My 19 year stint in the ad agency business was not without its share of sabbaticals. I worked for seven different agencies during that period. Sometimes I would change jobs within two weeks. Other times it would take longer.
One of the ‘take longer’ periods coincided with my taking up photography. At that time, I was hanging out at a place called Three Blind Mice on St Joseph Street.
Three Blind Mice was a studio shared by three photographers, Jean DeRocher, who mainly shot models and actors. Myron Zabol who mainly shot fashion. And Doug Fisher who shot pretty much anything he wanted.
Doug Fisher: Crazy Like A Fox
Doug was half native Canadian. Chippewa I believe, and was one of the most amazing people I ever called a friend. His energy level was off the charts, which made him well suited for all kinds of difficult to shoot things like sports and industrial interiors which he did a lot of.
In between leaving Vickers and Benson and starting at my next agency Base Hamilton Edwards, I had about three months off in the summer. When I told Doug, who had been mentoring me anyway, he hired me as his assistant.
Doug was one of those really bright, free-spirited people who was generous to a fault. He provided me with a constant narrative about everything he was doing and why he was doing it to get the shots that he wanted.
I learned a lot about photography from him in a very short span of time. And frankly, since I never really stayed with photography other than out of necessity or just for fun, I forgot a lot of the great stuff he told me.
But I remembered one key thing.
The Apex Of Your Vision
One day, Doug, with me assisting, was photographing a furniture factory downtown. It was very hot, so about halfway through the shoot we decided to take a break.
I went and got some Cokes and we sat on a shaded bench directly across from the side of the building. Doug had a camera with him. He always did.
Across the street one of the workers we were shooting was sitting on the sill of a large window with a bottle of water. I saw that as a beautiful shot that could add some dimension to the shoot Doug was doing. So he quickly shot it.
Then he said to me. ‘Here’s a lesson you will never forget. That was a nice shot, but it was not a great shot. But there is a great shot on the way’.
I was puzzled by that. The shot he took looked pretty cool to me. Then he pointed to his right, and down the street we saw an extremely attractive woman walking toward the building.
Doug made an arm tripod to steady his camera and focused it on the guy in the window. ‘Just wait for it’… he said, and when he said that I realized exactly what he was talking about.
He shot a sequence of images of the woman entering the frame on the right, and continuing to walk past the window. A heartbeat after the guy in the window noticed the woman, his reaction was palpable. And also captured forever by Doug.
I wish I could show you that image, but it doesn’t belong to me and several years later Doug took off with a trailer and a low platform he designed to shoot motorcycle races for big bike manufacturers. He could be anywhere right now.
What Doug explained to me the is that every great shot is capturing a moment of some kind. And that moment is something he called the apex of your vision.
You see something you want to photograph and then you figure out how to make that into whatever you saw in your mind as the end product.
Sometimes it’s lighting or the angle of the sun. Sometimes it’s in how you expose the shot. Other times it’s how you deliberately blur the shot. How you create a mood inside the shot. The angle you shoot it from. The lens and filters you choose.
It can be a lot of things. But what it can also be is some good advice for writers. Because with a little skill and a lot of patience you can and should try and create some kind of mood that reflects the apex of your vision in everything you write.
In advertising, which I know a lot about, this is defined by the character of the brand you are writing about.
In blogging, it’s really about the style you feel comfortable working in. If you have read a lot of my stuff, you will see that I have, at the very least, attempted to maintain an easy to read narrative pace.
I don’t get too crazy unless I am pissed about something. I used to get crazy about LinkedIn and it really did, in hindsight, have a deleterious effect on my writing.
I definitely prefer to be less crazy these days.
No matter what you are writing, it’s always good to understand what defines the apex of your vision. Or what exactly it is that you want to communicate. Because that will be the one thing that people will hopefully take away from whatever you do.
The preceding paragraph is exactly that. The simple point I wanted to make. The ancillary benefit is that knowing the point you want to make frees you up to tell the story of how you came by this knowledge in the first place.
I came by this through an old friend named Doug. And it’s the kind of knowledge that I carry around and incorporate as much as possible into my work, no matter what I am writing. I also try to incorporate it into my photography, although most of the stuff I do these days are pretty much just ‘snapshots’.
I’m Jim Murray & my company is called Onwords & Upwords.
I am a communications professional, primarily a strategist & writer. I work with B to B clients, large and small, graphic designers, art directors and marketing consultants to create hard working strategically focused communications in all on & offline media. I am also a prolific blogger who likes to provoke thought and wake up the comatose.
If you have a marketing or communications challenge you would like to discuss, (no obligation), there are three ways you can contact me:
Direct Line: 416 463-3475 Email: email@example.com Skype: jimbobmur61
Link To My WP Portfolio Page: http://tinyurl.com/p6vqxex
Finally, you can download my free ebook, Small Business Communications For The Real World: https://wordpress.com/post/onwordsandupwords.wordpress.com/557
All content copyright Jim Murray, Onwords & Upwords Inc 2016