Some weeks are anti-photographic. This was one of them.

Spanish Steps. Russian Woman.

Some weeks seem destined to be non-photographic for me and it makes me sad. Don't get me wrong, there was lots to do but so very little of it had anything to do with taking photographs and even less to do with wandering around aimlessly and taking fun photographs. Maybe that odious woman (Marissa Mayer) from Yahoo jinxed it for me when she came out and said what we've all be thinking but are too fearful or hard headed to say out loud....Since everyone takes photographs all the time now there's no such thing anymore as a professional photographer.

I did all the things creative people are supposed to do. I had a wonderful monday morning coffee with a business man I've known for many years. The kind of business man who could live for another 10,000 years and still not have to work again....but he still does because he seems to enjoy the deal and the process. We talked about politics in Syria and start-ups and CEO training. When I left I felt as though I'd been a temporary member of the big leagues of business and it made me feel a little down when I realized that all I really wanted to do on monday was to be somewhere cool and takes some interesting photographs. The afternoon was filled with domestic errands and the last gasp editing of that novel I've been talking about since 2002. My friends won't listen to me anymore when I talk about it. "Just publish the goddam thing!!!" seems to be the most common advice.

I'm sure Stephen Pressfield could use my procrastination with this project as a classic study in resistance. But I'm so close and I want so badly for my first real effort out of the blocks to be a good one. Every typo I don't catch now will be like a wasp sting when I find it after the fact.

Most of Tuesday was taken up by the machinations of being (not practicing) a portrait photographer. I retouched five images for a client who works for an oncology practice. After a tuna sandwich I spent the afternoon making web galleries for people I photographed next week. At the end of the day I decided I had put off the editing of a video project long enough and it was starting to spoil like buried cabbage so I jumped onto that train and rode it until midnight. Still no recreational photography. No professional photo work either.

Wednesday is a blur of lunching with clients (great Chinese food), signing contracts, writing proposals and studying up for conference calls. I think I'll be doing a project in July as on camera talent. I'm pretty excited, or at least I think I am until I remember that I also need to produce the content for my 2.5 hour on camera project....but that will be something to prevent fun-tography in June so I'll worry about it then. Three days of shooting for two and a half hours of programming. Who would have thunk it?

Hard on the heels of that was the realization that it was my turn to shop, cook dinner and wash up after. I'm lazy, I made fajitas and frijoles ala charro and guacamole. Then I remembered how much I disliked cleaning up the grill at the very end. Why does the clean up always fallow those two great glasses of wine instead of proceeding?

I packed a camera bag full of Nex gear on Thursday but the bag never got out the door. I don't remember much about yesterday but I do remember looking over from my desk, longingly, at the Sony a850 and the medium tele lens flirting with me as hard as it could. I'd gotten almost to the door when a request for bid came in and I realized that bidding video/hybrid projects takes a lot of time to do right (and profitably). I got the bid done and the pizza ordered for the kid just in time to walk out the door and attend, with spouse in tow, the premiere of "Harvey" at Zach Theatre. Yes, we had great seats.  Yes we had Cuba Libres at the lobby bar at halftime (drives my theatre friends crazy when I called it that...) and yes, we had Champagne and little desserts at the end. After the standing ovation. (well deserved).

I dragged myself out of bed this morning and got into the studio to start writing an outline for an educational program and then I realized that I write a lot more than I shoot. And most of my friends and family never really get to see the executive speeches, project proposals, scripts, books and other stuff I seem to be consistently cranking out. Maybe Marrisa Mayer is correct. Maybe there is no such things as (just) a professional photographer anymore. Maybe we have to do all these other things to keep the ball rolling. To put bread on the table. To move it all forward (and a thousand other hoary sayings).  Or maybe it's just that way for me.

Sometimes I feel like I'm living proof of an old Russian saying, "It is impossible to chase two fast rabbits at the same time." And I feel like I'm juggling three or four rabbits. But I can't bear to put one down in order to concentrate on another. I fear what I might miss. It's the curse of having more than several things you love to do. The linear among us would have me sit down and diagram life out and find the most efficient and efficacious method of earning a living and just flush everything else, accept a pair of blinders and go in a straight line. Eat the meatloaf every night. 

But I'll see if I can't get it all balanced out. Shoot a bit more. Think a bit less and, for goodness sake, stop writing so much.

Over there, by the filing cabinet next to the studio door. There's an old, brown Domke bag and inside is are two Nex 7's and a passel of lenses. I think I can sneak in some imaging tomorrow. But that brings up the next conundrum, do I shoot stills or little movies? Ah... it never stops.

I hope you have a photographic adventure that makes you happy this weekend. It's time.


Joel Wolford said...

I posted this on another article, but believe it to be apropos to this one. Seems as if TIME(who has a pretty good photographic history, themselves) might disagree with her:

TIME's online business section has published an article entitled "Photo Shoot Your Way to Sales Growth", in which they advocate using quality photography to advertise and promote your business. They state that stock photography, while cheap, offers no return on investment when compared with using professional photographers. Now, where have I heard(read) that before? ;>) Here's the link in case you(or other readers) are interested:



Joel Wolford said...

I agree with the authors of the article. Yeah, everyone takes pictures, and most people will randomly come up with the occasional gem. But, not everyone can deliver quality images and video(even more difficult than stills, in my opinion) on demand. I believe a fair comparison would be that most people know how to write, but very few will deliver something comparable to Shakespeare, Robert Frost, or (insert your favorite author). Maybe with so much photographic dross in the world, the work of true pro's will shine even brighter.



Daryl Davis said...

"That odious woman..." LOL! I had a good case of Marissa Mayer Fatigue within a day of her being named Head Honcho at Yahoo. But then, I live in Silicon Valley and our presstitutes' fawning idolatry probably was an order of magnitude higher than what the rest of the country was getting (which was laid on pretty thick itself).

If Mayer thinks photographs are that fungible, is she willing to decorate her house with a random selection of Instagramed iPhone shots of other people's lunches, cats and arm's-length self-portraits? Is that what she chose for her wedding or for the family portrait with her newborn?

We have a free weekly paper here, the Metro, that's iconoclastic, perfectly willing to announce that the Emperor is buck naked, and is always way out in front of our mainstream, corporate daily when it comes to political corruption locally. In the wake of Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, the Metro ran a cover article on The Bad Photography Bubble: the cover photo was a concert shot of Justin Bieber. I think they'd disagree with Marissa, too.

MartinP said...

Ouch, poor Kirk :(

Being a Professional Photographer does imply doing a lot of Professional (ie. business) stuff, it's true. But you are also an Amateur Photographer - making pictures for the love of it - and have managed to avoid having either version of photography mess up the other, which seems pretty impressive to me.

Just to compare weeks ... I'm just back from five days in Prague with a Leica and a Flexaret (well, someone had to do it). I went to my first ever opera (possibly I won't be making a habit of it though), by the Czech national company, pictured skateboarders under the biggest metronome in Europe, visited exhibitions by Sudek and Kucera and spent most of a morning trying to produce the definitive shot of "tour-group plus tour-guide and umbrella" using the countless small herds of tourists around the place. A very enjoyable amateur week for me, while your professional week was a wise investment in future enjoyment. Sounds ok :)

Oh, BTW, when and how is your book being published??!

thequietphotographer said...

Hmmm, sometimes I think that even if I love photography, which has an important part in my life, I'm very happy to be a simple amateur and not a professional! Next week I'll go to tuscany with my (father's) old Rolleiflex, 6 films (one per day) and let see what I manage to bring back! I'm the client of myself, shall I be satisfied? Maybe no, but the process is worthwhile to be done!
robert, simple amateur

Claire said...

I remember being twenty years old and very passionate about dogs and canine training. I remember having the privilege of being befriended by the one of the top dawg (pun non intended) French movies K9 trainer, and I was about to take a test to apply to the Police Academy to become a K9 cop he told me this : "Don't. If you are accepted (and he obviously thought I would be), then your passion will turn into... a job. And it won't be so fascinating anymore. You'll have to do it even the days you don't feel like it, and before you know it, it'll become a chore, instead of a calling".
I often thought about this relating to how I live my passion for photography. I never (seriously) considered trying to go pro, not only because I happened to see the digital revloution unravel and how it seemed to kill professional photography as we knew it before; but also because I ended up pursuing a K9 career anyway, and it did lessen my passion for dogs considerably, so my old friend was right after all.
One of the things I value the most in my practice of photography is the absolute and total *freedom*. I can shoot whatever I want, however I want it, and though receiving praise is always gratifying, I'd be just as happy with none, as long as I make images that please ME. It's a very egoistic endeavor in my case, and I'm happy with that.
As we say in French, "courage" for being a pro photographer.

Anonymous said...

How many writers do you know who can deliver something comparable to Shakespeare on demand? :)