Brandon Woelfel Decoded

When I recently asked that question on Instagram, everybody said the same one thing: Lights. But that’s not quite where the story lives.

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Think of the stars. Everybody likes stars. It’s visceral to the human mind. A sea of sparkling lights. I often like to travel outside the city simply to look at the stars.

Think about the following scene: A “star” walking down the red carpet. A silhouette carving out glamour and sophistication in the sea of flashing lights. A staple frame of any red carpet sequence in a movie.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Brandon Woelfel?

When I recently asked that question on Instagram, everybody said the same one thing: Lights. Specifically, it’s a “bokeh of fairy lights.” It’s an over-simplified, inaccurate explanation of Brandon’s vibe. But that’s not quite where the story lives.

In our staple frame of the red carpet, a person walks by as all eyes are fixated to someone who literally carries the moniker of a “star”. The fixation, the heightened attention, is in the awareness that the “precious” moment will be over in the blink of an eye. A hysterical burst of camera flashes, “the sea of sparkling lights”, exemplifies the fleeting moment.

As all lights surround the star, Brandon surrounds her model with a bokeh of lights as she takes the centre *coughs* stage *coughs* frame.

This chic-showbiz theme continues outdoors, as he captures portraits in a bokeh of distant city lights, neon lights, etc. He always captures at the same time of the day as our staple scene: Dusk.

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My hearts in the sky, supernova🌙

A post shared by Brandon Woelfel (@brandonwoelfel) on

Indoors, these are usually fairy lights, but Brandon has expanded his collection to include a variety of everyday sources of lights: Wall Signs, CDs, Prisms, and other Objects.

A bit technical…

These pictures are exposed very low on a Nikon Full Frame Camera so that he can enhance in post without any noise and losing any detail. Remember, he is shooting LIGHTS. Exposing low allows him a full dynamic range of colours in the face of lights.

Every element in the scene is pure eye candy, visceral to the human mind. Bright, and Colorful. He chooses the Cotton Candy colour palette for his edits.

Now all that is left…

Capture something that will be over any moment. Justify the heightened attention of the viewer. And this is exactly what he does: “Capture fleeting moments.”

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In all this bitterness, you stay so sweet💫

A post shared by Brandon Woelfel (@brandonwoelfel) on

In a video collaborating w/ Brandon Woelfel, YouTuber & Photographer, Peter McKinnon, talks about how he always keeps his models moving to capture a burst of frames. The models are always doing a variety of things uninterrupted. Each frame captures something that ceases to exist a microsecond later.

And now the most difficult step: Choice. What he evidently ends up with is a series of very similar shots, only marginally better/worse than each other. And he has to choose between a series of these very similar shots. That’s a skill, a compounded behaviour, every photographer only develops over time as he weighs the arc of emotion stimulated over a series of shots. You have to look for the little details to pick out the emotion at its peak.


  • Bokeh of Lights.
  • Dusk.
  • Centred Frame.
  • Cotton Candy Color Pallete.

Brandon sticks to these elements as it culminates all attention of the viewer to the fleeting moment. Limitations inspire, almost mandates, creativity. Brandon chose his limitations based on a very singular theme, within which he draws attention to his alluring library of human emotions: the fleeting moments.

Since then, he has expanded his catalogue of lights, props, and locations as he gradually inculcated more things into the vibe he aspired. So the next time, you spot a Brandon Woelfel picture: instead of literally everything else, how about you talk a little more about the fleeting moment. That’s where the story lives.

i’m CONDESCENDING

Why I tell my story – and why you should too.

To assume that you should click and read through what I have to say is condescending. To assume that someone should invest time and emotions to indulge in what you created is condescending. And that makes every artist inherently condescending.

After existing in the concealment of mystery that people allow you when you declare yourself a writer, or a photographer, or an ‘artist’ of any kind, when you finally click publish, the exposition that follows throws you in a paroxysm of self-consciousess. Hit publish and you’re implicitly demanding people to indulge in what you know will never be perfect, just done. But it’s important you share. Why?

For the same reason why you found any art to be important: CONNECTION. To have a piece of art resonate with you. A piece of art that finds you when you’re alone in your bedroom, when all the promotions, IMDB ratings, trending today columns, and aggressive recommendations – when all the noise shouting “you should indulge in this” dissolves and a work of art emerges out to you and occupies your mind playing on repeat, feeling something real. You connect!

It’s incredibly powerful to know that you’re not the only one facing a problem, asking a question, feeling an emotion, living an experience. All art is, perhaps, a bridge.

I started writing this blog and many others months ago. Tens of blogs occupy my drafts section but I keep coming back to this blog or should I say, “this blog keeps coming back to me.” And so I must complete. Even though I must live in the fear that this blog might not be perfect and objectively not the best use of your time and emotions, I must be done with it.

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I find solace in that thought. It resonates with how I try to create. Write a lot and then aggressively edit. Click a lot of pictures and then aggressively pick. Choose what has value. Though cannot assure you if I can impart perfect value in return for what you invest in me. But then :

Perfection only exists in the mind. It’s not real. Imagine, create, improve. – Zat Rana,Writer, DesignLuck

It is all confusing, but the main takeaway is this – Done is better than perfect. It’s important to write this story because it keeps coming back to me. It is a part of my narrative, my perspective, my whole worldview. An artist strives for the ability to express in what becomes an extension to his mind.

Art is a true account of the activity of mind. – Donald Barthelme

And so I communicate. Not to gain views, go viral, but to communicate with the like-minded I hope to meet in the future. It’s important to tell my story because my story is your story.

“Creativity is the ability to be able to believe in the way in which you see the world so much that you create an art-form out of it. If you stay true to yourself, and if that’s what your art is about . That’s interesting. That’s unique. That’s Bloody Beautiful.” – Dan Mace, YouTuber

Everybody is competing for your attention, and the only way I can win is by being myself because nobody can be better at “being me” than me. Authenticity is the name of the game. But it gets really difficult to stick to your inner voice with staring eyes all around you to which, Naval says :

“The secret to public speaking is to speak as if you’re alone.” – Naval Ravikant

In a hyper-connected world, you have a better chance at finding your audience. A sizeable audience enough to make a living. YouTube is filled with stories of such esoteric communities.

You may not say what people want to hear. It’s ok to be different. It’s important to be different. Difference is a teacher. Fear difference and you learn nothing.

So tell your story. To your notebook, to your friends, to the world. Share what you focus on and what you learnt. We learn from the part of the story we focus on. An artist doesn’t crave more fans to consume his art, he wants people to comprehend his art and to tell what they focused on.

Many people, by default, don’t see themselves as creative because they treat it as some mysterious force they don’t possess. But in truth, it’s just a matter of living and expressing. You don’t need to chase a creative life to be fulfilled. You just need to avoid being boxed in. – Zat Rana, The Pillars of a Creative Life

An artist is intentional with his work. The narrative lived, understood and told. What your actions produce must encapsulate your consciousness for it to be inscribed in the history of humanity.

Express to find where we connect in our emotions, in our thought patterns, and if we’re lucky, in our actions. The Australian Comedian, Hannah Gadsby says, “Anger… much like Laughter unites people in a room like no other.” To which she further adds :

Anger is a toxic and infectious tension. It spreads blind hatred, and is never constructive. Laughter… laughter is not the best medicine. It’s just the honey that sweetens the bitter medicine. Stories hold our cure. We learn from the part of the story we focus on. And like it or not: your story is my story, and my story is yours. — Hannah Gadsby.

As I conclude, I feel there is something more to this. Perhaps, something wrong with this. But if I can vehemently disagree with the person I was 5 years ago, I can disagree with the blog I wrote 3 months ago. While I’m condescending enough to share this blog with you, I’m humble enough to indulge in your response.

Don’t write to make money, but to build relationships with the like-minded you haven’t met. – Naval Ravikant

The Fundamental flaws with IGTV

Instagram introduced IGTV, a platform for sharing long-form vertical videos, competing for your internet video appetite with YouTube. This will be a native video sharing platform for all instagrammers and IGTV’s success depends on leveraging the network effects of Instagram, or as I like to say, “Facebook’s Instagram.”

The dual-nature of Instagram’s network

We exercise a sense of exclusivity to our lives as we form relationships with people. Facebook’s aim was to represent this exclusive relationships online and provide every conceivable way to exchange digital content within these pre-agreed confines. But the exclusivity we wanna exercise to our online content is highly subjective, the nature of which is vaguely defined and is crudely labelled as “friendship”. As a result, this exclusivity watered down into irrelevancy as people accepted every friend request that came their way. This made sharing things on Facebook quite uncomfortable for many.

Private accounts is hugely popular among the Faceboook-first social media generation who migrated to Instagram. Now, people got a second chance to define the exclusivity they prefer for their online content. A sense of caution meant they invariably used the Private Accounts feature on Instagram. But mostly they use this exclusivity to largely restrict access based on pre-existing relationships, not unlike Facebook.

But this was very different from how people used to form relationships on Instagram. When it was originally conceived, the message was “follow if you like the content”, common across all content-first platforms like Youtube or Twitter which IGTV directly intends to compete. Private accounts ask the question “follow if you know the person”, very much like Facebook.

I will be exploring this dual-nature of networking on Instagram as IGTV intends to capitalize on the network effects of Instagram.

Vertical Videos

The distinct methods of discovery coupled with a fixed vertical aspect ratio is where IGTV hopes to have it’s own genre of videos. Different aspect ratios are used by filmmakers as an artistic choice. A wide frame for a cinematic look, a squarish 4:3 aspect ratio for guerrilla filmmaking. But no filmmaker have found a use for vertical aspect ratios even though it has been supported by YouTube for the longest time. All the screens are horizontal, every camera shoots horizontal, your eyes are positioned sideways. Vertical videos are simply not immersive.

So why are vertical videos so popular?

When I used to teach photography in a college art club, I observed new photographers use their DSLR almost exclusively in the horizontal orientation. I myself did that for the longest time as it was ergonomically natural to hold a DSLR that way. As we learnt and became more intentional with our photography is when that reduced.

Point is ergonomics matter and for phones: we naturally tend to hold it vertical. You see the reason why vertical videos got so popular is that average users are not very intentional when creating videos. That’s precisely why stories are vertical because you’re not supposed to handle a lot of cognitive load when posting content that lasts for 10 sec and would cease to exist in 24 hours.

Vertical video is not an artistic choice, but an unintended habit.

IGTV targets its creator community. Creators who are very intentional with the content they share. Vlog is a sub-genre of movies born on the internet sharing real lives as a narrative for a daily series. But even for such a kind of sharing, where vertical videos has been used for, there was this instance where Casey Neistat (the poster boy of vlogging) ridicules his friend Karlie Kloss for mistakenly recording and posting a vlog from a Taylor Swift concert in a vertical orientation. She did that because she ‘forgot’ and later regretted. Once upon a time, Google went as far as allowing only horizontal video to be captured through its camera app. But people hold phones vertically, and Google eventually said: so be it.

So why would YouTubers use IGTV?

For many YouTubers, IGTV is a blank slate to start a new series. To post a different kind of content they wouldn’t normally post on their YouTube channel.

For those who don’t operate vlogging channels, vertical Stories opened up creator’s lives to their fans, of which IGTV is a direct extrapolation. Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) recently uploaded a video of them playing a game in his studio on IGTV. Something he would never upload on his YouTube channel. Youtubers who have wanted to share intimate content like that have typically started a separate vlog channel, like Lily Singh (!!Superwoman!!). But MKBHD has dodged the idea of vlogs until he indulged in such intimate sharing in a long video format on IGTV.

However, in a Q&A video, MKBHD and iJustine said how they see IGTV videos as no longer than 90 seconds. And I agree. I can’t watch Vertical Videos for much longer. It’s not an immersive frame.

IGTV can be a one-stop for all videos which I would characterise as more informal content, content they would’ve posted on Twitter or Instagram previously.

IGTV might provide the blank slate that creators seek to launch new kinds of content without rebuilding their fan bases – though that comes with it’s own caveats.

Following your Instagrammers on IGTV

There’s a pool of Instagrammers who are diversifying into creating internet videos and this native integration insta-ntly ports their Instagram fan base to their new endeavours on IGTV. But one must understand that these people followed their fav creators loving the content that they shared on Instagram – photos/short videos. Creating long videos is a different skill. There’s the mismatch. Hence, there will be disappointments as well as delightful surprises as consumers are constantly poked to check out their fav Creator’s IGTV content.

Discovering IGTV content through Instagram

Convince people to click through to your content in 280 characters or less (as in tweets), or you convince people to ‘swipe-up’ to your content in 10 seconds or less (as in InstaStories). YouTubers have used these methods to direct users to their latest video for a long while. Integrating IGTV, Instagram hopes people are directed to IGTV more than YouTube.

But the ways to discover IGTV content on Instagram is ditto to what creators have already achieved for YouTube. You can discover IGTV through stories or navigate to the profile page, exactly how creators already advertise their YouTube content.

Some distinct ways are designed to bait you into unintentional consumption. The user is constantly baited into clicking through to IGTV by flashing it at the top of the Instagram app. IGTV channel is shown in the same circle and in the same row as highlight stories in the profile page. This clickbait design that they have ported from InstaStories to IGTV appeals to the lazy consumer who unintentionally, addictively consumes a plethora of passable content.

Dear Instagram,
Impart Value, Not Addiction.

One distinct way can be if Instagram integrates discovering IGTV via individual posts. One-such scenario is attaching Behind-The-Scene ‘IGTV videos’ to content shared on Instagram. A short trailer on Instagram to a longer video on IGTV is another one. But Instagram has yet to get around such native integrations.

People’s internet video appetite is monopolized by YouTube. So expect people to be a lot more harsh on IGTV. People can be quite averse to change. These are the barriers that Kevin Systrom (CEO of Instagram) hopes to cross to make IGTV a native user habit. When people access IGTV through the native app!

Discovering IGTV content within the native IGTV App

Discovering content through search is where YouTube has a huge advantage. It’s not just Google’s superior algorithms but people’s trust that they’ll find the video they are looking for in world’s largest video database.

Where IGTV hopes to succeed is recommendations, based on the “knowledge” it has collected about you and who you follow over the years on Instagram.

IGTV is named so for a reason. During the keynote, Kevin Systrom (CEO of Instagram) threw a myriad of TV analogies while describing the product. For example, there’s always something playing (to your liking) when you open the app, just like when you switch on a TV. Either you change the channel or be unintentionally sucked into whatever is playing.

Like it or not, this is how the folks at IGTV intends to be the TV of Generation Y.

Personally, I object to companies trying to feed you content in a binge-state. Netflix CEO infamously said, ”Our biggest competitor is sleep”. Hence, I find myself constantly fighting the decisions made by these companies trying to keep my consumption intentional.

Helping me discover new content with a UI that encourages informed decision, recommendations that nicely sits in the fringes of something different but not completely alien to me is what I hope these platforms’ AI try to achieve.

Following “friends” On IGTV

At best, vertical videos is an informal sharing of lives, a slice of realism that popularised vlogs. If IGTV is the next evolution of Instagram and more accurately, Instastories, it must learn from the core philosophy of Snapchat – Don’t make friends compete for likes, and help maintain a small enough “friends” circle to encourage free, private sharing of content by end users.

I believe IGTV with vertical videos should see itself as an intimate platform where people might feel comfortable sharing long videos with small groups – an informal, intimate video sharing platform. Your friends might finally share their long phone videos online, something no platform has been able to encourage.

IGTV treating itself as an open platform, a public stage, like YouTube, is anti-thetical to the notion associated with vertical videos.

A consumer must exercise decision-making in what they consume to open themselves up to a greater quality content. There is an epidemic of passable content that clogs our algorithmic feeds be it on Facebook, Instagram, and even YouTube. This eventually bores the consumer and hurts the network in the long run, discouraging new, bold creators in the process.

IGTV is an opportunity to create a new healthy community of creators, learning from 10 years of independent content culture. What YouTube or Twitter taught us, is platforms thrive when the priority of the companies is not to cause infinite consumption, but to create new mediums for art. What Snapchat’s encroachment of Facebook taught us is that, not competing for more likes, but encouraging a small online network is essential to continue freely sharing lives.

IGTV and it’s creators must imbibe such philosophies to create a distinct brand for the platform, instead of delivering redundant content and leveraging Instagram for more users and money.

Everybody is wrong about the Notch

The Notch gives, and not takes away, useful space. Software can help make that apparent.

Why is the Notch such an infamous design decision from Apple? People wished for the notch to go away more than they wished for the top and bottom bezels to go away on the iPhone 7 or even the new, Galaxy.

The Notch makes it look like you’re taking away some screen from the user, a cut out from our perfect rounded rectangle. Design making a limitation of engineering apparent. BUT, the notch allows for more pixels to be used by the software. So why do people wish it away?

A year ago, I carried around a phone by LG: The V20. The space right beside the camera was used for a secondary always-on display. LG called it the Second Screen or as I like to call it: The TICKER display.

Notch Comparison

The LG V20 was not the most pretty phone, but had a wide-angle lens, directional audio recording, high fidelity audio output, and yet the one thing that delighted people most was: THE TICKER DISPLAY that seemed to liven up a part of the bezel.

People would just swipe across to switch between the various things on this little stripe of always-on screen. If smartphones are devices that are supposed to update us about everything we care about, an always-on display is obvious.

It’s native to Android now. A particular set of pixels on your OLED screen are always on to show you the time, important notifications, status information, etc.

More display is what people (& software) should focus on iPhone X, exactly like they did 10 years ago with the original iPhone.

What’s precisely wrong about Apple’s approach is how the software leverages those pixels. Apple could have just as easily blacked out the ‘ears’ by default to show only status information all of the time: A Live Bezel. And allow to delightfully customize to show what you care about.

This is precisely why LG’s new phones call the extra space around the notch as the second screen, although I feel it’s quite misleading.

144369-phones-review-review-lg-g7-thinq-notch-image5-zmducfqlkg.jpg

Why nobody complains about the Samsung Galaxy’s bezels is symmetry. Most of the negative reaction to the notch is impulsive. The notch feels out of place, something that isn’t ideal. When you’re holding your phone sideways for consumption, you want your device to be symmetrical on either side. The wider display appreciated, not disturbed by a notch. The status info occupying the space of the previously dead, empty bezel allowing for a taller display.

That’s what people should focus on: More Display, exactly like they did 10 years ago with the original iPhone. I believe that’s how they should have marketed it in the first place. Blacked out by default. Symmetry makes sense to an observer. In my fantasy of speaking on the Apple keynote stage, I would’ve said :

“…your eyes are not tricking you. The top bezel is really showing you the time and all your status icons. That’s because it’s all pixels. We have extended the screen to replace that dead bezel.”

A symmetrical chin hiding the connector would’ve been prettier.

Fun Fact: Having no chin costs a lot of money. Symmetry would have saved the consumers extra bucks that Apple charges to fold the display underneath itself, so that the connector (to the motherboard) goes under the display, instead of a chin bezel.

Apple’s iPhone X is a half-measure at giving people a truly bezeless display. Technology just didn’t catch up for iPhone’s 10 year anniversary. I just wish the Apple-verse and everyone else accepts it, and designs for it.

The best way to consume Blogs

If you are someone who has not done much reading all their lives, picking up that book, owning your learning and developing a consistent habit to read can be a daunting task. I was one of them, but then Blogs changed me. A 300-page book can feel a bigger commitment, a 2-3 page blog may seem a good baby step.

Some of the really smart bloggers digestify, and simplify knowledge from books and observations into blogs.

Publishing on the internet means there are no publishers to convince. No editors trying to save their ass. Which is great for humanity. But it also means you have an endless stream of virtually infinite blogs at your click. And there’s no gatekeeper. You’re all on your own.

Every company, from Facebook to Medium, are trying to do this curation for you. Their fancy algorithms are the gatekeepers of the 21st Century. But their motivation is to try to bait you into addictively consuming an endless feed of content, not to nurture your brain. I, instantly, switch off YouTube’s AutoPlay.

The blogging platform Medium is trying to be the YouTube of Blogs. But YouTube has mostly monopolized the platform for internet videos, Medium has not for blogs. I, personally, don’t choose Medium as my go to platform for publishing blogs. Mainly because I would prefer my favorite bloggers like Shane Parrish, Morgan Housel and the likes to continue publishing on their independent websites. It allows me to consume blogs in a setting I deem to be the best for me. More specifically, Medium doesn’t integrate well with my favorite tool, Pocket.

Here’s how I consume blogs in the most constructive way :

Step 1 : DISCOVERING BLOGS

– I discover blogs from multiple sources, but my preferred platform to follow a blogger is Twitter. The 140-280 character tweets serves as a small pitch to what the blog is about. Also, on Twitter you can very easily ditch the algorithmic feed for a chronological feed, by unchecking “Make best tweets appear first” in settings. It really makes me more self-aware of the kind of content I am consuming, and what is most useful and relevant to me.

Step 2 : DON’T READ WHEN YOU DISCOVER : Download the Pocket App

– As I discover blogs through various mediums like Twitter, I don’t wanna read it at the moment I discover. In fact, I consciously refrain from it. Reading tweets demands very different attention than reading blogs. I wanna allow my brain to focus on one thing at a time. So I only want to consume the tweets on my feed without being directed to any other kind of task like reading blogs.

The activity of discovery is separate from the activity of reading blogs.

– So download the Pocket App, save all the articles you would wanna read to the app and leverage all the curation you have done so far (more in Step 4).

Step 3 : INTENTIONAL CONSUMPTION : when you want to consume, what you want to consume on-demand

– Pocket serves as a two-factor authentication against the blog I wanna consume allowing intentional consumption, not addictive. FUCK CLICKBAIT.

– When your brain is ready to provide the attention that a blogs demands, open the Pocket App. To continue focusing on one thing at a time, I tend to consume related blogs as a group. Imagine if you were reading newspaper, and all articles instead of being categorized were just jumbled up. That would be pretty disorienting. And that’s what happens if you simply consume as you discover on the Internet.

Focusing on single lines of thought is how I know to be the best way to build the knowledge spiral.

Step 4 : POCKET – The gift that keeps on giving

Build your own digital library

Pocket builds up a dataset nothing else quite does : a complete history of all the blogs you have read. Pocket can be your personal digital library.

– Highlight key points in an article and pocket keeps it in one place for you. Something you can’t when you open up an article in the website. And of course, the highlights, the blogs and every content you ever save to Pocket is searchable.

Tap into Pocket’s own Social Network

About 20 million users save billions of content from all over the internet to Pocket. You can follow the users. Depending on what you save and consume, Pocket recommends what you might like. And these are some excellent recommendations.

– Watch out for recommendations sent as e-mails by Pocket. I have known these to be some of the best articles I have discovered.

Read “comfortably”

The app automatically downloads all articles for offline use. My favorite is the Article View which extracts only the actual reading content from the web page, removing everything else, the obnoxious ads, the social media buttons, presenting the article in a simple readable format. You can even have these articles sent to your Kindle, if that’s something you’re into.

  • Reading is workout for the mind. But the chaos of virtually infinite content posted on the Internet each day can make it feel exhausting. This way of consuming blogs introduces some order for me. An order I can develop a habit around. And that’s sort of really the end goal : Read Everyday.
  • The Case for Physical Keyboards on Phones – Why I use a Blackberry in 2018?

    Last year, BlackBerry did what it should’ve done a decade ago. It switched to Android OS on a Blackberry carrying a Physical Keyboard – called the KeyOne.

    Physical keyboards is still an essential hardware for modern day computing. It’s a device which is not broken, just not as necessary for a smartphone. A Touchscreen reproduce the effect of a keyboard/mouse on a display and more. It was the obvious tradeoff for a device characterized by compactness.

    Why we still use Physical Keyboards?

    While smartphones is a good balance of the many ways we express and interact, people do have some predominant methods. Some capture, some draw, some speak and some write. 2017 was the year we saw different smartphones cater to specific use cases like Gaming (Razerphone), Filmmaking (LG V30), and now writing — BlackBerry KeyOne. That’s what I see it as – not just an email machine but a device for long-form content. A physical keyboard is an instrument to a writer. I can interact with a software to tell a computer to produce specific sounds at specific times, but a pianist never composes that way. For him the best interface is a piano. He needs physical keys that syncs muscle memory with thoughts.

    Thoughts come at random times at random places without a word limit. And mobile physical keyboards really allows for a higher word limit. Having a physical keyboard can be oddly rewarding. Continue reading “The Case for Physical Keyboards on Phones – Why I use a Blackberry in 2018?”

    Why Vlogs is one of my favourite Art Forms?

    Have you ever ran to the nearest mall to see your favourite actor in flesh n bones? Or couldn’t stop narrating how you once ran into the National Team Player in a Hotel Lobby? To me, these stories has always felt hollow. Incidents like these don’t count as a memory in my diary. I need more. Maybe a brief conversation with that person, a live performance, or a good speech. I guess I can safely say I have never indulged in typical fandom. Until, I discovered Vlogging.

    Vlogging is a sub-genre of filmmaking that had always felt a bit mundane to me. Why would I wanna see a person carry around his camera all day, capture everything and dump it all in a video. Lazy Narration and Low Production is not what I wanna watch in a film.

    There are few art forms that can be cited as condescending as vlogging. To assume people should care about what you’ve to say is in itself a bit condescending. In this context, Vlogging as a product seems to be just feeding off of people’s addiction to indulge in famous lives.

    When arguably the most acclaimed vlogger, Casey Neistat, started his vlog, his wife Candice saw it as egotistical, an attempt to “be famous for just being famous.”

    BUT

    Casey Neistat saw vlogging as using your life as a narrative for a daily series. He made two choices which changed vlogging forever :

    1. “My goal has never been to share all the initimacies of my life. This ain’t a journal. I want to share a STORY — typically a three act narrative. A entertaining piece of content based on his life – his perspective… everyday.”
    2. “I constantly want to UP the production level and make every video seem more like a Movie.”
    Picture by Nerdwriter (Evan Pushack)

    A DSLR on a gorilla pod is way heavier to carry around all day than any hand-held vlogging camera from the past. I say past because everybody switched to this rig after Casey introduced it to the platform. Just like everyone else, Casey employs a variety of cameras for his videos. As Evan Pushack explains in his video essay, “each camera and each lens has it’s own personality and Neistat is constantly switching them around.” The fact that he carries such a heavy rig is itself evident of the fact that he wants the show to look real, not be real.

    The camera becomes a part of the show and this realism is what gives the viewer a raw slice of life. Sitting in India, my impression of New York is largely based on what Casey has depicted and less based on 100s of episodes across various NYC sitcoms.

    I believe the choices that Casey takes with his content parallels the choices we make when sharing our day with a friend. If you like telling stories, you never start out chronologically morning to evening, but instead you pick your set of events and introduce relevant context, warp space and time to build an interesting story as in a video edit. The art is in the edit. These simple stories told day after day contributes to the image that your friend has of you.

    An entire vlogging culture has taken over the platform with each creator sharing their daily perspectives. Vlogging feeds off  of the same curiosity that makes us talk to strangers while travelling. That’s the effect a daily series based on someone’s life create – that of a distant friend.

    Vlogs are animated by the personality of the creator, uploaded without any filter between the creator and the person. I think meeting Casey will be very much like meeting a friend. You’re NOT caught off-guard by the question, “How is the celebrity in real life?” I exactly know how Casey is with his fans, family and colleagues as I have seen it in tens of vlogs.

    The stories that our friends tell us, strangers on our travels tell us, are of some actual value to us. Insta-stories and Snapchat are popular for the same reason. YouTube has successfully commoditized these stories and provided a business for people who used to just love telling their stories to their friends.

    Call it fandom, but buying Casey’s merch is a souvenir to these direct, unfiltered relationship developed over the years. I went from not liking the art-form to indulging in ‘fandom’ for the very first time. Filmmaking is now a sport. CN is, indeed, my Creative Hero!

    I keep dabbling with the idea of starting a vlog someday.