My youngest brother, Daniel came to visit my family Sunday night for dinner. He brought along some photographs he took since beginning photography studies at the San Francisco Art Institute. The pictures he showed us were quite good and, in fact, he received honors in all of his classes. This winter, after being recruited by several prestigious art schools (the Art Institute of Chicago being one of them), Daniel has elected to remain where he is for the next two years. In June, he will be traveling with one of his professors to India to take more pictures and learn more things. He also has been commissioned by the city of Los Angeles to make a photographic study of the LA River. Not bad for a freshman.
Daniel is 34 years old.
A little over a year ago he walked away from a six-figure job in marketing at a booming shop in China. He was very good at it. As a matter of fact, he played a significant role in getting the well-received motion picture starring Bruce Willis, Looper, produced and marketed. Freeze-frame the credits and you’ll see his name. Before that he brought NBA superstars like Kobe Bryant to China for lavish promotional spectacles. During the Beijing Olympics he chaperoned swimming phenom, Michael Phelps from gymnasiums to the Great Wall. I wrote about it here: http:// http://godsofadvertising.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/little-brother-in-big-china-daniel-postaer-makes-marketing-magic-in-the-far-east/
Why did he leave such an exciting, well-paying job to go back to school –let alone to study a field said to be dying by Instagram?
Because he could. And because he wanted to. Apparently, the highflying marketing gig was wearing him out. At least on some level, we can all relate to that. But the real draw was a chance to do something that makes him happy and feel fulfilled. To make photographs. How might we relate to that?
My other brother, Jeremy studied painting in college and graduate school. He was exceptional. He had a gift. And while he toyed with making a career of it he opted to follow his big brother into the field of advertising. And that was that. The paintbrushes were stowed for life, literally and figuratively. I’m not sure if he regrets it. Lord knows, he’s had a prolific, even notorious career. But still…
Daniel laughs at himself for being a grown man among kids. He jokes that he can’t hang with the crew on Friday nights. But his smile is a mile wide. The man is happy. He works his ass off, like he always has, but instead of hitting the phones and making meetings he’s up with the sun taking photographs. Developing them. Entering them into shows. Then making better ones. Learning.
I’m not dissing advertising. Hell no. I’ve enjoyed (almost) every minute of my time in Adland. Yes, I’ve written novels and screenplays but my first love has always been what I’m doing right now. Yet, I wonder if given other circumstances I would have the courage to leave. Considering my bills and a young family, I doubt it.
Unencumbered by such concerns, Daniel is doing as he pleases. It sounds like a cliché but he’s following a dream. Where it takes him who knows. But isn’t that the beauty of it? I’m betting most nights he thanks God and his family for the support and courage to do what he’s doing –and not doing. He’d better. It’s a blessing few of us will ever know.
October 3, 2011
I’ve been shooting very random pics of people, places and things on my battered Blackberry then loading them onto Facebook. They are not very good.
Or are they? Upon further review these photos are some of the coolest pictures I’ve ever taken. Off kilter, blurry and of nothing spectacular, they somehow capture the inane beauty of life. If they were oil paintings I’d buy them, fancying myself hip and aware.
Mundane yet transcendent, the flotsam and jetsam of life made beautiful when isolated. My word for it: trans-mundane. I know I didn’t create or discover the ‘art of the ordinary’ but I feel like I did. Anyone can!
It’s like when you’re going through your photos, keeping the good ones and discarding the crap; you come across one that fits neither category. A mistake but it’s gorgeous, partly because it was unplanned, almost like God composed it when you were trying to do something else. Maybe He did.
Try this at home. Look out a multi-paned window and isolate your focus onto whatever appears in just one of the panes. Maybe it’s half a tree and the side of a building or an old gutter. Whatever. Now look at it again. Suddenly it seems like a perfectly composed landscape or still life; in other words: art. I think that’s so cool.
One of my favorite modern-era painters, Edward Hopper found tremendous beauty and emotion in seemingly ordinary things. The average painter could never do that. Yet, with a typical smart phone we all can!
In my other blog, The Rogues Gallery I feature artwork created by ad people when they’re not making ads. (Please, do submit!) Below are a few marvelous “found” photographs. Weirdly stunning.
Katie Sweeney, from her series Broken Umbrellas