Life as a Visual Storyteller

All content © Roger Overall unless specified

Tag: Photography

More and Better (#MoreBetter)

#MoreBetter

This week, Chris Brogan‘s newsletter was about taking inspiration from people who always look to improve themselves. People who want to learn more skills and deepen the ones they have. He started the #MoreBetter hashtag.

It think that’s important for us as creatives.

I was once exclusively a professional photographer. It was hard to make ends meet, but I loved it. Then, around the time that I felt I was set to become successful in the business, the industry changed. What was once a powerful string in my bow was reduced to a slack piece of twine. Making a living wage from photography became difficult. For me, it became almost impossible.

So I pivoted a couple of times. Not very successfully.  With one exception. I learned  how to make videos – and there is business to be had. Those are the skills I’m working to improve most now. Philip Bloom, Vincent Laforet, Andrew Reid – these are the people I learn from. And from the suite of video courses available at Lynda.com.

Skills are merely a tool

Here’s the thing, though: skills are only tools. Like a hammer or a screwdriver.

It used to be the case that owning the tool was enough. Photography used to be a daunting undertaking involving chemicals and darkrooms and cameras that didn’t show you the photograph the instant you took it. The tool itself was hard. Getting an in-focus, correctly exposed picture was difficult. Just being able to do that was enough to get paid.

Now, the technical side of photography is much easier. It has become like buying a hammer. We can all buy the same high-quality hammer. Put another way: everyone is a photographer.

By the way, I think that’s a good thing. Lots of people are telling wonderful visual stories now.

What are you going to do with the tool?

David Hobby wrote something great recently – actually, he writes a lot of great things, but this stuck in my mind. His Strobist website will teach you all you need to know about lighting your photographs. It will give you a voice. David asks, now that you have your voice, what are you going to say?

This is where I think we can survive and thrive as creatives. Yes, we need to master our tools (photography, video, animation, audio, music… you name it… cartooning). That’s important. But even more important is that we use those tools to express our unique vision.

Photography used to be the thing that I put on a pedestal. It was the thing that set me apart and paid the bills.

That time has passed.

What sets me and you apart now is our creativity. Commercial photographer and entrepreneur Chase Jarvis thinks that creativity is the new literacy. I agree. We need to dig deeper than just owning the tools. We have to use them to build things nobody else can. We have to let our imaginations run wild and then use the tools we have to bring what we see in our minds to life.

Two people I’ve recently strayed across are Ru and Max of Tiny Inventions. They have a very deep toolbox and they use it to do this kind of amazing stuff:

Between Times -Trailer from Tiny Inventions on Vimeo.
Ru and Max have mastered their tools. They are a great inspiration to me to learn more tools myself so that I can do more with my creativity. My Lynda playlist just got a whole lot longer.

UPDATE:

Here’s a video that gives a behind the scenes look at how Ru and Max work:

Between Two Worlds, The Hybrid Animation of Tiny Inventions from lynda.com on Vimeo.

Multi-Disciplinary Soup

Disjointed Business Model

© 2014 Roger Overall

Note: There is too much me in this post. Just saying that upfront. You’re better off going straight here: Chris Brogan.

If you’re a creative, you can probably turn your hand to more than one thing. Seems to me, anyway. I’ve yet to meet a creative who couldn’t. You may have one thing you excel at, maybe even two. You probably wouldn’t embarrass yourself in a couple of other arenas either. That’s good thing. It’s also a tricky thing to manage. Continue reading

Hands on Food

Baker kneading dough

Baker kneading dough © 2012 Roger Overall

Making food requires skill. Watching a butcher make sausages or a baker knead dough is mesmerising – to me, at least. Their hands move faster than it seems possible for their brain to control. And when they are done, they have crafted something that I can’t. They’ve also produced something that I really want.

It’s a shame, then, that proper butchering and baking skills seem to be dying out. A high-end butcher friend of mine laments the demise of his craft. He is keeping the flame burning, but worries about the next generation. He once told me of a prediction made at a meat conference in the US: “Soon the only two cuts of meat available will be steak and mince.”

Partly that’s because it’s what the consumer wants. And what the consumer wants, the consumer gets. They barely know any different, because the number of skilled butchers who can show them different is declining. So they stick to what is familiar. It’s a vicious circle.

Some say it’s too late for the tide to turn. Society has progressed too far down the track away from artisan food production, they counsel.

So we should enjoy watching skilled food producers at work while we still can.

Maybe in doing so we can contribute to the slowing, if perhaps not the halt, of society’s dash towards the embrace of ever more industrialised food production.

New Website Galleries

Pig at Crowe's Farm, Co. Tipperary, Ireland

Pig at Crowe’s Farm, Co. Tipperary, Ireland © 2012 Roger Overall

Pat Whelan and TJ Crowe are both meat men. Great people to talk to and learn from. Both trying to make a difference in the meat business.

Last year, Pat asked me to photograph the new James Whelan Butchers’ shop at the Avoca food hall in Monkstown, Co. Dublin. And TJ needed photographs for his new range of extensively farmed pork products.

Quite why, I cannot fathom, but it’s taken months for some of the work to find its way on to the portfolio website. I guess life moves so fast sometimes, we forget to pause and reflect on what we did.

The James Whelan Butcher’s shop work is here: The Butcher; the pictures produced for TJ are here: The Pig Farmers.

James Whelan Butchers Shop, Avoca, Monkstown, Co. Dublin

James Whelan Butcher’s shop in Monkstown – a shrine to meat © 2012 Roger Overall