What It takes To Shoot Street Photography?

A composition is the soul of great photography. It’s the same rule for paintings.

I have to confess: drawing daily is exhausting and sometimes my eyes just need a simple walk outside. Out of my comfort zone.
I’m a shy photographer. For God’s sake, I’m not a photographer at all! I’d rather shoot landscape or butterflies playing in the grass. This is why street photography is always a tedious exercise.

This is my problem: In the streets, as hard as you try, you never go unnoticed.

But isn’t fear just an illusion? When you find your real purpose. That puts you there at this very moment. You let go of your barriers and are only driven by the love of imagery and the story you want to tell. Ask yourself: why I definitely know that I will love that photo?

I like this shot. Because it’s just Africa. The market and its strong, vibrant colors; the noisy, warm, busy streets.

For the record, I had to wait until the salad vendor walked down the street, she involuntarily balanced the shot by filling one of the six frames formed by the bare shop’s posts. Giving me a blank stare in the process.

I felt guilty.

What’d happen if she looked the other way? Like the guy in the red cap. I’d have felt better but the pic would be different.

At the end, it’s a cool composition, a photo that I’d like to paint one day because I’m sure of one thing: hot, vibrant colors are killing me every time, and I know that Africa is so colorful.

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How To Become A Great Artist? 

The next Spiderman movie poster is turning people into trolls on the internet (photo).  

How Photoshop can be a double edged sword even for Hollywood? Illustrator Sam Gilbey just puts it so well:
“If you’re simply moving photos around though, you’re not going to get that cohesiveness that an #illustration can bring you. A skilled #artist can take all those disparate elements and weave them together into a beautiful composition, whilst capturing the aspirational ‘feel’ of a movie at the same time. Of course now the fantastic thing is that as an artist you can use #Photoshop to aid the process. The ‘problem’ is that you don’t need to be an artist to give it a try, or to understand how good compositions and colour palettes really work.”  
Ps: Corporate world, the same rules apply to your next marketing visuals. 😉
Read the full article here: http://bit.ly/2tpCaS8

7 Places Where You’ll Find Conversations That Will Shape Your Next Story

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When there’s some good music playing at the bar, I pick up my phone, make my way through the crowd towards the speakers and I launch the almighty SHAZAM app. I wait a few seconds, my hand up in the air like I’m trying to find a network signal in a cave. The phone vibrates, then I look at the message on the screen: “We didn’t quite catch that, get your device closer to the sound and try again.”

The time for me to reach for the DJ, the song will be gone and… I’ll end up frustrated for the rest of the night. I’m sure this kind of situation already happened to you. You didn’t catch THAT sound or lost the webpage featuring articles whith interesting comments. 

Conversations are everything, they educate us, let us agree/disagree, shape us.

Here are the ideal -or not so ideal- places to find great conversations that will fuel your next story:

LinkedIn (2/10) When I started my journey here, it was fun: the “Look-I’m-On-LinkedIn-I’m-cool” vibe, the community, the articles and their comments, the golden days! Until Microsoft kicked in; now my news feed is full of stories with zero comment which only attract serial likers and self-promotion spammers.

You can be a very beautiful woman – God bless you –, and post a pic of the dress you are wearing today. Chances are you’ll break up the platform and gain thousands of followers -pick up artists- in no time.

One of my favorite movie is “Pretty Woman”. I bet you remember the scene where Vivian –Julia Roberts– gets bored watching old movies on TV, she’s then heading downstairs, looking for Edward –Richard Gere– and pushes a door in the hotel lobby, attracted by the distant sound of a piano playing. She’s looking for a good conversation! LinkedIn is the guy, who could lock that door in an alternate scene, cutting the story and its charm short. If only Vivian tried to break through that door, she’d find a jukebox playing in an empty room. That’s what a conversation group with 80k members and zero comment looks like. LinkedIN is full of those.

Do you want to post a video? You need to put it on YouTube first –if you have one– and embed its link in your post but you can only do that in your web browser. Your phone’s camera for video? Useless. Forget about it. Which makes me jump to the most interesting platforms next.

Youtube (7/10) this is the land of videos. Video are very special because they strike our emotions, pull our strings. When I watch a Youtube video, the comments section is where I waste my time. Some of them are very spot on while others make me laugh. Either way, they are very engaging.

Facebook (9/10) I ran a search in the Facebook’s ‘Groups’ app. I wanted to find people like me who like “Pretty Woman” (the movie). Figure the results I got. Use your imagination. BUT what if I just typed “movies”, or “80s movies” here we go! On Facebook, the smaller the group the better. If it’s a closed one, it’s way better. In groups the conversation is still going and it’s spontaneous. No spam, no self-advertising. If you want more details about the question you asked publicly? Just send a private message to a member and you’ll get the answer quickly. You want to start a live video? People will watch and react.

On Instagram (4/10) I use Instagram like Pinterest, it’s my huge sketch/inspiration book, it’s the place where I can express myself as an artist. Music, painting, photos anything goes. The problem with Instagram is that the comments are very short, they go from “Nice” to “Very nice” to “👍”. You guessed it: Instagram is for celebrities. Follow me now on the ‘gram @Lionthomas

Twitter (4/10) If you think that messaging is broken on LinkedIn, you haven’t seen nothing yet. I think that Twitter is for live reactions and comments only. You state your opinion and three days -a week- later –maybe- you’ll get some interactions. Everything is public. Twitter is full of spam and bots. That’s why people never answer your messages. I use It as a tool of expression. My Cavs are losing to Golden State: I want to dive in the tweets right now, feel the moment!

Snapchat (0/10) I don’t like it; Maybe I’m too old for it. I find it too cluttered. If you are not on Snapchat you are out of the loop. Please leave me a comment down below if your Snapchat conversation rate is going through the roof. I want yo learn from you.

In the streets (10/10) In Cameroon, blackouts –like the Sun- are running your existence, ‘heat & darkness under the Sun’ as I call it. Of course, you could be left totally in the dark at the bar, but who cares? You’re at the right place: your drink is in front of you! Some people can get very creative there.

As I’m writing those lines, there’s still no power in my block since yesterday. It’s not the end of the world though: in all African neighborhood, at crossroads, you’ll find at least one handmade wooden bench. When I sat down we were just two, we ended up laughing and telling stories, the ten of us, until 10 pm. It takes two and a bench for storytelling.

In conclusion, forget about cold emailing/calling, the greatest business opportunities in life are coming out of very simple things. If you are serious about professional networking, it’s time for a reboot. We are ALL busy but people do ‘repetitive’ business with their friends. Find, read comment sections of your favorite social media platform, I can guarantee you that you’ll find beautiful strangers to talk to.

A Blessing In Disguise

A pastor used to preach in a small house surrounded by skyscrapers in a city. Tired of the routine, stress and monotony, he decided to ask his congregation for a permission to go and evangelize more people in the remote regions of the country. So he went to a village and settled there.

A jungle populated by wild animals where the villages are very far from each other. When he left his home the sky was darkening. So he decided to pray to keep the rain from falling on him and his equipment, nothing’s changed. He then began to recite not one but several prayers, still nothing; the situation got even worse. He decided to kneel and pray harder and then the sky rumbled louder and a torrential rain stroke him. He got angry and full of hatred against this “God” who was deaf to his prayers.

As he fought his way through the jungle, still growling spiteful words, a man emerged from the bushes. He carried a gun. The pastor was afraid, but the stranger reassured him and said, “Pastor you are blessed.” “W-Why?” he asked. “Because jealous people in the city you came from sent me there to kill you. You are truly blessed because when I wanted to light a match and pull the trigger it started raining…I never saw a rain like this” The pastor looked closer at the gun and it was a gunpowder pistol. On these words, the stranger smiled and walked away, as if to say “Ponder this”.

If you had a bad day, things are not going your way, you’re feeling low and discouraged; may be you should get it together and take a look closer: what you’re calling “bad luck” actually is a blessing in disguise.

Where To Find Endless Stories And How To Build A Great Place For Storytelling?

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I used to sell computers back in the days, for a famous french retail store. The direction put pressure on the sales team and I was always looking for the very best techniques and tricks to sell faster and more. God was I wrong! My clients didn’t come back and didn’t call me either. My follow up Emails went to their trash cans. Maybe because they realized that I tried to sell them expensive warranties instead of computers.

I started hitting books about selling, but they were full of dull sales tactics and tricks. One caught my attention and It was “The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness” by Jeffrey Gitomer. Jeffrey is a very cool guy and it shows in his writing. I stumbled upon a sentence that would later resonate with me: If you want to sell without looking and sounding like a jerk, join a Toastmasters Club.

So, I went to a TM’s club session in Paris and I was so thrilled to meet enchanting, warm people curious to know everything about me and applauding me as I took the stage to speak non sense words while my legs were uncontrollably shaking. The applause closed my speech and made me eager to come back for more.

Same ambiance in Brussels: laughs, applause, friendship, Open-mindedness .

Once you start to realize there’s no TM club in your town – I was living in Lille (France)- back then, you want to bring the whole experience in. Here’s a fact: building a public speaking club is hard. Public speaking is human. Let’s have a look about the challenges we are facing when we are dealing with people:

1- They don’t have time
That’s the number ONE objection you’ll get. You’ll learn that time based objections are hiding the most important concerns. Let’s put it this way: it doesn’t take too much time to hang out with friends on a Friday night, have a drink and spending some quality times. It makes you forget about the hard work week you had. Why then, going to a Toastmasters meeting would be that much time consuming?

2- They are shy (and scared)
We are all shy! It’s hard to perform in front of strangers. I never thought Elvis and Michael were scared to death at the single idea of performing. I once witnessed a start-up founder fall off the stage before his speech, painful experience but not something you can’t get over with. Shy people are the greatest speakers. Believe it!

3- They forget about things
If it’s not important to them, they’ll forget about it. How Important is Toastmasters? What’s on the table for the individuals who want to join it?

4- It’s hard to catch their interests
Do they like movies, money, fame, music? What goals are they pursuing? What’s the first thing they do when they wake up in the morning? What keeps them up at night?

5- They lack of self confidence
Some people think they don’t need to practice their speaking skills, because they think they were naturally born with it. Some don’t think they are “capable” of speaking. How to make people believe in themselves?

Now, according to me, here are the tricks a TM club builder should use to get his project on track:

1- Say Hi and smile!
Ah! The daunting art of approaching strangers without sounding like a sales rep. What’s your name? -Open your arms, apologize- state exactly what you doing, and grab their attention with questions. Remember to keep smiling! Nobody talks to grumpy people.

1- Explain Toastmasters in your own words.
What Toastmasters is all about? What we do? Where we do it? How we do it? What we learn from it? Use your own words in a simple talk.

2- Get your business cards ready
Put your name on it and every professional links -websites, social media, etc.- where you and your club can be found. Design a nice but simple business card and always give your interlocutors two or three of them each time

3- Design your communication materials
You should get your website and your printing visuals ready. The writing content doesn’t have to be complicated but it SHOULD look nice. The best designs are talking to human emotions and emotions sell. Craft illustrations, use images, make bold statements and call to actions. Ask for the help of a designer among your friends or business connections.

4- Engage on social media venues
Why social media? To build a community near you. A community of listeners. People wake up in the morning with Facebook  app opened in their smartphones or tablets without even having their feet touch the ground.

5- Spread the word
Newsletter, invitations, interviews, podcasts. I mean, you have everything at your disposal to make noise and get noticed. Go to groups or forums and tell them about your challenges, any issues you may have in building your project up. You’ll always find great insights coming your way.

6- Call for action
Put your number and Facebook page address in front, middle and bottom of your club’s webpage. Ask your visitors to subscribe to your newsletter, join your events; openly ask for memberships. If you don’t ASK you’ll not get anything. Don’t be afraid to ask.

I’ve participated -with two friends- in starting and launching the first Toastmasters club in Lille, our biggest challenge was to find the proper venue for our meetings, and to persuade others that it’d not take that much of their time to come and have fun with us. Today this club counts 25 members and got its certification. Now that I’m in Cameroon (Africa) , I can feel that the lack of culture: no libraries, no theaters, no music venues, no Toastmasters. How to change it?

Either you are a TM member or builder, you are seeking for changes.

I think we are all craving for a change but are fighting so hard against it at the same time. The experience of building a club is the same as founding and marketing your own business. It’s full of failures and discouragement. A Toastmasters club near you is the place to find great stories, have fun and meet new friends. It’s a big family all around the world with open hands and hearts. I think It’s easy to go out and club all night. It’s not that easy to sit down, prepare a speech, rehearse it, stand up and talk to persuade others about the importance of your story. We are all laughing and crying for the same things: books, movies, illustrations, music, arts..
We are all listening to storytellers, because everyone likes a good story.

Why We Do What We Do

I’ll always remember the day I sat in front of a client and she said: “I don’t understand your profession, tell me how important it is to us [I.e our company]?” How important an artist is…
Website, brochures, leaflets, Newsletters are all great assets but nothing will sell yourself better than “you”. Sell without selling, by using storytelling.

I don’t know anybody who doesn’t love stories. What do we do at a dinner table? We tell stories. We laugh so hard sometimes that we let the food off our fork; the room goes silent when there’s an awful drama going around; then we start asking questions: how did it happen? Why they did it? What the hell were they thinking?

When we get to our beds at night, these questions are running in our minds. We learn lessons and are acting differently the day after. Let me tell you how I see the artists I’m interacting with on daily basis.

Photographers are not just button pushers, they are the architects of light and memories. Through their eyes we see the world differently. We keep and cherish their work because it’s the only thing left when death strikes.

Web Designers are the masters of interactivity and they know how great a user experience can be when awesome and simple code is running in the background. They also don’t forget smooth design which is rendering the whole piece so well.

Filmmakers put our hearts in motion. They are also light masters and they know every story’s beats, rhythm and paces. They are directing humans and teams, getting the best of themselves.

Illustrators and painters are the genuine hands that craft colors, shapes and forms that go straight to our eyes and activate certain areas in our brains. Their work is displayed in museum, rocked our childhood.

Musicians know that sounds can put us in a creative mood. They are the essence of our inspiration. Without music, everything we do would be dull.

Writers, imagination pushers as well. Who can decrypt a scene better than a writer? By just using few and effective words, their work go to theaters and is turned into contagious tv shows.

I think that these actors are all core elements of storytelling. Their struggles to come with something new every time is ridiculous compared to the ones they are facing when it’s about selling their services. Why? May be it’s because they forgot that selling is also telling stories. In a sense, they stopped reminding others how important they are.

Cheap prices and tough competition are giving us hard times. We need to get back to this state where we were so curious and passionate to start; when everybody and everything were holding us back and telling us that we couldn’t make it.

Please do me a favor the next time you enter your client’s room, change their perceptions at your craft: get your powerpoint, story and questions ready.