Hedonic Adaptation or SSDD
What does “Hedonic Adaptation” have to do with photography you might ask, and ok what does “SSDD” mean? We call it by many names, we say we’re in a “Funk”, or having an “OFF Day” or a “Slump” ! overcome with a feeling of malaise . . . you know . . . all your friends answer with the same thing “SSDD . . . Same Shit, Different Day” and onward you trudge into the day. It doesn’t matter how good we have it . . . we all can fall prey to Hedonic Adaptation, but take heart it can easily be overcome. As I said it is really easy to fall prey to this trait we all have to fall into a negative rut even when we are in a great place, situation or even job. Photographers (as well as other artists) often complain of not having anything of interest to shoot . . . just the same old things, nothing is interesting and feeling if they could travel to all those exotic places or had that camera or lens that they too could make those beautiful photos like those guys (insert favorite photogs name here) in the magazines or online. You will often hear me say “challenge yourself each day”, and will give the following example challenge . . . Go outside your front door walk 10 -20 feet and take a moment to stop, look down, look right, look left, look up, how many photos can you find. When I was working an hourly job I would often arrive early (I was able to get choice parking that way), I also had time to reflect on the day and often would challenge myself to find one thing to photograph with either my cellphone or little POS camera. It made me realize that no matter where I am I can always find something to appreciate visually even if I do not photograph it. I enrich my day, my life . . . I enjoy the moment . . . I avoid the Hedonic trap of feeling like it’s just a DDSS and nothing matters.
So what’s with the photo of the Azaleas above, well there was a period not to long ago when every spring I was in search of the wildflowers in my region and photographing them. I had a local guide book written by a local botanist that described and showed a photo of each flower, my resolve was to also photograph each flower in the book and in doing so it would take me to various locals about the counties and foothills of the Western Sierra foothills. This would lead me into new places to photograph and make for enjoyable weekend adventures. I will often go back through my archives and look at photos I did years earlier, sometimes I will bring up the original and re-process them using the current software and technology, sometimes I will just admire them and recall the adventure it took to make that photo.
We are creatures of habit, we always want more, want new stimulus, want new adventures . . . we are creatures of habit and therefore are willing victims of ourselves . . . Happiness is a state of mind, it is right in front of us all the time. So I challenge you, when you find yourself miserable and what seems to be a rut in life, nothing to photograph . . . nothing to spark those creative juices, no amount of “G.A.S.” can satisfy and the all mighty dollar cannot fill the void . . “Yes it is true, money cannot buy happiness“. Take your body, your camera and go outside, stop and look around, discover a rose in your garden, watch a snail crawl across the sidewalk, feed that inner child with the wonders of the world . . . after all, it is all around us, and it is free.
The above photo was made in my little garden just outside my kitchen window, this was the only rose this plant produced, sadly it succumbed to heat and my poor gardening skills (it was not suited for living in a pot).
I will leave you with the following thought. Create the image that pleases you, it is that picture that is the mirror of your own soul. Life is always filled with treasures, we just need to look a bit to find what is always right in front of our nose!
Simplistic definitions of the Terms used: G.A.S. = Gear Acquisition Syndrome, Hedonic Adaption or Hedonic swing = a feeling that Happiness doesn’t last, Malaise = feeling unhappy
You don’t need to travel far to make beautiful photos that make you happy.