Why Childhood Photographs Are an Important Part of Emotional Healing

Allow me to take you on a quick trip down memory lane. I’m going to take you 20 years into the past and share some of the earliest images of myself from childhood. We’re not doing this for nostalgia. The intention here is to show you the healing qualities that come from revisiting snaps of the past. We’ll also look at why it’s important to start making photographic records of your children.

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My Childhood Photographs

For the longest time, I couldn’t remember much from my childhood. I spent many years blocking it out. A dysfunctional family environment and drama from all corners, I can’t say I’m carrying fond memories of my younger years. Of course, things could have been worse; they can always be worse. But my early experiences led to years of trauma, depression, anger, and bitterness.

For as long as I can remember, I carried those feelings through my teens and into adulthood. The emotions came up in many ways, from violent outbursts to self-isolation. Throughout that time, I felt as though the person I’d become wasn’t the person the universe intended me to be. Of course, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. My positive natural energy did show up in the world, but mostly on an external level rather than internal one.

Fast forward to the present day and things are different. Traveling the world, photography, and hundreds of hours of therapy have helped me become the version of myself I’m working hard to be. However, a recent trip to the UK was the final piece in a jigsaw that served to heal and bring my happy child into the present moment.

While visiting my mom, I was given the task of clearing out the storage room. Going through old clothes, birthday cards, and other bits and bobs, I stumbled across a collection of old family photos. In the photo folders were images of my parents when they were younger, my grandparents, aunties and uncles, and of course myself. In each of the photos, I had a smile on my face; I looked happy and full of joy. The photographs capture moments of unstaged pleasure with various family members, including my mom and dad.

Why Childhood Photographs Are Important

Why is this important? Well, the photographs taught me that the reality my mind constructed wasn’t as accurate as I had thought for so many years. Yes, there was plenty of pain, disconnect, and anger, but there were also many happy moments filled with love. As they say, the photos never lie.

Reviewing those images brought me to tears. It allowed me to forgive and remember that the happy little boy was there: he just got a little lost in life.

I believe my experience is evidence of the true power of photography. We have our reasons to shoot, and we connect to images differently. But all of us can use photography to help understand our past and present. Photographs can help us accept a situation, and they can give us a fresh perspective on things that happened in the past.

Final Thought

If you’re struggling with something, maybe a breakup, childhood trauma, or anything else, I strongly encourage you to review photographs from around the time of those events. If you’re carrying bitterness in your adulthood, surely you want to be set free from it’s darkness, using your experience to function well in the light? Revisiting old photographs can help achieve this. The process can be an essential piece in your healing jigsaw.

On the flip side, if you’re a parent, document your family life as much as possible. Children can become lost for many reasons, and photographs can help them find themselves later in life. It certainly worked for me. Thanks for reading.

Dan Ginn

Dan Ginn is a content writer and journalist. He brings with him five years' experience writing in the photographic niche. During that time he has worked with a range of leading brands, as well as a host of professional photographers within the industry.