A few from behind the scenes

So I had a chance to sneak in the back door of Chase's recent CJLive gig with We Are Augustines. They're a totally positive, honest band and it was great to be there and see it happen live. Chase and the band had a great discussion about making art, and it felt great to pull apart Polaroids as Chase took pics. Fun to get your hands on things and have pictures you can hold again. Nothing spectacular here, but it'll give you a feel for what was happening. Check out Chase's site for a rebroadcast.

One mailer's story

In answering questions on Chase Jarvis Live, one of the themes that emerged as a hot topic was around how photographers should contact companies or prospective clients. A mailer? An e-mail? A portfolio?  I gave a few pointers that I thought would be helpful in Chase's blog, but also thought it'd be interesting to share a few real-world examples of how we experience new work and discover talent. I know photographers and creatives in general put a lot of work into how they represent their work, and it's often done with very little feedback after you hit send or put that stamp on it and send it into the cruel world. To help show that the world isn't entirely cruel, I thought I'd trace a mailer or two as we get 'em and describe how we interact with them. With that in mind, here's how one story played out.

My co-worker and awesome art director Brian Benthin (follow his twitter here) comes walking the ten steps over to my desk with a sharp looking photo bedecked envelope and says, "Check this out." If Brian's sharing it, it's bound to be good, relevant or just super interesting, so it already has my attention.

Good clean branding for Nick, and nice shot that's tied into the others.

The main spread.
Stylistically, it's compatible with what we're doing. It seems like an outdoor image happening, with nice cold tones and a cool pop of green. I'll bite.

I open it. Clean design, cool paper. I unfold it. Same runner, winter scene. A story is unfolding, supported by each additional image. Interesting casting, as it's an older women out running, not typical model perfection. Seems like it'd fit well with my "real people, real places" mantra. I tell Brian I dig it, and when I turn around he's already on Nick's site checking out his work.  We spend a bit of time digging through the portfolio, which we like because it's organized in stories, too. Love the portraits. I'm flipping the envelope over in my hand, notice a couple of stickers that tout his accomplishments -- one a PDN endorsement, and the other a call to a new motion project.  I like the confidence and third-party endorsement.

Brian checking out Nick's work online.

So that's the story of Nick's mailer. It didn't make us call him with an offer for a project instantaneously, but it had us enjoying his work, and thinking about how his style could fit into our plans. We now know Nick, and before he sent us this we didn't. Nick got our attention with a few smooth moves:

Great photos.
Clean design (trust us, we care about this)
Good story telling
Nicely edited photos
Unconventional casting

As others rise to the top of the pile, I'll try to share the experience as well. Hopefully this is interesting and helps make you feel like representing your art is worth the effort.


Anybody need half a giraffe?

I found this while researching a project. So much right and wrong here. The downtrodden posture. The happy little free shipping bug (sweet deal!). The mother's day ad. The price. All of it has me wondering if I can get a good deal on the back end. More information here, including the beautiful opening line of "with a profound respect for ecology." I don't know how they knew the name of the poetry book I'm writing, but indeed. 



Ever wanted to start you own business? Meet Salt & Straw

I really enjoy people who pull the curtain back on how things work. Chase Jarvis does this really well, demystifying many parts of photography in an earnest effort to bring creativity to the masses. Inspired by this, I thought I'd run a couple of profiles on projects that I have a behind-the-scenes view to. I'll be rolling a few out over time, but to get things started I'd like to introduce a new company called Salt & Straw, started by my friend and marketing wiz Kim Malek.

Salt and Straw is an old-school ice cream shop that Kim will be opening up in Portland, Oregon on May 25th. It's the kind of project I like, in that Kim's working hard to make her ice cream out of the best, local ingredients, and mixing new-school delicious flavors with old-school hand-making methods. It should be a good combo, and it'll be fun to see the physical form the business takes. Kim's already doing cool, new-school transparent things like involving her customers in flavor development and cart design. I like that a lot. It's not surprising really, because Kim's super nice, and brings a lot of energy and integrity to whatever business she's involved with. Kim and I have worked together in the past on some projects with Cupcake Royale. Prior to that, she was working in the marketing arm of the progressive RED effort, and before that I think she was deep in the heart of Starbucks. Let's just say she knows what she's doing when it comes to putting a plan together. And fortunately for us, I managed to talk her into sharing what it takes to take a great plan and turn into an actual business.

In future updates I'll get into the nitty-gritty of building the business as it evolves real-time. Kim has nailed down the name, the logo, the location and the opening date, but everything else is evolving, shifting, and generally taking up the time she used to use for sleeping. It's fun stuff, too, if you like thinking about all the details that make a business what it is. Everything from the social media strategy to the copy tone to the colors that make up the brand will be covered. I'm a junkie for that kind of stuff, and hopefully a few others out there are too.

The picture below is from an earth day event that happened this last weekend, where Kim was in Portland for an earth day cleanup effort for the neighborhood she's be opening her shop in. She used the opportunity to get to know the people in the area, and brought sweet samplings of her ice cream to share with all. As soon as she recovers from that event, I'll have a round of hopefully insightful Q&A with here around some of the planning issues from her decision to go indie, as well as the latest updates on progress with the store. 


This makes me happy (nerd alert)

This makes me happy on many levels. First, that the making of The Hobbit is actually happening and that I know it's gonna be great fun to watch. Second, I get happiness in that Peter Jackson is shooting it at 48 frames per second, and third I like that he's written about this decision at length on his facebook page. It's like a burrito of happiness, wrapped in a warm tortilla of comfort, served on a plate that's pleasantly hot but not too hot to touch. Social media, great story telling, gorgeous cinematography, a commitment to technological advances, and sharing it all out to the people? Seriously Mr. Jackson? That sh*ts for real!

It's a fun world out there. If you think way back to the early 2000s, there was once a day when people didn't give such great behind-the-scenes peeks at how cool (and massive) projects like this go down. People held onto their projects until they pulled back the curtains and heralded a triumphant, "Ta-da!" as their project was presented complete.

Nowadays, there's a ton of information out there happening in real or near-real time on projects big and small. Not only does it make life for those not on the project interesting, but it's also a good way for those neck deep into the work to gather feedback on a project underway. You gotta love that. It can get a brain fired up, and used wisely, all this info can result in learning curves shaped significantly different.


Chase Jarvis and I chat about things photo-shooty

In case you're interested, here's the episode of Chase Jarvis Live where he and I spent some time talking about creativity, photo shoots, and the role of art directors and photographers. It was fun for me, and hopefully useful for somebody out there.

And now, the remix

"Only 12 notes a man can play..."

Despite the fact that this line ignores a huge tradition of music outside of the rather confining 12-note structure, and despite that it also ignores more than half the planet in terms of gender, the beasties had it mostly right when they penned Shadrach. Because when you think about it, we're all playing from the same set of notes. Yet there are millions of songs.

In other words, everything is a remix. It’s a popular refrain nowadays on the ol’ internet. This concept can be a bit daunting thing to think about when trying to create, in the way being strapped to a board with a wet piece of cloth over your face can make you feel a tad suffocated. When everything is a remix, it can feel like it’s impossible to come up with something new that’s gonna tear the roof off the world. But the flipside is that it’s also freeing. If there isn’t anything truly new ever, then you’re free from that pressure. Now you can use those notes (or pixels, or paints, or words…) to create an expression for the emotion, thought, or idea you want to express. And your expression of the idea will be unique, thanks in part to technique, but largely due to the fact that humans are complex and often f-d up units that can’t help but bring their baggage and perspective to everything they do.

I don’t have to look any farther than the currently raging Tiny Card Challenge (if I use capital letters it makes it a Real Thing), a project that my buddy Erik Hecht and I did last week. Erik and I share a love for nuance, and often end up taking pictures of similar subjects. We’re also camera nerds, and use similar equipment. But that’s where the similarity ends. I’m constantly blown away by how beautiful his images are, and how he brings a feeling of light to what he captures. In his introduction to the challenge he talks about how he future proofs his world and shoots in a way that is flexible for reinterpretations of his images down the line. I'm more of a capture it now, save it in an unfindable place until the hard drive turns to a brick, and then breath a sigh of relief when it's all gone and I can start over, fresh and organized this time. (Yeah right.) Of course, he's a pro that makes his living with his images, and I'm just a guy filling bottles with flammable liquids, stuffing rags into ‘em, lighting them and tossing them as far as I can.

I found a good example of the impact of technique and perspective as part of Erik’s Tiny Card Challenge images. In his collection, there was a beautiful shot of a fine German automobile. I also took a picture of a fine German automobile. Only mine was smashed up in front of a body shop, lonely and awaiting repair. Where Erik's was rendered with smooth, continuous tones, I bashed my imaged even further until there wasn't an undecided midtone left. As I tweaked the image to render what I saw in the subject, it made me smile, much in the way I'm sure Erik's beatific BMW made him smile.

The images are side-by-side below. I think it’s a good example of how similar elements, compositions, and subjects can end up in totally different places when different people get involved. And to me, that's a beautiful thing.


The tiny card challenge: day one images

Here are a few images from the Tiny Card Challenge. It does indeed make me shoot differently, or at least operate post-capture a bit differently. At first I was shooting and editing out shots to make way for new ones. After a bit I realized I was backing away from pressing the button, and just not taking framed up shots. Kinda fun.

Because my card was a CF card, I also had to dig out a CF-compatible rig that I wanted to shoot with. I turned to my Nikon D70, which I hadn't seen in quite a while, and a simple 50mm lens. That big ol' DSLR made me miss the GF1 I've been shooting with lately, but you gotta do what you gotta do when it comes to a challenge.

So here I am. Although I've been out and about with a camera for good chunk of the day,  I have only four images to show for it. I feel a little like I just traded the family cow for a handful of magic beans, and at this point I'm not quite sure if I've been swindled or if they're gonna grow into something huge and awesome. 


This is ridiculously cool

Reposted from Paul Octavious' wonderful blog:



So I woke up this morning thinking, oddly, about cassette tapes. As in audio cassette tapes. I think it was the image of the 16 MB card on the earlier post that made me think of them. They have a cool design aesthetic. So first thing in the morning I shot a few pics of some old cassettes I had lying around. As I was reviewing the images, they came to life, flip-book fashion. Which gave rise to my next idea, which was a short animated bit using cassettes.


The tiny card challenge

As giant cards, cheap memory, terabytes of storage and massively pixeled cameras become the norm, more and more pictures are being taken, stored and distributed. But what if you could only take one or two pictures per session? What would they look like? How many times would you put your finger on the shutter button and then ease it off.

Enter the tiny card challenge. We all probably have a tiny memory card lying around where. Maybe it came with some seven-generations-ago camera. I found a 48 MB card. The co-creator of this idea, Erik Hecht, dug deep and came up with a nice 16 MB SD card. That's right 16 megabytes. Not gigs, but megabytes. Basically a couple of low-fi jpegs on one card. Which is the crux of the challenge we're going to undertake -- head out with a tiny card and see which pictures we keep. He's already posted a few of his shots here.

Search your desk drawers and join the challenge, and let's see if less truly is more.

Erik's awesome find, and icon for the project.

The goodness of going out

There's always a debate about going out, or not going out. Doesn't matter what is. Skiing. Snowboarding. Paddling. To lunch with buddies. On a walk with the dog. A dawn patrol run to the coast or to the mountain. No matter what it is, I would wager that you're going to get more out of life if you go out and do it. I'm constantly shocked by what a brain refresh even the smallest session provides. The brain unplugs from all of our electronic tethers, the body straightens up, and our eyes look around and are allowed to focus on distant horizons.

And guess what?

There's a whole world out here. And right now it's all springy and stuff. Flowers are flowering, people are optimistic, and the days are longer that they've been in a while. These are the good times my friends. It's time to head out and drink it in, even if it's just for an hour, a half hour, or even just a fifteen minute hang out on the porch with the eyes shut soaking in the sounds of spring.

Joe Pasteris going out on a dawn patrol run. Photo: Dustin Kingman.

The idea

After spending some fun time yesterday on Chase Jarvis Live answering questions about shoots, creativity and the general mayhem that occurs when trying to bring a creative vision to life, I realized we had only scratched the surface. We had so many questions flying around, ranging from the practical specific to the broadest questions about how to maintain creativity in living life.

It really made me think. And it made me appreciate the world I work and live in. I'm surrounded by smart, creative people doing interesting things, and I work for a fantastic company with a mission and way of doing business that nicely aligns with my own thinking. Much of what Chase and I talked about (and it's also what he's covered in previous blog posts) is about tapping into the community around you.

So I thought I'd kick start a blog with the intent of connecting some of the dots in my life that haven't been connected in the past. My idea is to have this place be a collector and airing space for ideas, concepts and ways for me and those I know to work and live more creatively.

Let's hope it works.