So we all attend uni.
We all know the infinite stress we can be subject to.
We all occasionally get ourselves into mind-states of either sheer panic or complete hopelessness; where we find ourselves questioning everything about our current life.
Should I be at university? Did I choose the right university for me? Should I be studying the subject I do? Should I budget my money more? Should I spend less time drinking and more time in the library?
Yes is the answer to that last one but that’s beside the point.
I think it’s fair to say that as complex humans we all sometimes experience our brains in tailspins of complete chaos.
In an NUS survey conducted in 2013 about mental illness, 74% of 1200 students questioned admitted to experiencing feelings of mental distress once a month or more, with a third of the students experiencing these feeling every week.
So a question that seems apt when you learn statistics like this is “What can we do to cope with these feelings of distress?”
However, the answer for many of us is not quite as simple a cup of tea, whale songs and some slow yoga-like stretching with a fancy name.
No two people are the same in how they experience this distress and the same can be said for their solution to these feelings.
I am going to be rather self-indulgent now and talk, at great lengths probably, about my personal way of getting myself through the times that are, for lack of a better description, pretty shitty to be alive.
As you have probably guessed by the name of this article my coping mechanism is photography.
To simply grab a camera (and occasionally some nice people to take with me to point said camera at), then head out into the beautiful world we live in and attempt to capture this beauty on camera is, for me, one of the most therapeutic ways to spend a couple of hours.
I do not deny that my surroundings and the aforementioned occasional company that I drag along play a significant role in creating the atmosphere that lets me unwind so completely.
But in the times I have gone out into the world with only my trusty Nikon as company, I have experienced the same divine immersion in the here and the now that I struggle to achieve at other points in my life.
Even in places that are not exactly the most beautiful in the world, I still find myself in a state of peace.
Having a camera and a semi-working knowledge of how to manipulate light and framing and all that crap in order to make a subject look good is one of the few ways that lets me simply detach from my usual worries about life and simply be at that place at that time.
You could plop me in the middle of a concrete-blocked business district and somehow I’d find a way of looking through the lens to see the hidden beauty of the area.
For me, looking at the world through a lens takes me out of my own perspective on life and gives me this new unbiased truth of what that lies in front of me – which I appreciate manages to sound hippy and pretentious at the same time but there is something incredible about the effect an hour or two with a camera has on me.
Now I’m not suggesting I am an amazing photographer nor am I saying I am terrible; but that is besides the point.
The catharsis doesn’t come from the edited finished products. It isn’t the portfolio of good or bad photos you have a few days later. It isn’t even the fact that you managed to fill a memory card in one day.
The relief simply comes from the time spent indulging in the slow process of getting ready to press the shutter and capture something you deem worthy.
I could get home from a day of snapping the world, get the images up on my laptop and hate every single photo.
But I couldn’t beat myself up for not capturing something I’m proud of because the incredible mental state I’d put myself in through the time spent being in the moment with just myself and a lens.
End Note: Thank you sincerely to anyone who has ever come with me on my voyages of beauty or posed for me when I’ve pointed a camera at them. You probably didn’t know it at the time but just by being there you helped me so much at that moment in my life. You are good people.
End End Note: I also appreciate this article did kind of turned into me simply exhibiting my photography to feed my narcissism but hey, exhibition is a key part of art… isn’t it?