top of page

"Click, Flash, & Say Cheese: The Unorthodox Brain-Massage for Veterans"

So, you're a veteran, huh? Back from the thrills of combat and into the ennui of a 9 to 5 job. The term ‘normal life’ might have started to seem like an oxymoron. Let’s admit it, things like potlucks, water-cooler small talk, or filing taxes are just not as adrenaline-pumping as dodging bullets. And, of course, we cannot neglect the looming menace of mental health issues.

What’s the solution, you ask? Therapy, you say. Yep, you could go that route, vent out your feelings to a bespectacled professional who nods sagely. But then again, why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary? Enter Photography Therapy!

Photography? Therapy? Yeah, you heard it right. Or read it right. (You know what I mean.) As a veteran, you’re accustomed to seeing things from different angles (literally and figuratively). You’ve been in situations where a change in perspective could mean life or death. Let’s channel that talent to something less stressful but still incredibly impactful: photography.

Photography is more than just making your Instagram followers jealous of your sandwich. It’s a powerful medium of self-expression and a legitimate form of alternative therapy. Don't believe me? Let’s delve into the marvels of this underrated therapy.

Firstly, it’s a great distraction. No, not the 'I'm-avoiding-my-problems' kind of distraction. More like 'I'm-gonna-process-my-feelings-in-an-artsy-way' distraction. It gives you a mission, a purpose. You’re a veteran, remember? Missions are your thing.

Secondly, it’s an all-access pass to the "Present Moment Club." You need to be in the NOW to capture that perfect shot. Who knew focusing on the iridescent wings of a dragonfly could be the very thing to whisk away those pesky PTSD thoughts? It's the type of mindfulness even the Dalai Lama would approve!

Thirdly, you get to wear the cape of creativity. Imagine transforming your memories, emotions, and experiences into visually stunning narratives. An abstract picture of shattered glass could symbolize your resilience or a serene sunset, you’re longing for peace. Plus, it's a universal language. Even your cat will appreciate the aesthetics. (Maybe.)

Let's talk gear because no self-respecting veteran would go into battle, therapy, or under-equipped. Now, you don’t need the most expensive, overly complicated camera that even Einstein would scratch his head at. Start simple. A decent digital camera or even your smartphone can do the trick. Your equipment is merely an extension of your creativity, not the other way around.

Next up: subjects. There's a whole world out there waiting for you to snap. Anything can be your subject. You don't have to chase after the golden hour or exotic birds (although those are quite nice too). Just shoot what makes you feel something, even if it's your half-eaten toast. If it connects with you, it's worth capturing.

The big cheese of photography therapy is all about reflection. After a day of happily clicking away, take some time to review your photos. Study, ponder, and even have deep existential conversations with them. The photo of the rusty old gate might make you reflect on your transition into civilian life. An image of a soaring kite might make you feel hopeful. This part is therapy gold!

I hear you ask, “What if my photos look like a drunken squirrel took them?” Well, first, you're being hard on yourself. And second, who cares? This is therapy, not a National Geographic competition. Photography therapy is all about the process, not the product. If it stirs something within you, it has done its job.

Another exciting part of this journey is the potential to connect with others. Sharing your images can give people insight into your experiences, emotions, and struggles. They might even share their own stories, creating a supportive network. You know, like a veterans-who-are-also-amateur-photographers club. Now that's a club I'd join!

So, dear veterans, it's time to trade your rifles for a Canon or Nikon. March forth into the therapeutic battlefield of photography and click away those mental health blues!

Finally, photography offers a sense of achievement. Remember the first time you nailed the military bedsheet fold? That smug satisfaction? You get the same feeling when you capture a perfect shot. It might not get you a medal of honor, but a flood of likes and comments online isn’t a bad deal.

Now, I am not saying photography will replace traditional therapy. It won't. But it can be a refreshing change from venting to a notepad-wielding professional. Photography allows you to explore your mental landscapes at your own pace. You get to be the patient and the therapist. And the best part? Your camera doesn’t charge per hour.

In conclusion, the path to better mental health doesn't have to be dreary. With photography therapy, it can be vibrant, rewarding, and full of picturesque moments. You've already seen the world through the lens of a soldier, now it's time to see it through the lens of a camera. So get out there, you brave veteran. Explore, capture, reflect, and share. Remember, every picture you take is a victory in the fight for better mental health!

Image provided by John Heintzelman using software (2023).

2 views0 comments
bottom of page