depression

Blood, sweat and tears

National Air + Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Annex

National Air + Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Annex

I recently took a short trip to Washington, D.C. to kick off the summer. Our trip was a real contrast to last summer where I basically hid away in the mountains in a cabin and slept off what felt like a very long year...or few years. I was coming out of some mild depression from – well...life I guess – and hiding away in the woods was really just what I needed at the time.

This year, feeling a little more adventurous and energetic, we took flight and headed to D.C. for some culture and stimulation.  Since I was traveling with boys, there were lots of adventures planned – airplanes, sporting events, spies, and news were all on our agenda. I was happy to go along for the ride, even though the art galleries are more my jam. But on trips like this, you never know where inspiration will lurk or what new things you'll see.

As we walked through the museums and giant structures with massive planes suspended precariously from the ceilings, my mind wandered - not to the history or the information behind each one - but to their stories. I wonder: how many times did those inventors and scientists have to fail to reach their goals? How many times did they screw up or go back to the drawing board?  How many times were they SURE of something only to be proven wrong, yet again?  The Wright Brothers failed miserably before achieving their goals. But they kept going. They had bigger plans, and an even bigger belief in themselves and their ideas.

The things that strikes me most is that they didn't give up. Each person had a belief that they worked tirelessly for. They paired themselves with like-minded friends and collegues to help them achieve their wildest dreams...all while failing over and over again.

Failure was eminent in those walls of the Air and Space museums, but that's not at all what we see. What we see is an evolution of flight, a tireless display of dedication and the grit to never ever ever give up - no matter how crazy your thoughts may seem. What we see is the success, the achievements, the trophy...the end result. What you don't see is failure. You don't see frustration. You don't see the tears and long hours it takes to get a rocket ship off the ground and into orbit. 

Sometimes, life can feel like that sometimes - like a massive plane grounded by gravity and the weight of it's heavy armor to protect it from the elements. And then other times, life can feel weightless and free like you are floating gently through space, unencumbered by the gravity of it all. Just remember on the days it feels heavy that it takes a lot of blood, sweat, tears, failure, and a whole lot of fire power to launch yourself into the future.

You just have to keep trying. It's as simple and complicated as that.

 

This is depression.

benji lee

I recently got to shoot some very special portraits for a music feature in the Charleston City Paper on local comeback musician, Benji Lee. The weird part, however, was the shoot and the article really weren't focused at all on his music, his drumming, or even his comeback to the local music scene. The article focused acutely and specifically on his depression.

In my all-too-short time with Benji, we were on a fast track to get to know each other (shooting editorial will do that to you). I don't think there would have been any other way for either of us, though. We became immediate friends. I picked Benji up north on the peninsula of Charleston and we took as short drive to some old, rusty storage shed for the horse drawn carriages near the waterfront. I needed a spot that was a little imperfect. Not the "South of Broad" facade my typical clients request. I needed something real and honest and gritty. I needed something to reflect what I was about to see spilled open in front of my very eyes.

In so many ways, I feel more connected to this shoot I did with Benji than any other shoot I have done in a while. His pure candor and sheer honesty made me want to show more. His humility and gentle spirit made me want to linger all afternoon - asking questions and picking his brain.  I wanted to photograph his insides. His heart and soul. I wanted to show his truth.

So on that steamy afternoon, I found a shady spot to spend a short time with my new hero. He would most likely shun that label, but I think Benji is a brave soldier - fighting the battle every day with depression...slugging it out with himself and still standing strong in the face of one of the worst diseases of all.

If you care to ready about Benji and his battle, check out the Charleston City Paper this week.

In the mean time, warrior on, brave souls. Warrior on.