PHLEARN MagazineHow Photography Saved My Sanity

How Photography Saved My Sanity

I was married in 2004. Shortly thereafter, we happily greeted our son into this world. Settled into a home life. Both had day jobs, rent to pay, among other bills as many of us do. But unfortunately, this wouldn’t last for long. A few years in, we started drifting apart. As some experts would warn you about, money started to become an arguing point, among other issues. Sadly, we decided it was best that we divorced.

A few years after that, we realized that we still get along, and we don’t have any animosity. Delighted that this was the case, especially because we had a child together, we started to reconnect. This reconnection turned into giving family life a second shot. We both had better jobs now, a larger place to live, and wonderful neighbors to spend time with. Sadly, everything that caused issues before started to come back again.

Between bad decisions, different views on certain things, and not wanting to put our son through any of our discussions, we decided to part ways again. This was devastating for me. I was disappointed with myself. Why couldn’t I hold a relationship together? How could I get so many things wrong? How will this affect my son?

As with most break-ups, the child can only live with one parent of course, so there were many nights where I was alone, with my own thoughts. To compound that, I was still renting the townhouse that all three of us had lived in together. This was not healthy, I felt. I needed to distract myself. I need to find constructive ways to spend my time.

I had been playing guitar for 20 years at this point, but even when I picked it up and started to play, it didn’t provide the distraction I so desperately needed. I had expressed myself through my music countless times, and I feel that because it became second-nature to write music, I didn’t feel challenged by doing it anymore.

Photography wasn’t new to me either, but for some reason, grabbing my camera and shooting photos and video provided me with a mental stability that I needed. Instead of sitting in the house, pondering how I thought I failed as a husband, and to what extent I affected my son’s life, or staying indoors and strumming my guitar, I ventured out.

I collaborated with other local creative minds. I went out into nature, worked on my skills as a photographer and breathed in the fresh air. I challenged myself, each day, to accomplish something with my camera. I told myself I would visit a location, and I would drive there and attempt to take the best photo I could. I would work on techniques so that they, too, would become second nature.

I’ve included a video I shot during that time. We were having a bad snowstorm, and unfortunately, this prevented me from leaving the house. I was all alone, and I had gotten used to going outside and taking photos to keep my mind off things. It occurred to me that I didn’t need to revert back to the mindset I had before. I didn’t have to feel bad for myself. My ex-wife and I were starting to get along again (although not getting back together) and my son seemed to be normal as could be, from what I could tell.

I peeked out the window and saw some beautiful birds flying around. I was fascinated by them. Maybe it’s my own naiveté, but I had never realized how active they were in a snowstorm. Those birds, unaware of course, saved my sanity that day.

Life is never pre-destined. You can plan for things, but inevitably something will happen to side-track this. No one goes through life happy all the time, or doing things perfect, or always making the correct decisions. I am glad I had my camera with me. It would have been easy to evaluate my life, and feel sorry for myself. But for my own sanity, and for those around me, keeping my spirits up, and my creativity flowing was a far more productive thing to do.

Find more from David at his website.

David Andrade

David Andrade is a Rhode Island-based portrait photographer, wedding videographer, and budget filmmaker. His passion is in post production – such as color grading in Davinci Resolve and compositing in Photoshop. Dave also has a passion for music as a long time guitarist, and an avid fan of blues music.

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