From November 2011

Introducing Twenty Bridges – a Kickstarter Project

Anyone who’s known me for any length of time has seen me with a camera or two. Since I was given one at age ten, it’s been an integral part of my life. I’ve grown up seeing the world through a lens. I originally started out shooting nature, but a two-week workshop with the legendary Jay Maisel transformed my work. No longer content creating beautiful landscape imagery, I’ve been interested in capturing emotion and how the ‘hand of man’ impacts the environment.

Although I complain about our persistent gray skies and abundance of rain, I love Oregon. It offers an extremely diverse range of terrain from the rugged coastline and lush rain forest to the arid high desert of central and eastern Oregon. If you don’t like a particular type of landscape, drive awhile and it’ll change. Crossing the state on Highway 20 from Newport on the coast to the Idaho border is proof of the amazing diversity in Oregon’s landscape.

But it’s Oregon’s Highway 101 that dazzles with incredible beauty around virtually every bend. As a driver, it’s a tough road to focus on the task of actually driving as the eye is captivating by the crashing surf, jagged rock formations or monstrous sand dunes. The many waysides beckon you to pull over and to take it all in, reminding yourself how insignificant you are against nature’s power. Unlike many highways, there’s never a stretch of road that doesn’t delight the senses in some fashion. In fact, it’s arguably one of the most beautiful drives in the world. It’s only of late that I’ve come to truly appreciate just how grand it is. Just how special. There’s something about its mighty power that lures me back and am always in awe of it.

There are 20 key bridges connecting the communities along Highway 101 from Astoria to Brookings.

On a calm day with soft coastal breezes lapping at your cheeks, you feel as if you’re on top of the world. These special bridges connect us and allow fluid travel to our next destination. Often, however, we don’t always notice them as we’re taken by the shear beauty of the natural environment. Look closer and you realize they’re not just utilitarian structures carrying us from points A to B to C and so on, but designed to delight the eye and complement the environment they inhabit each in their own way. 11 of these bridges were designed by world renowned engineer Conde B. McCullough and built in the late 20s and 30s. They allowed efficient travel as before you had to be ferried across. Sadly, the Alsea Bay Bridge, succumbed to the elements and had to be replaced in the mid-90s, however the new structure echoes the beauty of the original. The Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport – now 75 years old features concrete and metal arches dancing across Yaquina Bay like a pebble skipping across a still lake. Because he knew people would be below just as much as on his bridges, McCullough infused careful details in the understructure to please the eye. And he didn’t disappoint. Time Magazine once noted that it was one of the most beautiful bridges in the world – and most photographed.

Twenty Bridges is a celebration of these graceful structures that bring us closer together. I’ve tried to capture them in the context of their environment as well as the details that complete the whole. Each has many stories to tell of the people who’ve traveled up and down the coast. Residents and tourists. Kids and families. Couples on a romantic getaway. Starting with the Astoria-Megler bridge at the top of the state and ending with the Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge crossing the Rogue River in Gold Beach, come along with me on a trip down the Oregon Coast.

Twenty Bridges will be a gallery exhibition in the fall of 2012 featuring a mix of large prints of each bridge and smaller prints that showcase each of these bridges in their environment. There will also be a finely-produced coffee table book plus a short film about driving down the Oregon coast. Your support will help cover the cost of film, high-resolution drum scans and gallery prints. Anything additional will go into enhancing the gallery show and production of the film. Below is a working cover and select images from the project along with links to each of the bridges I’ll photograph for the project. I aim to complete shooting by late Spring, 2012, working through winter and a mix of the always unpredictable coastal weather.

As always, I welcome your feedback, appreciate any support whether backing this project or simply sharing it with those you think might be interested. I look forward to delivering an incredible end product that shines a light on the brilliant work of the designers and engineers of these beautiful bridges.

The science behind viral content

Make WowEvery marketer’s dream is for their content masterpiece to go viral. They shout from the rooftops as loudly as they can, “Pick me! Pick me! Oh, Pleeeeze, won’t you please Pick meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” More than likely, said masterpiece suffers a quick, unremarkable death after a couple Tweets. Lost in the scrap heap of forgotten content. You just can predict exactly what’s going to go viral. No matter how hard you try.

 

 

Or can you?

 

 

Dan Zarrella thinks you can. In fact, in his latest book, Zarella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness, he outlines a scientifically repeatable process for creating and delivering content that has more than a fighting chance of sticking. While debunking a few myths along the way.

Social media is still a wild frontier that most companies don’t yet get. Yet like anything on the web, just about every interaction is measurable. Dan’s done a great job over the last few years analyzing and reporting on the science behind social media.

He developed a model for decision making before an idea is spread:
1. The person must be exposed to your content (i.e. be a follower or fan of you and your brand)
2. The person must be made aware of your specific content
3. They must be motivated to act in order to want to share it.

You can increase your odds of the above happening by increasing your reach, creating relevant, provocative content, and finally, including a valuable call to action. I recommend you grab his book to see how he dissects each of these areas. Just like in traditional advertising, the size of your audience matters.

What’s interesting, though are some of the myths he shreds in the book. Like it’s okay to call yourself a guru, expert, authority, etc. In fact if you do, you’ll have an average of 100 more followers on Twitter. This has been one of my hot buttons as I’ve often said that if you have to call yourself a guru, then most likely you aren’t. It’s the principle of show don’t tell. I always think it’s better if others figure that out for themselves. And he does clarify that just adding the word doesn’t make this happen – but having the confidence to do so (meaning you can back up your claim) – makes a difference.

Talking smack doesn’t work. In fact it pushes people away. People hanging out in social media want to be uplifted, helped. Not depressed. Plenty of other places to get the bad news.

Nor does talking incessantly about yourself. Quite boring. Instead, have a point of view and share it. That’s what people want.

If you get nothing else out of this book, what people want is interesting content to share with their followers. It makes them look good and enhances their reputation. No one wants to share what’s freely available. They want the scoop. They want to be perceived as breaking the news rather than rehashing it.

The more personal your content, the better. And think a lot about when you send your content. Turns out weekends are a great time to do so. Why? Less Clutter. And people have more time to snack on it.

“Messages sent over weekends had click-though rates twice as high as messages sent during the week. And the messages sent on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday had the highest unsubscribe rates.” – Dan said.

Don’t be stupid with your writing but don’t be pompous either. His research shows that the best content is simply written. Makes sense when you consider how little time you have to capture attention. If a reader doesn’t grasp your message quickly, they’ll move on to the next competing for their attention. Make your point and make it clearly. Don’t make someone work too hard to decipher it. There’s a difference between communicating simply and talking down to your audience. Treat them with the respect they deserve and give them credit. They’re not stupid.

If you haven’t read Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence, there’s no time like the present to do so. The principles of reciprocity and social proof also apply to creating viral content. We’re imitators and tend to follow the crowd. People want to know that the content they share makes them look good and that it’s something others do to.

If you want something to go viral, you have to create something that’s relevant, compelling and newsworthy. Dan’s provided a good framework that gives you a leg up on most marketers who ignore the data and science, preferring to focus on chance. Because we’re irrational right? We may be irrational but people like Dan Zarella and Robert Cialdini among others have analyzed our irrationality and uncovered the patterns in our behavior.

It’s time to get strategic in how you develop content, using the data and frameworks available to give you a better chance of success.