Disclaimer: This is NOT a "feel good" post... unless you end up thinking, "Whew! Glad I'm not him! That feels pretty good". It falls squarely between a rant and an old fashioned pity party. But if I'm going to share my journey, this is what it looks like today. Welcome to the emotionally grey, windy and rainy days. Maybe, if you’re in the same boat, you can find some wisdom, comfort or direction in it.
Domestic Motorcycle Travel Media is a term I put together because, eventually, I knew someone would ask me what I wanted to do. It's not all encompassing. But it's a wide swath that covers the most important parts. It puts me on my bike, allows me photograph, video and write. It has the word "Travel" right in it, which means landscapes. My wants and desires are pretty simple. I want to:
1. Take great photographs.. especially if they contain motorcycles (or pretty much any other mode of transportation.. planes, trains or automobiles), beautiful landscapes at the multitude of excellent domestic travel destinations... and the occasional abandoned building.
2. Share my experiences.. whether by waxing poetic in the written word, blabbering my way through video or capturing a moment in a photo.
3. Earn a name for capturing the nuances of the biker life. I want to do with the DSLR what David Mann did with paint. It's unlikely I'll achieve that for a number of reasons besides talent, but it's a target. I want to bring out the almost undefinable part of that lifestyle that I find inspirational. I want to show the part of bikerdom that's legendary. The realm of heroes and cowboys. From that lone rider whose only long companions are the road, the bike and his memories.. to the band of brothers roaring down a long highway in a thunderous celebration of freedom and friendship. Saints and sinners. Speed and shenanigans. Capturing that is the hard part, not the technicalities of taking a photo.
4. Get better at all of the above. Bring a level of cinematic quality to my video. Write more thoughtfully. Capture photos that no one else has captured.
5. Make enough money from all of that to get paid enough to do more of all that. Travel, photograph and write. Build a community and my own skills through shooting more video content. Since no one is buying prints at this point, I think writing for magazines is my best option. Unfortunately, the magazines that will pay me and the magazines that will admit me seem to be two different things at this point. Everybody loves you if you're working for free. (I've actually considered starting my own magazine either online or in print. But I have no desire to run a magazine. I don't think that's my forte and it's a whole different kind of job.)
Unfortunately, in running down all the little rabbit holes, it's easy to lose focus on what you're trying to accomplish. REALLY easy. It's one thing when what you're working on consumes you. It's another when you're pulled in endless directions like a raindrop splattering on a windshield. For the creative mind, everything holds possibilities. A lot of people will tell you that you need to learn to say 'no' to various projects. This is probably why. But when you're trying to get your feet under you, it's hard to say 'no'.
This coming week, I'm going to Daytona Bike Week in Florida. It's a great opportunity for photos, video and maybe an article or three. But, before I left, I wanted to spend my last weekend out taking photos so I could get a lens review posted to YouTube before I left. It's sounds busy already, doesn't it? For the last coupe weekends, I've been going to State parks in the area, partially to get out and walk and partially to get photos and video. From that standpoint, the parks have been pretty disappointing. Nonetheless, we got in the car and drove up to Huntington Beach State Park for another opportunity to use my park pass and pursue hope.
We got there just before noon. I know when I should be taking nature photos. It's NOT noon. But that's where we were so I would roll the dice and do the best with what I have at hand. I clipped on my lapel mic because I knew I had to do audio in the videos. I threw on the Canon 77D with the Tokina 11-16mm wide angle lens because I love the 77D and the Tokina was the lens I was going to review. I threw my iPhone in my pocket and grabbed the gimbal for the iPhone because I wanted to get silky smooth video. I grabbed the bag that held my big lens (no.. that's not a metaphor. It's my 150-600mm) and a Canon 5DMkII. I wanted to bring a full frame just in case and the big lens was for wild life , if we saw any. And then I grabbed the tripod because I "might" need it. In case you've lost count, I was completely out of hands.
At the point, the plan was to lug a bunch of gear around in the middle of the day and belt out a location video that was also the foundation of the Tokina review.. AND.. take great photos (in the middle of the day) that would show the lens. I've been really slacking about keeping consistent on Instagram lately. and we made it about 20 feet from the car before I decided, "You know what I should do? I should put together a really good Instagram story for today!", apparently because I needed something else to focus on.
We made it to the beach where there were a bunch of dolphins out playing in the water. I changed lenses for the first of multiple times and tried to shoot dolphins. It would be much easier if they'd simply hover over the water for 10-15 seconds. After they dispersed, I shot the intro to the YouTube vlog right on the beach and we went elsewhere in the park. I remembered to get portrait video for the Instagram story twice before I forgot about it altogether. It was shortly after that when I completely forgot about the YouTube video as well. I spent much of the rest of my time there trying to get photos. Some photos. Any photos. There's something about a camera that will chase away wildlife.. even in a wildlife area.
Leaving in the late afternoon, I went down to Georgetown, South Carolina. I have a couple of shooting spots there that I wanted to show my wife. By the time we reached them, a layer of clouds had set in and the wind had picked up. I'm guessing high tide was on it's way and the ocean looked like thin chocolate milk. The lighting couldn't be much more.. blah. We walked quickly around the locations and took photos that we knew wouldn't work and headed home.
As I dumped the photos, I managed to get a few that, with some post-processing love, aren't offensive. But they aren't great. And worse, they really didn't get me any closer to where I want to be. They don't even accomplish any of the goals I had for that day. YouTube and Instagram? Nah.. I don't have the video for them. Great photos? Clearly not. II would venture to say.. and please excuse my language.. they're generally soulless crap. And not a motorcycle to be found.
The problem is that I've had several of these weeks. I don't feel like I'm shooting anything. I think the last time I took a photo that made me smile was.. last June maybe? So I'm a little frustrated. More frustrated than inspired. Ultimately, although I clearly don't know for sure, it might be because I'm trying to do too many things.. many of which have nothing to do with the goals. It might be because I'm not saying 'no'. But I can tell you that, this morning, I'm frustrated.. unmotivated.. and completely uninspired. Every self-doubt I have is screaming right now. And I don't feel any closer to where I want to be.
None of that means I'm quitting. I don't believe in quitting. I completely believe in strategic departures. There's a time to call the game. At some point, you have to look back over the time you've put into something and admit that you don't have 'it'. But it's not that time yet. And I've tasted creative frustration before. I have no choice but to keep pushing. Like passing a kidney stone. Or.. I suppose.. giving birth. Huh. That puts a positive spin on it that I'm not entirely sure I believe at the moment.
So.. I guess it's time to back up and refocus on where I'm trying to get. Daytona may help. And I'm really loving the idea of that Joshua Tree trip. Like photographing a beautiful woman, it seems that it would be hard to mess up photographing a motorcycle in the California desert, right? But My GOODNESS! Everything in the meantime seems to look like a bucket full of disappoint dipped in pain and wrapped in broken glass. But.. onward, right?