This text is from the preface to my book of dance photography, Dance!, which is available directly from me, or from The book includes full page reproductions of all the images in galleries  Dance 1 and  Dance 2 on my photography web site,

I document the work and energy that goes into dance — not just the final performance. Being in the studio as dances are created, or even as dancers prepare themselves, feels like being in a delivery room as children are being born. Amidst pain or anguish, tempered with rhythm and support, and bolstered with faith, new life emerges. It’s physical, sometimes sensual, often spiritual. Too often this process is ignored, as image makers look only at the final result — the dance. Read the rest of this entry »

Not all money is green

January 28, 2010

An important lesson for any professional to learn is that not all money is green.  There are some clients you just don’t want as clients, and the sooner you learn to turn them away the better. Some lack integrity, others don’t really want advice, guidance, or collaboration. Others don’t know how to work respectfully with professionals.

Yes, the sooner you move away from them (even if at some cost), and cast you lot with great clients, the more you’ll prosper and enjoy life.

Effective managing involves catalyzing, facilitating, inspiring, modeling, organizing, creating respected methods of accountability, and much more.

But there’s more than just such outward tasks, I believe. Dancers take class every day to keep up their physical agility. Creative and successful professionals need to nourish our right-brain agility. One of the important tasks of management today is to foster that agility, and the kinds of preparation that lead to it.

How to do that? Well, that’s why we have  organizations like the Center For Creative Emergence in the Washington DC area.  That’s why I do the consulting and run the workshops that I run in New England, that’s why many of us are exploring other initiatives in this relatively new area.

States of Creativity

January 28, 2010

I can be in several different  states of creativity:

  • Creating: Feeling that something exciting is coming out through me, and though related to my intention, my vision, and my skill, is larger than me.
  • Editing: Doing good — though perhaps not exciting —  work, that ties together or refines what I’ve created.  I’m using my skills, vision, perhaps even my imagination to see more.
  • Marking time: Balancing my checkbook, and doing all those other things that are neither exciting and creativity  nor so mindless as to be great for meditation.
  • Using my other senses and muscles: Walking or shoveling snow, or doing exercises at the gym . . . doing out of mind things that are nourishing in other ways.

My challenge is to get enough of all of these (along with social life, worship, prayer, etc), keeping them all in balance.  The words or definitions don’t really matter; balance does matter.

Exceptional Leaders

January 28, 2010

What are the behaviors of exceptional leaders?
What do exceptional leaders do?
What do exceptional leaders say?

Exceptional leaders . . .

  • Have lots of integrity.  They can be trusted to hear difficult points of view, to speak the truth, to take responsiblity for their actions and words.
  • Ask probing questions.  They want to really know what is happening, and why, and seek out people who can provide solid answers to their questions.  They are not afraid to admit their ignorance.
  • Speak and write clearly.  They know that their words will have a strong impact, and they insure that these words have the right impact.
  • Trust the people they are leading — most of the time.  They have a sense of when that trust might not be fully deserved, and work to instill values of trust, integrity, and cooperation.
  • Can stay focused on the big picture most of the time, and are not overwhelmed with the details required to carry out policies.  They can delegate tasks effectively and completely.
  • Have clear goals — for themselves, and for their organization.  And they can articulate these goals as a clear vision that can guide the work of everybody in the organization.
  • Have a passion and energy that inspires all those around them.
  • Regularly affirm the contributions of others in the organization.  While they will take credit for bringing in the right people, and motivating them effectively, they recognize that any final product or result is a team effort
  • Have strong interests and involvement in a various endeavors.  They are nurtured by their involvements in the arts, and by their work with community, religious, and civic groups.

This post is in draft form, and I’ll welcome your comments as I complete it.  I felt it was best to post it here, so that you comments can be  based on this very specific — if incomplete — draft document.

Whenever I attend a lecture or meeting, I’m usually one of the first to ask questions.  When the meeting is over people often  come up  with thanks  for my “great questions”.  I’m typically surprised that they haven’t asked similar questions of their own, but I’ve also come to understand that my questions do have certain characteristics that make them helpful and appreciated.  Thats good, because I’m a curious person and want to ask more questions, and still more.

Much of my work is also about asking questions.  My coaching practice (I prefer to call it “clarifying”) involves asking powerful questions.  Responding to these helps my clients find insight and clarity.  In helping to make technology more “user friendly”, I’m always asking — or wanting to see — how users try to use a computer system (or other technology), and notice when they get helpful clues and when they get stuck or pointed in an unhelpful direction.  In my general business consulting, I’m asking questions about how an organization or product adds value, about how it is perceived, and about where theory and practice of what’s going on might diverge.  Finally,  in my dance photography, I’m asking visual questions, to see what’s interesting, perhaps visually compelling, and can tell the story of the dance and of my response to it in a visually interesting way.

What makes a “Great Question”?  It’s hard to define, and I’m tempted to compare this task with that of defining pornography.  Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart stayed away from that one, but said simply, “I know it when I see it.”  However, I think I can do better than that in defining what makes a great question.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dealing with fear

January 8, 2010

I was inspired to write this when I received a query from Eileen Flanagan about how we cope with fear.  Do look at  her blog,  which is about “Spreading Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom”.

How do I deal with fear?

First, I own it.  As an articulate, well educated, and generally successful person, I might tell myself that I shouldn’t be afraid.  No matter.  The truth is that I am.  I feel fear when a nurse wants to draw a bit of my blood for testing, when I’m about to go down an intermediate ski trail, when I’m about to photograph a new dance piece that I’ve not yet seen.  I’m feeling fear right now, writing an article about a topic I’ve never addressed in print.

Then I ask myself, fear of what? For the examples it might be fear of the momentary pain as a needle is inserted, fear of being out of control on the ski slope, fear of having to create a great image.

Next, I refine that question, to, If my worst fear came true, what would happen? I might feal pain, or hurt myself on the ski slope, or not be able to write an interesting and informative article.

Some fear help protect us from real dangers.  So, I’ll proceed to ask whether this fear is playing such a role.  “Is this fear protecting me from real danger?” Clearly, having a shot of pain, or a dull and uninteresting article, is not dangerous while going down a trail for which I’m not prepared may be.

Read the rest of this entry »

Some recent dance images

January 2, 2010

These five images are available on a special sale — $150 each, with 20% off if you buy two or more. They were archivally framed for Portland’s “Black Frame Art Sale”, in 12″ x 12″ frames.  You can pick them up in my office, or have any number of them shipped for $16. Payment can be via check, or paypal.