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'Deep Connection': Expert Says Looking At Photo Album Can Help You Feel Better During Coronavirus Pandemic

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- What if you could feel better at the end of a long day by flipping through a few pages of a long-forgotten book?

It might just be as simple as picking up a photo album from your bookshelf or coffee table.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Jared Wickerham is a staff photographer for Pittsburgh City Paper. He has traveled the world taking photos of news and sporting events.

"You are looking at a lot of the technical things, like light and composition. But the story behind the photo is always the most important part," Wickerham said.

Ryan Nolan is a professional photographer based in Steubenville, Ohio.

For years, his business has focused on senior portraits, weddings and special events. He knows that holding an actual photograph can take you places.

"You deliver images to people all the time," says Nolan. "But when they are your own, then it becomes really personal."

What if you started looking at photo albums to help you feel better in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic?

Kelly Coldren, the Director of Behavioral Health at FamilyLink Pittsburgh, says photos have the power to change your outlook.

"We automatically go back to those moments. So one of the things -- even in the middle of a bad day that I love -- is that (pictures) bring up something that you were doing in that moment," Coldren said.

Think about your own photographs. What do you take pictures of? More than likely, it is things that make you happy.

Holding those printed photos in your hand is almost magical, says Nolan.

"It will kind of transport us back to when we took that image," Nolan said.

It's not quite the same with images in your camera roll or on your computer. They can be a friendly reminder of a better time.

But a study done in Eugene, Oregon showed that the tactile sense of holding the picture is almost like a baby holding the pages of a book as a parent reads to him or her.

"There's such a deep connection, and I think that is where printed photos have such a huge impact on people's lives," Nolan said.

There are a couple of added bonuses to this "phototherapy."

It doesn't cost you anything, and you will likely find yourself sharing photos with people who may understand and appreciate them too.

Wickerham said he found old photos from high school when he was in a band.

"I actually called some of those band members and said, 'Hey, we should do a group Zoom call.'"

Coldren agrees: "People have had to connect in ways that, traditionally, they haven't done before. And so it is really making us reach out and look at things differently, and share things differently."

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