Monday, September 29, 2014


Film Photography Podcast #84 by Michael Raso

My favorite thing from my second and final year of college has made a sudden resurgence in my life: podcasts. My favorite podcasts are interview-based podcasts and save for Welcome To Nightvale (SPOIL NOTHING ABOUT THIS I HAVEN'T LISTENED TO ANYTHING PAST THE FIRST EPISODE), it is all I listen to. Sophomore year of college was spent mostly combing through the two comedy/comedian based podcasts WTF with Marc Maron and especially You Made It Weird with Pete Homes. Stand-up comedy is a huge part of my life and finding this little bit of comedians beyond the stage talking to other comedians -insert polite nod to Jerry Seinfeld's video series-. I came across this during a post-seeing Bo Burnham at Rutgers high and decided I wanted to know about this young comedian who is a part of my generation and whose material kind of reflects that in a self-deprecating, absurdist (occasionally problematic, sigh) way. He did an episode with each of these podcasts and I will admit, his episode with Pete Holmes is one my favorite things of all time and whether you care about comedy or Bo Burnham or Pete Holmes I think you should check it out just because of their interesting, though flawed, commentary on women/femininity/masculinity and comedy. (MAJOR WARNING: straight dude using the f-slur and wow goodbye tbh)

Anyway after a while I just kinda lost touch with listening to these interviews and stuff HOWEVER, I came across Tavi Gevinson's episode for the Nerdette Podcast and it reignited my love for listening to people talk about things pertinent not only to their career's or claim to fame/relevance but their interests. (Nerdette is especially rad for this, they actually sample the stuff they and their guests talk about and it's the bomb dot com). In Tavi's episode she mentions this one podcast called Longform which interviews non-fiction writers so I went and decided to check it out. Not only was Tavi's own episode incredibly insightful and thoughful, both from her and from the host, but honestly all of the episodes, whether who the host(s) are talking to is someone you know or if they're work is interesting or relevant to you, they speak about it in such an engaging way that an information sponge like me (I spent my entire morning reading up on and researching the Alexis Jay report stuff going in the UK) can get sucked in and suddenly become really interested, if only briefly, about the content relevant to the writer they're speaking about the weirdness of growing up and being profiled in the New Yorker or writing about the highly violent sports, specifically football, culture in colleges in America (Rolf Potts). 

I highly recommend giving interview format podcasts a shot and trying to find a podcast that suits your interests because, like TedX Talks, there's nothing more fascinating than hearing people talk about their interests and passions. Which is hey why I am so obsessed with the blogging community and doing this here thing to begin with.

SO TO END THIS, talk to me about your favorite podcasts or episodes and anything you used to be hella into, lost interest in, that is make a full force take-over of your life again.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TEDx Soup for the Soul: Olivia Bee

     So it's kinda really hard to be an active user of a website like YouTube or Netflix and not stumble upon or intentionally sift through TED or TEDx Talks (personally the latter tends to hold more interest for me). Today I decided to finish watching a talk I had started months ago but never finished by Olivia Bee. Olivia Bee is a popular documentary and fashion photographer (and mega inspiration) from Oregon who started out photographing when she was a pre-teen after being put into a photography class instead of a film class by accident. She began uploading her photos to flickr and soon garnered a strong online presence as her talent developed, resulting in her work catching the eye of Converse. From there, the rest is pretty much history. She's had multiple gallery showings, worked for a myriad of clients from W Magazine to Vans to Hermes, and has made a name for herself in the art world.

Desert Roadtrip for Vans
     That she became so lucky, so young is not missed on her. She seems to be hyper-aware of how people not only bring up her youth, but use it to disregard her accomplishments and even her very talent which brought her into the spotlight; these are both things she brings up more than once in her incredible talk. It seems often that people look at her work and just see another young photographer just glorifying youth but that doesn't seem to be her aim. As she points out herself, her photography is a celebration of being alive and of experience and feeling whether any of those things be good or bad. It's about honoring her experience and her time on earth visually.

     But what makes her TEDx Talk so inspiring is the way she talks about talent. She doesn't refer to it by any standard or measure of quality, but by something within the person who creates: drive. She quotes Ira Glass:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Drive is something that stems from emotion, from feeling. It is something that flourishes from a deep-rooted to desire to become as great as you see yourself in your mind's eye (even if you won't admit it out loud) and feelings are something Olivia makes clear she feels should be wholly validated and valued. She states that when people combine a deep love within them (whether it be for life, for a person, for their country, etc) and honesty, they reach authenticity in their work. Authenticity creates transparency not only in your work, but in yourself. This transparency solidifies your vision and what it is you are aiming to do with what you create, and what it is you are not. It allows the observer of your art to know you without ever having to meet you. It is entirely about your art becoming an honest reflection of yourself; a veritable expression of your mind and heart in sync.

     She continues on to talk about creation and love. She quotes Keaton Henson:
I think a lot of art is trying to make someone love you.
She uses this quote in a very powerful way, not solely to expose the way we often create for a separate viewer, but that we also create to honor our instruments of choice whether that be a camera or a paintbrush or a violin, but even more powerfully: to honor ourselves. This is a powerful statement because although art is so often a very public practice, usually meant for the consumption of others, if we don't create for ourselves as well, we can begin to lose sight of ourselves and our experiences and perhaps even lose our authenticity in exchange for the approval or simply the attention of an audience. Bee alludes to this in her explanation of why social media has the potential to be a bad thing. Without necessarily disregarding it's value, she explains that if people allow social media to take over actual social interaction or outside experience, and that if we allow virtual connections to take the place of actual interaction, we can lose the authenticity and magic of what's happening right in front of us.

some of the best times
     However, she doesn't site authenticity as sole the reason for creating anything and sharing it. She challenges the idea that these things have to have some deep reason worth critically thinking about or any reason at all. To put it in her own words, "Sometimes it just feels good to draw a stick figure or instagram your cat [...] Sometimes it just feels good to create content and that is okay." What counts, for Bee, is not in whether or not the creator has talent, but whether or not the creation (and by extension, the creative behind it) has soul. She comes full circle in addressing that what matters most is that there is love and honesty in what you create because that is what humans are attuned to finding. She makes a point of stating that authenticity is always within reach because it stems from the experience and feeling that humans inherently have. For her, it's all a matter of validating those feelings and experiences simply by being there and feeling them with our entire selves. These are things that are universal and wholly accessible to each and every one of us. Being able to appreciate and honor ourselves and the people and things around us is as much nourishment for the soul as reading and learning is for the brain, and living in such a way, as Olivia puts it, "is timeless."