Strange things in Urbamba, Peru

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All photos by Wells Baum

“If you haven’t found something strange during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.” — John Wheeler

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Einstein: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.”

All images by Wells Baum (NYC)

“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

— Albert Einstein

All images by Wells Baum (DC)

Nick Turpin on the evolution of street photography

Images by Wells Baum

“You have to be physically and mentally present to recognize these things and be ready for them, to recognize that something special is happening on the street in front of you. That really is the skill. It’s almost more important than getting the photograph. It’s recognizing the significance of something.”

— Nick Turpin, How Our Changing Cities Are Transforming Street Photography

Our third eye, be it smartphone or standalone point and shoot camera, is only as good as the two we were born with.

Finding Vivian Maier

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gif via Fast Company

The 19th-century French novelist Gustave Flaubert once said to be “be regular and orderly in your life like a Bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Vivian Maier took this to heart. No one ever knew this nanny was an artist of her own.

She took over 100,000 photos, mostly street photographs of downtown Chicago, and kept them for her own viewing, including her selfies. Taking pictures was her happy place, a creative outlet, that allowed her to see the world with a third eye. She wrote with light.

Today, Maier would’ve been an Instagram and VSCO sensation. While she may have resisted social media given her inclination as a loner, she probably would’ve enjoyed connecting with others who shared the same passion. The internet unleashes the weirdness in all of us, motivating us to share our work.

Van Gogh only sold one piece of artwork in his life, to his brother. His posthumous reputation speaks for itself, as does Maier’s.

Lacing the blogs 

Image via Mikhail Pavstyuk

I see blogs as projects for unique avenues of thinking.

This blog is my thinking blog. It focuses on what I’m reading and chewing on. It’s a collection provocative ideas and observations.

My music blog bombtune.com is like my music shelf. It’s an ongoing library of new music finds from the current year. The post art is just as significant as the music. I like to dig around on the artist sites and social networks to select images of the musician. The stream — whether it’s from Bandcamp or SoundCloud, contains the song/album art.

My fadesin.com blog focuses on creative ways to respond to prompts. WordPress does a great job in galvanizing its community by inspiring people to show their angle on a variety of topics and photography challenges. For the latter, rummage through my Google Photos to see what works.

Meanwhile, my Tumblr blog is more or less an aggregator. I cross-post there but also play natively within the platform by posting quotes and resharing cool GIFs from others. I also use my Instagram to dice up the array of posting.

Nevertheless, all of feeds tie together. They are ways of seeing, of which nothing becomes clear until I write it down and publish it.

“Blogs are like ham­mers. They are tools for building stuff.”

— Hugh MacLeod

Blogs permit me to show my work. The writing can be repetitive and thematic, which often means I’m trying to nail down the nugget or UBI (unifying big idea) of my approach. But at the end of the day, I want to say ‘this is what I made today.’

In short, blogging is another way to connect the dots on screen.

Seen but diluted

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The proliferation of images undermines our ability to pay attention to any single one. So we keep skimming, scrolling, consuming more and understanding less; all the while contributing to the chaos to avoid missing out.

On top of this, all Instagram images tend to look the same. It’s easier to conform to selfies, food porn, and minimalism than it is to stand out in the shadows of weird.

But even the well-choreographed, well-edited National Geographic photos lose their value. Our eyeballs are too tired to give particular attention to the images that deserve a closer look.

“We have come to a point in society where we are all taking too many photos and spending very little time looking at them.” – Om Malik

The medium taints the message. Internet consumption dulls the senses. We are suffering from excess, the nearest click, and certain closeness.

Perhaps Huxley was right: we’re so inundated with screens that we forget about books and ignore the political corruption around us.

We can forget the algorithmic filter that promises to save time by showing us the best stuff. We’re already lost, and in desperate need to relearn how to see.

Business (un)usual 

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Living on the edge is dangerous but that’s exactly why we pursue it: it makes us feel more alive.

Being a thrill-seeker goes beyond Nascar and rock climbing. Anything that fills you with both anxiety confidence can make you feel more alive, like delivering a public speech.

Sometimes it pays off to get our of your comfort zone, at least to remind us that we’re still awake, and can always do more than what we expected.