Surround yourself with passionate people

Yesterday was a very good day.

I went with a couple of my friends to what I thought was a talk by my photography professor Eli Reed, which turned out to be just a small meet up at a speakeasy. It was a dimly lit room (ISO 1600, 1/10, f/1.7 <– that dark) and the first thing Eli said to us was, “look at your eyes! yall must have been looking at computer monitors the whole day!” How.. are his eyes so good?!

I love how when you talk to Eli that he will go off and tell you the most interesting stories about his photography and his interactions with people. I didn’t even bother trying to tell him my boring ass proposal story. He showed us pictures of a young Ryan Gosling, Russell Crow, and his travels to other countries, all backed up with hilarious and ridiculous narration. “So for this one we just poured buckets of ice cold water over Russell’s face until we got it right.”

eli & his leica

I picked up his camera, a Leica M9 paired with a 28mm Summicron (summicrons are always f/2 by the way), and turned the focusing knob at the bottom. WOW, it was like butter… so smooth.The M9 is a relatively new camera, yet Eli’s is so worn, so broken in. If you truly love your camera, don’t baby it, use it as much as you can.

I’m of a firm belief that we have to specialize in something, cause it’s only when we mash out our passions to the extreme that we begin to see these little glimpses of elegance.

You’ve seen it too right? When you’re watching an athlete, and it seems  like they’re moving in slow motion. Moving effortlessly through air or water… it’s just breath taking.

Perfection is always a fleeting tease. I mean what’s the point in trying so hard to do something so little? We practice everyday… unappreciated by the masses, and for what? To show your “friends” what you do, only to get puzzled looks and phrases such as, “I don’t get it.” “Why don’t you shoot video? It’s better right?” “The photos in that book look so old” (showing someone Elliot Erwitt’s pictures).

I believe that it’s only when we’re at arms length of “perfection” that we reach a state of euphoria, a state of infinite possibilities, where amazing things happen.

A photographer like Eli can simply walk in the room, lick his finger, hold it up to the air, and instantly know which settings to use to gain a good exposure. The thing is, he can do something even better. He can wander aimlessly through out the city…  drifting from place to place, walking miles upon miles without even noticing how far hes gone, capturing priceless moments. He can walk from bright light into a dark ally way, see an interesting person walking towards him, and in one swift motion change both his f/stop and shutter speed, predict his subjects motion, frame the shot, and take the snap at the decisive moment. He’s done it so many times that it’s all an after thought for him.


Afterwards I biked to my local pub since it was “free glass” night, where you get to keep the glass after you order a certain beer.

I sat at the bar, just playing around with my new smart phone, eating sesame sticks and having a Milk Stout, when I overheard the bartender talking to the man sitting next to me. Turns out he was a chef at Uchiko, probably one of the best restaurants in Austin (I haven’t dined there yet, but it’s nationally acclaimed. It’s one of those places where you see all your friends dressed up and taking pictures next to the sign.) I started a convo with him, he obviously was very. VERY into food. It was amazing how the conversation ranged from mixing in chemicals to form the perfect consistency of gelatin all the way to how to simply make caramelized onions(I had no idea how to make them!)

  • Heat the pan, and put oil in it until its smoking hot
  • put onions in the pan
  • put a little bit of salt on the top
  • cover
  • turn heat down to medium
  • the salt will draw out the moisture out of the onions in the top, which will base the onions on the bottom which started caramelizing due to the high heat.
  • about 10 minutes, toss once, you will see that the onions at the bottom will be liquefied enough to make it really easy to
  • another 5 minutes on the pan
  • the onions will be perfectly done, soft, yet firm… sweet, just right.

The excitement in his eyes as he was talking about his dishes, just the purest look you’ve ever seen.

We went outside to chill with the other chefs from the restaurant. It was a scene similar to only something I read about in books (Anthony Bourdain’s). They were all so raw, poking fun at each other, downing pitcher after pitcher of beer(good beer), and smoking cigarettes. Towards the end of the night the chef I met, Dustin, got into an argument with another chef at the table about food. Despite the others’ efforts to quell the shouting…  it went on and on, until Dustin eventually stormed off.

That’s passion yo. #passion. right there.

One of the most painful states to be in is to not know what you’re passionate about.

It currently bothers a ton of my friends… and I can do nothing but say, “Sucks, man.” I think the best advice I gave to one of my best friends was to just listen to a bunch of Barenaked Ladies albums (before Stephen Page left). I know the feel, it’s just like you’re in a rut, it feels like there’s nothing you can do, and even if you admit and complain about it you’re still in it.

Everyone is different. You never know what will click and stay with you.  It can be anything, from code, entrepreneurship, gaming, sports, art, clothes, interior design, music… anything. You just never know.

It’s horrible seeing the minds of my friends wander… towards… well.. shit basically.

You must find it. Don’t stop until you do.

And when you find it, keep going. You’ll practice day in and day out. You’ll wake up in the middle of the night with new ideas, and jump out of bed to write them down. You’ll seek out others who can help you out, and easily be able to tell the difference between a fraud and someone who is legitimately earnest too.

And suddenly when you’re in the mix of it all, just going through the motions… time will just slow down. It’s just so rare, as the weeks, months, years zoom past us… that we can have a time to just breathe. To slow it all down for even just a couple milliseconds.

So surround yourselves with these people. It’s just fucking interesting as hell.

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