We may not have flying cars, but 2012 is amazing.

Today’s post will be a reflective one.  I want to write about how much the world has changed in the short 27 years that I’ve been here.  I’ve gone from a time where record stores still have records, to where the concept of physical media for distribution of art and ideas is becoming antiquated.

Not only that, new technologies have made opportunities that existed to those with great capital and resources, available to everyone.  From smart-phones that can have a world of data, research, and people at our finger-tips, to consumer DSLR’s that give near-professional (some would argue full professional quality) video opportunities to regular people on regular budgets, the world is full of all kinds of opportunities that our parent’s generation couldn’t even fathom.

Not to say that the new generation hasn’t been without challenges.  People are working for many more years, homes cost more, and moving from point A to point B via vehicle transport is always getting more expensive. And yet, technology is offering many opportunities that don’t require us to go far to help other people.  Distribution channels can bring ideas from South Africa to Tokyo.  From Berlin to Edmonton.  From Los Angelas to Yellowknife, the world is now a vastly more connected, smaller place.

Technology has opened whole new ideas, worlds, and people to a whole generation.  If it weren’t for technology and the internet, I probably would have never finished my teaching degree in Japanese and English education.  I would not have had the opportunity to connect with and share ideas, language, and culture with people whom I’ve had great pleasure and fortune to share a part of my life.

I would love to start a conversation with you about how technology has impacted your world.  Feel free a comment below, and at reply me on Twitter through @ctriff.

Till next time

Chris

Finally Remember Names With Confidence by Using Social Media.

Today’s post is going to be short and to the point. How often have you met someone who you know you should remember their name, but can’t.  If you work or have anything to do with a public-facing job, this has probably happened to you at least once.

So how is it that some people are better at remembering names than others?

I’ll share a tip with you.  Friend people who you even have a suspicion of meeting again in offline life on Facebook.  

This may run counter to what all privacy experts recommend, but I can assure you, if you want to avoid many awkward moments, be liberal with your friending.  This is because you can keep people you know you are going to meet again forward in your mind.

The human brain is a great data organizer.  It synthesizes and purges information based on the frequency that it occurs to it.  For example if you meet people once or twice a year, the brain has a hard time keeping important information like their name near the forefront.  Whereas if you have someone’s name and their status updates in front of your eyes every day, the brain generally will have that information available to you next time you meet that person in offline situations.

So what are the implications of this recommendation for your Facebook page, and what you post there?  If you are going to have a broader social network, would it not be prudent to not post everything to Facebook.  The short answer for this is yes.  There are a lot of things that should not end up on Facebook. Even if you have your privacy settings set to Fort Knox, you should not be sharing anything online that you wouldn’t want coming back to haunt you.

What one should post to their social profiles will be a subject of future posts.  To give a brief preview of what these future posts will contain, there is one thing that should be the theme of every post if you want to build more interaction online.  Bring value to others with what you post.  This can be as simple as making a post adding commentary to local events.  Or sharing updates on a project you are working on, and can’t wait to debut at the next event.

If you have any other tips that you have found helpful for remembering the names of contacts that you meet with infrequently, but want to remember their names, feel free to share it here.  Our names are an important part of our identities, and if someone can’t be bothered to remember it, we have a hard time making those connections that leave lasting impact.

Till Next Time

Chris

How to get started in photography

Sensoji Temple in Asakusa TokyoYou walk into a camera shop. Today is the day you have decided that you will take better pictures. Diligently you listen to the salesperson explain the features and benefits of each camera. He or she dazzles you with words like ISO, F-Stop, and Focal Length.

Politely you listen to the description, at times wondering if they are still speaking English. Soon you narrow down to the one camera. Excitedly you make your purchase and head home. You unbox the camera, put the battery on the charger and anxiously wait.

Two to three hours later the battery finishes charging and you put the memory card and battery into the device. With surging anticipation you flip on the on switch. Your excitement is quickly replaced by confusion. If the camera has simple menus that are simple enough to understand, you sit there and wonder:

“What am I going to take pictures of?”

After a few moments go by, and taking a few pictures of junk sitting around the room, you quietly slip the camera into a case or drawer, and don’t touch it again until the next family event or gathering. Of course when this event comes, the camera is left in auto and your satisfaction with the pictures is somewhere between “meh its ok” to “I wish I could take better photos”.

If the above story describes your situation, this post is for you!

There is a lot of terminology to learn in photography, but there is a huge first step most people neglect when getting started in photography.

WHAT DO I LOVE TAKING PICTURES OF?

If you have not answered this question, photography will seldom leave you feeling satisfied. Photography is what we do to record memories of what we are passionate about. It is very hard to get excited about photos of the random things sitting on our desk.

Therefore I would recommend before you decide before even going to the camera store is to decide what you love taking photos of. If you have difficulty answering this consider the following:

What pictures have really blown me away?

Is it a specific kind of picture? (People? Landscapes? Animals? Eccentric?)
Where do I regularly look at photos? (Online? Facebook? Family Functions?)

If you consider these things, you will be able to step into a camera shop and confidently state what you are looking for. Telling the camera sales person that you want to just “take better photos”, doesn’t really give them enough information to make a solid recommendation that you will go home absolutely loving.

When you get home, start taking pictures of what you are passionate about playing with different camera settings to see what each change does to the resulting photo. After this go and pick up a photo magazine and start flipping through the pages looking at the articles. A lot of great magazines exist that will explain what each setting does, and will be accompanied with photos to illustrate the resulting photographic results.

I would warn a lot of you; a lot of photo magazines do have artistic nudes sections. If this is something that offends you, do make sure you take a quick flip through the magazine to make sure it suits your tastes.

If you have something that you have found helpful when you were learning photography please comment or email me. I would love to hear from you!

Till next time
Chris

How to take better event portraits

This is a follow up post to a previous post.  The main point of this post will highlight what generated some major conversation at Animethon 19 during my photography panel. This post will mainly apply to event photography.

We generated some great discussion during this panel in regards to the non-technical side of portrait photography:

The Social Side of Photography

We talked a bit about how when sharing our photos with non photography people, how to effectively do so.

Some main points were:

  • Use social networks
  • Make use of a business card when taking photos
  • Make use of a personal card (meishi in Japanese) when having one’s picture taken.  You never know when you want someone to follow-up with you when they do something creative with you.
  • Tag, Tag, Tag.  People rarely look up photos of people they don’t know!  If you want to generate more activity on your photos, either setup your photos to be publicly tagged.  OR, keep good notes while you are taking photos.
    • Best way to keep good notes while taking photos would be to add the subject of the photos on facebook at the time of the photo’s capture.  Also make a note of who they were, and what they were wearing, that way when you are tagging people there is a memory aide to assist in the photo tagging process.
    • Even better, set your photos and priviledges completely to public and outsource the tagging job completely! People will generally be enthusiastic to tag their friends in your photos!

Future Considerations:

  • As the social web moves towards video, make sure you are making it easy for people to tag themselves in your videos.
  • The same applies as above: People will be more interested in your work (in this case videos, if they are in them).  Make it easy for people to find themselves in your videos.

Finally in closing.  When doing event photography, it is important to remember that at the fundamental level, if the people whom you are photographing can’t find your photos easily, your photos won’t generate the activity that you are looking for.

Through remembering to make a connection with the people whom are being photographed, you can help improve the success rate of your photos.  If the people who you photographed are easily able to find themselves, you will find that your photos will get more feedback.

If you have any question about the above post, or you have a comment, feel free to comment or email me.  I would love to hear from you.  Let’s start a discussion!

How to Ruin Your Unhappiness

In this post I’ll share a small recipe that can help overcome unhappiness, or ruin your unhappiness.  I feel I should write this post as I have found myself caught in the traps that prevent me from doing the things I know I need to do to have a fuller life.

  • First way to ruin your unhappiness is fall in love with discovery and learning.

It is easy to feel helpless when you are unaware of opportunities, and information that can improve the quality of our lives.

For example most people use banks for storing and spending their money.  Many people leave additional features of their bank accounts untouched.  For example the use of online banking to keep track of spending and to process bill payments.   Not to mention using software to chart major spending categories and auto generate budgets from spending patterns.

  • Second way is to put away at least 10% of your earnings every month.

It is easy to be happy knowing that there is a financial cushion in the event of illness, job loss, or change in career.

There is also a major reason aside from the above.  If you are worried about if the next bills will be paid or not, it is hard to focus on the things that actually matter to you!

Just as extra money finds a way to get spent, having less money every month for spending finds a way to make it work.  We eat out less, cut out unnecessary monthly expenses, or even downsizing completely.

  • Third is exercise

It is tough to feel happy when out of shape and stressed.  For those who exercise, it not only helps with the health benefit,  it also is an opportunity to unwind and relax.  This is also an opportunity to spend time on no one other than yourself.  There have been many times when I have been fretting over a tough decision and gone out for a run only to come back refreshed and better able to come up with good solutions to the problems that are dragging on my mind.

  • Fourth and last for this post: moderation and balance

By remembering to focus on the essentials and selectively add wants that are within your budget, it is hard to get buried by debt and bills.  When you keep your standard of living at a maintainable level that doesn’t cut too close to our total earnings, things like a cut in pay, or a change of job have a hard time of crippling your life. 

Many people get caught in the race to keep up with the Joneses.  I can tell you that it is this race that keeps most people buried in debt, and a job loss or an illness away from disaster.

Some helpful resources related to to topics in this post:

MintLife Blog (Finance)

Jeff Goins Blog (Writing)

Michael Hyatt (Leadership)

Chris Guillebeau: The Art of Non-Conformity (Motivation)

That is it for this post.  A brief recipe to ruin unhappiness.  I would love to hear what other people have on their recipe’s for happiness (or ruining unhappiness).  Feel free to leave your recipe in the comment below or email me.