“How then to express oneself clearly? By image and by myth, as the sages of all time have done.” — Rene Adolphe Schwaller de Lubicz (1887-1961); Egyptologist, author of The Temple in Man: Sacred Architecture and the Perfect Man.
In my last post, I explored the energetics of color, drawing from my own exploration of ancient wisdom teachings about the frequencies of light expressed in different colors and their impact on mind, body and spirit. For this post, I researched the evolution of alphabetic forms of writing and how the forms and shapes of different typographic fonts might also have an effect on our psyche and emotions.
The earliest forms of written communication were through pictographs or symbols used to represent ideas and things, rather than sounds (Egyptian hieroglyphics for example). Through my research, I learned that circa 1100 BCE, Phoenician traders developed the beginnings of the modern day phonetic alphabet. This earliest alphabet consisted of 22 letters to represent consonant sounds, and was much easier for traders to learn than Egyptian hieroglyphics prevalent at the time.
This sound based form of writing also facilitated use across multiple languages which probably accounts for it’s adoption and expansion into ancient Greece by 800 BCE, and further evolution and use through most of the world.
When I think about the power of pictorial forms of communication to evoke an experiential connection between author / artist and reader / viewer, it makes me wonder if we have lost something by not using more pictorial forms of written communication. Yes, the phonetically-based alphabet lets us communicate more easily across multiple languages and cultures, but how do the letters on this page convey any of the emotional impact that pictorial forms of writing might have done?
Well, perhaps that’s were the imagination of the creators of different type styles comes to the rescue! Just think about the increasing proliferation of type styles that have evolved since Gutenberg’s first printing press. Fast forward to modern day print and digital media, and we can see how different type styles are used to generate emotion, incite action, or otherwise assist in conveying a deeper or fuller connection to the idea or concept being conveyed in the written word. Type styles are clearly an art form, and their creators put lots of thought into the objectives and intended use of the type styles they create. This became very clear to me as I explored blog sites of typography artists and what they wrote about type styles they have created.
Bringing all these ideas back to my passion for exploring photography as a medium of self-discovery, expression and even personal healing, I decided to experiment with the use of text and different type styles within some of my photographs. My goal is to convey ideas in a visual form, with writing and type styles that compliment or enrich the idea or visual metaphor that I wish to communicate through my images.
Of course, we are all familiar with the use of inspirational messaging in photographs or other forms of visual art. All too often they come across as rather trite or perhaps “preachy”. I hope to avoid those pitfalls in these images, while at the same time, sharing a few ideas that have become important in my own life experience; exploring the emotional or even healing effect of words and images combined with typographic styles that further support the intent of the image. I welcome your comments!
This week, I’m sharing a few favorite images made in the historic downtown area of Charleston with my infrared-converted Fuji X-E2 mirrorless camera. Our trip in early March was with fellow photographers, Steve and Jenny Johnston, who live in Charlotte NC, and travel often to the Charleston area.
The featured image is a Bed & Breakfast at 2 Meeting Street, the corner of South Battery. It turns out that the house is owned by distant relatives of Steve’s, having been purchased in 1946 by his great Aunt and transferred to one of her nephews when she died in 1981. To make it even more interesting, Steve and Jenny spent the first night of their honeymoon at the B&B!
I wanted to capture an image of the house that conveyed a feeling of Charleston tourism and history. By waiting patiently, I finally got my chance when a couple paused at the corner to check their map simultaneously with one of the many horse-drawn carriages coming into the scene.
I’ve been thinking lately about ways we can draw our viewer into our images and hold their attention. I find that I am drawn to photos that tell a bit of story, or provide elements to spark my imagination. Even in many of my Nature images, I try to include sufficient context around the hero, or main subject to give the viewer an imaginary world they can step into.
If you are at all involved in putting your artistry out into the world via online or print media, you no doubt have learned how valuable story can be in building and sustaining a following.
I’m working to do the same with my blog and photo gallery site! I hope you will subscribe via the signup form on the Home page, or at the end of this post. I welcome your comments in the form at the end of each post as well. Do you find the photos in this post give you something to spark your imagination, or give you a sense of being there?
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This is an image I made on a hike along the Mountains to Sea trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville NC. Using the LensBaby Velvet 56 on my Fuji X-T1 mirrorless camera I was able to capture this rainbow lens flare shooting the backlit weed. The resulting image seemed a fitting companion to my post theme, so please read on…
The struggle to find my style or find my voice is a common theme among apprentice photographers in The Arcanum, an online learning program that my wife and I have really been enjoying for the past year.
It was even the featured topic of The Arcanum’s weekly YouTube series, MGAPXL, hosted by Arcanum Master photographer, Ollie Dale. In the February 25th broadcast, Ollie interviewed fine art photographer, Karen Hutton and self-described vision actualizer and business coach, Makenna Johnston. I encourage you to watch the archived broadcast on YouTube if you haven’s seen it yet!
The topic has also been a common theme of blog posts and discussions I have come across among writers, painters and other creatives. A parallel theme among entrepreneurs and those seeking to engage in more meaningful work is, finding my passion.
Both are themes I have pondered for many hours through my life. But it just dawned on me that we may be approaching the idea with the wrong mindset!
Saying we need to find something sets an energetic pattern of looking for something that we have lost, or we never had. What if we shifted our mindset to one of creating rather than finding?
WOW, when I say the words, creating my voice, it has a totally different feel to it. It feels more like I’m in control, and have the power, authority and freedom to create the voice, the style, the passion that appeals to me the most, or makes me the happiest, most free, most peaceful, most _____ (you fill in the blanks).
I haven’t lost anything that I need to find, and I no longer feel a sense of loss or desperation — like the man we encountered racing breathlessly up the mountain trail on Sunday asking everyone if they had found a cell phone!
If you are an artist, an entrepreneur, a writer or a business executive seeking to enliven your creative potential, I invite you to step into a new mindset, a new paradigm and give yourself the power to be in control of creating your own unique and authentic voice. It may take your breath away — in a good way!!
When I show this image to fellow photographers, the first question they ask is, “Did you place the red leaf on the rock?” Well, it’s obvious, right? The answer is “Yes, I did.”
Is that wrong? I don’t think so. You might argue the artistic merit of how or where I placed the leaf; but I don’t think anyone would argue my prerogative as a creative artist to add the red leaf to the scene.
As human beings, we collaborate with the world around us every day, or should I say in every moment! It’s not just our actions that create something the senses can experience. Even our thoughts and feelings have a noticeable energetic presence that influence the world around us. If you have even a tiny bit of empathy, you have surely noticed the power of your or someone else’s attitudes, beliefs and emotions to change the dynamics of a situation.
Being able to express oneself in an empowered and creative way is incredibly important in living a healthy, happy and productive life both at home and at work. This is one of the reasons many businesses have begun to place greater importance on creative activities for employees, both within their workplace roles, and through activities that may not at first blush appear to be at all related to their “job”.
Just check out this Fast Company article from August 2015 for evidence.
For me, this all points the way to a source of limitless inspiration and possibility. A deeply felt and conscious connection with the world and a sense of the wondrous power of creation with which we are wired to collaborate is the key to a creative and happy life — and practicing the creative process through whatever is your chosen passion is worth it’s weight in gold!
Instincts are an inner guidance system – a sixth sense, or in popular terms your “spider sense”. Instincts anticipate what may be around the corner, be it opportunity or danger. The survival instinct guides the herd of gazelle to the most fertile source of food – or away from the danger of a predator. The survival instinct functions much the same way in humans, but there are other instincts that we can put to use as well. Surfing anyone? I captured this moment of pure instinct while in Maui back in 2011.
Instincts put all our senses on alert. They marshal all our faculties and skills to a one-pointed sense of purpose. In sales, instincts provide us with signals concerning the quality and value of a lead or prospect inquiry. They guide us through the sales relationship with hints about where and which direction to turn. Everything we can learn or sense about our prospective or existing client, their company, its culture – indeed the whole context that has been presented to us will provide us with signals to guide the response and actions. This is no different than in life itself, but in the field of commerce the context is to explore and move toward a successful exchange of goods, information, and/or services.
When we pay attention to our instincts they speak to us more clearly – they grow and become more available over time. If we ignore them, we may get a slap in the face or a disappointment to wake us up! The more we know and discover about a sales situation, the more active and accurate our instincts will be. Learn your target market segments and their business motivations. Know the key industry players so you will instinctively recognize where to direct your focus. Learn what motivates business stakeholders (hint: it’s not always just money). Ask questions that provide insights into what you would do in their shoes. Then your instincts will tell you how best to proceed — especially if you see yourself in the customer’s shoes and seek to treat them as you would be treated.
Your instincts are a valuable life tool. Listen to them, develop them, use them wisely. You may be amazed at the results!
One of my favorite photography mentors, Les Saucier begins his outdoor shooting workshops with the admonition, “We aren’t going for the trophy shot today. This is all practice.” What a simple and powerful approach to freeing us to enjoy the process and unlock creative possibilities! Les often elaborates on the point by suggesting that we ask ourselves, “What if…?”, bringing another invitation to break from old ways of seeing and explore new possibilities.
Les’ suggestions apply equally to creative selling. As with photography, the best opportunities present themselves when we free ourselves from attachment to the outcome, and focus on having fun with the process. Enjoyment is contagious, attracts others, and expands the flow of opportunities. Asking ourselves, “What if…” is a powerful way to discover new solutions to challenging sales situations.
The photo with this post was an accidental discovery while on vacation in Charleston SC. I wandered away from the crowd and found this gas hose that had been tossed down in a fabulous “S” curve after refueling. An exposure with my infrared camera and a bit of creative post-processing to reverse channels allowed me to bring out the blues in the water and sky for a more expressive rendition.
Creative selling calls us to bring ourselves, our gifts and skills fully present in every moment of the sales cycle; sometimes in unique and different ways. Think about the kind of energy and tone of interaction you generate when you approach your sales with openness to the flow of energy, practicing your skills and discovering what life presents, vs. trying to drive the prospect to your next “big sale”. At the end of the day, regardless of what opportunities have surfaced, you are more likely to feel a sense of satisfaction and joy in what has been achieved.
At the very least, you will have practiced your relationship and selling skills; and learned new things from and about interacting with co-workers, prospects and customers. And if a new opportunity has surfaced, it has come with a sense of discovery and appreciation — perhaps even a sense of magic in the workings of creation.
To be sure, you will have expended energy in the direction of achieving sales success, but the process will be characterized by a sense of play and freedom rather than drudgery and fear of failure. How can one fail if we are simply practicing our art, developing our skills and opening ourselves to all possibilities of discovery? For me, engaging in life as a creative practice is one of the simplest and most powerful tools for sustained enjoyment and success in sales or any other human endeavor.