Student Voices: The Importance of Introverts with Cameras

Daniel Morris, Trent University

My grandfather gave me his old camera – a hand-me-down Canon XTi – around the end of highschool. I used it virtually every day practicing taking pictures of nature and whatever else I could find on my walks. After posting a few of those pictures, I learned from feedback that I was good at photography. Which was weird to me. I was always a shy, introverted person, and retrospectively, I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence. Anxiety is interesting because when you worry about things — like if your shirt is too wrinkled or if someone is upset with you for not texting them back promptly – these things are seen as normal things to worry about. Day-to-day life will always have a certain degree of worry and anxiety woven into it such as watching for cars when you cross the road. However, an anxiety disorder amplifies these regular concerns, as well as the abnormal ones mentioned above. That is when the anxiety becomes problematic and disruptive to someone’s life.

One perspective that helped me better understand my anxiety was by understanding the science behind my nerves, neurons – cells that send and receive electrical signals between each other throughout the body. Nerves stay at a resting state and require a ‘jolt’, something that provokes them to ‘activate’, at which point the electrical signal gets stronger and travels between other neurons to initiate movement, thought and other functions. Anxiety itself involves irrational fears and worries that must negatively affect the person experiencing the anxiety. In other words, your neurons associated with worry and fear become overactive when you have anxiety. An important distinction is that having anxiety and being an introvert are different things. introverts are people who prefer less interaction with other people because their energy is more easily spent being social. This is different than the majority of the population who are extroverts – people who can and actively seek stimulation from life. It’s speculated in research that the neurons that introverts possess are more easily activated by things such as social interaction, speaking and group work – to name a few – which means that introverts could biologically be less able to stay in high-energy environments than others without needing to have breaks.

Photo by Daniel Morris

As an introvert, I prepare myself for going out into social environments and I like to know how long I will be with people or if I will have the option to go spend time alone. Being social is like running a marathon. The need to not be social is amplified by my anxiety and my constant worry of what is going on around me. This makes it very important for introverts to have the option to have time to themselves to ‘recharge’.

So how do anxiety and introversion relate to cameras? The word ‘photography’ translates to “drawing with light” in Greek. Virtually, you are mapping energy into something beautiful. After learning that I was a decent photographer I started to buy different parts for my camera. A flash, a mounted microphone, a tripod, lenses. I never watched any videos about how to use this equipment, I always just bought them and then learned on-the-go. Photography has been an outlet for me to build towards something. For the most part, I got my early practice in photography from different volunteering events, offering my services as an extra photographer in most cases in exchange for the opportunity to be in new places exposed to new people. At these events I was able to wear my anxiety and my introversion on my sleeve because we all had common things to talk about – the photos, the event focus. I learned to be social. After awhile, different things would happen during these jobs that would catch my eye. Abnormalities, rarities. And with these I could tell new stories to new people that I met – making a full circle of experience and sharing stories.

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