A Memorable Tuesday

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A Memorable Tuesday

The comments from my first One Second Film took me by surprise. It wasn't that they were numerous or even specific, but rather it simply made me realize that people are watching. For better or worse these little slices of my everyday life were being viewed by others. Suddenly my story felt like it had an audience.

The only thing I was planning to do that day was edit some photos from a recent shoot. In other words, all I was doing was work as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing special. Nothing memorable. Just another day. But who said it had to be that way?! Why did I wake up this morning thinking today was going to be anything less than remarkable? When did that thought creep into my psyche and inform the majority of my life?

Naturally I wondered, what can I do to make today different? What can I do to make my story more interesting --if not for my audience, at least for my own well being?

Thirty minutes later I put the finishing touches on my snowman. He was nowhere on my agenda at the start of the day, but he quickly became the highlight of it. How easy it would have been to dismiss it as the most superfluous waste of time. Yet how much more unique that day was because of it.

I want to be a filmmaker when I grow up, which is another way of saying I want to tell great stories. Ironically it's this desire to live a great story that made me realize I'm already telling one. Being aware of this fact simply helps me write better scenes for my daily life.

Ever since building that snowman I’ve been repeatedly struck by the question, “What am I doing today that’s worth remembering?” This ideas has worked its way into my subconscious and added a layer of intentionality to my days. I choose to capture something every day regardless of whether or not it seems special. The beautiful irony is that because I’m capturing it I want to make it exceptional. It does not work the other way around.

Imagine if a photographer was going to capture your life this Tuesday. You're not getting married or having a baby this Tuesday. It's not your birthday or Christmas. It's just another Tuesday with the same snooze button, the same commute, the same TPS reports, happy hour, Netflix, and chill. "What's so special about Tuesday?" you ask. Well, that's up to you.

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A Story Forest

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A Story Forest

All art forms have their strengths and their shortcomings. It's easy enough to understand that sculpture and acting are completely different, and no one has ever mistaken a song for a painting. Yet, there are far more subtle nuances to discover. I remember when I first realized there was a difference between the written word and the spoken word. The differences may seem insignificant at first, but there is a potency in how they are felt.

As someone who makes a living taking pictures and makes films for passion I’m intrigued by the way we respond to a photograph as compared to a moving image. It seems clear to me that no other medium has such a strong undertone of storytelling as filmmaking.

Instead of filming one second what if I simply shot one photograph every day? Even if the subject matter is identical the end result would feel completely different. It’s almost as if the pictures are clues, and you have to imagine the rest:

Moving images, on the other hand, carry momentum and a plot line. You no longer have to imagine what is happening. Instead, you wonder what it means:

I’m not sure if it’s the way we are wired or the way we’ve been conditioned, but there’s something about watching a moving image that signals to us there’s a story involved. We don’t get that same feeling when looking at a photograph, or a painting, or a sculpture. Yet, when we see one moving image juxtaposed next to another moving image we make a mental connection between them and assume eventually there will be another moving image that somehow makes sense of them. It’s as if we want there to be a story —some hidden truth flickering right in front of us.

While our eyes take in the visual components of composition, lighting, and focus our minds and hearts absorb the imagery on a very different level. This is true whether we’re viewing a moving image or a still one. However, the two are not interchangeable. What makes a good photograph often makes a boring film. Beautiful landscapes and portraits provide endless fascination when frozen in time, but they are incredibly dull in a moving picture. Our first clue should be in the name itself: moving pictures. This medium is at its best when it shows movement, action, progress. Take a picture of a beautiful sunrise and you can bottle up the feelings it conjures. Take a time lapse series of that same sunrise and what you get is not a pill bottle of emotion, but rather an emotion generator. Watching something unfold produces a sequence or shift of emotion. The emotional state changes because of the action. It's dynamic.

When done well these moving pictures also move us. We aren't the same after experiencing them.

Photographs and tattoos and literature and dance can move us too, but they all impact us in different ways. The real magic is found when your idea is planted in the best possible medium for it to grow and thrive. You won’t find palm trees growing among pine trees. Each has a proper place and context, just like your ideas and stories.

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Just Let it Play

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Just Let it Play

Two thousand fourteen was both the best and worst year of my life. I got more stamps in my passport that year than in all of my previous travels combined. I made new friends in NYC and started to feel like I belong in the city I love. My savings account dried up, and I had to get creative around the first of each month. The summer was full of adventure and much-welcomed work. I got to shoot my biggest photography assignment to date. And my wife had an affair.

It was also the year I started making one second films.

Fast forward to the end; while most people were nursing their New Year’s hangover I was assembling "2014 in 365 Seconds.”

At last the project was done, but more importantly the year was over. When it finished rendering I watched with eager trepidation as the days flashed by me in rhythmic succession. The memories came flooding back —the good ones and the other ones too. I often found myself thinking, “Oh yeah! That was the day when…” and before I could even finish that thought the next scene would barge in without any regard for my emotional experience. It was like my feelings were being violated as the scenes shifted so quickly from our third anniversary to adultery. It took everything in me not to pause the film and allow the moments to sink in. Yet something in the back of my mind kept saying, “Just let it play.” Perhaps, I thought, there is something to be learned here...

What I realized next actually became a bedrock of understanding that helped me withstand the months that followed. It is simply this: No matter how wonderful or how terrible the day may be, it lasts no longer nor shorter than any other.

In my case, the absolute best day of the year only got one second of screen time, and so did the worst day. …and every other day in between.

Regardless what I do or experience in a given day there is always one that came before it, and there will be another one to follow. Time doesn’t stop to consider how I am feeling. It’s ruthless, really, but it’s also the best healer.

Once I understood my place in the running timeline I started treating myself differently. On the days that sucked I extended grace to allow myself to feel hurt, anger, and betrayal —“In time this will pass..." And on the days when I felt most fully alive I remembered to be present and savor the moments —"this too will pass."

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