Adventure: Hello Cleveland

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Sitting outside in a screened-in patio. Forty-four degrees. I’m wearing board shorts, sandals and a down jacket. Not a look fit for public consumption. Up at 6 AM, coffee, play with friend’s cat, journal, letter and postcard writing, a little planning for today’s voyage and also attempting to find a Plan B for the next four or five days in case our Plan A goes to crap. I just ate a mini-banana, which are far better than the large bananas, by the way. I need to repack the van, wake my wife, make her coffee, drive to a meeting and then head southeast to the next stop on my trip.

We capped the event at twenty-five thinking we were doing a photowalk.

Yasser Arafat would be proud.

Last night was my photowalk, talk and software demo here in Cleveland. My extrovert identity was able to emerge from it’s slumber and go on full tactical alert. Due to a variety of factors, we scrapped the photowalk. This meant I was on the hook to speak for two and a half hours but ended up going for about three and a half hours. A small group of roughly twenty-five people, about half of whom had used Blurb in the past but not a single person had ever heard of a Trade Book. This is always exciting for me because I know what the reaction will be when they find out there is life outside photography books. We touch on MagCloud, magazines, collaborations, editions-of-one and much, much more.

My goal is to get people to forget what they know, relax and think about the mysterious. We can’t do what we used to do and expect to gain traction. I see YouTube photo stars doing books and most of the books I see are just clones of what the older masters have already done, just not to the level of the old masters. But when your audience, in great part, isn’t well educated on photography history, well, you can get away with just about anything. Looking to YouTube for good photography books isn’t smart in the first place. There are far better resources. (YouTubers all own the same four books anyway. (Meyerowitz, Shore, Eggleston, etc. This is FAR too predictable and limiting.)

In addition, we are staying with someone with an encyclopedia knowledge of art, art history, photography, photography history, drawing and printmaking. This person is at the highest level and has been for over thirty years. When you spend time around someone like this you can’t help but feel a bit inadequate as well as highly motivated to better understand context and how one aspect of the creative world influences another. I will be playing catchup for the rest of my life.

Being on the road is the best. A bit frenetic, battles with roadside toilets, insane drivers, bugs, heat and the decaying infrastructure of a country racing to the bottom, but overall, the road is where the action happens. To live inside a comfort zone is boring, uninspiring and tends to lead to things like heart disease, malaise, confusion over what streaming service is best and price changes at the local grab and go . Oh, I’ve been running daily as well, which at sea level isn’t even a cardio challenge. I feel like I might be able to win a race at sea level, at least for the over fifty age group. I might have to cheat to win but I’m okay with that. Rubbing is racing.

Having book samples is the best. They act as proof, evidence, and a roadmap for others. My journal was a popular book with last night’s attendees. Kid on the right with backpack and man behind me to the right both had really solid books and projects.

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