Escaping Magic with Photography

elycia rose hill photography alex kazam magic winter

I’m almost sure it’s December, only because November just ended.

These two months are the busiest for me in terms of private events. Last week I was starting to feel like an automaton. Going through the motions, getting to the gigs, doing the performances. Only to sleep, maybe eat and do it all over again the next day. Most of the days are filled with one or two different events. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to perform. But for some reason, I started to feel lifeless. Removed from the reality I was in. It felt like the world was happening all around me. Even though I knew I was a part of it, I felt like a third-person ghost. It was like I was floating a few feet above, watching a high-definition version of myself carry on through life.

In reality, this probably wasn’t as problematic as it felt at the time. For some reason, I couldn’t help feeling a terrible angst during this time. On one hand, it felt like I had complete control over everything, on the other, I had absolutely no control over anything. None of this makes any sense when I read it out loud. However I can’t be bothered to not attempt to share with you what I was feeling. Maybe you’ll be able to relate in some small way.

All I knew was I had to change something, and regain my first person perspective of my life.

In order to do that, I put down the magic, mind-reading and business books, I shut off my David Mamet Masterclass and made my way to Henry’s Photography store. I spent about $600 on an external flash for my Canon T5i. My haul also included the MagMod Pro kit (a bunch of stuff that helps you manipulate and control the light coming off your flash). As well as a GorillaPod, a reflector, and some batteries. In hindsight, this may have been mainly retail therapy. I rather think of it as a way to increase the range of my photography skills.

With this in mind, I by no means pretend to be a professional photographer. Indeed, I have been hired (and paid) a couple dozen or more times to do both photography (and videography) for individuals, couples, events, etc. Either as the solo photographer\videographer, or as part of a team. My registered business name is Kazam Entertainment, Media & Fitness. I have always had this grandiose vision that one day the Kazam Empire will be a one-stop shop for people with important events coming up. So whether you need to get in shape for a big destination wedding. Maybe you need someone to capture the moments leading up to, as well as the ones happening at that wedding. Or you need some entertainment the day of the wedding. I am hoping to create a roster that allows me to offer different packages, to save time and effort.

For this reason, I have always kept up with learning as much as possible about the photography and videography world as I can. As well as getting various health & fitness certifications, and filling my professional circle with people whose interests and skills align with my ultimate greater vision.

Even so, the point of this post isn’t to write a sales letter. It’s to share how picking up my camera, and going outside to do some photography – helped me dive back into the hustling holiday season, with more focus and vigor.

To clarify, my life is one filled with a myriad of responsibilities and roles. Each with unique challenges, requiring specific skills, and a lot of time. I am a small service-based business owner. I have to sell my service, act as marketer, graphic designer, stage manager, negotiator, advertiser, and of course performer, to name a few. Sometimes I outsource, sometimes I do it all myself. Either way, I usually only have one shot to get it right. If I don’t answer that phone call or email in time, or I don’t provide my client with a poster to share with their staff, I may face consequences. A failed opportunity, or maybe a smaller audience size, and one that is less excited for me being there. Above all, my life is one of on-going public relations.

As a result, the dissonance I was starting to experience was probably quite normal. So, coming back to my point: I got a basic handle of my new photography gear. Next, I charged my batteries, and took some test shots of my partner Elycia at her home.

A couple of them turned out so well, that Elycia asked me if she could post one of them to her Instagram. If that’s not success, I don’t know what is!

The following day, I took my friend Bruce Black out to the local cemetery and spent a couple hours getting some headshots of him. We also played around with different creative, slightly comical ideas. At one point there was a deer skull in the background, and Bruce with a bloodied card pierced on a big scary Survivor Man style knife. (The headshot made it to Bruce’s InstagramI’m not sure the others will ever see the public’s eye.)

All in all, that last sentence, is kind of my point. I didn’t set myself up with the expectation of capturing anything that was worthy of making onto anybody’s social media. Though I’m glad that they were pleased with some of the results of our time spent together.

I was more interested in just escaping the world of magic for a bit. Specifically, I wanted to escape being in public.

Photography allows me to hide behind a bunch of settings I understand just well enough to capture a moment the way I choose to see it. It forces me to get my ass in the pool and start swimming. The hardest part is turning the camera on. Once I do that, there’s no stopping me. Photography creates this calm sense of anonymity. It’s just me, a piece of technology I can hide my face behind (which as complex and hard-to-comprehend the elitist shutterbugs might have you believe, is really rather a crude and elementary device that’s been around for almost 200 years) and my subject.

Ultimately, I think this quote from Ansel Adams gets it just right:

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”