What (Not) To Do When You Are Sick


It’s been a little quiet here the last few days because I’ve been feeling a bit under-the-weather.  I’m still a bit ill, so you won’t be seeing any production from me for a few more days.  But I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a lesson from an Art Professor I had in College.  His rule:  Don’t trust your eyes when you are sick.

Now he was speaking about painting, but the same rule is very appropriate for Photography.  To some, this may seem like common sense.  But to many, it doesn’t seem that logical.  The reason behind this rule is two-fold; it is both a psychological issue as well as a physiological issue.

First, lets look at the psychology behind it.  Regardless of what type of photography you are preparing, your mood ultimately impacts your decision making process.  Sickness does not render a good mood.  Illness can make a person depressed, impatient, frustrated or even angry.  Even in photography, this will come through in your work.  Patience probably has the greatest impact to your work:  Be it with the camera or in post-production – both require a great deal of patience.  But your emotions will impact the way you view subjects as well.  Bottom line, you are rarely going to be in the right frame of mind to conduct your work.

Physiologically, illness can do a great number of things to your body.  The physical impact varies depending on your illness, but even a common cold can severely impact your body in ways you may not be aware.  Dehydration, sinus pressure or fever will directly impact your eyes.  Your eye may not be able to sense color like it can when you’re healthy.  It’s subtle, but when it comes to photography, such an impact will have a dramatic effect on your work.  Your perception is also impacted by illness, but not just the things that affect your eyes.  Your perception can be altered by ear aches or nausea.  For that matter, did you know that your eyes can be distorted by illness?  Even an infection on your leg will cause your lymph nodes to swell forcing you to favor the other leg – as silly as that sounds, it impacts the way you perceive space.  But what about post production?  Aches and pains are magnified by illness, so you may lose some of your precision with the mouse.

There are a great number of things that will hurt the quality of your work when you are sick.  Professionals may have to work through it, but the awareness of such problems will help you to overcome them (then again, professionals are likely not reading my blog for advice).  So if there is any way you can postpone your work until you are feeling better, I would suggest that you do so.  Besides, you should be sleeping instead of messing with your photography.


About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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