Apr 14

The Best Coffee Shop in Ireland*

I’m torn.

Should I tell you about this superb coffee place or not?

If I do, you’ll know about my favourite den. You’ll go there. You’ll love it. You’ll sit on my favourite stool and I’ll never be able to get rid of you.

At the same time, I want the wonderful people who run it to succeed. I want the place to do healthy business so that I can go there for many more years. So I shouldn’t keep it to myself. That wouldn’t do them (and by association, me) any good.

Filter Coffee Shop, Cork

Filter is a home for me. It is a place where I am comfortable. I am welcome there. It fits my personality.

There is a bar made from repurposed doors, sanded down with love by the owner, Eoin MacCarthy. There is art on the walls and jars of coffee on the shelves. There is time for a chat. Time for educating me about coffee.

The place drips with character and story.

All this before you realise that this is a place where coffee is served with care, attention, diligence and love by both Eoin and his barista compadre Alex Bruce.

This. Is. A. Great. Coffee. Shop.

Please go there.

The next section is an advert for me – please don’t feel you have to read it. Skip to the previous blog post instead. It has a cartoon.

Would you like a video?

The boys at Filter didn’t pay me to produce the video at the top of the post. I love the place so much, I wanted you to see it. You’ll have gathered that.

I’m guessing that you love your business too. Would you like everyone to see how great it is? If so, I’m doing a limited time offer on web videos like the one above at what a friend of mine calls a “whisper rate”. Basically, it’s a very, very, very good deal.

Click here to email me if you’d like details: Web Video Special Offer

* I am in no way qualified to make such a sweeping judgment. From my own personal point of view, though, Filter is the best coffee shop in the country. In fact, based solely on my own experience, I can quite confidently say that I think it is the best coffee shop on the planet.

Apr 14

The Creative Ghost Within


One of the most powerful tools we have as creatives is the ghost that lives inside us. Everyone has one. It’s the part of us that spews out answers to problems at the unlikeliest of moments. Under the shower, while walking the dog… typically when you don’t have a pen handy, in my experience.

While the ghost will work on any problem you care to assign it, it can’t be forced. You can’t rush the ghost. It goes at its own pace.

The ghost works on trust. You must trust it to do the job or it won’t bother.

Frankly, the ghost is a diva.

It is also a loyal and powerful ally. It will get you out of creative corner. When you’re blocked, it will search for a way through the rut.

Sometimes the ghost delivers more than you asked for.

Mine gave me the solution to a complex visual story problem at the swimming pool last week. (I told you it appears when pens aren’t readily to hand). There was some bonus material too. It gave me the idea for this blog post and the cartoon at the top.

How to engage the ghost

Step 1: Identify the problem that is halting your creative progress.

Step 2: Assign it to your ghost.

Step 3: Fuhgeddaboudit.

Step 4: Find a pen and wait until the ghost presents the answer. It will come. Trust your ghost.

Sound far fetched? I don’t blame you. The thing is that this really does work for me and I doubt I’m the only one. Try it. What have you got to lose?

Mar 14

Put a Time Limit on Your Proposals


Here’s a scenario you’ll recognise.

You’ve put in a proposal (or an estimate or a quote — call it what you will) and you’re waiting to hear back from the client. You wait and you wait and you wait. Silence. Not even an acknowledgement that the proposal has been received. You wait some more. Finally, you’re worn into submission. You contact the client. What happens next varies. The business may happen or it may not. Either way, you’ve had a frustrating wait.

What can we do to avoid this? In fact, let’s go one step further. How can we turn the time between submitting a proposal and receiving (or chasing) an answer to our advantage? Continue reading →

Mar 14

Looking Back and Changing Your Story

Emily and Doggy in the Window

Little Girl and Doggy in the Window © 2009 Roger Overall

If I am ever sent to a desert island, I hope there will be WiFi. If there isn’t, I’ll include it in one of the three things that I’m allowed to bring with me. Thinking this through, I’ll need a tablet for surfing the web, as well as taking, processing and uploading images. I’ll need a source of power too. That’s my entire list of three things immediately taken care of. No room for chocolate or coffee. Still, it does keep me taking pictures and it opens up a window to the world to see what everyone else is doing in my absence*. Specifically, I could still get my daily fix of The Online Photographer. If I couldn’t, I’m not sure I could survive**.

TOP, as the site is affectionately known among its community, is a gem of a blog. Mike Johnston’s writing is witty, clear, illuminating and wonderful. His personality oozes from its pixels and he has built a loyal and mutually respectful community around his personal brand of photography commentary. His stance is grown-up, considered and thoughtful. His grammar is perfect. He doesn’t use exclamation marks at the end of every third sentence and knows how a semi-colon operates. Most importantly for me, he talks about the kind of photography I like.

I write for TOP every now and then. Not all of what I submit makes it on to the page. Mike is an excellent editor and guards against substandard material. I learn a lot when he rejects a piece. Last week, though, he published one: The Danger of Revisiting Your Work.***

* I think this makes me not a very good candidate for a desert island sojourn.
** Re: the first note: That pretty much clinches it, doesn’t it?
*** I rewrote this paragraph several weeks after it first appeared. I realised that the first iteration was awful “humblebrag” – a phrase I picked up on TOP. Here’s what I published before: “I’m lucky that Mike lets me write for TOP every now and then. It’s a buzz when a submission gets through. He’s an excellent editor and guards against substandard material. I learn a lot when he rejects a piece. Last week, though, he let one through: The Danger of Revisiting Your Work.”

Mar 14

Coca-Cola Journey to Work

Words from the Coca-Cola Journey website:

“Coca-Cola is the most popular and biggest-selling soft drink in history, as well as the best-known brand in the world.

“On May 8, 2011, Coca-Cola celebrated its 125thanniversary (sic). Created in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, by Dr. John S. Pemberton, Coca-Cola was first offered as a fountain beverage at Jacob’s Pharmacy by mixingCoca-Cola syrup with carbonated water.

“Coca-Cola was patented in 1887, registered as a trademark in 1893 and by 1895 it was being sold in every state and territory in the United States. In 1899, The Coca-Cola Company began franchised bottling operations in the United States.

“Coca-Cola might owe its origins to the United States, but its popularity has made it truly universal. Today, you can find Coca-Cola in virtually every part of the world.”

Photographs from a recent walk to work:

Coca-Cola branding encountered on my way to work, Cork, Ireland – 25th February, 2014

Coca-Cola branding encountered on my way to work, Cork, Ireland – 25th February, 2014

Mar 14

Behind the Pixels – Episode 8 – David Bailey and Vlogging

David Bailey produces great storytelling videos about life in Bosnia. His engaging films are produced using nothing more than a smartphone and a few apps. He likes to keep things simple. He also likes to keep the time he invests in producing films to a minimum.

In this episode of Behind the Pixels, he talks about telling appealing stories using smartphone video. He also gives tips about overcoming self-confidence or notions that your story isn’t worth telling.

Feb 14

How To Get Cheap Photography

© 2014 Roger Overall

© 2014 Roger Overall

Are you looking for cheap photography? I’m talking real bargain basement stuff. I’m your man. I can help you.

Let’s say you’re “not-looking-for-anything-special”. That’s a popular assignment description at the moment. And you don’t want to spend more than €400. That’s a figure people have in their heads a lot. You want the copyright as well.

Here’s how we can work together.

Continue reading →

Feb 14

The Documentary Photographer Podcast – Episode 17: Denis Balibouse and the Gruyere Cheese Makers

Speaking purely from a selfish point of view: I could happily live out the rest of my days producing documentary photographs and films about artisan food producers. Being around them is inspirational. Their knowledge, skill and passion is infectious. Moreover, I like my food.

Gruyere cheese being made © 2013 Denis Balibouse
© 2013 Denis Balibouse

You can imagine, then, how excited I was when I came across the photographs and video that Reuters photographer Denis Balibouse produced of Gruyère cheese makers. He spent time with the Murith family between May and October last year documenting the making of Gruyère cheese on the mountainside. The experience challenged his assumptions about cheese making and traditional aspects of Swiss life, which he thought were under threat.

In our conversation, we talk about some of the fundamentals of documentary photography such as access and respecting your subject’s integrity and rights. We also look at the rise of video and its importance for us as documentary photographers.


Denis’ website
Denis’ blog post about his experience
Denis’ post on the  Reuters blog with video

Feb 14

MANning Up

Eiffel Tower Cartoon

© 2014 Roger Overall

My friend Paul O’Mahony is a sharp cookie. The counter in his kitchen is where I get many valuable business lessons. Really, he should found a business school around that counter top. It would rival any in the world. The experience would be immersive, funny, enlightening and there would be excellent wine, coffee or tea. Last time there was home-baked fruit cake too.

I digress.

Both Paul and I work as creatives. He and his business partner Jonathan Amm build brands (“Get your story straight”). I’m a storyteller (“Get your story told”). We are similar in how the marketplace perceives our value and our time. Often, they are rated at zero.

The world for a song

Recently, I was asked by a company what I would charge for photography that would express its corporate values. It was a sizable commission too. Lots of images. All told, in excess of three days’ work.

Continue reading →