Self-assignment is pretty cool. Unless you happen to be too self-critical. Who needs stress with their art? Don't we have clients for that?

I think I'm getting the hang of it. Of living with the new, weird and sometimes frightening normal that is. I mean I don't have any other options than to figure out how to cope and be happy. 

Here's a super quick story of momentary happiness: We haven't been stressing about toilet paper. I bought some back before the crisis really went into full meltdown/panic buying mode and a last look under that bathroom sink turned up six rolls of deluxe, Trader Joe's premium toilet paper. It hasn't been on my shopping list...

Ben was over for dinner last night and I cooked steaks, mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus finished with a nice lemon sauce. While he was here I loaded him up with some groceries. A half gallon of milk from Whole Foods, a bag of TJ's muesli, two containers of 2% Greek yogurt, some left over steak, a box of blueberries, etc. He was appreciative. 

When I looked in the fridge this morning I realized that I'd given away the last of my yogurt so I fired up the car (can I call my Subaru Forster a car?) and headed back over to Trader Joe's to restock. When I got there a little before 10 a.m. they had a special line set up to give priority to "seniors." I got in the regular line (there were eight of us) and someone from the store came over and offered me early entry. I shrugged and rendered myself compliant. 

I bought a few things. Some more yogurt (it makes your shutter finger more temporally accurate) and some more muesli as well as some of their wonderful, frozen, gluten and dairy free pancakes (a guilty pleasure) and I headed to the check out area with my little basket. A Trader Joe's employee approached me and asked me if I needed toilet paper. Thinking I might be able to use individual rolls as gifts for future clients (it must be incredibly valuable, right?) I said, "yes." She ran off to find me a package. Then another TJ's employee came up to me to see if I might need some hand sanitizer. And  he went off to find several bottles for me. I had no idea I looked so needy. I didn't see them proactively handing out TP or HS to anyone else. But, as we were all re-wiping our already wiped hands with Purell laden wipes for the twentieth time I thanked them for their kind attention. I thought I'd be pressing the "poor old senior" thing too far by asking them to carry my new toilet paper treasure to my car for me. 

Jeez. If I would have known how much people fawn over senior citizens I would have dyed my hair white a long time ago.... But I did feel taken care of and, at a glance, I did see that their inventory was up to snuff. I came home feeling more assured that we'll all get through this somehow. 

I have self assigned. I figure that if clients aren't in the mood to play I can certainly find some creative uses for this massive collection of cameras, lenses, lights and microphones that seem to be magnetically attracted to me. 

I'm writing a little ten minute movie I want to make. My audience will be easy to please because it's just me. I've already sold myself a ticket to the V.I.P. screening. The script seems to be about love and coffee in a dystopian time of mandatory social distancing. I'm sure I can find some actors here in Austin that are suddenly less busy than they were a month ago. I'm thinking I'll put aside a small budget to pay them for their time.

The beauty of something like this is that when self assigning, and aiming at an audience of 1, you get to decide how you want stuff to flow and how you want it to look. I'm thinking black and white. Lots of tight shots with long lenses. Maybe some slow motion coffee spills? Lots of b-roll at dusk with city lights in the background. And, of course, a happy ending. It goes without saying that I will cast beautiful people.

To add a formalist framework to the project I'm thinking of shooting it all raw on the Sigma fp which will force me to learn a bunch about the back end (editing) of the project and about color correcting with DaVinci Resolve. 

I am also pursuing another new-ish hobby. I'm taking a deep dive into the world of investing. I figure I've lived through enough recessions and near depressions to understand that the stock market sell off isn't going to be a permanent fixture and that it will recover; given time. I thought I'd take a certain amount of money and try my luck at the solar system's biggest casino = the stock market. 

With everyone panicking it seems to be a good time to have some new diversions. I'm learning all kinds of jargon and having chatty talks with my wealth management person. I have a budget that will work okay to make it fun and, of course, the passion is in the risk. I might chicken out of individual stock picks and sort through the clutter of index funds to see if I can make sense of it all. It can't be that hard, right? Seems like there's a recurring pattern: run up the market then scare the crap out of all the smaller, retailer investors, wait till they bail out of their holdings for fifty cents on the dollar and the ride it all back up again. They've been doing the same thing for more than a century and I thought I'd see if there was anything I could learn this time around. Buy low, sell high? or, as Warren Buffett is fond of saying, "Sell on greed, buy on fear." Might be a good time to invest in some photography studios, right? (kidding. Remember the old saying, "Wanna make a million dollars in photography? Start with ten million...). 

I just learned what an ETF is versus a traditional mutual fund. Filled me with a new sense of power and brilliance. Not looking forward to the blog post that might have to be written after I discover that even stocks can go to zero.  Hmmm. on second thought maybe this is why Belinda handles all the big investing stuff.... Maybe it is complicated after all. 

I'm finishing up the last of the portrait retouching orders here and after that I've got nothing pressing so I thought I'd take some time to make some non-instantly-perishable food and go out west to do some landscapes. Sounds like yet another self-assignment. But if I'm out of range I won't have to think about the fact that the studio and the house need a fresh coat of paint. 

A boomer showing the millennials how to do Social Distancing correctly. 

finally, just because I'm in an odd mood I thought I'd post some photos I love from (above) Rome, (just below) Paris-the Louvre, and one of my favorite Paris restaurants (second down). 


And a couple images of Belinda... from the early days.

Below. A photo I took in Half Priced Books with a Canonet QL17 when it was brand new..

 I hope everyone is doing well. I wanted to thank those who submitted Netflix selections. I made a list and I'm working through it.

I'm still waiting for those Leica SL prices to drop... just in case anyone from the east or west coast Leica stores happen to read the blog.

the current favorite camera of the day is........still the Sigma fp.

Have fun, keep the Purell handy and keep working the shutter of your camera.