After worshipping Jaya Alvarrez throughout my younger adolescent years, I had always admired his ability to record, film and create innovative ‘vlogs’ on YouTube. His videos scored him a cult following, and grew his success as an artistic director whilst also making him a top heartthrob on the international scale. He had the ability to film his travels and adventures through a point of view that allowed the viewer feel very much part of the experience. I decided I wanted to attempt such a vlog and see what my digital reality would look like.
On a weekend trip to Paris, France with my partner I took this as the perfect opportunity to film a little video. We left on a Friday afternoon, and my filming began. Equipped with my iPhone 7 Plus, I began to shoot small 10-15 second clips from my own point-of-view. I was pretty lucky to have my own iPhone 7 Plus, one that is well known for its high camera quality and high storage capacity, as well as highly sensitive in-built microphone. I had a vision for the end product being intimate and inviting. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to film, as it was my first time in Paris. I knew there’d be the more significant landmarks that I couldn’t forget about, i.e the Eiffel Tower or the Arc.
I understand the term ‘vlogging’ as video blogging. A popular and trendy means to film and document virtually anything, such as travels, opinions, adventures, reviews and even conspiracy theories. This is a term I’ve grown up with, and it is very much a part of my current vocabulary with my age group making up the mass following of Youtuber’s who dedicate their life to vlogging. To me, vlogging, and travel vlogging in particular, involves the recording of locations in very short periods, with regular talking to the camera that are, and are not limited to, reflections of the location, opinions of objects in its given context and candid film. This was definitely the basis of what I had envisioned for my end product. Whether I would achieve this was quite questionable as I am not a professional vlogger, and am somewhat a higher than average photographer (at least, I’d like to think!).
After filming some short basic clips of walking to the bus station, the train station and tapping my OV card on and off, I began prioritising my phone battery. I started to realise how much equipment I would need if this was a professional video. My phone was essential for my boarding pass, my flight schedule, my train and bus schedule and of course, access to my bank account/cards, Uber, and Google Maps. My digital networks are all on my phone, and to be constantly filming would’ve depleted my battery by the time I’d reach my destination. How did Jaya Alvarrez make this seem so effortless?!
As my trip began, I was having too much fun to remember filming important things, which led to feelings of guilt as I intended to create something memorable and ‘worth’ posting. We visited several landmarks including the Eiffel Tower (everyday! #guilty), the Louvre Museum, Norte-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées. And we also stumbled across lots of small beautiful streets with scrumptious pâtisserie’s, street markets and one of a kind food stalls. I found that I’d rather enjoy my time, in real time, rather than behind my phone trying my best to produce an aesthetically pleasing shot for my audience. This newfound guilt was a product of my adolescence filled with admiration for YouTubers and vloggers who have dedicated all their time to creating a social facade for their followers, and my inability to achieve such an aesthetic.
What I came to realise was, this social reality I admire and glorify, is simply a shiny performance given to me on a social media platter. The editing, the production, the filming, the ‘candid’ moments are all created on a vision that is made and edited well before the filming begins. This unrealistic aesthetic I admire is produced by a team of individuals who make a deserved living from their video blogging. I found it most difficult to pull out my phone and film anything and everything at times, as I was having too much fun enjoying everything in real time. Upon editing my video, I realised there were many moments I hadn’t documented and instead added photos in for less than a second to continue the theme of the video. Slightly disruptive, and moves away from the original aesthetic but I thought I’d include it all for a more authentic vibe of the trip.