Tuesday, April 28, 2009
PHOTOGRAPHY, OCD & ME
I have tendencies toward Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. Most people will tell you jokingly that they do, but I really do. Neuro-chemical disorders fall along a gradient of normal to pathological behavior. So, it’s probable that many people actually do have, let’s call them episodes, of OCD. But having rattling little blips on your own behavioral screen is a very different way to live than suffering from a full blown disorder. I’ve never actually been diagnosed with OCD, but I have been diagnosed with other problems in the same neuro-chemical family. I have an Anxiety Disorder, specifically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD and also Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, known as ADHD. Some of these disorders have fit nicely into my past employment, like being a Registered Nurse. An R.N. with OCD and ADHD is a double shift working dynamo! Of course, sleeping wasn’t part of that program and the lack of it always caught up to me. I have at different times been given cesspools of chemicals to manage the symptoms. Now, I merely consume a small composting toilet’s worth. The drugs usually worked. However, they caused other problems, like falling down, and definitely resulted in side effects. I’ve tailored my life to my ‘problems,’ now, so I don’t have to take so much crap in order to function. The alphabet soup of disorders is remarkably conducive to gardening. There isn’t a weed in any of my gardens, nor those I tend for money. I weed with a single minded vengeance that only a neuro-chemical disorder can compel. I don’t have to think nor worry what anybody else thinks. All I have to do is give in to the drive and the tides of chemicals my brain produces. Then, there’s digital photography. I think that anybody who is a digital photographer by definition has OCD and most likely, ADHD as well. Give me a genuine digital photographer and I’ll give you a bag full of diagnostic labels. Get us together and we talk endlessly about equipment: camera bodies, lenses, electronic storage devices, computers, software, stabilizing hardware, monitor calibration and so on. We all have maddening compulsions to acquire faster cameras, bigger lenses, more stuff. We openly display symptoms of full blown, life altering addiction. Photography workshops have huge vendor display areas - the Addiction Resource Centers, where equipment pimps pander enticing wares. Sales people - the great enablers - hawk goods like crack to street junkies. And, all this goes on out in the open, legally! It was at one of these workshops that I learned that a histogram wasn’t something for allergies but a camera function! And, talk about initials! OCD and ADHD equal Xti, 50D, D300, Mark II D5, CS4, PSE 7 and a host of others. If you don’t think so, ask a photographer. “Photogs” we call them, conjuring squinting Golem-like creatures. We also shorten ‘photograph’ to ‘photog,’ as if the images and the person capturing them are one and the same. Ideally, any photog will tell you that they are. How many photographs do we actually take on a given day? Too many is the answer. Expecting an honest answer to that question is about as rational as when your physician asks you how many drinks you consume in a given day. “Oh, I don’t know: I like a glass of wine with my dinner.” Ya. Right. We may hit that shutter 500 times in an hour like we’ve got an agitated tic! We have developed a technical offset to the shakes, though. We call it Image Stabilization, Vibration Compensation or Vibration Reduction, depending on whose product it is. I personally have acquired so much equipment - stuff I needed, mind you, that it’s become a convenient excuse for my steady weight gain: I have to be fat in order to counter weight my enormous lens. When I have my knapsack of photography equipment in the passenger seat of my car, it continuously sets off the seat belt alarm, as if there’s an unrestrained passenger. The only person without restraint is me! In fact, I just bought a new camera body. I am especially impressed with Canon’s new marketing strategy to woman photogs. My new camera comes with a personalized camera strap! Mine says ‘CANON 50D.’ I was amazed that somehow, Canon figured out from data bases that have merged from my numerous past internet purchases that I actually wear that bra size: 50D. At least it feels like it the way my bra straps cut into my shoulders. Or was that my camera strap cutting into my body?