Tag Archives: photo-essay
April 1, 2014

Progress Report: April 2014

I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since I came up with the idea for this personal project. Which means that I only have 3 years left to accomplish everything!

So, since November 2013 (my last blog post), I have done the following:

Goal # 1 Visit all 50 states in the US

I went to have a very nice lunch with my college girlfriend in Wilmington, Delaware when I went to Philadelphia for the American Library Association Midwinter Conference. The food was good, and we felt really youthful there, because I think everyone else in that restaurant was over 80 years old.

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Lunch in Delaware with Jen. 1/28/2014

Then in February, I went to Salt Lake City, Utah for the Qualtrics Summit. When I got there, I just rented a car drove to the border cities in Wyoming (Evanston) and Idaho (Malad City) and ate at two local restaurants. The waitress at the restaurant in Evanston, WY was fascinated by my story. Or maybe she was just bored. She recommended a fried chicken dinner which was delicious.

I only have 3 states left: Alaska, Montana, and Kentucky! And I already have a ticket to Kentucky that I need to use before August. So, it looks like this goal could be accomplished very soon. It’s quite unbelievable how many states I visited once I set this goal.

Not that I need any convincing anymore, but setting goals does work!

Goal 13. Get tenure

Looks like I have passed my 5th year review. I will go up for the final review in October this year. We shall see.

Goal 14. Give a kickass presentation

I co-presented a kickass presentation on “Persuasion” techniques at the I2C2 Conference in Manchester, U.K., in March. Credits go to my awesome co-presenters, Isabel Gonzalez-Smith and John Jung.

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Interactive Workshop on “Persuasion” at the I2C2 Conference with Isabel Gonzalez-Smith, and John Jung.


Goal 16. Learn Thai massage

Signed up for a one-week Thai Massage course at the Thai Institute of Healing Arts in Arlington, VA in May. Can’t wait!

Goal 29. Mentor someone

This is actually quite exciting. Two people have asked me to be their mentor. TWO! And two of the most awesome people too. Now that I have 2 proteges, I will need to come up with some wise advice. And try not to be like George Costanza.

Goal 34. Create a photo-essay or a video-essay (amended June, 2013)

Ok, this was completed when I made my first travelogue video. But it all started when I decided to make film 1 second of video everyday for a whole year. This project has really taught me patience. I am by nature an impatient person, but the beauty (or the frustration) of this project is, you cannot rush it. You can only add one second each day. It will take 365 days to finish it. It was hard at times, when I felt like it would never be completed. By my god, when it was finally done, it’s a glorious result. I literally love every second of it. And it’s amazing how just one second of video could trigger the memories of so much more. During the year, there were many amazing, happy moments, a few not so great ones. And a lot of yoga, traveling, football, and friends. It’s amazing how just one second of video can trigger my memory for that day. I do not want to forget a single day from now.

And ladies and gentlemen, here is my entire year (41st birthday to 42nd birthday) in one-second moments.

One Second Everyday – My 41st Year (1SE) from 45before45project.com on Vimeo.

P.S. I love my friends. Watching the video really makes me smile.

Goal 37. Be able to do splits

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Top pic: 9/26/2012 vs Bottom pic: 3/21/2014.

It took me over 2 years to finally get into hanumanasana. It really is a great feeling to accomplish a goal after working on it for so long. It’s funny that I had this idea in my head way back in late 2011, that if I could the splits when I was 40, that would mean that I would be in the best shape of my life because I had never been able to do that. My original goal was to be able to do that by the end of 2012, which obviously didn’t happen. It’s funny that it’s this silly desire to get into the splits that led me to yoga, which has transformed my life in so many ways.

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On my 42nd birthday.

Goal 38. Completely revamp my wardrobe

Getting there, getting there.

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Sorted out another batch of clothes.


June 14, 2013

Goal #34: Create a photo or video essay – COMPLETED

I have been recording video clips everyday since March 2013 with the intention of compiling  a video diary of the year between my 41st and 42nd birthday. That would be my video essay for this goal #34. However, as I capture these moments, I want to experiment with them in different ways. Hence this “Travelogue” video (and hopefully it will become a series of videos that documents my travels).

I used the most basic tools for this video, iphone camera, Windows Movie Maker editing software, and free Creative Commons music. Perhaps I will try something more sophisticated in future videos, or maybe not.

What do you think?

Travelogue I (in one-second moments) from 45before45project.com on Vimeo.

This goal was originally just to create a photo-essay, but I amended it later to include videos. As I was traveling in Rome, I actually got an idea for a photo-essay. I was on a rather long tour of the Vatican Museum, and I got a bit bored towards the end. So, to amuse myself, I started photographing other people photographing everything in the museum. It turns that it’s actually really interesting to see what other people  find “picture-worthy”.

I am calling this series “Through Their View Finders”:

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Vatican Museum 1

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Vatican Museum 2

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Castel Gandolfo, Italy

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The Coliseum 1

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The Coliseum 2

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April 8, 2013

Artistic Creation – One Second Everyday Video

A few years ago, when I was in the screenwriting MFA program at Hollins, I wrote a lot. I was really bad at the beginning, but just like most things, practice helped. By the time I graduated, my thesis screenplay actually did well in screenwriting competitions and film festivals. Instead of moving to Hollywood to try to make it as a screenwriter, I decided to become an academic librarian. The job is very satisfying but gradually the creative writing slowed down. I am writing mostly academic articles now.

I miss doing creative work, and that’s why there is an entire category on my 45 things list devoted to it:

Goal #32 Publish a short story

Goal #33 Write a screenplay

Goal #34 Create a photo-essay

Goal #35 Write a book

I have some ideas for the short story and the book. I am still thinking about the screenplay idea. The key is to make it a habit to write regularly.

For Goal #34: Create a photo-essay, I thought about doing a series of food related photographs. But then I saw this video on Ted Talk by Cesar Kuriyama and it inspired me to do something very different for this goal.

I love this idea! I know I don’t remember every day. Recording 1 second of video each day would basically be my video diary. A positive side effect of this exercise is it would force me to do at least one interesting thing each day. I’d hate to record clips after clips of me sitting on the couch watching tv alone!

The technicality here is whether video could be considered a form of photo-essay. I say it is, as it is just a series of many many photos, a motion picture if you will. 🙂 Besides, it’s my own list, I can do whatever, really. So I have decided to record one second every day until, well, I have had enough of it. From what I have seen on youtube or vimeo, the interesting ones, the ones that tells us something about the author, are at least one year long (365 seconds, or a little over 6 mins). So for this goal, I am shooting for at least one year of footage.

Another thing I notice is, some video are trying very hard to be”artsy”, with a soundtrack, and perfectly composed shots. I actually don’t like them as much as the shaky iphone cam videos with original sounds that document the everyday life ones. It is the rawness that captures me. Each of those shots tell me much more than the overly polished music video-esque ones. So, my plan is to shoot in a very candid, raw mannere with just my iphone, from a 1st person perspective.

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The One Second Everyday app that I am using for this project.

Here are some of the interesting “a moment a day” videos that are inspiring me for my goal #34:

1 Second Everyday – Age 30 from Cesar Kuriyama on Vimeo.

One Second Every Day from Shawn Champagne on Vimeo.

Second a day (year one) from Dylan Mason on Vimeo.

2011 from hey_rabbit on Vimeo.



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