Jan 28, 2019

Microwave Dinner

Microwave on High 2 minutes. Let stand 1 minute in microwave oven. Stir potatoes. For food safety & quality follow these instructions carefully: Keep frozen—Do not thaw. Cook thoroughly. Check product temperature.

Most of you know me as a photographer, but truthfully I’m a designer at my core. The definition of “Design” is interpreted by society in so many ways. Google defines design as: do or plan (something) with a specific purpose or intention in mind.

When it comes to photography the designing part of taking a photo you could say is the situation and plan to capture an image. The timeline of a wedding day based upon condition outside, sunset, events that need to happen are all “designed”. To create two different final objectives, create a stress free and enjoyable day for the bride and groom, and to capture beautiful photographs of this special day.

Sometimes you only get a split second to capture a moment.

You can look at an image and say that it is designed to be aesthetically pleasing. The great lines, composition, shapes, form, pattern, texture are all; intentionally captured. This process or method of defining those elements in a photo are chosen. It could be in a split second, in the moment. Or it could be captured after a lengthy process of planning a editorial shoot, where you plan and design for one or two photos.

What does a microwave dinner have anything to do with design?

It’s how I’ve been describing what photography has done to the designer in me. I’ve found a process and method to capturing images. My “Microwave on High 2 minutes” method. As a photographer for almost 9 years now, I’ve found a process that works to reach the end goal. This end objective is not bad, it’s still good. But it isn’t great. Microwave dinners are edible but you don’t love them. Well most people don’t.


Studio was always messy…or filled with ideas and showed our process.

When I was in school we created tons of iterations of specific designs. Taking a concept and looking at the million different ways it could be interpreted helped you calibrate your idea. It made sure each choice was intentional and not just “cool”.

The first iteration is pretty much an outcome of the information you know. You could say it is much like a pre-test. It’s taking what you know and doing the best you can. After the pre-test you are taught the information, you learn and grow. To prepare yourself to do better on the final test.

Sometimes people cheat on a test. Today we have so many great tools to produce “good” design fast. Look at a website builder or a logo builder. You can use them to create “good” designs. But the great ones take into factor the person/business the logo or website is created for. It is kind of like cheating on the test. Where you kinda know something, but don’t really “know” it. Am I guilty of using these builders….yes. Why do I even use it then? Well my idea is someone designed those sites to make it easy for people to make logos/websites. Is it good? Yeah. Is it great? Debatable. Great at allowing everyday people to create good logos. Bad because they all look the same.

It takes a lot of studying and learning to do great on a test. And we need to take more time studying and learning, we need to take more time in the process to calibrate our ideas. Because in that process we will learn and grow. We become unsatisfied with being a good designer and continue the pursuit to creating “great”.

My senior project with my friend Dave was in an old corn crib. It was a cold and dark space lined with concrete blocks. The initial airflow that once dried corn as it passed through the space now added to the feel of a cold cave. But we were able to use design to redefine it. By creating a moment where you separated high off of the angled grid into the air much like when you were a kid getting an underdog push. We created excitement. A personal light that reacted to the movement you made on the swing showed security through your own control. Adding music that provokes the meaning of a strong relationship to others and of course putting multiple swings creates friendship, taking away the feeling of isolation. Through the process we were able to recognize the characteristics of the space. Allowing us to design a completely different moment.
The final installation inside the corn crib.

Process is the difference in the 2- minute meal and a meal you work on all afternoon. A great deal of time cutting and prep work that goes into cooking has a direct effect on the final dish. Because you understand the characteristics of the food you are preparing. Much like the weeks to plan, edit, plan, re-edit, have on a final project. You understand the concept of your project. It’s what takes you from something as simple as a sketch to a beautiful idea.


So when I find myself taking the easy “microwave on high for 2-minutes” route in photography or going with that first iteration I come up with. I’m going to be intentional about developing my idea and taking the time to learn and grow. And remember that I’m a DESIGNER. That I can create more than just “good ” that I’m capable of “GREAT”.


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