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real talk

Blogging Against Anxiety

i did that thing yesterday where i start writing a post, save it as a draft, and then never get back to finishing it. whoops.

i have been so incredibly unfocused the last few days with all of the irons on the fire. nima and i are really pushing the gym thing lately and working out at least two hours a day so we are in good shape when we hit the beaches on our trip. on top of that, i have three different photo jobs to edit right now and very little time left to finish the edits before i leave. i will have to work late tonight to get a head start. and of course i am finally starting to realize the magnitude of the challenges associated with bringing a drone into thailand and vietnam. i have found the resources i need to make sure i don’t get my drone confiscated at the airports (i don’t know how significant this risk actually is and that in and of itself is troubling). and of course as if that wasn’t enough to deal with, shanima and i are in the process of getting preapproved for mortgages and establishing contact with buyers’ agents so that we can dive into the house hunt headfirst when we get back from out trip in august

all of these challenges are surmountable, but it will require that i be ultra focused and organized with how i tackle them. i was hoping to get a head start this morning after early shift but i had to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy and that took precedence.

so here is my plan.

today:

  • clear off hard drive so i have full capacity on my laptop for travel

  • clear google drive and google photos of unneeded files for maximum storage and backup capacity

  • contact drone fixers in vietnam and thailand and figure out their rates

  • fill out and submit paperwork to thai authorities to allow my drone to enter the country there.

  • work on finding the correct contact in vietnam to do the same

  • upload and run initial edits on two photo jobs

  • reach out to the third client and ask them to resend the photos they want me to edit because i replaced my phone and lost the messages that they sent with those pictures

tomorrow:

  • run photoshop edits on third client’s photos during breakfast, and send photos to the other two after a final checkup

  • continue drive optimization if not finished

  • do laundry

  • housecleaning

  • go to the gym

  • order last of the supplies we need from amazon

  • open house viewing

  • assemble video clips for wedding video and run preliminary trims for a full edit sunday

sunday:

  • work on video edit during breakfast

  • continue drive optimization if still not finished

  • go to the gym

  • pack my bags for the trip

  • go to sushi with shanima

  • help with cooking

  • get passport-sized photos taken for vietnam visa on arrival

  • continue working on drone issues

  • work on wedding video with any extra time i have

i am imagining that i won’t finish the wedding video edits this weekend, but i am sure going to try. i would like to go into this week with no photo editing or video editing work to finish so that i have no distractions from travel prep.

already, after laying all of this out in writing, i am feeling much less anxious about the load of things to do on my plate. thank you, blog.

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Flycam Frustration

a few months ago, i made a point of looking into all of the drone laws for the places where i will be traveling this summer. basically what i found is “it is legal to bring a drone here and fly” in every country. but today i did some deeper research and i found out that in thailand and vietnam there are some specific restrictions on flying drones.

in thailand, you need permission from the what looks to be their versions of the fcc and the faa to fly a drone in-country, and you need insurance on the drone to boot. from what i can tell, insurance costs anywhere from $10 per flight to $100 for blanket insurance. but all of the insurance places are super sketchy so i need to do more research. essentially it is probably likely that i won’t be flying most places there because it isn’t worth the risk of losing it.

in vietnam, it appears that i will need to register each flight plan with their version of the faa at least 14 days in advance. i wasn’t able to find any official web page that verified this or provided a place to complete the registration, and from what i gathered, i will need to submit my flight plan in vietnamese. so yeah i am pretty much fucked there.

once i confirm all of the details, i am going to post clear instructions here about the drone certification process in thailand and vietnam. and if i find any other problem areas i will highlight them, too.

and here i thought i would get a drone just to have a good time. the more i look into it, the more involved i realize this whole drone thing is.

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Fertile Soil

i saw something on linkedin today that really struck a chord with me. it was one of those evergreen internet truisms that we see all the time telling us that the only thing wrong with the world is our perspective.

60 minutes working out: "I wish I had time"

60 minutes on Netflix: "Let's watch another!"

Therapist ($130): "Too Expensive"

Trip to Walmart ($130): "Good Deals"

Professional training course ($1000): "Can't afford it"

New iPhone ($1000): "A Necessity"

15 minutes meditating: "An eternity"

15 minutes on social media: "Time flies"

the thing about posts like these is that sometimes we see them and they just piss us off. like oh gee thanks for pointing out another way i am failing at life, asshole. but today was one of those days that i saw this and it was exactly in line with something i have been thinking about a lot lately. we don’t have to change everything about our lives in order to make sure we are investing in long-term growth, but a slight change in perspective can make all the difference in how we feel about the things we maybe should change.

this all ties back to the parable of the three types of soil that i used to learn about in church as a kid. there was a farmer who cast his seed across a field. some of the soil was stony, and the seeds never took root. some of the soil was weedy, and the competitive plants choked out his crops before they could mature. and some of the soil was fertile and produced a bountiful harvest. or something like that. i kind of forgot how the story actually goes to be honest. but the point is that nothing changed about the farmer or his seeds, only where they landed. the point of the story is to say ‘hey dumbass, stop being a stubborn dumbass.’

anyway that’s probably the best lesson that all my years of church attendance ever taught me.

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The Excitement of Expectation Versus the Fulfillment of Acquisition

ok long title for this post but i feel like it is a big enough topic to warrant all the bit words.

i have been talking about getting a drone for travel for almost a year now. i used nai’s dji mavic air in iceland and had just enough time with it to know i wanted more. i came close to buying a drone for black friday last november but nima and nai talked me down. i am glad they did. nima and i talked about it and finally settled on a plan to buy the new drone this month using our travel credit card - chase sapphire reserve - which comes with a purchase protection plan that basically covers any and all loss of the drone. so if i fly it out over the water and it never comes home, i can report a claim and basically get reimbursed for the cost of the drone. if it is stolen, same thing. basically it is a win win because the worst thing that will happen is that i might lose some footage and be out a memory card.

so effectively i went from being so excited and emotionally driven by my desire to own a drone to being totally logical about it. and now that i have it, i have barely spent any time with it. this is partly because i am worried i will do something stupid and crash it before we even leave - the skies are pretty crowded with trees, buildings and wires. but i can’t help but wonder if i am less enthused about the whole drownership thing now that i have one.

ok let’s not get crazy. i am actually super excited about flying my drone as we travel, and seriously can’t wait to see what sort of pictures and video i will be able to capture with it. but the thought has crossed my mind - both before and after i bought the drone - that maybe i am putting too much priority on toys and possessions lately. i am caught in between the desire to live minimalistically and the urge to participate in the latest and greatest that our society has to offer.

i think that part of what i am going through is the attributable to my own state of flux as i transition from being focused on one set of goals to another, moving from one phase of life to the next. i still have certain holdover tendencies from my past life that include buying whatever toy i am fancying at the moment. and those are now being tempered by the experience i have gained over the past few years that gives me evidence of the value of not always giving in to those urges; i know from experience now that the by not valuing my money enough to hold on to some of it, i am showing that i don’t value myself or my time. and i know that the fulfillment and excitement of a new toy begins to wane and depreciate the moment it is unboxed.

i also know that without the excitement of expectations, i would find my life rather dull. i would get bored if i didn’t have some goal or thing that i am working toward, chipping away at, or saving my money for. so as much as it is important for me to temper my tendencies, it is even more important to turn them toward a greater purpose. rather than focusing on useless inanities or things that will only bring me fulfillment for a few moments, days, weeks or months, i am better off using restraint for long enough to build my resources to the point that i can leverage them for a much bigger nut.

no matter what i do, it will be temporary. but i am starting to understand that i want to value myself enough to invest my time and energy into things that will have an impact that lasts longer than the amount of time i spent wanting them.

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What Even?

i find myself grasping for something to write about today, like there is some unwritten rule thar my blog posts need to meet some arbitrary standard of quality. well, they don’t. and i suppose the there is a lesson in that for me to observe and report: not every day is going to be mind blowing. not every day will produce a lesson that sticks with us and shapes us.

but the problem with that theory is that by writing it i am giving evidence that it could be totally wrong.

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Time to Fly

today was a great day. i photographed a small wedding ceremony in central park, and i got to fly my new drone for the first time outside. so pretty much best day ever.

tomorrow we are going to an open house for a place that could be amazing for us but is honestly a bit expensive so we will have to see how great it is before we make an offer.

i am so beat but it feels good to have accomplished all that i did today. time to sleep.

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And Then There Were Two

i didn’t plan on missing my wednesday post, but life happened. and i didn’t plan on missing yesterday’s post, but it happened again.

instead of wallowing in the shame of not keeping up, let’s talk about what happened. on wednesday we hit the gym hard right after work and stayed until closing time. i lost some progress on the eurotrip and in the two weeks that followed because i was feeling constantly hungry and not motivated enough to work off the extra snacks at the gym, so this last week or so im really ramping up the routine and burning myself out every session. hopefully it’s enough to get me back in decent enough shape for the australasian adventure that is only two and a half weeks away.

after the gym, shanima and i decided to just pull the trigger and start working through the process to get preapproved for a home loan. we have been talking for a couple of years about buying some real estate in jamaica, queens, and once we get back from the trip in august, we want to actualize out vision. ideally we would not move into a new home until march or april next year so that we don’t lose our deposit for moving out of our apartment early, but there are not all that many properties that fit our specific wants and needs, so we decided the best thing to do is be ready to move fast if the right house hits the market before that time.

so basically that was why i didn’t post wednesday. that and the fact that i didn’t take the time to write my post during my commute. i’ve been binging a lot on netflix and crossword puzzles on the subway since we got back from europe and now my habit of being productive during that time is broken. given that we leave for our big trip so soon, i am not really that motivated to fix it, either.

yesterday, i once again neglected to post during my morning commute, and that was the only time i actually had all day for it. i was on late shift last night and was at my desk until ten after nine. then i headed to bushwick to meet my old crew for birthday drinks (not mine obvi), and i didn’t leave until around 2am. really not an amazing choice since i was on early shift and had to wake up at 5:50am this morning. it was worth it, though. i missed those friends and i never really get a chance to hang with them anymore since i’m so focused on my own projects, marriage, work and travel.

even though i should totally be sleeping on this commute to the city, im still a bit buzzed and worried if i sleep i will wake up in cony island.

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Checking In

today is one of those days that i don’t really have anything in particular to write, but i knew it was important to show up. i need to start writing my blog earlier in the day again because at this point the balloon is out of air. here is to showing up.

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Social MediArt

i really wanted to get back into posting on instagram on june 1 but it is now the third and i haven’t posted yet. so why am i not posting? i have literally so much to share but i don’t know what story i want to tell on that channel at this point. i lack inspiration and motivation to post.

maybe the thing i need to do is use the channel not as a daily outlet but as a place to post miniseries. like one week out of every month ( or whatever time period makes sense for whatever project i’m working on) i share a piece of a story each day, and when that is done, i step away for the rest of the month. like instagram as an online art exhibition.

hmm, once again i didn’t know what i wanted to do, and just the act of blogging helped me make sense of it and come up with a potential plan. is it the plan i will carry out? not sure. but it’s one more plan than i had when i started this post. so that is something.

score another one for blog life.

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Manifesting Destiny

after more than a year of planning, shanima and i are now three weeks out from getting on a plane and crossing the world for a six-week australasian adventure. tonight my brain is running in a million directions, and i thought i would share one of them with you.

more than once lately i have caught myself thinking that we are really lucky to be able to take this kind of trip, and while there is some luck involved, the truth is, we manifested this pending reality. we chose that we wanted to do this, we made it a priority above all else, and we took the steps to make it happen. we were willing to walk away from our jobs and start fresh if that is what it took (thankfully it didn’t), and we dedicated our time and resources to bringing it to fruition.

for the past year, we have researched our destinations from every angle, deciding what we were and were not willing to compromise on, and setting up an itinerary around those must-do items. we kept our eyes out for sales and promotions, for cheap airfares, and for cheaper alternatives to our chosen route and schedule. we spent countless hours turning vague ideas into timestamped spreadsheets, and we dialed in our financial projections and capacity into a budget. we booked hotels on a refundable basis to make sure we had a place to stay at a decent price and then booked cheaper or better hotels on a non-refundable basis once our plans were set in stone. we booked all of our necessary travel visas and researched all of the rules of what we can and cannot bring with us.

as we paved our own digital road, we also spent hours and hours researching exactly what we needed to bring with us so that we don’t overpack. we found clothes that pack small and light and are made of materials that dry quickly, resist stains, and can be worn multiple days without getting too smelly to limit our loads. we went back and forth about what camera equipment to bring along to capture the magic and in the end i was able to come up with a set of gear that is super manageable and extremely versatile (there is definitely a post coming sbout that, don’t you worry!).

this trip is not for the faint of heart. it will challenge us in ways neither of us has been challenged before. i can’t help but wonder who i will become as a result of this trip. what small ways will my overall course in life, my reactions to the world around me, and my choices and priorities be changed by having taken this trip? and how will it change shanima and i’s marriage and our life together? i could go on and on. my mind feels like a hamster on a wheel. and im not sure whether i should tell it to stop running or not.

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Cocooning

it wasn’t a conscious choice at first, but somewhere in the last few weeks i decided to take a break from it all. i guess when we got back from europe and i had a photoshoot that didn’t go well logistically it put me in a funk. i started spinning a bit, and i sort of started questioning what the hell im even doing. i’ve been sort of pushing and pushing to get my photography side business going and i needed to really think through my motivations and goals again. is this really what i want to be doing with my time? my energy? and why?

what i’m starting to come to grips with is that i’ve reached a certain plateau with my work and its a comfortable place to be. i think i might be just on the cusp of being a true professional, and if i am being completely honest about it, that scares me a bit. because in the niche im in, im good enough as i am. but i need to be better if i want to level up. and the means i need to know things i don’t even know i need to know yet.

the great thing about this blogging thing is that it forces me to confront these things so i can deal with them and forge ahead. and that is what im going to do. forge ahead. today is the first day of a new month, and im using it as an arbitrary timestamp for my reentry into the digital world. i have a ton of shit to write about, so let’s get back into it.

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Out of Practice

i meant to blog yesterday. i really did. but it was easy to forget to do it since i haven’t been posting regularly. i need to get my habits back in order. not much to say today other than that. maybe later i’ll have more to add. but for now, i’m here, i’m thinking about being here, and i am getting back into the flow.

i suppose i should mention that i’ve got a major photo weekend coming up. first birthday party for a repeat client tomorrow, then a super early morning fashion shoot on sunday in bushwick. that one is going to be a lot of fun.

anyway, i’m at work and i should be working.

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What a Week

this has been a monumentally good week in a lot of ways.

first, i broke the news about the summer travel plans to my boss on monday. i was so nervous, and at least half convinced that my trip would be a deal breaker. that i would have to start looking for a new job for when we return right away. but he was actually really supportive and had no problem with it. basically, i have 11 days of vacay left, so i’ll have to take 23 days of unpaid leave, but i was expecting to get no vacation time paid and to have no income when i get back. the kicker is that as long as i meet a few key criteria, i will be getting a raise before i go. it’s really amazing.

i’ve been working longer hours to put in a good showing, and will continue to do so for the five weeks or so leading up to the trip, but honestly it’s worth it to be able to add seven countries to my travel cv.

i suppose the other big news is that today i finally bought a drone. i saw that the parrot snafu extended edition (drone plus controller, two extra batteries and a carrying case) were on sale on amazon for $724, a significant price cut from the usual $899 that it costs. the drone itself retails for $599, the batteries for $99 each, and the carrying case another $80 (third-party cases go for about $20-30 though). so really, the price i got today is effectively $100 off. we made the purchase with our sapphire reserve card because it has a nifty purchase protection benefit that covers purchases up to $10,000 for 120 from the date of purchase from theft, loss or “involuntary and accidental separation.” i clarified with an agent that if i crash my drone into ha long bay in vietnam; it’s covered under the policy. so basically i can fly worry free, knowing that the only thing i will lose is my footage if the drone goes down.

so yeah, i would say it’s been a great week.

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Going Through the Motions

i’ve been back from europe for five days now, and i can’t shake this feeling of disconnect. like i had a flow going before leaving on the trip and now that i’m back, i’m totally out of sync. i don’t feel the drive to keep doing all of the things i was doing. i look at social media and have no desire to engage. i look through my photos and video content and have no desire to share it. i go to work and have no motivation to get on the phone. vacation is a motherfucker.

to be honest i feel myself coming out of the haze little by little each day, and i’m sure by the end of the week i’ll be back up to speed. but i feel so weird right now. like i don’t know which direction to take moving forward. luckily i have plenty of work on my plate so i don’t really need to think too much about what to do. i have photos to edit from sunday, and even more to sort through from the trip - not to mention i still have a decent chunk of photos to run through for shanima from our photo sessions last month. and video - hell i have a crap ton of video to edit and publish. then of course there is distant future. i haven’t looked at that blog or thought about it at all since the day before we left for europe.

and probably the biggest issue i have to address is that of my employment. i need to tell my boss about my upcoming trip to asia this summer and i’m not looking forward to that conversation. he’s been super busy all week so i haven’t bugged him about sitting down for a meeting yet, but i’ll need to do it soon. i want to give myself plenty of time to find a new job if i need to. but also i really hope i don’t need to, because there is already enough on my agenda right now without adding that into the mix.

outside of all the tangibles, i’ve been feeling this urge to make a self-correction this week. while we were traveling, my wife’s parents fought a lot over little things, and while we have a good rapport at the moment, i could see how my own snippiness and attempts at humor could get under her skin and cause us problems in the long run. i also have noticed myself being short and testy with strangers this week and it feels all wrong. like the other day i ordered delivery at work and the guy at the front desk for my building wouldn’t let the delivery person come upstairs so i was rude to him. and then the cab driver who came to drive me home was trying to get me to walk to the corner and i was like naw man come to the address i have and i’ll meet you here. when he showed up he said that he was just trying to save us both time and i was kind of an ass about telling him that he wasted more time than it would’ve taken for him to just drive to me. i mean to be fair he was being a bit of a dick about it, but that doesn’t excuse my own reaction. long story short, i’ve got a case of post-vacay blues and i need to bring it into check. i’ve obviously got a lot on my mind that is causing my anxiety and it’s bleeding into my interactions with people in a way i don’t like.

solution? keep going through the motions, don’t get caught up on anything and remember to stay positive because honestly why waste the little energy i have this week getting mad about stupid stuff?

so for a spirit booster, i can think about this. i just went to three new countries during a five-country trek. i saw amazing things and took amazing photos of those things that i’m very happy with and proud to have taken. i have a beautiful wife who is so much fun to travel with and despite their quirks, i have a really good pair of in-laws who were pretty entertaining on the trip, too. i have a full line-up of photo work and an amazing journey ahead of me next month. what the heck do i have to complain about?

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Home Again

on friday night we returned from our eurotrip and it’s been a haze of a weekend. we attempted and failed to watch season eight episode two of game of thrones, falling asleep about halfway through. then we woke up st about 3am both saturday and sunday morning and couldn’t go back to sleep until mid-afternoon. saturday night we went for all-you-can-eat sushi with some friends - i was totally prepared for that after gorging myself on pizza and pasta in italy for several days.

on sunday i had a photo shoot in the afternoon in bushwick and despite a whole lot of technical difficulties, i got some great photos of five kids for a manhattan-based talent agency. the kids were friggin adorable and a lot of fun to work with. we only had one episode of crying at the very end from a very tired little guy. it helped that i had my squeaky rubber ducky and a string of fairy lights to keep the kids happy, and the parents were totally compliant and ready to help when i needed them. i’ll probably post separately about all of the technical issues, but honestly they didn’t detract from the results, so i can’t be too pissed. although i should probably withhold my celebration until the client sees the photos and let’s me know her thoughts.

today is back to work, and it’s going to be a long ass day since i have late shift - so i’ll be on the clock for 12 hours. it’s going to be hard to stay awake all day because i’m still a little jet lagged—not in the uber-fatigued and feeling gross kind of way, but more in the somewhat aloof and perpetually yawny way.

i’ll be getting caught up on the trip, and will be posting daily blogs after the fact in this instance, including some photos and vlog videos, in the coming week or two. i took a lot of video - tons of b-roll - so i have a lot to comb through as i build the vlog, but i did my best to stay focused and really most of the clips will be condensed down to a couple of seconds at most, so the videos should be pretty short. once i’ve built out the daily vlogs, i want to make a comprehensive travel video that details the ups and downs of the trip and walks through the costs and logistics.i have no doubt that i have plenty of material to draw from, so now it just comes down to hard work and dedication.

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Acts of Balancing

yesterday was an insanely packed day, with an engagement shoot at brooklyn botanic garden in the morning and a six-outfit editorial shoot in the evening. all in all, i was taking photos for about six hours yesterday and in transit for three and a half. my back is killing me because i brought a super full kit to make sure i was ready for anything at both shoots, and i am glad i did but also not glad i did because damn. back pain is real. on the other hand, it was good training for the many weeks of backpack travel ahead this summer. so i guess it’s a win from that perspective.

the photos from both the morning and evening came out awesome and the clients were super happy. but yesterday proved to me that i have a long row to hoe when it comes to building up my ability to manage simultaneous execution of photo and video while i’m out working. in the morning, thankfully i had nigel with me, so he handled a lot of the filming for me. going through that footage will definitely be interesting. in the evening, i intended to shoot a lot more content than o did. actually, let me walk that back a bit. there are a few key segments i didn’t record that i wish i would have. i needed to record us meeting, us talking about the clothes she wanted to shoot. and then a little bit of material of her prepping for b roll.

what i did was set up the gopro on a tripod and recorded the process of shooting a couple of the outfits. there were a couple of time lapses that will definitely look cool and be fun to share individually, but they’re not really inspired or engaging content. i am taking this as a learning experience. my execution was way off, and the reason was that i didn’t go in with a solid plan; i didn’t contemplate in advance what my specific plan of attack would be, and while i had a vague idea of what i’d like to produce, that isn’t good enough. if my entire focus was on video, i might be able to pull that off. but since my primary creative drive needs to be focused on photo, i have to make sure i have a clear vision of exactly what video and audio i will need to bring my video to life.

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Ep 002

yesterday i used every spare hour in my day to put together a video for my new youtube channel, and all in all i am mostly happy with the results. i’ll link it to this post.

i wanted to keep it super short, like short enough to post on my insta feed - 60 seconds or less - but i would’ve had to cut out a lot of little details that i thought were fun. so i decided to just slap the whole thing together start to finish and see how long the video ended up being, for science. the good news is that even including everything i wanted to include, it came in under six minutes. i feel like five to ten minutes is a good video length - as long as there is plenty i’d shot variety and interesting dialogue/ story happening.

mom also glad that i shot very little footage that i didn’t use, so i wasn’t wasting time during the photo shoot taking worthless video. that fits into my goal of creating interesting video content to share the experience of being a photographer in nyc without wasting my clients’ time.

from start to finish, i probably spent about four hours editing this video, and a lot of that time was spent fiddling with premiere pro since the program is still new to me and it’s been a while since i did any video work. hopefully the lessons learned yesterday will translate into faster edits going forward. i still have a lot to learn and hone down, though. like for instance, i forgot to include my social media links in the video, and i didn’t show swana’s insta handle when i introduced her. i also want to find some good sound effects to play when i show a photo, when text is displayed on screen, and during transitions. but all of that will come with time.

there were a couple of quirks that i need to work out moving forward. first off, my video doesn’t display correctly on my tv screen. it’s like the tv is slightly zoomed in and the edges of the video are not fitting into the monitor. i’ll have to figure out how to fix that. and then there was this weird animation that happened with some of my text that i didn’t mean to include and don’t like. i’ll have to figure out how to fix that and control it. but even though those two weird quirks made it into the published video, i ain’t mad.

the important thing for me yesterday was to publish a video. it had been a week since my first video and i don’t want to lose momentum. we head to europe for nine days on wednesday evening, and i want to put out one video a week. now is the time to establish best practices, to experiment and adapt, to make mistakes and learn from them. because almost no one is watching, and the only people who are watching will give me honest feedback about my content that will help me grow into a content producer worthy of attention. at least that is my hope.

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The Flood

the floodgates have opened, and the distant future story is pouring out of me like a stormdrain waterfall after a deluge. ok maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but the point is, in the last few days, i’ve completed two chapters and written a brief for the next two.

meanwhile in photo, i’ve already wrapped up the photoshop edits on my shoot with nima on sunday, and my process is getting a lot faster as i get used to the flow. i still have a few left to run through photoshop from my saturday shoot with swana but those should move pretty quickly, too. i was really excited to edit the photos from that shoot because i wanted to see how the eos rp performed, and it did not disappoint. i was really impressed with the results, and any regret i was harboring that i’d made a dumb purchase has been washed away.

once i finish swana’s edits, i will have to go back and run a few more photos from a previous editorial photo shoot i did with nima a week ago, and i have even more photoshop edits to run through from the lookbook shoot i did with nima and eliza. i really need to get those sorted out in the next couple of evenings so that i don’t have any backlog left over when we leave for europe next wednesday. and plus, i want to put out a video tomorrow that includes some of those photos so there’s that, too.

speaking of video and europe next week, this trip is going to be a test run, sort of a proof of concept to see how well i can balance being present on the journey with making a good travel vlog. our iceland trip ended up working out like i’d hoped, and i learned a lot from that journey. so hopefully i can iron out the kinks from that failure and turn them into a more successful runthrough this time around. all of this is anticipation of putting together a killer travel vlog during our australasia trip this summer.

and speaking of that, nima and i have had a very interesting back and forth dialogue around the purchase of a drone to take along for that trip, and we’ve both kind of gone back and forth on whether or not it’s something i should really be buying. one of the biggest points of contention for us during the iceland trip was that i was spending way too much time trying to gather content and not enough time being present in the moment and enjoying the trip as part of a couple. so for that reason, i’m afraid that if i have a drone i’ll just want to play with it the whole time. and then there is the added weight and bulk to my bag. and the cost. so there are those things against it. but the other day, after i said that it probably was not going to be something i could afford to buy unfortunately, nima pointed out that this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and there are some places we’re going where there’s not a lot of drone footage available. so maybe it does make sense to get a drone. she even went so far as to say that she could cover the cost of it if it becomes too much for me to take on (depending on whether or not i have a job when we come back!). so really she’s taken a complete 180-degree turn on this, going from completely opposed to tentatively supportive. i just need to remember that this is a tool that is meant to be used very selectively and not something to break out at every turn.

and that brings me to a final point for today. i am working to become more selective and less trigger happy in my photography, and that is something i want to translate into video as well. minimalism is something that i prize, and i think that by gathering small amounts of meaningful content, i’ll be able to tell a much more concise and impactful story than if i gathered hours and hours of content with hopes that i’ll have the time and interest in sorting through it later. another thing that iceland taught me is that while i have a ton of good content, most of it will never be used because it’s unnecessary, and if anything, the volume of content makes me less interested in approaching the project in the first place. i’ll need to be very selective about what i shoot, thinking about what i will say about it and how it will be used rather than just being a garbage collector, gathering everything and then sorting through it later to see if i caught some treasure within the pile of trash i accumulate. this is what i will meditate on today on my commute home.

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Financial Cleanse

as part of my current push to financially cleanse myself, today i reviewed my recurring payments to my credit cards and realized there were a number of items that were really unnecessary. i am no longer using kindle unlimited like i used to, instead using my library subscription to download kindle books, so that's $10 per month i don’t need to spend. i also don’t listen to music like ever any more, so there is no need to keep paying $10 per month for apple music. i’m also not really playing video games these days, so i don’t need to hold onto a server hosting subscription i had running for $5 per month, and as much as i like supporting creators, i was paying $10 per month to two separate friends and creators who i’m honestly not watching or interacting with at all anymore, so i shit those down, too. oh, and since we really never use zipcar, i shut down our monthly subscription. to that service as well. so altogether, i just cut out $42 per month of unnecessary spending within about 15 minutes. that’s $504 per year. bam.

overall, i’ve been pretty good about living within my means, and that is evidenced by the several thousand dollars i was able to save over the past year while also spending another few thousand on upcoming travel. but as the big trips approach, my financial capacity becomes ever slimmer. essentially, since i won’t be working for six weeks and potentially longer, i am going to be doubling my contribution to household expenses for the next couple of months, and since there is no certainty that i’ll even be employed when we get back, i can’t afford to have any money slipping out the door. with my latest adjustments, my monthly recurring payments will fall within the confines of the very limited recurring income i receive monthly from the va as a result of my partial disability status, and that is including my $120 monthly payment for my new eos rp camera.

beyond the upcoming constraints that will be limiting my income and capacity in the coming months, i think it’s as good a time as any to just slow the hemorrhaging and get a tight handle on all of my spending. i believe that it’s possible to live a wonderful and fulfilling life at an income level that is far below my current salary, and i want to squash my spending to fit within that profile so that i can basically set aside anything else that comes in for retirement and rainy days. maybe at some point i could even step away from the workforce for a while and focus entirely on my own creative and entrepreneurial projects. i’m not sure that is something i would ever do, but i would like to have the option. as it is, nima and i could cut ties and walk away from it all and we would be fine for a while, but sooner than i would like expenses would catch up with us. and agin, this isn’t to say that we would even consider doing that. the point isn’t that we would if we could. the point is that as of right now, we really couldn’t even if we wanted to, and so even with our significant annual combined income, we remain indentured to the wage system, so to speak.

maybe i’m getting a bit deep, but essentially my logic follows and i don’t like where it leads. so with that in mind, i cleanses a bit today, and i will continue to do so moving ahead. i still have a few key purchases to make before i shut down the spending tap, but in within $1,000 of that moment, and i am looking forward to crossing that line and locking away the credit cards for a while.

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Sunny Sunday

yesterday was amazing in all the ways that a day can be. nima and i got an early start, her to get herself ready for a photo shoot, and me to get my gear ready. originally stock and i were planning to run through our first session of the church of accountability (i just made that name up but i think i like it), but he slept in and we both had to get moving on our days so we postponed the launch for now. nima and i left home at around 8:30am and made it to the brooklyn botanical garden at around 10:30am.

i am shooting engagement photos next sunday for a couple from ohio and our photo permit is only good for an hour, so the visit was mostly business. i need to go in ready to tactically move from place to place, spending the least amount of time setting up and the most amount of time taking photos and creating an enjoyable experience for the couple.

the weather was absolutely beautiful, warm enough that a sweater was plenty to fend off the chill breeze, and the light was crisp and sharp. after some confusion at the front gate, we were able to walk through the garden and find several locations for the photo shoot next week that are going to be beautiful. essentially, when shanima and i showed up, me carrying all of my photo gear and her dressed and made up for a photo shoot, the security made it very clear that the permit was only for next week, and that if it appeared we were doing a photo shoot this week, there would be problems. given that i did not want to cause any problems for my clients next week, i kept my camera in the bag and just used my cell phone and the map of the grounds to pick out my chosen locations.

after we took a loop of the garden, we headed down flatbush ave to grab some lunch and found a nice little mexican hole in the wall restaurant with decent tacos, pupusas and asada. once we were fed, i broke out the eos rp and we got some great photos in front of some beautiful graffiti walls along the avenue. i mostly shot natural light, but i did break out the softbox for one particular location where the sun became my rim light and the softbox was my key. the photos turned out great, and to be honest i will barely have to do any work on them in lightroom. all the fun will be in photoshop, where i’ll work on the skin texture and eye color a bit and do some light dodging and burning.

after two photo shoots with the rp, i can say that without a doubt it was a huge step up experientially for me. the workflow is such an update, and the autofocus system works phenomenally, meaning that i am spending a whole lot less time checking the back of my camera to make sure i got a sharp shot and a whole lot more time just guiding the model and working the scene. being able to review the photos on my iphone or ipad after the shoot is a sweet bonus. i didn’t have time to edit the photos yesterday, but we did review them and pick our favorites on the bus ride home, so that when i do edit them, i can only import and upload the starred images and get straight to work. that will save me a good ten to fifteen minutes of time at home sorting through pictures. image quality is roughly the same as my 5d mark iii, maybe a little better, but the workflow is miles ahead.

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