institute for documentary studies

{Week 9: Multimedia}

Week 9: Multimedia

With only five weeks left, it seems we’re heading into what I’ve started referring to as Salt’s “third trimester.” I feel pregnant with possibility, bloated with potential, and my ankles are swollen, at least from all the driving I’ve done in the last few weeks. I’m definitely on the verge of squeezing out something. I just hope and pray it will be a bouncing-new, highly riveting body of work and not… something else.
I’m exhausted, to be honest, but it’s the good kind of exhausted, so I’m not complaining, believe me. In the last week alone, I’ve hung out with beauty queens and a roomful of strangers dressed up as characters from Mad Men. My fieldwork has taken me from soup kitchens to male burlesque classes. I’ve won over husbands who were clearly suspicious of me taking pictures of their wives and children. And I’ve started shooting video that actually looks good. Like, really really good. If only I hadn’t blown the damn sound by forgetting to press the proper button on my audio recorder. I’ll spare you the rest of the boring, pitiful details, but for now I just need to take a moment and type, “AAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!”
When it comes to this whole “multimedia” thing, it’s like I’m one of those one-man band guys who marches around town with a drum on his back, crashing cymbals between his knees while strumming a ukulele and blowing on a kazoo. Lugging around so much equipment and trying to catch as many moments as possible all at once, it’s an inevitable fact that you’re going to make a wrong move and miss something. I keep trying to make peace with this and understand that no one is perfect, that we’re all only human in the end. But when you spent 48 straight hours out in the field, taking over 2500 pictures and capturing up to 20 minutes of pretty decent audio, and you still drive home feeling like you totally blew it, it’s hard to maintain any sort of Zen-like perspective on your life and art.
But as a band of wise men once sang, you got to learn to roll with the changes; otherwise, you get tired of the same old story. I may be tired and a little bit weary, but I know there’s some new tales growing in my belly. I can see their heartbeats on the Ultrasound we Salties call Adobe Lightroom and Final Cut Pro X. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go binge on pickles and fried chicken and mint-chocolate cookies…

- Smith, photo