Save the Date Highlights Absurdity of Modern Weddings

Save the Date

My favorite wedding of 2012 was a fake one.

It was Save the Date, a performance art piece at the Corcoran Museum. Kathryn Cornelius married and divorced seven different people on one day in August. It was the busiest I’ve ever seen the Corcoran, as tourists joined with members of the wedding party to celebrate one marriage after another.

And the spectacle made some great photos. Given the Corcoran’s financial problems, maybe they should allow couples to actually get married there.

What did it all mean? For suitor Eames Armstrong, the message of Save the Date was marriage equality.

But to me, it was about marriage absurdity – why are weddings so big, expensive and overproduced? Weddings these days seem less about love and more about impressing friends and family with your wealth and taste.

The Onion, of course, put it best – Horrible Couple Really Wants Wedding To Reflect Their Personalities.

If there ever was an American institution deserving of mockery, it’s the modern American wedding. Save the Date demonstrated how bloated and silly these matrimonial performances have become.

Friday Photo: Leica Edition

Peter Turnley exhibit at Leica storeThis is an iPhone shot of the gorgeous Leica store in DC, where they were showing an exhibit of black and white photography by Peter Turnley. It’s a beautiful space, like an Apple store for photographers.

I would love a Leica.

But the iPhone is the Leica of today, a camera that is small, easy to use and non-intimidating, traits that make it ideal for street photography. iPhoneographers like Greg Schmigel highlight this trend.

Ironically, and perhaps maddeningly for photo purists, this Instagram pic was used in a blog post about the Turnley show by the Leica curator.

Of course, an iPhone can’t do all the things that a $7000 Leica can do. But it can still make art.

My Instacanvas Gallery – Photos from Washington, DC

Instacanvas is is a marketplace allowing users to buy and sell Instagram photos as canvas art. This Southern California company has gotten tons of press and has been featured in TechCrunch, Forbes and elsewhere.

And I’ve joined in the fun, opening up an Instacanvas gallery at http://instacanv.as/joeflood

Now you can buy my Instagram shots of city life in Washington, DC. My interests include bikes, beer and soulful black and white. I definitely have a thing for black and white iPhone shots.

Included in the gallery are photos that have appeared in the InstantDC and Fotoweek gallery shows, as well as local blogs such as DCist, We Love DC and Prince of Petworth.

Canvas prints are as inexpensive as $39.95 and shipping is free. Here are some of my favorites:

little girl in art gallery
little girl in art gallery *First Place, Fotoweek DC Mobile Phone Image Competition*
paddling on the Potomac
paddling on the Potomac
squares on F Street
squares on F Street *featured in We Love DC*
black and white bench
black and white bench
morning commuter on 14th Street
morning commuter on 14th Street *featured on DCist*
early cherry blossoms at the Jefferson Memorial
early cherry blossoms at the Jefferson Memorial

Check out my complete gallery and get some inexpensive art for your bare walls!

The $100 Startup – Chapter Three: Follow Your Passion… Maybe

screenplay

Some books deserve a closer read. One of these is The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. Follow along as I delve into the book, chapter by chapter. I’ll breakdown each chapter, providing a sort of Cliff Notes summary. And I’ll include what you can’t find in the book, such as links to the businesses he discusses, ideas for additional reading and my own thoughts.

I’ll post my breakdown of each chapter every couple days. Get the book and follow me on Twitter at @joeflood as we read The $100 Startup.

I’m a writer. I’ve written screenplays, short stories and even two novels. Writing and (more recently) photography are my passions. I’ve followed my muse, as much as I could afford to.

But make a living at my passions? I had the dream of being a Hollywood screenwriter until I actually visited LA. And I’d love a book deal but the publishing world is in disarray these days. And the dream of being a professional photographer is undermined by countless photographers (including, at times, me) willing to work for free.

Besides, I really do like working on web sites. I love the immediacy and creativity of web publishing.

The idea that there must be some way to combine my writing, photography and web skills into some sort of coherent business is why I bought The $100 Startup.

In chapter three, Guillebeau addresses the artist within all of us, the countless people who have wanted to turn their hobbies into money-making operations.

$100 Dollar StartupThe key is to find the overlap between your passion and the what people will pay for. He puts it in this somewhat clunky formula:

(Passion + skill) -> (problem + marketplace) = opportunity.

The best example comes from Guillebeau’s own life. I first started reading his blog during his quest to visit every country in the world. Did he get paid for this? No. He gets paid through related services, like his books and guides. As Guillebeau expains:

…you don’t get paid for your hobby itself; you get paid for helping other people pursue the hobby or something indirectly related to it.

Another example is Benny Lewis. He loved learning new languages and discovered that total immersion was key to picking up a new tongue. He learned seven languages in just two years. Pushed by his friends, he developed Speak from Day One (check out the insane video).

But how do you determine what the market will pay for? A tough question, but Guillebeau offers a checklist. You need a hobby that you’re passionate about. And have other people asked you for help with this hobby? Are they willing to pay for your expertise? These questions will be explored in greater detail in chapter six.

Remember, too, the admonition from chapter two that business success comes from helping people. So, how do you use your skills in a way that helps people?

art jamzThis chapter has a lot of relevance for artists and other creative types. Not everyone wants to turn their art into a business, however. It’s one thing to take photos that you enjoy; quite another to try to sell them at a farmer’s market. Guillebeau underestimates the difficulties people may have in exposing their art to the cruelties of the marketplace.

If you decide to turn your passion into a business, choose wisely and have a thick skin.

Local Examples

I have a couple of inspiring examples of my own, people I know in Washington who have turned their passion into businesses.

  • Jon Gann created the DC Shorts Film Festival, with a desire to put on a show. Now in its ninth year, it was named as “one of 25 festivals worth an entry fee” by Moviemaker Magazine. Jon created DC Shorts because he believed that filmmakers deserved to be treated better.
  • Everyone loves stories about ex-lawyers doing something other than law, like Philippa Hughes of the Pink Line Project, a local web site covering the arts.
  • Julianne Brienza has the occasionally impossible task of running the Capital Fringe Festival every year. This Montanan has successfully brought oddball theater to serious Washington.

Full disclosure: I’ve worked with all of these people and they’re all awesome.

Bonus

Artists are at war with themselves. Creating art is making something imperfect, that’s not going to match the perfect vision in your head. On Writer’s Block is an excellent little book on overcoming this hurdle as is Do The Work.

Reading this chapter, I was reminded of Do What You Love and The Money Will Follow. Sounds like flippant advice in these dour economic times but the book’s message is that what you’re passionate about, you will do better than anyone else.

A nice companion to this chapter would be The Art of Possibility. It’s a beautiful little book about envisioning your future.

Next: Chapter Four – The Rise of the Roaming Entrepreneur

New Article: Ten Tips for Your Artomatic Visit

Artomatic is back! Billed as DC’s biggest creative event, it’s a whole building filled with art in Crystal City. With more than a thousand artists exhibiting, plus music, dance, film and bars, the experience can be overwhelming.

With an event this big, you need a plan. And comfortable shoes. Here are my ten tips for enjoying your Artomatic visit.

Friday Photo: Capital Fringe Festival

I can’t believe it’s been a year since the last Fringe Festival. Walking up to Fort Fringe on New York Avenue, everything looked exactly the same – the big white tent, picnic tables, a DJ playing tunes, performers hyping their shows. Only the bar selection had changed (they now have prosecco on tap).

The Capital Fringe Festival runs from July 7-24. It’s an opportunity to see crazy performances in intimate spaces, some of which include nudity and/or puppets. The bar aka Fort Fringe offers a front-row seat to this bohemian spectacle.

I was an official photographer for last year’s festival – here are my favorite pics to give you a sense of what you’re in for. And here are the shows that won in 2010 – many of these performers have new shows for this year.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts – Not Just for Women

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is one of those museums that even long-time Washingtonians aren’t aware of. It’s not on the Mall, it charges admission and with only a small sign marking its location on New York Avenue, it’s easy to overlook.

I had never been inside until invited by Michelle Cragle, the Communications Director at the museum. A former Masonic temple, NMWA is an architectural wonder. And it has some fascinating artistic treasures of interest to any gender. You don’t need to be a woman to visit the museum, as I wrote in a guest post for NMWA.

Overcoming Writer’s Block

Mac users at SXSW

Everyone writes. In this digital age, we’re creating more words than ever. Whether it’s an email to a client, a persuasive blog post or the Great American E-Book, the ability to explain yourself in writing is the critical skill of the Internet era.

Despite this profusion of words, people often encounter writer’s block when attempting large or significant projects. They can fire off tweets and snarky Facebook comments all day long but their fingers stall when it comes to crafting something that really matters.

After I wrote my novel Murder in Ocean Hall, the question I got most was, “How?”

How did I muster up the patience to devote so much time to a single idea? How did I keep at it? How did I overcome the inertia of writer’s block to get started?

Writer’s block happens to everyone. But it can be overcome. Continue reading “Overcoming Writer’s Block”

An Art Experiment Gone Wrong

Agnes in the structure

My good friend Philippa Hughes is hosting an artist in her home this week. It’s a project called Art is Fear.

Here’s the description:

This coming May 2011, for one week, the artist Agnes Bolt will move into the home of the very sociable and curious Philippa Hughes to playfully explore the dynamics between an artist and an art collector. With a naive optimism and subtle social critique the project will manifest itself with a large obtrusive structure situated within Philippa’s home in which the artist will live. The presence of the artist will be impossible to ignore. A series of rules, exercises, communication systems and bonding experiences will dictate the interactions between the two as will video cameras given to both parties. Both are required to follow the rules but mischief and expectations of an open spirited dynamic is highly encouraged.

A woman living in a bubble? I was intrigued. Continue reading “An Art Experiment Gone Wrong”