The creative process

My creative process comes in multiple forms. There have been many occasions and I feel this is typically the case for me, but music really dictates a lot of my creativity. I hear a song and visualize a video going to the music. I did a video for my friends 7 month deployment return and had the song “Just the way you are” by Bruno Mars in my head immediately. I had flickers of the girls getting ready before Daddy came home, the standing around in anticipation and the moment they united. When I went out to shoot the video I had the song going on in my head the whole time and even listened to it driving up there. There are many occasions that I hear a song and just get crazy visuals in my head of what would look cool to this song. Music is a huge part of my creative process and I feel that the videos I have done where I picked out the song before doing it are some of the best.

Another facet to my creative process is reading news (not mainstream media world devastation crap) and magazines. I love reading about technology, science and photography. While reading these topics many times my mind wanders into directions of sub stories. This is especially true for documentary ideas and some times fictional ideas. For example, I read an article about the photographer Rodney Smith http://www.rodneysmith.com/ who is a major inspiration to me. He is a film photographer who does absolutely no photoshopping or photo alterations, he develops his own film and prefers to shoot in black in white. My gears started churning in the direction of doing a documentary about modern photography vs conventional analog photography. I want to interview him and talk about the loss of the art of photography to the digital realm. While saying that I also want to point out that I feel like photoshop and photo manipulation is also an art however I feel that it is not exactly photography.

The last bit of creative process is directly from my life. I have experienced a lot in my life and I have so much I want to share with the world. Some of those stories are real stories that I feel might help people see the world a little differently. I had a chance to travel and see the world something that not a lot of people get to do or will ever do and I wish for one second they could share that experience, its humbling and gives you a respect for the life we have. I also feel like there is a life that people are unaware of, that the way of living we go by now is shallow and unfulfilling, inevitably we are all stuck in a system. Anyway enough philosophical talk, Ill have to write a story to show you what I am talking about. An example though of direct inspiration from life. I was developing and enlarging a roll of film in my darkroom. For those of you who havent ever done this its a long process but for me very therapeutic. One late night while I was in my darkroom I was thinking of the power of the medium and thought it would be cool to write a story about a photographer in a semi apocalyptic scenario; Not nuclear disaster apocalyptic but more infrastructure and government breakdown. This photographer was using his medium to create hope and make people aware in a world where there is very little of that. I guess part of that process is an over active imagination in a quiet setting. I get inspired like that very often in life.

A side note to that; when a client comes to me and has a vision almost immediately I start getting ideas, some are over the top and nearly impossible but none the less they come to me. Later after speaking with them I sit down and write the ideas down and try to decide which are the best ideas for conveying the story on a budget.

 

 

Reflection

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A reflection

Philosophically it could be a moment of remembrance; looking back on ones life and their accomplishments. It is introspection of our being or our soul. In my own life, I reflected many times on the back of a ship or boat, looking out to the perpetual sea and stars. A mirror within a mirror, the stars reflecting on a smooth ocean which created an endless vast black space as if we were floating through the universe. All in that moment, I was reflecting on my existence and purpose, merely a speck within a speck.

Physics would tell us that a reflection is light waves being returned to us equally off a surface. As a photographer, I am always looking at mirror to see the world. My 50 year old camera is reflecting what it captures in its lens onto a small mirror and then onto a screen at which I gaze at the world around me. Through this reflection, I am given a choice of what I would like to capture on my medium. An image caught through a reflection of an image.

Astrophysics or Quantum mechanics may suggest that a mirror is a window to a parallel universe. Is it possible that the reflection you see in a mirror is just another you? I often wonder if my reflection has made all the same choices I have in my life; were his choices wiser than mine? We both look the same, which indicates that we have weathered through similar life events. When I look into the mirror do I see a world within a world?

 

 

Going Viral

 

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Going viral:

I decided to read the chapter about going viral as I feel this will be essential to our projects success. I have some experience with having a couple products go viral but interestingly enough the viral aspect of my products had very little to do with the product itself.

Case 1-

Being a videographer and future filmmaker, I follow many blogs and many of the pros. One of which is Philip Bloom whom I have had the privilege of meeting in person. Philip is a very successful filmmaker who travels around the world teaching classes and films. The thing is that his videos are good, but not so good as for him to be as popular as he is. What Philip has is a great personality and he gives away very important lessons on filmmaking. This combination has made him incredibly successful. It is not his final product that has leapt him into success; there are plenty of other indie filmmakers who have created higher quality work than Philip, but they don’t please the audience as much as Philip.

Case 2-

A couple years ago a friend of mine reached out and asked me to help her record her husbands (also my friend) homecoming after 7 months overseas. I told her “sure! Ill even one up you and edit a video for you”. I edited a short video (which was inspired by a wedding video I had watched from one of my favorite and very successful wedding videographers 4120 studios) and sent it to her to share with her family. To my complete surprise everyone really loved the video. ***this was right around the time that I figured out that telling a story in a video is very important*** My video was pretty good, but not viral good. My friend uploaded the video to her youtube account and labeled it “the best military homecoming video EVER! WARNING: this video will make you cry”. This video has over a million views now. The thing is that its not because I did a good job, or that I told a story, its because she labeled the video so darn well. She presented a challenge in her title “this video will make you cry” which led the viewer to a video that was not your average youtube wish-wash. She also dare say it’s the best homecoming video ever, even if its not, the viewer will now watch the video just to challenge her statement. This was brilliance on her behalf. The combination of the two blew this video up and the rest is history.

Case 3-

Recently I did a video for a paraplegic woman who is my friend. She wanted to do a video about her dog that has a very special talent; he pushes her in her wheelchair. She told me right off the bat that she wanted her video to go viral. Again the success of this video, which reached 20,000 views in a couple days, was not based on my abilities (though they helped). She had blown this thing up on every dog-related blog she could find. She went on all the trainers’ websites and blew this thing up and sent it to all her friends and tagged all their friends. The part where my skills came in was I delivered a good story that was connected at the end. Whether the viewer was initially annoyed at being tagged or not, once they watched the video it was heartfelt and again not the typical youtube wish-wash.

In closing-

Having a great product is very important however it is not all that matters as illustrated above. Making something go viral is not just about luck, you can actually have an impact and create a buzz. If you put in the work and thought you also can have success and results.

everyone needs their zen time

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This photo was taken in NJ facing NYC from right next to my brothers apartment building. I took the photo with a rolleiflex 3.5 and used ilford sfx 2oo film which is semi infrared film. I think I had a medium yellow filter on and it was early evening somewhere around 5. The Rollei is a 50 year old camera with a 85mm zeiss lens.

I was walking from the path to my brothers apartment building when the pylons in the middle of the photo drew my eye to the sailboat and then to the Liberty Tower. There is an eerie ghost familiar to me in this photo, this is where the Twin Towers stood and 10 days and 12 years earlier they were destroyed. Even though there isn’t and outline to those buildings in the photo, the Manhattan skyline will never be the same for me, the image of those buildings is forever seared into my memory. That day was the first time I had seen the Liberty Tower in person. It was nice to see that we can rebuild and move forward. I wanted to catch that moment; The sailboat which for me represents the core of freedom, in the city which was the starting place for so many immigrants looking for freedom.

Tonight I finally had a chance to enlarge some photos. Im still on the journey of trying to get the enlargement process down. Its been a long couple of weeks trying to get Footprint film launched properly with the Slow Motion Video Photobooth, I really needed some Zen time in the darkroom. It slows things down a little and gives you time to think, all the while magic is happening right in front of your eyes.

I learned more about increasing contrast and balancing your whites and blacks. Increasing your filter and decreasing your time to keep your blacks black and make your whites white.

I feel like working in a darkroom is such a major benefit to anyone working in photography and film. It is like learning Latin, while it is a dead language it opens your world to all sorts of languages like French, Spanish, Italian and English. I see the world of video and photography so different because I truly understand what contrast is, or how a black can add so much mood to a photo when it is truly black.

I so badly want to master how to light a scene beautifully, its just not something you pick up from reading a book, you have to do it over and over until suddenly you are painting with light in some way that is unique. Every time I light a sitter or a scene, I learn something new. I learn how certain skins reveal more than others, how certain surfaces reflect a very unique reflection and how textures can give a totally different feeling to something that is mundane in normal life.

Bad Robot

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Recently I had the honor of going on a tour at Bad Robot productions http://www.badrobot.com/ which was eye opening, inspiring, so cool, the best….. haha I could go on for awhile. These guys are responsible for shows like “Lost” and “Alias”, they also have done all the new Star Treks and are going to be doing the new Star Wars movies. This is the J.J. Abrams crew!!!

 

So what landed me on this tour? I got an email from a very friendly guy (later my tour guide) Josh. It was an email from Bad Robot which in my mind I was imediatly like “NO FLIPPING WAY THIS MUST BE SOME KIND OF MISTAKE!” The email said that they had been scrummaging the internet (a very large place) for a some good footage to be used in a trailer for The Mission Continues http://missioncontinues.org/ that will be in every “Star Trek, Into Darkness” dvd. Somehow they found the video that I did for my friends Dave and Kate, when Dave came back from a deployment.

 

Josh asked if they could license my footage which of course I was thrilled and honored to do. Not only that but being a veteran it felt pretty awesome to help out such a good cause in what tiny way I did.

 

I do have to laugh a little, the footage is a pretty short and insignificant detail added to Dave and Kates video. I thought they would want to use the part where they re-united. In any case Josh assured me that they had scowered the internet to the very edges of existence looking for the right footage to put in the video and told me I should give myself a little credit.

 

The tour was great!

I had to wait a little while in the lobby which was full of all kinds of figurines, statues and cool vintage toys. There was a table in the middle of the lobby which had pencils and paper and a little sign that said “please create”. They also had pre-stamped postcards to send off to military abroad I think it was http://www.amillionthanks.org/ (which I later learned that Josh was responsible for). In a room adjacent to the lobby was a kind of in house marketing/media/gift making/creative room. Josh showed me an old printing press that I think was 150+ years old that they use for “fun” to print things out. He showed me an example one of the interns had done which took him something like 18 hours to align all the letters in the plate (clearly the interns have to work hard there). There was a girl making these cool little clay statuettes and they had a sick 3d printer that Josh said they use to build/test their props for whatever production they need. I got to hold Captain Kirks phaser!!!

 

The rest of the tour was pretty quick, but I got to see some of the editing suites (they use Avid, because its easy to share work with it) a really nice sound studio and some of the compositing stuff. They had chefs that cook for everyone there and a built in theatre (which I learned later they had to use to shoot some inserts for “Into Darkness”)

 

Josh Brought me to his desk, where I got to show Dave and Kates video off to a few other employees and then he showed me The Mission Continues video. He also showed me some behind the scenes shots of “Into Darkness”.

All in all it was a great experience. I think it was awesome of Josh to invite me up there, take time from his normal work to give me a tour and he even sent me a couple sweet Bad Robot shirts. I also really appreciate that J.J. Abrams, his wife and Bad Robot are all very appreciative and supportive of military veterans.

 

Being a little guy in the film realm, it felt pretty good to have my video discovered by someone like Bad Robot.