Why do I take Pictures?
At a party the other day, I got asked for the umpteenth time, “Why do you take so many pictures?” Whenever asked this, I’ve always thought, “What a dumb question.” You know, you do what you like to do. But the question got me thinking. What was about taking pictures that was so compelling and pleasurable for me?
My love of picture taking goes back to the mid-1950s, when my parents gave me a Kodak Brownie Holiday camera. Through my teenage years I had a number of unmemorable cameras, and in 1969, while traveling in Switzerland, I knew that I needed a “real” camera to capture the beauty of my surroundings, and I splurged on a Voightlander 35 mm rangefinder camera. Less than a year later, I bought an SLR (single lens reflex) camera and set up a darkroom in my New York City apartment. I’ve been taking pictures seriously ever since then. But, it wasn’t until I retired as director of the American Academy of Pain Management (now called the Academy of Integrative Pain Management), two years ago, that I began taking and working on pictures everyday. It’s what I love to do.
So, in answer to the question, “Why do you take so many pictures?” Here are some of the reasons:
- It’s always been one of my art forms—a way of making images that express things that are visually interesting and/or of significance to me, and then, sharing them with others.
- It allows me to capture images of beauty in the world around me. Even when times are tough—when bad things are happening in my life, or I don’t feel well, photographing “beauty” brings me joy and reminds me that there are good things—and actually, miraculous things—going on around me at all times.
- It’s a way of keeping a visual journal of my life—of the people, places, and situations that give my life meaning and purpose.
- It improves my “seeing.” I’ve found that the entire photographic process (which is now digital)—from choosing subjects to working on those images—keeps me mentally alert and paying attention to what’s going on in my environment.
- It keeps me learning new things everyday.
- It’s a way of storytelling. I love telling stories and I often use photographs to illustrate my tales—real or imagined.
Bottom line, taking pictures makes me happy—and “happy” is a good thing.
Taking and Sharing Pictures Just Might Ease Your Pain
So, what does this have to do with you? When I started coming up with these answers, I had a big “aha!” It occurred to me that, as a person who lived with intermittent chronic pain for over two decades, and one who has been working in the pain management field for two decades (including serving on The Pain Community’s Board Of Directors), taking pictures has always been good therapy for me, and it just might be good pain therapy for you as well.
Now, I have to admit that I use a fancy shmancy camera and programs that help me enhance my photos, but you don’t need all this stuff to use photography as a way of bringing you joy, improving how and what you see, sharpening your memory, staying connected with others, and, hopefully reducing your pain. I know that many of you in The Pain Community are already taking and sharing pictures of people and things you love—I know this because I see your wonderful images on Facebook.
Take the TPC Photo Challenge
So, here’s your challenge:
- TPC is looking for guest bloggers, visual artists, writers, and poets who would like to share their pain stories (including how their creative work helps ease their pain) with others. If you would like to share visual works of art (photographs, paintings, drawings, etc.), please add a description of how it relates to your pain.
- Take out your camera or cell phone and take some photos everyday. Take pictures of things in you surroundings that are beautiful, that bring you joy, that make you laugh. It can be someone you love, a flower, and a pet, or even food (e.g., fruits are wonderful to photograph).
- Send your photos and contact information to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what inspired you to take it.
Selected photos will be posted on the TPC website.
TPC reserves the right to decline sharing any work that we believe is inappropriate for our readers.
Tips for Improving your Photos with a Camera or Smartphone: