The many mental health benefits of photography


Author Yena Son said taking photos at the Anti-Asian Hate Rally this April helped her feel more involved in her community

Yena Son, Eastside Photo Editor

The COVID-19 outbreak has sparked many necessary conversations about mental health worldwide. During the pandemic, many resorted to pastimes, such as journaling, meditation, and exercise, to maintain their mental and physical fitness. Although these three activities are helpful and provide numerous mental health benefits, many other less popular pastimes go overlooked. These recent discussions have made me question how my favorite pastime, photography, has positively impacted my life and state of mind through these uncertain times.

Personally, my experiences as a photographer have significantly boosted my self-confidence. After devoting hours to taking photos at a game or an event, the satisfaction that comes with finishing up a photo album and scrolling through it for a final check is unexplainable. On top of that, there is no better feeling than when a team, student, teacher, or parent recognizes my photos and appreciates the time and effort I put into them.

According to researchers at Lancaster University and the University of Sheffield, photography can improve one’s wellbeing through “self-care, community interaction and the potential for reminiscence.” For me, the community interaction component is the most prominent. Before taking up photography, I was very introverted and struggled with meeting new people. As my passion for photography grew, it pushed me to explore my community and the people in it. My social and communication skills developed immensely, and I am no longer hesitant to seek out photo opportunities in my area.

Photography also serves as a convenient exercise for the brain. The process of photography is cognitively demanding and requires a lot of creativity. A click of the shutter-release button without any adjustments will not always give the best results. I spent a lot of time learning about how my camera works and have had to take inventory of what settings work best through experience. The creative aspect comes in when I edit the photos: I decide what I can add to them without altering their original aesthetic.

If you are searching for a new hobby that is beneficial for your mental health, try out photography. It helps you stay active, engaged, and aware of your surroundings. It might just become your new favorite pastime.