On the road again

Last year I was cycling quite a bit, but during the winter I was sitting on my Wahoo Kickr turbo trainer a lot. I was riding virtual rides in Zwift. Then a couple of solo rides followed when the weather allowed for it, but yesterday I was joined by a friend for the first time in something like 5 months.

I left the carbon goddess sitting on the trainer at home and rode my trusty old BTWIN Triban 520 instead. I am always flabbergasted how this (slightly upgraded) 600 Euro bike can give you 90% of the roadbike experience that my 3500 Euro electronic shifting carbon goddess can.

It was a good feeling to be out in the sun with an actual human being again and to talk during the ride. There is nothing like fresh tarmac, the sun shining down on you and making kilometers with a friend.

I guess there will be a longer update following soon talking about the last three to four years and how I went to my personal hell and started my way back. For now, peace & out! Hope you are well & all the love!

You can’t start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart

Not too long ago I always had a really hard time coming up with a price for a photo shoot for friends or acquaintances. Would they understand the commitment that I put into the assignment? After all it is just an hour on location and I am just a greedy bastard. Or am I? Let’s dive a little deeper into this.

Tomorrow I will shoot the wedding of an acquaintance and his boyfriend. Really small, just the ceremony and some group pics. 1.5 hours tops – because after this hour the whole wedding party continues on a boat and they don’t want the photographer to be there.

This seems quite easy on terms of time planning, but let’s see. I spent around 1 hour talking to the guy and to the friend that actually hired me. Some instructions, repeatedly pointing out the challenges that come with the limited time, detailing out the location, the usual stuff.

Today I spent 2.5 more hours actually going to the location, finding close spots for the shots. Also 2 more hours of research. The couple is a gay couple, I didn’t shoot a gay wedding before, so I was not very confident in my skills to pose the couple. 1 more hour cleaning all equipment, packing, checking, loading batteries and all that.

Tomorrow I get up at 6:00, have breakfast, get dressed and make sure to be at the location 1 hour before time. Just to be sure. Also to maybe get some candid shots. Basically 2.5 hours on location plus the time spend in the car.

Back home I will spend at least 5 hours to import, check and edit the work of 2 hours. You see where this is going, right?

In the end I will have spend 15+ hours of work on this. If I ask for anything less than 1000 Euro I am not valuing my time enough. But the couple doesn’t have the budget for this. Of course I could just ask for 250-400 Euro, get the couple a nice deal because they know me and myself at least some of that sweet, sweet cash – and everyone wins, right? Wrong! It is actually a lose-lose situation. The couple still pays quite some bucks for something they didn’t have much of a budget to begin with. And I have to spend even more time to keep books, then pay taxes and in the end I am working for minimum wage.

This is why there is only two payment options for me: You either pay my full price or you don’t pay anything. I don’t want to compete on prices. I don’t want to haggle. I don’t want to get into the situation having to explain, why friend X ended up getting a better deal than friend Y. That’s stupid.

If you are a friend, if I can learn something or get some nice shots for my portfolio chances are that I will work for free. An so should you. Make your life easier and repeat with me: Full price or nothing at all.

Congratulations, you made it through the photo ramblings. So how about a Matti update? Well, life as the Data Privacy Officer of the company sucks in times of GDPR. But it did suck already anyway, so there is that. The last year was kind of a slow ride on a downward spiral – and since the beginning of the year 2018 the ride seems to gain some speed. Yeeehaaaww! Let’s see where the bottom is. Because there will be a bottom, right? And I will go on a nice and comfy upward ride using all the momentum. Right?!

Orangenbaumblätter liegen auf dem Weg

It’s been a couple of months since I started streaming my World of Tanks shenanigans at Twitch.tv. In my last post I was talking about feeling awfully tired and burned out and this was meant to be a way to clear my mind, keep me busy and fight my inner demons in the darkest of times.

There is a thing Amanda Palmer said about how it feels double-y bad being a content creator of sorts going through a particularly rough patch or depression and not being able to create. It stuck with me because it felt so true. I didn’t produce a calendar for 2017, I didn’t take any photos for months, I was sitting in my bed while I felt an obligation to be out there and create. An obligation to use said darkness to make good art and produce and it felt like a horrible waste. I had time at my hands, the darkness was real but there was no vitality. So the idea was of course to use something that didn’t feel like work to gain structure and maybe even energy back.

To no one’s surprise the plan didn’t work like I thought it would. Go figure! But then again I at least managed to keep up my schedule, which impressed myself the most. It helped that a few regulars started to show up to my streams and I felt obliged to deliver to them. Remember the fraud police we were talking about? Yesterday I got my invitation to be an affiliate. #feelsGoodMan

Live-Video von RiipaHimself auf www.twitch.tv anzeigen

If you feel like following my content or even supporting it – for what ever reason that is beyond me – you now may now do so by clicking the „Subscribe“ button over at http://www.twitch.tv/riipahimself.

In June I went on a short trip with some friends from work to chill at the Baltic Sea and work – true hipster style – with our notebooks in cafés. The result is that I managed to find the energy to finish the landing page/micro site for my business portraits. I started working on this page in December but couldn’t do anything about it for months. Thanks to René and Kenny for taking me on this trip. Head over to http://headshot.mattiseidel.com/ if you are interested in seeing how this turned out.

I am in a better place than I was six months before. The change is still fragile and I need to make sure to not stop going this way of making depression my bitch. Day by day, step by step. But I am putting things out there and maybe they will come back. Maybe one of these things will be the big one. Maybe, after all there will somehow be a „Haus am See“ for me. Or maybe not. It’s not important because I am creating things again. But tob honest I am also ready for good things to find me anyway.

Quit the bitching on your blog And stop pretending art is hard

„I will be the picture of of discipline
Never fucking up anything
And I’ll be a good defensive driver
And it’s funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened“
Amanda Palmer, In My Mind

Houston, we have a problem. The year is nearly gone and more and more people start to ask if there will be a calendar this year. The honest truth is that I don’t know. I don’t want to disappoint anyone – but I also don’t know what pics to put in the calendar. When people started asking I told them that I didn’t take too many photos this year (partly because of my injury, partly because of me feeling awfully tired and burned out) and I actually believed this to be true.

When I later checked the actual numbers I realized that I took more photos this year than ever before. I did portaits, a wedding, a conference, an air show, a theater premiere, a sports event, a schooling… I took thousands of pictures. Enjoyable and sometimes educative as though these shootings were, they did leave something to be desired. There is no calendar worthy shots or even art. I did so much photography but I didn’t make good art.

So I guess the positive takeaway from this year will be that I am able to genuinely enjoy the part of photography that I do strictly for business. Not being able to enjoy photography anymore if I do it in a more professional way was something that scared me a lot. Not as much as the fraud police/imposter syndrome does, but that’s a story for a different day.

Will there be calendar for 2017? I can’t promise anything but to try. Disappointing people would make me a fraud after all…

P.S. 37/56

The video games they play me

Last year I made pretty rough contact with the road after crashing my bike on the way to work. In the beginning of June I finally decided to drop some money on a new bike (and a new helmet). I bought a shiny road bike (with a straight bar for the city) and it was such a good feeling to finally ride again.

brand new road bike before the crash...

Unfortunately it took me only five days and a couple of utterly, utterly nice rides to have another crash on the way to work. And to break my arm. What the actual fuck?  I underwent surgery and got some fancy titan upgrades to my arm only a few days later. Matti 2.0!

I had to stay home for a couple of weeks and used the time to catch up on a couple of TV series and to pick up XCOM 2 in the steam summer sale. Nonetheless I wouldn’t recommend the experience to anyone. Right now I am working to rebuild strenght in my arm as the fracture seems to be fully healed.

My first and biggest concern after learning that about the fracture was that the arm might not fit in the brand new suit that I bought for the wedding of Daniela and Andreas. Luckily no cast was needed because of the surgery and I was able to be an exceptionally good looking groomsman. 😉 Speaking of the wedding: It was just wonderful. I have to admit though that I was a sobbing mess when bride and groom read their marriage promises to each other. I am so damn happy for you guys.

Now it’s only a few more days until I go to the Wacken Open Air for the first time. I have never been to a festival that spanned over a couple of days and I have never slept in a tent before so this is a first too. I am going to see Iron Maiden, Steel Panther, Blue Oyster Cult and many more. But more importantly I am going to camp with Daniela, Andreas (2x), Georg and some more friends. I am so looking forward to this time.

Afterwards I will be at the baltic sea for a couple of days with Ronny to relax. We may even take out the bikes for an excursion if the doc gives her okay. Wish me luck.

26/56. Hurrah?

Farewell Old Friend

Today I got one of those calls that shake and sometimes break us. Leo, one of my oldest friends is no more. He passed away from sudden cardiac death.

René Leonhardt 1976-2016

René Leonhardt 1976-2016

I forgot so many things along my way to where I am now, but for some reason I still vividly remember the first time I talked to Leo. He came to our class as an addition and in physical education we were paired for the 100m sprint. We briefly spoke about Asthma, we ran and I beat him. Now I would love to be able to ask him if he was just polite being in a new environment or if he truly lost.

At times we (a communist and a left wing liberal) had a very different world view, we even yelled at each other and we felt desperate because of each others inability to see what we thought to be the simple and obvious truth. But through all those years and all those fights we were connected by a constant friendship. We shared school desks, attended football games and pulled all-nighters with Anstoss 3, World of Warcraft, pen and paper RPGs and World of Tanks. Together we defeated the Lich King, we went out to have drinks and we talked and talked and talked.

I feel not only empty and sad with Leo’s passing but I am also scared. Leo was gone in a moment without a chance to pursue all those things he most likely wanted to do but decided to do later. I feel blessed because I have wonderful friends, a job that I genuinely enjoy and the freedom to do at least some of the things I would like to do. But I have to make good use of this freedom each and every day instead of hoping that there will enough time to do it later.

Farewell old friend! Tonight I will open a bottle of red wine and down a glass of this awful swill that you always enjoyed to your honour. Du fehlst.

On Music – It’s Those Restless Hearts That Never Mend

The end of 2015 and the first weeks of 2016 did not treat music fans very well. In these few weeks the music world lost some real giants. Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie and Glenn Frey. Now I love Motörhead and Bowie but it was Glenn Frey’s death that stinged the most.

Why is that? Today music takes a huge part in my life. I listen to music when I am at work, I spend way too much money on concert tickets and I am constantly air drumming, tapping, conducting, whistling, singing. There’s music in my head 24/7. But I wasn’t always like that. In fact when I was a young boy I wasn’t able to keep up with my friends taste in music. At home my mum played the same old tapes with Schlager music again and again. Her preferred radio station played the same shit and there was no way for me to listen to anything else. When my friends talked about Europe, Modern Talking and whatever they listened to in the 80s I didn’t really know anything about them. Being one of the cool kids I of course couldn’t just tell my friends. So I decided to come up with grumpy explanations why I wasn’t particularly excited about the latest craze. Much to my own surprise this worked.

When I later got my first stereo set for Christmas this was some sort of deliverance from the evil that is Schlager music. I was finally able to discover music on my own. I heard Bohemian Raphsody, Brothers in Arms and Losing My Religion on the radio bought blank cassettes and did what today could get me into a lot of trouble but at the time seemed to be a reasonable choice: I copied everything I could get my hands on. From the public library I lent R.E.M., Queen, Dire Straits and was simply blown away.

A little bit later I started to build my own CD collection. One of the albums I bought in these days was „Hotel California“. Mind you this was way before the internet and I didn’t know much about the Eagles. I didn’t know anything about „Hotel California“ being a huge stylistic leap from a country sound into mainstream rock and the overwhelming success of this particular piece of music. I knew the title track from the radio, the album was on the bargain table. So why not give it a try?

Back then I didn’t understand the meaning behind the lyrics and didn’t notice the deeply rooted pessimism that borders nihilism. But I instantly fell in love with the timeless beauty of the music. Over the years I probably listened to the album hundreds of times. I discovered more and more music, I admired the one of a kind artist David Bowie and the seemingly indestructible Lemmy. But the Eagles and „Hotel California“ were there at the very beginning. Rest in peace Lemmy, rest in peace David and rest in peace Glenn! Your music will continue to live with us!

Will she still love you?
When you’re not around?

There’s so many things you should have told her
But night after night
You’re willing to hold her just hold her
Tears on your shoulder

On a completely unrelated note I did the first photo shooting of the new year and was able to pick up some followers on Facebook after posting the pics. Feels good.

Dungeons & Dragons Via Web – This Is How We Roll

Yesterday evening I played Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. Now for those who know me that might not come as a surprise or even be mildly unusual. I DO role playing games since I am 13 years old, I DO consider Dungeons & Dragons a very enjoyable rule system and I DO like 3.5 over 4th and 5th edition so no big thing, right? But it was. For the first time I didn’t play in with everybody being in a cozy room with lots of coffee, chocolate and some booze. We played on the internet.

The group consists of friends from Jena, Gera, Nordhausen, Würzburg, Stuttgart and myself in Berlin. Most of the guys know each other since they were kids with me being the occasional intruder that is only knowing them for a decade. 😉 We decided to play Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and to give Roll20.net a try as a platform.

Why Dungeons & Dragons

Everyone in the group played The Dark Eye earlier. I switched to Dungeons & Dragons later and suggested to use this. I did this because I feel D&D 3.5 is everything that (at least former editions of) The Dark Eye is not. D&D is painless to pick up, the fights play very smooth and it’s easily adjustable to the needs of your group. Also there are campaign settings available if you like to play in a pre-defined world but you can choose to create you own campaign. Which we did. The one thing that is a problem about this choice is that most of the wonderful rule books (basically everything that is not the three core rule books) are out of print and it can be a bit pricey to pick them up used. We may later have to venture into D&D 5th or Pathfinder for that reason alone.

The Platform

Registration at Roll20.net is free and so are all the basic features and some space to save your own graphics and stuff. Subscribing to one of the packages that support the site is not necessary to get your group playing as even with the basic feature set Roll20.net seems to support a plethora of different systems. So you are perfectly fine to start out without having to pay anything.
It’s easy to draw maps of your surroundings on the screen and visualize the story. The players also join in to a video conference on the main screen. The video conference feature uses Google Hangout and the site supports putting the players in different „rooms“ if the party decides to split up or somebody wants to talk in private. On the main screen All skill checks, attack rolls, etc. can be rolled with a single click after filling out your character sheet and the all-mighty Dungeon Master can even do so for every player without them noticing what skill he rolled on or what the result is. As a DM this is a very comfy setting as you can concentrate on the story and don’t has to think about technicalities too much.

Roll20.Net Interface playing Dungeons & Dragons

The Experience

First of all for most of the group playing the game was a blast from the past. The guys played in the same RPG group long ago then scattered all over the country and stopped playing altogether. Bringing back the fun that is role playing with your friends was a beautiful experience in itself. From the technical side it wasn’t too much of a hassle too. Of course Germany can feel like a third world country when it comes to internet connections and one of the players suffers from such terrible internet connection. He faced some problems with the video getting stuck and his voice not getting transmitted but there is no one to blame but his awful 2 Mbit connection.
Over the course of the evening the play screen stopped syncing for two or three times but was always back in sync after something like a minute. What I would love would be to put the video conference on one screen and the maps on one of the other screens. All told the experience was very enjoyable and we will for sure continue to use Roll20.

Vin Diesel – Because Reasons

Last and certainly not least for all those of you who think Dungeons & Dragons is not a cool thing to do for a bunch of grown up men: Well this charming chap begs to differ.

Leben ist Brücken schlagen über Ströme, die vergehn

As the year is coming to an end I have been working on the fifth edition of a photography calendar for the last few weeks. This time I will add some information on where the images have been taken and a few words to share. While taking notes for the appendix I quickly realized that some of the stuff I wrote did not fit in. Even though I felt the need to address these points they would have set the wrong mood. Why not putting my thoughts on the blog? Well, here we go with my little introspective and retrospective.

Five years ago my life was a different one. And life was about to change in nearly every way. Christmas was a very troubling time for health-related reasons within the family. I am happy to say that things changed for the better but back then I was scared to the bone. At the same time I also started a new job and had to manage a move. I returned to Leipzig which was exciting in itself and the job proved to be a very important step for the professional as well as the personal me. One more change was about photography though and it was a good change indeed. I was able to invest more time into getting a better photographer (and more money into gear). My photography changed. A lot. 10 months later I sat down to compile some of the images that were the result of said change. The calendar was only so much about the images but also about bringing a glimpse of attendance to family and friends even when I couldn’t manage to see them very often. Soon it went into print people seemed to enjoy it. Now four years and four more calendars later I look back and see that my photography has again changed as much as I did but the calendar is still about presence.

2015 has been a strange and sometimes hard year for me but also a year full of good memories. One of my oldest friends married, I was allowed to the photo pit for the first time. And boy did I feel the pressure. I went on a trip to Finland with my dad who turned 70 to see Velse and Matti. Even though the time was limited there are wonderful memories. Later I went on an impromptu trip to Lithuania that made me as much happy and gave me as many wonderful memories. I went to more concerts than ever before, made a bucket list, crossed some thing from the list and added more. Luckily I was able to walk away from a pretty hard crash with my bike and at work I took over responsibility for a team.

Time flies by and I felt the need to catch breath and look back for a moment. Thank you for sharing this very moment and thank you for all the good times we were allowed to share in the past. Have a wonderful Christmas time and „May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.“

Also: 20/56. Yes.

This woman is my destiny – She said, „Ooh-ooh-hoo, Shut up and dance with me.“

1. The photo gallery

Some shots from my recent trip to the beautiful country of Lithuania. There are shots from Klaipeda, Nida and Vilnius.

The important part

Thank you Elina, thank you!

Reboot worked. 9/56.