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A Photography Metaphor

As a photographer, I see many parallels between the art of photography and the art of psychotherapy. In both cases, I'm not trying to change the subject, or client, I'm trying to help reveal them, understand them, and balance the lights and darks so that they may fully come alive.


Some people are afraid of darker aspects of life and themselves. This may create a lot of anxiety. By accepting darker aspects of ourselves and life itself, we can find more balance and richness in our experiences.


Some people cling too much to the darker parts of life and have stopped letting lighter parts of life in. Perhaps they've become so existentially burdened that life and vitality have been cast into darkness.

By changing our relationship to the varying parts of ourselves, we integrate them and become whole like the first photograph. We haven't necessarily changed or had to become something we are not. But we did have to fully accept all aspects of ourselves including the ones that make us uncomfortable or that have been denied.

Darks and Lights

It's balancing our darks and lights that we become fully human. Compare the photo below to the later ones that are out of balance. Notice that the essence of the photo doesn't "change" but is only balanced differently. It's enhanced by bringing awareness to, or diminishing varying aspects of what already exists.

Lack of clarity

Here's the same photo but before it was nourished. It doesn't have as much depth. The subject doesn't have a lot of texture. The whole image needs clarity and balance. We can think about this as the average person who hasn't done much if any therapy. Maybe things seem ok, but there's an absence of richness and depth.


Here's the photo when there's too much darkness. We might think about this as depression. The photo is very heavy. It's not that the darks are bad, but there's no balance with lightness.



Here's the photo when there's too much intensity. We might think about this as anxiety. Fusion with the anxiety makes it difficult to see anything at all about what is going on. Both the subject and the environment are blown out by the intense energy of the anxiety.


Anxiety and depression

Here's the photo when there's too much anxiety along with depression. It's too much in both directions. There's no subtle details or cohesiveness. There's just a lot of heaviness and intensity.



COVID-19 has taken the contrast out of our lives. Before COVID-19, if we were seeing lots of people and doing many things like eating out, going to festivals, or other large gatherings, our lives will have far less dynamic range.

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