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3 Ways Photography Helps Me Fight Depression

Note: I have never officially been diagnosed but more often than not I wake up pessimistic than optimistic.

Now that we have that disclaimer out the way, my name is Demetri Wilright. I’m 26 years old at the time of writing this and I work in the IT industry. For understanding, here is why I believe I suffer from depression. When I was 5 years old I decided to be an engineer. I knew exactly what I wanted to be and from a 5 year old’s dream to now I made it in all senses of the word. But yet day after day in my career I’ve felt something missing. I end up feeling down on myself about what I don’t have rather than the blessings I’ve received. I’m harder on myself than anyone else and that leads my thoughts to a negative place.

Enter photography! From the day I got my camera in December of 2016, I’ve had a huge up swing of positivity in my life. In the past year I went from a lot of “down days” to so far only 2 I can remember in the past year. That’s a great shift for me! I went from why and what am I doing, to how can I get better and do more. Photography changed my perspective on life. Here are 3 reasons why I believe photography helps me do that:

1. It forces me to look at the best qualities of my environment

Now if you’ve ever taken a photo then you know you only snap your best. All social media nowadays is a reflection of that. So think about it if you are constantly searching for the best where you are, how can you think negatively? I know I can’t!

2. It forces me to look my best

For work, I do a lot of solo traveling so instead of snapping portraits of friends and family, I have to snap portraits of myself. I used to run track and my mom told me this, “Look good, run good.” Now the same thing applies to portraits, “ Look good, portrait good.” When I am my best outfits or my best looks that’s when I take the best selfies. So I have to be on point even the days when I don’t want to get dressed or do anything. You never know when a perfect photo opportunity will arrive!

3. It forces me to learn

Instead of hours wallowing in self-pity, I look for ways to get better at taking photos. It gives me something to study and get better at with actionable steps. For example, today I focused on getting beautiful landscape shots with different apertures. Also, instead of looking at Instagram with the man I wish I could do that or look like that, my approach is now how’d they get that shot, how can I do a shot like that or another like it? I look at others looking to learn not with envy. It’s a very different feeling. I even will reach out to other photographers and ask about how they got their shot. It’s creating a community type of feeling. That in itself is phenomenal!

4. (Bonus) It has reconnected me with my friends and family

In one of the two “down days” I’ve had I decided to represent how I felt with a photo. I shared that photo with my friends and family. The responses I got were phenomenal. I could not help but feel grateful. It took time to completely get past it but knowing I had so much support I didn’t realize I had, healed me faster. Again thank you everyone!

(This is the photo I shot that day)

So here is what I have noticed in my first full year of photography, negativity is at an all time low. Positivity is at an all time high. I’m loving the skin I was born into more every day. I’m willing to reach out and ask others for help. I’m learning to connect with my environment and others around me, in a world that is slowly getting less connected personally and more digitally. Overall, I feel empowered and I wouldn’t trade that feeling for the world.

-Demetri
Instagram: @photosbydemy

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2018: LIVE

First off Happy New Year people!

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It’s 2018 and for everyone the new year means something different, like the below:

  • Time to leave 2017 behind
    • Erasing last year
  • My resolutions for 2018 are ____
    • Forward thinking for this year

But for me I look at it differently because I do not think of a resolution.  I boil it down to one word that I think should determine how my year will go.  When it comes to my decisions through out the year I think about whether it matches that word.  If it does, I do it, if not I don’t. This year is no different.

This year my word is LIVE!

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Model: @itsgetright photographer: @photosbydemy

So what does that mean to me in 2018, it means to make the most out of my experience.  To not let life pass me by but to go out and grab life by the….lens to say the least.  Like the shot above, all though I froze my hands to get this during a snow mobile trip, I had to snap this shot of my brother.

Live also means that everything I thought of trying to just go out and do it.  I am living my life creating experiences.  For example, I always wanted to try to do stand up and make people laugh…I can be funny sometimes.  So what I decided to do is to create an Instagram page @JokesbyDemy to test out some jokes and then bring them to the stage.  While I know everyone might not like to do so much all within the same year, for me I have so many things I am passionate about.

Case in point did you know I do the following:

  • Try to find a place to take photos in each city I travel
  • Rap over verses…some turn out really well
  • Tell jokes/stories to my peers
  • Work on apps and ideas
  • Read and listen to audio books

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The world tries to get you to focus on one thing at a time, but sorry world I wasn’t built that way!  I am passionate about way too many things to sit back and just do one.  So I am going to do it all, and while not all of them will turn out great, I did something in 2018.

I LIVED!

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Redemption

I am back!

So I took a hiatus from writing for a little bit to get down to what I really love to do, and you know what that turned out to be…..photos!

While I’ve been gone I have been shooting up a storm with shots such as this:

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As you can see this guy is just as happy about me blogging again as I am.  But unlike me, he did not learn any lessons.  Below are the lessons I have learned since I have been gone:

  1. It is ok to focus on yourself:  It is so easy to get wrapped up in doing everything for everyone else and neglecting your own personal needs.  So what I decided to do is when I want to do something, I do it!  It is so empowering and now that I have started I can never go back.LRM_EXPORT_20171130_233153.jpg
  2. Have fun: Yes we all want to be successful and make money, but if you let that be the only focus, you won’t truly be successful.  My older brother Alex loves working out, and he told me once he works out when he is bored.  That is his fun, and when he feels it he does it.  He doesn’t let a standard limit him.  As I started breaking the status quo, the more fun I had.  Take for example this shot of one of my best friends!LRM_EXPORT_20171130_233226.jpg
  3. Pay attention to your surroundings: After my first 6 months shooting, I started to feel like I needed to find these phenomenal places to go take photos.  In truth, I can take some of the best photos in a hotel room with whatever lens I see fit.  What this means to me is look up, walk strong, and look around.  It’s a change in focus from me to what is around me.  It has allowed me to be able to take some awesome shots and have some fun.LRM_EXPORT_20171130_233111.jpg
  4. You do not know everything, so go find the information or ask someone:  So I think I have a high IQ…but some days I could probably seek out more advice.  Now that does not mean I am going to do that every time, but it does mean I will try.  Also, it does not mean that I have to take someone’s advice either.  It just means reach out and try to learn.  Even the strongest people need someone to lean on sometimes!LRM_EXPORT_20171130_233307.jpg
  5. Love yours: (Don’t know if J.Cole has that copyrighted or not but kind thought his song writing this)  Basically at the end of the day, you are responsible for your happiness.  If you are unhappy you have to figure out what will make you happy.  No one else can change your mood for you.LRM_EXPORT_20171129_235321.jpg

Overall, one theme reigns supreme and it is life is about you.  If others improve your life let them but at the end of your life, you’ll reflect on all you did.  Not what all others have done.  As I write this, I hope that someone who might be wondering what their path is takes the initiative to do something.  If you do, definitely write a comment below, I would love to share your story and be an advocate for you to continue.  Call it someone who can help keep you accountable for your happiness and likewise you can do the same for me.

We are in this world together, let’s live like it!

– Demetri

 

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Evolution

So today, I posted my first live stream on Instagram and it lead me to this post. It lead me to something I have carried on my heart for a long time.  It starts with this photo.

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So why this photo out of all of the ones that I have taken?  Why is this probably the most important photo that I have ever taken?

The answer is it is the most honest.

About 2 years ago, I stared down at a pool in Texas, wondering if I was to be found in this pool dead, would anyone even care.  That night I decided I would not to find the answer, but this photo embodies that moment for me.  I took this a couple months back as a reminder of where I have been, the darkest side of myself.  When I believed that hope was just a thought.

Shortly after that, I joined Amway and I learned the power of the mind.  How it can change your perception.  How you can overcome any self-doubt with positive belief.  Now let me pause here this is not supporting Amway in anyway, just explaining what it taught me.

It caused me to start Idyllic Designs with my business partner.  It’s truly a thing that I think could have been great.

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Here is one of the cases actually.  The idea was to help artist get exposure and provide another platform for them to express themselves.  If we made money they were going to make money that was the plan.  We wanted them to get almost the equivalence of royalty checks basically.  It never came into existence the way that I would of liked but I learned a lot from the experience just like Amway.

Which brings me to now…

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…the guy with the camera!

These experiences boiled down to 1 thing, I want to do something great.  Something that can change the world for the better.  From being someone with suicidal thoughts, to posting a positive photo every day on Instagram.

While I still am haunted by my ghost of depression’s past every so often, I’ve learned to pick myself up.  I’ve learned that no one else will pick up your pieces.  So if I am going to do something great, I will have to hang myself out there.  I would have to share my story of how someone with a great job, doing all the right things could truly be unhappy with himself.  I would have to tell the world, I could have not been here, but I am.

The reason why this is called Evolution, is it is the evolution of a suicidal kid, and how 2 years later I fight back for my happiness and my life.  To be someone who just wants to affect those around him positively.

So to end this on a high note I want to provide my Instagram’s greatest hits and my most positive quotes!

“Life is about each moment. A chance to seize an opportunity, to create something amazing, to be amazing!”

“Life is as beautiful as you make it! Remember you’re the driver for your life!”

“Keep your eyes open, and your mind wide because you never know when something amazing will come your way!”

“Life is not perfect for me but I decide to get a little better every day 🙏🏾”

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The Photoshoot

This blog will be a little different. It’s about doing something I love and didn’t realize until this year. It’s one of my photo shoots in which I asked someone to model. 

Now selfies and nature are easy. You just need the right lighting and scenery, but shooting a person you want to bring out the best in them. There’s qualities of the person you want to showcase and highlight. 

For Senait, I definitely wanted to showcase her. She’s been an amazing friend and person. 

So how do you bring out the best in someone? Do you try to get them to see what you see? Or do you let them do them?

That answer I had to learn. I had my idea in mind but the best photos came from when she was in control. She is powerful, funny, and smart in every way. 

In her element she is easy to shoot. She made it easy as a friend to get really good photos. Her energy allowed me to be at my best that day.

While she would be my first official photo shoot she will not be my last. She reminded me why I picked up the camera… to bring out the best in people and society. 

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Life & Death

This post will be completely different than any of my last post.  This one is based on an experience that happened to me in Austin, TX.

I was on the hunt for new photos and decided to try to take pictures down by the river.  The first two ways to get to it did not work so finally as the day starts to wind down, I find Turkey Creek Trail.

Quickly glancing at the map, I find that I can reach the river if I just follow the trail.  I quickly rush off down the path.  My first photo is a shot of the creek, shot with my newest lens.

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I continue up my way quickly trying to reach the river, as today the clouds are perfect the sun is high and the weather is perfect for a hike.  Quickly an hour passes and I have not yet reached the river.  I get to a point that looks like I will have to stop as the trail seems to go down hill.  I test it and I know that it would not be wise to go that way.  As I am turning around I look up and see the trail.  I find myself in a beautiful valley to take a few photos.

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I keep trekking because I finally have the height to see the clouds over the trees.  I look down at my phone and see I have no signal, but my photo opportunities keep getting better.  I finally reach a point to where I realize that I will not be able reach the creek.  As I reach my final stopping point, about 20 feet ahead of me, I see an animal run through the bushes.  It is large enough to do damage if it charges at me, but it runs quickly across the path.  Now fear builds because it is on the side of the path I am on.  I decided to take a photo of the clouds anyway, but still listening for any potential harm.

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That was my warning…stop going forward head back before you cannot see your route back to your car.

As I am heading back, I find I can take a better picture at one of the valleys that I stopped at.  I stop to take a better photo.

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Stopping for perfection, I lose more of my lighting for the trail back.

As I head back down the trail, I turn at what I believe I think is the path back down.  I realize quickly it is not but try to make my way to the trail from that path.  I am utterly wrong, and if not by shear will of God, I look down and see if I completed my next step I would step on a sleeping rattle snake.  I skid to a halt, seeing my life flash before my eyes and run up the hill.  I imagine my death, caused by the rattle snake biting me and being off the trail to where no one would find me.  No phone signal at all to call anyone to assist me.  It is at this point, in my mind I would of died.

I immediately start freaking out, I start half running down the hill and start being less cautious about my steps.  At the peak of my fear, I see something flash by my eye.  I stop thinking that I am in some immediate danger.

As I stop to look, I realize that it is a firefly.  My mind slows and I have peace.  My heart stops racing and I realize the beauty in their flashes.  I stop to take photos on Instagram and Snapchat.  I am no longer fearful but excited as this is my first time seeing fireflies.

I see them as my guide back to my car.  I feel blessed as they show me that I am safe.  I follow them back to my car.  As I arrive I realize that I was shown the mortality of my life, death, and I was shown the beauty of my life as well in the same trip.

I did not fear death prior to this moment, because I knew I had taken the actions to save my soul.  What I realized is that I found out is the reason why I was fearful this time is that, I found something that I still want to build.  My photography.  I had so much to learn and grow.  I was afraid my photos would stop here.  This moment showed me what truly was important to me.  I may not be the best photographer, but this matters.  Now matters.  My life matters.

 

Other photos:

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Me Vs Him Series

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had this internal battle with myself.  This feeling of wanting to do something or feeling like I deserve something and in the back of my mind feeling like I can’t.  It’s that feeling of battling against myself.  Basically like there is Me…and then there is Him.

He’s always been there trying to tell me “no that’s not possible”, “why would you want to do that”, “that’s not something that you can do”.  I’ve always had to fight against that feeling I would not be able to do it.  He’s in my subconscious, he is my doubts, he is there trying to prevent my constant striving for greatness.  He’s like a shadow trying to loom over me.

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Several times, I had this conversation: “I want to go out tonight, I know I will have a good time.”  In the back of my mind he’s there saying, “Well what if you don’t.”

Overall, I have started winning my battles against him, but I have to remember that he is a part of who I am.  So the battle may not be Me Vs Him, but it a battle to remain positive and continue to grow.  When He gets in the way of my growth we will be in conflict, but I will never let him decide if I am good enough.

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I am Him and I must be at peace with that.

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Be You Series

I don’t know about you but a lot of my life I’ve felt like I’ve been chasing others dreams. For example, I was running track trying to be the next Michael Johnson. I was studying math trying to be the next Einstein. I was trying to start a business and be the next Elon Musk.

Overall, all my life I’ve been chasing the dreams of others as opposed to my own. Now if you’re content always reaching for someone else’s dream more power to you. For myself though, I have to chase my own.

So whether that’s working out to get to my own fitness goals, or going to church for my mind and spirit, I’ve got to be me. No one can take you away from you except you!
These photos are my expression of me. You can love them or hate them but at the end, they are me being true to myself!
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The Gift of Sight

At 5 years old, I found out that I would have to wear glasses, and since then I have appreciated sight.  I found it as a gift, but gifts can get lost…in this case I mean figuratively.

Over the past few years, I lost my gift of sight, moving from instant to instant thinking 30 steps ahead.  Not looking at the value of what I have now.  Luckily I have been blessed enough to have someone who can slow my life down.  She has gifted me with a new light and that was gifted to me in my photos.

So this weekend was our Valentine’s Day, and these photos are my thanks to her for being the woman who can bring me into reality.

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Hello World!

How do you explain how your first post might be life changing? All I can say is I’ll try to put it into perspective of why that is.

From the age of 5, I wanted to be this world changing engineer. Not your average story for an amateur photographer. I spent my time in the books capturing math and science as I went. Over time, I became really quite good and actually reached my dream…at 22 years old.

So what was left from there? I wasn’t sure, I worked hard (and still am working hard at my dream job) but something was missing. In my quest for tech, I forgot about my quest for creation. So at 25, I’ve picked up the camera, which has given me that much needed creation I sought.

So back to my question: How do you explain how your first post might be life changing?

It’s life changing because it’s an action that can change the way I see the world a second time. My camera was the first.