Copywriting Portfolio

We have extensive experience with writing copy, in English and other languages. Featured here are a couple of examples/excerpts.

Please note: instances where the piece mentions “I” or “we” do not automatically refer to Shoestring Collective.

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Plenty of books have been written about the mysterious thing that is employee motivation; simply do a Google search. Various studies have been done, countless articles published, and even more talks given. As an employee, I have learned at one point or another that I am, ideally, a self-motivated, driven individual who loves my job and goes the extra mile even when my manager isn’t looking. Part of the equation is my employer nudging me, guiding me to that spot where I can’t help myself – I want to be part of something greater.

The new buzzword du jour for this is “employee engagement”: to make me passionate about my work and where I do it, I need to be “engaged”. Still, what does that mean exactly?

This conversation is not simply about turnover. While high turnover does cost companies a lot of money, so do the employees who remain, but who are disengaged, or in other words just put in time, not energy or passion, into their work. This is not about my happiness, either – it’s about being emotionally invested in my work(place).

Yet, why should I be? A job is a job, and nobody cares about what I think anyway. Cue: OfficeVibe.

Developed by GSOFT, headquartered in Monteal/Quebec, Canada, OfficeVibe replaces the traditional employee survey. My employer has recently deployed it: every week, I receive an email with a link to a question. If I click on the link, it opens my weekly question in a browser. OfficeVibe guides me through a few more questions after that initial one, all of which are by default answered anonymously, culminating at the end in the opportunity to give additional free-form feedback.

The first step to solving any issue is to ask the right questions. OfficeVibe is made to help a company do just that: have people share how life is on their level. Many of the questions are pulled from a fixed catalogue, so as to over time provide measurable results. A certain percentage of company-defined ones can be added to this catalogue. The GUI is clean, lean, fun to use and most questions do apply to respondents’ daily lives. If they don’t, they can be skipped.

OfficeVibe promises to help create a culture of continuous feedback. That said, the quality of feedback you will get, in my mind, is directly linked to

  1. how comfortable your employees overall are in giving it,
  2. how motivated they are to bother, and
  3. how open management is to take what they get, no matter how harsh, and translate it into real change.

If your employees are convinced their opinions don’t matter, that initiative is seldom rewarded and more often squashed, or that there are no opportunities to get promoted, OfficeVibe will fix none of that. It will help you figure out what your workers want, but management needs to visibly address the issues they bring up.

Employee engagement, assuming it’s not simply a buzzword, should be about changing your corporate environment. It will not work in a place where people don’t trust each other or, in particular, management. A place where there are mostly sticks and no carrots, where the only place to go is out and not up.

I don’t think you have to take it as far as Ben & Jerry’s did with their “Joy Gang”, started in the late 1980s, creating a department solely devoted to fun and parties for the rest of the company, and it doesn’t have to cost money. Whatever you come up with should suit your workforce and environment, and it will take time.

If you’re going to do it, do it right: OfficeVibe is only as good as the person configuring the back end.

At my particular workplace, people have been grouped in OfficeVibe by actual physical team, and each team leader has on average 10 – 15 people reporting to him or her, which means that our sample size has just been shrunk to a point where it is quite easy to pin-point from which person specific input has originated.

This is not particularly confidence-inspiring, and at first I had attributed our setup to the functionality of the app itself, until I learned that it could have been done in a completely different way. In other words, people could and should have been grouped such that the identity of the user is truly concealed.

From GSOFT, I got a better understanding of how the tool is supposed to be configured and used: after loading a CSV with employee data into the backend, the person administering the system can sub-divide them into said groups. These groups can then be targeted based on attributes attached to the group, which makes sense, because you wouldn’t want non-HR employees receive questions related to HR and so forth.

For example, “Our intranet is in dire need of a redo. It is hard to use, visually unappealing and people only use it sporadically and when they have to.” is a fundamentally different statement from “I don’t like our intranet.” Even if you write back, asking for specifics, you may not get any more usable information, simply because the person fears detection, knowing they are having a conversation with their team leader. The little disclaimer at the bottom that “even your manager can’t see it” won’t change that.

Anonymous is supposed to be exactly that: anonymous. Not identified by name.  People feel free to write what they write because they think for once they can voice their opinion without the risk of retribution. If my boss asks me repeatedly, no matter how well-meaning, about something that he or she thinks I wrote, how much more will they hear from me?

Still, what is a team leader to do – you sit there and read sometimes very blunt things, and you can’t help but wonder, “Who of my 10 people wrote that?” So your thoughts wander back to discussions you have had, and you get a nagging feeling you know who the author of a particular statement is. If you have even taken it this far, this is where it should stop; take it further, and you are reinforcing what we already suspected: this is a trap.

There is so much that can go wrong with employee engagement, and so much that needs to go right.  If I had to come up with a best-practices list, it would be this:

  1. Be committed to real change, and be ready to actually listen, no matter how hard you find it.
  2. Deploy OfficeVibe as part of a plan for employee engagement, outlining exactly how the results you receive from the weekly surveys will be analyzed and then used to foster cultural change within the company. Be nimble and make adjustments as needed: your benchmarks will, among others, be your overall turnover rate, employee satisfaction, and future survey questions you can tailor towards these markers.
  3. The person in charge of employee engagement, and therefore OfficeVibe, should have a thorough understanding of the status quo, the changes the Employee Engagement Plan is supposed to accomplish, and the actual workings of the application. Unless it is configured right, the entire endeavor will inevitably backfire as people cease to respond due to fatigue, disillusionment, or even fear of detection.
  4. The tool should guarantee true anonymity.
  5. All feedback should be treated as valid and looked at by at least two sets of eyes. This will prevent a visceral reaction from one person overshadowing the analysis and possible implementation of what your employees are telling you.
  6. Communicate with your workforce openly about how the tool has been set up, what feedback you have been collecting, and what you are planning to do based on the responses.
  7. Actually change things.

Executive Summary

Since XXX started as a Software Coaching company, as a consequence all products/offerings/departments are seen in the same light and are evaluated according to the same metrics and benchmarks. This also reflects in XXX’s brand language. As of the date of this writing, XXX has no formal mission statement. However, there is brand promise language, which has been evolving, and a recent version of which is: “XXX is a global provider of client learning solutions driving digital adoption and proficiency by transforming employees’ technology experience.”

This encompasses Client Training, yet there is no spot in this sentence in which to anchor a Managed Help Desk offering, which has grown somewhat organically since its inception. Correspondingly, there seems to be an internal disconnect not only regarding what MHS is or should be doing as a department, but also between the expectations regarding revenue/performance and the willingness to build the department like other parts of the company have been built in order to deliver on those numbers.

With some strategic changes, some of them simple, yet effective, and starting with seeing the MHS department as independent of our Software Coaching roots (MHS is currently not assessed and treated according to the ITIL/ITSM framework), it could be solidly driving revenue for XXX along with Software Coaching and Client Training within a year, especially if combined with a successful consulting offering:

1. Sales/Onboarding

  • New sales strategy based on changed value proposition (internal/external), including a completely new sales deck
  • Create the role of a Technical Sales Consultant

2. Operations

  • Group prospective/existing Clients into 3 Classes for the purposes of assessing service needs, then form service clusters around some of the Class A Clients
  • Create the role of an Ambassador Consultant
  • Create the role of a QA Consultant/QA Department
  • Redefine the Tech Leader role
  • Redefine the Performance Leader role
  • Replace the current call logging system with ServiceNow
  • Standardized MHS VDI desktops
  • Utilize/offer chat

3. Training (Internal)

  • Create a XXX Academy
  • New hire mentorship & development

4. Consulting

  • Channel Partnership with ServiceNow
  • General expanded consulting service catalog

Perceived challenges posed by legacy Clients and fluctuation in utilization levels will be offset by the opportunities the strategy opens for us in terms of creating new revenue streams and more quickly and successfully adapting to change and growth.

When a movie is judged solely based on the gender and skin color of the actors, you have to go and vote with your wallet. It will be a vote on a lot more than simply how you liked the movie.

I don’t go to the cinema much – most of the time there’s nothing on the program for which I’d want to shell out $10, and the excessive number of movies you are bombarded with in the US that are weak in content but heavy in special effects is an additional turn-off. When our kids were little, I took them to see (with a deep sigh) such awful things like “The Sponge Bob Movie” – one and a half hours of my time I have never gotten back. Our son loved it, which had to be enough.

Likewise, I would have passed on “Ghostbusters 3”. Why wouldn’t I? One of those mid-Summer comedies, at best a redo of movies I found mildly amusing when I was younger. I would have left it at that. Until I switched on the radio and was bombarded with the debacle “Ghostbusters 3” had unleashed.

According to NPR, the movie had kicked off a negative, beyond hateful discussion online, for the sole reason that all lead roles had been given to women, one of them African American. Criticism of “Ghostbusters 3” was pretty much reduced to just this, and either people interpreted the cast list as too politically correct, as not authentic enough, [blah blah, insert your biases here] or as inherently against men – Chris Hemsworth as the receptionist plays a slightly mentally slow stripper type, the male version of the stereotypical dumb, pretty blonde.

Trolls don’t care about facts anyway, as long as they can rant about something below the beltline, protected by the seedy anonymity of the Internet. Women and minorities of color still – or rather, especially – make a welcome target.

Number 3 openly traces the original: screwy scientist joins forces with colleagues and in the end rescues New York City. The reboot quotes the original, wherever it was possible to squeeze it into the script. In the audience, aged teenagers like me can feel awesome knowing exactly what is being hinted at where (think back to the Marshmallow Man, now attacking our heroines in the shape of a perverted Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon). Cameos are strewn throughout the thing, from Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver (also meant as homage to Number 1) to Ozzy Osbourne – let the man have his moment, reality TV wasn’t enough.

Kristen Wiig plays Erin Gilbert, a serious scientist who is fired due to her engagement in paranormal science. She reconnects with her former friend Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). Abby Yates is still active in the field, now with somebody different at her side (Jillian Holtzmann, played by Kate McKinnon). They hire the mentally slow yet handsome Kevin Beckman (Chris Hemsworth) as their receptionist, and soon after the group is completed by Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones).

The Ghostbusters start to clean New York City of ghosts, against resistance from politics and police. At first, they are being celebrated as heroes after they protect the attendees of a rock concert from an attack by ghosts, then they are vilified as frauds – supposedly to prevent mass panic. In the end, they uncover the evil plan by their main adversary Rowan North (Neil Casey) to break the barrier between the spirit world and this one to create an army of ghosts under his supreme command. During the showdown, the four fight against the “soldiers” Rowan sends their way, and in the end combat Rowan himself. Erin Gilbert jumps after her friend Abby Yates into a maelstrom, which is sucking up all things paranormal, and she saves her. In the end, the group moves into the former fire station from “Ghostbusters 1”, and the viewer can look forward to Number 4.

On my end, I can’t speak of joyful anticipation in this case. I was already tired of things before the movie was over. Three-act-structure and run-of-the-mill character development is one thing – but why on Earth did the script have to be so cruelly predictable? The movie became a drag in the end, especially since I was familiar with the original. All cameos and quotes could not make up for that.

The kitschy cherry on top is the scene where Kristen Wiig jumps into the ghost vortex to save her friend, Melissa McCarthy, yelling that she had lost her once, she wouldn’t lose her again. This character arc was drawn successfully, please check the box on the right.

What does make “Ghostbusters 3” worth seeing is the above-mentioned brilliant cast: Peter Feig scored BIG with Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon. A strong group of four women; and only for that reason all of these haters were on the warpath. Each one of them could have carried this movie by themselves – the four of them together are almost too much and cut the ground from under each other’s feet. At times, the dialogue was so hysterically funny that my two partners in crime and I were laughing tears.

I did not regret voting with my wallet, despite being completely underwhelmed by this movie. True, without the entire controversy, I would not have seen it. But I wouldn’t have spent some time thinking about the movie/entertainment industry and its role in our fight for equality, no matter what “-isms” are attached to us.

And this critique would have never been written.

Non-grant fundraising appears to have had mixed success. For the last two years, the XXX grant has only been awarded at 80% of the original amount sought.

XXX Grant Feedback

XXX gives a detailed reasoning for how their panelists have received a submitted grant application. Panelists are skeptical that XXX has made a sufficient case for community impact, as well as a solid plan for growth and matching funds. Outreach in terms of connecting to the community and current/prospective audience members is also mentioned.
  • Character limits are consistently undercut in the last two applications, that is, answers to the questions are on average about half as long as they could or are allowed to be. The 2018 application presented a better narrative. Why this is important: XXX is making a case on paper why you and not somebody else should get their funds. The panelists are not (necessarily) familiar with XXX, LGBTQIA+ issues, or the landscape in which you operate. If you stay consistently below character limits at this rate, you are selling yourselves short.
  • Answers are vague, and from one application to the next, XXX doesn’t show growth in terms of utilizing the panelists’ feedback. You also don’t tell the panelists why what you do is meaningful and needed. Why this is important: as above, you don’t make a compelling case.
  • Goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. You know you have succeeded when you meet your goal. The goals listed in your applications the last two years are not specific enough. Why this is important: if you can’t show that you are doing what you set out to do, you will not be funded if somebody else in the same bracket makes a better case.
  • Grantmakers need to be thanked each and every time. It appears this has not happened. Why this is important: just like thanking your volunteers etc., you want to build a relationship and make people feel appreciated.

Other Analysis

  • Funders look, among others, at your web presence. Your logo is great, but the current website is confusing to use and therefore does not serve you well. The look is outdated. There is no interactive content, like recordings, and not many photographs. The Google calendar included is not being used. XXX is not mentioned as a sponsor.
  • Social media is updated sporadically (Facebook, Instagram). Instagram has only four posts, with six followers and following four other users.
  • The only outreach and PR conducted before concerts are Facebook ads. No other outreach is reported.
  • XXX is not collecting any donations online.
  • XXX doesn’t appear to have any relationships with area organizations, like XXX.

Management/Organizational Structure

XXX is organized as an association in XXX led by a Board of Directors. The Board is comprised of XXX.

The Board is the legal representation for the Association. All day-to-day management decisions are made within the framework and spirit of cooperation.

Financial Management/Funding

The association is the legal entity holding the finances for XXX. Financial decisions are made within the framework and spirit of cooperation.

XXX has identified four phases of growth during which the association intends to achieve its full potential with regards to outreach and readership.

At the time of this writing, Phase 1 – Startup has been completed. XXX officially launched on XXX with its main platform at XXX and accompanying social media outlets on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. The website features three main sections:

  • The first section, perspectives, gathers the opinions of experts, activists, academics and independent researchers on events taking place across XXX.
  • The second section, Top News, covers the most important news taking place on any given day.
  • Finally, the Newsfeed section, covers news that the editors believe are important for XXX’s audience, yet they do not warrant the title of “top news”.

Statistics from Phase 1 are promising:

  • According to the statistics on XXX’s website, XXX has published over XXX articles of both original content articles, and works aided with the help of other news agencies (Reuters, Sputnik, etc.)
  • XXX has exclusively hosted the works of freelance journalists responding on the ground from XXX. XXX’s authors have written articles that draw from the expertise of academics at top universities, politicians in opposition parties and activists.
  • XXX has published opinion pieces from all across the world.
  • XXX has also published videos covering topics overlooked by the mainstream media, like for instance XXX.

With the success of Phase 1 and such accomplishments in quick succession, XXX is currently preparing for Phase 2, where the organization must continue to respond to the demand of its readership while beginning to widen its offerings.


The purpose of taking stack is to facilitate discussion and decision making in which all participants have equal say in a conversation. Otherwise, in a structure-less setting, an individual or a small group of people could easily dominate and shut out other participants. Likewise, in a situation where you have poor moderation, some people may be given preference over others, if anything because they stood out more or because the moderator didn’t see all hands while simultaneously trying to move the discussion along. Taking stack is meant to bring balance and a coherent method to the sometimes strenuous and sloppiness of democratic discussion and decisions.

How it works


One participant in the group volunteers to be the facilitator. The facilitator’s purpose is to make sure that the conversation stays on topic, that the proper procedure is being followed, that no one speaks out of turn, and that no participant is abusing any of the stack techniques. It is also the facilitator’s role to make sure that the agenda is being followed in the proper order.

Also, if a discussion comes up that makes more sense for a later agenda item, it is the facilitator’s responsibility to hold the conversation off until the proper time. The facilitator must constantly be paying attention to the conversation as well as all of the participants. Many democratic workplaces switch facilitators often so that not one person dominates the role, and so that everyone develops the facilitating skill. However, sometimes there are intense conversations or important decisions that require an already strong facilitator to make sure conversation or decision making is equitable and does not breakdown.

Stack Keeper

You will also need one group participant to fill the role of the Stack Keeper. It is the Stack Keeper’s responsibility to structure and order the dialogue and the decision making process. The Stack Keeper needs a pen and a couple pieces of paper.

“The Stack” is the order of participants who are speaking. If a participant raises their hand to say something, the Stack Keeper puts them on “Stack.” That is, the Stack Keeper puts their name at the bottom of the stack list. When the person at the top of Stack has finished speaking, the Stack Keeper crosses their names off and announces who the next two participants on stack are. The Stack Keeper also ensures that participants stick to the allotted speaking time.

Thus, the Stack Keeper is the person responsible for identifying who speaks and when. The Stack Keeper must constantly be paying attention and looking around the room to see who wants to speak. In addition to these duties, both the Facilitator and Stack Keeper may also contribute normally to the discussion.

The Stack Keeper should also make sure that people who have spoken before come after folks who have been added to the Stack for the first time. That is pretty much it. There are versions of it described elsewhere that outline special hand gestures, depending on what participants would like to contribute. We think it is best that every group decide for themselves how to use this technique.

Of note: “Taking Stack” can be used very successfully in a lot of situations. Be advised, however, that it is not a quick or easy way to come to a decision. True democracy never is.

Geschichte des Fotojournalismus

Buchrezension «Eine Geschichte des Fotojournalismus»: Die Kamera als Zeitzeuge

In einer Zeit, in der man überall mit Fotos und Video regelrecht überrannt wird, vergißt man gerne, daß es vor dem modernen Phänomen des „Citizen Journalist“ Leute gab, die sich an vorderster Front mit anfänglich primitivster Fototechnik – damals allerdings jeweils das Neueste vom Neuesten – ins Getümmel gestürzt haben, und, daß das zu der Zeit revolutionär war.

Mit der Fotografie wurde auch der Fotojournalist geboren, und Pensold schlägt über 200 Seiten für uns den Bogen vom Krimkrieg Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts und Roger Fenton, der damals mit Kollodiumplatten im Pferdewagen loszog, zum anonymen „Citizen Journalist“, der breiten Masse von uns, die ihre Smartphones auf alles draufhalten, was aktuell und berichtenswert erscheint.

Über gut erzählte, prägnante Paragraphen hinweg, hier und dort von Abbildungen wichtiger Meilensteine der Presse- und Dokumentarfotografie unterbrochen, erhält man ein umfassendes Bild der Geburt der modernen Pressefotografie und der Menschen, die jahrzehntelang, oft unter Einsatz ihres eigenen Lebens, Zeugen wurden des Grauens und Elends, das wir uns gegenseitig anzutun imstande sind, um fotografisch Zeugnis ablegen zu können. Und wenn sie schon einen Krieg mit einem einzigen Bild nicht zu stoppen vermochten, so versuchten sie doch mit jenem zu verhindern, daß die Schicksale der Opfer jenes Mahlstroms von Gewalt und Hunger in Vergessenheit gerieten.

Krieg hatte plötzlich ein Gesicht, und fing sehr bald an, der Heimatfront am Frühstückstisch wie ein Zerrbild den Appetit zu verderben.

Während Pensold große Ereignisse der Weltgeschichte anhand derer, die sie fotografierten – von Fenton, Riis, Drummond, über Capa, Gordon Parks zu Sebastiao Salgado und allen den anderen chronologisch durchläuft, bekommt man einen vertieften Eindruck nicht nur der Herausforderungen, die sich dem Fotojournalisten technisch und praktisch in den Weg stellten, sondern es werden auch die psychologischen und ethischen Probleme beleuchtet, aufgetan durch die stetige Verbesserung von Kameras und Film, die das Vordringen in ungeahnte Räume ermöglichten, und die auch die Geschwindigkeit erhöhten, mit der gemachte Bilder entwickelt und verkauft werden konnten.

Geschichte des Fotojournalismus
(c) Wolfgang Pensold

Was SOLL fotografiert werden? Was DARF fotografiert werden? Trotz des alten Grundsatzes „If it bleeds, it leads.“ (lose übersetzt: „Wenn es blutet, ist es eine Schlagzeile.“), waren die meisten Pressefotografen, deren Geschichte Pensold erzählt, bestrebt, den Fotografierten ihre Würde zurückzugeben, obwohl ihnen das auch oft abgesprochen wurde (Nachtwey beispielsweise wurde nach seiner Publikation von „Inferno“ vorgeworfen, es sei ihm egal, wie die Leute lebten, sondern ihn interessiere nur, wie sie sterben). Die Kamera wird zum Zeitzeugen weltbewegender Konflikte, aber auch großer Tragödien; man denke hier an die Leiden der Landarbeiter im Oklahoma Dust Bowl oder die AIDS-Epidemie.

„Eine Geschichte des Fotojournalismus“ ist ein Lesegenuß für alle, die sich für Fotografie, aber auch gleichzeitig für Geschichte interessieren. Es fehlten mir hier und da zwar etwas (das berühmte „Napalm Girl“ erwähnt er zum Beispiel nicht, und das Kapitel über Citizen Journalists ist für mich etwas zu knapp), aber irgendwo muß man wahrscheinlich Abstriche machen, soll aus einem 200 Seiten langen Buch nicht eine mehrere Bände zählende Enzyklopädie werden.

Seltsame Parallelen tun sich auf, wenn man über Pressefotografie als Propagandamittel nachdenkt; Fakten sind letztlich das, was einem als solche präsentiert wird, und der Fotograf trifft die Entscheidung darüber, was er mit der Kamera einfängt – aber auch, was er wegläßt. Oder die Zensur trifft sie für ihn.

Pensold läßt, wohl bewußt, das Buch nach dem Kapitel über Citizen Journalists einfach abbrechen, ohne einen Ausblick darauf, was er als nächstes kommen sieht. Denn genauso wenig, wie man vor zehn Jahren vorhersehen konnte, daß einfache Leute mit Handys ausgebildeten Fotografen das Wasser abgraben könnten, ist es jetzt wirklich vorhersehbar, wo die Reise noch hingeht.

Buchtitel: Eine Geschichte des Fotojournalismus: Was zählt, sind die Bilder

Autor: Pensold, Wolfgang

Verlag: Springer

Erscheinungsjahr: 2015

ISBN: 978-3658082963

Listenpreis: Taschenbuch (29,99)

Genre: Fotografielehrbuch

Seitenanzahl: 202

Level: Fortgeschritten

Über den Autor: Dr. Wolfgang Pensold ist Kommunikationswissenschaftler und als Kustos im Technischen Museum Wien zuständig für die wissenschaftliche Betreuung der Sammlungsgruppen Radio und Fernsehen, Audio und Video, Fotografie und Film, Satz und Druck. Als Kurator ist er verantwortlich für die inhaltliche Konzeption und Bespielung der Dauerausstellung medien.welten im Technischen Museum Wien. Seine Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen in der Geschichte der modernen Mediengesellschaft.

Goldener Schnitt

Fotografieren nach Zahlen: Wenn man zu sehr an den Regeln klebt

Auch in der Fotografie sind Regeln dazu da, gebrochen zu werden.

Wenn wir bei einem Leserfoto Kompositionsmängel ansprechen, legen wir als Maßstab gerne die althergebrachten Regeln von Goldenem Schnitt und Dritteln an, bringen jedoch auch zum Ausdruck, wenn wir diese gekonnt gebrochen sehen. Wir haben Komposition in diesem vereinfachten Sinn hier ebenfalls in Artikeln illustriert.

Vor kurzem brachte denn auch ein Leser anläßlich einer Bildkritik Bruce Barnbaum ins Spiel, und dessen Verdammung von traditionellen Kompositionsregeln. Zufälligerweise hatte ich gerade davor noch einen anderen Artikel gelesen, in dem der Autor diese (in jenem Fall nicht besonders fundiert) in Grund und Boden stampfte, um sie dann durch ein komplizierteres Regelwerk und Gestaltpsychologie zu ersetzen.

Mit dem Buch von Barnbaum war ich zu der Zeit nicht vertraut und habe das seitdem geändert. Sein Kapitel über Komposition, wie auch der Rest des Buches „The Art of Photography“ („Die Kunst der Fotografie“) (Affiliate-Link) handelt das Thema mehr intuitiv ab, und wenn ich auch mit seiner kompletten Ablehnung von Regeln nicht übereinstimme, so doch mit dem Gedanken, daß das Schlimmste, was man tun kann, ist, mit Regeln verheiratet zu sein.

Ein gutes Beispiel: vor nicht allzu langer Zeit suchte eine mit mir bekannte angehende Fotografin Freiwillige für Porträts. Sie wolle lernen, mit natürlichem Licht zu fotografieren. Ich habe ihr zurückgeschrieben, ich stünde gerne als Modell zur Verfügung, wenn sie sich bereit erkläre, das umgekehrt für mich zu tun, denn ich habe laufende Projekte, für die ich neue Gesichter gut brauchen kann.

Soweit, so gut – es blieb die Frage des Wann und Wo. Im Dezember wird es auch in Ohio erst gegen 8 Uhr hell, und so gegen 16 Uhr bereits ziemlich dunkel. Ich schlug daher einen bewölkten Tag gegen 14 Uhr vor (Wolkendecke = Softbox, Aufhellblitz wird nicht benötigt). Sie teilte mir daraufhin indigniert mit, sie fotografiere grundsätzlich nur bei Sonnenschein, vor 8 und nach 16 Uhr, „um die Goldene Stunde voll auszuschöpfen“ (?!), anderen Vorschlägen gegenüber war sie nicht zugänglich. Das war dann auch das Ende unseres gemeinsamen Fotografieprojekts; jemanden, der bereits alles weiß, kann man von nichts anderem überzeugen.

Das Schlimmste war für mich die Beharrlichkeit, mit der sie an halbverdauten Regeln wie an einer Religion festhielt. Ihre Fotos sind entsprechend anfängerhaft und uninspiriert. Das muß nicht sein.

Mein Vater, der Kunstmaler war, hat mir einmal gezeigt, wie man ihm beigebracht hat, ein Gesicht zu zeichnen: man fängt mit einer auf den Kopf gedrehten Eiform an und entwickelt sie nach und nach zu einem Gesicht. Später hat er das natürlich nicht mehr so getan, sondern ging intuitiv vor.

Barnbaums Grundgedanke ist richtig: wenn schon, dann sind Regeln dazu da, um gebrochen zu werden. Aber wenn man als Anfänger keine Ahnung hat, was man tut oder wo man ansetzen sollte, sind sie eine gute Stütze, über die man sich dann hinaus entwickeln kann. So, wie man früher lateinische Ausgangsschrift gelernt hat, um dann seinen eigenen Schreibstil zu entwickeln.

Eine Stütze, keine Krücke.

Wie seht Ihr das? Goldener Schnitt als Ausgangspunkt, oder: alles geht?