The van was swerving straight towards me. The crashing of crumpled metal echoed in every direction, but I was too focused to hear it in the moment. I veered left and right to avoid shattered glass before pulling over in a nearby lane. I had just avoided an accident.
This happened at the end of a stint of work where I’d been shooting solidly for two weeks. During those two weeks my brain was fried and my body started to ache. I was exhausted when I woke that morning, but I told myself that it was the last day of crazy work schedules, and this was the easiest of them all. But, it turns out that fate had other plans.
I was lucky to get out of it without a scrape. The car in front of me veered across the opposite side of the road, struck a van which then swerved towards me. I narrowly avoided being hit, and the car behind me took the brunt. It happened in front, beside and behind me, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. After checking everyone was okay and calling an ambulance, I stayed with the others at the scene until the emergency services arrived. I gave my statement and made the decision to head onwards to my shoot.
On the drive to the shoot I wasn’t so much in shock, as hypersensitive to the road. I caught myself, on more than one occasion, shouting at drivers that took risks or that turned without indicating. This was not like me at all. It would’ve been easy to not go to the shoot. Excusing myself by feeling too overwhelmed with what had happened, and for some people I’m sure that would be appropriate. But I’m tenacious and a little stubborn, so I carried on to the shoot and finished those hard two weeks despite what had happened.
I haven’t once told you what gear I’m shooting on, or mentioned an f stop, that’s not what this post is about. No, this is about the toll photography can take on you. It’s to highlight a wider issue that we all face in photography. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not equating photography to building work, or rocket surgery. There are definitely other occupations that take more of a strain on the mind and the body. However, photography has an ability to slowly ebb away at your mental state and cause physical fatigue. It’s like water eroding the stones on a river bed: unseen and imperceptible, its effects only noticeable when the rounded rock is brought to the surface. What I’ve learned from those two weeks is that I should rest. To let go of my stubbornness and listen to others when they tell me I look tired. They are the ones that pick up the rock from the river bed and notice the erosion. We, as rocks, don’t notice the effects until someone else points it out, and at that point it might be too late to rekindle your passion for photography. It may have already rubbed off. I know it happens, I’ve met those photographers that hate the sight of a camera. So just remember to put the camera down and look after yourself as well as your shot rate.