Something big is happening right now in mental health with the proliferation of photography.
Every day more and more people are gaining access to cameras and an internet connection — and most importantly a relatively inexpensive channel to tell their story. The number of photos being taken and uploaded to the internet daily is mind-boggling, but what is even more astonishing are the underlying implications of this for mental health.
Photography helped me to overcome severe depression and anxiety, with the camera serving as my therapist. My photos held a mirror up to the thoughts circling around in my head, so I could finally see and begin to understand more about what I was dealing with. I created stories from those photos to allow myself to open up more and explore these arenas where I never dared to enter in the past. This small creative project quickly changed my life, and soon after became my life’s work.
Doesn’t this ad give you all the feels? Photos are a huge part of our lives!
We are approaching 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) new photos PER YEAR. With the wide variety of social networks and platforms available today, the photos will be taken for many different reasons and used in different ways, but each and every photograph is an expression. It represents a unique perspective of the world, a voice, and a moment.
Those photos may be telling a story that has never been told or helping people through a struggle that may seem unbearable, something they don’t have the words for. A photograph can help express that.
Many people are doing this already and unconsciously helping themselves with the power of therapeutic photography, but may not be getting the full benefits without understanding what they are doing. The most beautiful part of all of this is how these photos are helping us connect with each other, instantly across the world, and building empathy for our fellow human beings.
For me the photo explains a bit how I experience my depression,
It felt like I was drowning and everyone else around me could just breathe.
But for me the photo also gives me strength, because I know the duck came back up again.
— Story told by Gina on The One Project (shared with permission)
With each of those one trillion photos comes the opportunity for endless connections to be made. A cancer survivor may help instill hope in someone who was recently diagnosed. Two fathers may find healing knowing there is someone else out there who knows the heartbreak and struggles with depression that comes after losing a child at such a young age. Your mother may be able to see and find comfort in the fact that you are truly happy now.
I have seen countless situations like these play out each day on social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and our own platform for The One Project, which make it drastically easier to share your story and engage with the global community.
Thank you for establishing The One Project. #wscopenroad
– Story by Mark Dixon on The One Project (shared with permission)
Photography projects like Humans of New York, Project Pilgrim and The Stranger Project are helping others to share deep stories of vulnerability through photography and storytelling. My greatest benefit from The One Project has come from the connections and conversation that has evolved from the photos and the stories. It is what has allowed what was once my greatest fear (talking about depression) to become my greatest dream.
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I have seen and heard of countless people whose lives have been changed and saved from the photos and stories they told, the conversations that resulted. If you dig enough on Instagram you’re bound to run across one. Although many people are already implementing therapeutic photography techniques for themselves or others, there are too many people left struggling with the feeling that they are alone. We need to help teach each other the power of a camera and an internet connection.
Please help amplify this conversation by adding your voice to the comments below and sharing the post with someone you believe needs to read it.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
If you’re interested in learning more about therapeutic photography and how it can be used to help with depression and anxiety, you can sign up for our next free webinar or try out our new online course.
The One Project is the photography community for people suffering from depression and anxiety. We teach how therapeutic photography (the healing power of photography) techniques can be used to better express, understand, and overcome these issues with our private online platform and courses. Sign up for free now.
Please note: I always encourage photography to be a tool within your “toolkit” of techniques and support if you’re struggling with a serious issue like depression or anxiety. It’s not a replacement for professional help.