Capturing a Moment in Time
The Creative Soul
I remember my first grown-up present at Christmas. It was a very inexpensive camera, but it was a gift that made me feel so grown-up at age seven and seemed to promise me the rest of my life would follow and be magical. The art of photography continues to seem magical to me. Photography is the taking of a picture of reality that somehow not only shows us the obvious but also the unseen, the possibilities of our imagination and beyond.
Photography not only can inspire us; it can improve our mental health. IN a Dec 2017 article Danielle Hark wrote: “We all deal with mental or emotional struggles at one time or another in our lives. Whether it’s stress from work, situational depression or anxiety, or full-on mental illness, it helps to take time to refocus and gain perspective. One tool you can use may be right in your pocket attached to your phone… a camera. It has been proven time and again that creativity and art therapy are valuable tools for emotional wellness. Photography is one such tool that you can utilize without going to art school or being professionally trained. Modern technology provides easy-to-use options including a variety of automatic modes on point-and-shoot cameras, digital SLRs (single-lens reflex cameras), and even camera phones. Now anyone can take photos — and just by taking a photo, you are taking a moment to stop and look at your environment through a new lens. This moment can be the moment that changes your day from a negative to a positive — or at least gives you a momentary distraction and calm.”
Photography is the act of taking pictures for sentimental reasons, as a hobby or keeping informed with new events. Similarly, taking pictures help us to stay in touch with past events, thereby enables one to appreciate history. Most people use photography as a tool to keep in touch with past events. Looking at photographs taken in the past also helps to improve our knowledge on how we relate to past events.
Medically speaking, taking pictures can save a life. The advancements made because of x-rays and modern photographic capabilities combines with nuclear medicine are truly life-saving tools. There are other reasons for taking pictures, though. Legally it is a good idea if ever in a traffic accident to quickly snap a picture of any damage done to your vehicle. It is also a good idea to periodically take pictures of your home and its furnishings. These can be used to document loss from theft or natural disasters. Keeping hard copies of such pictures is also a good idea since digital photography is sometimes inadmissible in court.
What about the weekend photographer or the proud grandparent? Are those being creative and are there health benefits? Even the Centers for Disease Control recognize the advantages of taking pictures and the art of photography. When community members photograph their daily lives, they may find that the bigger picture begins to emerge. In young hands, a camera can be a gateway to healthy habits, life styles and communities. Researchers gave cameras to teens in inner-city Baltimore and asked them to take pictures of positive activities that were alternatives to joining a gang. “The project gave participants courage to talk to adults about community issues,” says Seante Hatcher. Ms Hatcher is the community relations coordinator for the Johns Hopkins University Prevention Research Center (PRC), one of 35 community-academic partners the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds to find innovative solutions to health challenges. The “Photovoice” technique shows that taking pictures can empower the photographers, document their perspectives and deliver their messages.
“Photovoice bridges age, race and gender. The pictures speak in a language common to everyone,” says Joyce Moon-Howard, DrPH, a researcher at the Columbia University PRC. The center has used Photovoice in interventions to promote healthy eating and in programs to encourage teenagers. The process of taking photos can be used to involve young people in positive activities and engage policymakers in discussions about sensitive community issues. with HIV to share their feelings about living with the disease. “The project used both the lens of the camera and the lens of the HIV-positive young adult,” says Alwyn Cohall, M.D., director of the center. “Participation reduced the isolation and stigma of dealing with HIV and gave the teenagers a sense of belonging.” In a separate study, teens took and shared pictures of nutritious foods and were inspired to try more fruits and vegetables, he says. Dr. Moon-Howard identifies group discussion as a vital aspect of Photovoice. A set of photographs, she says, creates a “series of meaning” that helps a group identify issues of mutual concern and can motivate change.
By picking up a camera,, you are not only being present and creative, but you are actually practicing mindfulness, which reduces stress and helps leave you balanced and ready to take on the rest of your day.