ESSAYS

01
May

Farkındalık: An Exhibition of Photographs in Marmaris

I’ve just concluded and exhibition of photographs with my colleagues Michael Eldridge, and Colin Tracy. Our pictures were well received here in Marmaris and have resulted in T.V. appearances, invitations to speak, as well as modest sales.

All was achieved because each of us taking part was confident that the outcome, whether successful or a failure in the opinions of others, would be exactly as only it could be. Had we thought about profit, fame, or any of those other nagging doubts that blight most people’s lives within the dream of separation, stress most likely, would have blighted enjoyment of the exhibition and thus dampened its appeal for others.

The photographs were our attempt to demonstrate that consciousness isn’t personal and limited, but rather it is unbounded and within it all things arise including time, space and, apparently, separate beings and objects. To think otherwise is to experience isolation, fear, despair, and other forms of misery.

Stephen and Irem Bray  photo-credit Colin Tracy

Stephen and Irem Bray recording at Marmaris TV Studio.

Marmaris Municipal Authority have acquired my piece Farkındalık and will be putting it on permanent display. There are five images in the work, each digitally printed on canvas.

Stephen Bray's Pentych known as Farkindilik

Five images comprise the exhibit Farkindilik

We have produced some videos about the event. This is the first in the series:.

 

08
Apr

David Bailey’s Lens

IF YOU’RE OVER 50 YOU PROBABLY KNOW DAVID BAILEY as one of the three photographers of the ’60s dubbed by ‘The Sunday Times’ as ‘The Black Trinity’. The other photographers were Brian Duffy and Terence Donovan.

There were numerous fine photographers redefining the art of image making during the ’60s. These included Lichfield, Newton, Swannell, and tribute must also be paid to those members of a previous generation who successfully made the transition into the psychedelic ’60s, such as Beaton and Parkinson.

If you think Bailey, like Duffy and Donovan, is dead then you are ‘dead wrong‘. Just take a look at this link from British Vogue and you’ll find that he barely sits down for a moment.

So what’s all this about Bailey’s lens?

The  40 mm Pancake lens

Begin With Bailey

A.K.A David Bailey’s Masterclass

I found a reference to it in a book he wrote with George Hughes back in 1983.

To be fair to those who like different formats, focal lengths, and styles of photography Bailey and Hughes cover these fully in ‘Begin With Bailey’. Reproductions of prints made with large format cameras, as well as some made with a little 110 film camera appear. There’s even a few pictures made using quite wide angle lenses.

What intrigued me were the number of pictures Bailey made back then using a 40mm lens. Until recently I regarded the 40mm focal length as being a little wide and a little rakish for everyday photography. That changed around five years ago when I purchased a little Olympus Pen (EP-2) and put a 20mm Panasonic lens on it. It effectively emulates the angle of view of 40mm on a full frame 135mm camera.

Last year I returned to a 50mm, (equivalent) lens when switching to the Fujifilm X system, but now most days I’m using 27mm lens, which when the 1.6 crop factor is taken into account, works out at a 40mm equivalent.

Purists will argue here that when I write of a 27mm lens being equivalent to 40mm it’s not because the depth of field is shallower. I agree with them, but they and I, know that that’s simply being clever and we’re discussing the equivalent perspective taking into account the sensor’s crop factor.

Bailey liked using a 40mm lens for general photography and so, by and large, do I.

A 40mm lens will permit you to take a decent portrait, when you handle its capacity to create distortion with sensitivity. If you squeeze yourself into the corner of a room you’ll probably fit most of the walls into the frame and with less distortion than when using a wider angle lens. On the street the 40mm really comes into its own, as it’s possible to create solid images with upright vertical lines, or to inject drama and suggest movement by tilting your camera and producing converging lines on the vertical plane.

I suspect that one reason Bailey enjoyed the 40mm lens was that it was a standard focal length for small compact cameras back in the heady ’60s and ’70s. Such lenses are so much more pocketable than 50mm lenses, which was the standard focal length for 135 cameras back then. 40 mm equivalent lenses for digital cameras are also compact pancake lenses capable of producing good image quality.

Of course there’s more to a lens than glass and focal length. A lens can also refer to the way in which you view the world, your personal perspective or filters, if you like. The truth is that Bailey has an ‘eye’ and for this reason his images project style, even when the object being photographed is quite mundane.

Has his character mellowed as the years have passed? No, according to those who know him he’s always been a pussy-cat.

10
Mar

Becoming A Manager

You do not become a manager overnight, nor will training, or books make you one, but they may help.

My wife discovered that she can no longer run her online psychology business without help. I’ve been telling her that for years, but she needed to discover this for herself.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s always been good at working with others on joint ventures. Her difficulty has been that she’s always attempted to do all the practical ‘grunt’ work herself. You can’t do that and also get into the creative projects you’ve got in your head.

The problem is that when you’re used to doing your own thing, like Mrs. Bray, it’s difficult to jump straight in to managing other people’s foibles, talents and time. For this reason she asked me to jump in and manage her new staff and business strategies.

manager, or servant leader?

One of the difficulties business owners face when taking on staff is knowing enough about the tasks expected of people to know that they’re doing their jobs, but at the same enabling people to self-manage themselves so that they can exercise their skills and creativity.

David Ogilvy, founder and Chairman of the advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather was well aware of these difficulties. This is why he created his famous advert for Trumpeter Swans. Ogilvy was a great believer in employing people whose talents exceeded his own, but he was a talented all-rounder and a good judge of people’s strengths and weaknesses.

Frankly, I find the challenge both exciting and intimidating. It’s been some time since I was a hands on manager, rather than a management consultant, which is a different animal. You see a consultant stands outside of your organization and views what’s happening dispassionately. She, or he, can see your strengths and weaknesses, as well as problems with your processes. A consultant detects and helps you with things in your business, and personal life, that you cannot see or do not know yourself.

A great manager is able to also do this for the staff for whom they are accountable. Indeed a manager is best when they are Servant Leaders who develop their people both in skills as well as in character.

When I looked on my hard drive I discovered a number of resources, that I had authored some years ago, to help me make a start. Here’s one of them:

A Pocket Book on Leadership by Stephen Bray

Right click on the image to download ‘A Pocket Book on Leadership’

04
Mar

The Unpublished David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy isn’t unpublished at all is he? His book Ogilvy on Advertising should be required reading for business owners, even today.

Ogilvy is one of the acclaimed Marketing Hall of Fame. In 1982 Jean Louis Servan-Scheibrieber’s magazine, ‘Expansion’, devoted to the Industrial Revolution listed 30 men who had contributed to it. Ogilvy was on it. Other notables were: Thomas Eddison, Albert Einstein, John Maynard Keynes, Alfred Krupp, Lenin, Karl Marx, Louis Pasteur, James de Rothschild, Adam Smith and Thomas Watson Jnr.

The Unpublished David Ogilvy is a lesser known work Edited by Joel Raphaelson, for the occasion of David Ogilvy’s 75th birthday. It contains lots of his aphorisms, and provides anecdotes and examples of a leadership style that took Ogilvy and Mather from modest beginnings the being a leading advertising agency.

David Ogilvy's Trumpeter_SwansWhether it’s good to be placed among this pantheon is debatable, but certainly many copywriters hold that David Ogilvy is not only one of their number, but was also, in his day, the Pope. But where would he stand today?

Ogilvy was far more than a Madison Avenue type, although he did found an advertising agency that is located there as well as today in most corners of the globe.

He was a college drop-out, (Oxford); a gourmet chef, (Paris), a door to door salesman, (Aga); a researcher, (Gallup); Intelligence Officer, (British); copywriter, (sometimes moonlighting); and the founder of Ogilvy, Benson, and Mather.

His real strength, to my mind, is as someone who recognized how important it is employ and work with those who are more talented than you. The danger of this approach, as so many small business people and paranoid executives know, is that it’s possible that you will be usurped by someone whom you have hired. This happened to Steve Jobs during his first tenure at Apple when Jobs lured John Sculley away from Pepsi-Cola to serve as Apple’s CEO.

The Apple Board subsequently told Sculley to limit Job’s influence and in a heated boardroom discussion Jobs was outed. Of course he came back in 1996 and the rest is history.

You must have ‘balls’ to hire people with greater talent, and you probably have to be ruthless sometimes  too. Running a business, even a small one, is no job for the timid, or people who have their values mixed up. Indeed to have soft, or purely self-interested values is to court business disaster.

Ogilvy is famous for writing an advertisement for Rolls Royce with the headline ‘At 60 Miles Per Hour The Loudest Noise In This New Rolls Royce Comes From The Electric Clock’. Ogilvy admitted that the line was gleaned from reading both the technical manual and also an article written nearly twenty years previously in a motoring journal.

This is an example of the writer doing his homework. He knew he needed to emphasize something exceptional about the product.

My favorite David Ogilvy advertisement is reproduced above. To my mind it sums up his business philosophy. Ogilvy included his home address, and also signed the advertisement.

‘Trumpeter Swans’ differs from the previous example, for the Rolls Royce, because it’s not about research but instead recalling something read off-topic, and then adding the concept with his customer’s, (in this case his own agency), requirements in order to create an unusual combination in words. Photographer and art director Henry Wolf  frequently did something similar graphically.

Ogilvy was wise enough to appreciate that talent and a university education are not always synonymous. One gifted applicant, who was also a graduate, started a letter of introduction when applying for employment like this.

My father was in charge of the men’s lavatory at the Ritz Hotel. My mother was a chambermaid at the same hotel. I was educated at the London School of Economics.

Ray Taylor,
former Ogilvy and Mather copywriter.

What I like about Ogilvy’s ‘Trumpeter Swan’ advertisement is that it expresses exactly the kind of person who should apply, but in very few words. It causes people who are thinking of applying to examine themselves, and to peacefully disqualify themselves if they can’t meet the required standard. It does this without being cold, or unfriendly in any way, indeed any member of the public coming by chance upon the advertisement would think Ogilvy & Mather a congenial place in which to work.

The main headline is original. The lead in is the word ‘Wanted’, which is a proven attention grabber, and then our attention jumps over the name of the agency to the words ‘Trumpeter Swans’ in large block text. ‘Wanted’ and ‘Trumpeter Swans’ together form an unusual combination designed to pique our curiosity thus those with appropriate levels of awareness to consider applying for the post of copywriter.

27
Feb

Michael Eldridge: Creativity in Le Marche.

Stephen Bray and Michael Eldridge in Italy>/br>image Liliana Pivato

Stephen Bray and Michael Eldridge in Italy – image Liliana Pivato

Few understand photography better than Michael Eldridge. He was Director of Post Graduate Studies in Photography at The Arts University, Bournemouth for more years than most would care to admit. Today his heart is in the beautiful Sibilini Mountains in the Le Marche Region of Italy, where we plan projects together.

Michael believes we all have creativity locked within us. The problem for many employed in the arts and media is that the river of genius which once was strong, under pressure, becomes polluted or stagnant.

This is why time and time again people in the commercial world find themselves lacking in imagination and lost for inspiration. Too much attention to material concerns and, frequently broken, promises inevitably disconnects the flowing river from the source. Michael teaches Creativity Workshops that help people restore their connection, and there are few better places to do so than in Italy, where he lives.

It’s years since he painted scenery for the Earl of Snowdon, and worked for Sue Mann’s agency following her departure from British Vogue, where she was Art Director, but his eye is as fresh as ever.
 

22
Feb

Wiki, Democracy, Branding, and Social Media.

The Wiki is an endearing, but flawed concept. It is the idea that the majority is always right and the written more valuable than the verbal. Yet the Wiki, with its ability to democratize history and shopping may sometimes be wrong. High school students frequently discover this to their cost when quoting from Wikipedia believing everything written there to be accurate.

Wikipedia® is the prime embodiment of the Wiki in action. ‘Experts’ write stuff, and then others edit and augment it. Peculiar comments are highlighted in yellow by ‘moderators’, suggesting that an article needs references, or padding out, or substantiating in some way. That’s all well and good, but brand democratization doesn’t have this safety net.

Brand Democratization

Brand Democratization refers to the ways that customers define brands based upon their requirements, and experience as customers. Like Wikipedia the feedback is instant. Upset a customer and they will be on a forum, or be blogging, complaining about your company, product, or service. There are even specialist review websites that encourage this. Trip Adviser is a popular one where customers provide their reviews and rate holiday experiences.

Businesses can “position” themselves ‘whatever’, but unless they can deliver on their promise their wiki-status will implode overnight. Today everything is transparent, truly, no X-Ray specs needed.

The TED Wordmark signifies a Wiki of talks of sustainability

Large companies sometimes sponsor philanthropic causes in order to demonstrate that they are socially responsible!

This trend has resulted in a rethink by a number of prominent brands, notably McDonalds. Larry Light, McDonalds’ Chief Global Marketing officer says: “Identifying one brand position, communicating it in a repetitive manner is old-fashioned, out of date, out of touch.”

But wait a minute, if you don’t position your company how do people know who you are? If you don’t possess a brand how can people identify with you? If you can’t put your toe in the water how will you create ripples?

Well, of course, you do tell your story. You do create a logo, even if it has to be one of those airy fairy ones made with colored smoke and children’s crayons. You create products, you blog, but most of all you behave decently and you deliver on your promises.

When Ernst & Young and McKinsey & Co. announced that the number of branding failures, many based on positioning exceeded 90% back in 2005 people were wrong to conclude that positioning kills brands.

The Internet has succeeded where, ‘Which’ the British consumer magazine struggled, by capturing imagination and led to a rise in consumer emancipation as far as knowing what products to buy, and what brands to trust. It’s good, isn’t it, that cigarette manufacturers can’t provide us with bogus research that claims that more doctors smoke this brand than the other fellow’s, or that shoe companies will no longer get away with producing premium priced products in galvanized iron sheds somewhere over the blue horizon?

But that doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t make meaningful brand statements, or have a logo that is recognizable, or write advertisements exhorting the uniqueness of their offer. It simply means that they must be able to deliver.

Wikification

Wikification is a godsend to intelligent business-people. It provides fast feedback on how products are perceived and how services are recognized. Improve your products and services based upon what customers say and your profitability will soar. It’s as simple as that.

Be the business that listens most to what customers are saying 😉

This light-hearted video discusses Wiki,
Democracy, Branding, and Social Media 🙂

17
Feb

How To Write Your Elevator Pitch

ACCORDING TO GEOFFREY JAMES, AUTHOR OF  BUSINESS WITHOUT THE BULLSH*T what you think is an elevator pitch may actually alienate customers.

Writing on Inc.com James asserts that no one listens to sales pitches, and a three minute sales pitch is likely to turn most customers off.

The term ‘elevator pitch’ originates in the idea that some chance encounter traps you in a space, the elevator, with a potential customer. The problem is, of course, that you have no idea who they are, what they want to buy, or how you may help them.

These difficulties aren’t reasons to avoid developing your elevator pitch. The truth is that in business we all need to know who we are, what we can do for others, how we do it, and what it costs.

Without this vital knowledge you’re lost, but many, if not most small business owners have no idea about what they really do. Those in larger corporations are frequently indoctrinated with slogans and mission statements that seem irrelevant.

Time for your elevator pitch

Could You Help A Stranger Out In A Bar?

Copywriter John Carlton is on the mark when he writes about overhearing a conversation. The scenario is that you’re in a bar and you hear someone discussing a particular business problem. It happens that you have the solution to the stranger’s problem. How do you aproach them and make it clear that you have something important to offer?

Jordan Belfort, the infamous Wolf of Wall Street, who is now a motivational speaker and sales coach, is very clear that you will need three attributes.

You must be:

  • Enthusiastic as hell, which suggests that you have something great to offer.
  • You’re sharp as a tack, because no-one wants to receive brain surgery, or anything else important, from a dim-wit.
  • You’re an authority figure and someone to be reckoned with. We’re conditioned from an early age to recognize and follow such people.

You may not like Belfort. The film made based upon his life, in which Leonardo DiCaprio played him, may horrify you – but he knows how to sell better than most. That’s why I think you’re well advised to take notice of what he has to say.

In fact if you’re not enthusiastic about your work, intelligent about every aspect of your business, and an authority in your field it’s unlikely that your business can survive.

Before you start elevating your pitch to others it’s essential that what you say, and how you act are congruent with who you are, and how you want to be.

This concept is central to what Internet Marketer Frank Kern refers to as your ‘Core Identity‘. He claims that speaking from your true self to the essential selves of prospects is what leads to interest, sales conversions, and ultimately advocates for what you offer.

The problem, for most, is that we have been conditioned to project an image of ourselves, which emphasizes how our teachers, parents, and employers want us to be, whilst denying things we like to think and do, which they don’t care for.

Fraser Hay, Founder of Grow Your Business Club believes that the first step to creating an elevator script is to have a story that is exclusively yours. He says this: ‘Is the foundation of your belief and commitment to your product or service.”

You need to know how you got into your business, what has caused you to stay there and why you are enthusiastic about what you do. If you’re not enthusiastic then something is wrong. You might benefit from some professional advice, career coaching, or even a holiday in which to gain a fresh perspective, Fraser claims.

Customers have various personality types, and you can’t be expected to know who will hit upon your web site. Yet frequently it is upon your web site that people will first investigate your strengths and weaknesses. People buy from people, so rather than attempting to desperately cater for all people all of the time it’s best for your elevator pitch to appeal to people who are similar to you in disposition, and whom you can work with and help. The key is in knowing your own beliefs and then your ideal customers will be those resonate with you.

Why do You Get Out Of Bed In The morning And Why Should I Care?

11
Feb

Buddhist Business Practice

You’re bound to become a Buddha if you practice.
 If water drips long enough
 Even rocks wear through.
 It’s not true thick skulls can’t be pierced;
 People just imagine their minds are hard.

Shih-Wu (1272-1352)

You don’t have to retreat to a mountain hut with walls of rice-paper, as did Shih-Wu, in order to become a Buddha. You don’t even have to become a Buddhist and study the scriptures.

It’s not necessary to become a hermit to relate to all sentient beings. Being in-tune with the world and helping others to become liberated is a rewarding experience.

As well as living as a hermit Shih-Wu also spent much of his life as the abbot of a monastery. Such places were huge institutions, in his day, and just as full of jealousies, politics, and the difficulties of today’s modern society.

To be a Buddha means to be awake. To live life moment by moment and experience it anew for what it is. It’s not about chanting ancient incantations, writing poetry on rice-paper, or making candles, which were the arts and technologies of Shih-Wu’s day.

It’s neither about book learning, nor intellectual grasp of truths.

Quoting Peter Drucker or Seth Godin does’t make you good at business, and being able to recant the Sutras can’t make you awaken.

Buddhist business practice means relating to others through actions and example. We follow the golden rule not because we choose to, but because, for us, no other way presents itself.

Spirituality that is embodied, true, and real, willingly surrenders its gifts. The best and most effective way for spirituality is living without cause.

Shih-Wu’s philosophy suggests, it isn’t good practice to better yourself, improve skills, get over an emotional shock, lose weight, stop smoking, or develop a character quality. It’s a completely unbounded way of being in which the distinction between you and others dissolves.

Remarkably, technology has developed to a place where MRIs and PET scans show our brains’ abilities to form new connections throughout life enabling us to remain flexible even in adverse situations. Experiments in quantum theory also suggest that there is a non-substantial non-physical element to each of us, in which we’re all interconnected in a similar way to how our brains work.

Shih-Wu intuited all this. Would he be a hermit, or an abbot today? No one can say. I am sure, however, that there are many business people who share Shih-Wu’s abilities, and intuitively administer services and develop products and thus liberate whilst contributing to the richness of life.

“Nothing is better than being free
 but getting free is not luck.”

You will not find your image in a mirror, but in the faces of your friends, family, customers, and the world around you.


E.F. Schumacher speaks on Buddhist Economics

04
Feb

Simplicity and Illusion

image Wolfgang H. Wögerer, Vienna, Austria

Image: Wolfgang H. Wögerer, Vienna, Austria

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama, is known throughout the western world. He knows simplicity and recognizes illusion.

Perhaps if soldiers from the Chinese Republic had not occupied his homeland we would never have heard of him, yet for many Buddhists, and some agnostic sympathizers, the Venerable Lama is held in similar regard to how Roman Catholics think of their Pope.

How is this possible? What is his secret? Is there some divine power charting his destiny and spinning his words out across all the nations of the world? He is, after all, considered to be the Buddha of Compassion.

The answer is far more simple. The Dalai Lama is a winner, not in the way that David Beckham is a footballer, or Serena Williams a tennis star. They compete with others in order to score points and win cups.

The Dalai Lama seems to be a winner because when the culture of his country was suppressed he did not abandon his people and walk away, but instead stayed for nine long years under occupation struggling to maintain Tibetan customs and culture against the forces of occupation. He did this on his own terms, always rooted in ethical convictions, using heart and mind to assert his people’s case. The Chinese government has sometimes regarded him as a terrorist yet he has never fired a gun, nor thrown a bomb. Nor does he lead an army, at least not one comprised of soldiers.

You may think that because he is the Dalai Lama, he has political clout. Whatever influence he possesses today has come from simple compassion he has found for friends and enemies alike. He runs a government in exile, to be sure, but it’s located in India in a location that’s pretty much off the beaten track even for many Indians.

The Dalai Lama’s power is personal, but it’s also spiritual. He sees beyond this everyday world yet is able to identify himself within it. He cuts to the heart of matters most of us find complex with remarkable dexterity, yet his sentences are as simple as they are direct.

There is something of Jerzy Kosinski’s character Chauncey Gardiner about Tenzin Gyatso. Gardiner, real name ‘Chance‘ is a fictitious middle-aged man who lives in the townhouse of a wealthy man in Washington D.C. He seems simple-minded and has lived there his whole life, tending the garden. His knowledge is derived entirely from what he sees on television. When his benefactor dies, Chance is forced to leave and discovers the outside world for the first time.

A series of accidents bring him into the home of Ben Rand, who is dying. Rand is a wealthy businessman and adviser to the U.S. President. When asked his name Chauncey replies: ‘Chance, the Gardener’, which is misheard as the aristocratic sounding Chauncey Gardiner. Chance’s seemingly naive simplicity appeals to Rand who sponsors Chance through a variety of press conferences and media appearances, he even gets to meet the U.S. President who thinks Chance is advising him about the economy.

It’s a far-fetched story but like the truer one of the Dalai Lama it does have a message for us. When we learn to accept the world phenomenologically the mond and emotions reduce to fundamental simplicity giving rise to happiness. This doesn’t require genius.

The Dalai Lama knows that experiencing life and acting directly, and with an open heart helps you better understand your wonderful beingness.

This post won’t appeal to many readers here who are seeking guidance about how to make better photographs, or make money through their photography. Some will pass over it as irrelevant. Yet those who look deeper and take the message to heart will see that great enterprises are invariably built by strong transparent characters projecting simple messages.

Let’s not complicate things by attempting to see beyond the obvious.

28
Jan

Some Thoughts On Purple Cows

LifesaversAdYoung&RubicanOf the countless advertisements that have been produced since the beginning of the twentieth century this one for Lifesavers from Young and Rubicam is one of the best.

It combines simple graphics with a memorable, but direct, message that appeals to children and adults alike.

There’s none of David Ogilvy’s marketing to the intelligentsia. It appeals to the child within all of us.

It was created in an era when brands could appeal to the masses, something which marketing pundit Seth Godin today claims is fatal.

You need a ‘purple cow’ he claims. Something that stands out, if indeed the product may be sold by standing out. Not all can as he suggests in the film below.

I think it’s wrong to abandon the masses, and the majority when advertising. Coke seeks mass appeal in all its campaigns, and so do Unilever. What Seth is saying, however, is different.The safe middle ground just isn’t such a good opportunity for new products,  start ups and small business.

The same is true for photographs for commercial products. Concepts need to be clear, their execution simple, the result instantly recognizable. An advertisement photograph isn’t there to make you think, it’s constructed to engage your interest and encourage you to buy. According to the legendary art director and photographer Henry Wolf there  are at least 17 ways to create memorable images. Whether they stand out as purple cows will depend upon how well each concept is executed.

Acclaimed artists know how to make their work memorable. It’s true they know all about line, form, composition, and the behaviors of light in different settings as it illuminates objects, but that’s not enough to create art!

As for this purple cow by Raymond Rubicam, the fact that it has mass appeal is important but not the clincher. What matters is that it engages visually both through color and words. It forces you to salivate involuntarily and addresses you in friendly reassuring script. Even today it stands out like a purple cow in a field full of Jerseys. As Raymond Rubicam used to say: ‘resist the usual’.