When I was operating my studio and working as a photographer, I became very enamored with the steampunk genre of science fiction. It struck me as nostalgic, glamours and fun. While I thought I wold find people who would jump at the opportunity to be photographed in their steampunk outfits, I was mistaking.
I even went so far as to build props and backdrops and collect clothing items, but no takers. Even after getting a few models to pose for steampunk images using my props and outfits. Still no takers.
That's business. You do things on speculation (or "on spec" as they call it), and you learn.
Well Forget THEM!
Well forget them, I say. Since becoming disabled I've discovered a new blessing. I can receive artistic gratification without having to rely on others. I can recline in my special chair and without so much as moving a few muscles in my hand I can create steampunk images that I love.
It's sad that before I was diagnosed with MG, but after I knew something was wrong, I would attempt to do a job and the physical and mental stress would land me in bed for 3 days. My last 3 jobs should have been piece-of-cake work, but they about killed me. They were NOTHING compared to what it would take to pull off a photo shoot with the results of what you see in the above digital creation.
On the other hand, the above image involved being reclined in my chair, moving the mouse around with my right hand (and we're talking minuscule movements), along with a few "digital assets" I purchased for a few dollars. Zero stress, less muscle movement than it would take to eat lunch, and all the time in the world (i.e. less mental and emotional stress, plus plenty of time to rest when I need to) to get things done.
Yet, I Feel Guilty
Yet, I feel guilty that I am not being "productive". Two days ago I decided to pick up some magazines stacked under my desk, and take them to the trash. My goal was to clean up my office a bit.
I took the stack to the trash can (about 50 feet out my office door). It took all I had to lift the bag to the trash can. (The bag had a stack about 5" high. In the past, this would have been a one-hand lift and carry. This took both hands and all the strength my arms could muster.) I returned and picked up about the same quantity of magazines for a 2nd trip, and I just couldn't make the trip again.
Discouraged, I laid back down in my special chair and thought, "How am I ever going to get this done."
Later that night I complained to my wife that I feel guilty because I don't feel I'm doing what I should. Going from being a very productive, active, healthy man to a shriveling weakling is quite discouraging. And, when I retreat to my bed, I even feel more guilty, so I retreat to my chair instead and then feel guilty because it's like I'm "goofing off."
She assured me what I'm doing is okay because it is the best I can do given this insidious disease. (Oh, and never let anyone tell you that people with MG can lead normal productive lives. There is NOTHING NORMAL about double seronagative myasthenia gravis. There are people with mild cases of MG, but mine is anything but mild.)
I thank God regularly for a wife that is patient and loving.
My little office clean up resulted in a day of muscle spasms, extreme fatigue and difficulty swallowing. And after some emotional flagellation for having been so stupid to over do it, I laid back and just watched a conference talk. That talk resulted in YouTube suggesting another video, and so I watched it. In that video, a woman who had it way worse than me, shared some of her experiences.
Towards the end of the video I was hoping for some great advise in dealing with sever disabilities. She said she had hit rock bottom one day. I listened with great interest thinking... What did she do? She said she prayed hoping from some great answer, but it didn't come... right away. (That isn't what I wanted to hear. It wasn't what she wanted to hear either.) Her answer came later that what matters most is she knows God lives and loves her and He doesn't fault her for what she can't do.
To me, art has become my productivity. I have no plans to ruin that by deluding myself I could make money from doing this. I can barely handle much of the physical and mental stress of everyday living since contracting MG. (Note: You don't realize how much physical stress is involved in opening a bag of peanuts until one day you don't have the strength to do it. You don't realize how much mental stress is involved in calculating the sales tax on $4.50 until one day your brain just can't remember what 8 times 4 is.) Thus, my art has to remain stress free and an outlet for creativity because it helps me (emotionally) feel like I'm accomplishing something. (When I first got sick and was watching a lot of movies and TV because I couldn't get out of bed, I realized one can only take so much "entertainment" before one has to do something else to feel productive -- even if you can barely walk to and from the bathroom.)
Who Needs Drama
Who needs the drama that comes from working with models anyway! I could give you a list of frustrations that result from dealing with models starting with excuses for being late to a session to thinking their looks are more precious than your time, training and monetary investment. Most, not all, models are what they themselves would call hot messes.
Clients, while not being hot messes, could also be difficult to deal with. The biggest stress is pleasing the client. If you don't worry about pleasing the client as an artist, then you're not going far. Add to that the possibility that the client is going to be a difficult customer and it only gets worse.
This brings me back to the Steampunk Genre
This brings me back to the steampunk genre. Getting sick is a blessing in a way. I've discovered a few things since contracting MG and not being able to work...
- I don't need models - no drama, no contracts, no releases, no anxieties when they are 15 minutes late to a photo shoot, etc. I DON'T NEED THEM.
- Digital assets are never late, you don't need a contract or release because they can't sue you, they don't make excuses, they are just a series of ones and zeros that are arranged to look like a real person.
- Doing art for yourself is a matter of being able to say, "Hey! I made this!" If someone is critical of your work, WHO CARES. They aren't your "client" and the next time you don't need to show them your work. (Yeah, make them beg to see what you've done lately.)
- There's no time demand. Work 30 minutes, take a break. Work an hour, then go to sleep. Put it aside and come back another day. You do it when you can.
- Nothing is real, so the imagination isn't limited to physical objects, time or space. Yeah, and that makes creating steampunk even MORE fun.
- My imagination is my only limit. When dealing with real people, you have to settle with what you get. Not so. If I want a steampunk model that's busty, I get busty. If I want her to have blue eyes, I get blue eyes. If blue eyes don't look right, I can make them brown, green, or whatever color I want. So it is with the clothing, and other objects (assets) in the image.
More Than Just Steampunk Genre
I can do a lot more than just Steampunk Genre. I've been having fun with faeries, agumenting old travel photos and more.