Photography can be a great way of distracting yourself from your thoughts or, alternatively, a great form of self-expression. Being creative is an opportunity to express difficult thoughts and emotions that can’t otherwise be put into words. 

Capturing the beauty of the world on camera can be soothing and being in control of a camera and what you take pictures of can be empowering in times of distress. Some have also said that photography also helps them be ‘in the moment’.   

Setting yourself a photo challenge can also help you to leave the house – maybe plot a walk through a local park and take pictures of the wildlife or trees.   There are lots of suggestions to be found on Pinterest – why not try one for a day or week and see if it helps?

You don’t have to have a professional camera to do photography, any phone with a camera works just as well to help with self-care.   


Six tips for beginners for taking good photos on a phone or camera:

  1. Be in the moment and prepare for the unexpected. The best shots are candid and can be fleeting moments, so you need to be prepared to capture these before they’re gone.
  2. Pay attention to what most people don’t. Use reflections for example – puddles, windows or mirrors can offer you the opportunity to create interesting compositions.
  3. Think about light. Photography is all about light. Lighting dictates the shape, texture, contrast, and shadows in your photos. ‘The golden hour’ is after sunrise or before sunset and provides more flattering light.Create a sense of depth. By placing an object or person in the foreground helps give a sense of scale in a landscape for instance.
  4. Frame your picture or make use of lines. A frame or lines can help to draw the viewer to the right place in the photo. This could be an open door or window, branches of a tree, or railway track lines.
  5. Think about your composition. The rule of thirds can help you take eye catching photos. This is more of a guideline, and helps you to not place your subject in the centre. Sometimes it will look better to have the subject in the centre, but the rule of thirds is usually more pleasing to the eye.
  6. Practice and try again. The more mistakes you make the faster you will learn! The great thing about digital photography is you can take loads of snaps and pick the best one.

Many museums or galleries also run free photography opportunities across the year or host free photography competitions for young people. 


There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.

If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.

Did this activity help your mental wellbeing?

If yes, why do you think it helped?

What would you say to other young people who are thinking of trying this?

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We’d also like to set optional analytics to help us improve it. We won’t set optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookies page

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We’d like to set non-essential cookies, such as Google Analytics, to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone. For more information on how these cookies work, please see our Cookies page. If you are 16 or under, please ask a parent or carer for consent before accepting.