Saturday, April 23, 2016

When am I?


Spending a lot of time sitting in my car these days in between shoots, idling passing time waiting for clients to be on-site and ready. The passing time is transparent to me, and it's vexing when I look at the calendar and see that somehow the entirety of 3 weeks has passed in a pocket of time I recognize as "yesterday".

Photography-as-work has defined my state of being since April rolled around. The month is nearly over and it feels as if it never happened at all. With my new photography contract, I made the erroneous decision to approach it with the same methodology as my long-standing real estate contract. It didn't take long for me to realize the mistake, these are very different clients governed by very different expectations. And while I managed to adapt my workflow appropriately, I failed to take into account the toll it would take on my private life, and as such the last 2 weeks have been 12 to 16 hour days of non-stop work. That is the crux of contract labor - with no awareness of each other nor the demands of everyday life, it is up to the contracted to establish the balance necessary amid the volume of work. I did poorly with this and am paying the price.

But, today I complete the machine gun beat of jobs and have the opportunity to establish the boundaries of my limitations once again.

Over drinks with friends Kevin and Rob last night, I was able to let out some stresses I've carried too long. I stood on a stoop in Baltimore and proclaimed with a passion I hadn't felt in a long time, "I have sucked the joy out of every thing I love". A cliche statement, but perfectly reflective of sentiments on my back, like pounds of sand, for years. The box I've cornered the practice of photography into, the finite rules and standards that work so well in commercial photography work and enable rapid completion to the end of doing more shorts in less time, has framed every exercise of photography in such a way that it is nearly repulsive to extend beyond those confines and experiment, the very function of photography-as-art. And yet the sterile work I do privately bound in that box does not satisfy me nor bring the joy of the kind of knee-jerk photography I still dare to carry as my namesake. Photography is now a formula to me, and expanding beyond such rigid thinking requires weeks of practiced effort to defy until the satisfaction of spontaneity is once again achieved.

Verbalizing the problem has done more than any blog-based ranting to assuage the stress and disappointment in myself for allowing an artful craft to become such a soulless exercise. And it's wonderful to have people who understand the problem, able to sympathize and commiserate with me in the struggle, regardless of whether or not they are able to directly impart a fix or change. Sometimes you just need someone willing to listen, able to understand.

And barring the back pain from awkwardly situating myself in my car to type this out, I feel enormously better today than the block of time I can only call "yesterday". Time to run off to my next shoot, now.