Are Nerves Good for Art?

me_crazy.jpgLast year while I was doing the daily portraits I had the opportunity to shoot a few famous people as well as a few heroes of mine who might not be known to all of you, and I noticed that unlike most of the other shoots, I got really nervous in the hours leading up to the appointment.  I got cranky, my stomach turned, and I felt lightheaded.

We've all heard the stories of the famous actors and singers who, evenafter years of playing to sold-out crowds, continue to get so nervous before the show that they actually vomit. To think that I'm hoping to get over that reaction.

A long time ago, I used to play the piano.  I would feel similar to this right before recitals and remember thinking that the adrenaline helped my performance.  However when I look back at recordings, I find that I rushed and I glanced over subtleties that I normally would have graced.

So I guess that's my question, is being nervous good for art? 
Do I take better pictures when I'm stressed? 
Or when I've got to deal with a limitation like a time constraint?

I'm not sure that I do.  My favorite photos from last year are mostly from shoots that were more relaxed and where I felt comfortable.  When I shot Buzz Aldrin I had about 30 seconds to get the shot, I took about 20 pictures.  But I had bad light to work with, and a guy like Buzz always has his 'show' face on when posing for pictures.  So while it was a great experience and I think I pulled it off, it wasn't what I wanted to get out of the experience, either photographically or experientially.

Maybe there are those times when stress forces you to be more creative in finding the solution to a problem, and I'm sure some people get off that buzz.   I get off on shooting too, but it's usually when everything starts to flow and you know you're onto something special.  As many of my subjects can attest, I get all giddy and smiles.  I start to move around a lot too, and say  "Oo, Oo, Oo" too many times in succession.

So, if that's the case, and I like not being nervous.  What's the trick in overcoming it?  Without resorting to Xanax of course.  Is it a matter of experience? Then again, if that were the case wouldn't it get easier for those anecdotal performers?

I guess time will bear this one out.  I'll keep you in the loop.