institute for documentary studies
 

{Week 4: Photo}

Week 4: Photo

Now is the hump period, I told my roommate’s boyfriend. That is, now is the time I wish were already over.
Except for today, when I neglected my work, obsessively curating my Internet presence and “personal brand” (liz-mak.tumblr.com). But other than that brief – and necessary — respite, it’s been a non-stop week, leaving me exhausted, overwhelmed, and a bit unhinged. For testimonial, just ask my roommates.
The work for our Documentary In A Day project is still incomplete, and the project is becoming an increasingly belabored effort. Because we both live and work together, Erika and I have come to the point of, in editing sessions, staring at our computer screen while cursing Final Cut X, communicating in grunts and complaining about not having showered.
The issue of the day: In editing down for time, we also cut out the soul of our piece. We fell in love with our subject in the editing room, and ever since, have been struggling to separate out the gems we need from those redundant to the story.

Part of my fatigue is owed to this weekend’s 24-hour assignment — when we spent a full day’s time with a total stranger. My subject was the friend of a friend of a friend, a musician, and in recovery from the previous night. For the first three hours, we watched hangover movies — “Doubt” and “The Passion of the Christ” — while she dozed off, alternating between couch and bathroom for the occasional commercial — and purging — break. We went to her concert performance later that evening, but even with the change of scene, I found it difficult to conjure interest in my photos, which don’t feel all that different from those I took in Week One.
We ended up separating for the night, planning to reconvene in the morning; but she didn’t call me back until after 4 pm the next day, when she woke up.

Continuing research on final photo and multimedia projects, while completing the week’s assignments – process shoot and video interview included – has been a scheduling feat. So far, I’ve been following a local sports team during practices and meeting with local community organizations. But while the team has embraced me with surprising receptiveness, I haven’t yet figured out my approach to the story. And when it comes to the organizations and the individuals they’ve suggested I speak with, I still don’t know how to react to their overwhelming skepticism of me and my photo project. Sometimes it feels like the mere idea of a camera prevents people from letting me do the work I need it for.