I want my VSL readers to know that I am no more or less frustrated, mildly depressed, and somewhat apprehensive than any other adult who can still crack open a newspaper or spend too much time looking at news feeds online... But, I am not globally out of sorts or impacted as much as I am topically. And I am pretty good at compartmentalizing most emotional baggage while embracing what my friends and family might call a natural exuberance and a joy of many small and large things in life. I am not gobbling down Prozac nor am I paralyzed by angst or sadness. I'm going to be as okay as the rest of you --- at least if we average everyone in our demographic together.
I am, however, wrestling with how the pandemic is changing my work life. I think a lot of people whose work intersects with their art are going through the same thoughts. To wit, How much will the business of photography change? As more friction is added to the process of taking images for business will there be an inflection point at which clients decide that the added cost and complexity makes continuing the old way of doing things prohibitive? Will the pandemic have forced companies to find new ways to acquire content and will these changes mute the need for external suppliers to do the work? Will the people we've worked with in the past retain their jobs and will they still have the budgets to spend for the kind of work we do? Has the look and feel of images for popular culture changed both in value and style?
My spouse advises me that I should stop thinking in terms of making money and instead reconfigure my brain around the idea of What would you do with your time and energy if you never needed to earn one more cent? To which I generally answer: I'd spend my time making beautiful images of interesting people. But it's sad to know, in the moment, that I can neither do the kind of work I enjoy in exchange for money nor the kind of photographic play I like to do for my own satisfaction.
People who comment here and suggest new ways to morph my business in order to continue to make money are missing the point. I don't think I really need to do the business as much as I know I really don't want to change the look and feel of my work. I'm not going to start doing used car commercials, or steal work from Peter Lik by doing odd landscape work. I'm not going to segue to shooting weddings or making cinegraphs. I'm just not.
I guess my strategy is to wait out the initial, societal trauma of the pandemic and, at some point in the middle future, sniff the air, check the tea leaves and figure out a way forward. To rush into making pronouncements and plans seems a bit presumptuous. We don't have much clarity of what life will look like a month or even a year from now.
Here's what life looks like right now: I get up every morning around 5:20 and turn off the alarm I set the night before. I've been hitting the early swim practices at the pool (6 a.m.) for nearly eight weeks now and though I set an alarm clock each night for 5:30 I have yet to be awoken by the chirping audio of the phone. I seem to have an internal alarm clock that comes into play about 15 minutes prior.
I drag myself out of bed, ingest about 20 ounces of water mixed with iced tea and then head to the pool. I swim with a group of nice people. The age range is lower 30's to a bit over 70. I am obviously not the youngest person in the pool but nor am I the elder of the bunch. Comforting, in a way.
Since it's too early to be awake and chatty I find that I'm getting a better, harder workout in than I have in the recent past. That's a good thing. But less chit-chat is less social so that's a bad thing.
In moments of indulgence I'll head by McDonald's after workout and get a big coffee and a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit. This is, maybe, a twice a month occurrence. The rest of the time I make a healthier breakfast at home. Either way this is the point at which I should have more personal control in order to reduce anxiety and frustration. I should NOT read the news while having breakfast... But I do.
At 8:35 a.m. I check the stock market news and see if I am richer or poorer than I was the day before. Belinda tells me to check my portfolio a couple times a year and NOT a couple times a day. When the stocks and index funds are up I'm elated. When they swoon I fall into a temporary funk. Not a clever way to start out the day...
The rest of the day is ultimately unstructured. I try to write a blog post every day to stay in touch with the friends I've made here and to keep my fingers and brain limber. My dear, late dog, aka: Studio Dog taught me how to take naps in the afternoon and she ingrained in me the habit of laying down on the couch in the living room, under the big ceiling fans, and chilling out for 30 minutes each day. It's not necessary to go to sleep, just to lay quietly and try to empty out my brain.
Since the early part of March Belinda and I have eaten ever single evening meal together. And that always gets me thinking about gratitude.
I am grateful for so many things. For my fun career. My wonderful family. My good health. My dear friends and the countless solid acquaintances who are just waiting to be friends. I'm grateful that I don't have to worry about whether or not I can afford to buy an interesting lens. I'm grateful that I can still swim an acceptable butterfly stroke at 64. So grateful that I'm filled with energy and curiosity.
When I go to bed at night I don't spend sleepless moments thinking about what "I should have done" or "what the future holds." Instead, I take an inventory of all the fun a wonderful things, big and small, that have happened to me or with me over the course of the day. And I generally fall asleep with a smile on my face...
I got in my car and drove around today. After swim practice and breakfast I tossed a GX-8 with a modest wide angle lens on it in the little, white Subaru Forester and drove in a big circle. Out Highway 290 thru Dripping Springs, Texas and then on to Hwy 281. I followed the highway south to Blanco, Texas and then headed East on the road to Henly, Texas which took me back, the scenic route, to Dripping Springs. There's several things I like about the town but the thing I never miss is stopping in a the self-serve car wash to spray the dust, dirt and bugs off my car. Today the Forester is sparkly and I can actually see the gloss of the white paint.
I took the camera, lens and a polarizing filter because I thought I might see something new and different. But I didn't. The ride alone was the real draw for me. The car wash was just the cherry on top.
Sometimes the camera comes out and sometimes it doesn't. But as long as the drive is fun and continuous it's good for your distant vision, you sense of freedom and it's even good for your car battery.
When I got home I ordered sandwiches from a favorite shop and picked them up curbside.
Our governor finally (FINALLY!!!) mandated that everyone wear masks when out in public and, so far, I'm seeing pretty good compliance. The parks and even the hiking trails are closed down this weekend to try and tamp down virus spread.
I'm trying to recharge and get motivated to work on something/anything fun. My friend, James, wrote a script for a short video. The issue, of course is not being able to work safely on the project with a cast and crew. We commiserated over coffee. But boy, will we have some stories to tell when this is over.
Stay fit, healthy and happy. Feel the joy in what you have. Play with the cameras that you love. Savor every bite. And, look for another blog post on Sunday or Monday.