Heroes and Goddesses – A Travel Napkin Story, Part 2

Heroes and Goddesses – A Travel Napkin Story, Part 2

The Truman Library

Before I met the two Goddesses I talked about in part 1, I visited the home of 2 of my heroes.  I met them at the Truman library in Independence, Missouri, just east of Kansas City.  Truman is obviously one of the men I am talking about.

Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

The other of my heroes is Thomas Hart Benton, the artist.  You may have read about him in my ongoing ‘Artists I Love’ series I have been doing the past few winters. He has one of his large murals in the lobby of the Truman Library.

‘Independence and the Opening of the American West’


The Buck Stops Here

One of the most famous sayings in Presidential history is from Truman. ‘The Buck Stops Here’ was his motto and has been restated by virtually every president since.  He actually had the saying on his desk, and you can see it right as you enter the museum.  Much of the museum is dedicated to the many decisions only Truman, as President, had the power to make.



Bomb and Peace

Truman’s most controversial decision of his Presidency was one of his first. He chose to drop the Atomic Bomb on Japan.  It led to their surrender but the decision was never unanimous within his inner circle nor among the military.  It still is debated today.

One of the things I most admired in the Truman Museum was they did not shy away from bringing this controversy out in the open. they had a whole section dedicated to the arguments pro and con about the decision and allowed visitors to voice their opinion as well.

Here is a book visitors could write in giving their opinion and here is mine, in a drawing.

My opinion has always been that it wasn’t the dropping of the bomb that was the problem, it was dropping it on a population.  I think that if they had dropped it 5 miles off the coast of Tokyo, the Japanese, who already were trying to figure out how to sue for peace and still save face, would have seen what was coming and surrendered pretty much along the same time table they did after the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A History of War

Off in the corner of the downstairs are of the museum there are two examples of war. The first, in the background, is a 5,000 year old helmet from a Greek warrior. In the foreground is a small reproduction of the sculpture commemorating the raising of the American flag on the island of Iwo Jima towards the end of WWII.  It’s a cruel testament to how incessant war is for us humans.

Plenty and Plenty of Nothing

But often out of the worst of events great efforts can arise.  While we in the US were starting to come out of the trauma of war, Europe was not.  Truman’s Marshall Plan was our initiative to help Europe make it’s way back.  

While Secretary of State Marshall’s name and face was front and center in the plan to help all of Europe back on it’s feet, it really was Truman’s initiative. He knew however that due to his own political baggage a plan with his name on it would not have the universal support it needed to succeed.  Marshall, the leader of the overall US War effort was one of the most popular men in the country and he was able to lead the project to fruition. 


Civil Rights

A number of Benton’s paintings were on display at the museum in a temporary exhibition titled ‘Truman and Benton: Legends of the Missouri Border’ that documented the interrelationship between the two over the course of their lives.

The Negro Soldier

During the middle of WWII Benton painted this painting.  It was pretty controversial at the time.  It depicted an American soldier, but it was a ‘Negro’ soldier, not something white America was used to seeing or celebrating.  His choice to depict an African-American was his way of forcing people to see the black person as equal in war.  Not long after the war was over Truman, in spite of a typical Missouri upbringing of his era that was rooted in the racism of slavery and segregation, signed an executive order desegregating the US Armed forces.  It was met with much resistance in the south, breaking apart the Democratic party at the time, but very likely helped Truman win the 1948 election due to increased support in the north and west.

One of the reasons I like Truman is that, while by today’s standards he wouldn’t be considered enlightened on race, he certainly grew and moved beyond his own upbringing to move the country forward into racial equality as best he could at the time.  



Communism and Korea

When North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, the cold war got hot.  The policy of containment of communism had been fleshed out by the US and allies and it included not allowing the USSR or China to push into any areas they weren’t already occupying.  The amount of fear that pervaded the US at that time regarding communism is hard for most of us to understand now but it was real.  Some fears were valid but much was due to ranting demagogues like Sen. McCarthy and high pitched propaganda as seen below.



While the President and the Painter did not enjoy a friendship early on in their careers, they did become friends during the painting of the mural.  Benton did a painting of Truman later in his life.

The Old President

Benton’s Tools


The museum was well worth the trip to Independence. If you are anywhere near Kansas City I highly recommend it.

Self-Portrait at the Truman Library


The Compelling Image in the Age of Social Media

The Compelling Image in the Age of Social Media

In addition to my Napkin Dad persona I am also the owner of MAKE Studio, photography with an emphasis on personal portraits.  In that capacity I spoke last week at the Social Media Tulsa conference on ‘The Compelling Image in the Age of Social Media’.

Frontispiece of Presentation


One of the points I made is having ‘just’ a cell phone does NOT mean you can’t take a good head shot.  I took these photos of Jami Henson, who attended my session at the conference, right outside the main ballroom. It took a total of about 10 minutes to get 20-30 shots using the two cameras. 


Now you might be able to discern the difference between the two images at the large size, but the truth is most social media uses, especially head shots are going to be much smaller. They are used as icons, profile pics and in other reduced size situations. 

My point is not whether the DSLR photo is better, of course it is. But it is so much better in social media digital circumstances that you shouldn’t get the best out of what you have available?  Can you put up something other than a grainy, ugly, badly lit photo of yourself at a party? Yes, you can. And you can do it with a cell phone if you need to.

If you are interested in experiencing the entire hands-on presentation/workshop for your company or group, please feel free to contact me.

Update 3/25/13: 

So, ready to find out the answer?  The top photograph was taken with my iPhone, the bottom with my Panasonic G1 camera.  I did the same minimal manipulation on both.  The iPhone image I converted to sepia and slightly adjusted the brightness and contrast using the Photoshop Express App in the phone. It took about 2 minutes to take, process and post.  The G1 image I did the exact same thing, but did it on my Mac Pro desktop after downloading from my camera.  


© 2013 All rights reserved – Marty Coleman | MAKE Studio www.martycoleman.com

The Compelling Image – Photography #2

The Compelling Image – Photography #2


I compel you to look at Photography part 2.  You can hear more about it at the Social Media Tulsa Conference where I will be speaking and leading a hands-on session on creating Compelling Images for Social Media.

photography 2

Screw The Fashion Police

You are in the crowd at the edge of the red carpet at the Oscars and a famous star with a snake tattoo, a bizarre dress that is sure to put her on the worst dress list and some god-awful makeup walks by as the crowd around you whispers terrible things about her.  But you? All you see are earrings that rock your world. Everyone else hates them but you love them.  You take a quick pic of all of her because that is what you are supposed to do, but then you focus in and take a photo of what you really love, her earrings.  

That individual photo might seem to be about a Star’s earrings but do that again and again and again, wherever you go, and people will realize it’s also about you.  They will see who you are. You will have your own identity, your own point of view, your own visualization of who you are and what you love in the world.  And everyone else will know who you are as well.  

And there you have the secret of how to find a compelling image, by having the courage to follow what compels you.  It’s as simple as that.  


Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman, who design her tattoo for her.

Quote also by Marty Coleman, who designed her earrings too.  However, she is to blame for the makeup, which I tried to talk her out of.



Shooting a Feeling – Photography Lesson #1

Shooting a Feeling – Photography Lesson #1


I am speaking this week at the Social Media Tulsa Conference.  A link to the conference website is below and you are invited to attend.  My topic is ‘The Compelling Image in the Age of Social Media’.  This week I am drawing some images that will introduce various areas I want to cover.  

photography 1

What Compels You?

This one applies whether you are posting your photo to social media sites or not.  It’s about focusing less on documenting the dry look of what happens and focusing more on capturing the compelling feeling of what happens. 

Look for the Feeling

This can happen in one of 2 ways. You can choose to focus on something that, in it’s very look, visualizes a feeling. The drawing above is an example of that.  The bloody foot and sock after an ultra marathon tell more about the feeling of the event than does a simple photo of the participant raising a medal with a smiling face.  Obviously, there is nothing wrong with photographing that smiling face, but if you REALLY want to express the feeling, you might consider looking at what conveys that feeling.  Is it the sweat on the brow, the person pouring water over their head, maybe the bloody sock?  Investigate how the feeling is visualized in the moment and capture it.

Create the Feeling

The other way it can happen is by the technique you use to take the photograph. I once took a series of photos at one of my daughters’ birthday party.  We had a pinata set up and I took a number of photos of the kids at the party swinging at it.  In most of the photos my flash worked as you would expect, it froze the action.  But in a few I purposely set the exposure of the camera much longer, so the flash went off but there was a trail of action that was in the photo as well.   Those were the images that gave the feeling of the girls having fun, swinging at a pinata.  The feeling was in the action, not just in the frozen moment.  Learn what techniques you have available to you to help get across the feeling.

Social Media Tulsa Conference

The conference is Thurs/Fri, March 21st & 22nd at the Mayo Hotel in beautiful downtown Tulsa.  You can still register to attend, here is the link to the Social Media Tulsa website with the agenda, schedule, speakers, etc.  

My presentation is Thursday, 3/21 at 3:30 in the Penthouse of the Mayo Hotel.  It is going to be a combination of speaking and hands on workshop.  If weather permits we will be going out onto the roof of the Mayo to take photos so bring your camera phone if not a bigger camera!


Drawing by Marty Coleman

Quote by David Alan Harvey


Me Drawing Lauren Drawing

Me Drawing Lauren Drawing

Recently I went to Philbrook Museum of Art here in Tulsa to do a photo shoot for a friend, Kathi Morrison, and her family.  When we were done I left the family and went traipsing around the museum on my own for a while.  When I came down stairs I found Kathi’s daughter, Lauren, at a little kid’s drawing table drawing herself in a mirror. Her brother was there as well and asked me, “Do you know how to draw”?  I said yes and sat across from his sister and started to draw her drawing herself as he watched.  This is the drawing that resulted.

The Model LM - drawing

Lauren Morrison

Here is a photo I took of her earlier in the day during the family portrait session.


Lauren Morrison

Here is Lauren with the rest of her family in one of the group portraits.

Kathi Morrison and Family

If you haven’t had a chance to get to Philbrook you really should go. It’s the former home of Waite Phillips of Phillips 66 gasoline fame and is now a world class museum. It has the original mansion as well as a large modern addition where temporary exhibitions, lectures and educational activities take place. It even has a fantastic restaurant called ‘The Villa’ that serves lunch and a great Sunday brunch.  And, as the photo below shows, it’s got an incredible outdoor space. What you see here is both the formal and informal Italian gardens.  Behind and to the left and right are great open spaces with sculptures, walkways and a creek.


Philbrook at Sunset by Marty Coleman

You can find more information at Philbrook.org.


Portraits – Photo Retrospective 2012, part 2

Portraits – Photo Retrospective 2012, part 2

Welcome back Napkin Kin to part 2 of my portraits of 2012.  Yesterday I covered the Second half of 2012, July-December.  Today I am showing the first half with a bit of overlap, January to July.



Niece, San Diego, CA, 7/12


Niece Jumping at Sunset, Del Mar, CA, 7/12

My drive down from Northern California in July ended with me at my sister’s house in San Diego.  I took advantage of the opportunity to do a photo shoot of my young niece. She was quite the natural and loved posing in the backyard and on the beach where I grew up.  My sister Jackie of course did a little stage mom thing, hovering, directing, etc. But my niece was a natural and didn’t need much help.  She looks a lot like our late mother and that was an extra blessing of being able to photograph her.


Julia in the sun

Julia Wade, New York City, NY, 6/12

I went to New York City in June to speak and attend Blog World.  I met up with a dear friend whom I worked with back in the 80s and 90s at Eulipia Restaurant in San Jose, CA.  Then Julia was a struggling student focusing on opera. I did a number of drawings of her back then in various opera costumes for a huge drawing (I never finished).  Now she is now a very well known international recording artist of inspirational/spiritual music.  We found some time to walk and talk early one morning before our days started.  This was taken at a park right on the edge of the Hudson River.  She has a blog called ‘Inspiratus‘. Check out the interview she did with me back in 2009 and then click on home to see her latest entries about her new CD.


Meredith in Blue

Meredith Wood in Blue, Jacob Javits Convention Center, New York City, 6/12

While I was at the Blog World conference I, of course, needed to eat. Not knowing any good places around the convention center I did what any good social media person would do, I tweeted ‘who wants to go to dinner?’ using the Blog World hashtag. I got a number of responses and ended up going to dinner with Meredith and 2 others. Meredith is from NYC and knew exactly where to go for the best meal, which it was.

Her eyes are almost as brilliant blue as my wife Linda’s and when we returned to the conference I realized her and her eyes would stand out fantastic against the blue that was everywhere in the brightly lit lobby.  The next day we found an extra 10 minutes to take some quick shots. I was up on a bench to make sure I got the best blue background.



Michelle at Philbrook

Michelle Linn, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK 6/12


Michelle Relaxing, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK 6/12

I have been doing a photo-collage series for a number of years now called ‘IN Public/Private‘.  It is of reporters and anchors in the Tulsa area.  When my napkins started getting attention and reporters came over to interview me I basically told them, ‘You can interview me if I can take pictures of you’ and that is how it started.  In many cases I offered to take some ‘normal’ photos (my version of normal at least) in exchange for them posing for my collage image idea.  I also asked them to publicize my project to their co-workers to see if they also might be interested in collaborating.

Michelle was very excited about the idea and we met for the very first time at Philbrook to take the photos. Here are a few of the portraits I took of her. She was an enthusiastic delight and has since become a wonderful friend.  Ironically, so far her collage image ended up in a new series called ‘Visual Poems‘ not the ‘IN’ series I had intended her to be in.   You can find her at work in the mornings on Fox 23 here in Tulsa.


renaissance faire kiss

Renaissance Faire Kiss, Muskogee, OK, 5/12

Renaissance Faire Gossip

Renaissance Faire Gossip, Muskogee, OK, 5/12

In May I led a group of photographers at an outing to the Renaissance Faire.  The theme of the shoot was ‘stranger portraits’ and I spent some time before hand explaining to the group how to go about asking strangers to pose for you.  Of course, at a venue like the Renaissance Faire, it really isn’t all that necessary to ask since all the participants already know they are going to be photographed and most of the visitors are dressed up and want to be as well.  But it is good to know anyway because you often might have to ask them to move from where they are standing or sitting to get a good shot. Here are 2 double portraits I took while I was there.



Caitlin’s Senior Collection 1, Waco, TX, 4/12

Caitlin's Senior Collection 2

Caitlin’s Senior Collection 2, Waco, TX, 4/12

My step-daughter Caitlin (whose portraits can be seen in part 1 yesterday) was an Apparel Design major at Baylor University. She had her senior collection show in April of 2012 and I was lucky enough to do the photo shoot for the collection.  We found one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen to do the shoot, less than a mile from Caitlin’s house.  Here are two of the photos from the shoot.

We also were incredibly lucky to  have our first choice of model to bail on us. It freaked Caitlin out a bit of course but the result was we got Rebekah Campbell as our model instead. She had never done a real fashion shoot before and Caitlin was a bit worried about that. Luckily we had nothing to worry about. She was fantastic in her poses, facial expressions, taking directions and overall professional demeanor.  

In addition it turns out she is an fine art major focusing on painting so we had an instant connection creatively.  I am encouraging her to pursue both modeling and painting as best she can, I have no doubt she will be successful in both. 



Philbrook Portrait in Black and White

Portrait in Black and White, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK, 2/12

woman in a museum

Woman in a Museum, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK 2/12

In February I took that same photo group I mentioned above to Philbrook Museum of Art.  This time the focus was on Black and White.  We weren’t only going to have the finished result in BW but actually set the camera to BW so they could see what they were getting from the outset.  

One of the photographers had his wife along with him but she was not doing any photography.   I persuaded her, in spite of her initial shyness, that she would be a fantastic model for those of us who wanted a person in our images.  She eventually got into it and it made for some great images as a result. 


If you are interested in contacting me about doing a photo shoot you can contact me at the contact page in any number of ways.

If would like to see more of my work go to my website, MAKE Studio | Marty Coleman

All photos © 2013 by Marty Coleman | MAKE Studio – All rights reserved.  Sharing this page is perfectly fine but please do not reproduce individual without attribution and permission.  


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