Painter George Rose on Australian Design Radio – YOU’RE RAD!

There’s nothing quite like a beautiful wall mural. Salvador Dalí became one of my favorite artists when I began to appreciate the enormous scale of some of his paintings. While traveling, I love seeking out the unexpected murals that pop up in cities around the world – especially in Australia. A painted wall can stop me cold in my tracks while I crane my neck to take it all in. So when I heard the wall artist George Rose talking about her work on the Australian Design Podcast, I couldn’t wait to check it out. I don’t know how I ended up listening to the Australian Design Podcast. I’m not Australian, I’m not a designer. Maybe I would be those things if I could. Maybe I just really enjoy stories of people who are living their creative dream – who appear to be breaking all the rules, doing what they …

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A realistic stock photo of a beautiful beach

A very brief history of stock photography: from fake studio models to authentic backyard scenes

When a brand chooses a stock photograph to represent their desired public image, they’re faced with a “style” problem. The brilliant artist Chuck Close summarized the problem of photographic style like this: “Photography is the easiest medium with which to be merely competent. Almost anybody can be competent. It’s the hardest medium in which to have some sort of personal vision and to have a signature style.” Having a signature style is the essence of branding. When a marketing department develops creative ads for their brand, they want to distill their style into an image, while showing off the best qualities of their products or services. Companies rely on stock photography to shape their image, because as Close pointed out, finding a signature style with photography is difficult. Creative stock photographs are shot by freelance artists and can be bought from online agencies like Getty, Alamy, Shutterstock and more. In the …

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Two Ideas

“Have more than one idea on the go at any given time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I can choose one rather than the other. I ­always have to feel that I’m bunking off from something.” – Geoff Dyer I read Geoff Dyer’s book “Paris, Trance” over the weekend, and came away with a great deal of respect for his writing. Some books you pick up and read a few pages of and think they aren’t going to be great, then 24 hours later you turn the last page and realize you haven’t put the thing down since you started and it’s over. The effect is all the more pronounced when you took a chance on a low Amazon rating (I really can’t comprehend why it only has …

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A few words about all the movies I watched in 2016

I’ve been keeping a list of every movie I watched this year… those I’ve seen before and those I saw for the first time. For each of them, I wrote a very brief reaction. Some are thoughtful, some are irreverent. All are honest. Here’s the list, in sequential order of my viewing: Babel – makes Tokyo and Afghanistan and Mexico seem like another planet Revenant – more movies should be filmed 100% with natural light Winter on Fire – meanwhile in America the Kardashians what?? Big Eyes – the guy in this movie is a huge asshat Moonraker – are they serious? They can’t be serious. I love it The Big Short – Steve Carrell should always play this character Dallas Buyers Club – drugs should be mostly legal The Princess Bride – I have no good excuse for seeing this for the first time in 2016 The Perfect Storm – but I can’t …

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Sorry Good Will Hunting, I Need that T.P.S. Report By Monday

Two movies from the late 1990’s stand out as favorites, for me and many others: Office Space and Good Will Hunting. Both truly stand the test of time, and entertain now just about as well as as they did when released. Both also have something to say about what “Work” is, and what kind of man should pursue what line of it, and what’s respectable or questionable about the choices they make along the way. Construction labor plays an understated role in both narratives, repelling one protagonist and rescuing the other. Will Hunting (Matt Damon) begins his story as a workman, who is encouraged and motivated to find his way into a more intellectual profession. Peter (Ron Livingston) begins his story as a cubicle drone, who is encouraged and motivated to find his way into a more physically laborious occupation. For what it’s worth, Will Hunting lives in a dramatic universe, and Peter lives in a …

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202 days down, 163 to go

I’m still in the photo-a-day project, more than halfway to 365 pictures. It hasn’t gotten any easier, and the difficulty that’s been creeping in could be due to the repetitive nature of the project, or the wearing off of novelty, or my transition from walking everywhere to spending time in the car, or my continual pull away from photography and toward work, and writing, and home life. The catalyst for this project was thin – it was a cold, wintry Sunday and I felt the need to do at least one thing, other than nurse myself on the couch, after a long Saturday of carousing. So I went for a long walk, took a picture of some trees, and decided on the fly that I would take another picture every day for a year. That was it. No research to start, no browsing through other’s work and finding inspiration, no possible financial reward. Just a …

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on the Oscars and Being Liked

If you haven’t seen Birdman, Boyhood, or the Imitation Game, maybe don’t read this post yet. Three of the films nominated for Best Picture this year had climactic scenes in which characters confronted the importance of ‘being liked.’   Coincidence? Or important cultural phenomenon, captured? I’m leaning towards the latter. The ‘being liked’ discussion did heavy lifting in these narratives, and served as a critical character-defining plot point in each. In Birdman, Michael Keaton’s character Riggan is overwhelmed by the criticism and potential of failure he faces for trying to re-define his legacy. As a former action-movie star, now forgotten, his quest for recognition has led him to produce a serious drama on Broadway. He tries to explain his motivations to his daughter, Sam (Emma Stone) but she calls his sincerity into question. She’s right. Riggan: Listen to me. I’m trying to do something important. Sam: This is not important. Riggan: It’s …

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on 365 (Inspiration is for Amateurs)

Twenty-four days ago I decided I would take a single photograph every day, for 365 consecutive days. I’m only using an iPhone, and I’m often taking more than one picture, but the goal is a single ‘shareable’ image at the end of each day. Creative people who ‘sit around and wait for the clouds to part,’ as Chuck Close has put it, before they sit down and get to work, are not going accomplish very much. Often it seems easier to believe that the best work only comes in moments of divine inspiration, but as I embark on this challenge I’m finding that routine & persistence is the best way to refine technique and make good work. Knowing that I need to make a photograph at some point during each day is opening my eyes in ways that they weren’t open before, when I was lazily waiting for the right image to coalesce before me. …

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Paris par Deux

I last visited Paris in November, 2011. It is a city I admire and my imagination returns to it often. Despite what the terrorists would have us believe, Paris is a city of love – maybe a cliche, but for many, absolute truth. During my last trip, I walked the city at length. I love the city’s rhythm, and my camera kept finding moments of ‘two’ – two people sharing a small corner of the city, amongst the millions who inhabit it. At a time when Paris is threatened by separation, division, and ideology that seeks to break apart – I want to pause and reflect on these small moments I last saw there, and the unity they represented – simple frames of two people, sharing togetherness, freedom, and fraternity.

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on The Smartest Guys in the Room

Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room [Motion picture]. (2005). This film nicely wrapped up what was a very complicated story. As the scandal took place, uncovering the important pieces of the narrative was difficult because they were competing with everything else in the daily news information deluge. Letting a few years pass and waiting for the dust to settle makes stepping back and taking the 10,000 foot view easier. When Enron was originally in the news I didn’t have any sense of the great impact that company shareholders suffered, and I didn’t understand what a celebrated and ‘accomplished’ company it had been shortly before the scandal broke out. Being a high school student in 2001, I wasn’t as tuned in as I would be if something like this happened now, so I appreciate the deep-dive explanation of what really happened. I am proud that investigative reporting was one of the catalysts for …

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