Out of Focus Podcast Episode 39: Robert Schoolfield Strikes Again! (Make Weird Projects Great Again)


Listen to Episode 39: Robert Schoolfield Strikes Again! Here

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of weird projects whether it be a Fast and Furious Podcast, a photo series where I ask my parents to get me an iPad for Christmas, or a college photography project where I throw things at people’s faces like water balloons, eggs, fists, etc (the college fined me for ruining a wall for that one). Many asked “why” I’m even taking the time to do those things, to which I always had the answer “I thought of it and just wanted to do it.”


Truthfully, I often didn’t respond with that answer, because chances were, I was self conscious and always felt the need to come up with a BS reason that would help it make sense as to defend why I was doing this odd thing. 


Now, to be fair, I always have had a trusty group of accomplices at any given point who were more than willing to help me with such a “pointless” endeavor, even to this day. It’s the people who didn’t quite understand why you’d skip class to throw eggs at someone’s face, because success to them is writing within the lines. And not to say coloring within the lines is bad, we need people like that on this earth and in society, just personally, I would feel self-conscious around them when explaining my 7 episode Fast and Furious mini-series podcast to them. 


Basically, it’s a “me” problem more than a “them” problem. Despite always having support, I still find myself often caring about the wrong opinions. 


I could sit in a therapist’s chair all day and dissect why I feel self conscious about my camera wielding antics: maybe because I never saw my parents doing wacky art things, maybe because the photography community can be cold and close-minded to photos that aren’t 100% accurate to what was in front of your lens, maybe it’s just because I saw many friends going off to be successful by playing by the rules, and here I was (and am) fighting for every penny I earn, while also still having this drive to make something different. 


At the end of the day, it’s probably because many of these projects are not financially beneficial on the front end, they have their benefits long term, but if they don’t pay me in the moment, there are people who would ask me why I would bother. 


Often times, I would do odd projects in my free time, when I would otherwise be reading a book or watching Netflix, so to those that would ask me why, I often ask “Then why would you sit and watch Netflix if it’s not benefitting you financially?”


The more I realized that everyone is insecure about what they are doing, the more it’s emboldened me (for good and ill) to really not care what anyone has to say about what I’m doing with my time. In fact, for the past year, I’ve been working on this Out of Focus Podcast thing, and once I started treating it with the importance of my job rather than a side project, it started to get better and really improve despite it not bringing me vast riches. To me, that’s the only way you end up building something worth building: by chipping away at it over a long period of time and risk something for it. 

Special Delivery Aftermath


Robert Schoolfield, who was on my podcast this week, did just that in March when I joined him for part of his Special Delivery tour. (You can check out the 3 Part Photo Essay Here) 

His project wasn’t financially beneficial, in fact, it cost him a lot, but it gave him the confidence to keep moving his art forward and get out there in ways he never had before. And sure, there were some people that didn’t understand why he would do that, but it’s that action of taking the risk and driving across the country to drop paintings off that separates him from the pack. 

Instead of being self-conscious, we need to be proud that we are willing to do what other’s aren’t. Our brains get so jumbled trying to just match what what everyone else is doing, that we don’t realize that pretty much everyone is looking at what everyone else is doing too. It’s when we quit paying attention to the made up life we are apparently supposed to have is when life gets so much more interesting. 


Anyway, I’m preaching to myself a bit on this because over this past year, I’ve really been through boot camp on this issue. I’ve sacrificed a ton over the past year to make what I’m doing with photography and the podcast even possible, and honestly, everyone can have that if they are willing to give up some things too.


Basically, today’s newsletter is an extension of this week’s podcast, the third appearance of Robert Schoolfield, where he talks about the aftermath of his Special Delivery project and how his life has changed and moved forward in 2019. It’s cool to have a friend who is going through a lot of the same things, especially with art, because even when you feel confident that you are breaking away and doing something different, it can still be a lonely existence. 


I’d love it if you went and listened to our podcast, and subscribe to it on your favorite podcast app. I really appreciate all who listen every week, and I’m working really hard to make it better week by week. Rate and review it on iTunes as well, if you have the time. 

Listen to Episode 39: Robert Schoolfield Strikes Again! Here 

Thanks to everyone who has made this journey possible so far, and I look forward to what every happens next.