Thursday, December 9, 2021

DIYW: Gratitude Practice for Photographers

“Everything is a gift.”

— David Steindl-Rast

There aren’t many things in life which everyone agrees on anymore … “gratitude is good” seems to be one of the few left. Over the past two decades, numerous studies have shown that expressing gratitude makes us happier, healthier, more likely to succeed, and more resilient. If there were such a thing as a panacea, gratitude might be it.

However, all of these studies were based on doing something to express gratitude … whether it was writing a note to someone who helped you, writing in a journal (even once a week), or saying thanks at the dinner table. Practicing gratitude is the key to unlocking dopamine and serotonin, the “feel good” hormones that produce positive effects.

In order to make gratitude a regular practice, it’s important to integrate it into your life in a way that makes it enjoyable. No one needs another chore to make us feel bad or guilty about not doing it. So, how can you DIYW (Do It Your Way for those of us over a certain age)?

Link it to something you already enjoy.

I’m a photographer and love looking at past photos or having a reason to go out and shoot something new and interesting. Here’s one way I’ve linked photography to my gratitude practice.

Take or find a photo of an interesting scene then find all the things you can be grateful for in that scene. Try to find 3–5 for each scene.

Sparks Marina, Reno, Nevada

My gratitudes:

  • I am grateful to have had this beautiful place to walk when I was in Reno … who even knew that Reno had a Marina? … and for the incredible day and light that made this photo possible.
  • I’m grateful for reflections that turn ordinary scenes into works of art.
  • I am grateful for color that makes my heart leap as nature displays itself as a master colorist.
  • I am grateful for my fellow walkers enjoying the beauty of the day.

Arkansas ice storm 2009

I wasn’t particularly grateful when I took this photo as it destroyed so many beautiful trees and shut power down for ten days. However, when I looked at it later, I was grateful the beauty and the memory.

My gratitudes:

  • I am grateful for the frozen beauty of the morning glistening against the passing ice storm.
  • I am grateful for trees hardy enough to withstand Nature’s icy fingers.
  • I am grateful that I had time to enjoy the beauty of the Bradford pear trees which lined our driveway before they were lost to this ferocious ice storm.
  • I am grateful to have a warm place to sleep even when the weather is treacherous.
  • I am grateful that I had family who took us in when our power went out for ten days.
Maggi on Thanksgiving at Costco

This is Maggi, my dancing inspiration spirit guide. In search of indulgence with a non-vegan pie after a long day of trying to be “good,” we headed off to a mostly empty Costco where she terrorized the few shoppers in the store and cackled all the way. It’s an especially sweet memory since she died a few months later.

My gratitudes:

  • I’m so grateful we got to spend Thanksgiving together.
  • I am grateful that Maggi was part of my life.
  • I am grateful for friends who always make me laugh.
  • I am grateful for friends who expand my Universe and add to my wisdom.
  • I am grateful for Maggi who taught me how to meet death, still laughing all the way.

Click here.

As I’ve put these together, I’ve decided to create a personal photo book to be called My Gratitudes, Volume 1. If you decide to try this, please leave a comment below.


  1. I am grateful for this post. You inspire me, dear friend!

  2. Becky ... I loved the ending idea, which came to me while writing the post, of making small gratitude books from photos. just what I need ... another project. Many hugs and hoping all is well in your world.