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Project Work – The Real Cost

Posted by Tom Benedict on 22/06/2011

I’ve been taking on a number of projects at work, as well as several at home. For work this is normal. It’s what we do. Having multiple projects is stressful because at some point more than one becomes my top priority and I wind up having people yanking me in different directions. But again, this is normal. It’s what we do. And people get it. Even when the going gets tough, even when the deadlines get close, there’s a good bit of compassion, for want of a better word. Projects are completed, new ones start, and we each give the other a hand up so we can begin again.

It’s not the same at home. In this case it’s a lot more like homework in college. Each professor works from the presumption that theirs is the only class you’re taking, therefore they can and should load you with a full night’s work every night. The stark reality of it is you’re typically taking four to six classes simultaneously, and the workload outstrips the time available.

The Push N8 project is one of several I’ve taken on in the last year, but by far it’s one of the most obnoxious. I don’t know how else to put it. I’d go into the nitty gritty details, but that’s really not fair to the people involved. I can’t point fingers and say, “That’s what screwed up.” It just did. And now that I’m getting closer to the end, I’m coming to grips with what that really cost me.

I got email from one of the coordinators today answering some questions and giving me a thumbs up for getting the last of my footage. After reading it I went to Flickr to catch up a little and see if my contacts had posted anything new. I realized I’d lost touch with many of them. One had crashed a rig, and I didn’t know. Another was building a new rig for a new camera. I’ve had my T2i longer, and I haven’t even begun to cut metal. But worst of all, since starting the Push N8 project I’ve done almost no KAP of my own. I haven’t been able to get new licenses through Getty Images. I haven’t been able to pursue the portfolio project I wanted to undertake to try to get into the Getty Creative collection. Daily hits on my Flickr photostream has gone down by a factor of ten since beginning the Push N8 project. The real cost of the Push N8 project was to kill my photography.

I cried. I really did. It felt like the floor fell out from beneath me. Sure, I’d seen the signs. I knew my output had dropped. I knew I had fewer people even asking to license my images. But it wasn’t until the end of the project was in sight that it hit like that. Photographically I’m dead.

The really crappy thing is I don’t have the energy to pick back up and start going again. It’s not like at work where someone can drag you out of the funk and say, “Hey, I could use your help on this.” It’s just an empty inbox and a dead photostream.

I know I’m wallowing in self-pity. Screw it. I earned some time in the pit. I’ll climb back out in a week or a month or something. I know it. But meanwhile it really does hurt. To say otherwise would be to lie through my teeth.

Once Push N8 is done, I’m taking a month off. I’ll write, maybe get some other short stories ready to go out the door. But no kites, no photography, no KAP.

And no new projects!

– Tom


5 Responses to “Project Work – The Real Cost”

  1. Oh my… and I’ve ben grounded by a misreable digitising project…for only a week! An I remember the joy of flying…its that magic of living the instant that works for the soul…….just get out and fly man! Get something in the air..amything! and just live with it ..and it will bring you to life! Phtography with a captial ‘P’ is not the be all and and all: its the’ seeing’ that counts…find some space in the sky and live!

    • Tom Benedict said

      The problem is every time I’ve gone out to do KAP, it’s for the N8 project. When I do go out and do my own stuff, it’s almost like I’m stealing the time or something. I need the month just to clear my head and come back at it from a fresh perspective.

      One good thing that’s happening is we’ve got family coming out. I’m not sure if I’ll bring my KAP bag when we go out around the island, but I’ll certainly be bringing my kites. And no matter what the N8 gear stays at home.

      I need some time to do stuff just for me. No deadlines, no expectations, no pressure except for my own.

  2. Yes, take a break but don’t turn you back on what you’re good at: you have the ‘sharpened’ eye. I can see that. But it sounds like you are setting yourself up against all manner of self imposed goals..try flying a kite without a camera and see if it places your mind where it should be. Sometimes I just pin a kite to a stake, lie down and watch it weave like a wind weed…it just gives you a point of concentration…a bit like staring into a fire in the hearth!

    Enjoy the family..they are the real reward.

  3. Tom Benedict said

    The problem right now is the goals aren’t self-imposed. I tend to be ok with my own goals. It’s when other goals are superimposed on top of them that I run into problems. And I’m right there with you on just putting up a kite and watching it fly. That’s one of my favorite things to do when the wind is too light to fly a rig, and I haven’t been able to do it in months.

    It’s funny, last night I was cleaning house and had to move my kite bag out of the way. On a whim I opened it up, checked that all my kites are snug in their sleeping bags, and just doing that made me want to get out and fly them. I figure that “month” I was planning to take off is going to be closer to a few days. 😉 I really am a sucker for a kite.

    A while back I got some glowire nightlights for my kites, Because of work and the N8 project, I haven’t had time during the day to fly, KAP or no KAP. But we’ve had good wind late into the evenings. Once the editing on the N8 video is done (a task I can do at night) I’m going to get out for some night sessions. That’s FUN!

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