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 …

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#ShowYourWork

I read Austin Kleon’s book “Show Your Work!” last week. It presents an idea that seems pretty basic on the surface, but is actually pretty challenging: “You can’t find your voice without using it.” According to Kleon, creative people have to show what they’re doing for it to be meaningful. Showing the work is as important as doing it. I used to have a good habit of doing that with this blog. Until a few years ago, I was posting regularly, and it seemed like people other than my Mom were actually reading it. (Thanks for reading, Mom!) Things I wrote about here turned into the things I talked about with people out in the world. Then life caught up. …

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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 …

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on Walking the World

You can tell a lot about a city by its crosswalks. In Sydney, the ‘Art and About‘ program installed large banners throughout the city illustrating the slight variations in ‘crosswalk people’ around the globe. The little blinking green man who helps you avoid becoming a traffic accident isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering ‘what piece of public art defines where I live?’ But… ‘God is in the details.’ A few examples: In Warsaw, Poland – the Crossing Man is shattered, wrecked, in pieces. What brought him to such a state of discombobulation? How does he even walk like that? Not only are his limbs disassociated, but his head is monstrously large. It’s as if Warsaw Man …

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on the Humanities

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal asked – “Who ruined the humanities?” The writer’s premise is that students of art and literature are at a disadvantage when studying at a university, where a rigid pedagogy is imposed on works that should be considered personally and at leisure, thus leaving the students with no real benefit upon graduating but having soaked up and learned to reproduce the opinions of professors. The article is rich with opinion and gives an interesting history of literature studies that I didn’t encounter at all during my years of college. He writes: Only a knave would applaud the falling-off in the formal study of books that cultivate empathy, curiosity, aesthetic taste and moral refinement. …

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Figueres, the home of Dalí

Figueres is a small city outside Barcelona and home to the fantastic Salvador Dalí. I took the train from Placa Espanya to see the Museu Dalí, which included a separate museum housing his jewel collection, and his mausoleum. The museum consisted of several floors, hallways, and spiraling staircases, with paintings, sketches, furniture, and installations by the artist. The famous “Persistence of Memory” painting is housed at the MOMA in New York, and many other pieces hang in the Dalí Museum of St. Petersburg, Florida.  Melting clocks can be found all over the place, however, in other paintings and sculptures. The jewelry designed by Dali is no less extravagant than his oil paintings, and like an Egyptian pharaoh, his mausoleum is surrounded by his …

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