Week 41: Mental Health | 2018 Project 52

Today, October 10, is World Mental Health Day. It doesn’t get the attention of other days of observance but is still one that matters because mental illness impacts about one out of every six people around the world. Fifteen percent of our planet’s population. That’s not small. Even though we tell ourselves that it is.

It impacts men just as much as women. Even children. It manifests as depression, anxiety, a number of disorders include eating and alcohol and drugs… and a number of things I’m forgetting. But it’s easy to sweep under the rug. To tell yourself to get over it. To have others not understand it. To know that it’s not only your brain, but your body just won’t do what you need it to.

This is why I wanted mental health to be a prompt this year. So we could thrust our creativity into the center of it all.

mental health

Settings: f/4.0, 1/200 sec, 50mm, ISO 160
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF50mm f/1.2L USM

I am not one to shy away from getting in front of the camera. Not long ago I took the time to set up my camera even on the shittiest day. I had several where I felt sick or defeated and I thought, “You know what? I’m going to photograph this feeling. I don’t care if bothers people. It’s me, at this moment, and it’s real.” Forget all the fake stuff we see endless on social media now – let’s circle back to what really matters: REAL LIFE.

With my photo, I wanted to hide part of my face in darkness. I haven’t experienced anything detrimental personally, but I have fallen into funks before. Funks bad enough that my husband notices, my girlfriends suggest talking to a doctor, and that my boss recognizes when things are getting better. And I’ve had anxiety attacks at work. Those are the worst because I really can’t escape the office setup we have; I just have to breathe through it. I hate it when people see it happening to me… but I hate it more when they don’t. It’s a burden. To have this fog hanging around you even though you’ve still got to go to work, pay bills, take care of dogs, please parents, do laundry, clean the house, feed yourself… usually a few of those get looked over. Or to feel your chest pull tight and lose your breath, only to have your eyes fill up with tears because your brain can’t comprehend what your body is doing. Everything is strained. Unpredictable.

Half in light and the other half in darkness… functioning, going through the day-to-day motions when all you want to do is… not.

I had started with converting my image to black and white but decided to keep it in color. Color added more depth to the image versus the flatness converting it created. But it also carries that same message to me: part of me is in color, wants to see the brighter side of things… but that just isn’t going to happen right now. Maybe later.

Overall, I really like how my image turned out. I’m happy I was able to find the right light and use it to my advantage, taking what was only an idea and making it happen. I know that this prompt wouldn’t please everyone in our Flickr group, but I tip my hat to those that did. You should definitely check out how other people have photographed mental health this week.

Week 42: Depth of Field
due 10.17.18

Depth of field was one of the things I first really learned when I started shooting with my dSLR. And a lower DOF became something I craved – I wanted that creamy, blurry background so that my subject could stand out. I realize now I overdid it. A lot. But that’s part of the journey.

With depth of field, you can tell a story with your image. You can choose to increase your depth of field by increasing your aperture, making everything in the frame sharp – the higher the aperture, the more of the frame that’s in focus. It’s great for landscapes, shooting in the sun and sports. You can decrease your DOF by lowering your aperture, taking the f/stop number as low as it can get for your lens – suddenly only a fraction of frame is sharp and focused, and the rest is knocked out. It’s great for portraits.

This week, consider your subject and your depth of field. Should you stop down and make your aperture smaller? Should you stop up to focus on only one thing in the frame? Which do you prefer? Which one helps you tell the story in your photo. You can photograph whatever you like, but experiment with aperture and I highly encourage you to shoot manually. Or if that scares you, at least in aperture mode so you that you have control over your f/stop. I left some resources below for anyone that needs a little help understanding DOF more or shooting manually.

How to Shoot in Manual Mode
Understanding Depth of Field For Beginners
The Ultimate Guide to Depth of Field (DoF)
Depth of Field: The Basics
Depth of Field Photography

Last week’s photo: Photo Walk #2018P52

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2018P52 so that we can find your work and share some hearts!

Have questions about 2018 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the 2018P52 Flickr group description. Join us any time with any camera!