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A new camera needs a new project

So, I haven’t updated. In a really long time. It’s not that I’ve been busy, because, I’ve been working far more normal hours than I ever did at the newspaper. It’s that, I haven’t had my pulse on the news biz. I don’t know what my place is right now. So I’m not sure what to say. I’m still writing and editing on a daily basis. Yes, I’m still reporting and talking to strangers daily, but in a far different and slower way. For the first time since I started college, I’m not out reporting in the field every day.

I’ve been thinking about what that means and how I feel about it. The truth? I miss it a bit. Maybe a lot. (I’m still healing, I think, from the years of breakneck speed as a cub reporter.) But I really like my new job and company, and I love the balance and stability it’s given my life. But I keep thinking, surely, there must be fun and interesting things I can do to get back some of the things I liked about that beat reporting role. I’m creative and outgoing and enterprising. I just haven’t been able to decide where I want to productively expend my after-work hours energy. However, I’ve had an inkling it should be something that allows me to keep two feet in digital media, because although its never been the primary role of my day job, it’s always been and going to be a passion of mine.

So, today, I got the kick in the butt I think I need to start formulating something that will keep me in both places. Otherwise, I’ll have a quite expensive paperweight hanging around my apartment.

Each year, my company collects the swag companies send along and holds a raffle/trivia competition on the half-day of work on Christmas Eve. (This year, everyone gets Christmas Eve and the half-day before Christmas Eve off to make-up for a weekend Christmas. That’s why this event happened today instead of tomorrow.) Well, at the event today, the top prizes included a Nintendo Wii, an iPad, and a Flip HD video camera. I wasn’t expecting to take home anything — because I suck at trivia and because my luck is never good. BUT, they drew my name for the Flip. So I’m the new proud owner of a 16GB Flip Slide HD video camera. (I should put a few exclamation points there, because I’m super excited about this! So !!)

Many of you probably already own a Flip, I know. But I don’t didn’t. I’ve ogled them and toyed with them and envied you all for having them. I’ve thought, that would be really sweet to own one. But I’ve never been able to justify paying $150-$250 for a device (it’s $199 on Amazon) that does one thing, and something that is a function already included on multiple other devices that I already own. I am a young journalist after all, and that’s a fair chunk of change that I could put to better use buying food or paying off student loans.

Also, I’m in the business of consolidating my technology to a single piece I carry daily — not adding. In my home office now, I have a digital camera (that records video), a USB audio recorder and an iPod Nano — none of which I’ve used in more than a month. (I haven’t used the audio recorder since I left the newspaper, and I haven’t used the digital camera since spring, when I realized my phone’s camera was more than adequate for snapshots.) I consolidated those former daily carry-on items into a single cell phone that fits in my pocket and decently does everything those single-function pieces can.

But here’s the thing: If I were going to deliberately record audio for a slideshow, I would go to the audio recorder to get the best quality. If I wanted to take a picture to blow up to a large size or to use in a specific situation, I’d go to my digital camera. And when I’m taking a road trip or (if I were inclined to go for) a run, I’d grab the iPod for a more in-depth soundtrack than I carry on my phone, where music competes with photos, audio and apps for space.

So, I’ve got this new camera. I wouldn’t have paid for it, but I’m super super excited to have it. And I don’t want it to be wasted on me. I consider it serendipitous. Now, I just need to think of a project that will allow it to shine and give me a reason to learn, use and carry it. I’m also hoping it will help me hone my video editing skills, which have grown rusty.

YOUR TURN: So, what’s your favorite video project done by an independent person? It can be journalism-related or not. I don’t see myself as much of a talk-show type of person, nor an artsy filmmaker. But I’m thinking something where I can showcase the place I live or places I visit and the people and animals I encounter. I have the other tools/skills needed: I recently purchased a new external harddrive, I know how to tell a story and what makes a good story, and I’m handy enough to build a new website or video channel to showcase my work. I just need to figure out what I want to capture and why.

I’m off work now until after the new year (did I mention how fabulous it is to not work newspaper hours/holidays?!). So I’ll be spending the next 10 days thinking about and formulating a use for this camera. Otherwise, I may as well list it on eBay today. I’m going to give it some time, though.

One Response to “A new camera needs a new project”

  1. Jenny Says:

    I’ve been facing the same problem. I used to be out taking photos and shooting video every day and now I work at a desk as an online editor. I’ve been looking for a fun little project to get back into shooting on a regular basis and I’m really inspired by the Washington Post’s style videos.
    Basically they profile a community based on their fashion style.
    I’m thinking of hitting the streets of Toronto when the weather gets a bit nicer and trying something like this.

    Good luck!