Last week proved to a test of mettle inasmuch as it applies to my office life. Times have grown tumultuous and I suspect need for my employ in the realm of the traditional 9-to-5 may have finally run its course. Granted, I could be reading the cards all wrong, and the natural cycle of contraction in business may overlook me entirely, but I've been unable to entertain anything less than a weirdly optimistic demeanor at the concept of my formal unemployment. Plainly stated, I am excited to pursue photography as a full time endeavor, and the mere notion that my otherwise congested schedule may suddenly open up to indulge more photo work, perhaps even enough to realistically sustain my day to day living, excites me.
Instead of remaining realistic and appropriately cautious, I felt like celebrating. And as luck would have it, I had been invited out to enjoy and photograph one Baltimore's more risque fringe artistic franchises, the burlesque show.
Historically my chosen kit for such venues has always been more diminutive, typically the E-P3 and 17mm f/1.8 with a YN-560 and a couple hard settings such that I could let loose and allow post processing to make up for whatever shortcomings from shot to shot. The approach Friday night wasn't all that different, only with the added versatility of a usable ISO 1600 to ISO 5000 on the E-M1 and TTL metering of flash with the FL-600R. From standpoint of experience, the two approaches may as well have been interchangeable. With the bulk of flash added to the mix the size and handling differences of the E-P3 and E-M1 were negated. Greater challenge presented itself in managing my own level of drunkenness in the high energy party atmosphere than any technical challenge presented by a camera. In general, I was able to partake in a great show, a great party, make it home (somehow) and have a collection of terrific photos to share.
The next day proved strange in different ways.
I was invited to tour the venue of a couple whose wedding I'm slated to photograph in June. A small wedding of maybe some 40 attendees, and of more the traditional arrangement than my previous wedding for a lesbian couple merging Catholic and Jewish families. Their chosen marriage grounds are on the site of the old Charles Carroll House in Annapolis, a pre-USA mansion of a place with an elaborately decorated church connected to its structure. Based on the tour, it should be a ton of fun in which to shoot, with plans in place for the entire reception to be lit by nothing but candlelight.
When I first arrived, however, parallel parking in a tight space squarely against the curb (real estate shooting on weekends in the city has augmented my parallel parking skills tremendously), a woman knocked on my window with a smile. I rolled the window down to have her gush in amusement, "That was perfect, I ain't never seen anybody park like that before". I couldn't help but laugh in response at being complimented on my parking.
She proceeded to recount a sort of sob story I've heard from panhandlers for years. Her kids were dropped off at a sitter in Annapolis but she needed to get back to Deale, MD, her hometown, to collect her car and other son, and her ride was nowhere to be found. Her request was for help getting back to Deale via cab (the only way to get down there from Annapolis without one's own car), and needed money to afford the trip. Based on an experience years back taking a cab back to Deale, the end tab for the ride would be $120. No small sum.
I should have asked to take her picture. I'd say I'll remember that next time, but I'm not so sure I know how comfortable I feel with the notion of a next time in regards to such an encounter.
This week looks to be theoretically light on office obligations, and appropriately I have filled that void of pressing matters with photo work to which I will retreat in the early afternoons and return for a late evening at the office. Arguably I'm sitting on a generous stack of time off I could be spending to go out, enjoy life, enjoy my time, but with the begrudging return of cold weather I find myself more inclined to wait and suffer the boredom until warmer days make themselves apparent. I owe far too many people a photo outing. I owe far too many friends the light of day I've denied them under self-imposed pressures of weekend photo work. I owe myself some time and experience not dedicated to demands of other peoples' dollars.
I'll learn this work/life balance thing soon enough.