Titans and Perseverance: Another Day at the Office

Base Camp X

Eight hours on a motorcycle. Nine hours marking English exams and essays. Three hours photographing axes from Base Camp X. One hour of testing to find out if I achieve my goal of earning my full M license. I am not sure if I can make it. Maybe I am alone in this world, but to accomplish anything of worth I really have to keep pushing myself beyond what most people consider to be reasonable. Perseverance, therefore, is the foundation for any personal success I have, but it has been a long road to learn how to persist when both the body and spirit are weak.

As a kid, I was the worst. I never stuck to anything. I dabbled. I drove my parents nuts because my brother committed to gymnastics with great success while I just kind of read books, played guitar, went to a summer camp on computers, took martial arts classes, played softball, skied cross-country and downhill, acted in plays, bicycled, drove a motocross bike, and generally was considered a failure at everything I did. Still…nothing else to do but keep calm and carry on.

Base Camp X

Eventually, all of my dabbling became useful because I had a suitcase full of interests and minimal skills to draw from as I grew older. I could pick up an instrument and play with people, I could drop you with a wrist lock from nowhere, I could hit a home run, I have read more deeply from classic literature than most, and I still loved learning and dabbling. This well-roundedness that is seldom valued in today’s society of specialists landed me a solid job at the best boys’ school in the country and has pushed my far, far away from that little boy who just couldn’t do anything right. Maybe that is what helps me support boys who feel the same way about themselves, but who all have brilliant talents hidden within.

Funnily enough, my relatives are people that I seldom have a chance to spend time with except for a few hours when I am home on Prince Edward Island. I regret that, but there is no other choice. Working with Graeme Cameron on the Base Camp X project has made me reflect on his company’s values: legacy, life and family. Ironically, despite my success in the big city I do not think any of the people on Facebook understand what I do, let alone why I am paid well to do it. Who am I, today, in terms that most people can understand?

Base Camp X

So in one hundred words or less: I hold three university degrees, one from McGill. I was married for a decade, but am now divorced, and have been with a beautiful girl for three years. I travel the world at every chance I find, and I find a lot of chances. I photograph products and people, which pays for aforesaid travel. I am an accomplished musician, cook, artist, photographer and writer. I am not Brad Pitt, but I have aged better than expected. I ride a Ducati Monster in downtown Toronto, where I live at the Tip Top Lofts. I have taught at the best school in the country for a decade, where I am the Head of English.

Enough said…My Stuart Handy pep talk is now over, and it is time to go take my stressful M2 Exit test. I hate tests.

Base Camp X

The photographs featured here are the last ones I am taking of the Titanis BiTurbo axe. This particular axe was made for a famous, American actor and celebrity, who shall remain nameless. I really wanted to produce a series of iconic photographs to capture the spirit of the product and show its beauty. It is a wicked tool, though, and holding it for the past week I have made a strong connection with what the axe means in a symbolic way. Strong enough to drive with it on my Ducati Monster, poking through my satchel. Wicked and cool.

These specific photographs were shot in the outdoors using my Linhof 4×5 film camera, the Schneider 210mm lens and a Canon 1DmkIII using a Fotodiox adapter. Despite loving Adobe’s new Tilt-Shift blur filter, the Linhof provides a much smoother and authentic look. At 210mm, the lens demanded that I be at least twelve feet away from the axe, which meant a lot of awkward positions for the tripod. Natural light is key with Graeme’s products, as all light sources appear to produce a light ribbon in his finishes, which is fine, but often masks the grain of the wood and transparency of the finishes.

Finally, to retain blog integrity, I should mention that I do not receive anything for free from Base Camp X. As noted in my bio, Chandler takes photos because I want to. I do receive money to photograph the products, but I am using all of that money to buy as much of Graeme’s work as possible. It is sort of like that old commercial that asserts: “I loved this product so much, I bought the company!” Maybe not the company, but I was certainly willing to spend many hours photographing his tools so that I, too, could own a few. I am only writing about the products, because they have been a great project and the focus of my photography for a few weeks now. So…nothing for free, but nothing worthwhile ever is. 

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