Connecting Through Creativity: Therapeutic Photography Part 2

Connecting Through Creativity: Therapeutic Photography Part 2

By Barbara K. Stump, MA

“Somewhere over the rainbow…”—you know the rest! As I mentioned in Part 1 of “Therapeutic Photography,” 2023 had both highs and lows for me. However, one thing is for certain: I witnessed more rainbows in 2023 than in any other year. It could be the climate change, or that I was being more mindful, or maybe, I would like to think, it was a sign of hope. In the previous blog post I shared how my Dad experienced a life-altering stroke in January of 2023. Perhaps, during your lifetime, you may have experienced something this serious with a loved one. No doubt it is challenging watching a family member face something of this nature. To help me, I sought the advice of friends who have gone through something similar with a parent. I also took up a new sport, pickleball. It was refreshing to learn something new, and have a distraction from all of my worries. I absolutely loved being able to have something to release all of the stress and tension building up inside of me. It was fun, and I made many new friends by doing so. All of this was very medicinal on many levels.  Unfortunately, I found myself playing for long hours, aggravating my knees and hips due to years of wear and tear from other sports. In late October of 2023, I was told by an orthopedic surgeon I would need to have my hip replaced within a year, because the pain would become unbearable. It was already getting to the point where my heating pad had become my new best friend.

So, December 1, 2023, I had a total hip replacement surgery on my right hip. It was daunting for me, and I was fearful, being it is considered a major surgery. I am so very thankful for my healthcare team, friends, and family members who checked in on me during this time. My husband jokes with our friends that he should get some type of trophy for his nursing skills. In all actuality, he has been a wonderful caretaker. It’s easy to tell he inherited some of these caring attributes from his mom, who was a nurse during her lifetime. 

Anyhow, I can honestly say my hip felt better immediately after surgery. It was more comfortable to walk and to be able to sleep through the night. There was obviously pain around the incision following the surgery. Also, for a while post-surgery, I had to use a walker, but already, I am walking without any assistance. I will gradually begin increasing activities. However, my doctor said it can take 3-6 months to be able to get back to a normal routine. Hence, pickleball is on hold for now. He also said, it will be a full year before I will be completely healed. Therefore, I am in the recovery process, as we enter 2024, and will be throughout it. My plan is to continue the practice of using therapeutic photography, but as part of my own healing process, this time. 

Perhaps, you are in a position of healing right now, or are looking for a way to enter the new year using some form of mindfulness. In 2018, Researchers at Lancaster University, reviewed the benefits of therapeutic photography, and found that taking a daily photo can improve your well-being by:

  • Self-care
  • Community interaction
  • The potential for reminiscence

“Taking a moment to be mindful, and looking for something different or unusual in the day were seen as positive well-being benefits of practice.”

In fact, I looked out our window on New Year’s Eve, and saw this magnificent cloud reflection mirrored on the lake. As I took this photo, I thought to myself how my healing is kind of mirroring the healing process we went through with my dad, and everything is going to be OK. 

Photography is not only an artistic expression, or medium, it can also permanently record memories. It is your choice of what you want to record, and in turn hopefully bring a peaceful feeling to your life. You can do it daily, once a week, or monthly. Whatever works for you and feels right to do. Here are some ideas for using therapeutic photography:

Create memories

Show progress of something healing or growing

In gratitude of something 

Images that give you positive vibes

Self-portraits to journal your goals with fitness, healing, healthy eating, walking or hiking paths, etc.

Pet portraits, or wildlife photos

Before and after pictures of room transformations

Travel adventures

Cooking, or baking expertise, by you or others

Whatever you are passionate about!

I do strongly believe that by channeling the things that make us happy we can propel ourselves through difficult times. If you do try therapeutic photography, I hope you share your images with others on any platform that suits you. There are so many to choose from today, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or simply printing off the images for displaying in your home! Why not pass on whatever heals you? You never know who else could be inspired by your photos. As Maya Angelou put it, “As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else.”

Barb Stump is an art education consultant and G3 contributing writer.