Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Wherever You're Going, You Can Take ADT Along...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Happy "Alexa Day"

Earlier this year I told you about an exciting new partnership with Amazon that would soon allow ADT Pulse customers the ability to arm and disarm their security systems by simply asking Alexa: the voice behind Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot voice-command products. 
Well, I’m happy to say, “Alexa, it’s time to celebrate!

Beginning today, ADT Pulse customers can now integrate their security and automation platforms with Alexa. In addition, on May 3 we’ll have Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices available directly to consumers nationwide! This is the perfect example of people and technology coming together to ensure our customer’s smart home is a safe home.  

ADT Pulse customers can also ask Alexa to turn on the lights, lock and unlock the door, and provide the status of their home security system and automation devices. Most notably, ADT will be the first national security provider to allow customers to disarm their system with voice command and a secure PIN! Another fantastic differentiator for our company.

To mark this achievement, Friday, April 28 has officially been dubbed “Alexa Day” across ADT.  I guess it won't be long before Hallmark starts selling "Alexa Day" cards.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

It's Time To Quit Joking About Santa Claus!

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" department...

When I do a walk-through of a home with a client, I mention that we should locate a motion sensor near the stairs to protect against an intruder entering the home some unprotected way and making his/her way to the master suite, typically on the second floor of a two-story home.  I use as an illustration, always tongue-in-cheek, "if Santa Claus were to change sides and come down your chimney to rob you instead of delivering gifts" ...and it's tongue-in-cheek because who, in his right mind, would ever actually come down a chimney to commit a break-in?

Well, now I know.  I saw, in the "crawl" at the bottom of the TV screen, while watching the morning news, that a man got stuck in the chimney of a California home doing just that.  The police responded after an accomplice entered the home through a door and tripped the home's alarm system in an attempt to rescue the poor fool.  According to a 
report by NBC News in Los Angeles, "When the officers arrived to the home, they found the suspect's feet dangling from the chimney and immediately identified him." 

Apparently this isn't the first time it's happened.   Last November, according to a report by Fox News in Chicago, a burglar died after being stuck in a chimney and the homeowner, upon returning (and not realizing someone was in the chimney),  lit a fire in his fireplace.

I guess it's time to quit joking about Santa Claus!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Say "Hello" To My Little Friend

Amazon Echo
ADT welcomes Amazon Echo and Echo Dot products to its Pulse ecosystem, ADT’s remote home security monitoring system that gives consumers the power to control their home security preferences regardless of location.

Beginning this month, ADT customers will be able to integrate home automation skills with Amazon Alexa to arm and disarm their home security system through simple voice commands and a secure PIN. Next month, ADT will offer Alexa devices directly to new and existing customers, facilitating product set-up and additional support for those who purchase the device through ADT. This strategic collaboration enhances the ADT customer experience, ultimately delivering the gold standard in home security.

In addition to using voice control to lock and unlock the door, turn on the lights, arm/disarm the security system and more, ADT Pulse customers can also ask Alexa to provide the status of their home security system and automation devices. Once a command is given to Alexa, she will provide feedback to confirm the action has taken place. A sample of new capabilities include:

 “Alexa: Is my ADT system armed?”
 “Alexa: Tell ADT to disarm my security alarm, using PIN 3095.”
 “Alexa: Tell ADT to lock the front door.”

ADT Pulse connects with a variety of smart home devices to create a smarter, safer home. Delivering seamless security and home automation, the Pulse IS ecosystem features 24/7 fast-response burglary and theft monitoring, secure real-time video, remote arm and disarm, remote door lock and unlock, and climate and lighting control.

This spring, ADT will introduce Pulse v8.0, providing customers with a revamped smart-phone app and a more intuitive experience to manage their security and lifestyle needs. In addition, users will use 3D Home View to check each room for reassurance.

For more information, call me on (201) 306-8250.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ring... You're Always Home

ADT is partnering with Ring, which means a safer and smarter home. Lock your door, turn on the lights and arm your ADT system directly from the Ring app with ADT Pulse - all while seeing who's at the door. Additionally, you can now access emergency assistance via the in-app panic buttons with ADT Canopy. We're committed to taking every step towards providing convenience, security and monitoring for our ADT family.  Call me today on (201) 306-8250 to learn more about ADT Pulse with a Ring Video Doorbell.

#ADT #AlwaysThere #AlwaysHome

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It's Flag Day Again

Two hundred and thirty nine years after the Continental Congress formally adopted the stars and stripes design it's Flag Day again. Powerful icon, national symbol, lightning rod for political discourse, the stars and stripes still flies, still provokes, still inspires Americans (and others) everywhere. Here's a few of my favorites. Happy Flag Day 2016.
Right: Auditions for the movie "Hair," Central Park, NYC 1976 - Nikon F, 28/2.8 Nikkor Lens, Kodachrome 25

Below (top): Liberty Deli, Elizabeth NJ - Canon EOS-5D, 28~105/3.5~4.5 Canon EF Ultrasonic lens, ISO 100

Below (bottom): Parking Lot, New York City - Canon EOS-5D, 28~105/3.5~4.5 Canon EF Ultrasonic lens, ISO 100

Thursday, June 02, 2016

The Fish (with apologies to Dr Seuss)

I gave a presentation this morning to 20 business people who are, not coincidentally, also home-owners, and I started by reciting (verbatim, from memory) the opening passages from The Cat In The Hat by Dr Seuss.

You remember The Cat In The Hat, don't you?  The cat intrudes on the protagonist and his little sister, Sally, on a rainy day when their mother is not at home.  Their fish says, "No, no, make that cat go away... He should not be here. He should not be about.  He should not be here when your mother is out!"

Basically, it's a metaphor for a home invasion by a mischievous intruder (a cat burglar).  He arrives with his two thug cohorts, Thing One and Thing Two, who proceed to ransack the place and wreak all kinds of havoc, not to mention putting an indelible stain on mother's new dress.  What kind of a metaphor do you suppose that is?

In the children's story, the invaded home is protected by a pet fish (perhaps your dog?) who is completely ineffective in deterring crime.  Luckily, it's a children's story with a happy ending.  The Cat In The Hat puts the place back in order just in time for Mother to walk through the door, completely unaware of what happened that day.

So where do I come in?  I'm the guy who arranges your alarm services so that when an intruder enters your home uninvited, your ADT alarm system warns him off and makes him leave.  

The fish couldn't keep The Cat and his friends, Thing One and Thing Two, out of the house.  I, on the other hand, have 19,000 friends here at ADT whose sole purpose is to keep you and your family safe.

Call me today to avoid a messy situation, because in real life the cat who enters your home won't be so lovable a scoundrel... and we're not a fish!  Enough said?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Where There's Smoke...

ADT Monitored Smoke Detector
You've heard the expression, "Where there's smoke there's fire?"  Of course you have.  It's one of those "truisms."

In a residential setting, it's most common for smoke to be present before your home bursts into flames.  Also, most people who perish in fires die from breathing smoke... the condition is called "smoke inhalation."
(Don't believe me?  Ask your local fire chief.)

That's why I'm a freak for insisting my clients add monitored smoke detectors to their security programs.  As far as I know from years of experience, this is the most valuable addition to a residential security program.

Sure, we have lots of bells and whistles available to you, especially in our Pulse IS configurations, but monitored smoke detectors really deliver the most value.  The other features will save you time, or save you money, or save your stuff.  Monitored smoke detectors will save your life!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Welcome "Chicago Pulse" Readers

A quick welcome to readers of my Chicago Pulse blog.  In an effort to make my life a little easier I'm consolidating the two... should be complete by tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"Press 9" Is NOT An Option

You've heard it before: For this, press 1; for that, press 2; for something else, press 3... for more options, press 9. You're busy, you don't have time to waste, you hate to navigate automated telephone menus. As an ADT Custom Home Services client you won't have to.

ADT Custom Home Services combines advanced technology and monitoring with the highest level of personal service and fast response times. Whenever you call us, you'll be immediately connected to a Customer Service Agent trained to provide preferred service and answer any questions you may have. We call it Concierge Service. Our exclusive Custom Home Services hotline is available 24/7, whatever you're calling about. A question about your bill, it's answered. Your alarm system needs service, no problem, we feature same-day service when available, next-day service at the latest. Only senior agents and technicians serve your needs, our best people are at your disposal. You're busy, you're on the move.Press 9 is not an option!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Park Road Solution

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Independence Day 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Cannot Tell A Lie

DAILY PHOTO GAME... It’s 19° In Chicago.  Another beautiful day in our never-ending winter and, seeing the last couple of images by Bob & Russ, I was struck by the disparity in our situations.  Both of them… or should I say, all of my DPG colleagues… enjoy consistently warmer climes than I do.
What’s that got to do with anything?  Moving away from skeletal remains and pickled brains, Jay posted a cabbage which led to Bob and his Field of Dreams, then Russ and his Side Trip.
The cabbage, the field of cabbages with diminishing perspective, the stand of poplars with both perspective and repetitive verticals… oh, “and I’ll just be a minute...”
I’m longing for warmer weather, the warmth of summer, which is typically signaled by the return, the re-opening, of farm stands lush with produce fresh from the field.  Every time I see one I’m compelled to stop (and shop) and make photographs.  And every time, whether a long-suffering child or significant other, has told me: “that was longer than a minute!”  As if this son of a watchmaker doesn’t know how to tell time.
Of course, if I told the truth, if I’d said, “hang on an hour, will ya, while I stop (and shop and) make pictures,” I’d have been murdered years ago.  Of course, then we’d be right back to pictures of decomposing skeletal remains.  It's the circle of life.

Monday, February 03, 2014

My Turn Monday

Meanwhile, back at the Daily Photo Game... ORD is the three letter code for Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, where you’ll find this underground walkway between the terminals.  It reminds me of the paint aisle at a Home Depot:  an explosion of color, albeit a bit better organized than your average junk yard (see “Pop Cars,” by Russ Widstrand, yesterday).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Shadow Detail

Vandalized Telephone - NYC 1970
If you've been a regular here, you may have noticed some significant changes, the most obvious being that I haven't written much in this space for a while.  You may also have noticed that I've stepped back, retired, from the business of photography to pursue another endeavor.

"What, he's not a photographer any more," you may ask?  Well, it's not so neat a transition.  Of course I'm still a photographer.  I'll always be a photographer.  But I've returned to my roots, maybe regressed if you like that term better.  I've gone back some 48 years in time, to being an amateur, to pursuing photography for the love of it, rather than for monetary reward.

I have to admit, I'm not the twelve year-old wandering the streets of New York City with a Pentax H3v and a single 55mm lens (it was a Mamiya-Sekor 55mm f1.4 on that Pentax).  Now I'm a well-heeled dabbler with an enhanced tool set:  a couple of Canon EOS 5D II cameras, eleven lenses from 15mm to 600mm, a Leica D-Lux 3, and an iPhone with built-in camera.  And that's not to mention the four Canon EOS 1N bodies, a couple of Nikon SLRs and lenses, and various other film-based machines in mothballs.  I know what you're thinking:  "WTF, he's morphed into my dentist?"

New York Public Library - NYC 1970
But, nope, I'm not a dentist and I'm definitely not the skinny twelve year-old chasing black and white visions of shabby derelicts and broken telephone booths any more.

I believe (and you may, or may not, agree) I come at this a bit better endowed, both in terms of hardware and vision, but I couldn't, despite the enhancements, be more curious about the world around me than I was all those years ago.  I'm still looking, still seeing things others miss, but my eye is much better honed, my vision more precise.  While I've relaxed a bit, I'm also not less serious about it.  How can you tell?  I can sum it up in three words... Daily Photo Game.

Reflection In Window - Chicago 2013
I've written about this before, I'm playing a visual game with nine other photographers, all still working professionals, in which we each post a photograph to our web site based upon the photograph which was posted by our predecessor(s) the day before.  It's an interesting twist on assignment photography because your image is self-assigned from a visual brief created the day before, by another photographer, with another photograph.  Another key element being your interpretation of that preceding image, and that you only have 24 hours to execute.  To see for yourself visit our site.

So, yes, I'm still making serious pictures, but the real purpose in writing today is to come clean and say that despite earlier grousing about the fact that my iPhone's camera is sub-standard, I've stopped all that and have actually come to like it quite a bit.  Sure, I'm still ticked-off over the fact that there's no viewfinder and it's difficult to see the screen in broad daylight.  But with the release of Apple's IOS 7 operating system there are now a few new camera features that I really, really like.

First is the ability to make square pictures, like a Hasselblad does.  I've always liked the square format.  I can also make panoramic images, like with a Fuji 617, another favorite camera from the pre-digital (film) age.  I've taken to calling images made with this phone/camera Phonography.

I'm told there are more than a few apps for manipulating the images right on the phone.  Sorry, not going there, that screen is just too damned small.  I'll continue to utilize my regular workflow:  Apple Aperture, then Adobe Photoshop.

There's still a couple of limitations that bug me, like the inability of the camera to shoot in extreme cold, a non-starter in a Chicago winter.  Well, that's what my Canons are for.  Another is that sometimes, without warning, the images become very noisy... what we used to call grainy when film was the only game in town.  Also the fact that there aren't any user-controlled settings, something that really bugs me.  I'll get over it.

In Sarah's Kitchen - Columbus, Ohio 2012

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Independence Day 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

As Perception Changes

As I mentioned last month, I'm playing a game with some of my friends. We've been playing for twenty days now, cycled through each player (photographer) twice. It's been a very interesting experience for all of us.

The Daily Photo Game is designed to be inclusive for our audience. The main screen, pictured above, shows thumbnails of the images played. The first game image appears in the lower right corner of the screen and the most recent image played appears in the upper left corner of the screen. We have a Comments section for viewers to leave us notes, we have a blog entitled Artist Notes where we write about our thoughts on individual images (and viewers can comment there as well) and we have a subscription link for those who wish to follow along to click, leave us your e-mail address and you'll be notified as each new image is played.

As I play the game, as I see my friends uploading images three or four days before it's my turn, I experience a sort of anxiety as I begin to strategize for my next move. I expect my friends are having similar feelings. One thing is certain, we're all having a blast. We hope you'll join us.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

State Of Play

Consider this for a moment... ten grown men wish to play a game. Ten is the right number for two basketball teams, but if you look at us closely you'll quickly come to the realization that we're not going to be playing basketball. What then? Monopoly? No. Poker? No. Scrabble? No. Did I mention that we're not going to even be in the same place? So, what game then? Telephone!

So, you know how to play telephone, don't you? That's the party game where a bunch of six year-olds sit next to each other and whisper a message in each other's ears until the message comes out the other end and it's completely different. But there's a twist: we're not going to whisper, we're going to play with cameras!

We call it The Daily Photo Game
. The first guy posts a picture on-line, the second player has twenty four hours to post the next picture (from files or newly created) based on the previous picture, and so on, until each of us has played one picture. There are ten photographers playing the game, so each round takes ten days to play. The best part is that because we're playing with pictures, it can be a spectator sport... that is, you can watch us play.

Who are the players? Well... Jay Ahrend, Charley Akers, David Blattel, Eliot Crowley, Blue Fier, Bob Nease, myself, Bob Stevens, Marty Trailer and Russ Widstrand. We've created a web site (Marty did, actually) based on Eliot's great idea, and now the game's afoot.

How did this come about? We all have an eleventh friend in common, Ian Summers, who organized his Heartstorming circles to help spark creativity among groups of creatives. Most of the players in this game were members of a Heartstorming circle in Los Angeles, now dormant, so this is a sort of revival of that particular group. You may be wondering how a New Yorker living in Chicago became part of a Los Angeles Heartstorming circle... so am I... but no matter, the play's the thing.

Want to watch ten photographers play a visual game? Point your web browser to The Daily Photo Game. We hope you enjoy our little game.

Oops, I've got to run... it's my turn.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Susan Carr

ASMP Philadelphia - Susan Carr, photographer, educator, writer and artist, passed away on September 3, 2012 at age 49. She had fought hard in her battle with cancer and carried on as ASMP’s Education Director until the very end. Susan found great personal fulfillment in the many facets of her work and she touched thousands of lives as she grew professionally and achieved notable success. ASMP has established The Susan Carr Educators Award to be presented in the Spring of 2013 and annually thereafter.

There is almost nothing that ASMP has worked on or accomplished since Susan joined the board in 2001 that did not benefit from her insights, vision, strategic problem solving and innate sense of what’s best for photographers and the Society. A past president of ASMP, Susan has long been dedicated to the advocacy and education of fellow photographers. Among her many ASMP accomplishments, Susan organized and managed the highly successful ASMP Strictly Business conferences, and was editor of the ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography, Seventh Edition (2008) and The ASMP Guide to New Markets in Photography, available September 27, 2012.


Chicago, Sept. 4, 1012 - I've just learned that my friend, Susan Carr, has passed away after battling cancer. Susan was a one-woman tour de force as an educator of, and advocate for, photographers.

I first met Susan when I was elected as a director of the NJ Chapter of ASMP. She was instantly friendly and helpful, especially after my election as NJ Chapter President. When I relocated to Chicago in 2008 she wasted no time in introducing me to a number of people here, helping to make it a seamless transition as I moved across 820 miles of America, and made a great introduction for me to present a seminar at the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue. I had arrived, thanks to Susan Carr.

Smart, vibrant, talented and gone too soon. I'm truly at a loss for words.

“To find your calling is a gift. A purpose provides the drive to pursue excellence along with an unwavering belief that your work is of value. When you can take this resolve and turn it into a vocation you achieve a rare and extraordinary feat.”
~ Susan Carr, “The Art and Business of Photography”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


There's more good press on the horizon. The October 2012 issue of Shutterbug has a story, reported by Maria Piscopo, on the paper products business, for which I was interviewed. Interested in selling to the calendar & greeting card market? Check it out: Shutterbug on newsstands Sept. 4th (or click the link above).

Also interviewed were a couple of friends... Marc Muench & Mike Shipman, and a flower photographer, Carol Ross. Lots of good insights, information and links to all of our web sites so you can see what we've been up to recently.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What's Funnier Than A Comcast Commerical?

I'm sure you've seen those TV commercials for Comcast where little twists in the plot end in disaster for the protagonist. Now there's been a very clever spoof on the Comcast spots: When you get bad wedding photos you get depressed, when you get depressed you... can I leave it to you to imagine how this ends? You might want to click here to see if you get the picture.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wanted: The FBI Seal of Approval

A new federal regulation regarding the FBI’s Anti-Piracy Warning (APW) Seal took effect on August 13th. The new section 1authorizes use of the APW Seal by all U.S. copyright holders, subject to specific conditions of use. Copyrighted works can include, but are not limited to, films, audio recordings, electronic media, software, books, photographs, etc. 

The purpose of the APW Seal is to remind media users of the serious consequences of pirating copyrighted works. Use of this seal does not indicate that the FBI has reviewed or validated copyright interests in the particular work and does not provide greater legal protection to the work. It simply serves as a widely recognizable reminder of the FBI’s authority and mission with respect to the protection of intellectual property rights.

Those wishing to use the APW Seal must obtain the image directly from our website and display it directly adjacent to the authorized warning language. Additionally, copyright holders are encouraged to use independent, industry-recognized copyright anti-circumvention or copy protection techniques to discourage copying of the APW Seal. The new 41 CFR Section 128-1.5009 also prohibits use of the APW Seal on any work whose production, distribution, sale, public presentation, or mailing would violate the laws of the United States. Any use indicating the FBI has approved, authorized, or endorsed any work or product, or that the FBI has determined that any portion of a work is entitled to protection of the law, is also prohibited.

The Anti-Piracy Warning (APW) Seal has been approved by the U.S. Attorney General as an official insignia of the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. The purpose of the APW Seal is to help detect and deter criminal violations of U.S. intellectual property laws by educating the public about the existence of these laws and the authority of the FBI to enforce them. Any copyright holder who complies with the conditions of 41 CFR Section 128-1.5009 can use the Seal.

The APW Seal can only appear on works that meet all of the following:
1. Are copyright-protected (no registration of a work is required to use the seal);
2. Are subject to protection under U.S. Criminal Code provisions; and
3. Would not violate federal law if produced, sold, publicly presented, or distributed by mail or in affecting interstate commerce.

Download FBI Anti-Piracy Warning Seal by clicking here and then clicking again to see the terms of use (lawful use requires the below authorized text to be placed immediately adjacent to Seal on the copyrighted work, see 41 CFR Section 128-1.5009(e)2).

"The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment."

Several alternate forms of the warning language will be available in the near future.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

After The Rain

Very close lightning, very loud thunder, very wet tree... after the sun returned.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Independence Day 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Happy 75th Birthday, Golden Gate Bridge!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011

If you haven't yet heard (and I can't imagine that's so) I'll report here the passing of Steve Jobs, a man some have called a 21st Century Thomas Edison. I think he'd like that. I could tell you what a great innovator he was, how he changed the world, how the stuff he brought with him to change the world is insanely great. I can tell you that though we weren't personally acquainted, I'll miss him, and I could go on and on.

What I'd rather do is share something he said that was highly inspirational to me, and I think it's valuable advice for anyone.....

Commencement Address to the Stanford University Class of 2005

Thank you. I am honored to be with you today for your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. Truth be told, I never graduated from college, and, uh, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why'd I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We've got an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would go to college. This was the start in my life.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out okay. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned Coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans-serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something... your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky. I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. And so at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing-up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me: I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, and I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life's gonna hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking, don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try and tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and thankfully, I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept: No one wants to die.

Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stuart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along. It was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stuart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitch-hiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed-off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What? Ideas Don't Come In The Box??

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Skill Set... Something You'll Want To Read

I just downloaded a free report: "Sales Tips from Other Industries" from Photoshelter... http://bit.ly/SALESTIPS

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What Time Is It When An Elephant Sits On Your Fence?

On one of the photography forums I participate in, one of my correspondents wrote: "Is it better to charge hourly for commercial shoots or is that up to the photographer?"

The answer is:

Hourly? Plumbers charge hourly. It's better to charge by how the image is going to be used, the criteria being:

1) Print or Electronic Use;
2) Advertising, Corporate or Editorial Use;
3) Prominence;
4) Duration of Term (One-time, 6 months, 1 year, etc.);
5) Number of Insertions (advertising), size of Press Run (if use is print other than advertising);
6) Territory (local, regional, national, international);
7) Exclusivity.

Other factors can include degree of difficulty or the amount of time involved, proprietary techniques (if any), etc.

...and it is always up to the photographer because:

when you get a haircut, the terms & pricing are decided by the barber;
when you get your car repaired,, the terms & pricing are decided by the mechanic;
when you're represented in court, the terms & pricing are decided by the attorney;
when you eat a meal, the terms & pricing are decided by the restaurant;
when you rent a car, the terms & pricing are decided by Hertz (Avis, etc);
when you see a movie, the terms & pricing are decided by the theater;
when your suit is cleaned, the terms & pricing are decided by the dry cleaner;
when you use a credit card, the terms & pricing are decided by the lender;
when you ride the subway, the terms & pricing are decided by the transit authority;
when you cross a bridge (or use a tunnel), the terms & pricing are decided by the port authority;
when you watch television, the terms & pricing are decided by your cable or satellite provider;
when you drink a lemonade, the terms & pricing are decided by a six year-old; so
when you buy photography, the terms & pricing are decided by THE PHOTOGRAPHER!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Corporate Motto

Excerpt from a private note to my ex-partner's step-daughter...

"I guess that's possible but our real corporate motto was "Learning To Cope" which was a message we found spray-painted on the door to the freight elevator in the building where we had our studio. We built this great photo studio on the 4th floor of a decrepit industrial building in TriBeCa (NYC) and we completely refurbished the place so it was a high-tech palace. The only thing we didn't touch was the door to the freight elevator, where we left the spray-painted legend as-is, it just kinda fit our mood at the time."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Contemplating "The Latest Thing" ...And A Solution

Re: Restrictions on using a tripod in Chicago, a correspondent wrote:

"In light of the latest news, you may need to worry not just about a tripod but about having two armed bodyguards."

Armed bodyguards are a budget-buster. If worse comes to worse, you grab the tripod tightly by the bottom of the legs (with both hands) and swing it swiftly, counter-clockwise, in a wide arc at the flashmob. The weight of the camera and lens at the outward edge packs a wallop they will not soon forget. Ten pounds of glass and steel really smarts when it whacks you in the face. The cops are the least of your problems.

Plan B: Street shooters can accomplish the same by holding a camera strap at mid-point, and you can swing harder and faster that way, one-handed too, like a bolo. Damn, I miss my Nikon F!

(I'll be testing Plan B at the Old Town Art Fair this afternoon and the Chicago Blues Festival later this evening. If you hear anything about fifteen bloodied teen-agers and a jailed photographer..... oh, and if you find a lens cap, please mail it back to me.)

Both above: Canon EOS-5D Mark II, 28~105/3.5~4.5 Canon EF Ultrasonic lens, ISO 100
Old Town Art Fair, Chicago 2010, hand-held and camera still intact