Friday, November 5, 2010


Providence Yellow, 2010

I attended the TEDxNASA conference yesterday. TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” If you’re not familiar with TED, you can learn about it here.

The “big” TED conferences are held just a few times a year in the U.S. and Britain and draw a blue chip audience from the realms of science and technology, entertainment, design and commerce. The price of admission is something like $6,000. The TEDx conferences, on the other hand, are local, independently-organized events that follow a standard TED format and meet certain content standards.

This was the second year for TEDxNASA, which is sponsored by the NASA Langley Research Center and the National Institute for Aerospace. Just under half of the members of the audience of some 1,600 people were, indeed, rocket scientists and aerospace engineers. Among the presenters this year were business thinkers, social scientists, writers, artists, designers, musicians, a poet, health experts, apps developers, rocket scientists and others. They were a lively parade of idea people.

More than a few of them, though, were what I would describe as “motivational” speakers, a category that usually doesn’t appeal to me. But as I looked back last night at my notes from the day I had to admit that some of their advice spoke to me even though I’d heard it many times before.

For example, Andy Stefanovich, of the innovation consulting firm Prophet, shared these suggestions:

  • Create breathing space to work on your projects.
  • Create excuses to have experiences.

I think I’m pretty good about the breathing space part. But when Stefanovich starting talking about creating excuses to have experiences, I realized I’d hadn’t been doing that lately. One of the benefits of being self-employed is that I should be able to make time to work on photography now and then during the workweek. There are times, of course, when the “day job” requires five (or six or seven) full days of work in a week. But many weeks that isn’t the case.

Experiences are the lifeblood of many artistic endeavors, and that certainly includes photography. A few summers ago I was able to arrange my work schedule so that most weeks I could take Fridays off from the “day job” to pursue photography.

I haven’t done that in a long time, though. And although I haven’t’ been without photographic subjects or projects to work on, I’m going to have to get better about creating excuses to have experiences.

How do you do it?

The pictures in this post were taken when I had a few hours free during a recent business trip to Providence, Rhode Island.

On Reading, 2010

Coupla Chicks Talking Trash on Thayer Street, 2010


  1. Wow! Every one of these photos is amazing! I'd definitely like to create more time for the things I love. Sounds wonderful!

  2. Love the shots in Providence.

    I think about photo opps all the time and plan them as part of my day. If I'm on the road I'll take a quick detour for part of the way home to check out something new. If I'm booking a hotel I'll try to get one that's odd or in a more interesting part of town, if I can. I take a walk at night if I'm out of town, or, rarely, early in the morning. It's simply part of my daily routine that gets its place in my planning.

  3. It amazes me to realize that now that I'm retired I actually have less free time than I did when I was still working, mainly because now I have time to do the things I always wanted to do. The trouble is, there are just too many of those things!

    BTW I served on a USAF ICBM Combat Crew in the early 70s. We were the men in the silos standing by to fight WW III with missiles and nukes. (WW IV will be fought with sticks and rocks). One evening my deputy crew commander turned to me and said "Oh my God, I just realized that we're rocket scientists and, if that's true, the world is in a lot of trouble!"