Like many, I enjoy the solitary feeling that photography lends me. Adding people to the equation, no matter the relation or lack of, can bring on unwanted stress and, in some cases, anxiety as someone who worked in and ran a studio years ago. I often felt overwhelmed by the stress and anxiety. Feelings that went with booking sessions and trying to get people to arrive on time, allowing for the rhythm it usually takes to complete the cycle of a photoshoot. I learned a lot during those days. A lot more about myself, patience, and making others feel as unaware of the camera and the hot lights. More about relationships than I ever did about technique or studio lighting. There are times when I miss those days. Many of which where I’d approach things differently. However, to be honest, it’s not often.
And while taking pictures from my balcony or from the roof might get redundant. The fresh air, the colors, and the feeling of being on top of the world have lasting qualities and rewards. Here’s hoping we can all find our peace and refuge.
In moving to Seattle, Washington from Jersey City, New Jersey. I had some fear that much of the toxicity that had become a part of my daily life for so long would follow me out west and cast a negative cloud on whatever changes I was hoping to undergo. Despite a rather grim diagnosis just months after arriving in the great northwest. I’ve manged to maintain a decidedly positive outlook. Now, by no means does change come easy. Everyone is different and their isn’t a one fix fits all remedy out there that I’ve seen or heard of.
Since being diagnosed with a chronic illness. I went through a number of emotions that included depression, anger and self blame.. Throughout, my one constant has been trying to define what truly makes me happy while sustaining a balance that can nourish and fulfill my soul. The more I’ve searched. The more I come to realize how much the little things play a major part. When listing my favorite things, music, photography and maintaining a level or creativity on a daily basis are the first things that come to mind. However, the more I search the more I’ve come to understand how much joy comes from sharing or preparing a meal with my wife, traveling and sending silly texts to my younger brother.
As we get older our priorities change as often do the things that attract our interest and show up on our shelves. The solitude and alone time I often seek and have learned to enjoy, only improve my ability to socialize. Training myself to limit the people I let into my life and not getting caught up with too much bullshit has helped tremendously in cutting down on stress, anxiety and many of the ingredients of my once toxic personality and lifestyle. While my posts do get there share of likes these days. I would love to see some of your strategies, techniques and practices for dealing with stressful situations and day to day anxiety.
As I find myself working harder and harder to point my way back towards becoming a full time, or at least more consistent studio photographer. I feel my doubts and insecurities reaching a boiling point. The combination of learning new things while unlearning others that once worked just fine for me and many of the people I worked with. With shoots being booked and sessions coming in. I find myself overloaded with information and ideas. I have to admit, it’s a little overwhelming.
As I was setting up for a upcoming shoot and getting familiar with some new software, gear and switching up backgrounds. I had to stop, take a deep breath and step a bit back to find comfort in some older sessions to remind myself “You got this. You can do this.” I can always go back to the things I already know and relied on, but that wouldn’t get me anywhere but where I already am. In order to grow you have to learn, take chances and try new things. In order for me to continue doing what I love. I have to get past my anxiety fear of failure. To quote a wise green guy. “There is no try, only do.”
Everyone seems to have their own form of meditation. Something to help find the calm and focus needed to cleanse their mind of the clutter, stress and anxiety they deal with on a day to day basis. Personally, I have explored many channels in recent years. Many of which work very well .
One of mantras I’ve adopted over the last year or so is my nightly walk. One of the things that helped us fall in love with our current home is it’s industrial surroundings. With all the bridges, train yards and factories nearby. One could not ask for more character and personality. Watching the sun set over such a beautiful landscape brings me a sense of peace I can’t quite describe and hope to never take for granted. If I was able to dole out advice to anyone. I would recommend that whenever possible. Find those private moments where you can enjoy being alone. Breathe deep and be in the moment for as long as you can.
While today started off on a positive note. It quickly went straight into the crapper due to a friends lateness causing me to keep a shoot waiting. A half ass job by the photo lab that wasn’t caught until I was already home and a maintenance requests that has still gone unfulfilled. It was as if I was in a steamer all day. One disappointment followed the other like a pack of raging dominos. I could have gone to the gym to let off some steam, but for whatever reason I just bathed in anger.
That’s when my wife came home. When she asked me how my day was. I decided I wasn’t going to let that negativity spread any further. I laughed about my mishaps and mentioned the little positives about the day without ever mentioning the jerk I had turned in to due to things I had no control over. It seems as if I need a constant reminder about how being pissed off all the time is never a good way to spend your time. I could have called that friend to tell him my window for waiting was quickly closing and I had other places to be. I could have rejoiced at the great job the lab did on my poster print. I could have just accepted the fact that the staff get’s busy here and getting up on a ladder to change bulbs in a loft is not always the priority of the day. I chose not to and I paid by losing an entire day to a wasted emotion. Lesson learned? I hope so. Until the next meltdown. Cheers.
In just a couple of hours I’ll be headed to Montclair’s Gallery U for the opening of ‘Permanent Images’. This is my first time exhibiting there and my first time displaying at a gallery in over a year. The three images showing at the gallery are a few years old which, for some strange reason, takes away a little of the excitement away from my inclusion. I’ve always been one of those people who’s appreciation for his own work has a sort of expiration date. Shooting work and preparing it for exhibition has always been the exciting part for me. Seeing it on the wall and standing under it with a “Hey baby, wanna see my junk?” look on my face has never given me the satisfaction that capturing the image and hunting down a wall to show it does.The truth is I’m a bit of an oddball. I often feel weird at these things and can’t wait for a friend to stop by to snap me out of my geek spell and say “I hate this kinda stuff.” “Wanna get a beer? Which I’m usually more than happy to do.
By now my nerves are starting to get a little scrambled. I’ve had way too much coffee and even broken into the cola reserve. I’ve peed a half dozen times and the butterflies are turning into tarantulas. This is the uncomfortable part. Knowing that getting there is the hardest part and once I’ve seen a familiar face those butterflies will disappear is comforting; But for me it couldn’t come fast enough.