[by Luke Copping]
I’m not a fan of Soylent – the light on flavor beige goo that’s all the rage amongst fitness nuts, post humanists, and optimization-obsessed executives. It’s supposedly a nutritionally complete liquid food that can replace all of your meals. It’s easy to digest, cheap, gives you everything you need to get through the day — it’s touted by many as the food of the future. And it’s boring — painfully, unbearably boring (even the “liquid cake” flavored versions that some food hackers have developed for it).
Give me red wine and local beer. Give me BBQ brisket and questionable but delicious street tacos. Give me ramen that I have to wait 90 minutes for in a line outside the restaurant. Give me some personality and flavor. Give me something to eat that says something about the person that made it. Give me food that has a point of view.
Give two chefs the same building blocks and ingredients — and one chef may create something perfectly neutral and sustaining, while another can convey a series of tastes, sense memories, and cultural connection that conveys something profound. Both are valid approaches to keeping people nourished and alive, but at whose restaurant do you actually want to eat?
Writing is the same way. We’re all working with the same words, but it’s how we put them together that matters. We can opt to write like Soylent tastes — filling but unfulfilling. Or we can choose to inject our writing with a little more flavor and spice — revealing something deeper about ourselves to the reader beyond just the words on the page.
I’ve seen too many photographers’ bios that read like the tenure application of an academic — listing little more than grants received, awards won, and accolades presented. It seems great on paper, but presents the photographer as little more than a cypher. A series of goals met and accomplishments accomplished rather than as a being with any real substantive personality.
The same problem comes out in how many photographers write social media posts and blogs — a bare recounting of facts and figures with little personal connection. Blog posts that read as elongated versions of “This was a great shoot, the art director was nice and brought sandwiches.”; and Facebook posts that are little more than “Click here to visit my blog, click here to visit my site, click here to visit my Instagram…”.
We aren’t institutions. We’re creatives and small businesses. It’s time we started writing like creatives and less like health insurance companies. We need to stop with the business double talk and start getting on board with real talk. We need to stop writing mission statements and start writing manifestos. We need to convey who we are to our clients in everything we do, from our images to how we present ourselves in the written word — because our genuine personalities and experiences are just as important of a differentiating factor as our work is these days.
And here’s a great example of a photographer who does it right. (Fair warning — he somehow managed to get famed humorist and author Tom Robbins to write his bio — so don’t try this at home unless you have the required safety gear).
Buffalo NY Photographer Luke Copping specializes in commercial and editorial portraits of people and animals. His personal work documents the creatives and small business people who are busting their asses to bring new life to the Rust Belt cities of Western New York… He’s also the Vice Chair of ASMP National.
No matter what anyone says, he will continue to think Soylent is gross.