Passion is elusive. At least, it can be in my experience. I had a grand passion once—it was sailing. One of the things I loved about it was the richness of the experience. I’ve never felt more alive than on the deck of a small sailboat.
Another thing I loved was the variety of things to learn. You start, of course, with sail & boat handling. By itself, that covers a lot of territory. And then one thing leads to another and many things overlap. For example, if you’re going learn boat handling in a sailboat you probably need to learn about handling under power as well as sail. Which means that it’s good to know something about boat engines. And if you’re going to go somewhere you need to know how to read a chart and navigate. There’s a wealth of information about navigation to learn (and I learned back before GPS; anyone remember dead reckoning?). If you have a thirst for knowledge you keep going: anchoring, weather, marlinespike seamanship, safety, first aid, boat maintenance, destinations & local conditions; the list goes on. You could go on learning for a lifetime and not cover everything. But eventually my interest wandered and my passion for sailing ran its course.
Last year when I semi-retired I had intended to pursue photography as a second career. I had been an amateur photographer for many years (there are some great photo ops out on the water) and I thought I would enjoy it as a new vocation. But an odd thing happened. Last summer as I worked my daily photo practice I kept looking for a genre of photography that really captivated me, something that I had a passion for. I had heard that you have to be passionate about your subject if you want to succeed. That made sense so as I was shooting a variety of subjects I kept my eyes open for something that really grabbed me.
And, oddly, I was having a hard time finding something. It’s not that I wasn’t having fun shooting and processing photos—I was. But I was on the lookout for some niche that particularly excited me, some special discipline or approach that I wanted to dive into deeply. But I was coming up short.
I was caught in the doldrums and felt a bit lost. Then, I discovered video & filmmaking. Like sailing, it’s a subject that is both wide and deep. First, there’s a great deal to learn about shooting video even if you’re already a competent photographer. Much is the same but much is also different. Beyond the technical questions film also has its own language, its own grammar.
The addition of time and motion greatly increases the complexity of shooting in the same way that the addition of altitude increases the difficulty of flying when compared with driving. With video the post-production process expands. Now, there is the business of arranging shots into sequences, titling, color grading and effects. There is audio, both voice and music. You work with others to a greater degree than in still photography; the list goes on.
As I’ve discovered these layers of complexity I’ve been drawn more and more into the world of filmmaking. There’s a wonderful opportunity for creativity and self-expression, things that I was looking for in photography and have found in spades within video.
It may be a bit early to declare that I’ve found a new grand passion. It’s possible that filmmaking is just a passing fancy. Passion can be elusive and only time will tell whether passion will be sustained. In the meantime, I’ll see where the winds will carry me.