An abstract color photograph featuring a spiraling white shape in the center of the frame. Around it, a series of off-white, comma-shaped marks radiate out from it.

The inconceivable improbability of your art

Which is to say… your art is one in a million* <3 A special warm WELCOME to new subscribers: Charlie, Glenn, Patrick, and William, and a huge THANK YOU to all subscribers, old and new, for reading and being a part of this community. *I struggle with really big numbers; I can’t visualize a million. Hell, a thousand somethings is hard to picture without organizing it somehow in my mind. Like, how many stars can you see in the sky? (Five thousand, at best). How long is the average person alive? (Around 29 thousand days.) Contemplating a million? Forgetaboutit.  As … >>

An abstract color photograph featuring a blue plane on the bottom, a large white square near the top, and 5 white rectangle objects in the center of the image.

Quitters never win and other half-truths about art

Or, “Should I stay [with my art] or should I go [make something else]?” A special warm WELCOME to new subscribers: Judy, Kristin, and Will. Thank you to Mark Foard (who writes I’ve Snapped) for recommending Viewfinder, and a huge THANK YOU to all subscribers, old and new, for reading and being a part of this community. In this issue: The Dip (Quitting vs. keep going) If you’ve been around the business world in the last 15 years, especially in technology and software, you’re probably familiar with one of the many variations of the graph above. I first encountered it … >>

A color photograph made with a low-angle, showing the ground (which is red and white concrete) and yellow stairs.

“Where is art?”, as answered by Brad Pitt

Thoughts and a hypothesis about a question you’ve probably never asked. In this issue: Where is art? At one time or another, you may have heard the question, “What is art?”. Perhaps you’ve even given this some thought and have arrived at an answer that works for you. If you’ve read previous issues of Viewfinder, you know I have a working definition. Artists, academics, and contrarians enjoy this discussion because it’s complicated, highly subjective, and inflammatory. It’s difficult to define definitively. There’s really no one “right” answer (but many wrong ones). I’m not going to jump into that particular quagmire … >>

A black and white photograph of a ball stuck in a tree. The sun is directly behind the ball, making it glow and making the tree a black silhouette. In the bottom left, the silhouette of a house is visible.

Make your own inspiration with your creative practice

What is inspiration? Where does it come from? How do you create your own inspiration? In this issue: Inspiration and your creative practice There have been times when I’ve found myself creatively blocked. I’ve been unsure how to proceed in my work, or I’ve been unable to will myself to action. I’m just… stuck. This feeling goes by other names: “writer’s block”; “burnout”; “procrastination”; and the more flowery, “my creative well hath run dry”. In these moments of hopelessness, even more terrible monsters can rear their ugly heads: imposter syndrome and low self-esteem, among others. I might question, “what business … >>

A color photograph of an intersection made through the windshield of a car. In the scene, there are multiple street signs for "Interstate 5", a street lamp, and a stop sign. There is a crow perched on top of the stop sign.

Taking vs. making photographs; know the grammar of art

Is everyone a photographer? The words we use matter. A special warm WELCOME to new subscriber: Barry! And a huge THANK YOU to all subscribers, old and new, for reading and being a part of this community! In this issue: Next issue: Dec 27 Skipping the Sunday issue of Viewfinder next week… a fresh-and-tasty email coming your way on Wednesday, December 27th. Happy holidays! Cameras are amazing; point them at something, push a button, and you’ve taken a picture. With digital photography, you can see what you took in an instant. More pictures are taken now than at any time … >>

Color photograph of a road with using shallow depth-of-field.

Zone of focus, depth of field, and what you set your sights on.

Choices and the focus of your attention. A special warm WELCOME to new subscribers: Jason, Mark, Neil (who writes Photos, Mostly), and Orelad. And a huge THANK YOU to all subscribers, old and new, for reading and being a part of this community. In this issue: “How much Viewfinder do you want?” poll: inconclusive Thank you to everyone who voted–I really appreciate it! Results were split between “Slow it down to once a week” and “Keep sending twice a week”. No one voted for “I hereby challenge you to write as much as humanly possible”; I am grateful this was … >>

A black and white photograph of a white, triangular building. In front of the building, a dark, leafless tree contrasts with the light toned facade.

Know your why: 14 powerful art making motivators

The “why’s” of art making, and what keeps us going. It’s almost assuredly incorrect to say that apocryphally-apple-loving Sir Isaac Newton was talking about art making and other creative endeavors when he created his Laws of Motion. Since he was a mathematician, physicist, astronomer and all that, evidence suggests his interests leaned towards the hard sciences. After all, Newton helped kick off the Scientific Revolution–he was very much a S.T.E.M. guy. Art making? Probably not so much. Regardless, good ole Sir Issac gets us started today. Newton’s Law of (art making) Motion Newton’s first Law of Motion has two parts: … >>

Black and white self-portrait photograph. The photographer's reflection is visible in Garry Winogrand's photo 'El Morocco, New York, 1955'. That photo features a man and woman in excited conversation. The woman has a huge smile.

Thoughts about street photography and devoted educator Henry Wessel

And briefly: Eliott Erwitt, Larry Fink, Garry Winogrand I like to think of street photography as a way to glimpse the countless humans stories of people as they move through the world in their separate lives, each different and unknowable, but no less important than our own. When at it’s best, street photography can become a visual representation of “sonder” (one of my favorite words): Sonder: The profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passing in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it. … >>

A black and white photograph of a mostly empty desert landscape. The photo uses extremely shallow depth of field.

Project vs. projects, an upcoming change, advice for starting

Your Sundays are about to get more interesting. This is the sixth issue of Viewfinder. It’s been a pleasure and honor to talk about art making, creativity, and photography with you. A special warm WELCOME to new subscribers: Amie, Asha (who writes Parent of Adults), Daniel, Erika (who writes The Windfall Dispatch), and Jacques. And a huge THANK YOU to all subscribers, old and new, for reading and being a part of this community. In this issue: A (small) change is a comin’ In the next issue, you’ll see a change of format that will expand what Viewfinder brings to … >>

Color photograph of a painted mural with the word "Love" in the center.

Gratitude and joy: Everything* I love about making art

(*an incomplete list, 2023 edition) Previously, we talked extensively about the “work” of artwork. We talked about “finding your work” and “putting in the work”. Showing up, making art again and again, maybe for the rest of your life. This all sounds like so much… work. Isn’t life already filled up with work? Why would you want more of it? Because there’s work, and then there’s your ✨WORK! ✨. Workohol addiction The Oxford dictionary defines work (noun), among other things as, “… something a person… has to do.” Yep, pretty much how I feel about it too. Thanks, editors at … >>