Photography is a very physical business: the act of shooting can involve a lot of physical activity, as well as setting up and striking sets, carrying cameras, lights and grip equipment, climbing ladders, loading trucks, and working with Photoshop (okay, maybe that’s going too far). Is that a fitness regimen, manual labor or self-flagellation?
According to John Medina in Brain Rules, our ancestors walked about 12 miles a day in the search for food, water and safety – and that developed “Olympic-caliber bodies” that supported that wet stuff between our ears (you know, our brains – duh). We learned while we were on the move.
Medina is convinced that we humans need a comeback and exercise is as close to a “magic bullet” that exists, as it has a big payback in intellectual and health rewards, keeping us out of the doctor’s office and increasing our cognitive skills.
Does that mean that photographers are smarter and healthier than our sedentary counterparts? A 1988 News Photographer Magazine survey of 2000 photojournalists (hey, that’s the most recent info I could find) showed that health-wise, even though we smoked less (probably didn’t have the time to pick up the habit), we had more dry skin, eye, ear, throat and sinus problems and miscarriages than the general public, most likely from darkroom chemistry – something most of us have left behind for digital processing. However, back pain was the most common ailment reported (see my post on back pain), which is no surprise considering how physical our jobs can be.
As for smarter–I didn’t find anything on this one. So to give photographers the benefit of the doubt, I’ll say yes, we’re smarter. I’m saying that based on the fact that so many of us are entrepreneurs and inventors. And since we have to think on our feet, as our ancestors did–often in the presence of an audience (clients versus saber-tooth tigers)—we’re great at creative problem-solving.
There appears to be very little research and even fewer hard facts on how smart or healthy we are, but in my own conclusion, yes, we are a smart, healthy bunch – even if we are stressed out.