Journal

A NEW ADVENTURE

On the 10th of June, I started a new adventure as a director at Fathom 100, which is the monicker of my new department at The Richards Group.

It’s in its infancy & we are working to define what our core mission is, but for now, it’s safe to say that I will be doing work very similar to that which I’ve always done. As of now, we are just me. However, my collaborators on that work are 750 of the brightest minds in advertising. That part really excites me.

It’s a pretty incredible opportunity to begin something new inside an organization with their creative track record and reputation.

Since making the change, there's one question I have received more than any other:

WHY?

A few weeks before I began, Stan Richards (in case it’s not painfully obvious, he’s the owner of TRG) asked to meet with me. I was assured this wasn’t an “interview”, the job was mine. He just wanted to talk.

After 20 minutes of get to know you talk he shifted in his chair, looked me square in the eye and asked, “You’ve been making a living for a long time, why would you want to leave that to join us?"

This was my answer:

There’s a big difference between making a living and thriving in life. The last few years, I felt like the opportunities to thrive have waned. It’s as if I ran through the doors of a great looking building, climbed all it’s stairs and was now frustrated by the ceiling above my head.
 
I thrive when I embrace challenge and there were no more challenges to take me higher. To grow, to thrive, would actually require me to find a new building.
 
I had some great times, but a few years of introspection made it pretty clear that my successes would always be minor. I was, at best, a very reliable minor league ball player. And the Yankees called to say they had a spot for me.
 
I made the change because I wanted to see if I had what it takes to play major league ball. I wanted that challenge more than I wanted to be on the top floor of a short building.
The view from my new desk.

The view from my new desk.

This wasn’t a decision I entered into lightly. I operated as Trey Hill Photographs for 7 years and there’s something to be said for the fact that I could have gone for 7 more. But, for the sake of complete transparency, my wife & I had been talking about making a change like this for many years. Owning your own business is really tough and we have more than our fair share of scars to prove it.

This change means giving up some things. My time operating as the photographer for the Dallas Stars coming to an end & no longer acting as an auteur on projects come to mind pretty quickly. Some of the things I leave behind, I do so with a very heavy heart. But, the upside is that none of those things mean walking away from the people who made them special.

The relationships were always my favorite part of self employment. The work was occasionally cool. The opportunities were often once in a lifetime. But the people were what kept me going.

Thankfully, I take all of those relationships with me into this new season of life. And, whatever it is that gets built will benefit greatly from knowing them.

Weekend Links // May 30

This week's edition of Weekend Links (coming to you a little late) winds its way through the idea of legacy. How will you leave your unique mark on your place and her people? How will your work echo in the lives of others?

Here are seven beats in a bigger story that I hope encourage & challenge your belief in what's possible with a single life:

1. The Best Places to Live

If you're a photographer, apparently Dallas is number 10 on the list according to PetaPixel. They looked at number of working photographers, number of job openings for photographers, overall cost of living and the annual average salary of those working photographers and made a spreadsheet.

I noticed something interesting, though; Plano, Irving, Garland and Ft. Worth all cracked the top 35. Couple that with the spirit of the growing community, as evidenced by the success of WELD and the attention garnered by this year's One by One show & I think you'd have to put DFW, as a whole, somewhere just above Houston, on the list.

2. Maya Angelou

This quote by the late poet basically says it all, for me:

 
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
— Maya Angelou
 

3. Where To Put The Camera

Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of modern journalism & founder of Magnum photos, had some good advice on where to put the camera for portraits:

 
The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.
— Henri Cartier-Bresson
 

4. Jerry Wachter

 
 

On seeing this I'd tweeted the image, naively saying the image was reminiscent of my hockey work. I was quite mistaken. If anything, I have been working in the very long shadow of a giant.

Thanks to @DrCapsFan, I was able to learn the man behind this particular photograph was the late Jerry Wachter. As it turns out, Wachter's work is legend in the world of sports photography, though finding a portfolio has proved almost impossible.

One place his work is collected, because he boasted more than 30 covers in the late 70's & 80's, is on si.com. 

On his death in 2005, Si Director of Photography, Steve Fine, described Jerry as "that rare action photographer who was adept at all four major sports. When you sent Jerry out to a game, he always delivered."

5. Details Matter

Google changed its logo this week. But you didn't notice. Neither did I, actually. But a few keen eyed Reddit-ers did notice.

The second 'g' moved a single pixel to the left & the 'l' moved down and right by one pixel.

Many have speculated about why Google would make such an insignificant change. I believe the answer can be summed up in just two words: details matter.

6. Lavar Burton & Hayden Miethe

Lavar Burton launched a Kickstarter to re-boot Reading Rainbow for a new generation. Apparently, the news excited almost everyone who heard about it because in just 11 hours, he'd met the $1M goal. And in 24 short hours, the campaign more than doubled the goal.

Incredible, right?

Crowd funding is a great way to get things off the ground & everyone who has decided to crowd fund hopes their project can get a little momentum. Some succeed. Some fail.

Enter a guy you likely haven't heard of: Hayden Miethe.

I met Hayden while working on the documentary about Korn guitarist, Brian Welch. On our first phone call, Hayden mentioned his music project called Vinyl Jones & The Sons of Tennessee. Cool name, but what about the music? Imagine Marcus Mumford & Johnny Cash getting in a barroom brawl with Kanye West & Macklemore.

I was intrigued. And more that just a little.

Honestly, it's not that crazy to think the two genres can work together. Before country was polished up by Nashville, it was dominated by deeply honest storytellers like Johnny Cash. That same foundation of story is at the core of any good hip-hop album.

So, if you were going to give Reading Rainbow a few bucks, consider instead putting some wind in the sails of Vinyl Jones & the Sons of Tennessee.

7. Kyle's Mural

This past week here in Dallas, my friend Kyle Steed finished a fun project for his city — a giant hand-lettered mural along the new Trinity Strand Trail, which winds through our neighborhood around the corner from WELD.

 

The sentiment Kyle chose for the mural was a riff on John F. Kennedy's famous challenge:

Ask not what your city can do for you, but what you can do for your city.

Coming full circle with this installment of Weekend Links, it's projects like this that are the intangibles that put Dallas much higher on the list of locations perfect for photographers. This is a city of humans looking to re-make our place. And it's the humans, not the salaries or the job openings, that water the soil of my career.

If you're looking to go hunt down #thatKyleSteedmural, you can find it right here:

 

Before she was reciting her poem at Bill Clinton's inauguration, before he was defining a photographic genre, before Reading Rainbow or even Geordie Laforge, they were just people with ideas. 

What ideas are you living into existence?


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Weekend Links // May 16

I need to lead off this weeks edition of Weekend Links with a massive thank you to everyone who has visited, texted, called, emailed, purchased a print, shared and in all other ways supported the launch of the new website.

The response has, literally, been overwhelming.

So, here we go. A few things that may have eluded you this week that are none-the-less worthy of your time.

1. Love Letter: Dallas

I came across this charming series on The Huffington Post called Love Letters. And, was pleasantly surprised there was a love letter to Dallas, the city I've called home for almost 20 years.

If you're in Dallas, or know someone who is, I think they'll find this short read to be pretty spot on. 

 
I can’t deny that when I see the Green Building, something inside me stirs and I know I’m home...
— Hayden Bernstein
 
The Green Thumb, as my wife calls it, photographed for the Dallas Stars to help launch their re-brand.

The Green Thumb, as my wife calls it, photographed for the Dallas Stars to help launch their re-brand.

2. Yousuf Karsh

 
How I wish that mankind would take the sunrise for their slogan and leave the shadows of sunset behind them.
— Helen Keller
 

I started a new series on the great portrait photographers & led the series off with Yousuf Karsh, an Armenian genocide survivor who was one of histories greatest portraitists. The man's work is phenomenal... but, possibly more phenomenal is how his website pairs the work with small snippets of story and insight from Yousuf about the work and the people he photographed.

George Bernard Shaw, 1943. Photo by Yousuf Karsh.

George Bernard Shaw, 1943. Photo by Yousuf Karsh.

3. Zack Snyder's Batman

Sometimes (and lately these moments have been rare) social media rises above the gossip & trolling to democratically provide something awesome.

This first photo of Zack Snyder's Batman was, in my opinion, one of those things. Here's the tweet the Batman vs Superman director used to light the internet on fire.

 
 

4. Brotherhood

I originally shared about Dylan & Wheeler's documentary 'Brotherhood' several weeks ago when they first launched their Kickstarter campaign. Well, they met their goal & this story is going to happen & I couldn't be happier for these two passionate storytellers.

 
These are the kinds of stories that all of your support has made it possible for us to tell. This piece more resembles our eventual film than anything else we’ve shared to date.
— Dylan Hollingsworth, on getting funded
 

When I first learned about this project I wrote:

"On the surface, supporting this story may trouble you, which is exactly why you should support it. Help create a world where people with differing ideologies listen to one another, where slander is replaced with dialogue and the politicization of issues gives way to an exchange of stories.

If we want others to listen to our story, we should first start by listening to theirs."

Now that the film is fully funded, the cost to invest in this film is merely an open ear. Please take a moment to listen:

5. Bring Back Our Girls

From Lens, the New York Times Photo Blog:

"A Twitter campaign using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has focused global attention on the plight of some 276 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram. Three photos of girls have been posted and reposted thousands of times, including by the BBC and by the singer Chris Brown (who himself has had issues with anger management and violence against women).

One problem: The photos are of girls from Guinea-Bissau, more than 1,000 miles from Nigeria, who have no relationship to the kidnappings.

The use of these pictures raises troubling questions of representation, and misrepresentation. Ami Vitale, the photographer who made the original images as part of a long-term project, spoke with James Estrin on Thursday. Their conversation has been edited."

If you work in the world of advocacy, photography or happen to find yourself at the intersection of those two roads, please read that conversation on Lens, here.

6. Air Review's 'Young' Is A Vimeo Staff Pick

And that's just freaking-A awesome.

For those that don't know, Jeff, Doug & Richard — three of Air Review's four members — have worked closely with me on music & voice over for the films I've made.

I'm rather partial to the music Jeff & Doug created for Shutterfly & East West, not to mention the VO work Richard did for me for Active.com.

While I had absolutely nothing to do with this video, I'm definitely it's biggest cheerleader. Please watch & be impressed. Then, if you want, buy the song.

7. Strobist 

David Hobby, aka Strobist, has started a new series called Ecosystem 101. And it is pretty great. 

 
...if you haven’t stopped taking photos long enough to figure out why you do it, I can promise you that you don’t even know what you don’t know.
— David Hobby
 

I'm a big fan of asking the questions David is asking. They're reminiscent of the questions Simon Sinek advocates for companies/brands asking in his TEDx: Start With Why

Why do you do what you do? It's an important question because, as David points out, photography is fungible (hey, there's a fun new word!); "you can make it, you can spend it and you can exchange it. You can create it out of nothing. And the more you think about that, the more possibilities will start to pop into your head."

Have fun chasing possibilities this weekend.

One by One

Not long ago, I did a series on mobile photography because I believe that photography has always been a social medium, a thing to be shared. Over the last few years, I've really embraced this reality. And I'm not alone. In the wake of the advent of new venues, like Instagram, that play host to millions upon millions of shares, whole communities have sprung up and relationships have leaped off of devices into real life.

This is post is about one of those things. And I couldn't be happier to have a very small part in it, for my city.

Last year, InstaDFW founder, Jeyson Paez, reached out to me with a simple, but intriguing idea. Let's put on a group photography show that features the mobile photography work of the DFW community. I was intrigued. Then he asked me to curate the show which opened at WELD, the co-working space I call home, on September 27, 2013.

It was an incredibly fun evening.

Well, here we are, less than a year later and One by One 2014 is upon us.

The One by One 2014 poster was hand-drawn by Kyle Steed.

The One by One 2014 poster was hand-drawn by Kyle Steed.

This year the show has grown a bit, reaching beyond the bounds of the DFW community to feature twenty of the top Instagrammers from across the United States alongside DFW's vibrant community. Not only that, but the month-long show will be accompanied by artists talks, and a Dallas Block Party on June 20th.

I'm am thankful for the opportunity to have, again, curated the show. The work this year is stellar & the challenge brought out some unique connections between the work of the individual artists as well as their relationship to one another. I'm particularly proud of what will be on display beginning Monday, May 19th.

All the details about the show are available are available here. I genuinely hope you're able to stop by and enjoy the show.


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