Photography and Mental Health

Sometimes, life decides to throw a load of crap at you. It's up to you how you deal with it.

It's easy to get lost in the quagmire that is the photography industry. Whether you really want that new piece of gear but can't afford it or you're not making as many sales as you would have hoped, these little things can build and sometimes end up causing a lot of frustration. At times like this, it helps to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Do you and your family have your health? If your answer is "yes", then that's great, because that can't be said of everyone. 

In UK photographer David Dixon's latest video, he talks to Simon Turnbull, a fellow nature photographer from the UK, who turned to photography as way to cope with a very difficult period in his life. Dixon himself is a vocal proponent for mental health awareness and is creating a series of videos on YouTube where he interviews other photographers who share their own experiences with mental health and how a creative outlet like photography helps them through some difficult times.

The concept of having a mindful approach to photography is nothing new, but this is how Turnbull found a way to get out of his head and be more present during a time of personal strain. What struck me most in the video was when he talked about feeling guilty about his state of mind, because it was his partner who was the one with an illness. But when one member of a family suffers, it has an effect on everyone. So, and as he came to realize, it's okay to feel the pressure, strain, or sadness. In fact, it's important for the supposed non-sufferer to be aware of these things and to not chastise themselves, because it's okay to feel unwell. And if one can get some extra help, then that is to the benefit of everyone around them, including the sufferer.

I think, coming up to the holiday period, where things like this become magnified, it's important to be aware of how they can affect us. Whether it is a physical or mental illness, cancer or addiction, everyone in the circle is affected. It does take a certain amount of bravery to stand up and say that one needs help. Just remember that it's okay to ask and help is there.

Mental health resources for: USACanadaUKIreland

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13 Comments

Leigh Miller's picture

Timely post..we just lost a very good contributor/influencer to the photo/video community...Matt Ballard. Awesome guy and deeply passionate about our thing.

Mike O'Leary's picture

I must say that I had never seen his channel before. Thanks for letting us know, Leigh. Very sad, indeed.

user-187388's picture

I googled Matt Ballard's name. Some very wise words from his friend here. If you have depression it can be overcome. I've been there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHmtMTlyi3c

Thanks for posting this timely article.

Mike O'Leary's picture

Thanks for sharing, Geoff.

I am grateful when folks are willing to discuss mental health issues. Its important that we as a society overcome the stigma over talking about it.

My own story is here: http://toyphotographers.com/2018/11/11/toy-photography-and-the-beast-of-...

Mike O'Leary's picture

Agreed, Dave. And thanks for sharing your story. Glad that you've seen light at the end of the tunnel!

Thank you for sharing this Fstopper

Mike O'Leary's picture

Thank you for reading, Jake.

Clifford Baldwin's picture

A timely post. Inexplicably, about two weeks ago, my brother-in-law took his own life. No one, not even those closest to him, can identify a shred of a reason as to why he did this. We are sad, shaken, and confused. Maybe, one day, the reason will surface. Whether it does or not, we are left with pain, and he has left my sister and her three daughters to cope with the aftermath. I wish he had reached out to just ONE person in his life, out of the MANY that deeply cared for him. As it is, he has chosen to leave us and we, in great difficulty, must and will move on. And that is all the more a tragedy

Mike O'Leary's picture

So sorry for your loss, Clifford. It's one of the most difficult subjects to broach, and I thank you for sharing. It is very much as silent killer so the more light that is shed on it, the better. I hope someday that your sister and her daughters can find some semblance of normality.

John Pettigrew's picture

A subject that should get more attention, too many suffer in silence.

Michael Lockwood's picture

I'm directing a photography competition on mental health, outfromthemist.com. The goal is to bring to life images from people with a first hand experience of mental illness.