Sunday, July 20, 2014

Realignment (Or "Trying to Get My Head Together")

Much as I'd like to say it isn't, this blog remains a constant forum of self-analysis for me when I hit the hardest of times in regards to my direction, my bead on the muse, my self-concept in general. Lately, that concept has been under some challenge.

When I began conducting photography as a business venture 3 years ago I only ever foresaw it bolstering my motivation and commitment to photography as an art form. For some time, that was the case, but it seems I've hit a plateau in the business, and with that plateau a new kind of stagnation which brings with it a most toxic and overwhelming sense of defeat. It's something I've found more than a little difficult to overcome.

I say this after having just reviewed my last post to this blog, reviewing the optimism and motivation I had surrounding the time lapse project I'd set myself to complete at the time. I'm still doing time lapse sometimes. Not nearly with the same level of tenacity as before. Nor the same governing direction. More than anything, a clear sense of what I want to achieve feels like the thing I lack. Or, and this is the worse diagnosis of my problem, I have an exact idea of the "what", the muse and where it is, and am completely incapable of reaching it. I just don't know what to do anymore to attain that elusive muse, and for lack of that central key to actualization, I bury my focus into photography as business to plug the hole the art left. Now there's doubt in my mind there's any room for the art at all.

And that's a pretty tremendous problem considering the art is what gave birth to the business. One will not survive without the other. Like my motivation, like the muse, it will stagnate, decay, rot into a hollow old man at the cusp of a dream but unable to break through the transitional challenges faced. I do not want to become that old man.

So, a natural first step is to decipher the lessons that can be gleamed from the course of events that have led up to this point. Here it goes.

I suck at video. No really, I have neither the knowledge, finesse nor patience to produce such a multimedia production on my own. I capture decent video, and my time lapse, though very pedestrian, isn't terrible, and with better equipment would easily grow into something phenomenal, but assembling it all into a proper video is curiously beyond me. It has taken a lot of time and a lot of head-on-brick-wall masochism to come to that conclusion, but denying it is an act of absolute futility. Had I the time for a college course on video production I'm sure I'd pick up the lacking skills I'm unable to divine for myself, but for now I'll be relegating production efforts to others and sticking to simple time lapse segments that will stand well enough on the likes of Flickr.

I love photographing stars. And mountain ranges. And landscapes. Basically all the things completely absent in the flat, commercially overdeveloped region in which I live. This simply means I need to travel more, which is as much within my ability to do as it isn't. A couple hours and a hotel stay aren't much, but what I have in the financial flexibility to take a road trip I lack in availability of time. Weekends are always inundated with photo work which negates my ability to travel while still responsibly being able to perform shoots for paying clients. This is easily the greatest area where the overlap of photography as work and as art butt heads.

I miss other photographers. In 2012 every Tuesday night was replete with fond memory-making times spent with photographers who would become good friends and since the turn of 2013 we've all but disbanded as a regularly meeting group. The lack of interaction with fresh minds, different perspectives and shared ambitions is not simply a missed pastime but a tax in the form of forlorn nostalgia.

I need to clean up my web presence. Or at the very least consolidate it. Last week I read an article regarding the study of "Social Media Fatigue", which is exactly what it sounds like. With the mass of social networks out there, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, 500px, it's so much it's no wonder people managed to eke out a living simply managing the social network web presence of other people. Like the rest of sensible people, I plan on reducing my social media obligations to only those relevant enough to me, only those regularly updated (which, unfortunately may mean the end of this blog, but as mentioned before it has more served as a forum to get my thoughts together than any kind of actual content distributor). This includes a more serious investment in a dedicated web page, something I can more reliably control.

I don't know what my image is anymore. My brand. It used to be pretty obvious, all the detritus and decay, my theme was dictated by this romantic, tragic idea a stint of PTSD spawned after my car accident. Albeit cliche, it inspired a sort of passion in me. It was an image I was enthusiastic about presenting, the concept of rebuilding. At this point I'm not so much in a rebuilding phase, and so I don't know who or what I am other than forgettable and mundane.

I should write more. Photo essays. Many of my publicly shared photos surround events, outings, they have a common theme. They're stories I mean to share, but there's always so much behind the photos that remains in the dark. Even if it's only skimmed, a little literature would go a long way. That narrative I always speak of, it's only going to be effectively realized if expressed in all relevant mediums (and maybe one day video can become part of that narrative... but not yet, because, you know, I suck at it as mentioned earlier).

As for things that would help in accomplishing implied goals from these lessons learned... well, utmost is time. It's the most crucial resource, and yet it is the most lacking. Utilization of time is a thing of trouble for me, not necessarily in that I feel I waste it but that the stress of work and time it demands consumes too much of my brain space. Not the photo work, per say, but the day job. Not that it's unappreciated, but when one's life is consumed 7 days a week by work... yeah, very little time left for any kind of meaningful personal growth. While any free time available could be completely allocated to pursuing the arts, that ultimately leaves no time for destress and recomposition, reclaiming of level brain space. It would be a one way ticket to absolute burnout.

Time... actually, that's about it. Time is everything. A dedicated workspace would be nice as well, as opposed to the multi-computer office often intruded upon and thus uncomfortable for creative labors, but even then I can't help but feel more time available would be the ultimate gift. And that's... actually the answer I was afraid of coming to at the end of this post. It's been my hunch for a while that lack of time is the ultimate doomsayer in my life, but I've often denied it as being a cop out. But now, having elaborated in written detail my concerns and issues... yeah, it's lack of time. To which I can only come to one possible corrective action. Drop off on work. I can't afford to drop my primary employment, thus I would be left dropping my photographic work, and I'm unwilling to do that as it's work I am ultimately more passionate about. Alternatively I would need to bolster my income from photographic work so much that I no longer need the primary job, which would be optimal, but given the nature of the photographic marketplace in our post-millennial world that seems... extremely distant a goal.

So I remain stuck. After all this deliberation... that's a little depressing.