As you can see with our new issue, this week we are celebrating the healing power of photography, particularly when it comes to mental health – a particular issue this year given the stresses and isolation caused the pandemic. Our latest issue has some great stories, but we didn’t have room for them all, so here is another inspiring tale from reader Johnny Wilson. If you’d also like to be featured this week on our site, do get in touch!

How exactly does photography help you?
For me photography is very much my form of escapism. Having something outside of work to channel my creative energy into really helps me deal with the anxiety bought on by the high pressure and stress that comes with my day job.

When did you first get into photography?
I first picked up a camera and started shooting way back in 2005 after I had left college and although at the time it was just a hobby I wanted to get into, as I developed into an adult and moved from workplace to workplace, each with it’s increasingly higher level of responsibilities and therefore higher pressure workloads, having photography outside of my job and knowing that, and being able to look forward to, travelling around with a camera creating photographs really helped me manage my anxiety and not spiral into depression.

Whenever I feel that I’m drowning in my workload and I can’t see a means to an end I always try to find sometime either in the evening or the weekends to just clear everything from my mind and concentrate on creating photos. It’s something I still come to rely on now; last year I solo travelled and stayed in Dublin for a week purely on a photographic holiday after experiencing a particularly stressful time moving from employment to employment and it was something I really enjoyed and as a result I took some of my favourite photos.

Has this sense of photography as a therapy influenced how you take photos?
My approach to photography in this way – as a coping mechanism coupled with travelling – has certainly shaped the way my photos turn out. I tend to shy away from anxiety-inducing moments like street portraiture of strangers and instead take on a more kind of fine-art approach. Without having photography to turn to, I have no idea what else I would do to manage.

Further reading
Photography saved my life
Fighting the black dog