Photography as Language
Photography is part of our social fabric. We don’t think of it as expressive art yet we “speak” through images every day. We literally “capture” what matters most in our lives. In small and meaningful ways, photographs tell the story of our lives.
Additionally, we are seen through images. In this way, photography connects us together. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are a classic examples. People are drawn together through shared images. We find our tribe and feel a sense of belonging with others.
Likewise, art helps people express what is difficult to put into words. For instance, trauma, grief and loss are often unbearable to talk about. Yet, through photography, these emotions can be contained and explored. As a result, the pain is literally held at arms length. More importantly, you control what is shared.
Life is full of uncertainty. It’s more complex and beautiful than our words allow. Photography fills in the ambiguities with vivid meaning. In the same vein, reflecting on images unlocks the unconscious. Doing so expands our view, which helps us see past defense structures.
We trust the image. Whereas our own memory can be a bit shaky. Yet, in themselves, photos possess no meaning. That belongs to the beholder. When time is taken to ‘read’ images from multiple perspectives with a caring, non-judgmental other, a safe space is created to explore unknown opposites within ourselves.
Photography provides a means to translate and evaluate personal experiences. It frees the unconscious, allowing greater access to thoughts, feelings and beliefs. While at the same time, the act of taking a picture has the potential to slow us down and focus.
Photography can be a form of mindfulness, similar to meditation, which is proven to help people suffering from depression and anxiety. When taking photos, you often find yourself in the “flow” of the moment. This calms the mind, providing relief from stress.
There are many ways to utilized photography in therapy. In our work, should you want to use this powerful tool, we will create ways to use it together. As with any art, there is no one way or right way. That’s the beauty of it.