7 Proven Tips for Using Photography to Improve Mental Health
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Use photography for mindfulness practice
  2. Create a visual journal
  3. Capture your feelings
  4. Focus on the details
  5. Explore self-portraiture
  6. Connect with others through photography
  7. Break free from perfectionism

Photography holds an extraordinary power. It's not just about capturing stunning landscapes or memorable moments—it's also a powerful tool for boosting mental health. If you've been wondering how to improve photography for mental health, you're at the right place. In this blog, we'll walk through seven proven tips that can help you use photography as a way to enhance your mental well-being.

Use photography for mindfulness practice

Photography and mindfulness may seem like two completely different concepts, but they can actually go hand in hand. Here's how:

1. Be Present: When you're out with your camera, try to immerse yourself fully in the moment. Don't think about the past or stress about the future—just focus on what you're seeing through your lens right now.

2. Notice the Details: Photography encourages you to notice the tiny details that you might otherwise overlook. This could be the way the sunlight filters through the leaves, the intricate pattern of a butterfly's wings, or the smile on a loved one's face.

3. Take a Breather: The act of photography forces you to slow down, breathe, and focus. This can be incredibly calming and therapeutic—much like a form of meditation.

4. Embrace the Process: Remember, the goal is not to capture the perfect shot, but to enjoy the process of taking photos. This can help you stay focused and present, thus improving your mental health.

So, grab your camera and explore your surroundings. You'll be surprised at how photography can help you practice mindfulness, and in turn, improve your mental health.

Create a visual journal

Another unique way to improve photography for mental health is by creating a visual journal. Ever heard of it? If not, don't worry. It's pretty simple and incredibly effective. Here's how you can get started:

1. Start Snapping: Take photos of anything that catches your eye or evokes a particular emotion. It could be your morning coffee, a blooming flower, a laughing child, or even a rain-soaked window. You don't need a fancy camera for this—your smartphone will do just fine.

2. Organize Your Photos: Once you've taken some photos, arrange them in a way that makes sense to you. You can sort them by date, theme, color, mood, or any other criteria that works for you. Remember, this is your journal, so do what feels right.

3. Reflect on Your Images: Spend some time each day looking at your photos and reflecting on what they mean to you. What emotions do they evoke? What memories do they bring back? This process can be incredibly therapeutic and can help you navigate your emotions better.

4. Keep Adding: A visual journal is an ongoing project. Keep adding to it regularly. Over time, you'll have a beautiful collection of images that reflect your thoughts, emotions, and experiences.

Creating a visual journal is a great way to express yourself creatively while also improving your mental health. So, why not give it a try?

Capture Your Feelings

Now, let's talk about another unique way to improve photography for mental health: capturing your feelings. Yes, you heard it right! You can use photography to express your emotions. It works like a charm, and here's how you can do it:

1. Identify Your Emotion: Before you pick up your camera, take a moment to identify what you're feeling. Are you sad, happy, angry, or confused? Once you've identified your emotion, you're ready for the next step.

2. Find a Representation: Now, look for something that represents your emotion. For instance, if you're feeling calm, a peaceful sunset might do the trick. If you're feeling lonely, a solitary tree in a field might be a good representation. The objective is to find a visual equivalent of your emotion.

3. Take the Shot: Once you've found your representation, it's time to take the shot. Don't worry about getting it perfect. The goal isn't to create a masterpiece, but to express your feeling.

4. Reflect: After taking the photo, spend some time reflecting on it. Does it accurately capture your emotion? If not, that's okay. Remember, the goal is to express yourself, not to create a perfect photo.

Capturing your feelings through photography can be a powerful tool for mental health. So, why not use your camera as an outlet for your emotions?

Focus on the Details

Do you know another awesome way to improve your photography for mental health? It's focusing on the details. This method not only boosts your photography skills but also helps you stay present and mindful. Let me share how you can do this:

1. Choose a Subject: Start by choosing a subject that sparks your interest. It could be anything: a flower, a piece of furniture, or even a cup of coffee. The key is to select something you wouldn't mind spending some time with.

2. Observe: Now, take a moment to really look at your subject. Notice the texture, the color, the light and shadow. The goal here is to truly see the subject, not just look at it.

3. Photograph: Now it's time to capture the details. Try taking photos from different angles, adjusting the light, or playing with the focus. Experiment and have fun with it!

4. Reflect: After you've taken your photographs, take a moment to look at them. What details stand out? How do the photographs make you feel? Use this reflection time to connect with your feelings and cultivate mindfulness.

By focusing on details, you can not only improve your photography skills but also enhance your mental health. It's like hitting two birds with one stone!

Explore Self-Portraiture

How about turning the camera on yourself? Self-portraiture is a powerful way to improve photography for mental health. It's not just about capturing your image; it's about expressing your inner world, your emotions, and your experiences. So, how do we start exploring self-portraiture? Let's explore:

1. Set the Scene: Start with a simple setup. It could be in your room, backyard, or even your favorite spot in the park. Use natural light if possible, as it tends to create a more genuine mood.

2. Express Yourself: Think about what you want to express in the photo. It could be your current mood, a personal experience, or a message you want to convey. Let your creativity flow.

3. Capture: Use a timer or a remote to capture the shot. Don't stress about getting the perfect shot in the first attempt. The beauty of digital photography is that you can take as many shots as you need.

4. Reflect: Once you've taken the shot, take time to reflect on it. What does the image say about you? How does it make you feel? Reflection is a crucial part of the process, as it allows you to connect with yourself on a deeper level.

Remember, self-portraiture is not about vanity. It's a powerful tool for self-discovery and self-expression. And who knows, you might even discover a new side of yourself in the process!

Connect with Others Through Photography

Photography isn't just a solo journey; it's also a fantastic way to connect with others and improve mental health. Sharing your work, seeking feedback, and discussing ideas can enrich your photographic journey and also provide a sense of community. So, how can you use photography to connect with others? Let's find out:

1. Photo Walks: Join a local photo walk, or better yet, organize one yourself. Not only will you explore new locations, you'll also meet like-minded individuals who share your passion for photography. Who knows, you might learn a new technique or two!

2. Online Communities: The internet is a treasure trove of photography communities. Websites like Flickr, 500px, and Instagram are great platforms for showcasing your work and connecting with other photographers.

3. Collaborative Projects: Team up with other photographers for a collaborative project. It could be a photo essay, a documentary, or a thematic series. Working together can spark creativity and open up new perspectives.

4. Photography Workshops: Participate in a photography workshop. It's an excellent opportunity to learn from professionals, improve your skills, and make new friends.

Remember, photography isn't just about capturing moments; it's about sharing them, too. So go ahead, share your work, connect with others, and see how photography can improve your mental health!

Break Free from Perfectionism

One of the most significant ways to improve photography for mental health is to break free from the chains of perfectionism. The pursuit of the 'perfect' shot can sometimes turn into an obsession, creating stress and stifling creativity. But hey, guess what? It's fine to make mistakes! In fact, it's more than just fine; it's a crucial part of the creative process. Let's see how you can break free from perfectionism:

1. Embrace Imperfections: The beauty of photography lies in its ability to capture the real, the raw, and the imperfect. Remember, an 'imperfect' shot can tell a much more compelling story than a 'perfect' one.

2. Experiment Liberally: Don't be afraid to try out new techniques, angles, lighting conditions, or settings. Experimenting not only helps you learn and grow as a photographer, but it also adds a fun element to the process.

3. Reflect, Don't Criticize: It's easy to be hard on yourself when a photograph doesn't turn out the way you envisioned. Instead of criticizing your work, reflect on it. What could you do differently next time? What did you learn from the experience?

4. Enjoy the Journey: Photography, like any other art, is a journey. It's not just about the end result, but also about the process—how you felt when you captured that moment, the thrill of trying out something new, the joy of learning from your mistakes.

So, the next time you're out with your camera, remember—it's okay not to be perfect. Embrace your imperfections, enjoy the process, and see how photography can improve your mental health.

If you found the tips in this blog helpful and are interested in learning more about using art to improve mental health, check out Louis Bever's workshop, 'Making Art To Help Your Mental Health.' This workshop will provide you with valuable insights on how art can be a powerful tool for self-expression and mental well-being.