Jeff Chelf: Woodworking from Charles Morris on Vimeo.
I used to daydream in photographs. All day long my Nikon D200 was imagined in my hands. I would see something and imagine just how to capture it. I’d dream about trips I could take, with my camera riding shotgun like a best friend in the seat next to me. I kept an eye on the sun’s progression at all times, noting when the washout hours were. For those that don’t know…during the apex hours of the sun’s path across the sky, colors are washed out to a large degree. What many consider “well lit”, to a photographer is “washed out”.
But somewhere along the way I just began daydreaming in video. I don’t know why or how it happened. For years I had made throw away videos for my various small businesses I always seemed to have simmering on the backburners. Art was definitely not part of the equation. It was informational only. I definitely wasn’t daydreaming then.
I just began to notice that I was spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about how I would film something. What angles? What location? What’s the message? And that’s what caught me the most. Beyond how a video I might create may look…what would I want it to say? I have been a poet for years…and a writer as well. Both of my kids are writers. There are a lot of words flying around in my house…
I realized that just as I strove to say something well with written words, I wanted to help people say something well with video. Today video is mostly used to display something that happened. What’s being missed is what a video CAN say. That is what matters to me the most. Second is how it visually appeals or looks. What use is something that is visually stunning but says nothing? And in this day and age, someone with something valuable to share will unfortunately be ignored if the context in which it is presented isn’t visually appealing.
I realized I wanted to help people out with both. I wanted to work with people who did things that I felt offered a true value proposition…and help them present it in a way that would allow that valuable thing to be noticed and heard.
What I want more of in the world is the natural….the non machine made. I am not all anti tech. After all, I can’t make a video without a computer. But why are we making so much crap by machine when the people…the Artisans-around us, can make it more beautifully and with more meaning to it? So, I decided I wanted to represent artisans. So, that brings me to Jeff. Jeff is an artisan. I knew him from before, when we worked together in retail. I ran into him after my whole “artisan” epiphany and asked him if he’d like to work on a video together to help promote his work.
It was a fantastic shoot. I couldn’t list all of the great things that I learned through the process of working with Jeff. Too many. Mostly though what stands forth is that I fricking love working with artisans.
Artisans kick ass.
They help us not forget the values that make us human. Hand made objects. Things that people spend hours making matter to us…and change our lives when we interact with them. By extension, owning things made by or hiring an artisan to make something for you connects you to that person and their lineage of craftmanship. Imagine if everything we owned was made by machines…if everything we touched or viewed was machined by robot or assembly line.
I want my video work to promote a world that is the opposite of that.
Musicians, painters, sculptors, writers, woodworkers…feel free to write to me any time.
Here is what Jeff has to say about it on his site…
“My work stands in sharp contrast to the endless cycles of modern consumerism, purposely reaching back into our most rooted traditions to make furniture that is both pleasing to the modern aesthetic and lasting. Having ventured into the ancient worlds of maritime construction and blacksmithing my work now reflects these varied traditions and takes from them the elements most lacking in our modern lives.”
People like Jeff are exactly who I want to make videos and stories about. They keep us more real, and should have our support. And honestly, many of these artsy folks are off the grid, not internet savvy, camera shy and not the best promoters of their work. Video editing is NOT their strong suit. I hope to work with many more to help them get their art out into the open.
Anyway…I hope you enjoy the video about Jeff that I made. It was a very positive collaboration and needless to say…if you need something done with video, let me know, but refer all woodworking questions to JeffChelf.com.