Masters of their trade… Chip Kidd

I was having an internet drift, several days ago, and Youtube made a proposal. “A Chip Kidd TEDtalk”  I am so happy the algorithm did.
Chip Kidd’s TED talk started as a shock, not least for the effeminate introduction and clothing style. But inching my way along the video’s time line I found myself drawn into his mind, his product and his mastery.
This video got me thinking. A master has the confidence and power to deliver their world in a way that instantly empowers the viewer.

Chip’s imagery

I thought I had sufficient skills to identify and represent information visually. Chip showed I wasn’t even close. Whilst this has little to do with photography directly, the “telling a story” in street has strong similarities.

Chip Kidd is a graphic designer, that “accidentally” ended up designing book covers. Sounds perhaps lame, bland, perhaps even boring, but his character and thinking is likely to change you.

In the first video he describes the process and the build of book covers and jackets to create a clean meaningful, enticing and understandable introduction to the book. A draw for the view to make one want to read it.

He explains how patronising the viewer is not an option. How breaking rules is acceptable when the situation demands it.

He distills the information from a book into a representation such that we want to know the unknown content. This is communication at its greatest. It is done knowing that there is little time to capture the audience’s attention. So much so that perfection becomes critical.

And Street Photography

We, as street photographers, also need to distill a scene quickly and cleanly. Images should draw the viewer to understand, but equally not in lame, obvious or patronising way.

Cleverness in design and communication is a fundamental, and whilst Chip’s options are greater than photography alone, the principles are just as valid.

I still haven’t established how his enlightenment is going to impact my street photography. One thing I can be sure of though; I know that it will.

Several videos on Chip can be found on Youtube. The following are two that I highly recommend, they are relatively short and sweet. TIME WARNING: You’ll probably watch them several times, as I did!

The hilarious art of book design | Chip Kidd – 17:16
Chip Kidd: The art of first impressions — in design and life – 18:53