Does anyone else feel this way? I’m sure a lot of people do. Whether it’s because of a disability, money, or anything else, the struggle is real. Because of my muscular dystrophy I have a difficult time walking long distances, walking uphill, getting up from the ground, carrying heavy things, and I can really go on from here, but I don’t want to bore you with that. The thing is, I can do the above, but it is really difficult sometimes, and I get so out of breath people think I’m going to have an asthma attack! This interferes greatly with one of the things I love to do, something I have a passion for and I don’t mind doing it 24/7. Photography!
I remember when I was in middle school, I had a little blue 3 megapixel plastic camera and it provided endless fun for me. My main model was my baby nephew, I would take pictures of him, upload them on the computer, and edit graphics on to the photo like of him stomping on a little town and causing explosions, or him swimming under the sea with sebastian. In high school I loved doing photo shoots with my best friend. We would get dressed up, put some white sheets on the wall, and take turns pretending to be models. I’m not too comfortable in front of the camera, so of course my favorite part was being the photographer. As I went into college like a lost little fish not knowing which direction to go, my need to photograph people and animals grew stronger. I was always taking pictures with my cellphone or with my updated 12mp pocket cam. Fast forward to now, at age 23. I’ve been shooting with a DSLR for a little over a year, and I love pushing myself to improve my photography with each day that passes. I just wish I had the strength I did before.
There’s so many beautiful places to shoot at, but most of them require a bit of hiking to get there. If i’ll ever get to shoot at all the places I wish I could, I don’t know about that yet, but I have high expectations. When I shoot models I need to constantly change angles by sitting on the floor when they’re sitting, and quickly get up to take a photo before they get up. Of course, that “quickly” doesn’t come soon enough. After 2 times of sitting and standing it really starts to take effect on my legs, lungs, and face, I usually feel like I turn red like a tomato. Then there’s the camera with a heavy lens. It’s all fine when I’m just holding the camera at chest level, but what about when the model is taller than me and I need to raise my camera to their eye level? Heh, my arms shake like crazy after 3 seconds of holding it near my forehead. All I carry with me to shoots is a backpack with my camera and lenses, and a tripod (which I try not to take often because it’s too heavy for me). I haven’t dared to purchase umbrellas, light stands, or any other heavy equipment because I’m fearful of not being able to carry all of that. And I feel that those moments of waiting for me to slowly and steady move the equipment just makes the photo shoot awkward and may make the model feel uncomfortable, especially since they don’t know what the deal with me is.
The thing is though, that despite all of these “can’t do this, can’t do that”, I still want to do it. Even if my face turns red, even if I’m out of breath and even if my legs and arms hurt at the end of the day, It’s what I love to do, and I will never let MD get in the way of that. I feel that MD is something that I have to deal with, but not something that controls my life. Muscular Dystrophy doesn’t define me, I define it, I tell it what I want to do, and that I’m going to find away around whatever challenge it throws at me just to be able to do what I love. I would never stop doing photography if someone told me to, so why would I stop if MD seems like it’s telling me to stop? Because maybe it’s not telling me to stop, maybe it’s just challenging me to see how much I really want it. Or maybe it’s challenging me to be the best that I can be at what I love. When I have an idea for a photo shoot, I try not to focus on the challenges that It will pose and what I won’t be able to do. What I do instead if acknowledge those challenges and offer an alternative or a solution to them. If I feel like the model is going to be taller than me and I’m going to have to hold up the camera, I’ll just take a little stool I can stand on, or try to do different poses that bring her/him down a few inches.
If there’s a solution to something, I’m going to try it, and if there isn’t, I’ll just find an alternative of something different I can do instead. That’s how I’ve been dealing with Muscular Dystrophy in my life, and I feel it’s been working for me so far.