Walking to a Goal; RIP Robert Frank

Plus Novel Experiences slow our perception of time, Editing Your Ideas and more!

In my typology of walks, I’ve found the epic to be the most fulfilling. These day walks are between 4-6 hours and have generally been executed in pursuit of a long term project. I wish I could take these type of walks every day but that’s a challenge for a variety of reasons, so instead I have to pick and choose my days, and plan in advance. I conduct research, make notes in a journal before (and after the walk), and generate a map to be used as a rough guideline.

When these walks are completed, there’s always a satisfying sense of accomplishment. From a practical perspective, I’ve come back with rolls of film with new photographs and checked off a destination on my project list. Physically I always return tired and a little sore but I find that to be a signal that I’ve pushed my body to certain limits which I believe is necessary for good health. Through and through, it’s a solid days work, and always enjoyable and interesting.

As I’ve thought about this more recently I’ve focused more on the power of setting goals which is a skill I’ve never been great at despite repeatedly being told how important it is to personal and career development. It’s not that I haven’t had goals but I’ve taken more of a go with the flow type of philosophy rather than something more concrete. But as I’ve moved into my 40s, I’ve started look more critically at my time management, especially when it comes to pursuing creative projects, so I’m setting more goals and sticking with them.

This isn’t to stay that every walk needs a goal. Sometimes it’s good to just get outside, roam around and let your mind wander. But even in those situations, I’ve started to set smaller goals for myself. I pick a destination or decide to walk a known route. Even the goal of walking to the grocery store or running an errand brings a sense of satisfaction.

I hope to flesh out these ideas further down the line. I need more walking time to think about it. Do you set goals for your walks? Feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts or if you’ve got a new project to share. As always, you can catch me on Twitter and Instagram.

RIP Robert Frank

“Tri-X film! So fast: 400 A.S.A., forgiving of movements of the camera and its targets. It could seem as if Frank threw his Leica into the world and let it catch what it could, which happened, without fail, to be something exciting—fascination, pain, hilarity, disgust, longing. . . . No limit to the variety of feelings, with the one uniform rule that they be bleedingly raw.” - New Yorker

I was given a copy of The Americans as a gift from my aunt and uncle 10 or so years ago. By that time I’d seen the book a few times and knew its importance. Anyone studying photography will come upon Robert Frank and this book early on. It’s almost universally considered a seminal work of art in the history of photography.

For me, the power of the book is unlocked in the meticulous editing and sequencing. This was pointed out to me early on by mentors so I paid close attention, and I’m thankful I did. The most celebrated photographs tend to be candid up close photos of people but I’ve always paid just as much attention to the landscape photographs. There are fewer of them in the book but I’ve always found them perfectly placed in the sequence, like a solemn reminder that we’ll all disappear from the landscape at some point and that we should think about what we’re leaving behind.

Novel Experiences Slow Our Perception of Time

“…habitual situations require much less of our attention than novel ones and, as we age, we become much more likely to be fixed in our routines, and much less likely to encounter anything out of the ordinary.” - aeon

Another example of how walking might be the fountain of youth, especially if you can turn your walks into novel experiences. I have a feeling this ties into what I was speaking to above about setting goals for the walks, especially in terms of exploring new territory.

Editing Your Ideas

“People can, when they have those moments where they have lots and lots of thoughts, they might need to write those down and then maybe at a later point evaluate those thoughts,” Wieth says. “[A] very important part of creativity is being able to evaluate which ones of these are worthwhile, which ones are meaningful, and which ones aren’t really that original.” - Fast Company

When I was in my twenties I foolishly believed that I didn’t need to write down any of my ideas because my theory was that if they were worthwhile, then I would always remember them, so forgetting became my form of editing. Given I don’t recall any of those ideas, I’ve either lost out on pure creative gold, or my theory has been proven to be correct. I think for my own sanity, I’ll go with the latter.

I have changed my habits the last few years, and have a nice stash of notes and documents with ideas. I guess time will tell if the new process yields new results. But my solid advise these days is to always write down your ideas, then edit them. Consider it a common sense reminder!

Further Reading

  • Fighting Instagram's $1.3 Billion Problem—Fake Followers [Wired]

  • Is Creativity in Your DNA? [Artsy]

  • Cars are pushing out bikes and pedestrians to the applause of the influential and powerful. [The Outline]