Lately I have been fighting a bout of depression, self doubt, and just an all around lack of motivation to create. The other day Kelsey pushed me to go out and take pictures because she knew it was what I really needed to do. I took my Hasselblad to Tradition, FL and it really did feel good to take photos. I wanted to share them because I believe it is something we all go through when struggling with creativity and managing mental health issues.
Creative Ruts and Mental Health
I’m going to be honest, continuing this website and my YouTube channel has been a lot. It’s been a lot of good with meeting a lot of nice people in the community, being inspired and creative. Just being able to share what I love, film photography, has served as a badly needed distraction from dealing with my illness.
However, the negativity and stress has also been a lot. It may seem like nothing to other creatives, but putting in hours of taking photos, processing, scanning, editing, filming video, editing video, etc. with very little of the energy my body leaves for me to do anything other than fight an auto immune disease, among many other things, can be extremely draining.
Small things like getting thumbs down on videos, after only a few days of posting it, can really hurt especially after all of the emotional weight put on it because it is my art and I am opening it up to strangers. Now don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that this comes with the territory. Many of you will be thinking this is what I get for making my work available to the public and putting myself out there. Why is that though? Why do people feel so emboldened to see someone’s work and give it a dislike or a critical comment?
When Too Much of a Good Thing Becomes a Bad Thing
I’m not going to lie, I have thought many times about stopping all of this. The stress alone can be debilitating, especially when dealing with a disease that is triggered by emotional and physical stress. Then I receive messages from kind people in the community saying how much my video has helped them, or a comment saying how much they enjoy my content, and that keeps me going another week. Those people are the reason I continue.
I genuinely love helping people in this community and talking to them about film photography. I’ve even had to recruit my fiancé to help me process film because there are days that I am just in too much pain, or too overwhelmed to do it myself. I absolutely hate doing this because I want it all to be my doing, but it is necessary.
Creativity and Managing Mental Health
I do believe constructive criticism is important as an artist. Constructive being the key word here. I’ve gotten many comments from people kindly suggesting how I could shoot a film stock next time or how I could try developing it, and I welcome that kind of dialog. After all that’s why we share isn’t it? To have a dialogue with other people who are engaging in the same arts as we are. However, when someone just thinks they know more than I do and they leave comments disparaging my inteligence and my ability to do these things, there is no purpose for that other than to hurt me. I ask kindly that if you feel the need to do this, please move along.
My health has been critical for the past 11 years with nonstop hospital and doctor visits. Countless procedures and medications have left me with more damage than the disease itself. Finding my love for film photography and the community that shares it has been a God send. I’ve written about that many times. I think it is this importance that makes it all the more difficult to bear the negativity.
I’ve recently had a respite from the never ending nightmare that’s been my life for the past decade when my current medication made me stable for a little over a year. I started to feel an urgency to live life while I could. Planning for a family, marriage, a new home, and more. Only one problem, now that I was well enough to live, a pandemic was stopping life totally.
I made the best of it anyway. Drowning myself in this blog and my YouTube channel hoping to soak up every ounce of this passion while I still could. I loved it so much, until two days ago when I had my routine test results come back. Until then, they had been trending downward and I really thought this next one would be it, the big R. The ultimate goal for anyone like me. Remission. Instead, my levels were suddenly as high as they were when I left the hospital two years ago.
It felt like a literal punch to the gut. All my plans, my hopes, and goals just like that, suspended and pushed farther out of reach. Up until now, all the little things I’d dreamed of that made up a normal life were always in the distance and just as I felt like I was closing the gap, I stepped in cement and the road to my dreams continued without me, further in the distance where I no longer can even see it.
A Roll of Portra in my Hasselblad
As you can imagine, this has put me into a bit of a depression. It has taken all I have to force myself to write this article. I constantly worry now about putting myself out there, but I have loved this far too much to let it end, and I hope it helps someone.
When Kelsey got me out to Tradition with my Hasselblad, I loved looking around for compositions. All the spring colors were popping and if my body would’ve let me, I could’ve gotten out of the car and walked for hours shooting all of the compositions catching my eye.
Unfortunately, my body doesn’t match the energy of my mind, but nevertheless, I caught several photos that I am really happy with. I hope you like them too.
We parked the car and I walked down an alleyway to get a photo of this classic Mustang. I was really scared because I wasn’t sure if the owner would come out and yell at me. I really had to fight all of the negative voices.
I processed the film myself in Cinestill C41, and I am really beginning to love processing my own color film. It’s a lot easier than black and white in that you don’t need different times and agitation for each roll of film.
I’ll continue my channel and this website because it is what I love. I don’t think I could live without expressing myself creatively. Film photography has become the outlet that I need. I hope you’ll continue to follow me and I hope you’ve enjoyed my content so far. If you are experiencing depression, or are in a creative rut, keep going. All we can do is keep going. There is no other alternative. Why not do it while creating beautiful things?
To hear more about my day out shooting and my experience with mental health, you can watch my video below.
Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.