Blog entry #1. Well, this my first ever blog post and I really struggled to decide what I was going to write about and other ideas for future blog posts. So, with the help of my friends, umm, one of my daughters, here you go.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a social isolation that separates people and has generated self-induced stress and anxiety. Health professionals around the world worry about the formation of stress-related disorders that stem from the lock down including depression, anxiety, or the curiosity to start abusing substances – just because they are bored. Oh hmm… But how do we keep ourselves entertained and busy during quarantine, so not to develop these unhealthy habits? Well, that is the million-dollar question, is it not? Thanks captain obvious.
All around the world, people have been starting to learn new things, such as creating new self-care routines, gathering their strength to begin a healthy workout schedule, or taking up baking as a new found hobby. Even I have tried to teach myself how to bake, with limited success. Just ask my daughters.
What I have noticed and read about during time in quarantine is how people are also turning to the creation of art. This creation of art, such as painting, drawing, or photography, all act as forms of art therapy, thereby reducing the stresses that come from this challenging time. But we all know that art is not everybody’s forte. Others enjoy and receive the same benefits of ‘art therapy’ by simply viewing art and photos, whether at exhibitions, in museums or galleries. Evidently, just walking around and enjoying other people’s creations relieves stress.
Many studies have proven that when you take these moments to view artwork, your body concentrates more on the art, releasing the pleasure hormone, dopamine. Rather than solely focusing on what is stressing you out. Not only does it provide you pleasure, but research led by Vrije University Medical Centre, shows that viewing still images, especially of nature, stimulates the production of enough natural dopamine which lowers stress levels, aka cortisol.
However, due to the recent events in our world, galleries and museums may not be as easy to access as before. That is why websites and online galleries are perfect places to let your mind drift as you review the images. Many of my fellow photographers are uploading more of their art online which prior was locked away in their portfolios.
I recently relaunched my website, which supplies a way to download art, but also provides an easily accessible resource to view the several places in the world that I had the privilege to travel and document. I take photos during these travels as I strongly believe in the importance of education that is received when experiencing world-wide travel. The people we meet, the places that we go, and the food that we eat; all enhance our lives, giving us an even broader perspective of our world, the people in it, and how similar we all are.
During one of my expeditions, where I spend a month in very remote areas of New Guinea, I was talking with a village elder (pictured below) and asked him what we wanted in life. Without hesitation, he told me, “I want my kids to have a better life than myself. I want them to be educated and I want them to be safe & healthy.”
Interesting, isn’t that what we all want for our kids? Shortly after my conversation, the village elder took off his warrior necklace and put it around my head and neck, needless to say, I was completed overwhelmed. I attempted to take it off and return, but a new friend from the village stepped next to me and suggested that I not. I smiled and thanked him. I had the necklace mounted in a frame and it still hangs in my office to this day.
As I write this, I am triggered by the idea to share more of, not only my photos, but supply education and stories behind the areas that I have travelled. These expeditions have shaped and helped me cope in this ever changing and frightening world with the use of photographs. I hope and pray that you find the things that help you cope and maybe, just maybe some of my photographs will help you release that cortisol.
Blog #2 will be about a 2004 adventure into the remotes parts of New Guinea.
Make it a great day!