The Evolution of My Blogging Adventures

January 7, 2016
One of my favorite Instagram photos shows the downtown skyline of Kansas City. You can find more of my pictures and follow me at https://www.instagram.com/duanehallock/

One of my favorite Instagram photos shows the downtown skyline of Kansas City. You can find more of my pictures and follow me at https://www.instagram.com/duanehallock/

After five years of blogging, I took an extended break from posting on this site. It was not a deliberate decision. It just happened.

During this time I still blogged, but I shifted from a verbal to a visual format, migrating from this WordPress platform to Instagram.

Upon reflection, I’ve identified reasons why I found myself sharing my pictures rather than my words. Those reasons include:

  1. Better engagement. When I began blogging, I thought this would be a good way to connect and converse with others. Perhaps it was my writing style, but I found myself posting monologues rather than engaging in conversations. In retrospect, I realize that most people are like me – they are more naturally drawn to colorful pictures than to columns of gray type.
  2. Too snarky. I realized my blog posts were starting to have an edge of cynicism and sarcasm. At work, I was enduring wave after wave of reorganizations that left most of us confused and disoriented. Many of my unpublished posts were written during this time of chaos. Those unshared writings were my attempt to make sense of what was happening. While they were cathartic, they were best left confined to the pages of my private journal rather than being shared publicly in a blog.
  3. Creative expression. The seemingly-endless corporate restructuring slowly sapped much of my creative energy. In this world, we each have a unique voice that gives us something to share with others. On a personal level, I felt compelled to expand my options for doing that. Photography provided a creative outlet that gave me renewed energy and purpose. Instagram provided a much-needed platform for my creative expression.
  4. Positive optimism. As my Instagram adventure progressed, I found myself focusing on the beauty in the world surrounding me. I discovered that within the ordinary I could always find something extraordinary. I’ve long believed that whatever one focuses on will expand. I chose to focus on the beauty surrounding me, and the more I looked for it, the more of it I found.
  5. Connecting, not dividing. Photography transcends the barriers of language, geography, politics, religion and other divisive elements in our world. Words are too easily used as weapons to divide and destroy. For me, sharing photos provided a way to unite and to build bridges where fences had once been erected.

Writing and photography are not mutually exclusive. I will keep writing, and I also will keep snapping pictures. In the weeks and months ahead, I anticipate finding the appropriate balance between both.

The renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Besson once said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” If a picture is worth a thousand words, then, by my math, I believe that my first 10 million words will be my worst. I’ll keep plodding along, though.

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Life Lessons Learned from Editing Instagram Pictures

May 27, 2013

Shooting good pictures represents only half of what it takes to be a good photographer.

Equally important is what happens after the shutter has snapped. A picture usually requires some editing. As an amateur photographer, I love Instagram because it simplifies the editing process. The built-in filters allow me to change the colors, the contrast and the focus. Cropping, though limited to square dimensions, allows me to select which portions of a photo I want to focus on.

This week while editing a picture on Instagram, my subconscious mind wrestled with a work-related problem. Suddenly I realized that my photo editing skills could be applied to my real-life situation. I could “Instagram” my problem by adjusting the variables. In other words, I could edit my circumstances in the same way I was editing my picture. Here are the three tools I used:

  1. Crop. Reframing a situation allows me to choose what I focus on. I can blow something up to a larger size, thereby cropping out the context. I must remind myself, however, that what I focus on also determines what I ignore. I sometimes like to zoom out and put things into a broader perspective. My work problem, just like my photos, looked differently depending on whether I cropped tightly or widely.
  2. Filter. I typically do not look at the world through rose-colored glasses. Sometimes, though, it’s helpful to play around with the hue, color balance and saturation. Pictures—and life situations—look differently depending upon how I choose to adjust the warmth, the contrast and even the drama.
  3. Script. For me, a well-written caption tees up a picture for proper viewing. I can nudge the viewer to look at the picture in different ways depending upon the narrative I write. Similarly, in real life I can control the situation by writing and rewriting the script. I can even direct the ongoing conversations by how I engage in the flow of comments.
A bureau-trunk that once belonged to General William H. Sears, field secretary and agent to Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. Now displayed in the archives room of the Kansas City chapter.

One of my Instagram photos—before and after editing—shows a trunk that belonged to the field secretary of Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross.

Once I’m finished editing, I also have the option in Instagram to share my pictures on Facebook, Twitter or other social platforms. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. Likewise, in life I always have the choice of how much to share and how much to keep private. I will usually share when others will benefit or when I might gain something from the collective wisdom of my community.

I love Instagram. For me it’s a creative expression of how I choose to see the everyday things that surround me. It’s also a reminder that I can reframe, filter, script and share my real-life situations, thereby creating a more colorful, brighter and meaningful world.

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