Something Old, Something New

"The only way to learn is to knock yourself off balance whenever you're comfortable."

A man I worked with some years ago gave me that bit of advice, and it's served me well. In fact, without realising it, I had been following this life philosophy of sorts for pretty much my entire life, initially by circumstance, later on by choice.

For example, I've lived in so many places in such a wide variety of circumstances that it's a challenge to remember them all. As a result, I've been immersed in all sorts of cultures, which means it's probably much easier for me to adapt to new and unusual situations than it is for people who've led a more stable, settled life.

Another example...I've worked in a many different industries, ranging from french fry cook to women's clothing salesman, real estate agent to machine tool operator in a naval shipyard, pizza delivery (go Domino's!) to genetics lab researcher (to this day, I detest fruit flies), investment banker to power plant developer, English-language school owner to cosmetics company owner...and most recently, underwater photographer.

It's been a wild, crazy...and ridiculously fulfilling, ride.

As scattered as my life may seem when presented this way, there's always that one over-riding theme. Whenever I've felt too comfortable, too complacent, I've switched and done something completely different.

Sometimes, that entailed physically moving to a different location; sometimes it meant a switch in careers; occasionally, there were minor adjustment, like taking on new projects (for instance, that led to my award-winning book Silent Symphony); and a few times, it was something as trivial as completely changing my wardrobe (though limits to my fashion sense meant this was effectively throwing out white T-shirts and buying black ones instead).

So what's the point?

Well, the past few years have been a period of continuous change...again, some by choice, some by circumstance. But one thing I've consciously done is to study as much as I can about the effect that changes in technology are having on media and communication.

I have no idea what got me interested in this. I just know that I am, at this point in life, fascinated by the cataclysmic shifts in communication technology. I'm fascinated because such changes have made my life more efficient and fun, but also because I'm cognizant of the fact that we're living in a time of creative destruction.

We are watching certain industries and ways of doing things go as extinct as the dinosaurs, while witnessing the birth of newer ones to take their place, akin to the rise of mammals and birds after the saurians had their day.

We're watching as some people adapt, while others stick their heads in the sand. We're watching as technology simultaneously engenders opportunity and crushes entire industries.

To bring this post back to underwater photography: As I stated in my first post this year, there's no turning back, and everyone has to adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances.

In the spirit of change...the video below is something new for me...being in front of a camera instead of behind it.

I must admit, I'm much more comfortable looking through a viewfinder than I am being looked at through a viewfinder. But, in keeping with the "knock yourself off balance" philosophy, I'm giving this a go (of course, I'll continue to take photos and write articles).

By no stretch of the imagination do I think I've delivered an Oscar-winning performance, but I know I'll learn from my mistakes, improve over time, and hopefully, get to the point where I can be reasonably good at communicating through this medium, just as I've learned to do so with images and text.

Why? Because it's new technology. It's fun. It's a great new way to communicate. It's a learning experience. And it's a challenge.

[video src="" width="480" height="270"]

If you can't view the streaming video, the original is here, where there's a link to download as an .avi file or .mp4 via iTunes.