2015-09 When you have no deadline, make one

Parkinson's law = "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."

I completed some edits this past week that have been on my to-do list for some time. It's not that I forgot about them, I saw them on my whiteboards every day for months and months now... Sadly, there are a few more shoots like this that also need my attention and I am currently working on completing those too. My goal is to not only get caught up with previous shoots, but to also develop a better routine for my personal image making.

This applies to anyone trying to accomplish anything. But in my own case, this specific art piece has taken me much longer to complete than I would have wanted.

I shot the components for this image in April of 2014. We shot it, I sorted out the preliminary images from the shoot, sent proofs to my model, and then it sat.

And sat...

And sat...

And waited for me to get it back to it. 

My concept was to make a dress that flowed from the model's upper body, as if it was part of her. Each image (there are three final images in the series) was built out of multiple images and required some careful image manipulation to complete. (read: That's gonna take some time.)

To make it more difficult still on me, we shot three separate concepts on that same shoot date to maximize our time together. One of the concepts was part of a wind/smoke project that I have been working on with multiple models. Because I was going to use some wind/smoke images from another model to be a part of an art show, and I didn't want to steal the thunder of that release, I put this set on hold too. 

"I'll get to it after the summer show," I'd tell myself. This became, "I'll get to it next week" which became "as soon as I clear up these portrait jobs" and led to a million other reasons why I couldn't get to edit some personal projects. Sometimes, even other personal projects get in the way of previously shot ones. Shooting new work has that initial excitement attached to it. Maybe the shoot requires less editing or they're easy edits to do or some other reason. But for what it's worth, the above image was no less important to me than others, it just happened this way.

So this week, after my model had asked about the status of things, I had the presence of mind to do the following and it worked for me.


Instead of getting my back up and feeling defensive, I admitted my failure to her and made the responsibility mine. I didn't try to whitewash the situation or come up with some lame excuse. I apologized and got to work. 

Forgive yourself

I felt badly. I really did... I wasn't just disappointing myself, but more importantly, I was letting someone else down. I want the shoot, the experience, the whole thing to be positive and creative. With creative collaborations, there is no specific timeline like paying work. For jobs, you have an objective, you create the work, you complete it by a deadline. But for personal projects, there is this neverending deadline for things at times. Moving forward, I wanted to feel great about the images I was working on, not doing it out of guilt or shame... Did I realize it was taking too long? Yes, of course. Could I change any of that? Nope! But I could be ok with the here and now and just get started and make it right.


How does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Get going dummy... Don't talk about doing it, just start doing it, and keep doing it until it's done. So this week, I cleared up some time in my calendar and my goal was to get that series completed.


The most important part of starting is completing. It's not enough to get started... I did that last April. What I needed now was consistent work to bring it to completion. Before the day was through, I had the files complete, put in my dropbox and shared with the model.  

So what did this all teach me?

It taught me that I do best when I consistently work on something and complete it.

It taught me that I don't want to get so far behind on projects again and I need to schedule my personal time more effectively.

It also taught me that instead of reacting emotionally, if I deal with the facts and just move forward calmly, that I'll love doing the work and not resent it. 

I look forward to many new projects coming up this year... I have an ambitious list of projects that I'd like to do. I know there will be more that I have not even conceived of yet that will also pop up. But first, I have some more editing to do...


If you enjoyed reading this, or have something you too would like to share, I'd love to hear about it. Please hit the like button under this post, and leave me a comment below.