Never go backwards. Don't give up an inch, don't regress and don't look back - not even for a second. I left this office back in July of last year - and I've been blazing my own path since. Sometimes I miss the people I worked with, I miss the lessons that shaped me into the person I am, and sometimes I reminisce about the security and stability my career had given me. As I flew out to LAX this morning, I looked out of my window in the vast sky of hope, uncertainty and dreams. The entrepreneurial path isn't for everyone - but if there's any ounce of passion inside you to step outside your comfort zone and follow that one thing that makes you happy, you better do it. I used to look out of these windows and be so envious of my friends, mentors and peers who were traveling the world - seeing exciting things and meeting new people. I don't know if I'll ever reach the level of success I'm working towards, but I know for a fact if I died today, I'd die as a man content in knowing that I did it all to the fullest and without any reserve. If you never like or read another status I post, for God's sake, stop fucking around and do what you want to do. JUST DO IT!!!!!
Never thought years ago I'd be doing what I love full time. I worked a corporate 9-5, wore a suit and tie (that didn't last long), and tried to find my place at a company that I didn't quite feel at peace with. I used to see all of my peers who were flying around the world, seeing new things and meeting amazing people - all whilst doing what invigorated them the most. I'd research countless articles about people who quit their jobs to pursue their careers to pursue their purpose and always thought - one day, that'll be me, one day I'll become that brave, one day..
Now I do just that. I fly and travel to many places and meet so many new, talented people that I'm grateful to create for. So to anyone who's ever gave a damn, encouragement, discouragement, and everything in between - I thank you and I'm beyond grateful.
To everyone who wants to fulfill their purpose- you can.
Photo by James Lindsey
Momentum is everything. There's a lot of times where business gets slow, or you receive work that's difficult to ignite the creative spark you need. You don't have to believe in God or be in tune with the universe - but acknowledging, protecting and taking advantage of momentum is vital to surviving as an entrepreneur. As a director/filmmaker - I only obtain more work if I release dope work, so the busier I am, the busier I become. With only being one person 99% of the time, I have to be selective about who I choose to work with. I have to select jobs that will showcase my best abilities and bring out new energy. But sometimes, no matter how small, or under budget the project is, I'll take it. Why? Because everything goes toward building momentum - for your brand and reputation. You never know which job is going to place you in front of the right people at the right time. You have to treat every job like it's a million dollar project. Get that extra take, try that new technique, stay positive, lead by example and show no fear.. And I promise you that in time, you're going to be so overwhelmed with offers you can't stand it. Beware of being around others who don't match your current momentum. Energy is transferable, and it's hard to keep moving forward and keeping up the pace around negative and unmotivated people. Not everyone is meant to share your blessings and support you - not everyone is there for that. So for the love all things positive, yourself and your passion - at all costs, protect your momentum.
Sometimes in what I do, there isn't always a clear cut, defined plan for any given project. I think in directing, especially music videos - if you're the type of person that requires order and organization with every project, you're going to eventually pull your hair out. I can't tell you how many situations I've stepped in or directed that had no clear vision, or the vision we had clearly wasn't going to work. I think it's moments such as those that define what type of director you are. It defines your reputation and how much trust clients confide in you that you're still going to provide a quality project at the end of it all. In a culture where we are obsessed with the end result, directing doesn't mature you at the very end of it all, it refines you in the process. That same mentality also applies for photography. Everyone's a photographer or a videographer until they're dealing with a less than ideal situation that's outside of their comfort zone.
The moment right before I direct a music video is hard to describe. I don't have any rituals or certain things I do. I just find a place to sit alone, and meditate how ridiculously bad ass the project will look. I only keep the end game in mind. Not the clients, or the models, equipment, treatment or any other commotion around me. I simply take slow, deep breaths and quietly remind myself this is what I do for a living and I'd rather be no place else. Set life til' the next life.
BTS Jordan Mason's "Drop" music video shoot.
Since I began directing and filming, I've seen so many changes in everything from best practices, to style trends and the newest technology. Entry to market is so low, everyone is rushing to dig up their old DSLR's and ordering the newest Sony gear with their Amazon Prime accounts - all to jump into this new era of digital filmmaking and photography.
While the journey is exciting and those same enthusiasts fall in love, many times their brand is an afterthought compared to other items they could invest in. I always tell new shooters the most important thing one could do is shoot as much as they can, find what they love and make that their niche.
A concentrated, high level portfolio is always better than a random assortment of subjects and growth - it often confuses and frustrates potential clients. But branding is a powerful asset - allowing one to not only create and leave their own legacy in this huge world of creativity, but also having the ability to say no to jobs that wouldn't add any value to your portfolio.
As I was sipping my coffee this morning, I was reminded how awesome Starbucks is when you consider the strength of their brand. The most important aspect of Starbucks isn't their association with their beloved coffee and foods - but that they're connected strongly with productivity. Just like Apple is connected to lifestyle - this perspective on branding is genius and beautiful in design. Your brand should transcend your product. It should be associated with a universal quality that everyone can identify with. So just as Apple promotes a lifestyle, and Starbucks promotes productivity, my brand represents passion - one of the strongest emotions of the human condition. What does your brand represent?
Sometimes the very things that'll kill you, are the very things you least expect...
As a professional filmmaker; I only have three rules I try to remember every single day.
1. Find and follow the light.
2. Find and follow all challenges.
3. Find and follow your passion.
Sometimes you have to reach out and establish meaningful relationships because you realize that together, you can create a better result than you could have if you were on your own. This fact will be a key initiative for my brand as I head into 2017. The individual I partnered with on this photo series was none other than the insanely talented Hunter Zieske - I ran into Hunter while filming a fashion exhibition within the city and from our discussion we both expressed a desire to work together for future projects. I had a concept in mind that would give way to my rebranding into Roman Lane Films and mark my work as I create a higher standard for my portfolio. The inspiration was simple, Starboy. Working with Hunter was easily one the best experiences I've had working with a professional photographer to capture my portrait as I wanted the world to see me; an artist obsessed with emotion and story, a perfectionist who also embraces enigma and passion. Hunter nailed it completely, and in turn, I look forward to accompanying him on his upcoming projects to document and depict his work for the world to see. In my best Jay-Z impression, "Allow me to reintroduce myself..."
I've definitely have bought my fairshare of cameras, for all types of different models and each for a different purpose. In a time where technological advances for cameras come almost every instance a new camera is released, the choice for selecting a camera has become more cumbersome than ever.
I too, have become guilty of relentlessly looking for the latest and the greatest as an excuse for putting out better quality work. But to what extent does it begin to become a detriment rather than beneficial? As I've pondered the answer to this question, my experiences have brought me to a few conclusions.
1# Less might be more.
Sure , we all would love that new 50 megapixel Canon or that new Sony sensor that can reach 400,000 ISO, but do you really need it? What type of work do you find yourself performing the most? Have you reached the limits with the tools you have, or are you just bored? I've always allowed my current creative limitations determine what my next investment should be. For example, if I'm booking a lot of nightclub gigs, and I don't have the room or capacity to set up lighting, I might be inclined to invest in the Sony a7s to help me natively see in the darkest conditions. The same camera in the hands of a person who mainly shoots during the day, would be a waste in my opinion.
2# Have You Mastered Your Current Tools?
I can't even count how many times I've seen an artist invest in expensive equipment only to sell it months later, or examine their work to find it sub-par to industry standards. In my mind, I think - why is their work lacking when they have everything they need to execute their vision? Much of that has to do with the user not fully knowing the limitations and capabilities of their own tools. Every camera, lens and apparatus has a sweet spot regarding its specific function. Most times, using a camera or lens outside of its "sweet spot" results in poor performance or produces less than ideal results. Example, there's a reason why a "18-55mm kit lens" might not take great portraits. Are you using a crop sensor or full sensor? Which focal length are you shooting your subject in? Are you using adequate lighting and modifiers to properly expose your subject and their surroundings? How are you editing the images from the kit lens? Are you shooting in RAW or JPEG? There are a myriad of variables that affect a great image and being aware and understanding how they all affect each other is key is getting the best result from your image.
3# Is it Truly Practical?
Knowing if your current setup is practical depends largely on what you're exactly shooting. Each job is different and requires a different set of tools than the last. When we first learn photography or videography, it's instinctive to lean towards a setup that generally does everything. This is the easiest way to enjoy the craft and over time, figure out what you like capturing the most. The bad part about this is, we become lazy and begin looking for "the best" camera, or "the best" lens or the best this and that. Truth be told, such a thing doesn't and never will exist. Every piece of equipment has a few things that it does exceptionally well at, while having a plethora of other functions as "nice to haves". Example, if I shoot mainly portraits as my specialty, the first the most important lens I would invest would be an 85mm prime lens for the way it flatters my subject and depicts their proportions accurately. Most prime lenses also have a shallow depth of field (aperture) that will enable me to separate them from the background creating a nice, smooth fall off/transition. Using a Canon 24-105mm f4 lens covers 85mm and would get the job done, but I would have to work much harder to have it perform remotely close to the prime 85mm lens. Because I understand the practicality between the 24-105mm zoom lens and the 85mm prime lens, that places me a step ahead in the field when I need to obtain a specific result for a client.
These are a few of the many, many thoughts I have regarding having the "best" camera - and in most cases, I try to think about what I might encounter for the day, the type of images I plan to capture and how I want them looking. If you think about your shoots this way, it will not only help produce better images, but also keep you from carrying excessive equipment you don't need.