Monday, June 5, 2017

David Gilkey, Robert Capa and more.

It's early in the morning and I'm back at my messy desk after 10 days out of the office.
From down on 15th Street.
Truth is, I could probably have used another 10 days off but, I'm not complaining. Work is what I do--it is a force that gives us meaning and purpose in a world that, many times, seems to have spun off its axis.
A soldier in Afghanistan.

And what the fighting's about: a girl in the poppy fields.

This morning there was a commemoration on National Public Radio of a war photographer, David Gilkey, who was killed a year ago in Southern Afghanistan while in action, along with a translator, Zabihullah Tamanna. 

Gilkey famously never used a zoom lens. He thought a zoom would distance him from the action, from capturing his shots up close. Perhaps he was thinking of the most famous war photographer of all time, Robert Capa who famously said (before he was killed by a landmine in Vietnam) "If your shots aren't good enough, you're not close enough."

Perhaps the most famous war photo ever taken. By Capa during the Spanish Civil War.
As we head into awards season I can't help but feel a little sickened by the dilettantism that is so prevalent in our business. I have a friend who bemoans "the rise of the Guru class." In this space, I have bastardized Thorsten Veblen and disparaged "The Leisure of the Theory Class."

My point, as circuitous as I'm being, is that there's one way to do advertising, one way to be a creative, whether you're a lowly copywriter like myself or a great artist and writer. 

Get close to the action. 

Get in there and roll up your sleeves and do your work. Learn the products, learn the consumer, learn the emotions, the gestalt, the people who can help. Get in there--without a big lens, get close to the action and work it.

This has been my policy throughout life. Even this fakakta blog, well, dammit, today marks 10 years of more than once-a-day writing. I laugh when I see agency blogs or the blogs of so-called social media mavens who haven't posted since early 2015.

I know sometimes my posts are trivial, or silly, or meaningless. They're no different in their own way from Capa's rejects or Gilkey's. You have to take a lot of shots to get one or two worth keeping.

I suppose I could call that the ratio of life. Or the equation.

Get close, keep slogging and hope for the best.

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