Opinion: Photography is good for your mental health in more ways than one

Photography is good for your mental health
(Image credit: Photo by Erika Fletcher on Unsplash)

As I write this it’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 – and although I’m in no way qualified to provide anything other than a few surface-level observations – reading about wellbeing has reminded me just how wholesome photography can be. It’s no secret that creative activities can have a positive impact on mental health and while I enjoy multiple creative hobbies including writing, drawing and music, I think photography ticks the most mood-boosting boxes. Here’s why... 

Photography allows us to convey meaning, express feelings and immortalise special moments. This in and of itself is hugely beneficial, but that’s only the beginning. Physical and mental health are intrinsically linked, and many genres encourage photographers to get out and about. Whether you’re climbing mountains, walking through cities or simply strolling through the countryside, you’re going to be racking up those steps. And with camera in hand, it probably won’t feel much like exercise either. 

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Some benefits are genre specific, for example, landscape and wildlife photography provides an excuse to experience the many health-boosting qualities nature has to offer. Travel photography serves to broaden horizons and immerse oneself in other cultures. And street, documentary and portrait photography are a great way to meet and interact with new people.

For some, photography is a chance to engage in a little me time, but for those who seek it, there’s a strong social element too. Whether you chat to like-minded photographers online, embark on shoots with a friend, attend group workshops or join a camera club, there are a myriad of ways to connect with others.

Something a little less obvious is the presence of challenges and goals. Photography is a learning process and even if you don’t realise it, you’re probably working towards a few goals right now. This might be a short-term goal like conquering manual mode or an ambitious long-term goal like attracting your first paying client. I know from personal experience that creative ambitions have provided a welcome sense of purpose when I’ve felt a little lost in other aspects of my life.

And the proof is in the pudding. N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine runs a couple of articles each issue called Your Stories. Over the years many photographers – amateurs and pros – have told of the positive effects photography has had on their lives, whether that be recovering from an illness, remembering a loved one or simply avoiding cabin fever during lockdown.

People don’t think twice about maintaining good physical health, so this month why not set aside a little time for a wellbeing workout. You can start by picking up your camera…

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Mike Harris
Technique Editor

Mike is Deputy Editor for N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, and brings with him over 10 years experience writing both freelance and for some of the biggest specialist publications. Prior to joining N-Photo Mike was the production editor for the content marketing team of Wex Photo Video, the UK’s largest online specialist photographic retailer, where he sharpened his skills in both the stills and videography spheres.  

While he’s an avid motorsport photographer, his skills extend to every genre of photography – making him one of Digital Camera World’s top tutors for techniques on cameras, lenses, tripods, filters and other imaging equipment, as well as sharing his expertise on shooting everything from portraits and landscapes to abstracts and architecture to wildlife and, yes, fast things going around race tracks.