How Photography Helped Me Cope With Depression


I remember the first time I held a camera. I was just a kid, probably around 5 or 6 years old. It was Christmas Eve back when we were still living in Davao. My mom gave me this black Kodak camera and back then, we used film. My mom taught me how to use it. She said, “Hold it up like this, close your other eye. Put your finger here and click.” And I jumped a little because it made this weird noise. That noise made my heart race and it was the best feeling in the world. She made go around the house and take photos of our family members and I remember having the time of my life. I didn’t want to put the camera down nor did I want anyone else to use it. It was my camera. It was mine.

A few days after Christmas, we went to a Kodak shop to get the film developed. I was so curious. I remember tip toeing because I couldn’t reach the counter. I wanted to see what they were doing to my camera. I didn’t like anybody holding it so I was pretty mad at my mom when she tricked me into eating my favorite burger steak from Jollibee and went to snatch my camera when I wasn’t looking. Moms. This girl was talking to my mom and I couldn’t understand half of what they were saying since I was focused on my camera. The girl was holding it and I never took my eyes off it. Eyeing it like a mama bear keeping her cub safe. After a few minutes, the girl at the counter left with my camera and pretty sure my cheeks turned red. I cried. My mom tried to calm me down, telling me that the camera was going to be okay and that I’ll get it back. But I still wouldn’t stop crying. In fact, I cried harder. My mom was stressed and she did the only logical way to get a kid to stop crying. “Let’s go to Jollibee.” She said. Moms.

I eventually got my camera back like my mom promised, but there was something else, something that really caught my attention- photos. It wasn’t my first time to see photos, but what made me really happy was the fact that they were my photos. Photos that I took. I looked at them and I was grinning from ear to ear like a clown. And I never liked clowns! I was so excited to let other people see the work I did. Sure, it was kind of blurry and shaky and maybe a few fingers here and there and a couple of people without heads but, I was so proud of it and honestly, that was the only thing that mattered to me.

I will never forget the feeling I had when I first held that camera. I loved it. I still do. At present day, I may have taken hundreds or more. I never stopped. I’ve been taking photos of my friends, my family and classmates. I just love it. I’ve entered competitions. I won and lost. I was recruited as an Art Director/Photographer for a multimedia organization. It was all an incredible experience. It made me learn and helped me enhance my skills. I met different kinds of photographers. Travel photographers, model photographers, magazine photographers, and I got to learn about them. I love everything about it.

Growing up, at some point I went through depression. I wasn’t perfect myself. But photography helped me through it all. It seemed that every time I pulled out my camera, happiness overflowed. I often go on walks by myself, thinking, and I have my camera with me and I would feel great. Better than I felt a few hours ago. I sometimes travel to different places with my friends. Beaches, islands, restaurants, parks, museums, tourist spots and I would definitely have my camera with me and again, I would feel great

Traveling helped me be an adventurous person. It made me realize that there is more out there than just sit here and continue to see what I’ve been seeing every single day. There a lot of beautiful places out there that I can go to and experience the culture, the food, and a whole lot more and travelling helps me do that. Add my camera to that equation and I will definitely have the time of my life.

Taking photos is my way to express myself. Whether it’s a picture of a dog, a picture of my parents or a rock or a car, behind those photos are stories. Stories that me and my camera would like to tell. Photography is my escape, my sanctuary. I feel safe. I feel invincible like I could do anything. One day, when I wake up and I grew old, I hope to have taken thousands of pictures with my friends and family. And I would look back at them and say, “This is my life. Memories I have made and I feel complete.”