Interviewing a famous Instagram dog

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kelsey Rodas, the human behind the @rustyrodas Instagram account. Rusty, a golden retriever, has an incredible tale to tell of how he went from abandoned pup to canine celebrity. He has over 60,000 followers on Instagram now and his own line of greeting cards. He also volunteers at a local animal shelter, helping coach other rescue dogs to recovery. What’s also interesting is that I followed Rusty and Kelsey separately on Instagram for about a year before realizing they worked together. I knew Kelsey from college. It just so happened we both went to the Portland Gear #PDXMEET earlier this summer, where she was there with Rusty. Small world.

Anyway, you can head over to Pro Photo Supply’s News Desk to read the article now. An excerpt has also been added to my writing samples page.

Little things no one will notice

I found myself today spending, well, all day working on a project for my job. It is Sunday (well, now it’s technically an hour into Monday, but who’s keeping track?) Sunday is my day off. This particular Sunday followed an incredibly long Saturday which consisted of 7 hours of class, three hours of working an outdoor event in 100-degree weather, and an hour drive home as I darted through the backstreets of SE Portland trying to find away to get across Division street, which was filled with naked cyclists (sorry I couldn’t join you this year!)

My point is that for all intensive porpoises, nobody would have blamed me for taking this particular Sunday to do nothing but relax in front of the fan with a glass of ice water in my underwear. I mean, not that the glass of water would be in my underwear, but… you get it. Instead, I decided to log in to WordPress to take a stab at troubleshooting the new camera review layout I’ve been working on for the past week at Pro Photo. It turned in to a full day of experimenting dangerously with things that are likely detrimental to my health, like CSS, which stands for Cool Shirt Society, as far as I know. I may have even made a spreadsheet that calculates things because apparently that’s what I do now that I’m in business school.

Anyway, we updated our WordPress theme last week and it allows us to create some really stunning layouts for blog posts. Or at least I think they’re stunning. Inspired by articles like this one and this one, I had always wanted to create camera reviews with beautiful layouts that stood out from all the boring-looking ones that litter the Internet (like this one). The thing is, those articles serving as my inspiration aren’t about things—they’re about stories, and they are important, meaningful, impactful, and emotional. But photographers, and humans in general, are inherently visual creatures. I believe that any content we consume should be presented in such a way as to appeal to our senses in as pleasant a manner as possible.

And things tell stories, too. The first article using the new layout is on the highest-resolution 35mm-format camera ever. I felt it deserved special treatment, with large images that help convey a sense of detail (even though any camera can take a picture to fill your computer screen). It’s not my best bit of writing, but I’ve found a new passion for creating layouts—yeah, that sounds nerdy to me, too. I agonized over text placement and image size, grew frustrated about things I still can’t properly control, second-guessed every decision I made (is it too cluttered? Is it too plain?).

In the end, I finally arrived at a point where I feel satisfied: the full Canon 5DS R review is live at Pro Photo Supply. I’m stupidly excited about creating more content now, even if it is just about cameras. Plus, I got to go on a walk through the woods to do it, and that never hurts.

Business School

Here’s what business school is all about. It’s about applying really specific terminology to really vague ideas. You’re then tested on the terminology as if that somehow represents your understanding of the ideas.

Sometimes, people just want to be heard

A few minutes ago, a customer raised his 1 star Yelp review to 3 stars after I replied him minutes after he left the review. He did not respond to my message, did not alter the text of his review, but changed the rating from 1 to 3. I guess sometimes people just complain to be heard, and the simple knowledge that someone took the time to listen to them is enough to change their perception of the transaction. Or something. 3 stars is still not great, but I’ll count it as a win.

PDX Moment – Kid Rides a Fish

A couple of days ago I saw a kid riding a fish bike. That is, a bicycle with a plywood fish fashioned around it, complete with pectoral and tail fins which I imagine aided in providing downforce and keeping the bike level at speed. This was almost Portland enough to make me chuckle — almost. What was Portland enough to make me chuckle was the ensuing conversation by two passers-by:

Woman: “Oh look, he’s riding a tuna!”
Man: “Clearly, that’s a salmon.”

Never change, Portland.

The Dress Color Conspiracy – I finally see blue and black (almost)

Look, I know, it’s been discussed to death, and already reasonably explained, but I haven’t updated this site in a while and I want to add my own two cents into this whole The Dress thing. Partly, it’s because I’m a photographer, and as such, I feel like I should have an above average sensitivity to color (I almost had a perfect score on X-Rite’s Color Challenge; impressive for a male—there’s a reason why so many male photographers, like Leonard Nimoy, prefer to shoot in black and white.) Yet when I first looked at the picture of The Dress, I saw (mostly) white and gold (now proven to be wrong). When I looked more closely, I saw a very light lavender and gold. I could understand how people were seeing blue, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out where they were getting black. Continue reading

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays – Much ado about nothing

The Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays debate needs to end. I really cannot believe how petty people can be, especially during a season of giving and generosity when you’d think we would be even more open-minded than usual. I am not Christian, but I certainly don’t take offense when someone tells me, “Merry Christmas.” I’ll even say it back to them, now that they have openly indicated their specific holiday of choice.

So you might imagine my surprise when I recently received the following email from a customer regarding a “Holiday Sale” I had marketed for my employer:

Subject: Holiday Sale B.S.

We don’t buy Christmas gifts at “Holiday Sales”. Hope this anti-Christmas ad brings you enough business from the Antitheists, Muslims, ISIS, Jihad, et al to make up for the loss of us Christians.

Merry Christmas

I was so taken aback by this person’s negativity that my first reaction was outrage. Not only was his letter ignorant (how can a “struggle” buy goods?), it was also seemingly at complete odds with the Christian ideology to which he apparently subscribes. I have received too many customer complaints to count, but never anything like this. I mean, who could actually type those words and press “send?” Was he drunk? Had he just been spurned by a Mujahid lover? And what does Archer have to do with any of this? (Sorry…) I really wanted to give him a piece of my mind. Instead, I took some time to cool down and collected my thoughts, then wrote the following reply:

Dear Mr. Customer,

I am sorry that our spirit of inclusiveness has inadvertently turned you away. Our business serves a wide demographic of people from all walks of life, and our employees themselves represent a diverse selection of religious and spiritual beliefs. We do not share your opinion that a “holiday sale” is in some way demeaning to Christmas or Christianity. Our Christian employees already enjoy many benefits—such as the store being closed on Sundays and Christmas Day—that we unfortunately cannot match for our employees of other faiths. Offering a holiday sale is really the least we can do to recognize the diversity of our staff and community, and is in no way counter to how we feel Jesus Christ would have acted Himself, with a show of good faith and fraternal love for all humankind. (At the very least, we definitely don’t think He would have called it “B.S.”)

From all of us here—Christians, Jews, Bahai’s, Atheists, et al—we hope you have a very merry Christmas.

I had originally ended with “we wish you very merry Christmas, and happy holidays,” but I deleted the last bit after realizing I was only including in order to twist the knife a little. After all, I have zero problem telling someone “merry Christmas” who has openly identified himself as preferring it over other holiday-themed salutations.

Still, it boggles my mind that in 2014, people can take so much offense at something that aims only to be inclusive.

A new chapter

Hi folks. I started this website specifically to support my work as a freelance writer. If you know me, you know I also do some other cool stuff, like photography and video, but that is not what you will find here. This blog is pretty much a place for my musings on current trends in marketing, specifically content marketing. So, it’s basically a blog about blogging. (So meta!) It will also likely be a quick way to find links to my latest writing samples, in addition to the links in the menu (above) and on the homepage.

Take care,