How reading books made me a better photographer

Over the past year, I fell away from photography, I did it for a job daily. When it came to my personal work I completely stopped. I no longer cared about a camera on my person when I walked out the front door. I stopped reading books and stopped working out. I did my job and went home, and my personal drive for development and creativity dried up. It wasn’t until I started reading books again that something changed.

How can reading books have anything to do with creative

This relates to well-being more than photography. Personal photography can be connected to well-being, your mental state and mental health. how can reading books have anything to do with creative outlets and mental health? For me I’m a sponge, I take in everything around me, and I listen, think and ponder what is happening around me. Be it listening to a podcast, reading a book, going to a museum, an art gallery or scrolling social media. Everything affects my output. If the media I’m ingesting is surface level, likes on social media or a high score in a game, I eventually feel empty. A void of meaning starts to creep in and overwhelms me, becoming hard to recognise it origin. Sure I get a dopamine hit but nothing after that hit lingers.

Reading helped me open my mind

In essence, I was only satisfying my monkey brain. It wasn’t until I started feeding my intellect with books that my creativity and drive came back to me. I started reading philosophy, social and mental health literature. I started listening to academic debts. Civil discussions, with back in fourth rebuttals. Compare that to primitive verbal arguments. Arguments focused on winning rather than seeing truths in the position’s opinion. Reading helped me open my mind up again. Removing instant gratification and the need for short-term dopamine hits.

I read on the daily now, in the morning because of this I read about a book a week. Nothing groundbreaking. I never thought that reading would spark inspiration. Feeding my mind in such a way that my creativity and curiosity would sore to new heights. Because of this simple act of reading in the morning, I take a camera with me everywhere I go now. I see the world differently now, I see the world a little bit slower, I take my time. the urgency of the world has faded away and my anxiety has faded along with it.

Photography as a form of creative self-expression

I know I’m mental health when I can pick up a camera and create without purpose or need. Photography as a form of creative self-expression is a sign for me that I am free. Free of stress, worry, time and anxiety and dopamine highs. 

Having time for self-expression is a privilege. 

Now some people would say this is a privilege, something only a lucky few can experience. This is true, having time to relax, and reflect is a privilege in our capitalist society. And to that argument, I will say to you that I am not rich or well-off. I rent and live pay-check to pay-check. I have to save to visit the doctor or dentist. I have to say for up to years to buy new equipment. I don’t own a car or a house or assets. I choose to own and have less to have more freedom when it comes to time. I choose eating oats for a month and getting a weekend and the ability to buy a book. Having time for self-expression is a privilege. I choose to sacrifice other amenities to have that privilege. 

Final thoughts

Books are cheap, reading is powerful. One book can give you insights that have taken someone their entire life to understand. A book gives you that knowledge, that insight from someone else’s perspective. Non-fiction books for me are like seeing another person’s life opinion. The ability to see from another perspective is so powerful for photography and creativity. Because freedom of creativity and perspective is everything. It’s only when you see the world from another person’s perspective that empathy develops. Freeing you up to see your situation from another viewpoint. Helping you ground yourself and your situation. making life that little bit easier.

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