Every once in a while you have to stop and scrape all the extra stuff off your plate and start clean.
I've been doing too many disparate things this year and I've found, to my dismay, that I am not a good multi-tasker. I am not able to shift from craft to craft, from camera system to camera system. From industry to industry. And it's been hard for me to shift from my role being behind the still camera to the role of being in front of the video camera. I got too scattered and too distracted. I tried to be too many things to too many people and the thing that suffered the most was the time I had available to spend taking my photographs and writing the stuff I like to write without the slightest even ephemeral pull of a client's gravity impinging on my thought process. I was drowning under hats and subtle currents.
But we're all done. The cameras I agreed to test have been returned. Collected by FedEx only an hour ago. The Craftsy.com courses are complete and online. A recent book project politely declined. A workshop left unscheduled.
And I feel free for the first time in a long time. I don't compartmentalize well. If there are ongoing projects on my plate I find my brain including them in an inventory of subroutines that uses up precious brain cells I can hardly spare. Not having the compartments occupied has given me a huge sense of relief.
At a time when executing a profitable career as a photographer has become ever more difficult financially I find more and more of my peers have done what I have recently done and jumped on every opportunity that's been presented to them, in and out of their field. They've become workshop leaders even though most of the best shooters I know are loners and the least adapted to enjoy working with groups of people to help them improve their craft. They embrace the books. They look for sponsors. In short, their (our) careers stopped resembling a straight line of intention and became a series of part time jobs that are remotely aligned with imaging but in the end have little or nothing to do with moving our own work forward. The jobs set up new barriers to becoming the artists that we always hoped we would have the courage to work toward being. Distraction is my number one nemesis. I'm fatigued by distraction.
I have a certain amount of fear that belts will be worn tighter around here if I only do the photos and videos and writing that I want to do but it seems like a challenge I'll have to deal with because I need to be committed and working toward a goal or a series of goals for my photography to work for me.
I'm using the gear I'm comfortable with. I'm looking for projects that seem to leverage my way of working. I'm looking forward to more personal work. I'm looking forward to the equivalent of swimming without floaties in the career I always wanted in the first place.
I'd rather labor well in obscurity than feel like a hollow actor in a role that doesn't fit. I feel like I'm coming home again to my craft. Not as an "expert" but as a beginner.
I'm not selling anything here today. I'm not suggesting you buy this camera or that camera. I don't care what kind of lighting you use. I'm not impressed by any camera. I am writing this today to say that the real challenge is to peel back the layers of distraction and fear we create that keep us from doing what we love. Life is too short for everything else.
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