Birth of an App, Part 5

The Shaping Of Creatalyst

The app was starting to take shape – ideas for sequences, transitions, animations, colors, formats were shared and discussed and played with. Screen shots gave us a sense for how the app would look and initial animations were looked at first on the pc and then an iPad. An entire wall was covered in the architecture of the app, with navigation through the various sections. Where would this action take the user? How would they get back to where they had been? Was it intuitive? Would they get lost? Where there some surprises? Some interesting reveals? Did the experience serve to stimulate creativity? Was it an enjoyable experience? How true was it to the original vision? (more…)

Birth of an App, Part 4

The Brief

After playing with dozens of apps, I had a clear picture of what I thought would work and not work for my app. The brief I wrote ultimately communicated my vision to get the design going and outlined several key things the app needed to deliver. Based on my original thoughts of this being a creative catalyst using my photos and stories, I knew that:

This app needed to be cool without being obnoxious.
The user interface had to add to the experience, not detract from it.
If there was going to be music as part of the app, it would have to enhance the experience and not drive users crazy.
It needed – to the best extent possible given a two-dimensional tablet environment – to deliver a five-senses experience. (more…)

Putting it on the table, literally

Just got back from NYC – a quick weekend trip for a portfolio review hosted by Powerhouse books. Portfolio reviews are like speed dating for artists; an opportunity to meet a number of key people in the industry in a short amount of time and get their opinions about your work.

The room was full of numbered tables and, depending on the photographer’s interest (gallery representation, magazine/book publishing or assignment work) the artist and the reviewers were paired up accordingly. Each session was 20 minutes in length. 20 minutes for the photographer to lay his or her work on the table, bare their soul, tell their story and get immediate feedback from these professionals. Over the course of the day, each photographer had five such sessions.

This was my first review and despite being published last month in Black+White (UK) and COLOR (US) last November as well as other publications over the past couple of years, I was surprisingly nervous. Maybe it was the very personal nature of the situation. With publications, you usually submit to someone named “Entries@” whereas on Sunday it was face to face, looking the reviewer in the eye and seeing their immediate physical reaction to your work.

Summary of the day: it was a great experience, at times affirming, at others, reflective. I knew going into it I was going to learn something and I did. I heard things that I already knew (“It’s a crowded world out there – lots of photographers in this digital age”) and things that I didn’t (“Your use of captions with the “Logo” graffiti makes them unique works of art, transforming parts of other artists’ works into your own piece”). I also learned that while the portfolio “Shadows” is, well, shadows, that the individual images stand alone and stand alone well; that the thread I’ve created between them makes them a surprising and cohesive body of work but that each of the images has merit on its own. I received reaffirmation that my eye is unique and that I do cool work.

That said, there were no “high-fives”, no contracts signed, no corks popped. There was a lot of encouragement to keep at it, keep pushing forward and keep sending my work “out there”. Beyond being an artist, one has to be a marketer to move their art forward and keep putting their work and soul on the table time and again.

One last thing I learned on Sunday: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (“Sorcerer’s Stone” in the US) was rejected by 12 publishing houses before someone finally agreed to publish it – a clear message that one just has to keep at it.

Half of photography is luck, the other half is looking

Which half do you want to rely on?

Photography is naturally about seeing. Looking for the right moment – the right angle, the right light, composition, everything – is critical so when that moment presents itself, you’re ready.

You’re present in that moment.

One doesn’t need to walk about all day long with camera pressed to face, finger on the shutter release, but one does need to be looking at all times. Have his/her eyes truly open to notice that certain something that makes a moment an image.

Looking doesn’t require any special skills or special training. It’s just about being aware of where you are and what’s around you. Sorting through the clutter to find the essence. Thinking in terms of borders – what’s included in an image and what’s not. Being this aware takes some conscious practice, but it’s doable without being an intrusion on one’s life. Rather, it becomes the way one normally sees the world. Being in the moment at all times.

Being in the moment is about consciously using one’s senses – all of them, to absorb that point in time. A five-senses test so to speak: How does where you are right this minute look, sound smell, taste and feel – and how can that be captured in an image?

Being aware ensures that one is ready when life presents “the decisive moment” as Cartier-Bresson taught us. The difference between capturing golden light or grey. A telling expression or just another face. Being ready to
capture exactly the image that needed to be caught.

Then the other half – luck – takes its turn by helping you be in the right place at the right time. Or is it luck?

Seeing what others don’t

“I really believe there are things nobody would see if I
didn’t photograph them.”
  Diane Arbus

While this is particularly true about Arbus and the people
from the margins of society that she photographed, isn’t this the charge all photographers
have in carrying out their art?

If I shoot what people see regularly, where’s the magic in
that? Nice postcards may be the result, but they’re hardly unique and rarely
interesting. I need to bring something to the image that makes it unique and –
more importantly – uniquely mine. While virtually all of my photography
captures what is naturally there (in that I don’t “Shop” my images beyond what
adjustments I would do in a darkroom with film) my goal is to share my unique
take, my unique perspective on the subject to show others things that they wouldn’t see if I didn’t photograph them.

Each of us possesses a unique perspective on subjects around
us – whether a camera is involved or not. It is our obligation to share these
unique perspectives in order that others may “see” things that they normally
wouldn’t. Often these different perspectives remain unseen due to the politics
of a situation or the insecurity of the person who has this perspective. We
need to be daring, need to push ourselves to share our ideas so that others may
see what they would otherwise miss. Only then can a subject be fully explored, understood and perhaps seen in a new light.

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