I’ve been in this barren 2-bedroom apartment now for 15 days. No furniture to speak of except for a dining table with foldout chairs and a queen-sized air mattress, all of which is on loan to me.
And a lamp. I’ve got a lamp.
It’s pretty much the early days of Tampa all over. I remember when we first moved there over a year ago; no furniture then either. But sometime during that first month, Rita went away for a bit. While she was gone, I purchased a desk and a chair to go with it. I’ll never forget her reaction:
“It says a lot that the first thing you bought was a desk and not a bed.”
She wasn’t wrong.
Not long after I took that self-portrait, I bought a couch, my first piece of furniture. Next, I picked up a bean bag kind of like the one I had in South Beach. Only, this one is lumpy and not beany at all. Photographically, it’s still the same. Which, in this case, is mostly what matters. I’ve been purchasing other home furnishings (like a bed) and miscellany (like a MIDI controller) over the past year to build the life I want.
One of the larger material (and more existential) life changes as of late has been getting a car. It’s utterly amazing how much freedom comes with owning a car. Without one, everything is a task that requires planning.
When should I go to the grocery store this week? How much stuff do I need? Uber or bicycle? What’s the weather? Everything that involves going anywhere involves thought. But it’s all very simple math, really. For your convenience, here’s a formula I derived from my calculations.
Car > Bicycle
In every way.*
Even if I were to never ride it again, my bicycle still serves a purpose. I bought it (as I buy a lot of things) for both form and function with the intention of using it and shooting it. I’ve been working on a bicycle series since being here in Columbia, so it’s worked out well for that. If Columbia would just flatten itself out, it would make it so much more fun to ride. Or if all the hills only went downhill. That would be best.
Getting back to form and function, though: I always shoot where I live. And by where I live I mean my actual residence. Years ago, I had this great place in South Beach that was absolute heaven for shooting. Great light, fantastic space, and stylish decor. Here, though, having very barren rooms made for challenging shoots. It wasn’t until really about summer of this year that my place didn’t look like some sad, temporary housing. So for the past few months, I’ve been shooting a couple of series inside that are working out well.
Home is finally decent enough both to have company over and to really utilize it photographically (beyond negative space shoots). There’s a slight mid-century aesthetic going on and I need to mix that up. I need brighter decor elements. Eventually, I definitely need a brighter place to live. More natural light. Everything here is way too warm in tone. I really need to color-shift my personal space as well as my photography. There really just isn’t enough blue.
God, it was soooooooo long ago that I decided to live minimally. Almost a decade now. And now that I’m here and building a kind of normal life? I have to say, I like being a consumer.** It’s nice buying things. I’m a fan of buying shit. In fact, just tonight, I went out to get a few grocery items (bread, butter, and a candle and not one ounce of thought in how to get there) and I was looking in the window at the shop next to Whole Foods. There was a lovely desk lamp in the window there and I thought, “That’s a nice looking piece; it’d look great on the dresser. I desire this object.”
But a car….. Oh my god, a car. I’ve been mostly shooting indoors since I’ve been here. Why? Because shooting on location is vastly more complicated without a car. While I’ve always shot indoors (and always will), I’ve always shot outdoors equally as much. I’ve barely even done any serious location scouting here because it’s excessively time-consuming and exhausting work without a car (as opposed to the simple fun it should be) just exploring and finding places to shoot.
But those days are over. Now I can do anything. I can shoot at some hidden gem buried deep in the country. Or the beach. Or the mountains! I can shoot on the other side of town if I want! I can offhand see a place while driving past and then go back later to look at it more closely without it being an effort. I can travel to nearby cities and shoot with clients without it being a herculean effort. I can easily drive to Florida and shoot two of my favorite models who aren’t that far from the state line.
All things are possible through Car who strengthens me.
It’s so mentally freeing, it’s insane.
There are still a couple of issues (at least as far as shooting goes) that I need to get sorted out. I seriously need to get a couple of new lenses. When I switched to Fujifilm from Canon, I purchased a couple of lenses that I thought would sync up pretty well with the way I had been shooting. The 35mm (53mm full frame equivalent) has worked out fine. The 18mm (~27mm full frame) just isn’t wide enough. I need to get to a 16mm(~24mm ff) or wider. Don’t get me wrong: I love the images I’ve gotten with the 18mm. They just don’t have that same sense of drama about them; they’re not as enveloping to me. In other words, I’m not getting all of the images I want.
So a wider lens to start, and then this gorgeous Russian 85mm lens (and adapter) I’ve had my eye on since I got this camera. Oh my god, the bokeh on that thing!
I also need to start searching for the right models for specific projects. Because now that I’ve got a car, I can execute all of these shoots I’ve been taking notes on forever with much greater ease. I’m not limited to locale.
My god, I love Car! I don’t know if I mentioned that.
So yeah. This life is happening. That’s what’s up.
- *Leaving out the cost of gas, maintenance, insurance, parking, pollution, stop-and-go traffic, loss of exercise, etc.
- **Don’t harsh my mellow with talk of authenticity, inner peace, being your best self, or some zen philosophy meme-speak that doesn’t involve consumerism. I’ve lived in the jungle. I’ve been alone in the desert. I’ve found meaning. Purpose. I drink from the same Kool-aid you do. And it’s all lovely. That doesn’t change the fact that nice shit is nice! Don’t judge me! 🙂