Favorite Shots of 2015


It’s that time of year again, another year of photography, another selection of favorite photos – or in this year’s case – significant photos.

In assembling this year’s picks, I came across a quote from Ansel Adams that I was somewhat surprised I had never seen before. Perhaps it’s new to you, too:

Twelve significant photos in any one year is a good crop.

I realized what went into my selections of so-called favorites was in big part their significance to me. They are not always great photos, or even good ones. They are not the ones that got the most likes on Instagram or in many cases photos I shared anywhere until today.

My 12 most significant photos of 2015.

I write a lot more about photos on KazzaDrask Mixed Media – and I wrote a lot more about pulling the truth out of your most significant photos as a way to identify your recurring themes of any given year. Mine were struggle, challenge, closure and an all-important need to not take yourself too seriously. Have a look at the album on Flickr.

See my favorite photos of 2014 and 2013.

Jeanne and Mike: Original Art Named One of the Top 250 Indie Docs of 2015

spotlight film awards laurel

Earlier this year I wrote about a shift in KazzaDrask Media – from video to filmmaking, but keeping that iPhone front and center in the process. I had made what I considered a film – a short, independent documentary film about my parents and the art in their house called Jeanne and Mike: Original Art. I shot it with my iPhone 5s, took many of the still photos with my iPhone 5s and edited the film using iMovie. It was as much a study of my family’s history of self-taught artists as it was a study in making a film with the low-cost and readily available tools we all have at our hands. At the time of that post – I wondered if I could even call myself a filmmaker. Today I got my answer.

Jeanne and Mike: Original Art has been named one of the top 250 independent documentary films of 2015 by the Spotlight Documentary Film Awards.

Am I a filmmaker? Well, I guess I can say, “Hell yeah!”

We’re about halfway through the film fest circuit since the release of this film in mid-2015. A few other awards and recognitions have come our way, including being named an Official Selection of the Underfunded Film Festival and being nominated for best international short documentary by the monthly Wendy’s Online Film Awards (we didn’t win – but its all about being nominated, right?)


Wendy's shorts laurel

While KazzaDrask Media is far from ready to give up our day job telling your stories using digital media – Kathy Drasky will continue to tell hers as a filmmaker with an iPhone.

KazzaDrask Media Awarded Gold Medal for Communications Curation

Our topic Back Chat has achieved another gold medal in the Communications category on ScoopIt, a leading online content curation publishing tool.

We started BackChat all the way back in 2011, realizing a need to begin curating the content found about the way we communicate online. Finding ScoopIt to help us do that has been the perfect fit. You don’t need to be in the communications business to realize the value that a service like ScoopIt can add. If you want a little more breakdown of it in the we way help people pitch in Silicon Valley – “it’s like Pinterest, but with some substantial words and links and thrown in.” If for example, you love food (and, quite frankly, who doesn’t?), you can start a ScoopIt page for recipes, restaurants, healthy eating — you get the gist.


We love communications – and when we realized the many ways we now have to do that were changing faster than we could download the app, write a blog post or make a tweet that would actually mean something to us if we ever looked back, we turned to online curation as the best way to keep track. On Back Chat we follow what conversations are trending online and what the big communication players (Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, etc.) and numerous smaller ones are up to. Since 2011 when we started Back Chat, unequivocally the biggest shift has been from what we called “online culture” to “mobile culture”. Our four years (and counting) of curated content in this area has been repeatedly recognized as one of the best!

It’s an honor to be singled out by a communications leader like ScoopIt for our work. So, thank you ScoopIt – and here’s to more people getting on board the curation train ASAP.

What Happens When an Emoji Is the Word of the Year?


Like everyone on the planet with a blog, I was feeling so past long overdue making that post that apologizes for the length of time between blog posts.

You know that post you see on just about every blog you land on – the one that tells you it’s been a while (like six months or four years or whatever), you’re a committed blogger/writer/communicator but you’ve just been busy with other projects (oh, like checking Facebook or aimlessly scrolling Twitter searching for the meaning of life) and/or you’ll be re-dedicating yourself to posting in the future (a promise you can toss off with that certain aplomb that not-so-secretly says you know no one is reading this blog post or any other, actually).

But then I came across an annual news item that I typically blog about – the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year, and it absolves all of us who’ve not been pounding out the words this year. Why? Because for the first time the word of the year is not a word – it is an image. The Face with Tears of Joy emoji image, to be exact.

The Face with Tears of Joy was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that ? made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014.

What’s that mean? Well, you probably only need to look at your own communication habits over the first half of this decade to see that you’ve chosen reading a news post via a link on Facebook rather than slogging through an online version of a newspaper, you’ll send a text message now instead of an email and there’s no reason to listen to a tedious voicemail when just hitting “call back” will kill two birds with one stone (sorry, Mom).

In defense of words, there were some contenders for Word of the Year. They included lumbersexual, ad blocker, sharing economy and they (as an all-inclusive singular pronoun). Perhaps there’s a good reason why an emoji beat them all out?

I doubt there are many writers (myself once included, twice removed) out there who will be posting the Face with Tears of Joy emoji accompanying any tweet, link or text celebrating our lack of need for words. But for those of us who at the turn of the century saw our need and use for words changing, and who have stayed in the communications game over the past five years or so by using less words, enhanced with an image – be it a photo or an emoji – well, I suppose we knew this was inevitable.

What happens when an emoji is the word of the year? We get a pass on not blogging and maybe killing these apology posts that no one reads anyway. We who write these things know that the Internet is basically a wasteland of misinformation, click bait and crap. This gives us the reprieve we need to stop cluttering it and maybe do a little more curation in 2016.

Photo courtesy of Oxford Dictionaries.