Over last two years, I was very lucky and managed to spend around 600 days and nights outdoors so being outdoors became such a significant part of who I am. I was always drawn to being outside, I always like to wander around and to just be. Just be. I found out that I'm not really interested in all those extreme activities you can do outside. I like to just be. Maybe it sounds like a little, but it's enough for me.
As I'm growing older, my depression is getting a little stronger each year. I mean, it was always kinda there as back as I remember. That little dark voice, sitting on your shoulder, telling you you're not enough, telling you that you're pathetic, worthless little existence and that you should be ashamed of yourself. Every fucking day. Sometimes whispering, sometimes screaming. It's..yeah, it gets old pretty fast.
So far I found that being creative and juts being outside works magic in that little battle of mine. So it's almost not like that I "like" to do what I do. I feel like I "need" to do it in order to fulfil the most basic instinct- to survive.
Man oh man, do I sometimes wish to be wired differently.
So finally being outside for a few days is a big deal for me. I don't want to sound like a crazy talk, but I just feel such a strong connection (love?) to this little planet of ours. To the sun. I have no idea if there's a god or anything (as none of us do) but damn, I like Nature. It feels all powerful to me. And it always gives me so much. Clarity. Hope. Inspiration. All the good stuff.
I like to feel small.
When I was 18, I dropped from school to became a photographer, I had all these ambitions how I'm gonna be successful and rich, how I'm going to do big things and make the world a better place. And now it's six or so years later, I'm none of those things and I'm not even sure those are still my goals (well, they aren't really). And I'm not chasing happiness either, as that's such a strange concept. I guess I need to "lower" my ambitions to just..be content. Just be. Couple years ago, I would probably think that I'm such a looser at this point. Damn, I do kinda think I'm a looser.
But I like to be outside. I like to walk around. Next month we're planning to go for another long hike. Like 2000 kilometers long. Want to make a movie from it. I love, love arranging things in a rectangle. Also, we planned finding some available piece of land and putting some sort of non-permanent structure and to just peacefully live and create. Do things we love and care about. Just be. Oh we'll see, but winter ends for now at least.
In case you're still here, sorry for not making much sense lately. Bare with me.
As another winter is coming to and end (at least where I am) I got some time to reflect on what's been going on this past couple months. And looking back, there was a few things that, I think will have some impact on my life in the future, that's probably why I feel the need to write them down over here, so I can one day maybe go back and look at where I was. (although I rarely do such things today, I guess this will maybe change once I'll get older)
Winters are always extra hard on me. By nature, I'm quite a depressive bummer with this sadness and darkness just sitting inside and although I do my very best to work on it (or with it) (mostly by spending as much time as I can a)outdoors b)creating stuff) winters are always extra challenging both for me and for my girl. Last year I ran away from the snow and general gloom, which turned out to be kinda great idea, this year, after getting back to czechia from walking across those damn pyrenees I had this grandioze plan involving learning how to ski, building a portable wood stove&heated shelter system and instead of running away from to run towards a winter cold, preferably to Sweden. Yeah, we know how life sometimes goes and non of this happened (yet..but it will goddamned!) instead I did something I wanted (and should) to do for a long time.
I switched cameras, switched some gears inside my brain and (finally) jumped into cinematography & filmmaking.
boy oh boy, moving pictures. Do they fascinate the shit out of me.
I am absolutely hooked.
It's still a photography. It's still lighting and putting things into rectangle (which happens to be things I really,really love) but with just whole lot a dimensions and complexity and possibilities added to it. And it's..exciting. I haven't felt this level of creative excitement for a while if I'm being totally honest. Sure I love taking stills. And this is totally different, yet it seems to be not as different at all. I have been shooting stills for almost ten years at this point (and six years as a career) and I'm glad that I have some sort of foundations to build on. And I will need to build because I do suck badly right now. (no surprises after two months with new camera in a new craft although I was a little pissed that I haven't became a Roger Deakins in my first week of picking up a camera)
Speaking of cameras, I sold my X100 and switched to Panasonic GH3. Yeah, I know. It was weird at first, switching the camera systems after 4 beautiful years with Fuji (it felt almost like a breakup) , but I wasn't able to get my hands on XT2 (which seems to be the only current fuji camera which is really great for video) and the GH3 was the one I could afford with the money from my X100 so I went with it. Although originally I was dabbling with the idea of buying proper camera, but turns out that would be much, much more expensive- but damn, do I feel like Canon C300 would be such a great tool- but GH3 is a great camera, the video quality is just amazing or at least way over my league right now - I got it with surprisingly good 14-140 lens and this kit couldn't probably be any more different from X100/iphone I was using last couple years. It's not particulary breathtaking optically (or super fast) but you will get the shot, which counts right now in this learning stage. GH3 viewfinder sucks balls so I bought this LCD viewfinder and it makes a massive difference in ease of use of the whole camera (I would buy it even for stills camera knowing how great it is), It's a little pricey for a piece of plastic with magnet and loupe, but totally worth it. (and way cheaper than Zacuto) and I also bought a tripod. finally, I found I tripod that I fell in love with. This little fella. I mean, it's kinda cheap bastard, but so am I and it seems like we'll be a good fit. Also, variable ND filter, super useful thing. No external mic yet, as my winter wasn't a blockbuster financially. Which, yeah, I hope it will pick up again. I mean, people used to buy (much) more of my photos, so it's not like they suck I guess. Optimism. Bright future. Nobody said it will be easy. And it's not. Deep breath. One leg in front of the other.
So anyways, I spent my winter learning about my new craft, it seems that cinematography and filmmaking is a little more technical with all those codecs, framerates, bitrates and whatever but I'm slowly getting through and learning. I wish I could show you something I shot, instead of just talking but only thing I have right now just.. sucks pretty bad and I'm little ashamed to show it to anybody to be honest. Oh what the heck. Ok, documenting carol as she creates her art was where I've been doing my baby steps. So far just a simple montages like these. To document her work at this point in time. They suck,mostly from editing/flow standpoint, but it's a process.And I think I can see bit of a learning curve that gave me hope, so.. As Ed Wood says in that great Tim Buton's movie "worst film you ever saw? Well, my next one will be better!":
(I decided that I will edit my videos on iphone, and once I'll make it work smoothly, I think it will be really cool thing which might be interesting for some of you people-ask me about it in few months!)
Here are some screengrabs of some shots that I kinda like:
Another thing that is giving me some hope that I'll be allright: Few years back, I shot this little video as an experiment:
And now it's here, on a website of this great canadian band Wintersleep (my photo is also on a booklet from their new album "The Great Detachment") (!!!!OMG, on that album they have a song featuring no other than Geddy Lee from Rush) (which is Carol's most favourite band) (speaking about small victories, right?) So maybe there really is some hope for me, we'll see. Lot of work ahead.
Speaking of work. I quit being on social networks (instagram and twitter) like a two months ago. (I'm not on facebook for more than two years) and it's great! Lot of headspace cleared by doing that. I kinda loved being on instagram and maybe I'll go back someday, but right now? Man, if you can, I highly recommend stepping away from all those time/attention eaters. You'll probably feel a little more lonely for a couple of days, but then-BAM- the mist will go away and you'll have more energy to just create for sake of creating, knowing that probably nobody will see it so you just doing it for yourself and not caring about those fucking likes. Or something. I don't know. Ok, this post is officially a mess.
Well, my next one will be better!
In case you still reading this, I hope you're well!
...Looking back last two years, my life really has been about sharpening skills. My travel, outdoor, photography and storytelling skills. Working on relationship with my amazing girl. Doing the work. Building foundations for good career (hopefully) to come one day
Walking those 1700 kilometres (1000 miles) across spain’s pyrenees mountain range from mediterranean sea to atlantic ocean is not (in my eyes) some say..grand adventure. It’s not climbing Meru. It’s not crossing north pole- It doesn’t sound that impressive I don’t think anyone would sponsor such trip. But.. it’s something. Something totally adequate to the level of where we are as a couple of (as we call ourselves sometimes) "adventure artists”. That being said:
I shot a lot of photos during this trip. everything with my trusty Fuji X100T camera which is still going strong (except for some viewfinder problems) considering the fact that this camera is dangling on my side everyday, rain or shine for months (I would say I’m a power user)- this camera is a champ and it’s a beast. Here’s how it look like on the end
More and more I’m finding myself wishing to have a little longer reach, maybe some nice zoom and nicer video - I’ll probably try my luck and shoot an email to people at fujifilm- maybe they’ll be up for some deal, we’ll see. (edit: yeah, nah, they weren't) I edited all images on the go on my iPhone and the whole trip we we’re powered by solar panels which is something that I’m really excited about as the solar energy is just a truly fascinating technology.
As far as my approach to photography: I enjoy the luxury (or need) of constant evolution- right now I would say I’m still trying to juggle how pretty the images are and how really real they are (feel). My struggle with most outdoor adventure images I see (especially on instagram) is that they simply doesn’t feel real enough to me. They are pretty, sure, but I don’t know- my life isn’t as pretty and I don’t really believe anyone else’s is. I obviously want them nice enough so you would at least look at them /someone would pay money for them but I want them little dirty. I want them to smell a little bit, reflect my life, you know? Because, let’s be honest: I shoot them for me. I want to one day go back to them a think “hey that was fun/sucked/what a life that was”. But I’m still learning it, after six years, still learning how to put multiple layers to an image (visually and story-wise) and still trying to find out if those pictures can make me rich. They can. Not financially as it seems so far.
Anyways, I think I’ll let photos do the talking for now. I was pretty much struggling with how to do the edit and then I choose to tell this in somehow chronological order so you get a better idea of the scale of such thing: from sea where we started with our friends (and some of my favourite peoples on the planet) Miguel&Anna all the way to atlantic where we finished alone just with Carol. We pretty much followed the idea of GR11/HRP path, but we did a plenty of tweaks to do it “more remote” as GR11 is designed to basically be 45 day hikes between huts&refuges, we did it more like 6-12 days stretches between resupplies. And the whole think took as four months. Looking back, they are probably more sensible way how to spend four months than walking everyday. But damn, do I love it more than anything else. Just roam the planet and create stuff along the way. Finding my place and purpose here.
Ok, now please enjoy the journey I tried to re-created with these photos. Enjoy the freedom, determination and love for this beautiful planet that I try to put into them.
Yeah, so that’s about it. 4 months later. I Hope you got the idea about the whole experience.
When I was planning for this, I was looking around the web and found plenty of practical information a post much more detailed and better written than this one, still: if you have any question about this whole thing- ask in comments/shoots me an email & I’ll do my best to help but honestly, I suck when it comes to planning: I thought it will be around 800kilometers and take us two months. It was twice that. So..you know what? Maybe go somewhere else for practical informations :)
Ok, I think that's all for now, I better go. Maybe cross some other mountain range.
PS: you can follow me on instagram to get more up-to-date rants and stories a and photos, my instagram account is little less crappy that my blog. And if you want to license any of these photos for your project/whatever- they are on my stocksy portfolio (you can use code PAUL_S20 to get some discount or whatever)