3 Ways to Use Photography for Self Discovery and Growth

Photography makes for a really fun hobby, but also comes with a side benefit of facilitating a journey of self-discovery for those of us who take it a bit more seriously. Moms with new babies often get a camera as a gift with the intention that they will use it to document their baby’s childhood. But a lot of times, women who have given up their careers to stay home and raise children discover photography as a way to express themselves.

Image of Nikon FM2 camera on a white table. Bright sun-filled scene at N. Lalor Photography’s photo Studio in Greenwich, Connecticut.

1. Use Photography to learn something new

You can certainly learn new things by taking up any hobby, but photography is such a rich and expansive field for learning that it will constantly provide an appropriate challenge. There are technical aspects of learning to use Manual Mode that appeal to some people and visual elements that provide instant gratification. You can expand into discovering how to use Photoshop and Lightroom (photo editing) or focus on lighting (there are strobes, natural light, and everything in-between). There’s landscape photography, still life photography, macro photography, food photography, portrait photography, and pet photography! There is truly a niche for everyone.. and best of all, you can try them all to see which fits your personality best. By constantly challenging yourself to learn, practice, and improve, you will grow your abilities and confidence, which will spill over to nourish other aspects of your life as well.

2. Learn to look at things from a different perspective

Photography is all about finding a different way to see something. Some of the best images are of ordinary objects or settings, made absolutely extraordinary by the photographer. As you start using your camera, you also start to experiment. You might change your angle, from high up to down low, to get a different look. You will also start looking at the environment around you and the light that filters through your windows in a vastly different way. Because the camera requires us to pay attention to what is being photographed, it trains you to really pay attention to things. Looking at a scene becomes a combination of “rule of thirds”, angles of light, color casts, and dynamic range areas.. which is almost like having secondary vision beyond what most people have. Photography seeps everyday life to the point where the camera is no longer necessary, which is the secret to being a great photographer.

3. As a creative outlet

Out of all the creative hobbies, photography is almost instant. You can immediately see the fruits of your labor by looking at the screen at the back of your camera. You can manipulate, change things around, and play. And we all need creativity in our lives. Having a creative outlet that is both useful and challenging is one of the best hobbies to have. As our lives become more and more mundane and repetitive (especially for stay-home Moms), it becomes absolutely essential to do things for ourselves. We can express ourselves through photography. We can share our work, grow friendships, and be part of a community. We can give our children a gift of portraits as we grow our skills and our creative eye at the same time.

Image of woman taking a photograph of a landscape with her phone in Iceland. Photo by N. Lalor Photography in Greenwich, CT.

A few Tips

Allocate time for personal creative shoots

Always photographing your kids can sometimes limit your creativity. Try photographing something you haven’t done before - flowers, landscapes, wildlife - and see what new perspective you can discover.

Take a class or workshop

Learning is half the fun of taking on a photography hobby, but sometimes it can be isolating and frustrating when you’re doing it on your own. Take a lesson or a workshop, either online or in person, to expedite your learning, and hopefully make some new friends, too.

Try a new lens

A new lens can open up a whole world of possibilities you never knew existed. You can rent equipment, borrow from a friend, or buy.. either way, the look you’ll get from a 24mm lens is completely different from a 200mm lens.

Don’t worry about things being perfect

Don’t compare your Chapter One to someone’s Chapter 20. When you’re just starting out, it can be very frustrating to not get the results you’re seeing others share online. You will get there, the point is to try and put time into practicing until you do.

There’s a reason there are so many photographers out there. Photography is incredibly fun and challenging at the same time. And we all want beautiful images of our families and kids! Especially if you already have a big camera lying around, it’s worth picking it up again and trying it out for creativity and experimentation. Who knows, you might find that it fulfills you in a way that you’ve been missing.

Nature + Photography = my happiness. Here I am soaking it all in. Sometimes it’s worth bringing the big camera along on trips!

Nature + Photography = my happiness. Here I am soaking it all in. Sometimes it’s worth bringing the big camera along on trips!