The use of visual art has long been understood to have positive effects on both physical and psychological health. Photography is a form of self-expression that can contribute to a person’s ability to maintain or reconstruct a positive identity.
At university, Claire studied psychology and has always had a keen interest in child development, history and mental health. She found that photography brought all of these things together and likes to focus on nature photo sessions to boost family wellbeing.
She is an advocate for photography helping mental health and is a firm believer that nature can have an amazing positive effect on health and wellbeing. Here, she discusses the importance of taking just 15 minutes to yourself and using a camera to help you refocus.
When we think of a photographer we think of someone with a humongous camera usually in an awkward position attempting to get the perfect shot. This is the stereotype. In reality, anyone can be a photographer.
Mobile phone cameras have made the world of photography accessible to all and this is a blessing to society as we can now all document our life in pictures and treasure these every day moments. However, on the flipside, photography has encouraged a world of social media overload which I believe plays a huge role in the mental health crisis (particularly with the younger generations) that the world is currently facing along with the demands of busy lifestyles that we have all accepted as the norm.
It’s time to make a change and take some time back for yourself, for your personal wellbeing and mental health and I believe photography can be a useful tool to do this.
Photography allows you to take time out and can be used as an alternate therapy to help people overcome anxiety, daily overwhelm and depression. Photography can have a positive effect on your wellbeing, boosting self-esteem, confidence, memory, decision making and acts by helping you to focus and calm the mind from the everyday hustle and bustle.
The importance to take 15 minutes out from work and life is undervalued and it’s time that we all began to invest some time in ourselves. The risk is that if you don’t you may end up burnt out and disconnected from your true self. Photography is an easily accessible tool to all people. The use of the camera to focus on the present and creation of an image will de-stress, de-clutter and calm your mind and you will see the positive effects on your health and happiness.
I have discovered through my own photography that it has a profound effect on my mental wellbeing.
This journey consciously began just over 18 months ago but looking back it began unconsciously many years before. I have always carried a camera from a young age and I have always enjoyed photography. Throughout my childhood I would spend hours photographing my surroundings, my pets and my home. I have spent the past 11 years documenting my family life and our children growing up and I now find myself specialising in natural light photography as a career as I choose to focus my life around a job that I love and enjoy.
I have used my camera as a tool to take time out and de-stress for many years but without knowing. I now have come to realise that my camera is my lifeline and a tool to calm my mind and ground me in the moment. I will naturally reach for my camera when I want to de-stress from the world and zone out from all other concerns.
Photography has always offered me a place of refuge, a place to escape to when I feel anxious, overwhelmed, sad or lost. Photography combined with nature is an amazing and powerful tool to ground me and reconnect to my own inner wisdom.
More recently life has continued to throw the unexpected our way and my camera has continued to weather this journey by my side. Through hard times, sad times, lonely times and anxious times my photography has developed and evolved and has offered a release of pressure and a way to bring me back to my true self. Photography grounds me in the moment and all other background noise dissipates.
For me, photography has been a lifeline and I truly believe it can have a positive effect on the mental health of others too. It is a natural form of mindfulness and encourages you to be present in the moment and take notice of your feelings and accept that, however you feel at this point in time, it is OK.
Photography enables your brain a time to flow, a time to create and a time for yourself to just be still in the moment. It focuses your mind on the activity of creation, allowing you time to just be, to feel the image you are creating by taking notice of little details and thinking of the reason behind why you are creating the image – how does it make you feel and what’s the story behind the image. This creation will ground you and clear your mind from any worries or troubles which in turn gives you clarity and helps when prioritising or decision making.
There is also the wonderful benefit that you are able to share your creation, be proud of your photos, accept your style and express yourself through your photos. Photography is not only a creative outlet to de-stress the brain but it also allows you to create, to explore and to share your individuality.
Through photography you will also see a boost in confidence, a boost in your self-esteem, a boost in resilience and feel a true connection to yourself as you look inward and re-discover your self-identity.
Everybody can benefit from using photography as a tool to connect to oneself and the environment. Photography is an everyday wellbeing tool and helps to calm my mind and offer me clarity, ease and a space to just be me. Photography is a way to take time when things get on top of you or you need a moment to escape the everyday stresses of life. You don’t have to be a photographer and there is no judgement or right and wrong in the image that you create.
When you need a moment, grab your coat, grab your phone or camera and take a walk. Wherever you are, whenever you feel that intense feeling of overwhelm just take those 15 minutes.
You can see more of Claire’s work at http://www.clairevictoria.co
SANE’s Creative Awards Scheme offers artists affected by mental illness grants to buy materials, enrol on courses, hold exhibitions and develop creative potential. Applications are now open and we welcome photographic entries. Find out more at SANE Creative Awards Scehem