Daniel Van Rossen
I always remember what a professor in the journalism department at the University of Alaska told the class why people communicate. He said there were three reasons. One was to inform – to communicate information, ideas, events, feelings, the human condition. This represented unbiased news coverage and what we were to aspire to. Second was to persuade – to bring about change or move people to action. This might include political speech or propaganda, advertising and public relations, opinion pieces. This was not what we were supposed to be doing but what I have spent most of my life doing. The third was communication just for ones self – The Arts, self-expression, the need to create. If we wanted to do this we needed to change majors and get the heck out of his class. It has seemed through the last 35 years I have managed to move through all of these forms of communication at one time or another.
Way back in high school I got hooked on visual communication with still photography and motion pictures. Through college at Lane Community College, University of Alaska in Fairbanks and University of Oregon I continued to learn about photography, communication and humanity. I had many classes in journalism, advertising, photography and mass communication. I also had a chance to work on student newspapers to apply some of what I had learned. How I ended up with degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Business Administration with emphasis in marketing is a wonder. But from there my world of formal education ended and the world of self learning began. To be forever a student of what is new.
From the start I knew I wanted to work with very small businesses and I wanted to do photography. Through circumstance I found my way into the jewelry and gemstone industry. At the time there were many small designer/manufacturer shops that knew they needed photos of their products but might not know why. So quite often I ended up having to develop their marketing, advertising and public relation programs and do their graphic design for print material so I could finally be able to take a photograph. And so it went for many years working with clients across the USA and around the world. Some times I would branch out into other markets like fashion, bronze sculpture, the art glass movement but the jewelry and gemstone industry remained at the heart of the niche I worked in for 25 years.
Well welcome to the digital age, the Internet and globalization. The last ten years things have been changing fast. We now have a number of new ways to communicate but the old ways still are around. Many traditional industries have experienced the “Walmarting of America” and China becoming the “world’s factory floor.” Not to mention our boom and linger bust cycle. But fortunately the dust is starting to clear. What we are finding is basic human nature has not change. The reasons for communicating are still the same. Outstanding visual communication is still important. That understanding people’s passions are important. That persuasive communication used through multiple channels can work to compete with corporate giants and the global factory floor.
Today my workflow is all digital. No film, no hand processing any more. Creative material is more likely to end up on the Internet then in print (which I guess is good as I have completed over 85 online classes on website programming and Internet marketing). But the fundamentals remain the same. Our basic culture is still the same. People still have needs, wants and desires they wished to have fulfilled and business strive to do that. Folks are still drawn to a stunning image that tells a story. And I like to think a professor somewhere still tells his students there are three reasons why we communicate and those reasons are why I still creates photographs today.