Dear friends, a thought on my mind: the importance of physiology in photography.
What is physiology?
The concept of physiology is kind of a more old-school one, which is falling a little bit out of vogue in more recent times. Nowadays, the bias in the trend is towards “mental health”, nobody focuses on physical health.
Basically physiology has to deal with the human body, anything that deals with your body.
Why the importance of physiology and photography?
The reason why this is important: without a body you cannot go out in photograph. Let us consider, you need your legs to move yourself around, your arms move the camera, and your eyes see. Let us also consider that the more physically fit you are, certainly this will make you a more fit photographer. Especially in the realm of Street photography, being able to quickly sprint for a photo opportunity, rely on your toes, and be quick.
Let us also consider that with physiology, you need physical strength and endurance to go on photograph. Ideally, the ideal street photographer would be able to walk 30,000 steps a day, without any fatigue.
How to make yourself a more adept photographer
Perhaps the best way to become a better photographer is to train your body to become stronger, to become a better photographer.
- Get into heavy deadlifts and squats. Attempt a one rep max every week, for your sumo deadlift or your squat.
- Get some Vibram five finger shoes. I like the EL-X model. Why the toe shoes? Because it allows you to walk more, with less fatigue, more naturally.
- Make doing active stuff your leisure. For example, if you have the option to go on a date, instead of just going to a restaurant, where you’re sitting on your butt for two hours and just eating, maybe it is better to go on a walk, going hike, etc .
- If you’re going to also have a meeting, do a walking meeting. This is what Steve Jobs loved to do.
- For your morning coffee, or whenever you want a coffee, maybe it is a good idea to not make coffee at home. Instead, force yourself to walk, to a local coffee shop, or the closest coffee shop to you, even if the coffee is not great.
- Conserve your energy. For us men, my theory — perhaps conserving your spunk is a good idea. Maybe the superstition of boxer is not having sex the night before is a good one. Because would you blow your load before attempting a one-rep max deadlift? Probably not.
- SunExposureTherapy. I have more physiological energy, and also my health is better, and my skin is better, when I spend maximal time outdoors, topless, in the direct sun. No sunblock, just let yourself tan naturally.
- For your work, or your computer work, try to do as much of it outdoors as possible. Either in the direct sun, outdoors in the open shade, or at the local coffee shop. Don’t work at home.
- Become more social. One of my theories on why it is essential to be social is this: when your social interaction with somebody, do you have to activate some sort of physiological energy in order to engage with them. And also the way the other people respond to you and vice versa releases some hormones. For example, let us say that you talk with a beautiful woman, and assume you’re a straight male, certainly your physiology and your hormonal response will be different than if you just stayed at home.
- Make real life and embodied reality your entertainment: if you’re bored at home, instead of just watching a movie or Netflix, go to the local pub, coffee shop, club, dance place, etc. Now that we’re all vaccinated, it seems that we can resume life back to normal.
I think food is actually the most underrated piece of the equation. We almost all act as if food is all about calories and macros, rather than the chemical composition of it, and also how it changes your hormones.
For example, the bodily physiological response you get from eating 1000 calories of a ribeye steak is very different from the hormonal response to get from eating 1000 calories of table sugar.
Also a funny thing I learned and observed in my workshops: whenever I teach a photography workshop, and we break for lunch, it seems that the shooting that the students do after lunch is a lot more low energy. Why? People get food coma after eating lunch. Especially when they consume a lot of foods which spike insulin, like simple carbs, sugar, etc.
For myself personally, after much experimentation I realize that I’m the same after breakfast for lunch. This is why I stopped eating breakfast and lunch, and instead, just drink water and black coffee. This has given me a lot more physiological energy throughout the day, and it seems that my body is now trained that I don’t actually get hungry until dinner time anymore. Not having to waste time eating breakfast and lunch, is a huge advantage.
Also, some thing you could experiment with is eating more beef liver and beef heart. It is common knowledge that predators prefer to eat first the organ meats, and leave the lean flesh meat for the vultures. What is this? Organ meats have the highest nutrition density, even when compared to flesh meat.
Whenever I eat a lot of beef liver, or organ meat for dinner, I sleep very very well, and I wake up the next day with much more energy.
More photography workout ideas
- Try to do as many push-ups at home as possible, then just go on a walk around the block with your camera, and see what photos you can shoot.
- When you go to the gym, walk, and just shoot the photos you see along the way. Also, after you get a quick pump from the gym, and you’re walking home, see if this allows you to see more photo opportunities.
- My friend Dana Barsuhn did this — he offered to shoot photos for his local CrossFit gym, an exchange for free membership. This seems like a great idea: you could double dip. There is something very engaging about photographing athletes in motion, and also by having a free gym membership, you yourself become more fit.
- Look at more sports and athlete photography: I recently saw a photography book dedicated to the athlete and sports, and the dynamism of humans in motion was very very inspiring. Even Richard Avedon would dance with his models when he photographed them.
- Get into boxing: it seems that boxers, who are light on their feet, would make great photographers, especially Street photographers.
- Do dance photography: photograph dancers, or breakdance. The ultimate kinetic art of bodies in motion. Also, when we see people in motion, it actually motivates us to move our bodies as well. This is why whenever you see other people dancing, you yourself want to boogie.
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If this sparked any motivation within you, feel free to forward to a friend!
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Things you can do today:
- Build your own website portfolio: register a domain on the bluehost.com, and install WordPress.org. Then create your portfolio of your best 10 photos of all time.
- Book a flight, or an Airbnb to a place that you want to go and photograph. It is always good to have something in the books.
- Upload a photo to arsbeta.com in which you desire constructive criticism on.
- Have a conversation with WHY APP? on why you make photos.
- Delete instagram.