Dealing With Personal Struggles Amidst Shoots

As photographers it is our job to keep you smiling, feeling comfortable, and able to keep the energy high. We must put our own issues aside and focus on pun intended. This can be a challenge when something is encroaching on our focus. I have a handful of examples, but the single biggest issue I had to deal with while also juggling shoots was my ulcerative colitis.

In February 2013 I was having a lot of problems with my UC. Only months later would it become the most devastating time in my life to date. That is another story in itself, but needless to say my UC was a serious problem when it came to shooting. I was set to shoot with a model I found on ModelMayhem in Galveston, TX. Luckily, she was running late which allowed me to deal with the issues I was having. If you are unaware of what UC is, a simple Google search will tell you all about how horrifying this condition is. I found a nearby hotel and was able to buy myself some time. I returned to the beach moments before she arrived. We had a very, very successful shoot despite the cold weather and water.

I think being able to mentally give that shoot my all was a great distraction and kept the symptoms at bay. I was so close to canceling that shoot and giving her gas money for the drive, but I did not want to let the disease win. I could not allow myself to enter that mindset that I was being controlled by my UC. I would not allow it to define me. So I did the best I could at staying positive and being relaxed. I later learned my trigger for UC flares is stress. The more I stress about the disease the worse it became and was a vicious cycle.

Today I am on a medication called Simponi that has changed my life. Three years without a flare or any symptoms or adverse side effects. Luckily for me, photography is a form of therapy which takes my mind away from all the pollution that clouds my mind. I am able to escape into the viewfinder where I read my settings and my light meter. I am able to view the world not from a stressed out mind, but from a creative aspect in a 4:3 rectangle looking at only what I want to see and how I choose to see it. I can analyze light, angles, shadows, color temperature, and all the other settings I set myself. Who has time to think about their problems when there is so much that goes into a single snap of a shutter?

There were times that I had to continuously reschedule, though. I was honest about what was going on and luckily the few people I did have to reschedule with were extremely understanding and sympathetic. I got lucky in that way. Things do not always happen the way we wish them but it is how we handle it that defines who we are, not the problems themselves. My UC is something that is always in the back of my mind as a potential problem, but luckily it is in the back of my mind and not the forefront of my life. Always keep a strong mind as to not let your problems prevail over you.