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December 18, 2013
Berlin: 5th of december stay the whole day and night, train ride next day.
Check out
Either stop in heidleberg first or stuggart.

Learn about International Calling, changing euros, contacting Beth and Chris, contacting Melanie, contacting Martin
 t (800) 922-0204:  International calling, verizon wireless
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Client Book: Guinness

September 17, 2013

  Why the Allure of Guinness Wins the Respect of All

Product Exploration:

Guinness is a dry stout that originated in Arthur Guinness’s St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. The beer is based upon the porter style that originated in London in the early 1700s. It is one of the most successful beer brands in the world, being exported worldwide. The distinctive feature in the flavor is the roasted barley which remains unfermented.  The thick creamy head is the result of a nitrogen mix being added during the serving process.

There is a specific way to pour a Guinness, in which the barkeep pours the Guinness into a glass 3/4s of the way and waits two minutes to let the sediment settle to the bottom of the glass.  Once this is done, the remainder of the glass is filled up with the trademark foam taking up no more than one half an inch of the glass.  Avid Guinness drinkers will become angry if the bartender rushes the pour, as they  disturb the ritual of drinking a Guinness.

Some people may be put off or discouraged to drink Guinness because they assume that the dark color carries heavy content and will be too strong.  Many Guinness drinkers do claim that this stout beer is an acquired taste.  The bitterness, almost reminiscent of coffee or a dark chocolate, hits the front of the palate first, but the flavor evens out when the liquid moves down the throat.
Perhaps the most important factor of Guinness is its distinctiveness and iconic image.  Nine out of ten people will be able to recognize a Guinness amongst other beers, and will be able to link the beer to its heritage and Irish past. The brand is still heavily linked with Ireland, despite being now owned by the multi-national alcohol conglomerate Diageo and brewed around the world in fifty different countries.

Competitive Analysis
Guinness is the Flagship and epitome of all stouts in the wonderful world of beer. Even thought stouts are renowned for being heavy-in-the-gut and thick, Guinness was the breakthrough that allowed people to truly appreciate darker, more full-bodied brews. There are many thousands of different stouts on the market now, including milk stouts like Bell’s, Young’s double chocolate stout, and Sam Smiths amazing oatmeal stout, but nothing compares and has the following as Guinness. Following are Guinness two biggest competitors:

Murphy’s Irish Stout: In comparison to its heavier and more bitter chief competitors, Guinness and Beamish, Murphy’s is a lighter and sweeter dry stout. Its flavor is evocative of caramel and malt, and is described as “a distant relative of chocolate milk“. The resemblance to milk extends beyond flavor to texture; Murphy’s is free from any hint of carbonation, is delivered “black as strong cappuccino” with an inch of foam – “the head” – on top. The head, in particular, is lauded for its remarkably thick and creamy nature and its “spoonable” density. Drinkability is high, with such a low alcohol content and light body but full of lots of subtle and well-balanced flavors.

Beamish Irish Stout: Beamish stout is Beamish and Crawford’s flagship product, now brewed by Heineken at the Murphy’s brewery. This beer smells of cream, toffee, a little coffee, and a little chocolate.The taste is a simple cream opening into one note of vague roast and a relatively empty body that transitions well to an average finish. The feeling in the mouth is a bit too smooth on the palate even for its creamy overtoneGuinness draught has a definite leg up with its multiple notes and flavors, all of which are balanced better. If you’re after an Irish stout, you’re best off reaching for Guinness.

Other brands that may compete with Guinness on tap are other imports and craft brews.  Suprisingly, Harp prevails in sales over Guinness at the local pub in Richmond,  Penny Lane Pub. Harp is a highly drinkable lager that comes from the same parent company, Diageo.   Something of an acquired taste, the stout also trails higher-selling international lagers such as Heinekin, Carlsburg, and Stella Artois.  Craft brews, mostly followed by “beer geeks,” have gathered such a strong following because of the varied ingredients and methods of brewing thrown into the beer-making process.  Examples of these include Dogfishhead, Lagunitas, Sam Smith, Magic Hat, and Taphouse.

Our Target:

Up-and-coming young professionals who are fresh out of college and are living in a second-tier city. Most likely they are single and living on their own. They usually make an upper-medium level income and rent property instead of buying, meaning that they are not financially tied down.  These up-and-comers align themselves with someone who respects beer; they may not be “beer geeks” by any means, but they do realize that types of beers convey different messages.  They are in the process of transiting from cheap party beer to a beer that has an acquired taste that one enjoys drinking instead of a beer one buys just to get smashed on.

Our target tends to be self-focused and active, as they indulge themselves with athletic activities, the latest technology, international and state-wide travel, and nightlife entertainment.  They are definitely not old-fashioned, and have some concern about keeping up with the latest fashions and trends. For fun, they enjoy playing sports, hiking and camping, shopping, spending time with friends, watching television, and attending cultural events. Finances are not a high priority for the up-and-comers. They are not very concerned about planning for their financial future or living within their means. They are more concerned about their personal health and staying fit. Up-and-comers also have a strong need to know themselves better and map out clear life goals as well as get more pleasure out of life.

Most importantly, our target is at the point in their life where they want to go out at night and meet up with friends and co-workers and enjoy a few beers rather than going to a party and getting hammered. They are looking for a beer that fits their new lifestyle. They want something that is full-bodied with distinctive taste, as well as something that runs the line between cheap and expensive. They want to relax with a beer they can take their time with and savor the flavor. New Guinness drinkers are excited to learn about the beer and the story behind it. For the most part they are looking for a beer that they can relate to and find some kind of connection with and once they learn about this historic beer they feel like they have become part of that history.

Message Objectives:

Arthur Guiness started brewing ales from 1759 at the St. Jame’s Gate Brewery, Dublin. Ten Years later on May 19th 1769 Guiness exported his ale for the first time, when six and half barrels were shipped to England. Now, 10 Million Guiness glasses of stout, beer, or draught are enjoyed everyday. What makes this beer so remarkable is it’s story. Arthur Guiness started selling the dark beer porter that not only invented the stout, but invented a beer that started a legacy. Our message shows how Guiness became an icon and that people understand the legacy, have heard the stories, and have stories of their own. Why would people stand in line in the snow for a glass of Guiness? Loyalty to a beer makes it more than just a beer.

The “Perfect Pint” of Draught Guiness is the product of a lengthy “Double Pour” which according to the company should take 119.53 seconds. Ideally a pint of Guiness should be served in a slighlty tulip shaped pint glass. On the way to the tap, the beer is passed through a chiller and is forced through a five-hole disc restrictor plate in the end of the tap, which increases the fluid pressure and friction, forcing the creation of small bubbles which form a creamy head (science!) The glass is then rested until the initial pour settles, and the remainder of the glass is then filled with a slow pour until the head forms a slight dome over the top of the glass. The dispensing of the stout so as to achieve the desirable head has gone through a number of evolutionary stages.

Our target started their drinking career with indiscriminatory taste: anything you put in front of them, they drank.  Drinking was almost a race for them, seeing who could drink as much as possible.  But Guinness is not like most drinks available. The wait is worthwhile and that is our main objective for the message. This beer doesn’t belong in a bottle, it should be poured. There has been so much effort in perfecting this beer that people that drink it should put the effort in drinking it right.

The Strategy:
When a customer walks into a bar or restaurant and is approached by a bartender, the first question that is asked is “What’ll you have?”  The customer has hundreds of choices between beer, wine, and liquor, so the task of choosing the drink, depending on their situation, can be quite nerve-wracking. 

In the beer category, bars have seemingly unlimited choices of what they want to carry as a staple on tap.  Beer drinkers must make the choice of sticking with their old favorites, or exploring something new.   Bartenders are always willing to give samples and talk the customer through the beer, especially if the beer is daunting in its dark color and distinguished pour.  Our strategy for Guinness is to encourage the younger generation of beer drinkers to try Guinness in the hopes that this iconic beer will become their new drink of choice.

As mentioned previously in our objectives, the most important idea that the viewer needs to understand is that there is so much effort that goes into pouring the perfect pint.  The uniqueness of the two minute pour is well worth the wait for someone who wants to become part of the Guinness culture.

Guinness is not for the faint of heart; this is a beer for someone who knows or is learning how to handle beer.  The pour of a pint of Guinness is much like foreplay, as the drinker knows that something excellent is coming to them after the bartender plays works the tap like an expert craftsman.  In this sense, the Guinness brand can be seen as edgy, with a little bit of humor, manliness, and sexiness mixed in.

How Do We Evolve As Writers? [An Inward Look]

June 5, 2013

I recently enrolled in a Coursera course to refresh my writing skills and sharpen my technique.  The course focuses on how we as writers engage our audience and how we engage with the writer as an audience.  The first assignment was to tell the story of how we became a writer.  Unfortunately, I wrote this essay, submitted it, and withdrew from the class. (Sometimes life throws a wrench in the best laid plans, you know how it is!)  

I took to the written word like a slipper to a cold foot, warmly and comfortably.  My best friends were books and the characters that filled their pages.  The adventures and trials of the Boxcar children and the frightening, implausible tales of Goosebumps ultimately fueled my hand to the pen, and pen to paper.

Memories of my formative years of writing escape me, but begin to sharpen in my high school literature classes, particularly my sophomore year.  As an achiever, I started each school year setting my sights for straight A’s.  So when I forgot my very first writing assignment, anxiety of failure and receiving poor grades overwhelmed my thoughts.

Tears flooded my eyes as I told my sympathetic, grandmotherly teacher about my blunder.  If you saw me, you would’ve sworn that someone just told me something horrific happened, like I’d never be able to walk again.  The teacher, probably out of a need for a quick resolution to stop my preteen whining, moved the due date to the following day.  I gulped back my tears, squeaked out a “thank you,” and crept back to my desk, ashamed at my oversight and shameless over-reaction.   Looking back, I mark this as the first time my writing evolved to an instrument of approval-seeking, no longer an outlet of creativity and a need of expression.

High school, a tumultuous and at times isolating time period in a person’s life, was no different for me.  My family picked up its roots in a small, Ohio town, and moved into the heart of the fried-chicken eating, gospel preaching, and sweet-tea guzzling south.  To say it was a culture shock doesn’t even scratch the surface.  I had a hard time finding common ground with my peers, and my introverted tendencies held me back from making connections, even though my heart was desperately seeking friendship.

The efforts were too hard and the results not enough.  Books and writing were my fallback, my trusted companion that didn’t require an uncomfortable foray out of my shell.  My mother gave me a journal when I was 16, and from there began an obsessive and nearly codependent relationship between my thoughts and a pen and paper.

My first attempts at writing was religious-themed poetry, text heavily laden with ephemeral concepts and holier-than thou prose. I think my writing began when I first learned of Emily Dickinson and transcendentalism.  The overarching theme was that no-one understood me except God and that one day I will feel whole when I’m reunited with Him.  I don’t remember why these thoughts consumed my thinking, but I was writing them non-stop in inappropriate times and places: SAT class, at the dinner table, on cocktail napkins at my hostess job at Applebee’s.  I couldn’t stop.

As I continued forward on my faith-led, nearly isolated high school existence, certain relationships began to shift my thinking.  The first was Josephin, our German foreign exchange student.  She was well-versed in the language of boys, and was the first atheist that I met.  She opened my mind to new thinking and a different perspective other than my devout Christian leaning.  She told me I was attractive and that boys thought so too.  Halfway through the journal I can see a visible shift in my youthful pondering on life.  My writing began to emulate more of a secular 17 year old girl’s journal, pages riddle with profound conjectures of life’s purpose and who I thought was cute in school.  God, and my writing’s religious overtones, subsided to the background.

By the time my college life stage started, I found a new friend in alcohol.  My parents divorced, and any remnants of my childhood disappeared.  All of these circumstances, compounded with my confusion of my faith, led to something I thought only existed in prescription drug commercials: depression.

Depression hit me like a uncaring bus-driver, plowing my emotional state and leaving my heart, mind, and soul mangled, bloody victims.  My writing turned dark; I was churning out epics in economics and languishing over prose in art history.  While I may have created what I consider my best work, I knew that I couldn’t dwell in the squalor of sadness forever.  I got help, moved to Richmond, and started fresh.

With a new life came a new college. I chose advertising as my major at VCU under the premise that I could combine my creativity with my growing interest in business.  Copy writing classes proved to be the most challenging, as I was had to modify my stream-of-consciousness writing style to concise word styling.  I kicked butt in strategy classes, affirming that I made the right educational choice.  While looking for employment, my resume and cover letter were persuasive and compelling enough to land me two different internships, both heavily writing-based, and propelled me forward to working woman land.

I still keep a journal, with my most recent entries telling my story of my trip to Germany.  I no longer speak of the boys I chase after or the demons that haunt me.  My writing reflects how I now am; uplifted, high-energy, and reflective.

If you are a writer, what’s your story?  Can you relate at all to mine, or did you travel down a completely different path?  Let me know in the comments!

David Foster Wallace and the Matter of Choice

May 14, 2013

As an adult I’ve seen the saying “It’s the small things in life” applied heavily to the ins-and-outs of my days.  Things like waking up and  having 20 mins to lay in bed, no traffic on my often-frustrating commute, and an extra-yummy lunch that I’ve prepared the night before really iron out the wrinkles in my day.

Young woman hitting the snooze button

I’ve really come to appreciate my morning routine when I first sit down and hit the “in” button in my office.  I grab a steaming cup of coffee and hear the crinkling of ice in my water, gulping down the amazing provider of refreshment.  I slowly sip on my coffee and eat my cinnamon and vanilla oatmeal as I cruise through my blog reader in search of relevant and interesting content as it pertains to my company’s industry.  While  the content tends to be repetitive and somewhat inapplicable to my job, there are occasions when I stumble upon nuggets of gold that can stop me in my tracks and make me say “whoa.”

Last week, I, along with 4 million others, saw David Foster Wallace’s words come to life in production company The Glossary’s video “This is water”

As I began to hear the words that Wallace candidly spoke at Kenyon College’s commencement 8 years ago unfold to a portrait of the typical frazzled nine-to-fiver in a grocery store, my brainwaves and heartstrings began to come alive. I’ve been coming to terms with my entrance into adulthood, and watching this video articulates perfectly the anquish I’ve been experiencing for the past few months.

But really, anybody whose anybody and works  40 hours or more a week can accurately paint the picture of the drudgery and monotony of our daily lives.

Wallace, however, proves his sage-like status by offering a solution.

Take a look at the video below and open your heart and mind to the words and propositions of “This is water.”

Update: It appears that the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust does not give permission for the video to be shared.  Bummer.

But you can also check out quotes from his speech here.

It’s really hard for me to pick just one highlight, but perhaps what was most evident to me was how much Wallace’s philosophy on life ties in with the purpose of a Christian life and making decisions to become more like Christ. For the record, Wallace clearly states that this isn’t about religion, but I’ll have to throw in a big wrench into that wheel of anti-spirituality.

The topical word is choice.

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.
That is real freedom.
That is being taught how to think.
The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race” — the constant, gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.”

God gave human’s a choice:to follow Him or put themselves as the center of the universe. We make the  conscious decision to become more Christ-like with each and every decision we make, from opening the door for a slow-moving elderly lady to not talking badly about our coworker in the cafeteria. Wallace echoes this fundamental Christian tenet by saying that we experience “real freedom” by not caring so much about ourselves and our stupid, petty problems and look for opportunities to really care and love.

The main takeaway for those with secular leanings is that if we continue living life with our heads down, we are just miserable, lifeless creatures, waiting for our time to end and to start pushing up daisies.

Though I’ve heard this vitally important message on numerous occasions from my parents, pastors, and mentors, I think it was the timing that made this lesson stick.  To make our days less ordinary and more fulfilling of life’s purpose, we absolutely MUST stop thinking of ourselves as the center of the universe and see that it is a relationship with God and humanity that will make us see water for what it is.

The Clear Transition From Early 20’s to Late 20’s

May 9, 2013

I hit a breaking point a few months ago, and I recognized a clear segue between early 20-something Maggie and closer-to-thirty Maggie.  I’ve heard talk of the stark differences between the age of college grad fever and acute-family-making onset, but assumed that I’d be immune to it.  Then I see this cutesy, Girls inspired Buzzfeed article, and I was able to check off each item as if I were self-diagnosing my symptoms.

The tickling urge to party hard late into the wee hours of Saturday and Sunday morning-gone!

Why late 20-somethings don't drink

The ability to eat a heap of ice cream without seeing it instantly implanted on your tummy-gone!

I ate too much ice creami

Not worrying about bills and your financial situation so much because you’re in college and it doesn’t matter-gone!

The stress of living a life with the young person’s “yolo” attitude was becoming quite a burden.  From chain-smoking cigarettes to crushing entire bags of Doritos in one sitting, my arteries were filling up faster than a contestant’s mouth in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Challenge.  Add on 8+ hours of daily sitting, tip-tapping on my keyboard, and my life was fast approaching a fate of Sedentary Death Syndrome. (Yes, it’s a real thing!)

I was getting antsy for a change, so I did what most red-blooded Americans do and waited until New Year’s Day to start.  I quit smoking, quit drinking, adapted a mostly vegan diet, and became a fitness freak.

And boy, has it made all the difference.

My breathing alone must be at 5x the capacity it was 5 months ago.  My energy levels are steady all through the day, allowing me to be more productive at work and complete more projects, errands, and chores at night.  Cheerfulness is a new experience.  By taking all of the weight off of my body, I truly feel lighter both mentally and spiritually.

Don’t worry, my vegan diet hasn’t made me all “granola.”  I still eat meat, but only 2-3 times a month, and usually when my family feeds it to me.  I’ve found other ways to be social by cutting out the bars and restaurants, and in return noticed that my true friendships have grown stronger.  I’m 5 months strong for no-smoking, and there is no looking back.

But the biggest thing that has been instrumental in my transformation has been fitness.  Fitness is what keeps me going, what boosts my energy in the morning, and what keeps me strong all the way through.  For the first time in my life I can call myself a runner.  I feel like Gumby with the flexibility I’ve gained from yoga.  People confuse me with Rocky when they see me kickboxing, running, and lifting weights.  I soar like a bird of prey when I hop on my road bike.

I feel strong.

I was inspired to write my testimonial of a total health makeover by this piece of writing I saw, entitled Mama Laughlin.  It’s a great motivator, and I think I may even print it out and put it in my office to refresh my mind and get a burst of positive energy when my fuel tank is running low.  There’s a reason we are  in the middle of a fitness craze–it just feels too darn good!

I broke up with you, didn’t Facebook tell you?

March 7, 2013

So I’m not the best when it comes to breakups, but really, who is?  No one wants to tell someone that they just didn’t make the cut, that their overall personality (or even looks) just didn’t jibe with what we are looking for in a mate. It’s even harder to remove the traces of an ex-lover. Now, like for everything hard in life, there’s an app for that.

In the  digital version of Eternal Sunshine On A Spotless Mind, Killswitch promises to make “breakups suck less” by discreetly erasing any connections and reminders of an ex. (I love the name, tagline, and concept).  Made by two twenty-something females, a friend’s messy breakup inspired them to create an app that simulated throwing away old pictures, gifts, and memories of a former flame.

A girl throws her heart away

For those who may not have cut a relationship off so cleanly, there is an app made by–get this– Brazilian soft drink company Guaraná Antarctica (Content marketing at it’s finest?).  Aptly called The Ex-Lover Blocker, this app will let humiliation loose if you attempt to call an ex by sending out a warning to your closest friends and posts an update on Facebook about your heart-weak ongoings.  This one would’ve helped me with one breakup that I just couldn’t sever completely (It eventually turned into an even bigger mess).

And of course there is the bit more well-known website Never Liked It Anyway, a community that allows jadded newly-single people capitalize on their broken hearts.  With a somewhat bitter name, this website not only can make someone some fast cash, but is a perfect way to make a public decry of the “pig” or “bitch” that was the gifter of the ware for sale.  This website is so popular that apparently they’re making a TV series based on it’s services.

Is there an app you wish you had to make a breakup easier?  For me, it would’ve been handy to alert me when an ex was in a restaurant, bar, or any other public space so as to avoid awkward crossings.  (Receiving death stares never feels good)

By +Maggie Young

From Brooklyn to Richmond

March 6, 2013

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn…..

Isn’t that just creative, another shout out to the hipsterdom of Brooklyn.

I’m saying that this sign  should be visible on any of the intersections on Harrison in Richmond VA. (Or anywhere within a one mile radius of the School of Art) Sure, Brooklyn may be the predominant flocking ground of our nation’s biggest hipsters, but if Richmond keeps feeding the asymmetricial hair-style wearing, “effortlessly cool” creatures, then there is no  telling what may happen!

Jugaad-One man’s pride is apparently our nation’s embarrassment

March 6, 2013

The concept of jugaad has exposed itself to me recently during a routine browsing through my blog reader. I wasn’t even trying very hard to find trending articles; these two just happened to pop up.

“What the west can learn from jugaad” 

“What falls to hand” 

Translated from Hindi, jugaad encompasses the practice of doing a lot with a little. In my home, we would call this “being resourceful.” Others say it is “embracing the entrepreneurial spirit.”

What caught my attention was Adelheid Fischer’s essay and description of “makeshift vehicles…made from reclaimed jeep parts and scrap wood.”  For our culture, this description recalls the popular Failblog meme “There I fixed it,” meant to poke fun at shabby duct tape repairs and “ghetto-rigged devices.”

Insane house, There I fixed it

Crazy bumper, There I fixed itEasy printer fix, There I fixed it
It’s funny. What we laugh at and pass poor judgement on is really, when you look at it, incredible inventiveness. To take parts that seemingly don’t belong together and engineer them in a functional way is a sure sign of jugaad. Sure, the design and aesthetics may not be the most attractive, but assuredly money was saved and the job rendered complete.

The Hindi culture for centuries have lived by the ideals of finding utility in scarcity; why is it so hard for us to adopt this program? It is common within the American mentality to want instant solutions. We are constantly allured by the “shiny object” and demand only the newest and top-notch materials in both our personal and professional lives. I know I’m guilty of this. I’d rather go out and buy new things the instant something breaks or fails to work they way I want to. I call on professionals to solve my problems, rather then invest time myself to learn how to solve them on my own.

Even though I’m not a follower of jugaad, I have much respect for it. Those who exhibit such ingenuity and cleverness should wear badges of honor square on their chest. Not everyone can solve a problem when materials and resources are scarce.

By +Maggie Young

I’m An Introvert, And That’s OK.

February 20, 2013

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking deeply on how I connect with the people in my life, my community, and the world.  In the quiet hours of the morning, while my neighbors slumber peacefully, I begin my morning meditation.  This is a time for me to focus, to breath, and to fill my body and thoughts with positive thinking to fuel my spirit through the day.

By nighttime, I’m exhausted, and I recess into my inner consciousness in the hopes that I can recharge myself to move forward with the daily practice of life productivity. I either settle in with a book, a documentary on Netflix, or the pages of my journal, until my eyelids are too heavy and cave in to the nudging of sleep.

I am an introvert, and I like it that way.

Introvert, Mashael Al-Shuwayer, Flickr

There has always been an anxiety, almost a pressure, within me that tells me that I have to be a social butterfly.  I think to myself, “But I don’t want to be around large crowds of people, why should I do something I don’t want to do?”  Constantly did I feel a nagging that I have to part of something bigger, something outside of myself.  In college, this pressure was so insurmountable that I succumbed.  How did I overcome the discomfort of having a social agenda? Alcohol.

But now college has come and gone, and booze (and cigarettes) are no longer in my diet.  I’ve come to accept my introverted propensity and have silenced the voices that tell me introversion is a negative quality.  Susan Cain helped me with her succinct and well-researched TedTalk on the subject of introverts.

One of the best quotes from her talk was “…solitude is a crucial ingredient to creativity…”  Sure, we need collaboration from time to time, but in the end, it is our alone time that we do our best thinking.  Instead of feeling restless, as if we have to be around people, we have this intense concentration on a certain thought or idea that spurs us to generate insights on a different level.

I’m an introvert, and that’s ok.

What’s In an Image?

February 17, 2013

Have you ever seen an image or photograph that drove you to imagine all of the circumstances leading up to the final capture of the moment?

Or, have your eyes had the experience of delivering such staggering sentiments to your brain that your body physically reacts?

These are the moments that photographers strive to capture with every flash and snap they take.  To encapsulate human and physical elements in such a way that they continue living in a static, unchanging environment is what truly makes a photographer an artist.  One such artist, Platon, has paved his own route in making the characters in his photographs seemingly divulge their darkest secrets to the viewer.

I was lucky enough to receive two tickets to the Richmond Forum this past Saturday, reveling in quite an adult affair for this recent college grad.  Dressed in my best evening wear and with curls in my hair, I waited anxiously in my red, plush seat in the historic Landmark Theater.  Unsure of what to expect, I did some research on this Platon guy, nearly skeptical of this mononymous person of certain celebrity.  On my small mobile screen, his photos looked sharp, with his subjects having  the most recognized mugs in the world.

“Ok,” I thought, “I’ll give this guy my attention.”

The next two hours I was on the edge of my seat, being taken, along with the audience, on a universal tour of human emotions.

Image by image, slide by slide, one could hear the resonating gasps and ahhs of the audience as we had huge photographs of both public figures and embattled human beings placed before us on a large projector screen.  Platon let the photograph sink in before recanting the story of each interaction with his subject.  Never before have I seen such powerful images that entirely boils down someone’s persona, and in a sense, animates them.  Along with his amusing, heartfelt, and even unsettling stories about the time he spent shooting these individuals, these photos proved that visual images are more powerful than ever.

 To evoke such reactions is to be a visual image master.

Now master he may be, Platon is also a person of modesty.  While there is no doubt that his portfolio is world renown, Platon focuses more on the content than the communicator.  In the Q&A session following his presentation, the moderator asked him about some of his techniques.  Platon answered, simply, that it is not in the technique or the equipment that he focuses on.  Rather, it is ensuring that he captures the essence of his subject matter and that his photo can communicate effectively the content it holds.

Wow.  Platon got down to the fundamentals with this statement.  He knows that photos are more than images; they are messages.

As the excited chattering lingered on, I felt an odd feeling tinkering on my consciousness:  My experience with the visual storytelling actually increased my ability to understand things that are larger than me.  And as cliché as it is, this proves that a picture is indefinitely worth a thousand words.