40 Days | Catharsis

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

– Ferris Beuller

I haven’t posted online in 40 days, by far the longest stretch I have ever gone without writing.  It would be an understatement to say that the last few months have been a little surreal, with life’s rollercoaster of highs and lows moving at a breakneck pace.  All of this necessitated taking a break from my creative work and from this community of people that I love so much.

But here we are now, just 5 days away from Christmas, with so much to catch up on:  Meaningful stories from a small documentary project that I worked on with Fujifilm, my thoughts (and a new article) about working with a pre-production copy of the Fujifilm X-Pro3, a new interview that was recently published on The Phoblographer website and, sadly, a few thoughts on the recent passing of my father.

Let’s get started, shall we?

 

CREATE FOREVER – HOW A PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT SAVED LIVES:

In early October Fujifilm and Muse Storytelling launched Create Forever, a new series that focused on the reasons behind why we create art.  It wasn’t a series about shutter speeds or apertures.  There was to be no discussion about lens choices or off camera lighting.  No, this was to be something different… Create Forever is a celebration of the humanity behind what we all do.

My journey with PTSD, and how photography helped save me, was one of the mini documentaries that was released as the project rolled out (when it first launched I wrote about it HERE).  This video was actually a bit of a capstone for me, coming on the heels of more than a year of talking about my journey in interviews, on podcasts, and on stages all over Vancouver.  

Immediately after the video came out people reached out to thank me for telling my story, to tell me about their own journey, and occasionally to ask for help.  I am talking about hundreds of emails and messages within days of the release.  Every one of these conversations has meant so much to me, but this one was particularly special (I share it here with the author’s permission):

“I worked in law enforcement, but had to take an early medical retirement due to chronic anxiety.  I lost my wife to divorce and my closest friend to illness.  For the last year I have thought about ending it all, but today I went out and took photos instead.  Thank you.”

I stared at the screen for a long time after I received that.  It is one thing to save lives and care for people as a paramedic, or to tell your story on the hopes of inspiring others, but what do you say when you receive something like that?

I am so proud to have been a small part of this project, and to work with my friends at Fujifilm and Muse Storytelling.  This campaign has touched lives.  If you haven’t seen my video yet, or the street photography tips video that accompanies it, you can see them here:

Create Forever with Ian MacDonald
Create Forever Tutorial – Street Photography

 

THOUGHTS ON THE NEW FUJIFILM X-PRO3:

In September I spent a few weeks with a pre-production copy of the new Fujifilm X-Pro3.  This was the fourth or fifth time Fujifilm has asked me to work with them on a product launch, and it is always an exciting process.  

My chaotic fall meant that I didn’t post anything when the X-Pro3 initially launched.  A lot has already been written about this wonderful new camera since then, so I will just echo the thoughts of my friends that also tested it:  The camera is amazing, featuring cutting edge technology in an elegantly simple design. 

Here is an article on the Fujifilm website where I talk about my initial thoughts on the camera:

The Best of Both Worlds – The New Fujifilm X-Pro3

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PHOBLOGRAPHER WEBSITE:

In November I had the pleasure of speaking with the fine folks over at The Phoblographer website, who wrote a series about the Create Forever project. You can read the interview I did with them here:

Photography helped Ian MacDonald overcome the darkness of PTSD

 

SAYING GOODBYE:

On November 21st we lost my father to a massive heart attack.  Dad was an amazing man:  the head of our family and a leader in our community.  His loss will be felt for a long time to come, but his legacy will last much, much longer. 

Twenty years as a paramedic taught me that life is uncertain at the best of times.  It taught me that we need to live the best life that we can now, because we don’t know how many tomorrows we have left.  Dad was starting his 80th year when he passed, but he somehow managed to pack hundreds of years of accomplishments into his time here on Earth.  His was a life to be celebrated.

He taught me how to be a man / father / husband.  He supported my love of creating art, and served as a moral compass when I needed it.  I have a lot to unpack before I can write about him properly, but one day I hope to tell you all about the man that he was.

 

LOOKING FORWARD:

It feels good to write again.  I feel rusty, but it feels good.  It feels cathartic.  Next week I will publish my year in review as always, but for now I just want to say thank you to everybody that I interact with through this site and on social media.  Your kind words of support have meant the world to me over the last month or two.

I started this post with one of my favourite quotes from Ferris Beuller:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Last month life dictated that I stop for a little while.  Now, I encourage all of you to do the same over the next couple of weeks.  Spend time with your family, friends and loved ones.  Celebrate life, do what you love, and remember those who are no longer with us.

I wish you all the very best over the holiday season.

Cheers,

Ian

The Injury Chronicles – Part Two: Assembling The Watchers

We have all felt fear – that sense that something is wrong even when we can’t put our finger on it.  Perhaps it is a gut feeling that tells us not to walk down a certain street one evening, despite it being on our usual route home.  Maybe you have felt unsettled in a lonely parking lot, your eyes constantly scanning while you hurriedly unlock the car door.  I know that I felt unsettled many times as a paramedic, such as when we would approach pitch black houses at 3am or when we were surrounded by a crowd that was turning angry on a scene.  Fear is an intrinsic thing, primal in nature, and because of that it is used by many creatives in their work (I’m looking at you Stephen King).  

When I am out shooting I will occasionally use an emotion as a source of inspiration for my photography (happiness, surprise, fear, etc).  Over the last year I have had the idea of “The Watchers” in the back of my mind… a feeling that maybe there is something dark and foreboding following us that might be a threat.  As an exercise in creativity I have been working with composition, darkness and silhouettes to try to create this feeling in some of my photographs.

This is the first time I have put some of these images together in a series.  I am definitely still exploring this idea of shooting to a specific emotion, but I thought I would share these first steps with all of you.

Cheers,

Ian

Note:  The Injury Chronicles is a series of photo essays, with minimal text, that I am posting while I rehabilitate a hand injury.

The Injury Chronicles – Part One: The Streets of Toronto

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted many new articles lately.  It isn’t because of lack of content;  I’ve currently only edited personal work up to July so I still have a lot of new work to share.  It is, rather, that I am rehabilitating a hand injury that has become a roadblock to shooting, typing, and playing guitar.  You know, just the main things I do to make a living and for personal enjoyment.  🙂

Having something small get in the way of my work (like a hand injury) was frustrating at first.  There is always a silver lining though, and I have come to appreciate this quiet period of time away from the creative process.  I am viewing this break as an opportunity to be with family, to re-charge as a person and to get inspired by the world around me again.  I’ve been making notes, conceptualizing ideas, storyboarding projects, and I’m excited by the possibilities once I have full use of my hand again.  People often have a fear of missing out on things or of falling behind, but the truth is that breaks are good.

…and in the meantime?

Well, I have a lot of photo essays sitting on my computer that I haven’t posted yet.  They are random and diverse, and I’m going to use this opportunity to post several of them over the next few weeks.  We will start today with a collection of new images from the Toronto street photography workshop that I taught this past July

I hope you like them!

Cheers,

Ian