If you suffer from anxiety, making art is one of the things that help to keep it under control. Many photographers use this medium to beat anxiety, and I am one of them. But, what happens when photography doesn’t reduce your anxiety, but triggers it instead? Manny Ortiz has this issue, despite being a professional photographer for years. He shares his experience in this video, so if you have the same problem, this is something you’ll want to watch.
In Manny’s case, there are two aspects of photography that make him feel anxious: one is the social aspect, and the other is related to expectations he needs to meet.
If you photograph portraits, events, families and such, this means meeting new people all the time. And if you’re not comfortable around folks you don’t know at all, this can trigger your anxiety.
Still, even when you get to know someone a bit and even if you “click” just right, there’s another problem. You are the one holding the camera, and people are looking at you for direction. This can be overwhelming, especially at the beginning. However, it’s something that is likely to go away with time, as you get more experienced and self-confident.
Another thing that bothers Manny is meeting expectations. Take this scenario for instance: when you post on social media and create your portfolio, you only share your best work. You know how many shots were stored on the hard drive never to be seen again, but people will expect you to deliver photos that all look perfect. For me personally, this is also a great source of anxiety when it comes to shooting for clients, and it’s one of the reasons why I’ve been running away from turning photography into a job.
The other problem can be that, sometimes, you don’t know the location, the model, or the client you’re about to photograph. Going into the unknown can make you think you won’t meet the client’s expectations. Well hello, anxiety, my old friend.
How to solve this?
For some people, these kinds of anxiety function as a “fuel” that makes them more productive and forces them to do their best. In my case, this was only true when I was a student because a dose of anxiety before an exam would keep me alert and sharp. But for Manny, this kind of anxiety actually holds him back. And when it comes to photography, I can totally relate, because it makes me feel blocked, too.
As I mentioned, I didn’t turn photography into a career. But there are so many of you who are way better photographers than me and who want and should do it professionally. And you definitely shouldn’t let anxiety stop you from doing it.
Breaking out of your comfort zone is scary. However, once you do it, you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve. And let me give you a piece of advice: once you do break out of the comfort zone and achieve something, don’t forget to acknowledge your success. Don’t take it for granted, but reward yourself and celebrate every new step on your journey!
[Photography triggers my ANXIETY!| Manny Ortiz]