With all sorts of photos on social media, it may be hard to understand the complexities and nuances of photography (especially when all you see online are selfies and the like, some with filters that add ridiculous dog or rabbit ears and the like). However, before the days of social media, photography was a much purer art form, that had plenty of spiritual and emotional benefits. If you are in need of a new pastime, we’ll explain what makes photography so great so that you can potentially take it on for yourself.

From a personal level, photography is so great because it documents your life through pictures. As the saying goes: “a picture is worth a thousand words”. So when you (or friends and family) want to look back at your life, what better way to preserve all the precious moments that made up your life than through pictures? To that end, it is important to understand that pictures should not all be of you and your friends posing (i.e. looking directly into the camera), but include candid photos as well.

In fact, candid photos are the best at capturing the moment in its truest form. Catching you (or your family) in the act of whatever they are doing has a lot more meaning behind the photo rather than what essentially amounts to a fake smile that may or may not accurately represent the mood in that moment. Candid photos actually tell a story: what the subject of the photo was actually doing that day, how he felt in that moment, etc. Even other people in the background can help tell the story as well. So when it comes to taking personal photos, candid should be a major emphasis (but feel free to include posed photos to document life’s milestones in that way as well).

Photographing subjects that don’t relate to you on a personal level can also be a great way to relieve stress. Think about just looking at photos of nature, such as the sun setting on the beach, or mountains with beautiful greenery. These sorts of images can literally take your breath away and help you feel better about life in general. But if you are actually the one taking the photos, you will have many more benefits. When you take the photographs yourself, you spend a lot more time focusing on the subject and really taking everything in. Compared to the few seconds you may spend looking at the photograph that you found online, you would be spending minutes or even hours on site enjoying the beauty in the world, eventually culminating in the final photographs. Plus in the moment, you can actually feel the various elements of the setting around you that can’t be captured through the lens of your camera. Things like the wind blowing through your hair, or the sunlight kissing your skin are therapeutic in their own right!

And last but not least, photography can help to open up your creative side. At its core, photography is an art form. And so taking photos isn’t just about capturing the subject, but capturing it in an artistic way that makes the photograph unique. This means taking the photograph at a different angle than one may normally take it. Or taking photographs under different lighting conditions. Or even subtly capturing subjects in the background to change the look and feel of the main subject completely. Taking new and exciting approaches to your photos will not only reawaken your creativity and imagination, but also help create memorable and awe-inspiring photos in the process, making it a win-win not only for your own personal growth, but for everyone who gets to experience your photos for themselves as well!

Now, despite all these benefits involved with photography as mentioned above, many people do not try this pastime simply because they feel like they are “not good enough”. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth! In reality, photography is for everyone and anyone, for people of all skill levels. As long as you are doing it for the fun and enjoyment of experiencing the world around you and capturing moments that will last an eternity, then don’t worry about if your focus is off, or if you aren’t getting the very best angles. As mentioned previously, photography is an art form and there is no wrong answer when it comes to art. And even the technical aspects of “good” photography can be learned over time and with practice, so do not let that lack of knowledge or experience keep you from pursuing this amazing art form.

In fact, taking on photography can be done without having any special photography equipment such as expensive cameras. With phone cameras being as advanced as they are today, any regular smartphone will be more than adequate for taking amazing photos, and best of all, you always have your “camera” with you ready to take an inspiring photo at a moment’s notice! Note that having a professional camera does provide you with slight improvements in the overall quality of your shots, along with more nuanced options and settings for your shoots, but for most people, using a regular smartphone is more than enough (at least to begin with – you can always purchase a really nice camera if you get serious about your craft!)

So if you have some free time today or in the near future, particularly when leaving your house for whatever reason, make a concerted effort to look at the world around you and look for opportunities (big or small) to take a simple photograph, whether it be of someone in your family doing something memorable, or just an aspect of nature that you find beautiful and inspiring. It could very well end up being the start to a new and exciting hobby that changes your life for the better!