Tonic Media at the 2016 Handbuilt Motorcycle Show

MotoArkansas at the 2016 Handbuilt Motorcycle Show Short Track from Tonic Media on Vimeo.
This is the first in a series of videos that Tonic Media is producing for MotoArkansas, highlighting the festivities and events at the 2016 Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin, Texas.
This shoot was an absolute blast, with great visuals and wonderfully creative (and irreverent) people. Looking forward to knocking out the rest of these videos in the coming weeks.

What is Good PR?

More than what your company looks and sounds like, think about what it is that you *do*: Not in a grand, vague sense of mission statements and bulletpoints.

Rather, how do your actions affect the general public? Your clients? Your co-workers and employees?

What is your day-to-day impact on society?

In this world of oil-spill PR, talking-head soundbites, and the like, it’s frustrating to see companies so concerned about *image* alone… When truthfully they (we) should simply focus on the work at hand.

An ungenuine or insincere message (especially one that is a forced, hollow attempt to *look and sound* genuine and sincere) is worse than not even trying.

The general public will figure it all out, and there’s a good chance co-workers and employees probably already know it.

The best mode of PR in today’s world of non-stop, bare-bones social media?

Be genuine.

Listen intently to your customers and employees, and react appropriately.

Odds are they’ll respond to your sincerity in a very positive way.

And so will your image.





PR and marketing (especially for non-profits) is about tapping into some degree of emotion.

It is almost tangible. And it should give people a vested interest in who you are and what you do.

Certainly it is a balance of all media.

That said social media media is a necessary tool for today’s non-profit that is ever-evolving.

But it’s more than just shouting and repeating a message over and over. It’s more than email blasts and guerilla marketing your message via Twitter and Facebook.

You can shout a message louder and more repetitively than the next guy… If it doesn’t compel or inspire your audience, you may as well have kept your mouth shut.

The trick to rising above the rest, is how you craft your message.

Consider projecting an uncluttered confidence in who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why.

Great messages are thoughtful and well-executed, whether written, photo, or video.

They are informative, compelling, inspiring, and consistent.

Make it count. Make it worthwhile.

Food (Photos) for Thought

Little bit of a production post…

In an effort to keep food photography simple, we typically shoot on-location, with a Kino Flo 4-bank (usually filled with natural light from nearby windows if available), and a short fixed lens on the camera:



Shooting head-on or at a 45ish-degree angle from an elevated point, gives us the opportunity to create a sense of the restaurant in the background, while still keeping the dishes front-and-center:



And there are dishes that call for the top-down approach that seems prevalent with foodie-photogs today:


The short, fixed lens takes a little more “work” to get the right shot (focus plane) with this approach. You need to be able to clear enough height to get the distance for good focus that doesn’t warp the shape of the dish.

I typically find different highlights on each dish to focus on with each click (above: the focus plane with the dark green garnish, then the focus plane with the top parmesan shavings, the focus plane where the edges of the mushrooms meet the filling, etc). Once that’s done, I do some insurance work, and work through each step on the focus ring before moving on to the next dish.

I find that stepping back, and browsing through the images later in post, works best when picking the right shots for the finished product.

(But really, the most important question is: To sample or not to sample?)

Scandalous Message

Years ago I was part of a discussion that caused me to really take stock of how I “live my profession.” It has stuck with me, especially when I get to the occasional point of “Does my work really mean anything?”

In that conversation we went back-and-forth, regarding the integrity of our words and deeds.

And why should we hold deep-seated (or any kind of) convictions if we don’t always have the courage, or attentiveness, to do everything it takes to follow through to their fruition?

When I worked at Arkansas Children’s Hospital years ago, I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Bettye Caldwell, a PhD who was always ahead of her professional time. I shot and produced an interview vignette that was to be shown at an awards banquet.

Beginning in the 60’s, Dr. Caldwell noticed that a lot of working moms were in desperate need of a safe, educational environment for their young children during the workdays.

It seems so common-sense now. But this was an incredibly radical premise at a time when women were best kept in the home watching their children.

The plight of the working mom, the poor single working mom, was typically brushed aside. And their children did not have a whole lot of options regarding quality child care and early childhood development.

Dr. Caldwell championed their cause, at a time when her “scandalous” notions caused quite a stir in the general public, as well as in her own professional circles.

(She relayed an incident about a male colleague publicly “denouncing” her at an event where she was speaking.)

But through her unwavering dedication, courageous integrity, and relentless efforts, we now have standards for quality child care. We have Head Start and other preschool programs for all of our children.

There’s still room for improvement when it comes to caring for, and teaching, our young children. But Dr. Caldwell got the ball rolling, at a time when it was originally butted up against a wall.

So. What if we all approached our careers in this tenacious manner?

What kind of world would this be?