Art does one of two things for me; it either scratches the itch, or it creates the itch. – Diana Heuser
I’ve had several rough months this year, and at one point in March I really thought I was going to lose it completely when I started having panic attacks. I would wake up in the mornings with my heart tearing through my throat, drenched in sweat and pure terror raging through my soul. It was a combination of factors that triggered this phase of my life; financial, emotional and relationship pressures. At the same time my father became terminally ill, and it sucked the life out of me.
The quote “The only way to change your life is to change yourself’ may be clichéd , but it is a universal truth.
I started looking at my life, what I was doing on a daily basis, the people I was associating with and the people that were causing me the most distress.
I made a few decisions over the last few months that have radically changed my life, all for the better. Relationships and friendships were terminated, or pushed away to a safer distance. I took a long hard look at myself and my trigger reactions to certain situations and started working on myself. Each of those points could fill a book, but the one significant changing factor in my life is when I decided to get a new hobby. I have always been involved in one hobby or another, but for the last few years, there has been no creative outlet for me (apart from my writing). Reading does not count as a hobby. That’s an obsession with me and I have no problem admitting it.
So I picked up the camera my Dad lent to my daughter and started snapping away. Within a month I was hooked, as I always tend to be, when I find a new hobby or creative outlet. I never expected it to have such an impact on me. As the days and months passed, I found myself growing more peaceful. I am not saying that it is only taking up photography that has brought about such a change in my life, but I do believe it was the catalyst to all the changes.
- When you are looking through a camera, you discover a brand new world.
- When I walk or drive around, I find myself scanning my environment, constantly on the look out for a great photo opportunity. I am intensely aware of everything around me.
- For a time, you forget everything else that is going on in your life, because you are totally focused on getting that one perfect image.
- I am learning new skills, in composition and lighting, how to use the camera in different situations, and editing techniques in Photoshop. My brain never stops.
- It is strengthening and enhancing existing relationships with my friends, family and children, because we have a common interest.
- Getting out on photo walks means you meet new people. Who knew there were so many other obsessed, I mean, passionate people out there?
My photography is not art, by any definition, but it scratches the itch for me. I have a yearning for beauty, simplicity and symmetry in my life. Life is chaotic, messy and turbulent. My photography brings that beauty and symmetry into my life.
Every time I get stressed about something, I pick up my camera and take a walk around my complex. I may snap away for half an hour with nothing great to show for it, but I am filled with peace. I can face the day again.
This post was triggered by a discussion I had on Facebook with a fellow photographer (albeit a far superior photographer) Gerry Pelser about art and it’s effect on people. Take a look at his work here: www.gerry.co.za