archive for May, 2013

Staff member dodges locomotive to get the perfect shot


OncomingDesigner/photographer Josh McLaughlin recently put himself in harm’s way to snap this gorgeous color photograph of a vintage Norfolk Southern steam locomotive (subsequently featured on the front page of the Lakewood Observer).

As the steam engine passed through Lakewood on May 12, Josh crept up to the tracks and snapped away at the oncoming train with two cameras, capturing color and black-and-white images along with a peppering of soot from the coal car.

He says it was a small price to pay to get the pictures he wanted: large-scale color to convey the size and power of the engine, and monochrome closeups of the wheels and gears to illustrate its complexity.*

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Big dramatic events are obvious attractions for shutterbugs, but Josh also keeps an eye out for things of interest in his everyday travels.

“I run and bike, so I have plenty of time to look around and enjoy the view,” he says. “Many times after a long run I grab my camera and hike back to the place I just traveled to get a shot of something that caught my eye.”

flowerJosh’s two young daughters, as they progress through childhood, have been frequent subjects of his photos. In fact, family has been his inspiration from the start.

“I became interested in photography at an early age thanks to my grandfather,” Josh explains. “He always had a camera and would take pictures of anyone and anything. He was great at getting people to smile and that’s what showed me the way.”

He shares his grandfather’s passion too.

“I have shot a wide range of photography over the past 15 years, professionally as well as personally, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I enjoy the unique challenges that each product, portrait or fine art piece entails.”

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* The b/w locomotive image was taken from about 6-8 feet away from the moving train. Don’t try this at home.

“The Curse Of Knowledge”

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People who know a lot about certain subjects are particularly susceptible to the Curse of Knowledge.

You could be suffering from “the curse of knowledge” and not even know it.

(There’s irony for you, huh?)

The term “the curse of knowledge” was coined by Chip and Dan Heath in their book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. It occurs when you know something so well you mistakenly assume others know it.

It gets worse with time too. The longer you’ve known something, the harder it becomes to imagine others not knowing it.

But here’s the worst thing about the curse of knowledge: It stops communication dead in its tracks. It causes you to confuse, bore and even alienate your audience.

That’s why marketing professionals must always be on guard against it.

Here’s an example of how it can happen (it’s a domestic scenario, but it applies to professional communication as well):

I enjoy figuring out songs “by ear” on our piano at home. One day my wife, who also plays a bit, asked me to show her how to do it. (She mostly just plays songs from sheet music.)

“Oh, it’s easy,” I said. “Just listen to the bass line; it’s usually playing the root. Then you just have to figure out if the chord is major or minor.”

I droned on for a few seconds after that, happily explaining my method, until I noticed that her brow had furrowed.

“I don’t get it,” she said. “What’s a root?”

The curse of knowledge had struck.

I’d mistakenly assumed we knew the same stuff about music. But, unfortunately, no one had ever taught her any music theory. So when I launched into that “root,” “major” and “minor” bit I lost her. Plus I felt like a schmuck.

Of course, when the communication is just between two people the curse of knowledge is easy to overcome. One person just says, “Hold on, I don’t understand. Could you explain that?”

But when we’re speaking to a mass audience, as we do when we’re marketing a brand or product, we don’t have the benefit of immediate feedback that lets us correct things. We have to be clear the first time. There’s no one to say, “You’re talking over my head” if our message bores, confuses or overwhelms our audience.

Picture a minister addressing his congregation. If he forgets that his flock hasn’t attended seminary, he might start peppering his sermons with obscure biblical references that would sail past most of his listeners. Too much of that and they’ll tune out, fidget or fall asleep. But if he remembers to keep it simple – even his Boss spoke in parables – he keeps them engaged.

If we’re going to engage people with our message, and avoid being stung by the curse of knowledge, we need to do the same.

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Related Links

http://www.businesspundit.com/the-curse-of-knowledge-why-communication-at-work-is-sometimes-difficult/

http://www.idratherbewriting.com/2007/01/24/the-curse-of-knowledge-the-more-you-know-the-worse-communicator-you-become/