*This is the post I intended to upload yesterday, but got distracted by Polyvore. And yes I did have some Polyvore issues when trying to link that account to my blog – I didn’t realize it was going to automatically post everything I created over there to here, so there were some interesting posts here yesterday while I figured all that out (I have since deleted them). The comments on those errors were amusing, though – I’m talking to you Rebecca!
“Not Shots” as in, not taking any.
After my busy morning up at the school. I stopped off to buy my husband and I some lunch since I already felt I’d worked a full day and wanted to put off going grocery shopping until Sunday. After eating a Jimmy John’s “Unwich” (for those of you who don’t know – I certainly didn’t – and have this chain of sandwich shops where you live, they will take ANY of their sandwiches and make them into a wrap, using lettuce instead of bread) my husband did his usual and announced he was taking a nap (he’s the biggest napper I’ve ever known and takes one almost every day).
As soon as he was tucked in, I found myself itching to go take pictures. I actually started to suit up and head out into the backyard for 85 mm shots when I stopped myself. Wait a minute – don’t you already have LOADS of photos to process that are getting lost in the ever-growing pile of new material? Didn’t you say you were going to do other things with your day besides take photos? Don’t we know what’s going to happen if you take these shots – you’ll spend an hour getting ready, then an hour or two taking them, then spend the rest of the night obsessively editing them while the laundry doesn’t get done and the kitchen doesn’t get cleaned? Do you really need to spend another day sitting in front of the computer for so long your right arm starts to cramp and your old tailbone injury starts to hurt from sitting in a chair for so many hours?
Someone on Flickr once asked me to do some ‘behind the scenes’ photos, and here you go. I guarantee you this is not what he was hoping but for, but from Friday night to Sunday evening this is pretty much me.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my time taking and editing photos more than anything else in the world. But it seems lately I’ve gotten overly obsessed with it, to the detriment of other areas in my life. When processing photos, I will have a thought as simple as “I need to stop for a minute and go empty the cat’s litter box,” and it will be FOUR HOURS LATER before that one thing actually gets done. It’s ridiculous.
This dress has cats on it, which is how it relates to the paragraph preceding it. They are happy cats. Most likely because their owner did NOT wait four hours to empty their litter box. And yes, there are people who call this my “pussy dress.” ONCE.
I have an obsessive personality for certain things, and I come by it honestly – my father was always like this, and still is. It is clear to me that I’m the same way. Once I get a bunch of shots in the can, I simply CANNOT tear myself away to do other things, and work on them later. By necessity I have to stop sometime, at the least when Monday morning comes and I must go to work. And truth be told I don’t work on many photos during the week because between blogging, yoga, and social networking on Flickr and Facebook I don’t end up with enough time to even get into the mood. But on weekends, I get so obsessed that it’s pretty much all I do. Yes I love it, it’s my creative outlet and that is so valuable to me, but there are times when I look up from my laptop screen and am shocked and saddened to see that it’s 10:30 PM and I’ve been hunched over it since 4, haven’t spoken to my husband, haven’t played with the pets, haven’t stepped outside or picked up a room or called my mother or any of the other myriad of things normal humans do on weekends. As I’ve mentioned here before, balance is often hard for me, and even when my obsession turns to something I love I can get too much of that good thing. And I think I’ve started to O.D. on photography lately. The past few months at least. It might be OK to shoot every weekend if I could just let the photos sit on the hard drive for awhile, but that’s the part I struggle to do. From the moment of setting up to the moment I drag myself, bleary-eyed, to bed at 2 or 3 AM after processing shots all night (even after telling myself that 12 AM is the absolute latest I’m allowed to stay up editing) it feels essential that I keep working, and it bugs me to no end to get torn away.
I think the sorts of shots I’ve been taking lately have also contributed to this. When I am planning an arty shoot, I know it will involve pretty elaborate set-up, set construction, and makeup to get it right, and a lot more care even goes into the poses than the fashion stuff I’ve been shooting lately, where I’m focused on the clothes and not much else. It’s not so easy to say, oh hey, Doug’s taking a nap so I’ll throw on ten pounds of drag queen makeup, hang some drapes from the ceiling, and dance around in them using elaborate lighting. But it is pretty easy to say, hey, I’ve got an hour or two, and I’ve already got at least some makeup on – let me throw on that cool outfit I wore last Thursday and zip out to the backyard to take a few twirls in it real quick while the light is still nice. But then of course, one cool outfit turns into two, or three, and then there’s the editing to do, and boom. The entire rest of the day is done for. Even though there are always some fun shots to show for it at the end of a Saturday like this, it’s also a bit of a letdown when it’s all over, and I spent yet another day off doing nothing else.
And the truth is, the shots I have to share from these unplanned, spur-of-the-moment photoshoots aren’t all that thrilling usually. I mean, I’ve already gone over the joys of shooting outside with the 85 mm lens and all that, so once that’s out of the way, it’s just me in a pretty dress. How much mileage does this stuff have anyway? I’m not knocking these type of shots, but part of me is starting to wonder if I should be preserving my energy for those days where I can really prep and plan, rather than burning so much midnight oil on the fashion stuff. I have more photos of me doing a little spin in cool clothing right now than I even know how to handle, do I really need to rush out and take more, knowing what it’s going to do to the rest of my day if I do so, simply because the opportunity presents itself?
Probably not, but the temptation is still there, and I’m not sure why. I guess it’s just how I’m wired. Give me an hour of free time and I’m ready to play dress up and document the experience. I also think the relative ease of taking the fashion shots is making me lazy about gearing up for the artistic ones. I’m getting a bit spoiled by the quickness with which I can set up and go, and it’s making it feel more like a chore to commit to the layers of makeup and set construction and proper posing required for a shoot with more vision behind it. For example, the quickness with which I abandoned trying to hang that second backdrop yesterday; my commitment to getting the background right was terribly low, because I knew all I was going to do was throw on some clothes, so why bother? I don’t ever want to reach a point where I’m never willing to go through what’s needed to create a set of photographs I consider to be art, but I can see myself already getting a little lazy. Perhaps part of that lack of commitment comes from the fact that I am getting a picture fix each weekend, but a rather cheap one, so I never feel that pull I usually do when I’ve gone several weeks without shooting anything, which is where my commitment to doing the prep work comes from – that part of me that starts to miss taking pictures.
I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this. I’m mostly here writing out my thoughts while I try to resist the pull of the sunlight and the easy time I’d have taking a few sets of outfit shots outdoors. Why I feel the need to resist is what I’m trying to figure out for myself, and I think I’m on the right track with this. I’m not knocking the fun clothing stuff I’ve taken lately, just noticing it is a bit like photographic crack. It gives me a quick fix but in the long run interferes with my ability to focus on what ultimately interests me most – the artistic shots I can truly be proud to share. And it may even be stunting my ability to pull those shots off by shortening my patience and attention span, and weakening my skills for creating and posing. It’s like too many dime store novels I might read at the expense of the classics, or something.
As always, I appreciate this blog and my readers whose comments bring new perspectives to my musings. There are a few of you I feel I’m writing to when I do this, and I can hear (or maybe, see) what you all will say in response, and it helps me sort things out. So thanks for reading, as always. Now I’m going to get out of this chair before my tailbone starts to hurt and I haven’t even any edited photos to show for it. Plus I really need to empty the litter box.