions are instantaneously defined in a framed contextual reality.


“We should examine the inextricable role that self-love plays in any and all human connection.” Clinical Psychologist and relationship expert Molly Gasbarrini, Ph.D. explains. Therefore, an individual’s reactions to snapshots are considered unique because it can reveal a great deal about themselves if the right kinds of questions are asked.






How Photo Therapy Is Utilized To Its Full Potential


As “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.” Catherine Cleveland M.S., LMHC-P explains. It depicts why majority of people keep snapshot memorabilia to have something to look back to whenever they feel the need to go down memory lane. For therapists, photographs are frozen bridges for exploring, communicating, and accessing memories and feelings that were embedded unconsciously on that particular moment, along with resurfacing any long-forgotten, deeply-buried issues that can initiate meaningful thoughts and feelings.


During photography therapy sessions, individual’s photos are used and shown to serve as tangible and symbolic transitional objects that quietly offer more profound insight in a manner that words alone cannot thoroughly deconstruct or represent.


With a trained therapist’s guidance, photography therapy techniques are implemented by allowing clients to explore their family albums and take out images that mean something to them, in addition to what they will visually show. There is potential information ingrained in every photograph, which can be used to precipitate and focus the treatment dialogue, technically a lesser censored and more direct approach to tapping and connecting with the unconscious.


Session Expectations


Now that one is aware regarding the simplified principles, what can people expect during every photography therapy session?


During sessions, images are not only passively shown in silent reverie but are also:


  • Created during or after meetings
  • Listened to and talked about
  • Posed for
  • Revised or reconstructed to illustrate or create fresh narratives
  • Re-visualized using imagination or memory
  • Integrated into other treatment modalities


Majority of these techniques done with the photographs allow individuals to have a better understanding and reach, and wherein they can comfortably and efficiently express portions of themselves in a manner that were not previously deemed possible.






The Therapist’s Function


Take note that the primary role of a therapist in photography therapy is to support and encourage the person’s discoveries and at the same time explore personal images and interact in a healthy, non-intrusive manner.


Photography therapy is not about therapists interpreting images for their clients, but it is a treatment modality that gives people the opportunity to explore what the images mean and how these images impact or change their lives.



Keeping It Sane With Photography: A Creative Counseling Technique






For a considerable amount of years, photography has been present to deliver images and events that represent emotions like fear, happiness, sadness, and love. While photography is done for numerous reasons – a hobby or a way of living – there are those who consider the art as a way to preserve their sanity and cope with life’s daily struggles.


Currently, the number of photographers is emerging, and more are eager to learn the art, mainly for expression and escape. Photography not only makes people feel relaxed but also has a way of purging negativities from their thoughts; because of this, counseling has advised photography as a therapeutic hobby to keep the mind and feelings at bay.


Photography Leads to Inner Happiness


According to Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC, “Happy people do things differently. They make their emotional wellbeing a priority and practice daily and weekly habits that help them create joy, happiness and satisfaction in their lives.” With that, any hobby can beseech happiness; this is the same with photography. Photography provides an artistic outlet that is distinctly different from other types of art therapies like writing, painting, or drawing. Instead of creating or building something out of nothing, the person can immediately seize the moment that resonates with them and put it in a still frame. Taking pictures of what you find inspiring or captivating and putting it on print or just marveling at the result can initiate joy and satisfaction.


Photography Taps Into The Meditative State


Photography is not merely a point-and-shoot process; it goes beyond the usual individual and group snaps. People who are engaged in photography have found that it can be meditative, especially those who have chosen nature or landscape as their primary subjects. When capturing images, photographers have to dig deep within themselves to realize what angle or locations would serve best to get the optimum results. Photographers must be focused, calm, and mentally aware all the time to internalize and trigger the brain to be more intertwined with the surroundings. Because as Dr. Carlene Taylor, LMHC, LPC, CPCS, NCC said, “Nature-based/experiential interventions produce increased treatment success more rapidly than traditional talk approaches. There is a relationship between humans who connect with and spend time in nature and increased environmental awareness or stewardship.”




Photography Increases Self-Esteem


Being skilled in a particular endeavor is a significant way to increase one’s self-confidence and self-esteem. However, there’s something uniquely special about photography when it comes to gaining copious amounts of self-regard due to the ideals and principles that surround the craft. Photography is an expression, not only of one’s skills and talent but also of one’s soul.


In Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D. blog, she says, “If you are struggling with low self-esteem, it is encouraged that you seek some type of help and support to work through this issue, and to help you be the best version of yourself that you can be.” The moment you’ve managed to take a picture of something that means something to you or something that speaks to you on a more personal level and you share it to people who, in turn, would praise or comment on the results can significantly boost your confidence. Most importantly, it is during times when people react and impart their feelings about your work is what makes photography more meaningful because of the notion that it is the art that connects people who have experienced the same circumstances and emotions.


Photography Heals


A lot of photographers have ventured into life and found that learning how to get the perfect photo is more therapeutic than going into weekly sessions or drinking medications. But just because photography works for them, it may or may not work for you; it’s a matter of finding out what treatment modality or hobby you feel most comfortable with and find a way to hone or nurture the interest.




Photography heals the mind and the soul by calming negatives and welcoming the positives.While there are photographers who have subjected their entire lives in taking pictures and making a living out of it, there are those who do it during their free time as a form of stress reliever and a way to delete the day’s toxicity.

Trendy Throwback Thursday [Why People Are Crazy About It]





Throwback Thursday is a popular way to reminisce about the good old days. People would post a photo online, usually Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with the caption or hashtag “ThrowbackThursday.” These are pictures of them when they were little, an old place that meant a lot, a doodle that used to symbolize something, a letter, or old clothes and stuff that are sentimental.


People would usually look forward to the future, not the past. What are the subconscious reasons why people are so fond of throwbacks?


Why Do People Love Throwback Thursday?


  1. Feeling Nostalgic


When we go to our old stuff and see some old family photos, there’s a certain feeling that sparks within us. It brings back memories of happy moments we had with the people who matter to us a lot. It is a way of reminiscing and looking back at how great life was.


Looking at our throwback photos makes us feel sentimental in a meaningful way. It makes us remember our childhood and teenage days when life was happy and carefree. Adult people tend to wish for these days to come back, even just for a second.


  1. Looking Back On Our Dreams


Having a glimpse better, like when you see an old photo of you playing the piano. It could be a reminder of your dream of being a musician. It could somehow awaken your desire of actually being good at it and start doing something to make it happen.




Maybe you had a dream of putting up your own pastry house, and you see an old photo of you and your mom baking. It could be an inspiration and motivation to start pursuing what you love. That is if you haven’t yet, but if you already have, throwback photos remind us that every success comes from a small beginning.


  1. Following Trend


Since posting throwback photos became popular nowadays, it wouldn’t hurt posting one of your own. Following the trend can improve our social skills, especially now that social media is the new place to hang out.


Posting your throwback photos online can show your softer side. It could tell the people who used to be a part of your life that you treasure those moments together and that you value whatever memories you had with them.


  1. Embracing Change


Sharing photos is easier today. In fact, taking photos is easier! Back in the days, it could cost so much just to have your family photo taken, and it could be only twice in one’s lifetime. The technology nowadays has made it possible for us to have our sure taken twice in a minute or maybe more!




Throwback Thursday is a way for us to connect to the old us. It can be a good or bad thing, but it is always exciting and worthwhile. Our past is a part of our lives that made us who we are and where we are today. There is nothing wrong with loving the throwbacks. It is one way to appreciate and be grateful for the life we had.



How To Stop Being A Camera-Shy Individual




Some people go crazy at taking pictures, to the point that they turn a pastime into a way of life. Many social media stars rose to fame due to the incredible photos they post online on a regular basis. Were they all taken with a regular camera phone? Nope – a lot of them use professional gadgets and perhaps hire folks to capture the shots for them.

On the other hand, some individuals would much rather stay out of frame. It isn’t because they have flaws they don’t want everybody else to see. Often, the reason is that they are camera-shy and they assume they aren’t photogenic enough to be the subject of still images.

If you’re more like the latter, you surely know how this shyness can bring your loved ones’ mood down. Instead of joining group pictures, for instance, you pretend to need a quick bathroom break, and then only come out when the photo op is over. Or, in case they manage to pull you out, you either cover half of your face or put on an awkward expression.
Although no one can or should underestimate your anxiety around cameras, remember that images are great remembrances you can keep for life. If you wish to chuck out this problem, here are some tips on how to stop being a camera-shy individual.


Overcome Your Fear

My initial advice is to take that first selfie, in case you haven’t at this point. Considering you have, and yet you still feel uneasy about having your photos captured, then just continue doing it or ask a friend to do it for you to let go of the fear.






Get Comfortable

Another source of worry for many folks is that they may look too skinny, fat, underdressed, or dolled up in the picture. Because of that, you should only wear an ensemble you don’t mind being caught in anytime.


Forget Past, Present Or Future Haters

Beauty standards can also make someone anxious. If you were – or are – a victim of bullying or body-shaming, whether online or not, you may quickly think you’ll never seem significant in front of a camera. However, haters will always lurk around regardless if your figure is like Kim K’s or Gigi Hadid’s, so try your mightiest not to give them the satisfaction of controlling your life decisions.


Avoid Posing At First

Doing poses when you’re not familiar with the act will highlight your awkwardness a lot. Personally, I suggest going with candid shots in the beginning so that you can develop a sense of comfortability without pressure. Once you’re ready for the theatrics, then strike a pose whenever you please.


Never Push Yourself Too Much

In case you’re not feeling it after a week or so, don’t give up, but prevent going overboard as well. The love for getting your images captured will never grow overnight. You need to take it easy on yourself since, to be honest, forcing the idea won’t make you appreciate it more.





Be You

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to act normal in front of a camera. It’s a device that won’t eat you alive; you can be as silly or as funny as you usually are around the people you love. Once you keep that in mind, your photos will look much better instantly.