Recently while driving I heard a “Health” blurb on the radio citing a study by a United Kingdom University. The study concluded that photography can indeed help keep or improve your well-being.

Of course, my ears immediately perked up when I heard the words “photography” and “healthy” combined in a single sentence. While the brief radio summary didn’t go into methodology, the conclusion was that people who regularly take and share their work with others are more healthy both physically and mentally. Just based on personal experience, I believe they are on to something!

I spent over an hour searching on-line for the study with no luck, but I did find a lot of material that was supportive of the work’s conclusion. One of the articles referenced a photography challenge aptly named “Photography 365,” which challenges an individual to take a photograph every day for a year – and then share it with someone along with a brief description about why the photo was taken.

From a mental perspective, this is obviously a commitment of your time and discipline to get up and go do it! I’m reminded of an old Nike ad campaign from several years called “Just Do It!” Sending the photo to someone, or posting it, along with the brief description, I believe, is mentally challenging and puts your brain to work. You are challenging yourself to explain why you took that particular photo.

The physical benefit comes from getting out and moving around. Even if you take a lot of photos in your own yard, you are still getting some exercise. But I believe the greatest physical benefit comes from taking a walk around the neighborhood, or a hike, and finding that photography subject that draws your interest.

If all of this sounds like more of a challenge than you are looking for, it is what you make it. You can photograph anything you want. Use your SmartPhone camera if you like, but take plenty of photos and then pick the one you like best. You don't need to commit to a full year, but I would recommend you commit to a couple of months. By that time you should have a good idea whether or not this is your "cup of tea" or want to continue with the challenge. Your photos don’t have to be award winners, but I can almost guarantee your photography will greatly improve over time!

Finally, send your creations off to that friend or relative who has agreed to participate in your project, or post them on a photo sharing website such as FaceBook. I think most folks will find it fun to see your latest creations, but if you can’t find a willing recipient, send them to me at I would be pleased to see and briefly comment on them!

Space constraints make it difficult to include detailed information in these articles. If you want more info on any of the topics covered in this column, have general questions or comments, or an idea for a future column, please send me an email at And don’t forget to visit the “Saddlebag Notes” photography web pages on their website (

Jim has a Fine Arts degree with a major in Photography and over 50 years experience in a wide range of photographic disciplines.