Tag Archives: illustration

Be Biased

Her words have been reverberating in my head for a couple of weeks now. “Be Biased

I heard her talk, “Translating Science into Poetry“, at the first Write the Docs conference earlier this month. She did the unpredictable – applied principles from poetry to science. Daniya Kamran was her name.  I attended the conference to deliver Sketchnotes: Communicating Complex Ideas Quickly but benefitted most from listening.

She covered 6 techniques used in poetry that were applicable in science. One of those principles was “Bias”. There was a poem which she used to illustrate this principle. I’ve forgotten the name. Something about a glorious morning. Not a neutral, scientific dew-pointed morning, but a morning to make you dance. “Be biased” she said. People crave an opinion, they want an expert, they don’t want to have to do all the thinking required to come up with that opinion. Be a shortcut for them.

Be Biased, Sketchnote from Daniya Kamran's talk Translating Science into Poetry, Write the Docs Conference, by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2013

Be Biased, Sketchnote from Daniya Kamran’s talk Translating Science into Poetry, Write the Docs Conference, by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2013

I was guilty of what she charged – being professionally objective and….neutral.  I could see that I had withheld my greatest gift, my uniquely developed opinion from my experience and study. And it was making my life much less interesting.

Yet not so in photography. With a camera it is impossible not to have a point of view. You chose what you point the camera at and you chose how to compose the frame. The photographs I like most express personal vision through a unique voice.  Two quick examples:

  • Aaron Ansarov thinks Portuguese Man O’ Wars are beautiful. You will too when you see his work.
  • Natan Dvir thinks NYC billboards overwhelm people. You will see what he sees when you see his work

in her article on AppWhisperer titled, “What is Vision, What is Voice” Cindy Patrick, an award-winning iPhoneographer and fine artist, writes:

All the artists and photographers I admire have one thing in common. They each have a unique style. 

She goes on to say that style has two components: what YOU see (vision) and how YOU communicate that (voice). Vision and voice together are a bias, a point of view.

Since this awakening to the value of bias, I’ve opined more generously, without strings attached. I’ve discovered that the short path to being influential is to express an opinion (I believe “X” because of 1, 2 and 3) and then to have a dialogue. I am both influencer and influenced. Be Biased. Have Vision and Voice.

Thank you Daniya.

Amy Brown did a fantastic job of capturing notes from her talk. You can see my sketchnotes here and here.

If you can find the video of her talk please let me know. I’d like to add it to this post.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Resolved

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Steal Like An Artist Cover, iPhone screenshot of kindle edition.

I found myself turning the lush pages of Lynda Barry‘s book What It Is because I read the minimalist styled pages of Steal Like an Artist: Ten Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative. In the back of the book, Austin Kleon, a fantastic living artist, left a tidy list of 10 or so books that influenced him. This one by Lynda Barry was on that list.

Lynda is another fantastic living artist who makes powerful work. She’s worth sharing. Here’s a nugget that struck home:

“To follow a wandering mind means having to get lost. Can you stand being lost?”

Just quoting Lynda like this isn’t fair to you because it doesn’t give any sense of the richness and power of her work.  Here’s a photo of the page where this quote lives and breathes:

Page quote from Lynda Barry, What It Is

Photo of Page quote from Lynda Barry, What It Is, by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson

This is saturated, colorful, layered and intense.  All that and she’s got great content.  Can You Stand Being Lost?

Whether clinging to vertical career paths in a gig-based labor market, expecting consistent good health throughout life, or goaling ever faster run times in the face of age, when I need my life to conform to a certain map, I am NOT standing being lost. When I need everything I do to have a purpose, to align with my goals, I am NOT standing being lost.

There’s something gained by leaning into the lost times. Moses was probably on-plan when he saw the Burning Bush. He went to explore it. In a sense, he got “lost”. He followed a wandering. And his life, his purpose, his mission were forever changed from what he knew before and for good.

It’s important to have a plan but it’s also important to wander, to stand being lost.  Both are critical to becoming. Elsewhere, in Anna Farova‘s book, Josef Sudek, Poet of Prague, Anna quotes Josef, a fantastic Czech photographer with a long career in photographer from the early 1900s onward:

“I have no particular leaning toward….the all too clearly defined; I prefer the living, the vital, and life is very different from geometry; simplified securing has no place in life.”

New Year’s resolutions seem like Sudek’s geometry while the year that unfolds will be different because it is living and vital. As I begin the New Year, I have no particular leaning toward a resolution of any kind but to ask myself the question,

“Can I Stand Being Lost?”

All writing and images by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson ©2013