Photojournalistic Blogging: How Is It Therapeutic?
A Guest Post by Samantha Grippe
I have chosen two blogs that perfectly demonstrate the therapeutic effects of photojournalistic blogging: Dear Photograph and Pictory. They differ in the community aspect because Dear Photograph provides an open forum where anyone can comment on submissions, while Pictory relies on the implied conversation it creates through structure.
Dear Photograph uses a collaborative blog setting to highlight the extraordinary as well as the unremarkable. The submitters find an old photograph and then return to the location where it was taken. They line the old photograph up against the original background and snap a new one. This blog was created by Taylor Jones, a young man who came across an old photograph of his brother on his third birthday, and was inspired to take a new one (NPR Staff),. Thousands of others have followed suit, posting photographs of their own along with a caption that reads “Dear photograph…” followed by a letter telling their unique story. Comments can be posted via Facebook and each entry can be reblogged onto a personal blog.
The above photograph posted on October 25, 2012 proves that in these communities, extreme moments are captured, and this also contributes to the therapeutic effect. The lighting in the modern backdrop is streaky and only bits of light are showing through. I think that the submitter chose this time of day because it shows the darkness she feels now in contrast to the bright spot of her life at her first prom. This significant event that was captured allowed Kelsey to reflect on her decisions, and get advice from the people who commented.
Pictory, a blog modeled after the Boston Globe’s “The Big Picture” highlights superlative and quotidian moments through photography, and proves that through the submission of these photographs, a therapeutic effect is created (Battilana). This site was created in November 2009 by graphic designer Laura Brunow Miner (Battilana). It does not offer a comments section, so the only dialogue occurring is between the submitter and Pictory, and the submitter and other submissions. Pictures and their captions are organized by the Pictory editors into showcases, but not all photos are chosen. The reward for being chosen is the prestige of being deemed worthy. This ties to the theory stated in “Examining knowledge contribution from the perspective of an online identity in blogging communities,” where it is said that by taking part in different online communities, a person’s social identity is created (Kim, Zheng, and Gupta 1762).
Most showcases incorporate both superlative and quotidian photographs, creating a microcosm of life by showing day-to-day events, with a few climactic moments in between. The best example of this is the showcase “Life Before Your Eyes.” It features many stories that are monumental (such as the photograph of a pregnant woman mourning the loss of her husband at war) but also more commonplace anecdotes (such as the little girl wearing her older sister’s prom dress to play in). These snapshots are strung together in a way that is touching because they are universally relatable.
The above quotes show that through telling their stories in the blogs, the contributors gained a healthier mental state and were better able to cope with certain events in their lives. This perfectly demonstrates the argument made in “The Therapeutic Value of Adolescents’ Blogging About Social–Emotional Difficulties,” which proves the emotional benefits of blogging (Kim, Zheng and Gupta).
Photojournalistic blogs highlight the highest and lowest moments of life, but also less notable occurrences, creating an accurate reflection of life in the real world. Through the process of sharing their most intimate photographs and the revealing captions that accompany them, individuals enter into a support system and feel connected to others through the common threads of their lives. This creates a therapeutic effect in the submitter’s life, as well as the lives of all who view these blogs. Check out the therapeutic effects for yourself by visiting a photojournalistic blog. Here are a few links to get you started: PostSecret, Sh** My Kids Ruined, The Big Picture, The Burning House, LoveBryan.
Barak, Azy, Boniel-Nissim,Meyran. “The Therapeutic Value of Adolescents' Blogging About Social–EmotionalDifficulties” Psychological Services, Dec 12 , 2011, No Pagination Specified.Academic Search Complete. Web. 1, October, 2012
Battilana, Jessica. “Hot 20 2010:Laura Brunow Miner, Founder of Pictory.” 7x7SF.N.p, 18 Sept. 2010. Web. 6 October 2012.
Budge, Kylie. “Art And DesignBlogs: A Socially-Wise Approach To Creativity.” International Journal Of Art& Design Education 31.1 (2012): 44-52. Academic Search Complete. Web. 21Sept. 2012.
Kim, Hee-Woong, Jun RaymondZheng, and Sumeet Gupta. “Examining Knowledge Contribution From The PerspectiveOf An Online Identity In Blogging Communities.” Computers In Human Behavior27.5 (2011): 1760-1770.Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Sept. 2012.
“Pictures + Stories = Pictory!And It’s Pretty: Current Tech.” YouTube.N.p., 2 Feb. 2010. Web. 28 Oct. 2012.