Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hobby Happy

I've been pretty depressed the last few days. When I get that low, it's difficult for me to write. I wanted to share with you something that has given me a lot of pleasure, even on seemingly pleasureless days.

I have always been a lover of the arts, especially graphic arts. Unfortunately, I seemed to have been left out of that particular pool of creative talent. I wanted to draw, paint, or sculpt, but I wasn't able to. My appreciation for people who have those talents has grown as my exposure to wonderful artists has grown.

Still, I have had a desire to express myself creatively. Whenever my wife and I would travel, we would see some of God's awesome handiwork, and I would say, "You know, if I had a good camera, I could take an award-winning photo." She would just smile. This has gone on for years and years.

Then in December of 2005, I had a financial serendipity, and I took that opportunity to purchase my first (only) digital camera. I didn't' spend a lot. The Internet purchase price was only about $250. Then I spent another $50 on photo editing software. At last, I had the tools to be creative.

It didn't take me long to read everything that the library had to offer on photography. I devoured magazines and surfed many of the websites available. As my knowledge grew, so did my enthusiasm for photography. I had delusions of grandeur.

One day, I received notice from a competition website that I had won an award. I couldn't wait to tell Teresa, "I've taken an award-winning photograph." Again the smile. I actually believe that she thought it was a fluke. Then a second award came my way, and others. I waived those award notices under her nose and beat her into submission with my success. "HA!!! and HA!! again, I said." Finally, I had someone to validate my efforts and creative vision.

I once worked with a preacher who said, "He that tooteth not his own horn, never gets tooted." That's not my intent. What I wanted to demonstrate is that people who are depressed are still capable of getting outside of themselves. We can be freed from our gray world, even if only for minutes or hours. I discovered that I could and would go on a photography "safari", even when depressed. Photography got me out of bed and out of the house. When I was unable to speak to people, I could still speak to the camera.

Photography may not be an instrument of joy for you. Your enthusiasm may be for something else. I truly believe that finding an activity/hobby, that we are capable of continuing while we are ill, can be another important factor in our recovery. Even now, as the bitter cold releases its hold on Arkansas, I am beginning to dream of new heights to climb.

For those of you who are interested in Photography, let me share some of my findings. (1) A digital camera is a must. You can view your photos right away, and thin out the ones that are less than "award-winning (thousands)." (2) Buy some photo-editing software, such as Photoshop Elements. This can usually be bought for about $50 on the net. Editing will be an additional interest, almost as much fun as shooting photos. (3) Try a few of the competition sites. You will learn from the other photographers, and their critique will help you grow. I recommend (4) At some point, you may want sell some of your better photos through a microstock agency. I've had pretty fair success on (5) Finally, take your camera with you everywhere. "If you don't tote it, you can't take it."

If you have already found your own Hobby Happiness, let the rest of us know. I would certainly be interested in your discoveries.

"A joyful heart makes a cheerful face (Proverbs 15:13)." As Alan Bryan used to say, "If we're happy, some of us need to notify our face."

I love and appreciate you all. Your encouragement means a lot to me.

["I'm so low I could do a ten minute free-fall off the edge of a dime."]


Neva said...

It is not the current circumstance or mindset that makes one's contribution valuable to those around him, it is simply his being. I love the pictures you post. I am not sure what my hobby is but I am very sure what it is not. Years of everyone trying to get me involved in watercolors, tole painting, ceramics, etc etc etc has shown me what is not pleasing and therapeutic to me. However since I am only 46 years old and plan on living to at least 100, I guess I still have time to find a hobby. I do like to cook.
I so enjoy reading your posts, thank you for sharing your journey with me.
Peace and prayers,

Stormy Joe Ward said...

For those who have an interest in photography, I might offer one caveat. When I first started getting involved in some of the competition sites, I became obsessed with my scores, comments, forums etc.. After awhile, I had to drop out of all the competitions and start concentrating on what made me feel good about myself and my photography. The main reason I recommended is that on it you will see some of the world's greatest photography and photographers. The comments they offer have real substance. Just looking at these photos will increase your learning and expertise. Have fun!!

Neva said...

Praying that the sun is shining in your spirit today.
Peace and prayers my brother,