Roundup and Outlook into 2017Dec 13, 2016
Secondly, my book project about lesbian women is going really, really well and I’m beyond happy about it. The five women I portray here in Switzerland are strong and self-confident despite the challenges they face every day; it’s wonderful not only to work with them but also to know them and be friends with them. I’ve also interviewed two men who are connected to the ladies’ stories, and their accounts are honest and open as well. It’s so satisfying to see my project grow every month. I can’t wait to go back to conclude the South Africa chapter early next year and figure out a publication strategy.
Last March, I started an awesome photojournalistic assignment for my agency, Keystone: I’m documenting the everyday life of a Syrian refugee family close to Zurich, in an unhurried, un-newsy sort of way, as an addition and in balance to all the images you see of refugees every day. Instead of focusing on the drama of the recently arrived, I’m looking for photos depicting the normalcy, the unspectacular, the everyday lives of migrants settling down here in Switzerland. Such an assignment, in these dire times (more on this below), is hard, if not impossible, to come by. I whole-heartedly commend Keystone for their commitment to storytelling and for documenting this contemporary issue in-depth—and I love photographing the Missre family and getting to know them better with each visit.
In the spring, I went to Hamburg and London for portfolio meetings. While I can’t say I’ve gotten a ton of assignments since from any of these new contacts, it was still great to see clients and meet prospective ones. If you don’t have to do it every day, it’s actually exhilirating to hustle every once in a while.
As always, I’ve read many books, listened to podcasts and watched a ton of TV series and movies this year. I love listening to podcasts while making dinner and I love going to the movies in the late afternoon when everyone is still at work. (Before you consider quitting your job and becoming a freelancer thinking “sweet hours!”: I often get up at five and go to my office around six. Ack…)
Here are my favorites from this year:
Book: The Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly. I’ve long been a fan but I’m re-reading all books in consecutive order now and I hope it will take me long time. They’re so good! Also, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. I also love her podcast. It’s so interesting to me to learn about the four tendencies (I’m an upholder all the way) and the way we deal with habits. Take the quiz here! And Stephen King’s On Writing. Very inspiring.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Minimalists podcast. I always listen to it as soon as it’s published but I get annoyed by their blabber sometimes.
Best movie OF ALL TIMES? Spotlight. Was there anything else playing this year?
I wouldn’t know because I watched this one 34,867 times.
In September, I went to Kosovo for the Swiss women’s magazine Annabelle. It was a week of straight-up journalism and it came at exactly the right time. I loved it. I went to bed happy every night and woke up thrilled in the mornings for yet another day of journalistic and photographic investigating.
This year especially though, I’ve been getting a bit frustrated with Swiss media houses and their tendency to boost their income with corporate collaborations, caring only about dividends and treating their publications like an afterthought. It’s been a long time since I’ve shot a real story and not a sponsored article—but maybe I’ve just been unlucky this year, who knows.
In general (attention, please, we’re moving away from the highlights and towards the lows of this year) I’ve noticed some strange behaviours from people working in this beautiful industry of ours, and it’s all quite new to me. I could list some examples, but I’ve decided to practice under-reacting from here on out. (It’s very hard for me. Hopefully I’ll get better at it!) Sometimes people don’t understand that by acting and doing business in an unethical way, they hurt the very same industry they themselves work for and depend upon.
As these lows accumulated in the past couple of months, I felt like maybe I myself was the center of this dark hole, that everything I touched would eventually turn to ashes. (Needless to say, I also wallowed in self pity a lot and awfulized every small detail.)
It’s getting harder for us photographers to pursue an honest business and work on our personal projects—you know, the ones that we work on for years, the ones that magazines like to feature so much? Yes, those. Every year, our fees get slashed—I’ve actually ended up running a deficit on quite a few of these advertorials media houses make a ton of money from. So, looking long and hard at the numbers, I’ve decided to step away from sponsored articles for a while and shoot either traditional editorial stories (for a fee, however small it may be) or corporate content (paid appropriately). I’ll also take some time off in 2017 to work exclusively on my book project, figure out what steps to take next in my career, and gain some distance and perspective.
But first, I’ll enjoy a two-week-vacation in Italy, my favorite country in the world!
Have a wonderful Christmas and see you in 2017! Onward and upward.
On the ferry in Lissabon, Portugal, 2015.