“So, what do you do?”
I tell stories.
When on a plane or at a mixer, and the inevitable “what do you do?” question arises, I generally tailor my answer based on the audience.
Quite often I reply that I am a publisher, because I have been publishing books and magazines for nearly three decades. But, since the subject of those books and magazines is Russia, I am a bit careful where I use this line, because (especially since 2016) it tends to draw me down a rabbit hole of talk about Russia from which it is difficult to escape.
Also, people generally don’t have any idea what a publisher does (“it’s like a producer, but for books” is my generally unhelpful explanation), and if I note that I also consult with companies about publishing, well, that’s a double-barreled what-the-heck.
If I am on an assignment, I may reply that I am a journalist or an editor, or a photojournalist, depending on the journalistic brief I am working on. But journalists, kind of like psychotherapists, can be viewed with unwarranted suspicion (“is he taking this down?”). So that’s not always an advisable tack.
I therefore like being able to say I am simply a photographer, because that strips away both the Russian and journalistic elements, and it is immediately understandable. After all, everyone is a photographer these days. Thanks, Apple.
But the bottom line is that, for all of the various hats I wear, if I were to boil it all down to just one thing, it is this: I tell stories.
Homo Sapiens is hard wired to respond to stories. It is how we problem solve and develop and pass on knowledge. So I love to follow a vein of curiosity or mystery and come back with a story to share, whether it is one told in words, pictures, or both. And, as an editor and publisher, I love enabling other storytellers to bring their stories into the world.
This is all a long intro-as-excuse for mentioning that Crescendo magazine, which is published by Festival Napa Valley, in addition to including lots of my images from past Napa festivals in this year’s issue, also had me research and write two stories: one on connections between Napa and NASA, and one on a Napa company that is shaking up the world of music-making.
I got to learn about all sorts of new technology while working on both these stories, and heard amazing stories about people living very different lives from my own. Here are the two articles (the magazine, inexplicably, does not byline articles), with great design by Trish Sagare at Compass Marketing.