Photographer's Medical Dictionary

Red Cross

I can't explain the reason why, but us photographers seem to contract more than our fair share of ailments, diseases, conditions, syndromes, maladies, obsessions and disorders. Is it something about the people who are attracted to photography in the first place? Or does it have something to do with the profession/hobby?

Following is a compilation of the most commonly contracted photography-related medical issues.

Lens Disease, L Disease Sub Disorder

Basically, you don't have enough lenses and/or your lenses are not sharp enough. You cannot stop buying and testing lenses until you are certain that you have exhausted all contenders in the category you are working with and that the best of the best remain in your kit. Still, you are not totally satisfied as there might be something better available or coming soon.

Especially for the L sub disorder, this mental disease has an addictive property. Once you've had a little, you can't stop. This addiction has no cure and is highly contagious, but aside from the hit on your wallet, this one is all positive.

GAS: Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Gear Acquisition Syndrome is recognized by the constant additions coming into your camera gear kit and a continuous search for the next tool to take your photography to the next level. While this process may fit the definition of "syndrome", I think that word brings a negative connotation to a positive trait. One can never have too much photography gear.

OCF-OCD (Off-Camera Flash Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)

Those contracting OCF-OCD live in a virtual world lit by imaginary lighting sources.

HLDS (Horizon Level Deficiency Syndrome)

Those of us with HLDS find it very difficult to hold a camera level and a slanted horizon in images is the tell-tale symptom. Those with this disorder living near or visiting locations with flat horizons, such as an ocean, tend to show the strongest symptoms. This disorder is compounded by use of a lens exhibiting barrel or pincushion distortion.

I am not aware of a cure for this disorder, though I have found the built-in electronic level found in the latest Canon EOS DSLR cameras has been a tremendous help. I'm requesting that camera companies next implement automatic horizon level stabilization in their next models.

I don't hear many others talking about this issue, but ... I suspect that they are not comfortable with going public on this one. They just fix the issue in post and remain secret with their malady.

PDD (Pixel Deficiency Disorder)

PDD is the condition where one's current camera megapixel count is not high enough. This is a chronic problem. Also referred to as MM (Megapixel Madness).

SOD (Sunrise/Sunset Obsession Disorder)

Landscape photographers all know that only beautiful sunrises and sunsets can make great images and these photographers will do anything to be at the right location at the right time. The primary symptom of this disorder is great stress accompanied by watching the sun rise/set without being able photograph it in all its glory. Sleep depravity and distancing of family and friends are also typical symptoms of SOD. This malady is sometimes referred to as sunrisitis and sunsetitis. SLA (Sweet Light Addiction) commonly accompanies SOD.

IISI-IMSIO (If I See It, I Must Shoot It Obsession)

Pronounce this long hyphenated acronym as if it was a word – Iisimsio.

You may have this condition if you find it very hard to relax if there is a camera in your hand, and find it much harder to relax if you don't. There is a deep-seated fear that a great shot might be near and the uncontrollable feeling that you MUST capture it. This condition most frequently affects young, highly passionate photographers most acutely. Maturing photographers learn to manage the problem (or they become too fatigued to generate the symptoms any longer and their post processing backlog is measured in years).

This obsession is also referred to as Picturitus.

FOMAS (Fear of Missing a Shot)

This one often accompanies IISI-IMSIO and seems self-explanatory to me. It is the cause of stress and anxiety among many photographers.

TBD (Tongue Bite Disorder)

Tongue lacerations are the common symptom of this disorder. These are typically brought on by the behavior of wedding guests, particularly those who block the photographer's shot repeatedly, thereby causing them to bite their tongue hard and frequently. The outlook for this disorder is grim. A dental appliance is suggested.

SSS (Shrunken Stomach Syndrome)

SSS is typically diagnosed by fatigue and embarrassing growling sounds originating from the abdominal area. Photographers working long jobs in quiet venues such as weddings are most afflicted by the attention these sounds garner.

EBS (Enlarged Bladder Syndrome)

EBS is most commonly contracted by wedding photographers who are expected to miss zero happenings at the big event. This ailment typically accompanies SSS (Shrunken Stomach Syndrome). Fortunately, the two have an offsetting benefit.

VISF (Vertical Image Shoulder Fatigue)

VISF is the condition where the muscles in the right shoulder become fatigued and spinal nerve impingement results from neglecting to use a battery grip or professional series body when shooting vertical images for a long duration.

OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Photography Disorder)

You are able to turn any conversation into something photography-related. For example, a simple weather discussion turns into a quality of light discussion.

AEB (Above Eyebrow Bruise)

A camera viewfinder eyecup firmly planted into one's eyebrow has multiple benefits including camera stabilization and viewfinder light leak avoidance. However, even moderately long term use of a DSLR camera in such a way leaves an imprint just above the eyebrow that lasts for a significant length of time. Those with this affliction find themselves repeatedly saying "No, my wife did not hit me." This problem goes away with time away from the camera, but the long term effects have not yet been studied.

CVC (Camera-Vision Condition), ARV (Aspect Ratio Vision) and FLV (Focal Length Vision) Sub Disorders

CVC involves one seeing real life in relation to how it would appear through a camera viewfinder with at least one of the related sub disorders usually having involvement.

The ARV sub disorder involves a person seeing the world within the confines of a specific aspect ratio such as 3:2, 4:3, 5:4, 6:9, etc. All things outside of this aspect ratio tunnel vision go unnoticed. The FLV disorder involves angle of view vision. An FLV symptom: you are out on a date and your mind keeps saying 135mm as you look at the attractive person across the table.

There has been talk about an aperture-related sub disorder relating to people having a shallow DOF (Depth of Field), becoming blind to what is in front of or behind the focused-on subject.

It is advised that those with CVC, especially with sub disorder involvement, avoid dangers including those of moving planes, trains and automobiles.

CCCHD (Camera Case Compulsive Hoarding Disorder)

As those who buy a new house think that they need new furniture, those who buy a new camera or lens think that a new case is also needed. Or, a new camera case is needed because it offers a feature not present in your current closet full of cases. I don't personally understand why CCCHD is considered a problem – one can't have too many camera cases.

PISD (Photoshop Induced Sleep Deprivation)

Long photo sessions result in long post processing sessions. Research seems to show that, when those Photoshop sessions run late into the night, not only is the amount of time available to sleep reduced, but one's quality of sleep is also debilitated. We're still waiting for the more-time pill testing to be completed.

Super Telephoto Shoulder

This condition is most commonly acquired by those handholding large lenses such as at air shows and when photographing birds in flight. As the focal length gets longer, so do the shoulder tendons. The symptoms are sharp, as in sharp pain. A secondary shoulder injury comes from carrying said lenses over the shoulder for transport, causing compression types of injuries to muscles, ligaments and bones.

That's our list for now, but I'm sure that we will be adding new diseases over time. I know that you have additional conditions/disorders/etc. for us to add to the Photographer's Medical Dictionary. Please report them to us (please be gentle if pointing out an issue that we personally have) and we'll make select additions to this list. Be sure to stop back to read about these additions.

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