I'm back home after a whirlwind three week tour: 6 assignments, many 12 hour plus days, 600 gb of data, and a feeling of great contentment. I appear to thrive on the road, both creatively and physically. I felt healthy and energetic, even at the end. I'm in better physical shape than when I left, and I'm 8 pounds lighter. I have been most heartened by the warmth of the students at the colleges I photographed, such as at St. John's where two of them, separately, came up to me to invite me to that night's Shabbat meal.
There is nothing like an extended road trip to highlight what to prepare for the next time. I ended up buying two additional Canon batteries on the trip--video exhausts them much faster than does stills. I also bought a couple more 500gb hard drives, and it still wasn't enough for the triplicate backup I try to maintain (I had smaller hard drives with me too, and I'd ship those home as I filled them). I want my flash meter with me next time--people think you don't need one anymore with digital preview, but they're wrong. It's faster to meter. I need to find sturdier clothes. I wore holes in the left knees of two pair of trousers.
Shooting just stills is easier. I can respond and react. I don't need to think. With video you're composing an entire piece in your mind while you're shooting. You're in your head a lot more. The 14 hour days shooting stills were more relaxing than the 8 hour ones doing video.
I like the deeper connection of video. You have to talk with your subject, connect with them, get a conversation going, and make that comfortable for them with a camera rolling. My efficiency quotient is not as high as I want it to be, as I'm still learning how to direct an interview (Terry Gross, how was it when you started?) But the compelling draw of video for me is the capacity for stories.
Attachment with spouse is a top priority, and this was a long time apart for us. The better the internet/cell coverage, the easier it was for Robin and I to feel connected. We Skyped a couple of times, but that felt more like a novelty than anything else (and the almost, but not quite, eye contact is disconcerting). We left messages on each other's Facebook Walls. Talking on the phone several times a day was crucial for both of us. The week in Santa Fe, with its lousy AT&T coverage, was hard.
But now I'm home. With a mountain of work ahead of me.