Man watching sunset

Six Surprising Benefits of Photography


I have a miracle product that can make you fit, creative, and smart. This product will help you make friends and get more attention from your spouse or help you find a lover.  I imagine you’d pay good money for such a product. However, this product can be free if you just use your smart phone already in your pocket, although it can be quite expensive if you get GAS (gear acquisition syndrome).

This product: Photography. Allow me to offer a testimonial.

How Photography Has Improved My Life

1. Photography Helps Me Stay Fit

On days that I take photos, whether I’m walking the streets of a big city or hiking to a waterfall in the woods, I almost always get in at least 10,000 steps, or five miles of walking. It doesn’t even feel like exercise since my mind is focused on taking photos and enjoying the world.

Photography motivates me to move even when I don’t want to. Sometimes I want to chill at home in the evening, but I am enticed outside by dramatic clouds that promise an epic sunset. On vacation, I sometimes wake up before dawn and hike to famous places in order to capture them at sunrise.

I’d say that on average, photography leads to an extra 10-15 miles of walking a week, and an extra .25 miles of running since sometimes I have to flee surprised bears or angry people.

Symi Greece Sunrise

In Symi, Greece, I woke up and hiked several miles before dawn to get this shot.

Fitbit Stats

Here are my Fitbit stats on a day I went on a photo walk in Bangkok.

2. Photography Is A Stress Reliever

I used to work a stressful job in the Alaskan tourism industry. Like most seasonal workers, there were days when I dealt with that stress by drinking beer and complaining with my co-workers at the bar. While therapeutic – and necessary at times – it wasn’t the healthiest outlet for stress.

For me, photographing a sunset after work always brightened my mood and wiped out most of the anxiety and frustration of the day. Sitting on the shores of a river, lake, or ocean waiting for the light to get just right, enjoying the sounds of nature, and being away from cell phones and work, was restorative.

Even if you don’t live a stressful life, remember that sunsets and sunrises happen all over the world, twice a day. Go out and enjoy them.

Alaska Sunset

Photographing sunsets in Alaska was an antidote to a stressful work environment. That and beer. Lots of beer.

3. Photography Makes Me More Creative and Boosts Brain Power

All types of photography require me to think, anticipate, and react. It doesn’t matter if I’m photographing a basketball game, shooting an exotic festival or taking snapshots in my neighborhood, photography challenges my brain to think differently and look for interesting ways to capture the world around me. The more I shoot, the more I think about light, color, and composition. It is a mental challenge that has been a boost to my aging brain.

Creative photography

Photography makes me see the world differently.

4. Photography Opens Doors

When I am taking photos in the streets, I am open, I smile at people, and I make eye contact with strangers. It is necessary to act this way, I think, since taking candid photos of strangers is a little weird. I don’t want people to think I’m a creepy sex pervert so I try to project my most wholesome self and engage with people if they notice me.

As a result, I have had countless experiences where having a camera opened doors and led to exciting adventures. In Kolkata, a man invited me to his house to see the preparations for the Holi Festival; In Sri Lanka a woman asked me to photograph a ceremony at a temple where she was giving thanks to Buddha; In my Bangkok neighborhood, a monk and his assistant saw me taking photos and invited me to their temple, which led to an exciting two-day adventure. 

I would not have had these experiences without a camera in my hand.

Monks in Bangkok

I met a monk in my neighborhood because I had a camera and I was invited to the temple for breakfast, which was great because I got nice photos and I was hungry.

5. Photography Makes Me More Observant

Photography opens up my perception to the everyday beauty in the world.  I notice colors, smiles, funny social interactions, reflections, and dramatic light, among other things. The world is beautiful when you start looking more closely.

Vietnam color

Seeing the world through a camera lens makes me more aware of colors and the subtle beauty in the world.

Fun street photography

I see more humor and drama in the world when I have a camera.

Hua Lamphong Train Station Black and white

Even people cleaning trains becomes interesting if you have a camera.

6. Photography Has Made Me More Attractive

Since photography has made me incredibly fit, creative, social, positive, and reduced stress, I am now very attractive. My wife has to beat the girls off with a stick. I mean, look at this sexy photo of me with a camera:



Has photography given you any of these benefits? 

*Okay, I’m really not that fit but more fit than I would be without photography

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Currently living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I travel, write, take photos, and stalk street cats. ~

35 thoughts on “Six Surprising Benefits of Photography”

  1. Jeff, photography has also made you into a comedian. Loved that last ” file not found” photo hahaha. You have spread a lot of joy with your photography creations and with writing posts like this one. Thank you😄

    • Aw, thank you Gilda. I need to get out a walk a bit more and maybe I’ll find that final file to post. Thank you for the comments.

  2. Sure, this was a fun post, but it also made me think a bit more about getting out there with my camera! I take photos for some of the reasons you mention and derive some of these benefits, but there are others that I hadn’t even contemplated but would be good for me. So thanks for the prod!

    • When I go through phases where I’m not taking photos I really miss it. Glad to know you have the same benefits and you’ll have to let me know if you start shooting more!

  3. Hilarious and accurate 🙂 I feel the same, photography benefits both the body and soul ~ cheers to a good week of shooting.

  4. I almost laughed out loud at your final point – that was a great kicker. The rest I completely agreed with. Photography has made me much more observant, and it’s great to look back and see how my picture-taking has gradually improved since my pre-blogging days. As for capturing sunrises and sunsets, I recently came back from a work trip to Malaysian Borneo (Sabah) and thought of your rating system because the sunsets there were so beautiful. I’d say they were at least a solid +2.

    • I am cleaning out my hard drives and looking back on my photos it is amazing how much better I’ve gotten. They say your first 10,000 photos are your worst and I am seeing real evidence of that!

      I really want to go to Borneo since reading your post, esp if there are some amazing sunsets.

  5. This is a great post Jeff – both valid and funny. Also *wonderful* photos. In each you’ve really captured something. And I have to agree with everything you’ve said, except where are all the guys I’m supposed to be beating off with a stick?????

  6. Adventures in Kevin's World says:

    Makes me miss taking pictures. Maybe I’ll even stop running, hiking, and biking long enough to take some photos….

      • Adventures in Kevin's World says:

        Yes, we do. New Mexico is amazing and I fall in love more with it every week. I actually emailed you some photos a few weeks ago but maybe your email changed?

  7. What a great post. It also improves your reflexes. When I slip and fall while trying to get “that” shot, I always manage to save the gear. The hell with my body, it will heal, but having GAS makes me think of replacement costs before bruises and stitches. Also, if you want to get “that” shot of the critter you just scared out of the bushes, you have to be lightning fast or the bunny will get away (that’s just what happened yesterday – the bunny got away) Love your selection of images!

    • Ah yes, reflexes. Maybe I’ll amend the post and add that in at #7. I have protected my camera like a baby when I’ve slipped before. And it doesn’t matter if you are shooting wildlife, street, or sports, being quick on the draw is a needed skill.

  8. Jeff you make some really good points here. And all done with good Jeff humor hahaha. The first one, is something we used to say about our dogs, when we lived in Chicago. They always got us out, no matter the weather and they got us walking and running and swimming when we may have been more inclined to veg at home watching movies.

    And I totally agree that taking photos of people “opens doors” or at the very least, helps to initiate conversation. I used my ipad many a time in countries where i could not speak the language, but wanting an image of someone made me talk to them FIRST, and as well, allowed me to share something with them, which then often led to more time shared, which would not have happened sans camera.

    I have always said that drawing makes one more observant. One has to stay in one places and notice all the details. Photography demands observation skills as well, a different type of looking… not for the details necessarily but the composition, light, colors, as you say.

    Damn was looking forward to that photo of you!!


    • I never really thought about other art forms like drawing requiring observation, but that makes total sense. I suppose all forms of art have a way of stimulating the mind and senses. I never have had dogs, but I’ve watched dogs for friends and I know what you mean – they get so excited for a walk that it gives you the motivation and energy to get outside. With exercise, many times I dread it but I almost always enjoy it and never regret it.

      It I keep watching what I eat and going on photo walks I might be able to find that lost file.

  9. Great post Jeff. Definitely has these benefits and more! Especially as an introvert, photography allows me to recharge in nature.

    • It is a good excuse to get out in nature when you are tired. The promise of a great photo gets me outside sometimes. Thanks for the comments.

  10. That last one made me laugh out loud Jeff. File not found. You are hilarious. I agree especially that since having the travel blog photography has made me far more observant. Now the smallest things will catch my eye that I really believe I wouldn’t have seen before.

    • Agreed. Blogging makes me think of how I’d describe things and sometimes I make snapshots just for myself as a visual journal to have when writing posts. It is interesting how using the creative parts of the brain can change your perceptions. Thanks for your comments.

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