Sunday, September 03, 2006

An Unschooled Writer's Best Friend

I've begun translating some short film ideas I've had for awhile into short story format. Since I originally developed these ideas as films, I had very specific direction, actions and sets in mind. In the translation process, I sometimes find it difficult to describe my original visions without falling into rhetoric. Not the good definition of, "Skill in using language effectively and persuasively," but, "Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous." This is where the unschooled writer's best friend comes into play: the thesaurus. But it's easy to get carried away. With this in mind, let's experiment with translating bad rhetoric into even worse rhetoric:

"It was a dark and stormy night."
"The small hours were morose and hostile."

"A long time ago."
"An aeon has agone."

"Once upon a time."
"An erstwhile experience has slipped away."

Huh. I think I turned bad rhetoric good! Of course I can be intellectually vacuous at times.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

4 Reasons I'm Considering Canceling Satellite Radio

  1. Pandora
  2. Great Community Radio Stations
  3. Portable Music Players
  4. My Antennae Broke

Based on the tremendous work of The Music Genome Project, you create your own stations based on an artist or song you like. They examine every aspect (harmony, rhythm, arrangement, etc.) and cue up new songs and artists. It boils it down to the essence of music...the sound. If you have even a remote interest in music, check them out now!

Great Community Radio Stations
I live in St. Louis, which is home to one of the best stations in the country, KDHX 88.1. I've decided to channel some of the money I was spending on satellite to them. What makes community radio great? Programs, whether talk or music, produced by and for a wide variety of interest groups. Find your station here, and you'll find yourself listening to new music you may never have discovered otherwise. I've found myself cruising to Celtic music once. Also, take a look at all the stations available in your area. You'd be surprised at how many there are.

Portable Music Players
I have so much music I haven't heard in so long that Apple's iPod Shuffle was actually a good thing. Randomly loading music has made me rediscover music I loved (and some I wonder about, did I actually listen to Poison and Color Me Bad?). I have the ability to quickly load specific music for when I take a run (OK, a or if I'm taking a road trip. They're starting to combine portable satellite receivers with PMPs. XM is leaps and bounds beyond Sirius, but there's still something lacking about the experience.

My Antennae Broke
Ever since the wires got pinched in my car, I haven't listed to satellite radio on the road. I just never got around to replacing it. It's been over a year now, and I'm OK. This has lead to my (re)discovery of points 1 & 2, and I've actually been better off. I've relegated my satellite receiver to living and bedroom status.

Video? Not interested at this time. Music? The reason I bought XM. Opie & Anthony? They may be the main reason I stay signed up. So what has to happen to bring back the feelings I had when I first signed up, with a 2 year subscription, three years ago? As I've written this, I've started to realize that the saving grace for satellite radio could be the ability to give the end user a malleable experience. Are you listening, E-Lo? Don't get too distracted by offering video and 'parking' features. Let "the little doggie company" distract themselves into a self-dug hole. Satellite radio is only an evolution of radio, the revolution is yet to come. If you can open even one channel that I can login to my account (at any time) and enter the name of an artist or song I'm in the mood for, I'll sign a life-time contract!


Here are my current Pandora stations!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Photography: Are you a professional?

Check out this great diatribe on photography's vanishing middle-class on The Strobist. It reminded me of a short story I heard. All true.

A "professional" (sarcastic quotes justified at the end of the story) "photographer" (heh) visits a professional camera shop. She talks about a problem with her pictures that she cannot figure out the cause of and needs help. The consultant asks if she has her pictures with her. She pulls out a Wal-Mart envelope (making the consultant cringe a little) and fans out the pictures.

Thoughts go to a flash sync problem, or something blocking the flash. Shadows cast on the subjects as if she was standing in front of the flash. Was there a hood on the lens? No. Didn't look like a strap. Well, let's take a look at the camera and double check the settings, see if something got bumped off. She reaches in her small purse (uh oh) and pulls out a tiny Pentax Optio digital camera! This is someone who represented herself as a professional wedding photographer to the poor people who hired her!

The solution to her problems? Stop taking pictures as a professional. Now, if she had a portfolio showing some creative work she's done with her 'toy' digital camera, terrific. I would love to see those pictures, and there are people who would hire her in order to achieve that look.

In my previous post (yes, it's been awhile) I talked about how the chase of equipment stalls your creativity. But when you represent yourself as a professional photographer for hire, you need at least the minimum amount of equipment to achieve what your clients are looking for. Some photographers can use the bare minimum. Check out Callie Lipkin's Holga weddings. She's achieving the look that her clients expect, and doing it with the bare minimum requirement for her look: a $25 toy camera.

The lesson? A friend had a great observation that just because you can print your own business cards that say "Photographer" on them, does not make you a professional. It's how you represent yourself.

Do you have any horror stories derived from "professional" photographers?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Photography: What are you chasing?

Stop chasing the equipment! Start chasing the image!

If you belive in your ability as a creative photographer, go out and buy or borrow the cheapest digital camera you can find. Keep it with you, always. When inspiration strikes, take it out and show us your vision. If you insist on chasing (but never catching) the latest equipment, you're just using the chase as an excuse for your lack of creativity.

Visit PhotoSig and browse photos by camera type. I'll even get you started.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Life: Your Legacy

While flipping through channels (I'm a guy, I flip), I ran into the Antique Roadshow and began to think how the art we create today will be viewed in 100yrs. How about 1,000yrs?

Hopefully we won't be inundated with, "Your very lucky your great grandfather left you this, this is an original IKEA piece! Now worth...are you ready...$200!!"

I love looking at MoCo Loco! The designers featured show a truly individualistic style.

How do you distinguish yourself? Can you?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Life: Inspiration

I've gotten honked at while jotting something down at stoplight that turned green. I've kept repeating an idea out-loud, to myself, until I could pull over and jot it down. We've all had (at least to us) a world changing idea, only to lose it because we didn't or couldn't take note. This means keeping a waterproof pad and space pen in the shower; using a voice recorder or cell phone (musicians can call their voicemail and sing that perfect phrase that comes while waiting in line); even a small pen to jot on a napkin or magazine subscription card (been there). I have a t-mobile sidekick that I keep notes on. It's always with me. I'll email myself an idea so it shows up on my powerbook when I get online.

It's not important what you keep with you, as long as you don't let that moment of inspiration slip away. The Moleskin pocket books are becoming ubiquitous: 3.5x5 notebooks available in plain, ruled, storyboards, music staffs and more.

Whatever idea or thought comes to you...take note. What may seem like an odd thought may lead to something greater.

What have you taken note on? When was the last time you lost a thought?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Art: Selling Your Work

Whenever I go to artist openings in restaurants, cafes, clubs, etc., I always want to purchase some of the art and photography being showcased. Unfortunately I, and most people, can't afford to purchase all the art that inspires them. Which brings me to the (partially selfish) topic of how you can sell more of your art at openings:

Next time you're talking with the owner or manager, offer to make available packaged prints on consignment. Packaged prints should consist of the matte, print and your contact card with your artists statement placed in a clear archival sleeve. I would suggest creating 8x10's in 11x14 mattes. This size is more enticing for the buyer and easier to display in a cafe. People may even buy a couple prints if you price them in the $40-60 range. If the restaurant asks for a commission, offer 15-20% of retail (after all, you're probably using they're credit card machines). Create 3-5 packages for each displayed print. Offer to sign prints purchased the night of the opening to encourage people to by that night.

This is a no-brainer for photographers. For traditional artists, or those that create one of a kind originals, it's a little more involved since you'll need to have your original work recreated in a way that gives you the best results. NEVER skimp on materials or you WILL devalue your work, as well as other artists who choose to do this! Keep your original prints priced normally. Those that can buy originals will still do so, but now you open your work up to people who will truly appreciate me! I buy art to fill my life, not match my drapes. I like Light Impressions for matting supplies. American Frame has a good variety of frames, both for quality and budget.

What other ways can you sell more work on an opening night?

p.s. Don't forget your nametag.