work ethic

Someone recently asked me why I spent so much time and working so hard on my photography class this term, and it gave me pause. To them, it seemed as if I was working excessively hard, and they couldn't imagine spending so much time on anything, let alone something they were ostensibly doing for fun. It was difficult for them to imagine working at fun, and I thought that was an interesting difference between us. 

So how much work was I actually doing?

Working on class assignments took me about 15-20 hours a week; sometimes more, sometimes less. That included scheduling and coordinating the shot with whoever I've press-ganged into being in front of the camera; figuring out what I'm going to shoot and how best to shoot it; the actual time spent behind the camera shooting; editing the photos once I've taken them; and dropping the shots off to be printed at the lab, then mounting them. Then there's the three hours of brutal critique inside the classroom. It's a nontrivial amount of time. 

I work 50ish hours a week at the day job, and spend 12-15 hours in the car commuting to said day job. Weightlifting takes up another 7-9 hours, then add the 15-20 hours a week for homework. All told, that's 102-117 hours spent doing 'work,' out of the 168 hours in a week — over two-thirds. If you're someone used to putting in 40 hours a week at a desk, then coming home to spend an evening in front of the television, then going to bed to do it all over again the next day, I can see why it might seem excessive. It's a completely different way of living. And yet, I can't imagine how else you'd go through life. At least, not without being utterly miserable.

Last week was the final class of the term, in which we all discussed each other's work as a whole. That I'd put in both a lot of hard work and a lot of intensity into the work came up a few times, which was a surprise. I'd not really mentioned how much work I'd done, as it's not my style to staple my hand to my forehead and whine about a workload. But it managed to come through anyway.   

How does the adage go? Obsessed is the word the lazy use to describe the dedicated. 

Which isn't to say that everyone who chooses not to spend the same amount of time I do on work is lazy; other people have other priorities, and there's nothing wrong with that — for them. For me, it's another story entirely. 

waxing nostalgic

I'd slide the finished, framed pictures into their huge plastic bags, sealing them, writing the customer's name on masking tape on my hand, then sticking it to the package I'd made, then hefting the package into the series of slots where it'd go until the customer came for it. ... For you kids out there, instead of doing your layouts in Quark or InDesign, you used to have to take your copy to the typographer, who'd type it up on a typesetter, then hand you the photostat to cut out and paste up onto your board.

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Not having inherited that level of cleanliness, this is my version: making an already complicated schedule even more complicated, by piling another extremely labor-intensive project onto the list of things I'm supposed to be doing.... I become convinced that surely an epileptic six-year-old could do better, and I should just light the entire home studio on fire, so there was never any evidence of my failed attempts.

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