Wex Mondays: Week 17

© Katherine Broadbent
 
This was my favourite from the shoot at the Nikon School. I’m still practicing my skills at polishing an image to a high fashion standard, but I don’t feel I did too badly.
 
This weeks winners can be seen over on the Wex Leader Board. I really liked the third place entry from Sameul Pilgrim a serene panorama in calm, almost pastel, tones.

OCD & Photography

I recently read a twitter post by a photographer I highly respect. It was a light hearted quip. Another photographer I follow responded in a similar light-hearted and jokey manner.
No malice or offence intended by either party.
But still it bothered me. Why? Because the joke was about OCD and about two years ago that illness ruined my life.

I just want to make clear am not offended or upset in anyway by jokes about OCD.

I don’t have any ill will towards people who joke about OCD. At all. Even my family jokes about it! I believe that laughter is the best medicine. But sometime I get the impression people laugh for the wrong reasons. 

It troubles me how prevalent and accepted these types of jokes are. It also troubles me that some fellow sufferers lash out at the people who make jokes, that’s not cool either guys!! 
So to the reason for this blog post: I began to think about how OCD interacts with my photographic process. And it’s not the way you’d expect. So I thought I’d share.
Just to be clear OCD is not about being obsessively neat/clean or having things in order. Here’s a picture of the current state of my bedroom. 
I know, right?! I am an A-grade slob! 😀
It’s not about making sure things are just right because they need or you want them to be.
OCD is about having troubling thoughts and the faulty believe that particular rituals (which, yes, for some sufferers is tidiness and order) will somehow neutralise these thoughts. And this process stops you doing what you love. If untreated and allowed to run wild, OCD stops you living your life. It causes crippling anxiety that something terrible is going to happen and you are the one responsible. That is, if you don’t do the ritual over and over and over again.  
So to be completely clear the THOUGHT is the OBSESSION and the cleaning/orderliness (if that’s what you do) is actually the COMPULSION.
Ergo, people who suffer with OCD are not OBSESSED with being clean/tidy/ordered/ect.
I’d like to pause for a moment to help you understand the gravity of living with a mental illness. Because luckily, not everyone has suffered as I have. People are perhaps a little in the dark about why I am so passionate about sharing my experience with OCD and trying to get people to truly understand what it’s like.
Whilst untreated, my OCD took away:
My career. I chose to leave my job because my panic attacks were so bad I was exhausted and I would often just collapse. If anything went wrong, I would blow up in a bout of uncontrollable hysteria. Not very professional. I was actually really good at that job and was in line for a promotion.
A relationship. I don’t really know what caused the end of this relationship, do we ever? But I can see how my untreated illness put undue pressure on everyone involved.
Friends. I was scared I couldn’t save them from the bad things that I believed would happen if they were around me. So I cut myself off. A few probably still think I’m an aloof, stuck up bitch. But I cut them out of my life because I believed I was protecting them.
My hobbies. Most days I couldn’t leave the house.
My independence. Dealing with all this took it’s toll. I couldn’t cope living independently so had to move back in with my parents.
My self respect. I thought I was insane and a failure. 
I lost everything and had to start from scratch. I had the equivalent of a midlife crisis at the age of 25.
Photography, integrated with my therapy and medication, is helping me earn all that back.
Photography actually helped me recover. I am rebuilding my life.
It gave me a reason to leave the house. I was petrified that I or my loved ones were going to die horribly if I even put a toe out of bed and did anything other than my mental rituals.
It gave me something to focus on outside of my head. 
It helped me deal with violent intrusive thoughts. By just letting them be and getting on with something else, I took away their power.
At the beginning of my recovery I began to meditate and practice mindfulness. I feel photography is an art, a process, that is, in every way, mindful. When I found photography it was finally a way for me to take mindfulness and meditation with me everywhere.
OCD doesn’t push me to take perfect photographs. OCD doesn’t cause me to fuss over the perfect lighting of a shot. It doesn’t make me want to get best composition. 
That’s all down to me and wanting to be the best photographer I can be.
If my OCD had it’s way: I would never take another photograph. 
Because photography has helped me loosen the grip that OCD has over my brain, over my life.
So next time there’s a meme about freaking out if all the Smarties aren’t organised by colour. 
Or there’s a buzzfeed page how great it is that a snake is  zig zagging perfectly through some paving stones. 
Or someone says “I’m a BIT OCD about that.”
Think about what I’ve just shared with you. Label it correctly. It’s being anally retentive, not OCD. 
Why?  
Because trivialising an illness doesn’t help. It just makes people more ashamed that they are unable to deal with it. When people are ashamed the clam up. They don’t ask for help. They hide away and the illness takes over. Believe me, I’ve been there.
Because being anally retentive is annoying at worst.
Because OCD, at it’s worst, takes people lives away. And that’s just not funny.

I have chosen to speak out today, not to call anyone out, but because I have heard people speak out before. Those are the people who saved me. Who helped me realise:
I was not insane,
I was not going to get sectioned and locked up
and
that I needed to get help.

If you or someone you care about is suffering from mental illness Mind have some great resources to help you and other understand what is happening. As does the NHS website. OCD UK’s website has been really helpful for me too.

Peace and love!
Regular service will resume shortly.

Friday Adventures: 27th February in Norwich

Today’s Friday adventure was not all about it photography. I went shopping with my mum! 

© Katherine Broadbent
Mandatory selfie!!

As the old saying goes the best camera you have is the camera that is with you.
© Katherine Broadbent
So while today was not ALL about photography some photography was done! I got this shot in my local shopping mall. Pretty neat. Taken on my iPhone & edited with Snapseed 🙂
I also treated myself to this Man Ray book. I had a voucher for the store I bought it in, so ended up paying £15 -bargain! I’ve signed up to do a Portrait Workshop with The Nikon School in a few months time so I thought I should get a bit of research in!

Sunday Outing: 22nd February 2015 Thetford Forest

Went out with our Macro lens’ to see what we could see. I wasn’t drawn to much visually. But I did get a shot I could work with for my Wex Monday entry.

After that I got inspired by all the dead twigs from the vast array of plant life in Thetford Forest. It got me thinking back to the short series of photos I did with frozen plants. I decided I wanted to do more.
So I put my camera away.
I’ll hopefully be working on my “Dead Wood” project at the weekend. Watch this space!

iPhone Apps: Diana Photo

I’ve been playing around with a pretty fun app recently. Diana Photo – The Fastest Double Exposure App in the World .

 
I guess a lot of people will be using the app for cool double exposure portraits, a la Sara Byrne. But I had a little different subject in mind.
The following shots use only one image twice (second time it is mirrored) as opposed to two different images.

© Katherine Broadbent

© Katherine Broadbent

© Katherine Broadbent

© Katherine Broadbent
 
Pros:
  • Free!
  • Available on both Android and Apple platforms.
  • Really unique Ingram ready shots.
Cons:
  • Can only apply filters and rotate images – No further editing tools. But I just open the image in ProCam or Snapseed 😉
Have you had a go with Diana Photo yet? Fancy giving it a go? I’d love to see your images! Tweet me @broad_ologie.

Sunday Outing: 1st February 2015 – Going Macro

I celebrated my birthday this weekend. I was a very lucky girl and my family – knowing how much time I spend with my camera gifted me money to go towards the Sigma 105mm 2.8 Macro.

I had wanted this lens since first getting a DSLR so today was a big day 🙂

We had planned to go on an outing to Wymondham but the with the rain being so on/off we decided to stay in. But with a macro lens rainy days in can mean endless fun and creativity!

How close can I get?

© Katherine Broadbent
What can I do to utilise the shallow DoF to my creative advantage?
© Katherine Broadbent
What does that look like up close?
© Katherine Broadbent
How far can I push the abstraction?

© Katherine Broadbent

I’m certainly looking forward to the next rainy day! And getting outside to explore the world of texture.

I chose the 105mm 2.8 specifically because it’s also a great portrait lens. I have an idea for a portrait project but not the confidence yet. So a bit more research and practical exercises are in order.

Once I’ve had a decent amount of time with the lens I will do a review post. But I will quickly say, to anyone considering a macro, give Sigma serious consideration, these lenses are epic!