Taking the Backroads

One weakness I’ve always had as a photographer is that I have never personally liked my own work. I think this is a curse for many creative types. In my past life as a musician I rarely remember being satisfied with the music I played or produced. Fast-forward to today and I still live through a never-ending cycle of feeling generally unfulfilled with the results of my labor. That doesn’t mean I’m not passionate about my work. I love my work. I have enough “ah-ha” moments which keep me “almost satisfied” and let me know that the “BIG AH-HA” is, perhaps, just around the creative corner. This drives me to keep seeking those small “ah-ha” moments, those fleeting seconds of satisfaction when everything comes together and makes me happy enough with the result in the moment to propel me to seek out the next one.

This leads to my next point. I look at the work of the contemporary photographers I admire most and I whine to myself that I will never achieve their level of artistry. At the same time, I am making a living by providing services which are heavily weighed towards producing video and photos for clients. Photography has become so democratized and the value of professional photography has plummeted. I realize that my situation in today’s photo services market is a rare one – especially for someone who struggles so much with the craft. But I’m doing what I love and making a living at it. …and that’s the big point.

Field Reviews

John and Cali have agreed to let me develop a series of posts for GeekBeat.TV written/produced from the perspective of a working photographer. These are not going to be in-studio reviews of products or advice based upon theory. Nor will they be spec-heavy dialogues gleaned from corporate press releases. They will be posts and videos of products and services after they have been used on real shoots. Advice, tips and tricks will be based upon tried and tested experiences in the field and on campaigns for real clients. In some cases, I will be talking about products I have used for weeks, months or even years. In a nutshell, expect to see simple accountings from using products and services in real-world scenarios. I’ll tell you what I expected from the products and services, how I used them, and how they actually performed.

This post can be categorized as a tip on keeping yourself mentally charged and your mind fresh so you can continue to be creative.

A Tip For You When You’re Traveling

I have to drive to Austin from Dallas frequently for shoots and events. It’s a soul-sucking drive on three to five lane highways of nothing but construction and chain restaurants. That is not the secret though. I have stopped taking I-35, our main cross-state thoroughfare either direction. That’s the secret.

I avoid I-35 using one of two strategies. One: I’ll drive 281 via Hico to Austin or back. Or two: When time allows, I tell my GPS to “Avoid Highways” and then travel to Austin/Dallas using an alternate route with a city or town I’ve never been to as the mid-point in the drive. This means that on occasion I take a 3 1/2 hour drive via I-35 and turn it into a 5 or 6 hour excursion via small towns and two-lane roads. The added time includes frequent stops to shoot interesting things along the way. Of course, most of you are not traversing I-35 across the great state of Texas. Apply this to the I-35 in your work-life.

I’ve rarely shared the pics from these excursions because the travel is more of a way for me to collect my thoughts, plan ahead, and to explore the greatest state in the US. Until now. I’ll start posting these at random intervals with a little back story. Maybe seeing what you’re missing off the I-35 in your life will persuade you to take the backroads sometime.

Evant, Texas

This is Evant, TX. It’s a town of less than 400 at the crossroads of highways 281 and 84. Evant was first a settlement called Langford Cove, settled by Asa Langford and his family in 1855. Langford served as postmaster in the first post office, named Cove, established in February 1876. By the late 1850s, Langford had built a general store, a blacksmith shop, and a sawmill near the current site of the town. In 1884 the town changed its name in honor of local land-owner Evant Brooks.

This image was shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR using a Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L Series lens at 17mm. I shot this at about 9PM at ISO 3200, auto WB, aperture set at f/18 with the shutter open for 15 seconds. The camera was positioned on a Manfrotto 190XPROB Pro Aluminum Tripod and Manfrotto 501HDV Pro Video Head.

OH – I have to give credit to singer/songwriter Beth Wood from Portland, OR for the inspiration to make this change in my travel. Do yourself a favor and pick up “Backroads” by Beth Wood for your next trip. You can thank me later.

“Here it’s all neon and noise
But I am denim and turquoise
I’m trying to find the meaning in all the chatter

The moment’s demanding a little understanding
You go on ahead, but I’m gonna take the back roads

Always running two steps behind
Truth be told, lately I don’t mind

It’s a mystery where we go when we die
But some folks try and crack that code
You can spend your attention looking for redemption
You go on ahead, but I’m gonna take the back roads” – Beth Wood

giovanni gallucci

Dallas, Texas, USA