Being photographed can be a healing, even a personally evolutionary experience for both the subject and the photographer. Is this an outrageous statement? At face value it certainly is. I certainly would have thought so years ago when I worked as a psychotherapist. Indeed, when I began my photography career I thought I had left my mental health work in the dust. Imagine my surprise when my photography clients and I often found ourselves emotionally touched, even moved, during our photography sessions.
There are distinct parallels between effective therapy and creative photography. Therapy can provide experiences whereby new behaviors are “sampled” or experimented with. Creative photography can provide similar experiences. Positive new dynamics can be experienced as the photography subjects, prompted by the photographer, interact in new ways during the photo session. These dynamics and behaviors are presented in a safe or non-threatening arena. After all, it’s “just” a photography session. The emotional impact, however, is anything but routine.
Even an individual portrait session can be a growth catalyst. An adept photographer can reveal hidden or latent facets of the subject. This can be as simple as someone who believed they were unattractive, or didn''t photograph well, being positively surprised when they see their images. When I do my best work, the subjects see a glimpse of the Spirit reflected in their image.
Creative photography doesn’t merely document our lives, it affirms it. It may be a heroic struggle with an illness or celebrating life’s transitions such as birth, graduations, marriage, even death. Good photography can reflect us at our best and serve as a catalyst for our future growth. Serving as a photographer is a privilege and an honor.