Let Your Instagram Feed Be Your Photo Portfolio

instagram feedThis is the best idea I’ve heard in a long time. It comes from photographer and designer Andrew Griswold (@the_gris) via FStoppers. It is particularly relevant when you think of how widespread mobile is these days. Who wouldn’t rather scroll through an Instagram feed on their phone or tablet instead of trying to click their way through an online portfolio, no matter how “mobile-friendly” it is intended to be?

I’ve been looking at a lot of photo portfolio websites over the past year. First and foremost because I love discovering a photographer and exploring their work and processes. It’s inspirational and it always sets the bar higher for my own work. I have several favorites and I’ve bookmarked their websites on my laptop. Something far more worthy to look at when taking a break instead of Facebook. (Note to self: Unbookmark Facebook!)

Secondly, I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to having my own online photo portfolio, whether as an offshoot of this website or a standalone. And every time I get close to pursuing that, I experience a mild anxiety attack. Show me any freelancer out there who wants another website to update and maintain. (As a temporary solution, I’m using Tumblr to showcase a current project (Divisadero Corridor) and current photo work and inspirations (KazzaDrask Mixed Media). Both of these sites are easy to maintain from my iPhone. In fact, even film photos and photos from my non-mobile friendly digital Ricoh camera eventually get uploaded to Flickr, where they can be then downloaded to my phone for mobile sharing.

The ultimate in mobile sharing for photos of course is Instagram. I was an early adopter of the app, posting my first photo 258 weeks ago (which is early 2011). I’ve done a bit of “curating” my feed over the years, mostly removing photos I wasn’t especially proud of and lately adding the occasional #latergram as I sort through images thinking about my photo portfolio website. But what I love about the idea of letting your Instagram feed be your photo portfolio is the honesty that comes from the app’s original intention, to share an image in an instant (preferably using the app’s built-in camera, but obviously, the plethora of smartphone camera apps long ago upped that game).

While those of us with a more professional photography bent might pause a bit to edit and then time a post, even the most disciplined of us can get caught up in the app’s instant gratification nature. “This is a really good photo and I’ve got to share it — now!”

With that comes the instant feedback. A “like”. Sometimes even a comment or a thumbs up, smiley face or lightning bolt emoji. Whoo-hoo! They like me, they really like me…

But back to the honesty. That rawness, vulnerability, a glimpse into one’s personal life is certainly rare even in Stacy Kranitz’s online portfolio. Yet, follow Stacy Kranitz’s Instagram feed (@stacykranitz). Well, that’s what I’m talking about!

In considering dropping the idea of developing a photo portfolio website, I have to drop the idea of having my work narrowed down and neatly categorized or “projectized”. I’m willing to bet that of the almost 600 photos in my Instagram feed maybe about 10 percent would make it to my mythical portfolio website (and that a good portion of the rest of my work is either unprocessed on my desktop or in Dropbox or eventually processed and haphazardly uploaded to Flickr). Don’t go there – but I’m sure you will.

None of this probably bodes well for anyone reading this hiring me for a shoot – which is the point of having a photo portfolio website. But if you’re here, on KazzaDrask Media reading this post, take a look around and you’ll see that photography is just one component of my digital media business. And, you’ll recognize that I am able to deliver whichever service you engage me for, despite my disorganized Flickr account.

By using Instagram as my photo portfolio, you might never know about my work as an online and digital media revolutionary, but you will know a lot more about me. And if a photo is as much about the image as it is about the person behind the camera, then using Instagram in the manner it was intended to be used – to witness things as they happen (forgiving the occasional #latergram) – will indeed become the preferred way to at least take a first look at someone’s photography.

Sources:Why You Don’t Need a Website and Probably Never Will” by Andrew Griswold, Fstoppers; “Stacy Kranitz is TIME’s Pick for Instagram Photographer of 2015“.

Favorite Shots of 2015

23453059169_1f4a52073f_o

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?)

underfunded

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.

Scoop-it-logo

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?

WOTY-emoji-banner-1200x330

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.

Jeanne and Mike: Original Art

For the past year I have spent all my free time (and then some) making a short documentary about my parents, Jeanne and Mike Drasky, and the art in their house.

The movie is called “Jeanne and Mike: Original Art”, and you can play the thumbnail version below, or click over to Vimeo to watch on a full screen.

I was not a filmmaker when I started this project. I’m not sure if I can actually call myself one now, because I made this 14-minute film with my iPhone.

It started simply enough. I recorded my parents, first just on audio, then later on video, talking about how, over the course of their 56 years of marriage, they have never bought a piece of original art for their home. All the art and craft and photos and memorabilia on the walls, the shelves, the kitchen countertops, the back porch, has been created by them and other family members. Three generations (and counting) of self-taught artists.

Favorite Shots from 2014

Enjoy the Road AheadI’ve been compiling my favorite photo shots for years for family and friends – travel, birthdays, that sort of thing. But starting in 2013, I took a more serious look at the images I make all year long and how they tell a deeper story of where I’m at in the work/creative/life process. The challenges. The triumphs (as small as they may be). The questions. The sometimes circuitous way I come to answers, solutions or shifts in focus.

What I can tell from compiling my 2014 favorite shots is that what I chose to define my year was the epitome of all that went right. Obviously, the year was not without its personal and professional challenges, difficulties and stumbling blocks – those play into the images one makes all year long. But where I chose to portray those more in 2013, I flipped the coin in 2014.

View 2014 vs. 2013 on Flickr.

As I move from the freelance career that has spanned nearly three decades in publishing, journalism, public relations and marketing into one that employs all this into a creative agency that tells stories with digital media, you’ll see that in 2014 I got to travel fairly extensively, spend quality time with my 80-year-old parents, watch my paying work begin to merge with the image making and writing I’ve struggled with for so long, and enjoy the freedom of living life with my Australian wife in the afterglow of equality, justice and simple fairness being granted in the United States.

I also got a new camera.

Wishing all of you who read this far continued breakthroughs in your creative process in 2015! Enjoy the road ahead.

“Enjoy the road ahead.” Photo by KT Drasky. Hipstamatic, taken with an iPhone 5S, Helga Viking lens, Blanko film. Savannah, Georgia, March 2014.

Marsala Is the Color of 2015

marsalaNot to be outdone by recent press heralding the word of the year (2014: “vape“) or other famous food-themed colors before it (“eggplant”), the color sensation predicted by Pantone to be on every interior designer’s palette next year is: Marsala.

I’m of two minds upon hearing this. Why, of course, is one of them. Tanya Basu writing for The Atlantic pretty much covers off all those reasons. Specifically, a quick social media roundup:

Social media has questioned what Pantone calls “a naturally robust and earthy wine red color” as “a color that makes you want to go to Olive Garden or order Tampax in bulk.”

My second inner voice wants to cook up a batch of a dish I used to make a lot (back in the ’80s, I think – which is fitting, since the color Marsala per the above cited article is also associated with nearby decade “’70s-era carpets that lined offices and industrial spaces, created to disguise wear-and-tear from foot traffic and errant crumbs from desk lunches.” Yum.

But, if you feel like I do (Peter Frampton) about the Internet, writing, color schemes and food, you have quickly blocked such images out of your head and are ready to cook. Here’s my version of Chicken Marsala, adapted from one of the best cookbooks I ever scored at a yard sale: Italian Cooking for Pleasure by Mary Reynolds (pp. 70-71).

Petti di Pollo al Marsala (Chicken Breasts with Marsala)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts (pounded to be thin, like fillets – or just buy fillets)

Seasoned flour (i.e., salt and pepper)

3 oz. butter

4 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

4 Tbsp Marsala wine

4 Tbsp chicken stock

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Instructions

Coat the chicken in seasoned flour and fry in butter. When golden pour over Marsala; let bubble for a minute. Cover each breast with grated Parmesan cheese, moisten with chicken stock. Cover pan; cook gently for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, then serve with pan juices poured over the chicken.

Photo courtesy of Pantone.

 

“Vape” Is the 2014 Word of the Year

vape

There’s a new habit in town, one that’s skyrocketed to the top of the English lexicon faster than last year’s “selfie” (which took an estimated 3 years to be crowned “Word of the Year”).

The 2014 word of the year, “vape” blew away its competition thanks to two simultaneous trends converging in well…a puff of vapor: e-cigarettes and legal cannabis. Both of which are consumed in what is believed to be a healthier way than evil tobacco or janky weed.

The esteemed Oxford Dictionary defines vape as both a verb and noun:

the verb means ‘to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device’, while both the device and the action can also be known as a vape.

According to Oxford, you are 30 times more likely to encounter the word vape today as you were two years ago. While most of the research crowning vape the word of 2014 hails from the e-cigarette community, which has brought back nicotine without the tar in a big way, there is no denying that the growing legal and medical cannabis industry in the U.S. contributed to the word’s high profile. Runner-up “budtender” as well as the growing popularity of the term “cannabusiness” support that angle.

Other 2014 runners-up included: bae, slactvism, contactless and normcore (all of which my spell-check is highlighting as I type).

Source: The Oxford Dictionaries.com

Photo credit: Katie Orlinsky for The New York Times.

 

A More Imperfect Photo

lofi calendar cover 2015My 2015 Lo-Fi Love calendars have arrived. This is the second year I’ve put together a selection of the photos I take all year long using lo-fi apps like Hipstamatic on my iPhone. Why do I find the lo-fi look so appealing?

“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” – Ansel Adams

I grew up in a Kodak moment – occasionally punctuated with a Polaroid. Those images from the ’60s and ’70s – their colors, their unlimited list of imperfections – have always resonated with me. In my office there is a shoebox full of childhood snapshots, fading more each year. And yet, when I pull them out for Throwback Thursday or some other fun Internet game, I am overcome with experiences I don’t remember. How so? That shoebox is not really filled with snapshots. It is filled with emotions.

“When we are nostalgic we take pictures.” – Susan Sontag

The endless stream of images we are bombarded with each day, taken with smartphones and then slapped on the Internet fail to give us the chance to reflect. There is rarely any delay from photo snap to share – the worst offenders are those who post-process on the spot. Trying to make that photo of the Grand Canyon you just took two minutes ago look exactly like it does two minutes later siphons the emotion from the image and then badly attempts to resuscitate it.

If the only emotion you can conjure looking at someone’s Facebook photos of a destination vacation is “meh,” then something has definitely been lost in the translation. Or, in cases of random slapping (no editing of image or sequence – not even taking the time to rotate an image to its rightful right side up) there has been no translation.

“Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph.” – Andre Kertesz

Using lo-fi apps on my iPhone (current fave is Hipstamatic, which is hard to beat, but I’ll also occasionally edit photos taken with the regular iPhone camera and run them through Camera Bag 2) allows me to create what I call more imperfect photos.

The lo-fi look takes me back to a time when what you saw when you took a picture wasn’t necessarily what you got when you drove up to the FotoMat a week later to pick up the developed film.

At which time you may have experienced a feeling called “disappointment”.

Years later, though, you look back on that disappointment as any number of emotions: lessons learned (i.e., confidence), what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (i.e., survivability), and my favorite, it didn’t really matter after all (i.e., nostalgia).

Lo-fi apps on your iPhone can regenerate all that with a color scheme that reminds you of your grandparents’ Naugahyde seating arrangements and the way the lake looked that day you got caught skipping school.

Or, maybe you want to pretend what life was like that time you accidentally bought a roll of black and white film, or loaded film back-ass-wards (twice) and got a range of multi-exposures that horrified all concerned back in the day, but in shuffling through the shoebox turn out to be the coolest pieces of art you could ever possibly own.

“Industry is best at the intersection of art and science.” Edwin Land

Photography in all its forms has always been the blending of art and science, and over the past 10 to 15 years that pure science has given way to technology. It’s no surprise that Steve Jobs was greatly influenced by Edwin Land. The guy behind the iPhone + the guy who invented the Polaroid = why we all have “instant” cameras in our pockets today.

All digitally competent photographers now have the power at our fingertips to make perfect photos. But some of us choose not to.

Buy my 2015 Lo-Fi Love desktop calendar for just $12 USD. Click here.