Thursday, February 13, 2014

Telling Stories In Focus: On Photography and ADHD

I have an amazing brain that is fueled with the passion and drive of the artist who lives in an ethereal reality where time and responsibility are none of her concern.  The artist keeps me in my ADHD dream lands where I can be seen staring out windows for hours.  My therapist and I have learned that my brain has the ability to learn and grow in the ways of the accountant,  who understands that time and task completion are something I must learn to manage to achieve the creative outputs of the artist. The accountant and artist create a dialogue in my head every minute of my day that sounds like this


Artist: Let's go create canvases out of wood


Accountant:  If we do that, then we will not have enough time to make a great meal for your family.


Artist:  Oh, yeah!  Youre right.  Let's go make costumes for the play we wrote last week.


Accountant: That will take hours.


Artist: Well, then let's go take photographs


Accountant:  You have thirty minutes.


Artist: "Oh yeah! With my digital camera, I can capture hundreds of in a matter of minutes


The art of photography puts into action the creative ideas of the artist within the responsibly approved time frame of the accountant.  It is an efficient art form that lets me see my ADHD as a gift that puts the story of my life into focus through the lens of a camera.


I have a day job that requires to me to drive around my city all day.  After 2 years of being a visual spectator to my surroundings, the artist inside my brain told me it was time to step out of my time-constricting schedule and take a look at my very own city through the lens of a camera.  Outside of the lens, my brain struggles to focus on a single stimulus to photograph.  But when I place that camera up to my face, and peruse my surroundings shot by shot, the buildings, the stories and the people passing by seem to slow down so my brain can take in the visual richness of the stories they carry in their faces and in the layers of colorful, pastel paint that grace the door ways and siding of the historic buildings. For me, my lens shuts out the extraneous visual clutter of the surrounding buildings and allows me to focus on the stories within the details and texture of the old red brick buildings in this city.  Then the artist helps my brain to slow down and take the time to tell the visual stories that live inside each richly textured building that I view from behind the lens. But the accountant must remind the artist she has other responsibilities to her work and home life and that she is enough no matter how many photos she takes.

I love to photograph my friends as they experience themselves in new roles as wives, mothers, husbands and fathers.  The artist makes it possible for me to view my friends experiencing their lives as new moms loving on their new babies or rubbing their first baby bumps in a creative composition that captures the very essence of their personal spirits . When the artist views her friends through the lens during these personal shoots, she knows she is telling a visual narrative through her photographs that will be shared for generations to come.  While the artist can help others tell their stories through her lens, she can often times get lost in other people's narratives and neglect her own.  That is when the accountant comes along and whispers into the artist's ear, that it is time to put the camera down and go be an active participant in her own narrative where she actively touches lives through her focused personal presence without her camera lens.


One of my favorite parts of the creative process in photography is the editing phase using a photo editing program on my PC or iPhone. With the artists sense of flair for innovation, she loves to approach each photograph as an opportunity to paint a layer of imagination into the composition. She looks at the compositions, the people and colors in each photograph and determines if adding more hues or recoloring the picture in black and white will add to the story happening inside the photograph.  Often, the artist forgets that it is possible to apply this same sense of creativity and detail to other areas of her life.  Luckily, she has her new friend, the accountant, who must remind the artist that her family relies on her creative talents to plan innovative birthday parties for her children, nieces and nephews. I must focus.


 Photography is the perfect creative outlet for my life that is greatly influenced by the gifts and talents that come with having ADHD.  While the artist side of my brain adds a deep sense of story telling and a solid understanding to my photography craft, she relies on her growing sense of  responsibility thanks to the accountant  who must remind her that her creative talents are needed in her job and daily family life. However, it is the sense of focus that I feel from behind the lens that teaches me to pay attention to the visual richness that I experience as I look into my children's eyes or watch my husband's smile as he tells a funny joke. But these days I can do that with or without a camera.

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