Tag Archives: ADHD

The Highs and Lows of the Creative Mind

Once again I haven’t been posting many updates about the gigs I’ve been shooting. There have been few gigs this year but they’ve been very memorable to me. I’ll get into who those bands were soon but I think it’s time I talk about my actual mental state that keeps me at or takes me away from photographing bands.

And I do apologise in advance, I haven’t been writing in ages. I only recently got back to reading novels. Novellas. At least a few pages a night of them.

Maybe I’ll explain what happened after the last successful gig I shot. I was asked by Darren Middleton to be his photographer in Sydney when he played a show at Factory Theatre with Guy Pearce. That was a great experience, despite ripping the only shirt I had that night – by reaching down for a beer of all things – and having a member of the audience grab me violently because doing my job was annoying him. I wasn’t ok after that. I have PTSD and my mind went to a place that was far from the venue and into a very scary place. It was just the two of us in a type of blurry isolated environment and a second later I realised I was still in the venue. So, I sulked backstage and got drunk. I didn’t even go back out to take photos during the encore.

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Guy Pearce and Darren Middleton backstage
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Guy Pearce at Factory Theatre

After that I was anxious to return to The Factory Theatre, a venue I’ve been to countless times before. So I missed out on taking photos of The Gin Club playing there. I was also anxious about my safety for other reasons. My PTSD was just back full force and I could barely leave the house.

So, I’ve gone weeks, maybe months without going to a show. I almost went to see Funeral For a Friend last week but the lack of a photo pass, bus ticket, and access to an ATM was just too many barriers in my plans to want to go. Then I had uncontrollable itching. That’s another reason why I’ve not wanted to go out: for a few weeks now I’ve had a severe eczema flare up. I’m able to control it to a degree now but when I couldn’t it was rather depressing.

The Matches
The Matches at Oxford Art Factory
The Matches
The Matches at Oxford Art Factory

I’ve been missing taking photos at gigs. At the start of the year I got to take photos of Davey Lane and his band in dresses and see an old childhood friend perform in his band. You would know him by the name Steve Smyth.  I’ve probably seen more bands than photographed but it was still fun. I got to photograph/video The Matches one-off gig in Sydney. I tried to rescue Shaun Harris’s guitar falling to the ground and when he managed to get a hold of it he swung it up and hit me in the face with it. Later on I saw that I was bleeding. Bruises and cuts in wild mosh pits are more like medals and I got loads at the Gnarwolves and Luca Brasi gig when I kept being pushed onto the stage. I even had a laugh with the Gnarwolves boys when a stage diver landed on my shoulders and I just fell down.

I had some good times with Dallas Crane too. I was always so nervous about meeting those guys, even that night but they are just so nice. I even jumped on stage with them to take photos. It was one of those nights where everything just finally felt right and nothing could ruin the moment. Some guy even tried to pick me up. No, that wasn’t part of everything going right but I wasn’t going to let it ruin my night.

Steve from Dallas Crane
Steve from Dallas Crane at Newtown Social Club
Dallas Crane
Dallas Crane at Newtown Social Club

I was disappointed about not getting a photo pass to You Am I at Twilight at Taronga but I tried to enjoy myself with friends. It was probably the last time I got really drunk, amongst other things. I’m now a complete teetotaler and only take medicines and the medication prescribed to me. Oh, and tea. I’ve been off coffee for years.

Then I didn’t get a photo pass to Bayside and that was another blow to my confidence as a band photographer. Then I took it as a good excuse to get drunk and knowing a secret entrance backstage (where I was hanging out with Darren Middleton, Guy Pearce and the members of their band a week ago) I demanded to be let in. I won’t even tell you from where I was banging on the door from but it made me look pretty ridiculous. I was getting sick of just watching international bands play when I knew I could get some decent photos out of them. I got angry about my lack of a photo pass to Funeral For a Friend that I may have just ditched the whole show over it. It took me three days to work out I was suffering from depression too.

My depression is pretty on and off usually. I do take medication that helps ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, but I get the odd suicidal thoughts a few days a month. It used to be around 10 days of the month so there’s been improvement. I’m only bringing this up because I’ve noticed a pattern in my confidence levels as a band photographer. I can go from average confidence to overconfidence to right back down to despair. The busier I am with my band photography the more confidence I have with the odd-day of having manic overconfidence. If you know anything about bipolar disorder you would know that there are periods of feeling like you’re a god and nothing can stop you. That along with bursts of creative ideas and the energy to carry them out does help out me get out to many shows and photograph a whole lot of bands, up to three shows a week, but then there are periods of having no gigs to photograph so the creative ideas and energy needs something to focus on. Most days I’m fine to play a video game, obsessively or run around with a camera when I get some idea for a project. But when the photography opportunities still don’t come it’s easy to feel hopeless about it and fall back into depression.

Also, being a creative person I don’t want to be stuck doing the same thing all the time. I want to actually create art from scratch, not just snap a photo of what I think looks good. Lately, I’ve been thinking about writing a screenplay or practice my sketching skills. But when you have ADHD you really have to plan to do those things and set aside a time, but you’re also impulsive and kept quite happy by playing a video game for hours.
I know I need to combine playing video games with creating art or doing something productive like that. It’s probably because of my autism that I can’t really focus on more than one thing at a time but I think it’s worth practicing at least. For some reason I feel like I waste time when playing video games, even though I’m proud of what I achieve in the games. I just find writing, drawing and photography more rewarding.

My despair will soon be over because I do have some gigs coming up. An old friend‘s band Sloppy Kiss Soire is having an EP launch at the Lansdowne Hotel, and I’m just surprised by the fact that they are having actual bands there again. There’s The Getaway Plan and Fraser A. Gorman at Newtown Social Club, Against Me at Wollongong University which will at least be another photo pass. The rest I want to shoot do involve getting a photo pass so may or may not happen. I guess I’ve just got to be patient for other bands to announce shows while battling my low self-esteem and whether I’m going to stick with this band photography, and make it into a real money maker. People want to put my photos in an exhibition but I just don’t feel confident about my photography at the moment. I’ve just got to keep busy with it. I’ve made some business cards and I give them to people and wonder why I even had to do that. But you know, I’ve got a skill and I’ll keep practicing it and see if anything comes out of it. I bet you can guess my mental state right now…heh.

– LTTL

Me and The Crane
Me and The Crane at Newtown Social Club
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Megan Washington Pops Up in Syndey

Megan Washington live at Pitt St Mall, Sydney 14/9/14
Megan Washington live at Pitt St Mall, Sydney 14/9/14

It was probably the hottest day that I had ever been out in Sydney but I hardly felt it, so great was my anticipation – and some anxiousness/desperation to find the place – to see Megan Washington live for the first time. I got there pretty early and proceeded to wait, and wait, and wait. Then finally she started.

It was a reasonable turn out, the crowd circled around the Westfield stage in a type of bowl formation. I was a little disappointed I couldn’t get as close as I usually do and I regretted not bringing my 70-200mm lens so I could get my usual close-up shots – it’s what I do best. And parts of the crowd seemed annoyed that I moved from one side to the next, to the middle, ah oh I’m bored with that so I guess I’ll move back to where I was. I admit I was seriously under medicated. I have ADHD which isn’t medicated with any prescription medication, more supplements but that day I neglected to take them. I was easily stressed at times but I tried to stick it out until I was content with the photos.

Even people doing their basic shopping stopped to watch the show.
Even people doing their basic shopping stopped to watch the show.

I must admit that few people in the crowd were looking out more for themselves than those around them. There was a father who told a cameraman – I was seriously envious of that beautiful piece of machinery – that he better not get in the view of his daughter. OK, those were not his exact words. I have a bit of a learning disability and struggle to express the right words at first. It was more, ‘are you going to stand up?’ The cameraman said ‘no.’ I understand he wanted for his daughter to have a good view, but you don’t make it hard for a professional to do their work, or get any other person in the crowd to move. If the girl’s view was obstructed I was going to offer that she stand beside me. There was a large gap and the people behind were taller than her so it really wouldn’t have been an issue. I was at one point told to move out of someone’s view. I kept being repetitively tapped on my sides. I did move but I ran out of room to shuffle along to. So I moved back to where I was before being touched. I was only going to spend two minutes at that spot anyway.

I realise now how anxious I was that day. As I was walking to Pitt St Mall I was almost colliding with people at the pedestrian walk, and I knew that was clumsier than usual. So, by the time I gave up on taking photos from down the front and thought I’d try and see if I could take some photos behind Megan and get the crowd in the photo, I started to politely ask people to move so I could leave. Some did but the ones in the middle seemed to be catatonic so I had to weave my way through them. Then I lost my footing and fell onto someone and stepped on their foot and they let out this animal groan and started to shake me. Really, it was the most difficult crowd to be in. Either in this type of music scene people don’t have the same etiquette as those in the rock and punk scene. We look after each other.  We don’t tell people to move – unless you’re a professional photographer – in that case we ask politely and promise to only be there for a few songs – or even make a big deal when they accidentally tread on your toes. I know that because I’ve done it a lot of times. I was treated as though I did it on purpose.

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Anyway, Megan was great. I forget most of her set list. I should probably buy her album or something. More photos can be found at Lost Through the Len’s Facebook page or at The Dwarf’s website. If you like my photos then maybe you want to ‘like’ my page on Facebook so you can see more photos like that in the future. You can even request a gig for me to take photos at. If you want me to take photos of your band then contact me for a quote.

So, who am I going to shoot next?

Lost Through the Lens