You have to get comfortable with the idea that you just might be in the center of the action. While often true, don’t worry about everyone watching you. The fact is, they’re generally not. You’re not the subject; the thing you’re photographing is likely the thing that’s holding everyone’s attention. When you’re learning, just move in and try to have a sense of humor about it. Once you get it, it will become second nature and you’ll move because you’re motivated to capture something.
Sensations are visceral; we “feel” them more than “think” them. Our senses tend to be most receptive when we experience events that have meaning to us, that connect us to clarified values and moments of unexpected opportunity and experience.
Our chief technologist and master editor Vicky Weeks has a knack for getting right to the center of the coconut. When we're deep into production or out on the road and everyone needs to take a few hours to go over plans, break down, clean up, or otherwise find their brains, she says it's time for us to "reset".
Clearly the term draws cultural connections to the ubiquitous ghost in the collective machine. We're all so tethered to our myriad devices; the very idea of resetting ourselves seems to be an extension of the machines we use. By investing our identities with this mechanical process, it's almost as if we've capitulated free will to some sort of Borg collective, as if "resetting" ourselves is simply a standard procedure for living as part of a larger hive mind.
But I fear I'm heading down a digressive path.
Beyond a cultural analysis of machines-versus-humanity, Vicky's expression always makes me smile for it's perfection. In elegantly simple language it suggests an awareness that big actions and important decisions are often made best when someone is stable, solid, and whole. To "reset" is to find a center point, a moment of equilibrium in what may have been roiling seas. It is to have a moment's clarity, or at least a moment's peace amid the jangle of reality.
If you know anything about media production, reality jangles. It rips and snorts and bucks like a bee-stung bronco. To hope for anything different is to be a fool in a warrior's game. But even samurai understand the value of sitting quietly. Sometimes the very act of quiet breathing, of carefully coiling the extension cords and repacking the equipment bags can make all the different in the world for successfully completing tough shooting days.
Some people fall into the trap of thinking they need to reset too often. It's one thing to be organized, but to reset too often is to give yourself an excuse for not actually getting anything done. Real engagement with creative work--with life, really--requires us to stay in the game and figure out how to find balance through movement. In the fast-moving obstacles and challenges of a busy day, balance is less a stable position than it is a confident sequence of footfalls that resist panic as they lightly hop from position to position. In aggregate, those hops should be moving you forward.
Resetting is different. It's a system downshift, a reboot, an intentional pull of the power plug. It can be something designated for a few hours, or it can be something designated for many, many days. You don't do it when you're tired; for that you should just get some rest. Resetting is for finding your center again, with the specific goal of heading out for unknown horizons. It's not something to take lightly, even as it can dramatically lessen the force of gravity for a precious period of time. In some ways it's a sacred thing, and like all powerful techniques, something that should be intensely respected, infrequently employed, and done with mindful intention.
It's okay if you enjoy it, too. I know I do.
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