Tree Climbers, Memory and Videotape: A Clip

Here’s about five and half minutes of raw footage from A Life’s Work.


I shared this footage in an earlier post (Process: What I’m Thinking When I’m Shooting). I want to share it again for a different reason.

I really enjoyed filming the climbers. They were smart, athletic, down to earth, and funny. They seemed to really enjoy their work and the company that employed them, Bartlett Tree Experts in San Rafael, CA. And Bartlett seemed to appreciate and nurture them. When I reviewed this footage for this post, I was looking for an exchange I had with these two climbers. I remember it, as they say, vividly.

“You guys have the coolest job,” I said.
And one of them replied, “I think you have the coolest job.”
“Pfffffttt…” I said.

I watched the footage over and over, certain that I had captured this exchange. If you have an eye for such things, you’ll notice that there’s one break at 4:05. After the break one of the climbers asks “Good to go?” If you could look behind the curtain and look at my logged tapes, you’d see that footage from before the break comes at the end of one tape, and the footage after the break comes from the beginning of another tape. So the exchange I cherish so much occurred while I was changing tape.

So much can happen in the few seconds it takes to change tape. Hopefully you forget about it and don’t live the rest of your days reliving the moment you failed to capture, the moment that would have made your film amazing. The exchange between the climbers and me? It wasn’t going to make A Life’s Work amazing. But it was one of my fondest moments there, made my time there amazing. But I remember it, and that’s good enough.

I do wish I had it on tape, though.

This post is dedicated to John Metzdorf, tree lover.