Caffeine Priority: Anxiety in photography and the role of preparation


posted Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 4:29 AM EST


Wake up with IR! Here's today's cup of Caffeine Priority...

Anxiety is something many of us are familiar with to one degree or another. Mild anxiety or nervousness is a very common feeling, but for some people anxiety can get in the way of their work or happiness. Robert K Baggs wrote an article about anxiety and photography for Fstoppers. After chatting with a colleague, he realized that "photographer anxiety is not at all uncommon."

While the debate is far from closed -- as is often the case when dealing with conscious experiences such as anxiety or depression -- there is some scientific evidence that there may be a link between creativity and mental disorders. In fact, a study in Sweden found that photographers were 8% more likely to have bipolar disorder. Of course, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder are two very different things, but the potential link is nonetheless interesting to consider.

What Baggs is specifically talking about, however, is anxiety about a photoshoot or particular job that affects his behaviors. After packing up what he considers "essential" gear, he then starts wondering and worrying about needing something more and ends up over packing his bag. Outdoor shoots lead to him checking and re-checking the weather over and over. Ironically, this excessive preparation might be the key to addressing photography-related anxiety.

Baggs considers preparation -- despite itself being a manifestation of his anxiety -- to be the most effective means for dealing with it. It's okay to worry about the unknowns, they're a bit worrying by their very nature, so just prepare for as much as you possibly can. Hopefully by combining that preparation with reason, you won't end up feverishly checking weather conditions and packing every single piece of gear you own even if there's a 0% chance you'll need it. If you're worried about something going horribly wrong on a shoot, ask yourself, "Has that ever happened before?" If the answer is no, then try to reassure yourself that the shoot in question is very likely not the shoot where that horrible fear becomes reality.

To read more of Robert K Baggs' tips for dealing with photographer's anxiety, see his article. To see his work, visit his website.

If you're interested in learning more about how different artists have managed their anxiety and found ways to utilize it in their work, check out this article. However, if anxiety is preventing you from living the life you want or being able to do everything you want to with your photography, you can read more about the condition and learn what your options are for treatment at the National Institute of Mental Health.

(Seen via Fstoppers)

Caffeine Priority is a series of short photo-tidbits to ease you into your day, and give us a chance to share a bit more of what life’s like here at IR. We're more like a group of friends testing and talking about cameras and lenses than the buttoned-down, big-corporation world that some of our photo-friends at other companies work in; hopefully these little snippets will share some of that. So... grab another coffee and join in the conversation with us down below!