Sometimes in life I can buzz around in this way or that in an apparently totally haphazard fashion getting absolutely nowhere and making no progress in any particular direction. I have been doing this quite a lot in recent times however I also trust to whatever it is that drives me during these periods of my life and therefore just treat it as a “process” of some kind that needs to happen, it sorts itself out in the end.
Eventually things settle down, the mist starts to clear and I find myself setting off on some new ‘adventure’ though generally with neither a map nor a specific goal to start with, that all becomes clearer later as I tread my new path. Although this all might seem rather dotty and slightly disturbing to more ‘sensible people’ for me it is part of accepting that you can’t control everything in life plus, if you want to breakout and try something both new and alien to you, some degree of chaos is inevitable.
All change is disturbing in some ways, major changes are invariably disruptive and I am delighted that at the age of 70, I can still welcome the resulting chaos without too much fear or discomfort.
Probably over the past 12 months I have acquired some new software new tools which in part has led me to look at existing and similar tools that I have used and owned for a long time but with a vague idea that I might “re-purpose” them or more simply, use them in a different way. It has been curious because it has led me to explore the ‘possibilities’ of these new tools but without going all the way to mastering them because right now I know that is not necessary yet and may never be so, I have been engaged in a ‘scouting or scoping’ exercise.
In a sense this echoes how I used to work as an IT project manager. Although I never made any claim to being the font of knowledge of all things technical, I would always do my including dummy set ups on my home network to mirror the problems that had to be solved. However, this was less to actually ‘solve’ them, rather more to scope out the problems and therefore the potential range of solutions. From there I would know how to best deploy my technicians and as importantly, understand any knowledge gaps we had within the team that meant we would need to hire in expertise to cover those. In simple terms this is just one key aspect of project management, it is called “Resource Management” which you must master if you are going to deliver anything to budget and on time.
This is similar but with one major difference in that the resource I am managing is my own time. I don’t want to waste my time learning something in depth when I might only use for one small aspect of the finished thing. As a simple example, a particular program may have a very effective tool to stabilise hand held video footage you have shot that is a bit shaky, learning the sequence to use that tool might be all you need to do in that software so how well do you need to know it beyond that ? This is where software tools mirror actual hand tools in the real world, when you need to cut wood, a saw is essential but a saw is pretty useless for drilling holes in timber, software is very similar. The other aspect of this is that just as being a project manager it also helps me to identify any areas where I will need to get help with things I can’t or don’t want to do.
Where Am I Going ?
The actual end objective is not yet that clear only general elements the main one of which is that it is is about “story telling” though not quite what the exact nature of the narrative is to be about except it will be some kind of personal expression. Not even the final format is that clear, not a straight film nor a stylised format such as a cartoon, it needs to be something that is unique and that may take some time to evolve into a final form. So none of that sounds like a “man with a plan” but right now that doesn’t matter too much because there is a method to help that ‘fog’ clear. In simple terms it amounts to “Do something, do anything” because if nothing else it will tell you want you don’t want to do plus, we learn far more from ‘failures’ than we ever do from success. That the output will be visual is obvious but where to start ?
The mistake that I’ve made in the past is to try and organise projects so that I have all my ducks in a row before I begin, now this is very good in a commercial sphere where you are in effect organising events and people to achieve some end objective. When it comes to personal projects that just involve yourself, it can be a disaster because there will never be the ‘perfect’ moment or circumstances in which to kick off, too much potential for procrastination, creativity like good sex is messy !
I am a keen photographer and over recent years most still cameras come with video capabilities thrown in, a consequence of them now being digital computers I guess. Obviously it is a fascination but producing good quality video is a totally different discipline from still photography and requires an awful lot of post production work to produce anything worth other people looking at. However over recent years and in between taking still pictures, I have taken lots of video clips so I have a range of material to work with and a choice of video editing software to play with.
For me the ‘bridge’ between still photography and video came about when I started playing with time lapse photography where you string together into an end video what are individual still pictures taken at intervals over a period of time. Some of this type of work done by other people is quite stunning.
So my starting point will be to string together some of the footage on totally different topics that I’ve already shot to make, however disjointed a ‘story’ of some kind. It doesn’t matter just how bizarre this may turn out to be because the key point of the exercise is to focus on the common link which is me, I was obviously there to do the filming so what interests or passions of mine do these clips represent ? In other words, rather than looking only at what is in front of the lens, I want to try and include the thinking behind the lens, yes a rather odd way to approach a self portrait for that is what it is but, worth a try.
Part of my thinking is to do my own ‘grand tour’ of Somerset and record my visits in some way, there are quite a few places worth visiting but initially I will restrict myself to my own location and focus (no pun intended) on the places I frequent daily or weekly such as the River Brue, the beach at Burnham and the wooden lighthouse. Around these familiar landmarks I will see what story or stories I can weave that combine the creative elements I have in mind.
The mistake is always to want to visit glamorous locations and use the ‘latest greatest’ kit but that is no way to make progress, all those things are just distractions, you need to start humble and work your way up if we want to see things anew and express your creativity differently from the past.