Mid-February Slacker Update, new/used VW, new work, new thoughts

I’ve been rethinking the basic premise of the blog and have decided that simple photography won’t work as it should as a foundation for the blog…partly because the concept itself will prove not self-sustaining. I know, the cameras can’t be expected to jump out of the bag and dance outside in the pre-dawn shooting abstract photographs without human assistance. …but I’m not much assistance these days. …lack of inspiration. Plain and simple. How simple photography ties in, in near future, remains to be seen. Plans are afoot to replace some gear before the start of this year’s wedding season…new glass and stuff…that sort of thing always rallies my inspiration. Meanwhile I want to use this space to wax effusive upon a variety of other topics that snag my attention from photography.

I’ve got a new job! Actually I started on January 3rd, but still…its new. I’ve been meeting a slew of really great people and I work with a great team of people committed to doing great work. It hasn’t been easy getting back into the swing of 9-5ish work but it feels good to be working toward something and actually contributing something. …oh, and getting a paycheck. That helps, too.

My new job ties into some conceptual thing I’ve been tossing around; Some people are, in fact, broken. Right? Either they are physically challenged because of accident, illness, disease or they’ve been this way from birth. Some people are broken emotionally or mentally. Some are a bit of each. I’ve been thinking about this lately. There’s a photography tie-in here…wait…for…it. Photographers love to find those rusting old hulks of cars, trucks, tractors—you name it, out in fields and forests, right?…they make wonderful still-life art and people love to look at pictures of them. Come on…they *do*…anyway, I can’t help but wonder about why we as photographers love to photograph broken things…things that cannot be relied upon to do the job they were designed to do…maybe because deep down we all know that we ourselves and our beloved gear will eventually be the broken down relics we once loved to study?

Yesterday I signed for a new/used 2002 VW Jetta wagon…a necessary reprieve for my Toyota. I have to do a lot of driving for my new job (the biggest single drawback to the job itself) in addition to the 70 mile roundtrip commute to and from the office every day. My Toyota pulled a consistent 20 mpg, reliable…but not good enough. The Vdub should average an extra ten mpg so 50% more of my meager mileage reimbursement should end up in my wallet. That’s the plan anyway. …and….AND…the plan as of now is that the new ride will be paid off THIS YEAR with earnings from shooting weddings. ….so photography worked its way back in a bit…nice.

This post has been on the wayback burner for too long so it goes live tonight.

I plan to post in the near future about our experiment with going internet-less at home. We cancelled our internet and cable, effective last Thursday so tonight is one full week without our usual distractions. So far, so good…in fact I’m posting from our local library…this is good, just using the internet gets me out of the house, away from the refrigerator, away from commercials (we still have basic cable) and saving about $70/month. So…as far as Cilleyville is concerned I plan to blog onward about this little experiment. No doubt we will have internet again in the fall but for now I plan to enjoy my free time a bit more without staring at the screen.

New glass is here! 24-70L f2.8 and 100mm macro! …can’t wait for the weddings to start. My first of the season is the 29th.

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Prosperity Consciousness

Today I’m meditating on the concept of prosperity consciousness, not in the eyes-closed/deep breathing way, but throughout the day as I go about the mundane and less mundane activities of life. The term “prosperity consciousness” first came to my attention maybe two years ago as I was listening to one of Paul McKenna’s trance downloads…a very effective method of finding focus in itself. McKenna suggests during the trance session that “you are developing a prosperity consciousness”. I have always been highly aware of my wealth and lack of wealth, but never really considered this a consciousness. I do find that whether I’m dirt broke or doing OK financially, I tend to hang on to more of my money and make better money decisions when I “guide” my thought processes concerning money toward believing I have all that I need. Its worth some deeper thought…and could we, any of us, possibly become entangled in a “poverty” consciousness? If prosperity consciousness holds any merit at all then the opposite is really something to be avoided.

On the photography front, I plan to crank up the scanner this evening and bring a few negatives to life. I never should have sold my Yashica Penta…that rig turned out some pretty negs.

On minimalism/downsizing, a year’s worth of magazines found a transitional home in the big, orange transfer station dumpster. My plan is to do this at least weekly (dump twelve magazines) until the only ones left are photography magazines I actually read and refer back to (Rangefinder, Aperture, etc.) and some “lifestyle” magazines (current issues of Yankee, etc.) and back issues of Kearsarge Magazine and Upper Valley Life Magazine (stored appropriately). I have a problem dumping back issues of magazines even though I can easily acknowledge they have little or no value…dumping one year’s worth a week is totally do-able.

OK, I got no more on this for now…post.

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If one pays attention to “professional” photography, even the advanced amateurs that make recognizable names for themselves, one finds that a key component in the professional’s success is reinvention, possibly re-imagination, of their working methods. Likewise, successful minimalists of all stripes almost invariably experience reinvention of multiple facets of their lives, for the good of their lifestyle…smaller homes, smaller collections, more efficient tools, fewer tools, less things and more experiences ideally. Not all minimalists experience the same range of reinvention…some were minimalist from the start, growing up with the minimalist mindset or developing it naturally as part of their own growth…but successful minimalists, like successful photographers and most other professionals, must reinvent themselves at least occasionally and probably on a regular basis.

My wife and I are turning a corner, looking at reinvention, in our daily lives and in our home. We talk regularly of moving back to Oregon. We talk about my starting a new job. We talk about my returning to school. We talk about the possibility of selling our large home for a smaller one. Mostly, it seems that my efforts in returning to a minimalist existence are having a positive effect. Jessica seems to be embracing the notion of collecting and keeping less stuff, particularly the redundant and just plain unnecessary things…books that will never be read or are no longer relevant, clothing that will never be worn or is worn beyond acceptable, knickknacks that don’t contribute to any discernible mode of decor and basic clutter that has a way of lingering just because it came to rest too far from the trash can. It seems we are at the earliest stages of reinvention of our life together…doing stuff rather than acquiring stuff and preparing a more mobile lifestyle. Personally, I like stuff…but I tend to like stuff I can pick up with my hands and use to change and create other things…I like tools. My wife likes to decorate with the trappings of the life she imagines for herself…everyone does this to a certain extent, myself included…but now we are taking strides to be sure our collections and decorations fall in line with our re-imagining of who we are. Let’s decorate with the tools we use to hike, with the tools we use to make photographs, the tools of our lives as dog owners, with the tools of people that cook, garden and participate in their own lives…rather than a conglomeration of furniture and trinkets that restates the obvious (we live a rural lifestyle and stuff gets broken, dirty and worn out). We want to get out and do, not decorate as if we did.

Let’s get out and do something today, change something today, create something today…reinvent ourselves today…participate in our own lives today.

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on resolutions, change, loss

This year I’ve considered a photographic resolution more than ever in the past. In years past, part of my resolution always involved “shooting more”, but then I mean “shoot more things I find personally inspired to shoot”. This year my inspiration guage is cruising on E. I must resolve not just to shoot more of what inspires me, but also to be inspired. Blogging photos here and there has had them effect of making me see photos in more places, farther in advance and with a less critical, more open, eye. Good thing.

Like this time last year, I’m beginning a new job…one I have mixed feelings about. I’m sure I will enjoy the work once I get acclimated to my new schedule, commute…new people, expectations…etc. Still, like last year, I feel like there has been a loss… a missed opportunity…though my photography business is officially on the books and progress was made last year (I shot 12 weddings as a 2nd shooter), it feels like taking a full-time job is an exclamation of defeat…that I did not do what I set out to do with last year. Loss—of time, energy, focus and most of all momentum.

I’m looking forward to this upcoming wedding season. I have renewed enthusiasm for it…this year I’m going to invest in new gear that I’m sure will change my photography for the better. I hope to go into this year’s work with a simplified gearbag, less peripheral junk, just bodies and lenses and flashes and memory.

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In defense of simple gear

Yesterday Jessica and I visited Portsmouth, our favorite New Hampshire town. Often we need our civilization fix, to feel a little bit anonymous, window shop a bit, relax with a pint and share a meal. We were chatting over drinks when a girl nearby (I was already aware of her presence. She had a new Canon Rebel in her hand and was fiddling with it) politely asked me about my own camera over my shoulder. I had my EOS 50D with me. She asked about the vertical grip…what it was and what one used it for. After my short explanation, her boyfriend asked me what sort of bag I kept my camera in. I told him that I don’t often bring a bag with me, …entirely true if all I’m carrying is one camera with one lens…my favorite way to walk around. He seemed a little perplexed…a camera bag was to be their next purchase to go with the new camera. They were sold on a particular bag that photojournalists have favored in the past, canvas bags that are actually quite stylish especially when well broken-in. We talked a bit more and we agreed that the purchase of a DSLR is often just the gateway to an entire system of parts…lenses, flashes, etc…but I propose that the best way to maximize enjoyment of photography is a stripped down rig…one lens (preferably a prime), one body, maybe a strobe. Use a good camera strap, no bag needed. Leave everything else at home, or at least in the car. Forget the filters. Leave the monopod/tripod behind. There are similar uses for all your tools, even in simplified photography. I’d like to write on these in near future but for now my advice is one body-one lens…and be there.

Andover, NH

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Welcome to Cilleyville…

What better day to begin something ambitious and new than New Year’s Eve? Sometimes I feel like I need an outlet for my words, my thoughts, ideas, incoherent rants…that kinda thing, so another blog it is! My plan is for this blog to tie together my passion for photography with the other stuff that makes my life go ’round…and the things that make it spin out of control as well.
Over at Tumblr I keep a rolling show of photos I shoot here and there. There is no rhyme or reason, just stuff I’d like to show you… http://cilleyville.tumblr.com/ but this blog here should be different.
This blog is inspired and motivated by the many talented people out there writing about the simplified, uncluttered lifestyle that favors experience and personal connection over materialism and disconnection. If all goes according to plan (has anything, ever, gone according to plan?…leeway, give me leeway), this blog will be a place for “pixel simplicity”…dedicated to fine photography, with emphasis on simple composition and tone. Some of my favorite photographs are so for these reasons. They resonate and create harmony with a simple, uncluttered composition. If all goes well, I want to use this place to showcase other photographers’ work as well as post interviews with them.
…and no doubt I will use this blog to wax bewildered yet poetic on the subject of simplicity.

Cilleyville? Right. That’s where I live with my charming and lovely wife, Jessica!
Good luck in the new year to everyone! All things are possible…

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