You may be wondering: why did I decide to work as a fine art photographer? Is it the prestige? Don't be silly. The money? You're hilarious. The copious amounts of free time? I wish! No, being a fine art photographer is a lot of hard work. I don't just make new art, I also have to work on running the business itself. Things like social media posts (though I'm terrible at this part of the job), accounting, advertising, and general bussuinesses-ing*. Yes, it is a truly stressful job that keeps me busy; it features long hours, no benefits, and little pay. But life is a journey, and a journey often features challenges!
Why am I deciding to do such a stressful thing? I'm doing it because a) it's something I love and b) it gives me some flexibility. While I do have to work quite a lot, I do get the flexibility I need to handle my disability. That's right. I am a disabled photographer.
Life as a photographer with a disability has its ups and downs. For one thing I have a stressful job and no job-related healthcare benefits. So that part is not great. On the other hand, I have the flexibility I need to live with disability. While my job is stressful and difficult, if I need to take a break, I can. This is extremely helpful for me because too much stress can worsen my problem. While running a business can cause stress, I can have lots of control over how much stress I deal with.
In order to help manage my disability, I work my schedule around what I need. Having a somewhat flexible schedule certainly helps with that. Need a doctor's appointment? No problem! I've got semi-infinite sick days!
I can do what I want, when I
want to. I have a lot more control over my schedule then I would if I had a 9-5 job.
I get to share my work with others! I know this isn't really related to disability, but I just love sharing my photography with other people. Running this business gives me an opportunity to make and share my art. Plus I get to show them the time and effort I put into making this affordable work.
This might seem like a strange way to view it but, because of my disability, it has helped me come up with new p
rojects. These projects are usually either about it or tangentially related to it. Others just came up as an idea while I was thinking about it. Then, I follow the adventure!
Now, for the cons. I've talked a lot about this flexibility, but when I take a break I often have to make up for it. I might be able to put everything on pause for a little bit, but I have to make sure it's not going to be that bad. If I take off time, I'll have to make up for the tasks that I will inevitably miss. For example, I want to keep this blog up. If I know I'm going to need a sick day or two, I should write up some blogs. That way I can either schedule them, or save them for a day when I might need them.
For the cons on the photography side; well, you can't really take photos when you're in the hospital. For one thing, you have to consider other people's privacy. For another, you're in the hospital for a reason, and that reason isn't usually good.
The truth is, disability is a part of my life whether I like it or not. It can be difficult to live with disability, but it doesn't have to be impossible. I like to think of these challenges as hurdles in a marathon. When you run a marathon, it's not necessarily about winning. It's about reaching that end. Sure, you're running alongside other people and you want to be first, but it's not necessarily the goal of the race. The goal is to finish. To show that you can beat the challenge. Life gives us these challenges. It's up to us to deal with them. Every one of us has one way or another of handling these challenges that life gives us. Maybe someone does it with support networks. Maybe another person does it through sheer force of will. I do it by running my own business. In my experience, there are many other methods. What are yours?
*This is indeed a totally real word. I promise.