All images ©Kirk Tuck. All rights reserved.
Lou. One of my most consistent muses.
I return to the work I did with her time and time again
to renew my excitement about portraits.
I've thought a lot about it and I have a confession to make; I hate producing video. I'm not particularly good at it and, to be even more frank, I hate the degree of collaboration that generally has to happen to make programs work the way clients want videos to work.
Over the course of my career I've shot a lot of corporate video, been part of teams making television commercials, and done a bunch of interviews. I've shot on 35mm film, 16mm film, Super8 film, Hi-8 video, BetaSP video and most recently with a gaggle of video-ready still cameras, and I have to say that it's generally more trouble for me than it is worth.
Don't get me wrong. I like the concepting and writing of video. I even like lighting and shooting video...but...I hate the process of collaborating on a "team vision" for a project and I just detest the whole editing process ---- mostly because these two things are not strengths of mine. While I am mostly an extrovert and love being around all kinds of people when it comes to creative projects I more or less like to execute them with an iron fist. And I'm not an organized enough thinker to be a good editor either.
So, my new strategy for the business is to ignore commercial video entirely. And to ignore the temptation to create a YouTube channel and become a blithering, blathering and pontificating expert about cameras, in vivid 4K (I can get in enough pontification right here on the blog...). If clients call and want to do video I'll offer to help them find a producer. If they want me to be involved I'll happily concept with them and even write scripts but I'll be damned if I want to stand next to the camera and prompt one more CEO as he/she rattles on about "executing on our unique vision to be top performers and to achieve excellence in the field of janitorial data management facilitation...."
I'd rather take a camera out and make a small movie with a beautiful pair of actors making small talk about coffee and life, and do it all in black and white. Wrap it into a three or four minute edit and share it with my film friends.
I hate most of the effects that clients seem to like. I dislike current fashions in editing. And I really dislike performing for "likes" like a porpoise leaping out of the water to get a small fish. So, I'll be taking mentions of video production off the kirktuck.com website and re-focusing my attention to the wonderful world of making portraits. If the right video project comes along then I'll consider it, but....
In transitioning to a new computer I spent a lot of time sorting through files in order not to migrate a lot of junk to the new hard drive. In the process I saw the overwhelming trend of my work, which has always been making portraits of all kinds. It's people, their expressions, their gestures, and the life one can see in their eyes (if I get everything right) that I love.
"Over my shoulder I do hear times winged chariot drawing near..." (From: To His Coy Mistress, by Andrew Marvell). There's not enough time to be an expert in too many fields at once. I feel I've hit the Y (or Why) in the road where I needed to make a choice. It's easy. It's still photography of people.
Will I ever touch the video button again? Yes! But it will be for fun and games and not driven mercilessly forward by the sting of impending poverty, under the lash of corporate silliness. (Loved the drama of writing that. So silly!!!).
This shift is one of the reasons I retooled with the addition of the two higher resolution Panasonic Lumix S1R cameras. They offer a high enough resolution to work well when used in the square, 1:1 format, and the lenses I paired them with are the finest ones I could find in the entire market. If I can't achieve my vision with them then I am doomed to failure at any rate.
I've been viciously reducing my equipment foot print left and right in the studio and hope to hold the line by bringing in only equipment that facilitates my focus on portraiture. I've never been a great multi-tasker and the fewer things I need to consider in the day-to-day running of my business the better off I'm sure I'll be.
I have a couple of year's left before I retire from the commercial field and I want to make the most of it. Not the most money --- I don't really care about that anymore --- I just want to be the absolute best portrait photographer I can be. When I step away from doing it as a business nothing will really change except for the fact that, at that point in time, every subject in front of my cameras will be someone I want to photograph, not someone I've been contracted to photograph.
This is certainly not a bold step or a surprising announcement but a distillation of both my own thinking and the advice of friends and loved ones whose opinions I value very much.
As the whole world moves toward video I'll take a contrarian point of view and head in the other direction. Maybe I'll even try to write better.....
Happy New Year. KT