Posts Tagged With: photography

The (almost) Vagabonds of a Generation. [Part 3]

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It’s the “rock bottom” attitude that I want to challenge today.

Rock bottom is just an invented place where the weary travelers rest.

 

There is always further distance to fall. And to definitely greater heights to climb.

As I’ve been talking about in Parts 1 and Parts 2, I believe

in our generation……we err not in our extremes, but in our stunning display of mediocrity. Taking a picnic between solid ground and summit. 

Also, consider there actually are two ways to fail:

-From never trying

– From succeeding at things which really don’t matter

Both stem from the “No way! I’m leaving my circle. This-is-all-I’ve-ever-known”  excuse.

 

It’s the comfort seeker inside of you.

Yes, you know the one. He’s small and green and hungry, like the creature from the Mucinex commercial, but instead lives in the deep in your belly and refuses to eat anything other than sweets.

And because, in America, sugar-infused products are never in short supply, you and he are good friends.

In fact, you have never had a single argument.

But one day……..the minute he grows parched, the minute he doesn’t get what he wants,

all hell will break loose.

Tantrums will ensue the painful aftershocks.

You will be at war with yourself. This thing inside of you. It affects everything. Like a how a toothpick under the fingernail racks the whole body with electric shocks.

And you’ll wonder,

How could something so insignificant take over my life?  When did I lose control and start letting circumstances dictate my happiness?

Why did I tell myself, I need ______ to achieve my full potential?

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We live in, not only a nation, but within an era, where possessions are the highest form of aspiration–the greatest measure of “success”.

I’m not even going to waste my time making an argument about this.

It’s apparent. It’s accepted. It’s aspired to.

If I could go even 1 day without seeing a car, which cost more than a house anywhere else in the world, I might take give a double take. For a brief second.

So, moving on with my point,

Even if you want to, it’s extremely difficult to get rid of this perspective.  We were born into it.

[The best in the west! ‘Merica!]

 

Sorry. Had to get that one in.

I like that word because “millennial” subculture has re-manned it for comedic use. When some yells, “Murica!” after someone’s statement, we take a second look. We laugh. It has helped us see the extremes of our nation and poke a little bit of fun at some things which needed poking. (Or a straight slap in the face by a bald eagle). And as it’s done with humor, we’re starting to be able to laugh at ourselves, which is awesome.

And here’s why I like that interjection:

I think it’s really hard to be aware of why we do the things we do, on a daily basis. Half the time we fall into error due to good, ol’ fashioned ignorance. On auto-pilot. It’s not purposeful. But that doesn’t really help the outcome. Also, it never hurts to have a sense of humor. When you begin to take yourself too seriously, people become objects and opposition, instead of the main focus.

 

So what is the “main focus”?

God, how do I say this to you without sounding…trite?

If you were broke – and I mean dead broke, on the street- could you still be happy?

That’s what I aim to find out.

The reality of the answer for most of us is screaming “no!”. Already. And we haven’t even left out chair! C’mon, be honest with yourself.

But……what if it was embraced…willingly?

That’s what I started asking myself. (among other things) What is the struggle of modern American youth? As I mentioned in Part 2 last week, it’s certainly not physical or material. No, it is “spiritual”. Perhaps not in the sense of religion, but that we are apathetic about creating meaning in our lives. We have given up on searching for our passion. We have given into the norms of society.

Giving up is always easier than embracing the struggle.

So, ask yourself: If you stripped away ev-er-y-thing, all the things you consider “necessities,” could you still find meaning in your life? Would you have the courage to chase after those deeper passions?

me

I mentioned I was going on a road trip across America. But I didn’t tell you how.

 I wasn’t sure you were ready for it.

Most people aren’t when I tell them.

They look at me like I’m crazy.

Well, here it is: I’m going on foot. I’m hitchhiking and riding on trains. With only a backpack, a small camera, and notebook.

No safety net. Nothing for someone to be able to argue, “well David you weren’t really homeless.” Or “Well, you didn’t really have it that bad, because you had______” (insert whatever here, like blow up mattress, The Hilton, a car, gas money, 3 square meals, etc).

Nothing.

No promises. No expectations. No guarantees. Strip away all of my comfort zones.

Some people told me, “Yes, but I’d feel more comfortable if you did it with ______ (items)”  ……….If I could eliminate all the risk from the start, what would the point be?!

The point of life is not to successfully wall off any possible room which leads to “risk” or “danger”.

THE POINT IS– WE ARE ALREADY TOO COMFORTABLE. We are entertaining ourselves to death.  Who decided comfort was the point, or single hallmark, of a “successful” life anyways?

 

All this to say: I want you to know, at the lowest of your lows, there is always an option. Believe that.

Sometimes, we just don’t like it. Mostly because it’s never an easy one. You always have an option. We just convince ourselves we can’t afford take it.

But you can’t afford not to. A heart is a precious thing to waste.

Find it and don’t let go; don’t let anything stand in your way. That’s it. Don’t over-complicate it.

Oh come on now. Please don’t make that face at the computer that says “You’re crazy anyways. No way in hell I’d do that!” I’m not saying your journey will look anything like mine. That’s your story to write and everybody’s conflict will be different. I just want to show you that it’s possible.

 

……Maybe somewhere along these roads we’ll both find hope and reason to believe in the “pursuit of happiness” again.

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Visual Design: Intentionally Invoking the Senses

So, my communication teacher wants to know why I picked the layout colors of my blog.

Let me address this in the most possibly meandering way I can.

I don’t usually think about it consciously — why I like the certain aesthetic properties I do.

I know, I know – we’re a visual culture… and it’s kind of my job. I kick myself, “Shouldn’t I already know this?” I really should start paying more attention.

so here goes.

Well, for starters, I was given some pretty awesome tips from my South Africa director, Justin Zoradi, about the art of simplicity.  [ http://justinzoradi.com/ — he’s also a really great, recognized writer! Check him out!]Justin Zoradi

I’ve been thinking about making a website for my photography.

One of my graphic designer friends, Tiffany, said she imagined my website would be something which would look…..clean. (hence the plain wood & tan/grey background). Ya, I like that. Keep It Simple Stupid, right? But seriously, simplicity and ease of access is what we aim for in our culture, right?

By the way, Justin’s blog is a perfect example of this kind of professional layout, better than mine.  He really “gets it,” as we like to say.

Well, aside from the “graphic design bifocals” I have to admit I often see through as a communication major,…. I just really dig the look of the wood paneled background.

The house I live in right now was built in the 1930’s. It’s really old. In fact, it had push tube electricity when we moved inIf you don’t know what that is….there’s a good reason. It’s not allowed anymore. Something about houses catching on fire because of the thin, exposed wiring….

but anyways, it’s a beautiful, rustic 7 bedroom house, completely wood flooring. It’s got that awesome distressed quality to it. It’s the kind of stuff you just can’t fake. Only the years gone by produce that smell and feel.

I guess, it kind of takes me back to another time period when I enter the front door. It’s like a portal to another world. We tried to keep the majority of the house (minus kitchen appliances) the same when we restored it.

and the photoshop edited banner “Wordplay Revolution”?….well that’s my creative techie/ graphic art side coming out. I used to have a blog called “The revolution” or something. Can’t remember.

The picture on the banner?

Oh, wait this is a good story. (remember, behind every picture is a story)

I took that picture on a road trip with my dear friend and mentor, Andrew.

It was a snowy day. The first fall of the winter actually. Well, half sleet, depending where you were in Oklahoma. It was Thanksgiving. I didn’t have a family to spend it with, so he invited me up to Oklahoma City to eat with his family. We took the back roads – the whole way. He said I could take as long as I wanted and we could stop every time I wanted a picture. There was no rules. No schedule. No time deadlines. We could take as long as we wanted and do whatever we wanted along the way. My reaction was like a little kid high on a multiple bags of skittles.  This creative junkie was about to get 150 miles of endless fixes.

UM HELLO! Have you met me?! haha I’m not sure if you’ve ever ridden in the car with me….but I hope you don’t plan on getting there anytime soon.

Needless to say, Andrew is a good friend.

            

I guess, that banner picture means a lot to me because it brings with it that familial sense of longing. It automatically takes me back to the bitter frost of that oddly half-sunny Oklahoma day, his red truck, abruptly shaken from my depressed weekend I had planned to spend by myself, to Andrew’s phone call, pulling me from the couch and promising we’d stop to get syrupy french toast somewhere along the way

I can remember… standing in the middle of the lonely highway for a good photo as he watched for oncoming cars, mother nature’s science experiment of orange leaves still trapped under the flash freeze, the smell of coffee and cigarettes with every stop, 40’s bop raging on the radio in between long conversations, warming my numb hands in front of the heater, his mom’s home cooking and family albums, watching the sunset and backyard bird-feeders — feeling completely content after an awesome day. Feeling….safe. Happy. Relieved and removed from all the complicated mess of my life…..even if just for a day.

It was a simple day really. By any standard. Just a road trip. Nothing fancy. Nothing elaborate that would strike most people as particularly “memorable”. Just…simple.

But sometimes I have to remind myself…..I need simple.

We all do.

It’s a welcome relief for our eyes and heart, from all the stressful, twisted mess of our complicated lives.

As a general rule, good design is simple and easy.

   

But I’m a very “visual” person, and this is my blog, so I’m biased.

So all ask your opinion– does it have that calming effect on you? Even if for a completely different reason.

What does the layout make you think of?

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Polaroid. Instagram. It’s all the same. (for real)

First, before readfing, Check out the link: http://www.amazon.com/Polaroid-Instant-Digital-Printing-Technology/dp/B001RIYUJQ/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1348712960&sr=8-16&keywords=instant+camera

(one of the latest and most “modern” Polaroid cameras.)

Ya, that’s right. I’m part of the Polaroid cult-phenomenon. This is a post about cameras.

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But before you jump to conclusions, wait! I actually did grow up with Polaroids in my house growing up. Don’t worry, this isn’t a hipster fashion hunt for “vintage” accessories.

I promise, this blog is still completely relevant for you. As long as you haven’t lived under a rock for the last 50 years, you realize that everyone who has a phone…..already has a camera. The technology is crazy good now. (In fact you might be reading this on your new i-phone 5)

Access to digital image taking AND sharing is easier than ever. Hence Facebook’s wise (billion dollar) investment of buying Instagram.

As requires for my business, but also curiosity, I keep up with the latest tech news about new cameras and software. But I guess….I’ve reached a chasm…a kind of brick wall in my research.

To learn more about why we love things like Instagram, led me back to the start. I had to go back to the basics.

I realized that everything in digital photography….is based off our knowledge of film photography. You can’t understand the first without the second.

In fact, cameras haven’t changed much. They’re built exactly the same, except with a digital sensor instead of a film backing, where the light hits when the shutter opens.

So what is it that we really love, amidst the thousands of kinds of cameras…..and lack of need for fancy ones since the creation of 8 megapixel i-phones?

What we really love is the instantaneous quality it provides.

Notice the  aesthetic style of the portait is still mimicked to this day:

Image.

….So if we can combine that look…with printing ability, we’re starting to get somewhere.

I think the future is already here: digital + instant print.

Yes. That’s right. It’s already here.

Everything makes its way back ’round. Instagram is actually becoming a camera. Check it: http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2012/09/socialmatic-instagram-camera-moves-closer-to-becoming-a-reality/

As I write this, I have to laugh with you a bit though at the irony. I admit, I just bought my the original Polaroid camera at an auction today.

Good news.

It turns out that a company called Impossible is creating the film again! (Polaroid went bankrupt) Looks like you might just have the best of both worlds soon! As it turns out, there is still a growing hunger for instant film, uniting several generations and creating an entirely new community of photographers. See site: http://www.the-impossible-project.com/?nointro=1

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The Camera Works Like Your Eye

My job is kind of like being an optometrist. I produce a sort of corrected vision.

So, does the type of camera used matter? Well, yes and no. But for sake of simplification right now, just pretend all cameras are equal in artistic or aesthetic quality.

Here’s the key to understanding all of it. Seriously, I can sum it all up for you.

The camera is like your eye.

It’s simple really. You ever notice, when it’s really bright outside, you squint and your pupils get smaller? That’s the aperture of a camera.  Increasing the exposure speed….is like putting on sunglasses.

[If you’re really tech savvy and curious like me, check out this interesting article which explains in detail: http://www.pixiq.com/article/eyes-vs-cameras  ]

When you get older (or have naturally crappy eyesight) and need glasses — well, that’s like the lens on a (non-phone, interchangeable SLR) camera.

The reason for different ranges of lenses is for the same reason my pops has bug-eyed bifocals half an inch thick (for his 20-200 vision) and my mom has fashionable, thin reading glasses. You need to adjust the focus for short distance and long distance, according to need.

As you go throughout your day, think about your eyes as cameras. It’s a cool exercise, which nobody will be able to tell you are doing…….unless you’re super awkward and squinting at random people. In which case, that’s funny. So please do so and tell me afterwards.

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Let’s just admit it– we’re all “photographers” now.

Sorry, i have to mention this footnote. My mind has recently been changed about this, drastically.

I have an ongoing joke with one of my best friends Dan.  He likes to make fun of me by saying, “All I need to do your job is my smartphone…..Ya, just hold it right there…” {Insert dramatic camera framing and click}. “See- Art.” [Insert huge grin and good-natured laugh}  ——-Don’t worry though, I always get him back and say “All I need is my phone calculator to be a financial analyst like you! haha”

But seriously, I’ve now educated you. What’s your opinion? How does this advancement/regression of technology strike you?

and within the 30 seconds it takes for me show my friends how to use the Instagram app, you are now a “photographer”.

So, with everyone being a “photographer” now, is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Well, I think the question is complicated. The answer is simple.

It’s a loaded question, because taking a picture may make you a “photographer” in the most literal sense of you + camera = camera operater = photographer.

But regardless of all the other professional photographers who get their panties in a bunch every time someone whips  their 8-megapixel photo-lab from their pocket—we should be happy. That is the simple answer. I say, the more the merrier.

If the amateur’s work is annoyingly horrible and he’s still creating a Facebook page — so what? He shouldn’t be “competition” then. Besides, I don’t buy into the whole “competition” mindset. I enjoy helping young and aspiring camera enthusiasts truly learn more about the field.

My personal theory?

There are two kinds of “photographers” within this generations new-found community. One is not “better” or “worse.” One is simply more educated. I think that, just like the printing press, getting the accessible and affordable technology into the hands of the common people is always a step in the right direction.

It’s controversial because of this– there will always be those amateurs who do not understand a piece of mechanical equipment does not equal instant skill.With access to cameras more readily available than any society in the history of the world, the problem isn’t really the camera. Most every “tech literate” person under 70 (shout out to Mimi), understands how to merely operate the tool.

“A Photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.”

I’ve come across some good example of the two different extremes:

1. The “Hipstagrammers” : Instagram plus object = Art.

I really hope I don’t have to further explain this one! haha

2. The “Pro I-phoners” : Dammit, these guys actually get paid for this??!! What am i doing?

——Collin Hughes (commercial photographer):

http://visualsupply.co/features/vsco-cam-collin-hughes

——–Ben Lowy (international photojournalist)

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/02/ben-lowy-virtually-unfiltered/

Well, I hope I’ve left you plenty of rescources for further reading! As always, thanks for tuning in.

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