Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tickets to honesty

"How much are the tickets?"

When I see a big ad announcing a concert, that's my first question. I'm not stingy. But I am officially tired of organizations that promote concerts, gala dinners, seminars, etc., without disclosing the ticket price. Or websites that make me drill down several web pages before ticket prices pop up.

Let's be honest. (Unless you're Ticketmaster, for whom honesty is nothing more than the name of a Billy Joel song.) These events aren't free. People want to know what tickets cost.

Billy Joel, Nov. 25, 2014, NYC. (c) DKassnoff, 2014
I know a ticket to see Michael Buble or Mr. Joel is going to be pricey. There's no sense in hiding it.

I paid full price to see Mr. Joel in concert. It was worth every penny.

When I want to attend an event because I believe in the organization or admire the speaker or performer, cost isn't a deterrent. Don't waste my time by burying the price three or four screens down.

Spell out ticket prices in your ads. Simple, right?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Photo worthy, or potty material?

We take an awful lot of photos today. Mostly of scenes that have no business appearing in photos.

Laundry in the trunk of a minivan. A restaurant's interpretation of a burger and fries. Contents of Joe's daughter's college dorm room. Dozing cats. (I'll catch hell for that last one.)

Most of these images are meaningful to the individuals who shoot them, and that's fine. But not all of us need to see them. Even if most of us carry some device that captures pictures that can be uploaded to a social media website in mere seconds.

Ellicottville Rodeo potty, (c) DKassnoff, 2014.
We need to be better photo editors. Smartphones run apps that help improve an image, but there aren't many fixes for a backlit, underexposed image. Or a blurry concert shot, where the featured performer was 200 feet away and looks like a Lego figure in your image.

Those images don't tell me a story.

This photo is one example. I was shooting a rodeo, and a rider got thrown from his horse. There's action in this picture, but the "decisive moment" means it's not worthy. And the row of porta-potties in the background is a buzz-kill.

There's no story here.

Fierce rider. (c) DKassnoff, 2014.
The photo at left? A little better. You see the rider's face, the force of the bucking horse.

There's a story here. And no porta-potties in the background.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Off road

I'm off the road for a few months now. Semester's done. End-of-class grading, post the grades, log off. Done.

By Rob Sinclair (Up on blocks  Uploaded by geagea)
via Wikimedia Commons
For the next couple of months, I'm archiving my knowledge of the back roads of Livingston County. Instead of weaving between orange traffic barrels with a coffee in one hand, I'll write. Take a course. Maybe get to bed a few minutes earlier.

I drive two hours each way, once a week, to teach in a university classroom. It's my alter-ego gig. I get to do what I love. The students seem to get it. Most of them, anyway. But after 14 weeks, a couple of oil changes, gallons of coffee, and worrying when to swap the snow tires for all-season radials, I'm pretty fried.

But I love it. I love the rush of helping students see the media, public relations, advertising, and social media from perspectives they haven't seen before. It's my hope they'll see whether a career in advertising, PR, web development, or journalism fits with what they want. Or -- and this is more likely -- they'll be equipped to choose a career path that suits them for a few years, before discovering what they truly want to do.

I like heading back to that quiet little town where my small university is one of the largest employers. I like the sounds of evening rain.

And when the fall semester starts in late August, I'll do it again.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Standing on principle

I sometimes chose which charitable events I attend based on the quality of the folding chairs the facility uses.


Many organizations sell tickets to these events that far exceed the price of a comfy movie theater seat. Nice meal, intriguing conversation, stirring presentations.

Chairs at MIT graduation. By Dan4th Nicholas,
via Wikimedia Commons.
But the hosting location often tries to save a few bucks by using folding chairs. Often plastic, wobbly seats, with inadequate support for your back or bottom. And they ask you to sit through multiple speeches and recognitions, plus a meal. 

And if it's a graduation ceremony, you could be seated for hours. Painfully, if it's at MIT's commencement, in the chairs shown in the photo.

(On Dave's Seat Comfort Scale, these rank at No. 8. If they were those undersized wooden jobs, they'd be a 9 or 10.)

I spent a few years in my corporate life attending luncheons, galas, etc. After a while, I had memorized which museums, conference centers, and universities provided reasonable seating. And which ones owned or rented the least-comfortable chairs.

The irony? Part of my corporate giving job at that time involved donating surplus furniture, including -- you guessed it -- chairs. Usually good chairs.

So, even if I'm a supporter of an organization, I really pause before sending my check. I'd love to attend, but I'm standing on principle. At $50 a ticket, I'm not buying a plate -- I'm renting a seat.

And it ought to be a good one.