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Hi there! I'm sharing some of my favorite blog posts from my archives - back when I had aspirations of becoming a noteworthy blogger. Although my desires may have shifted, I still enjoy enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts with others. I also think this post is probably more relevant to me than when I originally wrote it a couple years ago. Funny how we stumble upon things at the right moment. Enjoy!

Many moons ago I took a free-writing workshop – on a Friday evening nonetheless. I wasn’t sure what to expect aside from a bad case of sweaty palms that I would have to secretly (yet furiously) cool on my worn pant leg. My mind raced and wondered what would be asked of me. “Would we have to read our scribbles aloud?” I cringed. Immediately I was transported back to one of many corporate team-building sessions I’d participated in years ago – yes, the exercise where you’re encouraged to introduce yourself to a room full of strangers with “tell us the most interesting fact about yourself!”

So. Much. Fun. Cue the eye-roll, spare the drum roll, please.

I’ve generally shied away from any activity where you’re forced to write creatively or “think of something interesting” under a severe time constraint because I always draw a blank. Normally I would welcome such a canvas but not when it’s in my brain.  And now we’d only have 3 minutes?! Are you kidding me? What could our instructor possibly ask us?

I tried in vain to anticipate the question. “Describe your favorite childhood memory? Tell us about a recent victory? It could be anything.” I thought. Whatever it would be I decided to take the approach of painting a picture with words.

If you’re not familiar with free-writing, the premise is to write the first thing that comes to your mind when prompted with a question, phrase or word. You’re not allowed to pause, cross out, fix grammatical errors or erase any words. You just write. Even if you don’t know what to write, you put pen to paper and jot down… “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write….” until a new string of words starts to flow. Eventually it happens. Trust me. Its purpose is to encourage new ideas, help you get through a creative block, stop self-criticism, or even work through personal challenges.

After the instructor gave us an introduction to the practice, we dove into the first of 3 writing sessions. We were prompted to write about our favorite color at the age of 7 for the next 3 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised that I wrote with ease. It was a good warm-up. We read our paragraphs aloud which wasn’t as scary as I thought. And it was fascinating to hear each person’s perspective on such a straight-forward question.

Inevitably I knew the second prompt would dig a little deeper. “I am beautiful because…” The words flowed so easily from our instructor’s mouth. Let’s see how they’d land on paper. “I am beautiful because I am snow falling on cedars” was my first thought. Snow falling on cedars sounds quite beautiful and effortless. The writing bit was not. I eventually worked through the next 5 minutes through ebb and flow. Again we shared. None of us in our small group of 4 were writers but each story was breath-taking in its beauty and we were eager to hear more.

The final prompt was a doozy – “What I wanted to say but didn’t was…” Pull this answer from the inner recesses of your mind or maybe your magic hat. This was a loaded phrase and could turn quickly depending on which fork you chose. I took the high road and completed the phrase with “thank you” and wrote on. We concluded the session again by sharing our stories and bonded over the victories and difficulties associated with finishing such a sentence. Everyone was surprised at how much they learned at the workshop and how connected we became after sharing these little slices of life.

I highly encourage everyone to give free-writing a go. You don’t need to take a workshop to glean the benefits though it might be a great way to give you a kick start. I prefer writing first thing in the morning before my brain has a chance to make any excuses. Just find your favorite writing spot, pick a prompt and set a time duration. I started with 3 minutes, edged up to 5 and have been holding steady with 10-15 minute sessions since the workshop.

And to be really bold, below is an example of a free-writing prompt and exercise I wrote for this post. And remember, the point is not to create a masterpiece! The exercise just shakes out the cobwebs and frees your mind.  So get over yourself and don’t worry about things getting cheesy.

Have you tried free-writing? How have you benefited from the experience? Would love to hear your thoughts!

What do you think of when you see the color red?

I think of tulip kisses. In the Spring. A tear of rain splashing on its opening bud. The reflection of a stoplight on a wet sidewalk after that drenching rain. Alarm and excitement. When is it going to turn? A smear of lacquer on a toothsome grim. “Why didn’t anyone tell me it was there?” I think. The forever stained dinner napkin after slurpy, sauce-covered spaghetti. Polish on my nails or is it ink from an evening of painting? It’s all the same. Red Hot Rio.

#freewriting #creative #writing #life #creativewriting

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Some of you have done treatments or at least heard of them since they are de rigueur on broadcast/film shoots, however, they’re becoming much more commonplace for stills shoots. Photographers often have questions about what to include and what makes a winning treatment so today I’m going to demystify the process.

What are treatments and why are they important?

We’re not talking about the pretty dressing you use to adorn your windows. We’re talking about the pitch document that accompanies a client or agency bid. A treatment typically outlines how you plan to execute a project, discusses why you're the best person for the job, and is an opportunity to share your creative vision. They are your chance to showcase your technical and creative chops on how you may handle a challenging shot

Also, these are not to be confused with pre-pro books. Pre-pro books are created after a project has been awarded to the vendor and serve as a bible for shoot production. I’ll cover off what makes a good pre-pro book in a future post!

What makes a good treatment?

For starters, good grammar and punctuation. I’ve seen some pretty gnarly treatments in my day. Please spell-check or have a friend read through it to make sure it sakes mense – I mean makes sense. A well-designed, clean cover page that includes the project title and client/agency sets the tone. You can also hire a writer to help you craft the message.

When crafting your treatment, creatives and producers don’t want you regurgitate exactly what was said in the creative brief. They want to know how you plan to execute the concepts based on your vision. What are you bringing to the table and how is it different than the other bidders? Pay attention to what the creative and producer are saying on the creative call. Pick up on what’s important and note any particular challenges, concerns and client requests.

It’s also your opportunity to describe any technical and stylistic notes. Tell us why you think it's important to use a Lightstar for your night shot. Are there specific angles that are important to notate? Tell us how lighting, locations, and talent play into your vision. And don't forget to address how you may plan to tackle a specific production challenge, etc.

Include mood boards and images to convey your ideas in a descriptive way. Paint a picture of how you’d approach the shoot. Don’t forget that the agency and client are looking for your collaboration and what this campaign would look like through your lens.

And don’t forget to show us your personality and enthusiasm for the project. Tell us who you are as an artist. Show us your passion for the project while being authentic.

How long should a treatment be?

We’re not looking for a screenplay! Unfortunately, there’s no handbook outlining the appropriate number of pages for treatments but please make them concise. It all depends on the complexity and size of the project but they’re generally longer for broadcast/film. Communicate the information quickly without losing the point or the plot. No one wants a snoozer and make sure you’re not just saying the same thing 3 times over. Quality over quantity.

What do you do after you submit the treatment?

Ask your producer or point-person about the project timeline. Give the creatives and producer some time to digest the treatment. Make yourself available to any changes or questions that the creatives, producer and client may have regarding your treatment and answer them promptly. Make sure the team knows you’re interested and enthusiastic about the job but no need to stalk. If the job is meant to be, your vision will come to life in no time.

Good luck!

#treatments #photography #bids #commercialphotography #commercialart #advertising

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