In 2009, right as the Great Recession began, I took an hiatus from my IT work to pursue a few personal goals. The hiatus began with a graduate program in psychology which unfortunately ended after the first semester. Being dyslexic, I could not keep up with the amount of required reading. Plus, as many know the return on the huge cost of a college education does not provide a paying job to justify the cost.
At the same time, I complete writing my first book that I started three years earlier. As a dyslexic, writing a book was the ultimate challenge. It was not a challenge for the lack of ideas, but for simply typing out each word in a good logical order that made sense. The book was about reflecting on my own life while I told about the ordeal I had taking care of my mother in her final years of life with dementia. I shelved the book soon after I published it for two reasons. First, although as I wrote it the sentences they made sense to me, however they soon became hard to following even for me. And second, I had many second thoughts about having used people’s real names.
As so often in my life, the following question was on my mind. Now what?!
Photography? Again? I have no idea why I keep coming back to photography time and time again. Maybe it’s my observer personality. Maybe it’s what an introverted dyslexic Aspie does to communicate to others his world. Maybe I watched too much TV in the 1960s, and early 1970s, which by the way was a great time for TV shows. Whatever the reason I got back into photography.
In 2010, the digital SLR camera had a new feature, video! It seemed everyone was discovering the low cost super quality that the DSLR camera provided to cinematography. Wow, was this the most fantastic feature a SLR could have. I always loved the thought of film making, but due to the cost still-photography was all I could afford, until now.
Once I bought my Canon 5D Mark II, I began making short 60-90 second testimonials videos for the Toastmasters club where I was a member. Then I edited a 10 minute video of all still-photographs for the 85th anniversary of The Gow School, my alma mater. That video was a pure exercise in editing. It provided a great experience with creating movement to still-photos, finding free music that sort-of fit the different decades and problem-solving the timing and flow to a video. Soon one thing lead to another and I had an opportunity to make a documentary film.
Wow, a full length film! I would have complete control. I would have complete “oh my God” what kind of adventure have I gotten myself into! In hindsight, THAT was it! That, the “what kind of adventure have I gotten myself into” was what was so often missing in life.
We so often get our education, get a job, get a spouse and family, and live happily ever-after. Maybe some, maybe most of us find that formula works but apparently not for me. That’s a revelation!
Yes, I have to say, it now makes sense. The different photographic series I’ve been creating my whole life are nothing more than small adventures into the unknown. The photos and the development of the images have provided an adventure. Often, I have no preconceived notion of what I was doing. I was simple exploring with a camera and the image I captured.
I’ll leave you with that thought, or maybe one more. I wonder if this blog yet another adventure, this time with words. Sure a photograph is worth a thousand words, but what are those words? What do they mean? It’s all poetry. It’s all open to interpretation.
I’ll write more about the film in future posts. Until then, I’ll leave you with some versions of the film’s poster and a link to the film. When I refer to a scene in the film you can see what I’m talking about.
Love, Sweat, and Gears Race Across America A film by Jim Harper
Various poster layouts. My 4 years in Hollywood building movie posters came in handy.
I really liked this layout because you get to see the racers. It provides a personal touch, an immediate connection to the four women racers.
The image was taken from the footage. It was 100 degrees with 50 MPH wind and a dust storm as we crossed Kansas. These are touch cyclist. As one of them said, “it’s not like a ride in the park to clear your head.”
The best quote I heard during the filming was that cycling “feels like flying!”
Final cover and poster