For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by photography. There’s just something about capturing a moment in time, freezing it forever in an image, that feels incredibly powerful.
And yet, for years, I pushed my love of photography aside, thinking that it was just a hobby, that it could never be a real career. I was also aware that camera equipment would be costly which was another reason I didn’t fully embrace my passion.
Instead, I found myself stuck in several dead-end jobs that I hated. I was bored and unfulfilled, counting down the minutes until the end of the workday, and dreading the start of the next one.
It was a miserable existence, and I felt like I was wasting my life.
The toll of 9-5 jobs
I flitted about from job to job, never feeling satisfied with what I was doing.
It was also taking me hours to even get to work. Before I had a car, I would have to get up at 5am to be able to get to work in time for 9am. This involved getting two buses and trams to and from work each day. My work day was lasting from 5am-11pm, even though my working hours were 9am-7pm. When I got home each day I was having to choose between eating and showering. I also found myself fighting to stay awake. Each day I would struggle to stay awake at work and on public transport.
I was having regular heart palpitations which I tended to ignore as they would stop very quickly and I thought it was from stress at the time. One day though, I couldn’t ignore the palpitations. This time, they didn’t stop and my work called for an ambulance as we both thought I was having a heart attack.
I went to the hospital where they did a heart scan, but found nothing. They recommended that I see a GP. Soon afterwards, I went to the doctors and they told me after another heart scan that I was having anxiety and panic attacks and put me on sick. I couldn’t believe it and was in denial for a short time until after another heart scan, when my doctor said “there’s nothing wrong with your heart”. It hit me that I really was having anxiety and panic attacks.
Once I admitted to myself that I had anxiety, the floodgates seemed to open. I couldn’t travel on public transport anymore, and soon I was unable to leave the house, ending up with agoraphobia and depression. I didn’t leave my room for nearly two years (except to the bathroom of course). I was put on sertraline, I was sleeping more, having mood swings and dealing with suicidal ideation. I ended up cutting myself off from the world and was put on the highest dose of sertraline.
Photography helped me deal with mental health
Fast forward to a few years after that. My dad started to drag me out and my sister gave me a camera around the same time, so I started to take photos on walks with my dad. This helped me to get out of the house again, come out of my shell, and open up.
I started to remember why I first liked photography and I began to explore different ways of playing with cameras – portraits, landscapes, the different settings. Each day, I enjoyed taking pictures more and more, and having a camera in my hand helped me forget my problems.
But the more I took pictures, the more I realised that photography wasn’t just a hobby for me – it was a passion.
The birth of my photography business
A few years after that, I became more confident in my photography skills, I started to take on small freelance projects. At first, it was just a few photos for friends and family, but soon I was getting paid for my work. I met my (now) fiancée who encouraged me to start a photography business, and Robinson Photography was born in November 2020.
And so, I started taking photography more seriously. I invested in a better camera, started learning new techniques and styles, and even took a few classes to improve my skills. As I spent more time taking and editing photos, I felt a sense of joy and fulfilment that I had never experienced in my old jobs.
Photography allowed me to express my creativity in a way that I had never been able to before, and it gave me a sense of purpose that had been missing from my life. It was a dream come true. I was finally doing something that I loved, and getting paid for it.
Every day, I woke up excited to work, to take pictures and capture moments that would be shared with thousands of readers. It was a far cry from my old life, where I had dreaded going to work every day. Since then, I have had my photos published, worked with a range of models and clients in a variety of shoot types. My love for photography also encouraged me to learn more about it and achieve a Diploma in digital photography.
Looking back, I can hardly believe that photography helped me cope with my mental health challenges. But it did. The challenges have not gone away, but I’ve learnt to deal with them and I’m happy working for myself, free from a 9-5 job and constraints. It gave me the motivation and the inspiration to pursue a career that I truly loved, and it allowed me to turn my passion into a way of making a living.
If you’re feeling stuck in a job that you hate, I would encourage you to explore your passions. You never know where they might lead you. For me, photography was the key to unlocking a more fulfilling and joyful life. And who knows. It might just be the key for you too.