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Archive for April, 2011

Pseudo-Award Winning Blah Blah Phoney

Monday, April 11th, 2011

This morning I ran across a Sydney based web designer’s business website and I saw a link in a prominent position (top right corner) that read – ‘I also win awards!’

Web Awards are an Industry Recognition of Best Practice

The interesting part about that link is the key ‘call to action’ that it implied in my mind as a customer sitting on the fence – the claim that awards had been won created a beautiful marketing hook. After all, branding is about perception in the mind of the market and the link dramatically moved ‘attractive site’ way up to ‘professionally attractive site’ on my busines radar.

Only (and I won’t name names or flame anybody over this) there were no awards. The list under a title heading of ‘Awards & Honourable Mentions’ – One Page Love, Colorgorize, CSS Loggia, Twitter, Design Fridge and Reddit. Not one of those are an award of any kind. And Twitter? Reddit? In reality most are user submitted galleries that showcase web designs and are run by independent people who have a priority to pump as many decent web designs across their homepage as possible to attract advertising revenue.

Real awards and honourable mentions would be handed out from the Australian Web Awards or similar calibre State or National associations that come together within the industry to assert the best work on a number of levels – including design aesthetic, business effectiveness and technical excellence.

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Embrace the Evolution of a Photographic Style

Friday, April 8th, 2011

By all means tell me if you like or dislike one of my photographs. I also enjoy learning new techniques, finding new tools and discovering new ways of seeing the world. But never try to tell me how to ‘pick my style’ like you’re talking about clothes fashion in a Target store.

I’ve heard the tale so often that I should start carrying an airline vomit bag. The hapless photographer is informed by the Flickrati that it’s essential to ‘choose a style’. They’ll say “Hey, man, you need to either shoot black and white or shoot in colour. You need a style. You need to differentiate yourself and your work from the crowd.”

Sorry but that’s a crock of baloney. You don’t ‘choose a style’… you just need to evolve a body of work that naturally expresses a story, a philosophy, an individual way of looking at the world that has your photographer’s fingerprint. And unless you’re a homogenous groupie your own story and perspective should embed into that process. Two photographers with the same camera are always going to see the world differently on their side of the lens… that’s where your style evolves… not in Photoshop. Your style is a retrospective look back over 20 years of hard slog to reveal the essence and pattern within that existing body of work.

Just be aware that the look of a photograph can be emulated – look how fast HDR caught on with the skills fuckfest of Flickr groups. And look how disappointingly mundane HDR has become as a result of that homogeneity of vision. Don’t be fooled by the process… the valuable part of your photography, your style, is an essence of yourself.

Another of those misguided statements is the one that goes “Hey, man, your photo is crap because the subject is in the centre. You didn’t use the Rule of Thirds [or some other preconceived rule].”

So lesson two. Avoid people who throw around dogmatic crap because if you go look at well respected international photographers you’ll see that the subject and context determine where the subject belongs in the photographer’s interpretation. That’s the photograph. And as long as you’re worried what everybody else will think about your work then the discovery of a style is almost impossible. That comes from inside yourself, not from the approval of the in-crowd Flickrati.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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