Aspergers and the pursuit of a photography centric life
I'm currently facing a bit of a dilemma - what some have called a "quarterlife crisis". More to the point however, with apergers and the potential risk of finding myself commited/obsessed with a particular line of work and one that could be counter to any artistic pursuit, I'm wondering if anyone else has faced a similar dilemma? The art/life struggle can be difficult enough, but with this condition, I wonder if it's possible at all when simply coping with work and socialising pose a huge challenge as it is.
I should say that I'm not seeking advice about the condition, but more a confirmation that the art life is achievable with AS without massive compromises.
Every artist faces challenges and naysayers in the serious pursuit of their work, but I'm trying to decide if a mental strain on top of that is really worth it.
You're thinking too much about it. Just integrate art into your life. Art and life doesn't have to be to separate things.
I don't know too much about asperger (except to have had a kid with that syndrome on my kid's baseball team once), but I think you could be incredibly successful with photography. Maybe instead of a "mental strain" it would be a nice pleasant diversion. And besides... is it possible that the associated obsession might make your body of work more focused and coherent?
Aspergers should not be seen as a "condition", but a favourable trait. Millions around the world have it. I was diagnosed with it 30 years ago (and it is very important to have an accurate diagnosis, not by heresy or casual referral from know-it-alls). I'm an obsessed photographer, but I don't let it take control of me — I have other interests outside photography. My traits are detail, detail, detail, persistence, inability compromise when set to determined outcome... others still which characterise me, and many others. Asperger people frequently have hightened visual-spatial awareness and can be thought of as having potentially much more success in the arts (e.g. photography, traditional brush arts) etc. Some of my friends have it and are very successful brush artists. Do some research on it, but never feel like you're isolated or "doing it tough". That only happens if you bring the roof down on yourself.
“The photographer must determine how he wants the finished print to look before he exposes the negative.
Before releasing the shutter, he must seek 'the flame of recognition,' a sense that the picture would reveal
the greater mystery of things...more clearly than the eyes see." ~Edward Weston, 1922.
You will have to find that out for yourself, by trying, by trying hard. I can only speak for myself in saying that some of the most memorable episodes in my life were (in hindsight and/or in actuality) also the most mentally/emotionally challenging ones. Perhaps the same concept applies to you and your artist work as well. Try to find out if there is reward in working your personality into your art.
Originally Posted by batwister
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Asperger's and PDD-NOS will both be deleted from the upcoming DSM-V. It can, but not always, involve intense focus on details and routines, sometimes to the point of being utterly non-functional. Sadly, it's become a bit of a designer diagnosis which helps explain the apparent rise in the incidence of ASD cases. Frankly, it's a rare disorder where difficulty with social interaction and language issues can make life hell for otherwise capable individuals. There is a large gulf between intense interest, though, and obsession. In the end, it's the definition of "successful" in socializing that involves compliance with norms that many Asperger's individuals can't/won't reach. Think of yourself as a photographer first and someone with ASD issues second--make that a distant second.
With the disclaimer that I think our whole understanding of the "spectrum" is probably all messed up---it seems to me that certain aspects of doing photography mesh well with a lot of "Aspergery" or, um, "spectral"[?] traits. I'm not sure I know what "the art life" is, but it seems like any reasonable definition thereof would include a lot of well-known, successful people who are widely felt to have been Somewhere On The Spectrum...
Personally, I'd worry less about the Asperger's aspects specifically and more about the very difficult question of whether to try to make a living at the art you love (and quite likely starve in a garret) or fund your passion with a day job (and accept a lot of time spent apart from the work you really want to be doing). Neither, probably, is particularly easy for anyone, but the balancing act is really individual and I think basically orthogonal to Asperger's.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
So well-spoken Nathan; beautifully elegant and very close to what I feel the OP is struggling with. I hope he can derive some reassurance/recognition from your words.
Originally Posted by ntenny
Every choice requires sacrifices, forces compromises, and entails risk.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
Not nearly as profound but, once when I was ten and playing hockey someone asked me how I learned to skate so well. I told them I didn't really learn how to skate, I just put them on when I was five, and with the other kids, started chasing a puck around the rink. The skating developed on it's own.
As someone mentioned we may over think some things.
Not sure what some of your symptoms are but while engrossed in some things like photography other things like social issues may disappear for a time. Sort of like the stutterer who can sing flawlessly. Other things on his mind.
As for making a living at it...well that's a whole other story.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.