Photography as a Coping Mechanism

Luke Thomas

This is not some profound statement about racism, income inequality, or poverty. It is just a story about a boy and a camera.

I have been taking photos for as long as I can remember. Working my way up from a Dollar Store quality, absolute hot mess of a camera to an iPhone 11, my photography skills have improved from just taking pictures of my room to actually creating art. 

2020 has been an unbelievably stressful year, to say the least, because of quarantine, covid, and the presidential election. Online learning—as successful as it has been at my school—is hard. It can be boring, repetitive, and stressful. To cope with this, I started going for walks every day in March; taking photos and listening to my music. 

I walk about five  miles a day, taking about fifty pictures. Listening to British country sensation Yola’s powerful belting and capturing a BART train zooming past or the gentle curves of a tree lit up by the evening glow offers an incredible escape.

In May I began branching out, making special trips to take photos of different areas. On these outings I would take close to five hundred photos of everything I saw, from the powerful beauty of the justice murals in Downtown Oakland, to the neon signs advertising cheap liquor.

I even took pictures of the colorful candy-lined aisles of a grocery store, and the outside of a dusty looking motel, trying to make everything look gentle and pretty. 

I post my images on Instagram and the support and feedback I have gotten has been amazing. 

I encourage absolutely everyone to try photography. It’s the easiest hobby there is; all you need is a phone with a camera. Even if it’s just one or two to hang in the bathroom, the process of taking a picture and getting it printed is a very satisfying one. The sense of purpose that it gives me has really gotten me through quarantine. I can not envision a future in which I do not continue on this creative journey. And yes, my bathroom is filled with photographs.