Photography is an art form that turns images we see into lasting replications. The meaning behind photography takes “photo” from the Greek “light” and “graphy” from the Greek “drawing” to mean light drawing. Photography captures light and uses it to create an image of what we see. What once needed film can now use film or digital processing to create the image.
Photography is a tool for expression and visual communication, and its reaches have extended far into space, with powerful cameras recording images of distant galaxies far from our own. We will not get into the technicalities of how photography works in this article. That is not the purpose. We only provide a small overview of photography before discussing its impact on well-being.
While there are many subcategories of photography, there are three general purposes:
- Art photography:
From storytelling to landscapes, fashion to nature, the countless areas of art photography allow the photographer to experiment with new styles and techniques to express any concept.
- Commercial photography:
In this genre, photography aims to promote a company, service, product, or event. From sports to fashion, food to performance, commercial photography excites people about what the image promotes.
- Documentary photography:
Here, photography captures real subjects and events to present a story. We often find this form of medium in historical reports and collections. The images presented often become iconic for their symbolism of the event.
History of Photography
Photography began in France in 1826 or 1827, depending on various sources, showing a building’s roof lit by the sun. Before this time, cameras were used only to project light onto a surface for artists to create realistic paintings.
In 1839 France, the first commercial photographic material, daguerreotypes, presented images fixed to heavily polished silver-plated copper sheets. It provided sharp images, although it was an expensive proposition at this time.
From the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, the portraiture and documentary genre came into being in the US, thanks to Alfred Stieglitz, one of the first influential individuals in the art community to consider photography as a serious creative medium. Dorothea Lange was a prominent documentary photographer in the 1930s, telling powerful stories with the camera.
Stereoscopic photography was popular from the mid-1850s through the early 1900s. Its process made two images of a subject utilizing dual lenses 2.5 inches apart, as with the human eye. By mounting the prints laterally and side by side, the human brain would bring the images together, creating a three-dimensional illusion.
Over the decades, many photographers and styles would come and go. George Eastman introduced the Kodak camera in 1888, changing photography and making it more accessible to everyone.
Photojournalism became an art form, allowing reporting with images to record significant events worldwide.
Color photography became accessible in the 1930s when Kodachrome film from Eastman Kodak was introduced. Throughout the 20th century, advancements in photography took us from film into the digital era. Today, most people with cell phones capture images immediately, sharing them within seconds through social media and the internet.
What Impact Does Photography Have on Mental Well-being?
Consider how much time you spend on your computer or other electronic device. Are you searching the news, keeping up with social media, or planning your next big adventure?
What do these things have in common?
You are likely looking at photographs associated with these and other activities. Of course, those are not the only places you look at pictures. They are on our phones and in scrapbooks, magazines, and newspapers. You can see them at movie theaters and on television. You may even find photographs on public transit and billboards.
Has an image you saw in a photograph ever made you remember a happy occasion? Have you ever been upset over a picture? Perhaps you miss the person whose image you see but is long gone. Photography has quite an impact on our emotional well-being – sometimes good, other times maybe not. Either way, there is no denying the impact of photography on our mental health. Using photography in a mindful way can alter our daily lives.
Photography provides many benefits for our lives and emotional well-being, including:
- Creates a daily therapeutic habit
Planning to take at least one photograph each day helps you slow down for a minute, take stock of the world around you, and find something worthwhile of your time. Many people use their children or pets or turn to nature to find a compelling image.
- Shows different perspectives
We all live unique lives – no two people are the same. Photographs show life from different perspectives, often helping to enrich our own. Community interactions can also benefit from the sharing of photographs.
- Can capture unique moments
You never know when that special moment will appear – maybe a bunny eating a flower in your garden or a rainbow after a sun shower. Having our cell phones ready and handy can help capture those unique moments.
- Fostering happy memories
Sitting and looking at photos of loved ones, special occasions, or amazing vacations from the past can be very therapeutic. These memories stir deep positive feelings within us, lightening our mood.
- Provides a beautiful vision of the world
We are often too busy in our daily lives to “stop and smell the roses.” Every photograph tells a different story of the world around us. Sometimes, there are small details we did not notice when we took the photo but discovered later when looking at it.
- Keeps our brain in shape
Photography helps the brain process the cognitive requirements associated with taking pictures, as with any creative endeavor. Often middle-aged people suffer from hormonal imbalances that can cause low energy levels, changeable mood, and even impaired cognition. Fortunately, besides photography and other activities that help us keep our brains active, there is successful hormonal treatment. Discover how much HGH costs and learn more about this treatment.
- Necessity of activities during the day
Photography is an excellent hobby for older, retired individuals who may have few activities planned to keep them busy.
- Stimulate positive mood and reduce stress
Art is an excellent source of healing, and photography helps you relax and reduce stress – especially if you are out in nature.
- Serves as a great icebreaker
Sharing photographs with others helps to foster new social connections. Online photo groups are excellent for people who prefer to avoid meeting in person or cannot attend in-person groups.
- Improves creativity
Being creative in any form is an excellent stimulus for the mind and emotions. Photography lets you channel your creative juices while thinking of areas you want to explore through imagery.
- Way of earning money
Most people will agree that making extra money makes them happy – often allowing you to splurge on items not usually in your budget. Taking and selling photographs and creating artwork items out of the pictures is a great way to increase your income.
You do not need to be a professional photographer to take beautiful and meaningful pictures. There are plenty of tutorials online that can help you learn how to improve your picture-taking and editing skills.
View photography as a way to enrich your life and the lives of others. You can use it to help express your emotions, see different perspectives, or appreciate the world around you.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to photography, unless, of course, you want to turn pro. That is an entirely different subject. Just grab your camera or phone and get out there and snap away.