By Upagupt Mohanty

It is that special moment in your life and you wish to capture it, so that you can savour it for life. What do you do? Click a photograph! Some may prefer to be behind the camera, while most (only some will admit it though) others love posing in front of it, but there is barely a soul who has never been on either side of the camera. Today, even mobile phone companies use the quality of their camera lens to differentiate their handsets!

Why photography? What role do e s a photograph play in our life? Can a photo help us in making our mind healthy and positive? Photos and photography play an important role in our lives. It helps in self-exploration and self-discovery.The power of photography can’t be well-defined as it keeps on redefining itself. “Phototherapy is a new area within the complex treatment of the arts, recognizing the value of the medium of photography. Phototherapy will give you an opportunity as a therapist to use an image as an interactive tool thereby helping you to achieve a stronger connection with your patient and allow the patient to have an insight over his feelings and deep memories which are sometimes complex to be reached.”, states Judy Weiser – Psychologist, Art Therapist, consultant, trainer, international lecturer, author and one of the earliest pioneers of Phototherapy

Since childhood, I was always fascinated by engaging visuals in newspapers and magazines. With passage of time, photography turned into a passion which led me to explore its different aspects. During one such exploration in 2007, I accidently learnt about Phototherapy. Yes! It’s no joke. Photographs help to overcome personal pain and generate new hope for life.

The power of a photograph is limitless and priceless. A photograph can change or unlock the mind. It was amazing to find that Phototherapy was not new. The documentation on the usage of photo-based therapy techniques dates back to 1856, by Dr. Hugh Diamond. Later, Phototherapy became evident with the works of Canadian psychologist Judy Weiser who extensively used photos in counseling deaf-native children in 1973. She published her first article titled ‘Phototherapy Techniques’ in 1975. In the same year, she conducted the first educational workshop on ‘Phototherapy Techniques’ in Canada. In order to provide practical hands-on information on Phototherapy technique, she authored a book ‘Phototherapy Techniques: Exploring the Secrets of Personal Snapshots and Family Albums’. New-York based photographer Ellen Fisher Turk helps women to overcome the negative selfperception due to eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, sexual abuse, cancer or surgery. “Even if there are just a few frames that a woman likes, she will think that there must be something lovely about her,” states Turk. She helps affected patients to accept their bodies by showing them some well-made images. In the Indian context, such a technique is yet to set its mark and the prevailing Phototherapy refers to lighttherapy where treatment is done by using artificial light wavelengths from the ultraviolet.

unlock the mind. It was amazing to find that Phototherapy was not new. The documentation on the usage of photo-based therapy techniques dates back to 1856, by Dr. Hugh Diamond. Later, Phototherapy became evident with the works of Canadian psychologist Judy Weiser Before this exploration, I was oblivious about the therapeutic benefits of photography. It was in the year 2008 I came across one of my clients (Suprava- name changed on request) who had been suffering from low self-esteem since long. Usually people affected with psychological disorders like depression, have this symptom besides restlessness, irritability, loss of interest in surrounding or excessive crying. Depressions usually occur when there is a deficiency in the emotional needs of an individual. I probed her innerself and reaction to situations (past and current) through questions and tried to locate the root cause. Analyzing her replies, I found that an image of herself as an unattractive girl, worked as a hurdle in connecting the girl with her true self. She often said,“I try to remain aloof as I’m ugly. People do not like me”. Even, the styling and the makeover at the beauty salon failedto instil confidence.

I started meeting her frequently. Each time, I met her, my opening lines were,“Sweetheart, you’re one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever come across”. During those brief meetings, I casually clicked her photographs, of course with her due permission. Natural clicks, not the modeling kind of stuff. Some of them were deliberate clicks and few were candid. I just gave the pics a simple touch up with the available online photo editors. I went to her and showed her those pictures. Speechless to start with, she softly uttered, “Unbelievable, is it me?” For a minute, she couldn’t accept the truth that she could be so charming, even in normal mode. Her negative thoughts about herself vanished as she accepted and connected with her true self. The photographs added a lot of positive attitude and confidence which acted as an extra coat of radiance on her face with passage of time. Thereafter, life changed for her. She increased her social life, applied for job and completed her work with 100% efficiency. There must be many more such anecdotes of photographers who attain inner peace while filming their muse, with some even falling in love with them. Truly shutterbugs can bring about a change in the lives of people in their neighbourhood with the help of just a few clicks? Amazing isn’t it.


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