Saturday Fare

Photography saved my life… Photography as therapy

Geoff Harris talks to both photographers and therapists to see how image-making can help with mental health issues.
Be patient and breathe
Someone with first-hand experience of such issues is Paul Sanders, a landscape photographer, workshop leader and Fujifilm X-Photographer. ‘I have always been a photographer, mostly working in news and sport, and I ended up working as the picture editor of a national newspaper,’ he explains.

‘This seemed to be my dream job, but the accumulated stress and pressure led to a full-on nervous breakdown. I entered a downward spiral that culminated in self-harm and eventual suicide attempts in 2012.’ Paul is very candid about his struggles, as he is keen to show other sufferers how photography helped him..

Keeping it simple
Paul is keen to talk more about how image-making can also be a good way to communicate how you are feeling. ‘I found it easier to talk about the feelings behind an image and when I took it, rather than to describe how I was actually feeling in words. A picture can show a sense of isolation, confusion and loneliness. It doesn’t always matter if other people don’t pick up on this, however; so long as you can see your emotions in your image, it’s part of the healing process.’ For Paul, it’s the creation of an actual image that separates photography from other hobbies that benefit both body and mind, such as running, rambling or knitting. ‘Jogging, cycling, etc, allow you to work things out in your head, but they don’t allow you to fully visualise your emotions..
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