The unexamined life is not worth living.

Why photography (and music and movies) are FREE:


If I was to offer you two beers

and one was mediocre

and the other was a better beer

but cost $3

and the mediocre beer was FREE

guess which beer you would probably take?

(the free one I’m afraid would be chosen more.)

With the world full of enthusiastic young people with new cameras; the price of mediocre photography has become nearly zero.

Even at $3, the good beer is incredibly cheap, but is run out of business by the not very good beer because it is free.

Hello small business! I am a young new photographer and would like to work for you. Do you want me to shoot your: event/jewelry/staff members/interior design etc… ? Everyone needs good pictures!

Hello young new photographer. That would be great except I can only pay you: nothing/a beer/a t-shirt/credit on my website.

Well; OK. (That sucks but I guess I have to pay my dues. If I get a good relationship going then maybe they will pay me in the future!)

That’s great. Let’s do it.

snap snap snap

Super. Can you email them to me? And can you resize them for the web and can I have three DVDs burned so I can give your pictures to some people I know?

Er. OK. I guess.

(a few months later)

Do you have something new to shoot? Maybe you have some budget to spend on me now?

Well; no. You see there is a new photographer we are using now. Yesterday she walked in and said:

“Hello small business! I am a young new photographer and would like to work for you. Do you want me to shoot your: event/jewelry/staff members/interior design etc… ? Everyone needs good pictures!”



Wrong on both accounts:

A “professional” profession such as Design or Architecture will more often than you think

not plan ahead or budget for proper photos to be taken of their final products.

A shoddy snapshot is usually seen in slideshows or on websites.

The other side of the coin are headshots.

An actor will think that a single hair being out of place in the shot will make the casting director reject the person.

“I can’t hire this actor! Look at that single hair out of place by her ear!”

Is the price negotiable?

Yes; if you are buying a new car.

No; if you are talking to a lawyer.

Yes; if you are wanting some photography

Probably not; if you want a builder to replace some pipe in a wall in your house and they charge you $1300 and leave the smashed hole in your wall

thus implying you need to hire another contractor to fix that because hey it’s not my job I’m a plumber.

No; if you are buying some groceries. Could you imagine haggling at Safeway?

Yes; if you are at a garage sale.

No; if you are at the dentist.

Our society has all these arbitrary rules about when you can and can not negotiate a price.

Does it make any sense? Not really, but that’s up for debate. Ha!

A dollar is not worth a dollar sometimes.

A chocolate bar next to the cash register says %25 off! Normal price is $1. What a deal! You would not have bought it at all if it was $1.50. Too expensive.

A wedding dress for $1000 is considered quite affordable. But $2 extra for chicken on the salad? No thanks.

Adding ceramic brakes to the new AUDI you are buying for $5000 is a no brainer. I need those! But $200 for handmade leather shoes? Outrageous!

The point is, money is not a solid thing. $100 can be a huge sum or a pittance depending on the context.

People who will winge and moan about the cable TV bill going up $5 a month will suddenly and magically have $800 in their hand no problem if they decide they want the new iPad 3.

The amount of money listed in the price of a good or service is actually meaningless.

If someone wants it they will find the money.

If someone doesn’t really want it, then the money isn’t there.


Models of Monetizing Photography:

Students and beginners: Embarrassed to take money for work. Will low ball all jobs or do them for free. The justification is that they are building their portfolio or learning on the job or just having fun. They will offer portraits and wedding/event photography to friends and family and then only ask for $40.

Mid level semi pro: Actually working with companies and organizations. Will sometimes see their images in pamphlets and local newspapers. Charges more for services but will still feel a little guilty because they still have a “real job” on the side.

Professional: Charges as much as they want or as much as they can get away with.

But the way to get there has changed.

The old mode of life the universe and everything went like this:

go to school

get good marks

get a university degree

meet a nice girl

get a good job

work at the job in a capable way and collect benefits


play golf


This quaint “Game of Life” type of existence has been blown to shit in todays crazy world.

A “career” is a laughable concept. What you went to school for and the three to five completely different types of jobs you will have will bear no relation to each other.

Putting up a billboard for “Peterson’s Widgets” and handing out cards at conventions used to be adequate.

It was a straight forward Tab A into Slot B economy where you put out a call for clients “hey you! give me some money!” and things would go along tickedy boo.

The main commodity of the market place was money in a parallel to the good old fashioned barter system.

You have three sheep and I will trade you one cow.

In our modern post-modern topsy turvy digital age the main commodity everyone is still after is obviously MONEY, but there is a twist.

The main focus these days is “attention”. The competition between freelancers and entrepreneurs and go getters is for “energy” and “buzz” and “mindshare”.

The money will come later.

This is why people pour their time and effort into making YouTube videos about how to make Cheesecake Brownies.

And Huffington Post, and all sorts of Blogs. This is why people spend so much time at things which pay them nothing:

editing Wikipedia articles

spray-painting rail cars


punk garage bands where the drummer sucks

The old system of money was based in land and rural estates where stately homes marked their territories in great open lands like a union jack flagpole sticking out of the middle of India.

a milk advertisement that has nothing to do with milk

This old system, where wealth was literally placed in the presence of solid objects like gold and land and into soft ideas of title, family, reputation and tradition, has subsided. The reason the upper one percent of the richest rich could abide in such out of the way places as Gosford Park, Downton Abbey and San Simeon was because of the inertia of this type of wealth. It sort of took care of itself, as long as the right daughter was married to the right chap.  Subsequently the method of measuring notoriety and wealth has changed into a modern and softer, fame and gift based economy. Where young techies will turn an 8 hour day at Google or Apple into a 12 hour day when they know very well they will not be paid any more for their effort. The real wealth of today is in communication, which is why the richest Claret swilling News tycoons can no longer afford to sequester themselves away into remote mansions; the real power is in the city. The speed of communication and the fact of knowing the right person to talk to is the new power.

Advertising of old would explain very plainly to a customer why they should buy the product, like a lawyer laying out the facts.

McCormick-Deering 15-30 Tractor

“Our Baking powder is twice as effective at half the price!”

“The refrigerator is so strong an elephant could stand on it”

“This design of shirt is quite modern and will last years!”

It was all very straightforward.

These days the advertisements don’t sell you the item. They sell you the feeling surrounding the item. They sell the sizzle, not the steak.

People are not impressed anymore by the “best” “cheapest” “newest” or “most unique” as selling points.

They must be slapped at emotionally or sexually in order to get their attention.

The bikini girl standing next to the hot new sports car really has nothing to do with driving. The illusion is concrete. Perception is reality.

The main idea these days is to gather some attention and then wait for the money to come in.

One of the most effective ways to garner this interest is to give stuff away for free. Time and energy for free that is; not stuff.

Knowledge and fame are the gold coins of today.

You make a living by what you gain. You make a life by what you give.






Hey! yer a photographer right?


Can you take some photos of me and my girlfriend?


How much will that be?

$200 per session

oh. Nevermind. My brother has a camera.


What good would a baker be if he made a great chocolate cake, and then never let anyone eat it?

A photographer has to have a forum to show his photos or he is just a driver without a car.

Today, that forum is the internet.

So get a good WordPress, or Joomla, or Blogger or whatever webby thing you want

and start building your Photo Gallery.

Don’t call it a “portfolio”

Students and Dabblers have ruined that word.


this might be too obvious to state, but it is more important to show good pictures than to take good pictures.

Good editing makes for good photography.

The worlds best photographers took horrible pictures too.

They just chose to show their best.

The Paris Hilton effect:

(This could also be call the Katie Price effect)

Paris is probably famous only for being famous.

As far as I know she has no actual skill or aptitude at anything.


if she was to show up in your town and announce she was going to open a restaurant,

or set up shop as an architect,

or become a columnist for the local paper

people would fall all over each other in their excitement to give her praise and attention.

It’s true and you know it.

The world rewards fame with fame

and mostly to the detriment of actual competence.

If Paris Hilton showed up in Winnipeg and said she was going to do a photographic series of the city,

with an exclusive offer for the Winnipeg Art Gallery to hold the world premiere, what do you think would happen?

I think the excitement would rival the nonsense of The Jets coming back.

(That’s an NHL hockey team for those of you who care. I don’t.)

The Winnipeg Art Gallery would be a fool to turn it down.

They would quickly change around the programming to fit her in.

Though they would probably hate it, they would cancel planned exhibitions of established artists just to have the opportunity to have Paris Hilton in the Gallery.

After Paris strolled through the streets and rooms of Winnipeg’s gritty and posh districts, and captured images on her alligator skin Leica,

though the oeuvre produced might be banal and trite; and let’s assume it is,

the anticipation created would be palpable.

People would be lined up around the block to get into the gallery.

The prints would be sold for thousands of dollars, and probably increase in value as time went on.

The art scene, for better or worse, with love and hate, would go buzz buzz buzz.

Which brings me to the local Winnipeg weekly Paper UPTOWN.

They wanted to use a picture of mine in a story.

I said it would cost $75, and they said

“Oh. Well actually we found a similar picture in our archives, and we’re going to run that instead.”

And I thought to myself

“You wouldn’t be saying that to me if I was Paris Hilton.”

Sometimes it is better to spend the money on the “better” thingy.

I recently learned a lesson in frugality.

I wasted $28 while trying to save $12.

The cheaper lens hood was $28, and it broke in 6 months, and it never fit properly anyway.

So I bought the more expensive lens hood for $40.


If the speed limit was raised to 100 miles an hour

people would still be late.

If a person can not talk about the technique and action of using their tools

they will talk about having their tools and what tools are better.

When people talk about entering a new field of endeavor, hobby, or specialization,

they talk of acquiring tools and gear ,

not acquiring skills.

It’s more fun to talk about gadgets and thingies instead of concepts. I guess.


Do is better than have, but have is what some people do.

Buying and selling gear is somehow more exciting than learning skills.

This is why junk like “Portrait Professional – Easy Photo Editing Software” is being pushed at us.

Instead of learning micro posing techniques (turtle!), lighting tricks for large noses, and other techniques

you should buy this software that fixes all the mistakes that should been avoided in the studio!


Now you can make people look so good they don’t even resemble themselves. Like a real photographer.

Getting upset about the world

the economy

the politicians

because you can’t find a job

after you have graduated from college or university

is merely getting mad at

the status quo

middle class

petit bourgeois

folk stories that everyone tells each other.

It’s irresponsible.

Instead of complaining about not being able to fulfil the fairy tales that have been floating around you since you became sentient

go and make your own job.

Does the world owe you something?


Have you been betrayed by your own unexamined  mores?



Steve Jobs Top 10 Best Quotes

  1. “We’re here to put a dent in the universe, otherwise why else even be here?”
  2. “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
  3. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
  4. “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity.  Simple can be harder than complex. You need to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple, but it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
  5. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
  6. Remembering that you’re going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
  7. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
  8. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
  9. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone elses life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
  10. We don’t get a chance to do that many things and every one should be really excellent because this is our life.”

…And, one more thing!

10+.    “You know a design is good when you want to lick it.” … And, “Design is not what it looks like.  Design is how it works.”

My Comments about each quote:

1. Yes. Are we here to be stuck in traffic in a 9 to 5 commute?

2. Unfortunately most people can not distinguish between quality and price. They see no difference between a $1000 lap top and a $500 lap top and think they are smart and clever for not over paying for something “fancy”. People stream in and out of Big Box Best Buy Future Shops thinking they have somehow tricked the system because they got such a good price. I do believe that is called irony.

3. There are Innovators, then Imitators and then finally Idiots.

4. People take refuge in the complex. The confusion hides ineptness, lack of courage, and fosters “yes men”. To focus and refine towards simplicity is actually tougher, though it seems like the opposite should be true.

5. Bingo. The screamingly obvious fact that everyone misses, because they want get rich quick schemes and snake oil, is that the successful are that way because they did not give up. Those that lost the game lost because they left the game. You can’t win if you don’t play. It’s a hideous crushingly simple idea. Don’t shirk. Do it. Do it. Do it. Get it done.

6. Harsh but true. Was Steve a Buddhist?

7. Get complacent get fat and get dumb would be the opposite side of this coin.

8. If only all University Graduates would heed the high minded platitudes of commencement speeches and do something they actually believe in, instead of selling out and going for the big paycheques in a job they hate or are bored with. But to fight against the middle class tide of mediocrity is difficult.

9. We all need more courage.

10. I wish.

10+ Good design is visceral. I want to lick the Alfa Romeo 8c. When something clicks in form and shape, language doesn’t apply any more and you just want to lick it.

Steve also reputedly said “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

I think this is true. Most people are vessels waiting to be filled. Which is sad. But it is nice if you present them with something useful, beautiful and life improving. They will snap it up like hot pretzels.

Alfa Romeo 8c



The Ringo Star effect:

It’s more important to get along, and be approachable and understandable and easy going and fun

than to be the “best” in your field

but be a pain in the ass

who is picky, and temperamental, and fussy and strange.

Ringo was probably not the best drummer in the world

but he and the band got along.

So he ended up being the drummer.

He got the job.

If you are easy to be with then you will get the job too

even though you might not be the best

but let’s hope you are both.

Oblique moral of the story.

Communication and friendship is worth more than money

(and if you don’t worry about the money

then it will show up.)


A true artist or scientist is someone who is trying to give the world something which it has not asked for.

Instead of supplying more and better hot dogs, pencil sharpeners, life insurance or windshield wipers, these people are trying to cross a valley and find a different mountain;

one that everyone is not climbing.