I want to share a very personal story about how photography saved my life. It might seem like a dark and sad subject, but out of darkness comes light.
Human’s chemical makeup is probably one of the most interesting things about our body’s. We are unique, original beings, striving for happiness and what we see as our perfect life. This is different for all people but I believe we all want to achieve the same feeling.
In our modern age, the millennial generation is probably the most proactive and reactive to the change of technology and how life should be lived. Unlike our parents or generations previously, millennials don’t see work and career as the primary dedication in their lives. We see a value and importance of life outside of work. We want to find new ways to do our work without going into the dreaded office or workplace. We don’t like to be controlled and I believe this is a detrimental problem with all work spaces – the feeling of constantly being monitored and watched – a jail cell or high school classroom per say.
I have struggled with mental illness and depression for many years. I believe it became much more apparent after my life-changing car accident back in early 2007. I struggled (and continue to) with my self-worth, my purpose, the question of happiness and the point of life – I have horrible days, I have amazing days and I have days where a grey cloud hovers over my head. I struggle to keep going, but manage to do so.
Last year, I noticed that my drive for life was declining. I basically put off photography and anything creative. I lived not for the day as the day meant another struggle to overcome. I would get up from bed (even though I dreaded the idea) and wished at that moment that it was bedtime again. I wished that I could be in darkness rather then contributing to the world because the fact was, I believed I had nothing to give.
Late 2019, my life began to change. My partner and I made a decision to move out of 500 sq ft condo that we resided in for almost 10 years and bought a beautiful 1950’s bungalow. Upon moving, I began to feel the spark of creativity, a feeling of excitement in my blood. This was a new space with so many photographic opportunities. I now have the space to have a home studio, work with the beautiful natural light that pours through the large windows and work with all the creative elements that are on my property.
Covid-19 is a global storm that has affected every inch of our society, changing our lives forever. In mid-March, I began to work from home and by mid-April I was laid off. I love working from home as I dedicate myself completely to my 8 hours required, but when my layoff date come, I felt the uncontrollable feeling of falling into that bottomless hole. A hole that I felt would continue to get deeper and darker.
It was at this point that I promised myself that I needed to take care of my mental state and had to start pursuing the art that brings me so much joy and happiness. Not being able to work with subjects in flesh, I began to think about things I could do to keep my creative juices going.
I built a light box and started photographing everything and anything in the house that I thought would be a point of interest. I started developing an ‘idea sheet’ for things and people I’m going to photograph when the rules loosen around social distancing. I have been posting these projects on my social media, so be sure to check them out.
From all this, I learned a very important lesson. As of now, at this point in my life, I cannot take photography on as full-time career. I would love to quit my job next week and take on a full-time photography position, but reality doesn’t allow me to do this. Of course this frustrates me but unfortunately, I cannot control this. If clients don’t like my work or don’t see the value in it, I can’t pay my bills. This could be a great blog entry – how the public and some businesses have taken advantage of my work or don’t see the monetary value of the art. Anyways, I can vent about that on another day – shall we continue.
Photography and all aspects of creating, producing, editing, etc bring me a happiness that I can’t explain. Perhaps this is happiness that many people experience that don’t deal with mental illness and I love it. Having the camera around my neck and directing a photo shoot gives me a high that I can float on for many days. This art is a form of medication that is purely magical for my being. When I’m creating, I feel untouchable. I feel that I have found my calling – a calling that helps me live life in the moment of happiness. A calling that allows me to feel excited to get up in the morning and sad to go bad at night.
I will make a promise to myself, though I’m back to work, that I will continue to pursue all my creative ideas, pick up my camera on a weekly basis, shoot and create beautiful pieces of work because photography saved my life. I will continue to pursue a goal of having a photographic career as I’m not willing to live a life working a career that I dread or are even just content with. My ‘job’ is enjoyable but I would leave in a heartbeat if I was told I could take on photography as a full-time career that would be fiscally smart and stable.
I’m not done living as I have too much to create and give to the world, my family, friends and loved ones. I still have a lot of bad days but that is why photography saved my life.
If you or anyone you know is dealing with mental illness, there are a multiple of sources that can help with this tragic state and I hope you can find your zen. What activities do you pursue to bring happiness to your life? Do you have a similar story that you would like to tell. Share with me, your journey by leaving a comment. Does my work bring you a bit of happiness to your day? Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for latest updates and news.