2018, the year of making adjustments
No matter how hard I try, I am having a tough time keeping up with any worthwhile blogging effort. There truly is a lot going on in my life. It leaves me taxed! Today, right now, I’m looking at future decisions, directions and how to cope with it all as it unfolds. These are very different times for me and nothing like anything I have experienced before. With that said, today’s post is just sort of rhetorical in nature, more about my life and how I have been using my cameras lately.
I’m going to hit retirement age in 2019, that magic time when you are eligible for Medicare. I guess in a way, I am semi retired already. It’s an age I have thought about in passed years, always figuring to get to some accomplishments and goals before reaching it. If I reached it. Well, I have accomplished a lot but no where near what was hoped for and in some cases planned for. Life does throw obstacles at you and you find that you have to make adjustments. Those adjustments mean usually altering plans for the future. One curve thrown is my wife’s battle with her cognitive memory disorder and is one such adjustment. No question her condition is worsening, but its age related so we figured for that. The level of care she needs is something that is in constant flux though so thats somewhat of a moving target. She is quite capable yet, but there are things she cannot do or I don’t want her doing such as driving. I’m doing most house chores too. It does get in the way of my photography work, or the way I used to work. I simply cannot go on weekend or weekday trips to photograph races, music, or other events or even chase after elusive sunsets in other states where those sunsets are worth capturing. Not without extensive planning. I prefer to be here looking after her, spending time with her and enjoying her company. After losing my studio space and subsequent negotiated spaces, I’m always looking for another studio but to be honest, my needs for space get smaller and the prices of empty suitable space get higher and the search is difficult so my priority lessens. I am still working, always on location except for the increasingly more rare product work I may entertain from time to time. Even some of that is location based. So more adjustment. I have turned down work that doesn’t fit my schedule or simply isn’t something I want to do. I really only work on things of interest or if it’s a challenge I embrace. More importantly, only if it fits into my schedule and the care for my wife. Given how particular I am, you would think I was some sort of accomplished figure in my photo space and you would be wrong. I simply cannot cover large events like I did. Larger commercial projects take a lot of planning and if something happens at home, I need a flexible schedule. Thats tough on a client and there are many other photographers out there. I do understand. Still, I am someone who can use a camera and knows a few tricks with lighting and, still loves to take pictures. And since I want to photograph and create I just have to be very adaptable in what I point my camera at. I do find ways to stay busy with a camera. Fortunately, I have the lenses, cameras and lights to traverse genres from people to animals to landscapes and products.
Actually, I have far more equipment than I need but I am at a point where I feel good about all I do own and use and have little need to add or change. I have so much stuff, I sometimes spend hours and parts of days looking for things I know I have, and know I haven’t used in a while but also have no recollection of where I put them. I eventually find what I am looking for. Usually. With the closing of my studio, my equipment is spread between two garages, a outside storage space I rent and my office inside my house. I do spill some things over into other rooms too. Thats the crux of my equipment problem, its all over the place! Even with that, I have added some items recently. So why add more stuff? Well, I have really only added some accessories to my lights and added one camera body. I have always had more than one “work” body so I added one when it became available since I was in need. The lighting accessories just compliment the Godox lights I already have. I do not plan to add anymore until the new round head speed lights appear and only if they impress enough over the existing versions.
Even with my limitations to commitment and scheduling, I do have understanding clients so I’m booking certain jobs for 2019 and hope to work on some projects which are in my head and under thought right now. One requires a studio maybe, the other few can and should be done outside but in a certain location so thats very much like renting a studio. In the meantime I have been shooting nature related images and if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you have seen my recent “bird” imagery. I do not want to shoot the sort of bird pics you see when you google a bird or the type that are in most bird ID books. I’m trying to photograph the birds in the same way I would photograph people. Posed sort of, but in a more natural way which doesn’t say posed. Birds as they are and as they live. You can’t give direction to birds other than feeding them to come around, so you need to be patient and wait and be prepared to waste a lot of pixels that will not make it off the camera’s SD card. I have shot for hours and not gotten one picture I consider worthy. Out of hundreds. I also want to post process them naturally so I do google and research their colorations and markings to make sure I get them right. More work to this than you think!
I do have a reason for this now. I’m making a book about the birds that come to my “feeding station”. Just a 8x10-ish lay flat volume for my Mom. She has always loved birds and still loves to watch them. She is in an assisted living home in Louisiana, suffering from early stages of dementia and old age. My angel of a cousin there shows her my photos from social media and has told me how she delights in looking at them, so the idea of making her a book was born. I’m using older images and creating new ones, and this is a project I can do with my wife and while at home. But it is difficult to “get” the right pictures of the birds acting more natural and not just sitting 2 dimensionally on a branch. Thats ok. It gives me something to work towards.
I’m shooting other wildlife but birds are at the forefront over winter. After the New Year, I’m looking at doing some family portraits for a few folks once spring comes around and the outside is pretty enough to photograph. Plus, I hope to cover a “new” single speed race in late March over in Iowa. I’m talking to an interior designer about a catalog of work covering her staging and designs. I’ll probably shoot the budding dancers with Dance Dynamics with my friend, Jola, in April. The need for headshots cycles around every once in awhile. I do have a few other ideas on picture ‘books” too. This whole idea of picture books, at least the way I “see” it, is getting more interesting to me all the time. They are not being designed or made to be sold outright. I mean if someone wants one, I’m more than happy to oblige. But in my mind they are like hand carried studios of images that look better than whats on a phone or computer screen. Think of a hand held art museum although thats sounds a bit lofty. Anyway, thats my thinking. And I have lots of ideas around what books to make. More on that in 2019 as I work it.
Its hard to ponder the future. There are so many branches the future can take; so many timelines. If I can though, I hope I can find the time in 2019 to connect with some old friends from my Aurora studio days. I miss coffees with my old business and creative associates. I hope to reconnect and take in some Aurora First Fridays. Some concerts, and just meet old and new people. The 2018 year has not been kind and I think I’m just trying to climb out from under the sadness and loss the year brought. I lost way too many good friends to illness. I lost family as well. I still lament losing a friend over a failed studio agreement and I lament not being able to accomplish some things I have wanted to do. I will probably have to scale back on my dreams and ambitions, no strike that, I know I will have to. I’m just taking each day as it comes and living it. I’m hoping for some balance.
I also hope if you are reading this, that you are part of my 2019 plans and hope we can get together and catch up. As I get older, I do recognize the need of friends and family and the need to stay in touch even more. Enjoy this end of 2018. There is much to reflect on and be thankful for, always, even in a less than stellar year. Stay safe. Lets connect. To 2019 then!