Achievement is …for me

“I prefer the hen that looks up to the sky than the eagle that flies but always looking down.
How high is not the question, but how intense is your longing for the sky” - Sadhguru.

I’ve been a bit over obsessed with achievement. Establishing my own business at sixteen, I believed anything was possible.

Ten years later, I picked up the Association of Photographers award, presented to me by Melvin Bragg on the stage at the Barbican in London. I had my work published in several books.

Going into a bookstore in New York and seeing the Jodi Picolut Book I contributed the cover for was a big thrill. Getting the cheque for the best selling book even better! Having exhibitions, a Masters in photography award, a sports coaching award, best car, best camera, big jobs. Always looking to the future.

We are born makers, our instinct is to create stuff - so achievement must be hard wired into our DNA. Now I think it’s important we know what we’re working toward. I’ve looked at what success means and what failure means. I’m still passionate about making my projects happen but I don’t attach my own self worth to them.

My expectations of myself are still high. I’m kinder on myself. I’m grateful for family, friends, clients. Grateful for being able to travel and experience new things. Doing my best, living in the now, not the fantasy of awards, not putting to much pressure on myself.


Creative life

What is it to be creative ?
5 stories of a creative Life.

 People talk about creative Ireland and we like to think of Ireland as a creative hub for everything from writing and music to software and animated film , from theatre to food . My 5 points on creativity.

  • Projects : I always have multiple projects going on at once . Projects keep us busy but also allow us to always have something interesting going on . At the moment I’m working on educational videos , a video called magic mushrooms, a short film on schooling in tea plantations of Sri Lanka and one on foods of Sri Lanka . I’m passionate that we all should have our projects and side projects from our main work - it’s what Tom Peters called - the project life . 
  • Environment : Growing up : I liked to be creative , I loved to grow things in the garden , to make imaginary dens and dream up adventures , I had a darkroom in my bedroom and wired up the lights and sockets myself . I took pictures , played music and played Football . Everyday was an adventure. I was a football Manager, wildlife warden , electrician , chemist and adventurer , Photojournalist , and organiser of World cups ! Finally,  I started my own photography business at 16 . I had a supportive environment to be creative , that’s important . I’m Grateful to my parents and family for that support .
  • Creativity is not confined to the arts music or literature , we can be creative in every area of our lives, creative in our learning , in our relationships , in how we think about things . 
  • Tested risk . Creativity is about taking risks, being bold and the best risks are the ones you have tested out before hand . It’s about having the courage to try new things , with the feeling that you can make things better. .
  • After Action Review. The After Action Review is my little black book.  It comes from the military . After every shoot I write a few notes about what was expected to happen and what happened, the learning for the future . I keep notes of lighting set ups and technical stuff , so if I need to do something similar I can refer to the notes . 
  • What is creativity ?
  • Robert Breson said that Creativity is” The simultaneous precision and imprecision of music . A thousand possible , unforeseeable sensations “
  • Deductive v inductive

    Academics love to take things and Ideas apart to see what’s behind these things. A creative mind likes to take things that may not belong together and make new stuff . 

    Creativity is about making connections.


    You never work Alone…

    From Ideas to final Print Ads   mike@mikeotoole.com

    The Great Italian Cinematographer Vitorrio Storraro once said that “All great films are a resolution of a conflict between darkness and light. There are infinite possibilities for the use of light with shadows and colors.” 

     Alone is an Irish Charity that brings light into the lives of older people , no question about the work they do . Alone is a charity . Alone is a state of being. Alone is a feeling. Alone is being alone.

    I was asked by Irish Advertising agency Bonfire to contribute to their ideas for a series of posters , here are four of the final ones.  Art Director Sean Hynes and I discussed the project, and we picked out the objects . Our feeling was to create a look that would be consistent no matter what size the objects or rooms that we photographed. I thought of films that I liked and I loved the look of The Immigrant , which was photographed by Frenchman Darius Khondji . I used his work as a style but his colours are more sepia, I wanted something rich , warm , inviting , not dreary or a confusion of colours . His films are shot on sets , however we shot in real houses and apartments , my mother chipped in as location scout and found me one of her friends houses for one image. The colour  was all done in camera with lighting gels and the lenses I used are the same ones used for film making. I think they have a film feel , and although i was thinking of adding grain back into the pictures, i felt no need .
    No major retouching or tweaking was done, we wanted the objects to have a personality almost be the characters in the story. This is the result of a good creative collaboration, between client, agency and creative and working with heart. 

    Agency : Bonfire Dublin Ireland 

    Concept : Ian Doherty and Sean Hynes

    Client : Alone

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