Creating Art Doesn't Always Make It Better

Not every life has a Disney moment.  That might be tough for some of the 'positive people' to understand.  I was listening to my favorite podcast the other day, The Shoot With Matt Day, and he was interviewing photographer Ryan Muirhead.  In the interview Ryan is raw and real about his struggles with depression and creating work in that space.  How it can be difficult to make things when you're so low.  He also brings up something that I've heard a lot; people who think that creating something in that space of depression will suddenly bring you out of the darkness.  As if expressing yourself with your art is a cure for depression.  Sometimes it's nothing more than a expression, the pain is still there.  The cure isn't found inside of a viewfinder or in the sale of a print, and for some that's hard to understand.

My feelings are not that far from Ryan's, though I would say my social anxiety causes more of my pain than depression.  Anyone that looks at my work can tell I'm not a people photographer.  Most of my shots are of architecture and landscapes.  Old buildings, overgrown cemeteries, and empty towns.  I shy away from people because it is they who have brought me so much pain.  I latch on to the few that understand and stay away from those that don't.  I want to create everyday but my anxiety makes the rules.  I can't count the amount of times I've driven to a the city or a specific place and had my anxiety drive me away without taking a shot.  Or rushed through five or six shots and left because I felt uncomfortable.

Everyone has anxiety from time to time but most don't understand having crippling anxiety.  They think all anxiety is the same and that you should just be able to overcome.  It doesn't work that way; your brain isn't the same as mine.  The anxiety is less when you're all alone; there's no stress, no eyes watching you.  Just you and your camera trying to create something meaningful but meaningful to who?  If you're all alone, who will care about the art you create?  Who will see your art?  It is the danger of the cycle of Social Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder.  Anxiety drives you to be alone, then you get depressed because you are alone.  It's like being on a marry-go-round going 100 mph without knowing how to get off.  You don't want to be around people but you do.  You want to share your work but you fear rejection.  You want to make people happy but you don't want to be uneasy.  

It is the battle that some of us have been chosen to fight.  A life of struggle that may never have a Disney moment.  Our photography may bring us some solace, creating may allow us to express our feelings, but art may be nothing more than that.  

Check out Matt Day's podcast 'The Shoot With Matt Day' on itunes or at 

You can find Ryan Muirhead's work at