Until the recent challenges and shutdowns associated with the Covid pandemic, I never realized how much my camera has helped me cope when stressed or overwhelmed. The challenges we all faced during the pandemic brought a stark reality: what happens when you have all your eggs in one basket (as grandma would say) and that basket flips over, breaking all the eggs? I  had been advised several times over the years to diversify and develop residual sources of income. However, aside from occasionally publishing how-to books, I focused instead on photographing what had always made it possible for me to live comfortably, doing work that I loved — the people stuff for the modeling/talent industry. And then, the harsh reality that I should have listened to my mentors when they advised me to diversify and create income streams that make money for me even when I’m sleeping, on hiatus, etc.

Instead of officially opening my new home studio in April 2020, everything came to a grinding halt with the first shutdowns in March. I am high risk and wanted to protect a beloved aunt (also high risk), so I decided to turn my attention to learning and investing in a ‘Plan B’ career so that — if something like this ever happened again — I would be able to support myself by creating alternative, multiple streams of income. The photographers who were already teaching online when the pandemic hit were making strides in their careers, while those of us relying on photography alone were often struggling. Lesson learned. My goal from here on is to diversify to create multiple income streams, especially residual income. That way, if for any reason I stop working, my body of work is still out there, supporting me.

One of the things I did to keep from pulling my hair out was focusing on non-people subjects — flowers, macro, flat lays, and such. After thinking my career may be over, I settled into photographing things that didn’t talk and found myself feeling peaceful and validated; I wasn’t pulling in much of an income, but I was still a photographer!

Now that we are getting back into the swing of things, it feels great to get out and about again. I have a few non-people projects to finish before I start photographing people stuff. Meanwhile, an afternoon walk in nature with my camera and a childlike exploration of the world around me takes me to a place of peace and contentment.

I’ve since done some research on the health benefits of photography. I’ve found kinship with photographers who share amazing stories of how their adventures behind the lens have significantly improved their stress levels and well-being.

I’ve worked with kids during my mentorship with KIND (Kids in New Directions) and find that focus, contentment, and creativity are enhanced when exploring the world through the eye of a camera.

And so, I want to do more research on the mental (and physical) benefits of photography.

Let us explore the therapeutic benefits of daily photography practice and how you can reduce stress levels while finding your happy place simply by keeping a camera with you as you move from one moment to the next (and yes, your cell phone counts as a camera).

Stay tuned.

Feel free to share any related stories and images (via email: deborahouellettephotography@gmail.com). With your permission, I’d love to share them with others via the blog, social media, etc.

Have a good one!