Inspiration: a really cool interview with photographer Noah Kalina


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Photo by Ryan Essmaker

I’ve seen Noah Kalina’s photographer published throughout the internets from time to time, but I didn’t know anything about him. His rich history of always pursuing photography, never doing anything other than photography, and finding a way to make a career out of it.

Go check out this interview with him here. It’s so good. And, seriously, an inspiration I needed right now.

A snip:

For more than fifteen years, Noah Kalina has carved out a freelance career that manages to strike a balance between fine art and commercial photography. Here, the Barryville, NY-based photographer talks to us about the path he took to get there—the high school awards that gave him the confidence to keep taking pictures; attending art school, and jump starting an independent career by taking $20 head shots out of a small Manhattan apartment; and why he chose to move his life and studio to rural Upstate NY. Despite the ups and downs that working solo can often present, Noah still says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

This photo stood out to me (below), but the Cabin Porn is stuff I’ve seen and is truly a sight. Go take a look. I don’t want to spoil everything and I certainly don’t want to be accused of copyright infringement. I’m hoping to send people to read the article.

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Photo by Noah Kalina

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Inspirational music, music video and dance moves of the day


My brother-in-law posted this music video for the new release from Chaka Khan.

It’s so rad, I can’t even …

Chaka Khan hasn’t released an album in over seven years. Damn, this song and video are tight.

Phew. The summer just got hotter.

Fostering a culture of Carrorism and doing conscious acts of kindness


About a year ago, I was moved by the social media updates of a model friend of mine named Nasreen Ameri. Her posts were usually about new work or travel associated with her amazing career. She traveled back and forth to New York City. She worked all over, seemingly all the time.

In what appeared to be an abrupt move, she left her successful modeling career to lead a movement of a philosophy she created. Then her posts were photos of heart shapes she found everywhere: in the concrete, in fruit, leaves, laundry, strings, etc.

She shared the images and coupled them with words of encouragement and kindness.

In a landscape infiltrated by acts of terrorism, Nasreen decided the world needed a new look on the old concept of do-gooderism.

She discovered that there was no word in the English dictionary for the opposite of terrorism. So she called her movement “Carrorism” and set her sights on doing conscious acts of kindness and encouraging those behaviors in others.

This struck me. I needed this movement. I loved it. It was so positive. It was a breath of fresh air.

Like most people last year and this one, my energy was sucked dry by the constant barrage of negative news, the endless Trumpian tweets, the incessant news coverage a country so divided by politics and humanity that it became almost impossible to keep a level head about life.

In person, most of us treat everyone else with compassion and empathy. But online, there seems to be a constant battle of who can post the stupidest meme calling “the other side” the dumbest possible person in existence.

I grew up in an evangelical Christian area of the southeast, and I was in love with Christianity as a young person through my early 20s. Nasreen’s philosophy, despite how great it is, would have been demonized by the leaders of my youth. There’s only one way to live, and that’s as a Christian. Nasreen’s philosophy doesn’t include any of that. Not necessarily.

I’ve since left the faith of my youth, but I’ve maintained a lot of disciplines and do-gooderisms of that upbringing. Sometimes I think of myself as a better Christian than most Christians. I know, I’m pompous. The only difference is I don’t believe in the divinity of Christ, just the actions of doing right, at a near extreme cost.

Nasreen’s call for monetary support

In one post, I was struck by Nasreen’s call to help her with a monetary contribution or subscription to help her on a monthly basis. I sat slumped in my chair, because that kind of donation wasn’t in the cards. But I wanted to help.

I slept on it, and I woke up thinking: I will do a documentary on her, for her, about her.

The idea was simple at first, but once production started, it became a bigger project. It was also a very expensive project. I ended up damaging a vintage car during one day of shooting, that threw off my game and I screwed up the settings on my A camera as a result of being completely flustered.

But the production continued. It was difficult not to have a positive attitude when around Nasreen. She constantly finds the positive in all situations. We need

I could honestly do full-length documentary about her.

In free time, I produced this video. I hope you take a look and I hope you enjoy it.

 

Why won’t you tolerate my intolerance?


Intolerance is all the rage!

It turns out that when you come to a multicultural cosmopolitan city with an open agenda of white supremacy, patriarchy and anti-urbanism, the native population tends not to like you. When you compound bigoted viewpoints with cruel and inhumane policies like family separation as a deterrent to reduce the percentage of American Hispanic population, you may find yourself unwelcome at Mexican restaurants. It turns out that when your sexual politics are built around retrograde beliefs in male dominance and superiority, empowered women (and decent men) don’t want to have sex with you.

The irony for conservatives here is that this is freedom of association. Conservatives have long argued for shibboleths like “states’ rights” and “religious freedom” as a code for giving bigots the power to refuse to serve and share space with racial and religious minorities, to refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings and make plates for black diners. Largely through the courts, America has rejected these arguments because minorities are protected classes who deserve freedom from discrimination–and conservatives have whined about these restrictions on their “freedom” of association in this respect for decades.

Read the rest of this editorial here.

Trumpists Are Suffering the Free Market Consequences Of Being Deplorable
by David Atkins

14 Habits of Highly Miserable People


1. Be afraid, be very afraid, of economic loss. In hard economic times, many people are afraid of losing their jobs or savings. The art of messing up your life consists of indulging these fears, even when there’s little risk that you’ll actually suffer such losses. Concentrate on this fear, make it a priority in your life, moan continuously that you could go broke any day now, and complain about how much everything costs, particularly if someone else is buying. Try to initiate quarrels about other people’s feckless, spendthrift ways, and suggest that the recession has resulted from irresponsible fiscal behavior like theirs.

Fearing economic loss has several advantages. First, it’ll keep you working forever at a job you hate. Second, it balances nicely with greed, an obsession with money, and a selfishness that even Ebenezer Scrooge would envy. Third, not only will you alienate your friends and family, but you’ll likely become even more anxious, depressed, and possibly even ill from your money worries. Good job!

Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and, for 15 minutes, meditate on all the things you could lose: your job, your house, your savings, and so forth. Then brood about living in a homeless shelter.

Read the rest of the 13 ways to be miserable here.

Life moves so fast you can’t even taste it


The last two weeks of May, Tina and I were traipsing around Europe like to spoiled brats. We lived the life. Saw the sights. Ate the food. Met the people.

It was an amazing adventure.

We landed back in Chicago on May 30th.

And on May 31st, the universe thought it would be great to infect us with a stomach bug of some kind. I had diarrhea and Tina just couldn’t seem to find a time when her stomach didn’t hurt.

On June 1, we had booked the day with meetings. It was a Friday. We pushed through the day, but then found ourselves in bed for the weekend. Well, I was in the bathroom and in bed.

Then June 4 to 15, we were booked with appointments and jobs, most of which were 10 to 12 hour days on site. With the amount of gear we use, there’s a lot of work necessary to clean lenses and cameras, recharge batteries, and log footage. Most days we accumulated 150 to 200 GBs of data on 5 to 7 different memory cards. So there’s an hour of my time, watching data transfer to hard drives.

Or there’s requests for highlight images. So I have to fish through 4,000 to 5,000 images to  land on a few “good” ones to send.

Most of the projects these last two weeks were events. LARGE events. Multi-day events. We’ve been photographing them for years, and it’s hard to let go of them once we see the checks roll in. It’s a form of greed.

They’re hard work. Grueling. I carry between 10 and 25 lbs on me at all times. And in three days, I can easily rack up 45,000 to 60,000 steps.

But we keep them because we know the pay off is good enough to say yes to them when they book us for next year the last day of the show.

Tina and I have stopped shooting weddings. And smaller events, we’ve left as well. We still hold on to these two June events and one other client who has us two to three times a year.

As I grind through my days, I think. I think a lot. I think way more than I can write. And I regret how much time is spent not writing, when it’s often something I really want as part of my routine.

One of my thoughts over the past two busy weeks was that life was moving so fast, we couldn’t taste it.

I wonder how many people go through life like that. Not tasting it. A meal is just a moment between two other slots in their calendars. A workout is a routine experience. Seeing people is part of the day, not to be relished, or experienced.

On a busy day, food was thoughtless. It was stress induced. “If I don’t eat this salty plate of fake orange eggs, I won’t have the strength to make it to lunch, which will be a plate of salty chicken with a side of sautéed peppers.”

It seems weird to criticize good food. I’m sure there are people in the world who would love to have eggs, chicken and sautéed veggies.

But to use those items as more fuel and not an enjoyment. Or an experience, that seems weird to me. That seems so, well, American.

Back when I worked for the man, in 2000 to 2002, I hated it. I worked 9 to 5. Well, I personally worked 8 to 7 most days with lunch at my desk. But my time at home was so limited. It was to find something to eat at night. Get tired. Sleep. And Groundhog Day my day again and again and again and again.

I dreaded the idea that I worked to pay rent in a place I visited in the evenings for 2 or 3 waking hours.

There were may things that drove me to self-employment, but that was one of them. A huge one of them. I felt like it was a waste to spend 1/2 or more of my paycheck on something I enjoyed only 10-12% of my day (I didn’t count sleep or mornings as time spent at home).

The other thing was, I wanted to taste life. I don’t want to use moments in my day as stepping stones to get to the end. I don’t want my days to look exactly like the one before it, with corporate meetings and life-moving-so-fast tactics that distract me from the enjoyment of life.

I’m not working for retirement. I’m working to feel retired now. Or at least on occasion. Although the last few years have seen a big uptick in our schedules, and we are a little busier than before. But we’re also enjoying these European trips more, too. So there’s a trade.

If you’re not tasting life, slow down. If you’re sick of spending 10% of your day in the place you spend the most of your paycheck, you might be missing out on other things.

I’m a photographer because I LOVE what I do. I would photograph dirt. It’s just a fun art to practice. So the majority of my day is doing what I love with the woman I love. I cook. I sleep. I live in my oasis. And being too busy was like pinching myself to see if I am dreaming or not. I am in a dream 99% of my life. And that’s the way I prefer it.

 

Bertrand Russell : The Best Answer to Fanaticism …


I saw this paste of Bertrand Russell over at Kottke, and I had to share it. The advice rings symphonic bells. The ideas fell at the end of an article that Russell wrote in 1951 for the NYT magazine.

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2. Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3. Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.

4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9. Be scrupulously truthful, even when truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

The first piece of advice stopped me in my tracks. “Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.” I can’t for a second back any of my views with absolute certainty.

And often, I feel trumped when talking to someone, especially with religious proclivities, who say things like, “I know I’ll be with my savior some day” or “I know Jesus is real.”

Those things are unknowable. As unknowable as any other “knowledge.”

Knowing the unknowable thwarts conversations, real discussion, and makes for frustrating talk.

Jason’s response to the 1951 article is also admirable:

Over the past few years, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to keep an open mind about many issues, particularly on those related to politics. Remaining curious and generous about new & different ideas, especially in public, is perhaps more challenging than it was in Russell’s time. We are bombarded on all sides by propaganda, conspiracy theories, and broadly discredited theories from the past pushed upon us by entertainment news outlets and social media algorithms — we’re under a constant denial-of-service attack on our ability to think and reason.

We can’t reasonably be expected to give serious consideration to ideas like “the Holocaust didn’t happen”, “the Earth is flat”, “the Newtown massacre was faked”, “let’s try slavery again”, “vaccines cause autism”, and “anthropogenic climate change is a myth” — the evidence just doesn’t support any of it — but playing constant defense against all this crap makes it difficult to have good & important discussions with those we might disagree with about things like education, the role of national borders in a extremely mobile world, how to address our changing climate, systemic racism & discrimination, gun violence, healthcare, and dozens of other important issues. Perhaps with Russell’s guidelines in mind, we can make some progress on that front.