Video talk, a newsletter, less content creation and more community. That’s the recipe for the months to come. And here’s why I hope you’ll be excited 🙂
Ouch! Photo influencers are having a hard time. Let’s face it, there is only so much to say about an industry that’s given up on originality and seems hell bent on a lemming race to Specification Cliff: “The previous model offered 20 frames per second, this one offers 30. Wow! Now how do I make 5 million views out of this to actually pay the rent?” I feel for them, and it feels to me like a marketing mistake to not include nuggets-for-influencers in the product design process, something more fun and personal to discuss with their audiences.
Thankfully, DS isn’t here as a money maker. But it does cost a lot of time and money to run. And this always pushes me to look for new ideas to make it fulfill its goal of creating value for a community. Within the rancid cesspool that the Internet’s apex predators have turned the web into, the differentiator I will be gunning for, is TRUST. Well … fun and Trust. All work and play could make DS a dull girl, right? 😉 This aligns with my personal beliefs and my professional business practises (ie marketing as trust-building). Most techniques to succeed online involve practises I’m not willing to engage in, but trust-building is different 🙂 It works not just online but everywhere. It grows organically and never relies on someone else’s platform.
The publication rhythm on DS has shifted from 3 posts a week to two posts plus one newsletter. This newsletter is intended to broaden the topics we cover to some fun areas, while remaining aligned with image making, and to build trust.
Instead of writing technical articles (about composition, or storytelling, for example) as before, and asking you to take my word for it, it may be more interesting for you and more trustworthy to present a list of supporting sources and a summary of what those sources agree on. You don’t have to trust my word, and you can dive deeper in any topic you might find particularly interesting by following a specific link to another article or video. Plus, I’ll do my best to find funny content to share as well (not as easy as I imagined, it turns out).
The newsletter is called Add Venture, because it encourages readers to try new things, but it could as well have born the title “For Clicks and Giggles” if I’d had the courage 😉 It may come as a surprise to see the newsletter of a photo pure player discuss adventure, video and storytelling. But there’s a logic behind those choices too, other than my personal enjoyment of those topics 😉
Adventure is a state of mind. A willingness to try something different, keep your mind open and have fun testing your limits. This has nothing to do with an ego boost or seeking gratuitous danger. Adventure is fun. And, yes, sometimes, you get into trouble. But, as quoted on the very first issue of the newsletter :
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal!”
_ Paulo Cuelo
If you’re not having fun in life (with no obvious reasons for being sad), it may be that you aren’t seeking adventure enough. I want to have fun creating images. The image itself doesn’t really matter that much to me. It gets published in a post, then lost in a drive or deleted. The fun I had making it, however, lasts forever. Of course, not everyone has to think of it that way. But the newsletter is geared towards people who do.
Storytelling is a science. I’m a scientific guy. Of course anyting scientific requires learning and practise. Not everyone wants to do that and that’s fine. But stories are how we communicate meaning to one another. If you’re hoping to get people interested in you, it helps to tell great stories. Again, no one has to view life that way, but I do, and storytelling is going to be a major building block of the Add Venture newsletter.
Filmmaking is a powerful storytelling tool. Much more so than photography, as explained a a recent series of posts. This doesn’t make it superior to photography. Photography is more evocative. A movie tells you a story. A great photograph can start a story in your mind. There’s a fair chance you come back to your favourite photographs more often than you rewatch movies.
To my eyes, both are complemetary and I hope to learn filmmaking to combine both artforms into a sum that’s greater than the parts. I’m learning and sharing those learnings with you along the way, in the newsletter 🙂
DearSusan has always been and will always be about community. There are various ways of helping that community : supporting the site, commenting on posts, sharing posts with friends or on social media, writing posts, helping others by replying to comments …
The website will remain open to all, but a community is a goup with edges. You’re in or you’re out. You’re helping or you’re not a part of it. It’s that simple and there are no in betweens. This may seem unrelated to our hobby, but I fear we live in a word headed fast towards an unpleasant future because of a minority of predators steering society in directions that only serve them. This is my main worry in life and the only peaceful antidote that comes to mind is helping one another, through a multitude of communities. Again, noone has to believe in communities, but that’s how and why DS is built. To become one of those communities where people can share freely in a safe space, help one another and have a good time.
So, a few days ago, I slashed the DS email subscriber list from 4402 to 640. Ouch 😉 Community isn’t about large numbers, it’s about tight relationships and sharing. As written above, the website will still be free for all to use. But, as a first step, I have restricted the mailing list to subscribers who engage with our emails. Other measures will follow. A share literally takes 5 seconds. A comment possibly a minute. Out of respect for contributors who spend many hours putting together the posts published here, I am going to direct my energy towards providing greater feedback for and engagement with their content. By the way, if you got to this via email, THANK YOU for your engagement 🙂 🙂 🙂
Bye bye Phr and challenges. Hello Share your world. Because building quality takes time, I’m putting an end to projects that were interesting but didn’t take filght on their own and end up taking too much of my time. Phr galleries and the Inkubator (an inner circle collaborative art project) are such projects and get the plug so we can try something different and possibly more fun for a greater number of people 🙂 Share your world will also replace our past challenges and will build on our backyard gems / undestinations series. It’s meant to be educational, amusing and to induce a bit of dream 🙂
Do you ever wonder what someone’s village/neighborhood looks like? What the coast/beach is like around here? I sure would love to see the places some of you live in! Small villages in Italy. An island off the mainland of NW USA. Deep Ohio. A small town near Cape Town. A Copenhagen suburb. A Berlin Neighbourhood. Just to name a tiny few 🙂
So, Share your World is meant to answer that,using the recipe previously at the heart of challenges: can you send in photographs of where you live, for everyone else to see 🙂 ? Just imagine this one year down the road. The number of great views distant locations we could have!
Of course, this is difficult to do! It’s not about you or me. It’s about the location.
This means it’s not about our house. It’s not about our car. It not about our gear. It’s not about our fancy PP. It’s entirely about looking at our surroundings with fresh eyes. What, in our neighbourhood or close (1h drive?) surroundings could be interesting to soemone who’s never visited? It’s not about bragging about how posh your street is. It’s not about playing victim about how drab our neighborhood is. It’s about trying to see your area in the eyes of someone else. The goal of the exercise it to promote mindfulness in those who participate and help us all travel without leaving home. More than travel, in fact. Travel with a local, often to a place no guided tour would take us to.
Of the photographs on this page, all from my area, few would qualify. The b&w, while nice, are at least as much about light than about the area. Nothing wrong with that! In fact I’d be happy to print two of those. But they are not suitable to show others what the area looks and feels like. Those photographs are about my vision as a photographer. The one below is about the place itself. For the purpose of Share your world it would actually have been better with a bit more context. But it still feels to me that it conveys the sense of being there.
The photo can be in b&w. But it can’t be this (or any other on this page, for that matter):
And that’s not an couragement to be sloppy, either. Google Street View offers billions of photographs to dicover almost all areas on the planet. Replicating a tiny subsection would be pointless. We need to make this much more interesting, much more focused and much higher quality. In the two colour photographs above, white balance is good, the shadows aren’t buried, the highlights aren’t clipped, the image is straight (as straight as can be in those old villages 😉 ), they don’t say anything about me or the gear being used (no super tele, no superwide). They are focused on the essence of the place, not a random shot of a random street. If anything is wrong with them, it may be that they don’t include enough context and focus on a detail. Told ya, not easy. But just find something you feel others would love to see, and photograph it in a way that serves the view best 🙂
The rules are simple: send me (pascal dot jappy at gmail dot com) one or two photos per month, in jpeg 1000 to 2000px long side (any other size will be discarded), preferably in horizontal framing (but no obligation). No text is required, though it is welcome, but the exact location must be provided, and the photograph must be about the location and nothing else. Every end of month, I will select the photographs that fit the criteria and will publish them in a dedicated post (and a map, if you send me an exact location). There, simple 🙂
Aside from the fun library we’ll be building together, this is all about an essential lesson that studying filmmaking has taught me: great directors of photography serve only the story (unlike amateurs who keep pouring in special effects but have forgotten all about meaning). Their images focus on one things : maintaining belief in the universe created. This is fundamental training. So anything that disrupts the natural experience of traveling (blown highlight, noise, extreme angle, selfie, tilted horizon, faces, long exposures, overblown PP …) will be eliminated. Just capture the essence of a place as someone new to it would discover and feel it. Create a deep dive experience into your world for others 🙂 🙂 🙂 This starts …
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Pascal, reading this post makes me feel slack and that I’ve become a “gunner” (I should leave to that to my son who is in the army). Seriously I will get my act together and share some images and text which I will do this week. Keep up the good work.
Thank you Dallas. I always look forward to your posts. But don’t beat yourself up, you have already contributed more than your fair share of posts and comments. Thank you for that 🙂 🙂
What a great idea. I have lived in the same area all my life. By know it seems pretty boring. Tomorrow I plan to start looking with fresh eyes.
Hi Dave, I’m so glad you like the idea. Several readers have already sent me photographs, so it looks like the project will be brought to life 🙂 All the best.
Happy to be among the chosen few to continue receiving DS posts! I like your new direction for DS, and look forward to contributing again in the future. We all appreciate the work you put into keeping DS fresh and running smoothly….really, we do!
Thanks Nancee, and thank you for bringing so much talent and kindness to everything you do 🙂
Je suis étonné! DS est mon site préféré! (Well I did have two, but our friend in KL has gone into hibernation!)
And now we’re having a “talent quest”!
Chercher la femme! I’ll see what I can find – watch your mail box
Yes, your contribution is not optional. I’m having a severe case of Perth & Freo cold turkey, so desperately need my monthly fix! 😉
Pascal, there is important energy in your words and ideas presented here today. Though new as a contributor to the DS community (I have followed for much longer), I have learned much from you and the many contributors. And I wish to say “yes” to the idea that “trust’ is the key factor. Unlike the many vlogs (or in another way, blogs) where reviewers are models rather than reviewers, holding up products for purchase rather than using and contextualizing the technology within the parameters of art–and life–, you have created a community where truth has sponsored trust. Contributors here contextualize their work in the actual actions that created it, contextualize their work in the ways it presents their interactions with their world (allowing others to see), contextualize the use of the technologies in their hands in their search for understanding.
I have been asking myself a lot lately why I take photographs. The answer I keep coming back to is that I do so because I am trying to understand my life–not a very original insight, but there it is. I take pictures because I seek something like answers–meaning?–even as I settle for intimations of what I hope will be answers. I seek perspective because in this world and life and head I seem to always be losing mine.
Showing where we live is also showing how we live. Showing where we live is dramatizing the practice of everyday life (to steal a term from Michel de Certeau) so that we might see where we get it–life–right and where are lives are coopted and twisted to fulfill the desires of others whose intentions are not in the best interest of our world.
You have created a community of decent and humane interaction–are you aware of how rare and profoundly important that is? (Obviously you are. I just wanted to say it.) I trust this community because people here contextualize. They present work and commentary in the context of their own searching for truth, design, insight, and interaction without hierarchy. I am thinking of educator Alfie Cohn’s landmark book, No Contest: The Case Against Competition. If all in a community are seeking truth, each in their way and in their context of their practice (including the amount of practice they have completed), and they share what they have accomplished so far (because who reaches completion?), then all may understand together. Perhaps then they will be able to take healthier actions to benefit the places and world we share.
I look forward to the continued change and growth you keep bringing to DS.
Dear Claude, trying to understand out lives is one of the – if not *the* – most important and rewarding endeavours we can undertake. To me, once we have food, shelter and safety, it is the number one priority. I don’t fear death anywhere near as much as I fear a pointless life. And I too photograph (and, really, analyse my photographs) for that purpose of understanding and finding meaning. And I hope we can help one another in this in the future !
Also thank you very much for the kind words! All the best,
You are welcome, Pascal. I look forward to seeing where you are leading DS.
I wish, though, to add an addendum to my post. I did not in any way mean to disparage the work of models in my first paragraph. The professionalism involved in modeling, not to mention, sometimes, the tremendous difficulties, obviously deserves respect and requires no endorsement from me. I was trying to convey my frustration with some aspects of the commercialization of the photography industry and the role some influencers take up as they pretend to be one thing while they pursue interests that are incongruent with the advertised goals. My wording wasn’t right, and I am sorry for that.
Claude, I’m sure noone took it the wrong way! Models are just like any other human beings. Some are marvelous and hard working people. Others are not worth mentioning.
Influencer Marketing is largerly over. It really only worked for very specific brands and most companies still doing it are now “downscaling” to micro-influencers with far smaller audiences but greater trustworthiness. Maybe this will help clear the air. We can hope 🙂
Ah, good. Thank you, Pascal. This is good news–on all counts.
I am getting an empathetic feeling telling me that what you say in you last paragraph is why I find it difficult to share my photos. Everyone else seems “better”, somehow. I’ve been doing it for 70 years already, I’m still “my own worst critic”, I do think some of my stuff is “good”, but there’s always this reluctance to show it to others. I guess it’s partly a fallout from growing up as a very shy and introverted person.
But this time Pascal is on the march – and he has ORDERED me to produce something.
If it’s all lemons, I’ll have to say “well you get what you ask for, in this life!”
The blinkers include “rules” (execrable things! – but humans keep having them!) –
1 – the photograph must be about the location and nothing else
2 – anything that disrupts the natural experience of traveling (blown highlight, noise, extreme angle, selfie, tilted horizon, faces, long exposures, overblown PP …) will be eliminated
3 – Just capture the essence of a place as someone new to it would discover and feel it. Create a deep dive experience into your world for others
Sigh – this afternoon I was reviewing some recent shots and found one that stopped me dead in my tracks – a honey bee, nearing a flower from which it would take more pollen – one of the most striking photos I’ve ever taken – stared at it for ages. But no, it’s not about the “essence of the place”. A macro shot I took a while back – same problem.
More work required, obviously.
Ah but those rules are only for a specifi type of post. The bee shot is *more than welcome* for another post 🙂 It could be a post about backyard photography, about lockdown photography …
For the Share Your World project, I simply want others to see what you find interesting in Freo (or Perth, Mandura, Busselton, York …) photographed in a way that makes them feel like they are there. Anything too fancy with PP will destroy this illusion of being there 🙂
I think your request is a fair one. That folk like myself – frequent reader, extremely infrequent commenter – should engage and contribute more. The Share Your World call seems a fine place to start.
I assume these fall into the ‘not what I’m after’ category . . .
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Trs-isdu4eE . . . NZ tourism firing a shot across the bows of social media influencers.
Oh Mer, this is brilliant, and so funny, thank you 🙂 🙂 🙂
I’m pleased to remain on your mailing list Pascal. And I like the direction you’re headed. Keeping fresh and staying alive in this crazy digital world requires creativity and a sense of adventure, which you have in spades. I will send you some storied photos of my little place in the world in hopes that you and others will find them interesting.
Lovely, Robert, thank you very much. I look forward to them 🙂
Pascal, I’m not totally sure why this post was so thought provoking and inspiring….but it was. During yesterday’s walk new thoughts were certainly filling my brain, like; what would be a better time of day to walk by this part of town/house/store/restaurant, what about this street tells a story best, etc. Looking forward to making those thoughts come alive in camera and sharing with the group. Thanks for waking me up (and I’m sure some others too). Michael