Don’t blog, share! Strategies to evolving your writing. 

Im a fan of many bloggers. I mean many.  When their blogs or stories move me, I let them know. I let them know why. One of my favorites told me that he doesn’t think of him self as a blogger, but someone who shares ideas like a photographer shares her/ his images. Blogging is the vehicle not the journey Nor the goal. He added, “It moves my ideas out and I value that because it helps me reach out.” Reaching out is the challenge, the goal. 

What is it you want to share? Why? Who are you writing to? As a photographer, I love to share a variety of things. The subject, object, the light, textures, the drama, the moment, the emotion, the story. Sometimes the goal of the image is product based. Sometimes it’s process based.  Ultimately, it’s not about the camera.  The goal is in your head. The camera is your tool to help communicate that idea.  This is important to note because we make the tool the goal and the focus sometimes.  This can be challenging when trying to connect with an audience around ideas.  A great writer/ storyteller engages an audience and makes them want to interact with the conent. They make people more curious, more interactive. As an educator, I always fought with the kids on writing.  It was such a distant skillset for them since they didn’t write a lot outside of school (now, it’s different due to texting, emailing).  Their audience was the teacher and the teacher would usually thrash their contribution with a barrage of red corrections.  The process of writing was the goal. The ideas were just prompts.  This created an artificial context.  In my education, we wrote 2 business letters that never went anywhere.  It was graded, red lined, and returned back to me where I studied it for .5 seconds (after seeing the grade), then, straight to my file cabinet– the trash can.  

DRAFT: ESPN The Storyteller (they have to be).

ESPN a is a sports channel. It’s 24 hours, too. They started out small. They had a similar business loan that CNN had– all sports, all day. They were out there first. It worked, however, to survive, they need to evolve. They did. They evolved from a fact delivering institution to a storytelling one, as well.

They had to take a page from the NFL films team and find the narrative of the match. The facts alone would not fit the time slot nor did it fit the emotional gaps people experienced while watching the game. The essential question became: How can ESPN transfer the emotion experienced before, during, after, and around the game? How do they move from fact reporting to emotional storytelling? The documentaries produced by ESPN are some of the best stories out there. The stories are incredible. They are keyed in to the following key ingredients to demonstrate empathy by including:

Challenges/ struggles

They connect. They make our heroes vulnerable. They make the unsung hero a hero. The stories of winning from losing and losing from winning are moving. They make you care. This helps ESPN keep on going.

Dot connection.
How do we leverage story from a fact reporting culture in our schools? How can we create a greater advocacy to enable and empower our schools to storytell their stories (resilience, hope, challenge, and emotions) with their world. Schools are more than facts and data. We now need to fill in the emotional and intellectual “time slot”to connect/ relate, survive and thrive, to matter.

Thanks ESPN for making me rethink the data and story conversation.

Draft: storytelling tips on how to conduct a cool interview!

Documentaries are more about what people say then what is seen. what is seen supports what is being said. I know it sounds simplistic, however, there’s an art and a science to getting the right interviews.

Here are a few tips on how to collect, curate, cultivate, and create a good interview:

1. Don’t call it an interview! Make it more about a conversation. Be curious. The authentic with your questions. Most people I have met like to talk about things they are passionate about. so, have a conversation with them about it. I genuinely am curious about the people I am interviewing. I really want to learn from them. I don’t look at my notes. I look at them. I listen. I ask clarifying questions. Because of the genuine questioning, your learning comes across in the story.

2. Make them comfortable. before shutting the camera in their face, get to know them. tell them you’re excited to learn from them, to talk to them about the topic or big idea you’re exploring. Coordinate with your camera person prior to the interview to check audio levels during this “get to know them” period. The camera person/audio person can check the light, audio levels while you get to know them. This also allows you to focus on the person you’re interviewing and not on equipment. If you’re doing this by yourself, know the locations ahead of time. if you’re doing sound, monitor the sound with one year bud, making sure you’re getting good levels while still being attentive to the person you’re talking to. The key tip here is have the interviewee think about how to prepare for the question as oppose to thinking about the right answer. Don’t provide your questions ahead of time. You can, however, share with them the big idea, general points, goals, ideas. This way their not thinking about the answer ahead of time. I, personally, like it when I see them thinking. I love the pauses and the looking up to think about the question a bit more. Plan ahead.

3. Encourage the person you’re interviewing to include the question in their answer. This will help facilitate during the editing process. this way, you don’t have to add the question in the final edit. for example, if you ask, what’s Your favorite part of the guitar? The interviewee should respond, “My favorite part of the guitar is……” The more comfortable the interviewee is with you, the more you can coach them, model for them the appropriate way.

4. Listen. Listen carefully to the answers. If something needs to be clarified, ask a clarifying question. The good thing about interviewing someone where you are genuinely curious, you will ask the right clarifying questions if needed. if they say something profound or something that triggers ideas, you can stop and make a note. Tell the person you’re talking with that you must write a note down because of something important they said. Don’t take too much time, however, just make a quick note to remind you right after the interview. Listening is a critical tool for all storytellers.

5. Invest in a good Microphone. There are many microphone adapters you can buy for your iPhone/mobile device. I like the Rode lav mic. You can quickly attach it to someone and use the associated app to record the interview. Sometimes audio only is enough. You can listen to it later, take notes of what was said, and go out and shoot or collect coverage (footage) to support the interview later. If you don’t have a mic, storytellers today are lucky today because the iPhone, iPad, and many android devices have great microphones. Just place it by the person you’re interviewing, and hit record. Make sure you use an app that allows you to see audio levels. There are a few options for you to record using a microphone and monitor the audio. I’ll have to add a link to this later.

6. Do your homework. Before interviewing someone, you should have an idea of what you need for that interview. Invest in a cool small notebook like a Moleskin or livescribe notebook. Review your notes prior to the interview. write down notes after the interview. Try to create a system of notetaking that others can understand if they look at it. This way, you can scan, take a picture of it with your iPhone, send it over to another producer, director, camera person, or editor for notes or instructions. For example, I have a common language and common symbols. I write things like coverage, I have letters like W (for wide), M (for medium), C (for close up). I use B (for B roll), I also use A (for A roll). I draw a lot in my notebooks.



Draft: Mobile Storytelling Tip: How to add a created song from GarageBand to your iMovie project.

Music making, to this day, is one of the forgotten parts of storytelling in the classroom. A lot of people just add a popular song to that video. The problem with this is copyright music cannot be used without the express written permission from the creators of the music. In another words, the music cannot be legally used.

The solutions are as follows:

  1. Don’t use any music.
  2. Find royalty-free music online. Download it, and use it on your project.
  3. Use a music app to make loop based music. Another words, use the loops that are already included with the application.
  4. Use a music making apps like GarageBand to make your own music. Whether you’re a professional or just a beginner, GarageBand can help you create music that is perfectly legal and perfectly yours.

What I like about option number four is that it creates an opportunity for another student to participate in the storytelling process. Music, is an emotional communicator and, in many cases, it’s the key component to the actual bigger story.

The cool news about iPads is that it comes with iMovie and a garage pad. So, if you’re editing your movie and iMovie, you can open up GarageBand, make a song, or a music bed and use it under your movie.

I’m going to walk you through how to move a created song in GarageBand and open it and iMovie.

On your iOS device, open up garage band. Locate the song you created for your movie. if you select and hold the song you want, it will wiggle. This means that it is awaiting a command from you. In the upper left-hand corner, you will see some actions available. You will choose the send to option which is the box with an arrow pointing up to it. See the image below.


Once it’s selected and the “send to/export” icon is selected– you’ll choose the “open in application” icon on the bottom


(Choose share)

When you choose this icon, you get the option to open it and iMovie.


Once you select iMovie, you will be prompt to choose the movie you want scored.



(Choose the movie you’re scoring: Rio Rides)

Locate it, select it, and you will see that the music will automatically be placed underneath the video. Now, all you have to do is adjust the length of the song/music and you’re done.



(Make length adjustments)



(That’s a rap).

Draft: Creating smarter passwords.

Recently I learned from a teacher in North Carolina about the importance of passwords.

For many, this is a new reality. Now, one has to memorize multiple passwords. And if you work for a company or an organization that requires you to change it every three months, you understand how tough they could be to remember passwords.

However, it’s something we have to do we have to be smart about it, too. Recently, we have seen in the news about actors and athletes who have been “hacked”. As a technical person, they really were not hacked. They just allowed people to easily guess at their passwords. You see, they didn’t have very complicated passwordS. In fact, in another article, I read about how many athletes use their nickname, their mascot, and their number as their password. This isn’t hard for mischievous people with time on their hands.

Another disingenuous activity that happens online is when companies and people pose to be someone else requiring you to input your personal information. This, you should be very careful and aware of. It’s called “phishing”. This is when someone poses to be someone like Apple and ask you to update your credit card information and your password via a social link usually, not apple). You have to see if that email is for real. Stop. Take a closer look. Call them if you want to verify its legitimacy, too.

While at the school, teacher Stephanie Karst gave me a few cool tips on how to be more strategic and smarter about password choices..

Here is a video of our quick tip interview.

These are really good tips. I am always amazed how many times I still see people with a sticky note with their username and password stuck to their computer. Or, a book on their desk called “passwords.” This is a new time. There’s way too much information online about you and leaving your keys out for everyone to find and use is not acting responsibly today.

Challenge: receiving your passwords. Think about how you can be more discrete and strategic. Also, think about how to retrieve it and store it in safe places.

If you take the time to think about your passwords a bit more– you’ll avoid a potential bad story.


DRAFT: New Orleans: Conflict makes for a great narrative.


Photo by Marco Torres


From Jenna:

This project has been an assault of the senses for me.  I have been learning with my whole being during this initiative.  This project reminds me of being in New Orleans on a hot and muggy day in July.   You stroll around  the Quarter wearing your flip flops armed with a sloppy po’boy while the mayonnaise drips down your arms. Watching jugglers, a Second Line, and artists at their canvass you are transported into a story told unlike any other in the U.S.  But it’s your flip-flopped feet that tell the real story at the end of the day.

They tell the story because they are utterly filthy.  New Orleans is a city that all at once is creepy and beautiful, dangerous and heavenly, Good and Bad, clean and dirty.

Aren’t those the elements that make a story good?

From Marco:

That is what makes a great story. The ups and the downs. The coming back up from a down or the other way! Music needs a happy ending and sometimes a sad ending. Stories, music, art, need this conflict. Ying and Yang are the best marketers. They win you over because you want to see how they figure things out after a mess up. Even people like surfers need this conflict in their stories. Wiping out is part of the journey. It doesn’t stop them from getting back up on the board. They even have a silly happy song about wiping out. Failing for them is not trying.

Jenna’s connection between New Orleans and this digital promise journey is a very accurate one for me as well. The official insect for New Orleans should be the bumble bee because. The bee is not supposed to fly. The wings are too small in proportion to the body but it does. New Orleans is below sea level. I remember looking onto the city from a river boat and seeing the tops of houses. This is usually bad news if one understands the law of physics. However even though they are confronted with this constant reminder of dangers, or as Jenna calls it, “the bad”, they thrive in their own special way– “the good”.

The city has a history of people trying to figure things out from slavery to kicked out Canadians, French, and Spanish to Plessy vs Ferguson to Katrina. Data is not NOLA’s best friend, however, the story is! This is why it’s one of my favorite places to go, as well. I’m addicted to its story.

Today, America and the world is grateful for the city that has given us a soul, art, culture, and hope (even though part of this story is sad, too).

We will thrive. We will survive. We will scrape our needs. Share victories. Dirty our feet. But, at the end of the day, like the Crescent city, the experience will be worth it!

There are three things New Orleans never hides: 1. It’s challenges, 2. How it adapts, 3. And how it tells that story using sound, smells, site, flavors, and emotions.

I love this challenge!

Thank you, Jenna, for helping me connect these very important dots for me today!

I’m now craving red beans and rice, Louie Armstrong, and my “Who Dat!”



DRAFT: What does it mean to be remarkable?

I love words. I love stating what they mean. I love learning about what they mean to me. In other words how can I connect that word or associated with a fact, a process, or a goal of mine. what does it actually mean? It means something that is worth remarking on. Simple, But, very powerful.

I am a sucker for a remarkable moment. In fact, that’s a photographer, my goal is to make people interact with my images. In other words make them ask questions based on what I am presenting. This created interactivity includes the viewer into my world. It helps me create an immediate team: Me, my art, and the viewer.

Think about the experiences in your life this week. What was worth remarking on? In schools, what was remarkable this past week? via empirical evidence, when I asked my cousins or nephews about their remarkable experiences with their schooling this week, their number one response was “nothing.” As a storyteller, I am intrigued by the challenge of what could’ve been done to create more remarkable moments.

Guiding question: what is a remarkable moment for me? Who is a remarkable teacher? What was a remarkable lesson? What was a remarkable experience/project? when I look at a meal, I ask myself how can I make it more remarkable? Did ingredients need it, do I need to adjust a technique, how do I make a more engaging presentation of my meal?

Remarkable moments create loyalty. Human beings like to feel good. They like to feel special. They like to feel included. And, in many cases– they love challenges. Remarkable moments create a syncing of communities. As Seth Godin explains in many of his blogs, these moments create tribes, Loyal tribes.

So, how can you create remarkable moments? how can you adjust to create remarkable moments? How can people around you create remarks based on an experience they had with you? People are fans of specific foods because of the remarkable experience they had with it. They are loyal to hotels and restaurants because of their remarkable experiences with them. They are fans of musicians, artists, athletes because of the remarkable moments they provided emotionally. These remarkable moments make people care.

These are stories that need to happen more often in our schools, workplace, and even families. take some time every week to evaluate, reflect, and rethink about your remarkable moments.

Share those stories. Create or join a loyal tribe! Make people care!

(PHOTO BELOW: A redefining and very remarkable moment: Steve Gleason of the New Orleans Saints blocks an Atlanta Falcons kick during the first game back after Hurricane Katrina shut down the city.  This remarkable moment symbolized a moment that the city didn’t  give up.  They won this important game against their rivals, too.  The city and the New Orleans Saints immortalize this moment by making the statue and calling it “Rebirth”. Although it is a Sports moment that lasted a few seconds, it was one VERY important and remarkable moment that redefined a new beginning of the city).