Boarding…

I’m in the new YVR international terminal, waiting to board a flight to Heathrow. Besides my trip to Texas (Texas counts as another continent) this will be my longest trip off the North American rock. Six weeks, five countries, ten flights, and two major assignments (plus a little side-jaunt with some friends).

It’s been a complex setup… prep, planning and logistics have been more difficult than any other trip. But I’m looking forward to two challenging projects. I’ve been doing a fair amount of pre-work on both projects, exercising my new-found story knowledge.

I’ll be attempting to keep a regular log on the blog… stay posted.

Trip prep

What do Yellow Fever, PVC, and scotch have in common? That’s right, you guessed it – packing!

My basement haunt is knee-deep in cases, gear, and clothing as I prep for one of the most interesting and complex trips I’ve been on. I’ll be departing New Years Eve for a total of six weeks away, with three major stops in Scotland, Rwanda and Swaziland.

When I need a distraction from packing I’ll post more about my assignments and itinerary…

Two Green Lights

Last night the good news arrived that our grant has been approved allowing Lyn, Jesse and I to return to Rwanda in January.

The day before, I received confirmation of a photography assignment to Swaziland. I’ll be using photography to tell the story of Bulembu as part of a promotional campaign for the Teldon Group. I’ll be headed to Swaziland (via South Africa) immediately after wrapping in Rwanda.

Backstage Pass: A guide to recognizing your whereabouts

I’m anticipating two kinds of visitors to this site. One is professional contacts, linking from an email or business card and inquiring about me as a photographer or film director. The other are friends, family, and people inquisitive about the creative dimension of my work – a more curious crowd, willing to spend some time discovering and poking around. This site is built for both audiences.

For the professionally-oriented visitor, the first page you see at trevormeier.com has links to the basics: an About page (with a bio and links to contact me) and the latest news. I also offer a news-only RSS feed for keeping up on the latest goings on, without the rest of the blog content. This audience gets immediate access to a subset of targeted content: quick and logical.

For everyone else, the site takes on a different character. To participate in the story of the site, visitors enter into the timeline, with all of the content is organized into chronological order.* In that sense it is a “blog”… but this blog is different.

Posts are displayed one at a time. Each post gets its own page, with arrows at bottom right to navigate forward and back. Design follows content: there is a distinct lack of clutter, the intent always to immerse the reader in the content. Each type of post has a unique design suited to the type of material. For example, news posts have a white background, a serif headline and an icon representing a news feed; photography posts have dark background and a wide aspect ratio with lots of room to show off the photo. All the other usual clutter of a blog is tucked away behind four icons at the top, and behind each post’s title.

Clicking on the title of a post opens it in a view that allows comments. The title also links to the permanent address of each post, for bookmarking etc.

At the top-left of the page, hovering over the icon reveals links to go home and to the top of the blog. At top-right, three icons link to the RSS feed, an index of the most recent posts, and the about page: home of everything else you might want to find or know about me or the site.

Hopefully this will help you find your way around. If you’re lost, or have comments or suggestions, you can always contact me.

*If you’re sneaky, you’ll notice that there are some posts that don’t show up on the main posts timeline. These contain more specific or less general-interest content. They do show up in the RSS feed – a likely place for aficionados to be lurking. They can also be accessed via the archives, or by tabbing forward and back from the single post view (reached by clicking on any post’s title). Try going to first post on the blog, clicking on the post’s title, then clicking back on the arrows at the bottom right of the page…

Backstage Pass: Thematic Integrity

Maasai Article Header Crop

It took a long time to understand my desire to publish online. I’m discovering that knowing my theme makes choosing much easier.

I am at a point in my life, creatively, where I am moving beyond natural talent and digging into the difficult work of being an artist. Creating music has changed from layering loops and thinking of cool chord progressions, into thoughtful development of emotional story to shape the sounds and the music. Photography has grown from interesting imagery into storytelling. Filmmaking has evolved from sequencing events and setting up jokes into using imagination to access deep questions of humanity’s interaction with change, success, and disappointment.

I’d recently been using the web more as a social tool. Distance has kept me from the people I care about, and blogs, Facebook, and iChat are rich ways to keep in touch. But in being social online (through the melĂ©e of Facebook friend requests and instant messaging), I found myself being hardened by it. The internet is highly efficient at communication and preservation of information, but it is not an effective social medium. As a social system, the internet promotes the commodification of people that inhabit it. Each person – a “user” – is forced into a uniform, technologically-defined box, devoid of a person’s true nuance and individuality. And I also found that mediation in my closest relationships was running counter to deep, safe interaction.

So, my opinion of the web as a social destination cooled… but I couldn’t kick the idea of having a site.

The internet is good at being a voice-extendar. It’s a flat publishing system, good at making boxes to put stuff in. In designing something for myself, my desire for uniqueness ran against the problem that most systems are designed around the now-traditional concept of “blogging.” Blogging has become largely about the regurgitation of information in the form of textual commentary, quotation and criticism. I already knew I wanted to stay outside the net’s social web, but I still had a desire to build my own soap-box for the things I found beautiful and interesting.

My primary mediums are film, photography, music, and words. I wanted to build a site that reflected all aspects of how I create. Typical blogs are all about the text, and accompanied by all kinds of extra clutter designed to improve Google search ratings and advertising page-hits. I also didn’t want to be locked into the chronological nature of blogs – there’s something about dating posts that makes anything old seem stale and less interesting.

All of this searching led me to clarify why I wanted to publish online. It’s not to be ranked on Google, to make money, for acclaim, to be known, or to get more work as a photographer or a filmmaker. My desire is to bring to light beautiful and interesting things from my world (whether found or original) so that whoever happens across this site will have their story enriched by their visit.

Once I understood that theme, accomplishing the final design was relatively easy. In a matter of days I rebuilt the site from scratch into the form you see now. It’s an example of how in my life, in my stories, in my screenwriting and directing, I’m learning that taking time to know the theme of things clarifies the action required and enriches the story.

Just a little bit easier

Some patterns have emerged from visitor stats, so I’ve made a few adjustments to aid in finding content:

  1. The top-left navigation now includes a link to the blog as well as the home page. You can also access the blog directly at trevormeier.com/posts/
  2. The top-right menu now includes a link to an index page, listing the most recent posts and quick links to search and archives.