#41: Walking for Transformation

+ Tim Carpenter interview in ASX | the benefits of making a lot of work

Hello! I can’t tell you how happy I am that February is finally over. It’s my nemesis most years and this year was no exception. So, here’s to the start of a new month with positive vibes!

I’m Bryan and this is my weekly newsletter on walking, New York City, photography, maps and the creative collaboration.

Walking & Wellness: Dedicated walking can transform us in many ways. For me, the last year has been one of the most dramatic transformations of my life. First, physically I went from BMI 33 to 23 in over 18 months. It’s the first time in a decade I’ve been at my ideal BMI. I feel healthier than I have since my teen years when I was highly active with sports. My new sport is walking I suppose.

Second, creatively I’ve developed a new project that I feel aligns most intrinsically with how I envision myself as a person. Hopefully that vague declaration will make more sense in the near future when we launch the first couple episodes of the podcast. Hint: it’s about walking, photography, creativity and maps!

Third, spiritually I feel more connected to my home and New York City and the people that I’m closest to. It’s a feeling of purpose and determination that has somewhat been lacking for a few years.

Something that I’ve learned over the last year is that no transformation is without risks and consequences. No matter how much you plan, life will find a way to challenge you, and sometimes those challenges will be novel, so you’ll have to develop new strategies for dealing with them. I’m going through that right now in a few areas, and it’s been a challenging learning experience. At 43, I’m realizing that some of the negative habits I’ve had over the years have accrued and need to be addressed. I’m certain I’m not the only person reading this confronting those issues.

My dedicated walking routine has been the primary driver of these transformations, and I’m certain it’ll be what allows me to figure how to handle the obstacles. After all, “it is solved by walking.”

Note: I know writing about these issues can come off as self-indulgent. That’s the risk. But I think it’s an important narrative thread I’ve been thinking about so I’m putting it out there. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any thoughts or stories about how walking has transformed an aspect of your life info@bryanformhals.com

Tim Carpenter talks eloquently about his photographic process and psychogeography in this interview in ASX. I wrote a little bit about his recent book Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road in Issue #23. He was also a guest on the LPV Show along with his TIS Books colleagues that you might enjoy.

Maybe just to plant a stake in the ground, I’d also say that topics are not necessary. Which doesn’t at all mean that one can’t have one; just that one needn’t. If I’m interpreting the psychogeography concept properly, I don’t see it as a “topic” but rather as one of many aspects of a separate and singular human being. I don’t think that it’s an insignificant detail that some pictures in The Pond were made in Germany: I see that work as site-based only if the site is within the self. Thus the pictures could be made elsewhere (though perhaps not just anywhere) once the basic formal approach was hit upon and developed.

As for the flaneur-like wandering, yes and amen: I do think photography is the medium of the walker. 

Photography: The issue of topic and place is something that I’ve struggled with over the years so this take has made me think about the dynamic again. It does seem a lot of the landscape oriented books I enjoy tend to stay more ambiguous about the specific locations. On the other hand, I do think knowing where the photographs take place makes the mind wander and want to know more about it. He’s definitely on the money about photography and walking!

One of the most important things about making a lot of work, and having even just a small percentage of it resonate with people, is that it gets more people to buy into the next thing you release. Whether it’s time, money, or collaborators, your body of work enables you to get more resources to actually work on your next thing, which makes it better and unlocks even more after the next release. - Your Quantity Will Improve Your Quality

Productivity: I think the challenge here is that if too much of the work is mediocre then people will tune out, you’ll lose an audience, and then any further production will go ignored. But I do genuinely think that it’s advantageous to put work out into the world when you’ve got it. I’ve always tried to to that, to varying success. Part of this newsletter has been an effort to keep my production on a regular schedule. What do you think? Put the work out there or wait until you’ve got the good stuff only?

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I’m a photographer, editor and creative collaborator working in New York City. You can email me at info@bryanformhals.com or follow me on Instagram & Twitter

This newsletter is a weekly digest mixing updates on my current projects with the articles and media that catch my attention during the week. Topics I’m focusing on these days include walking, urbanism, New York city history, news about photography and photobooks, the attention economy and existential dread.