“K.I.S.S., Ryan”: How a Crusty War Photographer Taught Me the Power of Simplicity

“K.I.S.S.” It’s a philosophy that I’ve lived by for a long time, especially in the advertising world. Well, this might date me a bit, but back in college I took a photography class. Digital cameras weren’t quite a thing yet, so we were shooting on film and developing in a darkroom. I absolutely loved the class and learned so much about framing, creating a shot, and developing unique images that would jump off the photo page.

My teacher was a crusty old Vietnam vet, a former war photographer. He showed us his incredible, moving work from the Vietnam War. Above his desk, he had a sign he’d made out of old photographs that said “K.I.S.S.” I was really struggling with an assignment, so I went up to him and rambled on about all the things I was trying to do. He raised his hand in a stop motion, then pointed at the K.I.S.S. sign. At that point, I had no idea what it meant.

He asked to see my proofs for the assignment. He flipped through them in seconds, pulled one out, and grunted with a big, arthritic finger, “Ryan, that’s your shot. Look at that kid on the tricycle, giving you that cute smile… you know the moment you turn your back, he’s going to go flying down a hill, looking for a ramp to jump. The one you’re focused on is too much; you’re overthinking it. K.I.S.S., Ryan.”

I looked at the two pictures, and he was absolutely right. The simpler one was better – a night-and-day difference. I looked at him and asked, “Okay, but I still don’t know what K.I.S.S. means?”

He grinned out of the corner of his mouth. “Keep It Simple” – then took a sip of his coffee. “What’s the other ‘S’?” I asked. He just laughed and walked away.

Brittany Pietsch vs. Cloudflare

I’ve been pondering this viral video depicting Brittany Pietsch’s getting let go from Cloudflare and the various perspectives surrounding the situation. The video she privately recorded and shared on the internet, capturing the moment of her termination, stirred up a wave of reactions, including Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince’s response on Twitter (Video and Response Links at bottom).

After watching the video and checking out different reaction videos, it’s evident that both parties handled the situation poorly. Losing a job is undeniably challenging, and the raw emotions displayed by Ms. Pietsch evoke compassion. However, the decision to secretly record and share the video online raises questions about her future job prospects.

On the flip side, Mr. Prince’s transparent acknowledgment of his company’s faults and commitment to improving processes is a step in the right direction. But the comparison to NBA Star and Mulit-Millionaire Chris Paul in his tweet is tone-deaf and detracts from the overall message.

Looking beyond the individual dynamics, this latest viral video has me contemplating the broader implications for the “remote work” environment and remote sales processes. It sheds light on how these approaches might inadvertently dehumanize interactions, reducing individuals to mere emails and virtual entities.

Video: https://www.tiktok.com/@brittanypeachhh/video/7323004085043612959

Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince Response: https://lnkd.in/gUzxF644

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