Preparing for No Agenda

So…. after several months of staying closed up in my house and dealing with one life situation after another, I am one month away from making what has become an annual pilgrimage to Cambodia. As an extra little treat, I am meeting friends in Hanoi for a few days on the way.  I have no idea what to expect , but am ready for that next challenge in a remote culture to my own.

I have spent the last last several weeks pouring over the writings and work of one of my favorite photographers/teachers: David Duchemin. Don’t know him? Well. you should! He is a humanitarian of the highest order, bringing to the world his vision of cultures, peoples, our earth and so much more. Look him up!  (  I am currently pouring through his course entitled, “The Traveling Lens”. In this most valuable course, he encourages me (yes… it feels that way!) to prepare, but not over plan. I am looking to curate a collection of 12-20 images with a theme and some self-imposed constraints. I am narrowing in on the theme, but it feels like writing a thesis statement…so important to get it right. It needs constraints and focus, but also enough flexibility to allow for serendipitous moments and events..AND not TOO broad! I am instantly taken, kicking and screaming,  back to my masters and doctoral writings.

Being primarily a headshot/portrait artist who travels, I guess that’s where to begin my planning. I have my gear picked out and have narrowed it down. (I always take too much and the airline has issued restrictive new weight requirements for carry on bags.)

I am fascinated by the diverse cultures I am fortunate enough to experience, as I have a group of local friends who take me to the Cambodia they know, without the tourists. Places, people and experiences you never see on a tour bus! I’ve shot the postcards…

So now I reach for that Middle Ground between having all the right gear and the perfect, published shot list. Having been a theatre director for so long, I became accustomed to planning my ass off, scheduling every rehearsal, getting the lighting, tech and dress rehearsals just so, and knowing what opening night would look like when that curtain goes up.

It is a very real challenge for me to just wait and see what presents itself. The energy of the people, the weather, the locations, the light…their life experiences…MY life experiences! Those are the things that are in control. I can only have my theme and constraints in mind, and be ready to immerse myself in those moments.  As the collection grows, it will tell me what I need to know.

As David Duchemin says, “Trust the process”…

And…Get Out of the House…

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