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Archive for January, 2011

Fantasy keys won’t get you in.

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

“Fantasy keys won’t get you in. Almost every single thing you hope publication will do for you is a fantasy[…]. What’s real is that if you do your scales every day, if you slowly try harder and harder pieces, if you listen to great musicians play music you love, you’ll get better.”

I may start using this Lamott quote with my students. They often come to me confused and sweating about the future and what they were born to do. I ask them one simple question: “What are you passionate about?” I tell them, for a moment, forget any notion of “innate talent,” what do you find yourself up late at obsessing over?

If you love it, you can learn to do it.

There’s this strange misconception that communications industries—advertising, design, photography, journalism—stay afloat based on raw talent and aptitude, as if you’re born knowing how to write an opus. Physicists don’t innately understand the theory of relativity. Likewise doctors, lawyers, counselors and the ilk aren’t born into their craft. It takes time and dedication to learn every trade.

Both Lamott and the podcast sang the same tune, only with different words.

The Gross and Shapiro reading, Changing Perspectives, tells photographers to reconstruct reality by breaking free from conformity to see things from a new perspective. Climb a tree, crawl on your belly, flip upside down, or, as Clay Stalter might suggest, get on a merry-go-round and drag your shutter. Learn the rules, then learn to break them, but with deliberate purpose.

It’s true. I might also add you have to learn to laugh at yourlself and you can’t be afraid to look stupid. I’ve perfected these last two; it’s the first set of suggestions I need to work on.

I like slices of life.

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

I like slices of life. I like slivers of reality. I like little golden nuggets of information that lead down a rabbit hole, through a tunnel and open into sun-filled fields of greater understanding.

I like character profiles:

For me, the character, the story and the narrative overshadow low production quality. I love the unexpected twist from crazy old coot screaming on the corner to upstanding citizen out to protect distracted students. I like stories that unexpectedly make me chuckle.

I also like obsessive details:

Cappuccino, Intelligentsia from The D4D on Vimeo.

When I disregard the overused selective colorization nonsense, I love the idea of capturing the ritual of a perfect cappuccino. Coffee culture is dense with minute details and precision, and I absolutely fell for the details and framing in this piece by Intelligentsia. I love the subtle aesthetic of “moving pictures” or images that happen to move. I can never seem to execute them well enough myself.

Perhaps that should be my mission this semester.