Danish Siddiqui · Inspirational Art · ISO · National Geographic · Photography · Photography Blog · Photojournalism · Robert Capa · Storytelling · Style · Tools

Photojournalism: Tips to Make Pictures like a Pro

Danish Siddiqui Gerda Taro Robert Capa Robert Capa Robert Capa Robert Capa Gerda Taro Robert Capa What is so striking about these pictures? This art …

Photojournalism: Tips to Make Pictures like a Pro
Book Review · Books · Matthew Dicks · Non Fiction · Storytelling · Storyworthy · Tools

Book Review ~Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks

My Story

Let’s start with me telling you a story about me~ as the author says, people would rather hear what happened to you than someone else , as there is an “immediate and inherent vulnerability in hearing a story of someone standing in front of you.”

I was returning from school in my car after picking up my daughter, on my regular way which I take every day ~ going neither too fast nor too slow, preoccupied in my head with the humdrum of daily life , trying to get through life one day at a time, one road at a time. When from no where, a dead cat shows up, very out of place, lying quite dead in the middle of the road~ a place she is not suppose to be! We slow down, cars ahead of me change their course to avoid the obvious flesh and blood. I, no better, follow the crowd and do the same inhuman stuff we humans are so good at ~disregard any life form which is not as precious or valuable as ours. After all a dead cat should not come in the way of so many more important things we have scheduled in our daily lives. However as I swerved from my path, my eyes caught the car behind me, which instead of doing what the rest of us have been avoiding~ stoppes in the middle of the road. She got down, the women in black, with her dark glasses and her hair pulled back. I watched from my rear view mirror as she steppes out with a plastic bag, liftes the dead cat~ which folks like us had left to die~ places her gently on the side of the road. As the traffic moves on I see my perversity reflect back at me in the harsh afternoon sun. I saluted to the lady in black in my mind and went on driving.

The author points that when telling a story to an audience, you cannot tell it the same way you would be telling your friends at a dinner, but slightly more crafted version~however he stresses that we refrain from getting too melodramatic or poetic. To an audience you may sound unprepared or unrehearsed, but this is not true. One has to be prepared to tell them. So it’s more a skill which has to be worked on and made perfect, which Matthew Dicks has mastered as a storyteller ~ check out his YouTube channel “Storyworthy the Book”.

The Art Of Telling Stories

The art of storytelling is a skill which has to be mastered keeping your audience in mind . To keep your story compelling, there are certain rules which the author has come up with, which has served him well over the years at events such as Moth Story~Slam for a very good reason. The five different strategies to infuse a story to make it effective.

  1. The Elephant ~ Every story must have an elephant. It is basically a clear statement of the need, the want, the problem, the peril, or the mystery. It makes it clear to an audience that it’s a story and not a simple musing on a subject. Just like movies have trailers and summaries that you can read on websites like Rotten Tomatoes to inform you of the gist of the story. Storytellers don’t have a trailer, they need to give some preview to get the audience attention.
  2. Backpacks ~ This is a strategy that increases the stakes of the story by increasing the audience’s anticipation about a coming event . Its when a storyteller makes the audience wonder what would happen next.
  3. Breadcrumbs~They are little hints that the storyteller drops of some future event, but only revels enough to keep the audience guessing. The trick is to choose the breadcrumbs which creates the most wondering the mind of the audience .
  4. Hourglasses ~ This is like a climax in a movie scene; the crescendo in a musical piece. Its the time when the story reaches the moment the audience has been waiting for. The sentence the audience has been waiting to hear. The author advise is to slow things down. Grind it to a halt; drag out and wait as long as possible.
  5. Crystal Ball ~ It is a false prediction made by a storyteller to cause an audience to wonder if the prediction is true. We as humans are always trying to anticipate the future, so when telling stories, recounting those on~the~moment predictions is critical.

A story needs to have stakes. Using the above mentioned techniques will only work if your story has stakes. If your story is boring, the strategies will only get you so far.

Lessons for Life

I like the book at many levels. The thing about stories are that they are moments in time which we have all experienced which are unique and beautiful and crafted in a way that blossoms into a story worth sharing. These moments are all around us; every day we go through life missing them entirely. However Matthew Dicks points out that it does not have to be so. He calls it the “Homework for Life”.

He says that at the end of every day, “I’d reflect upon my day and ask myself one simple question: If I had to tell a story from today ~ a five minute story onstage about something that happened in the course of this day , what would it be?” So he writes down a sentence or two that captures his day on an excel sheet . This gives him a constant supply of all storyworthy topics he can present , but more than that I feel this technique helps you record all the meaningful memories that come in our mind, moments from the past that one has forgotten.

I don’t know if I will ever muster the courage to stand in front of an audience and pour out my heart but I do capture my day in my journal. Sometimes I see patterns in my life, some storyworthy stories which I share with my family . It is kind of therapeutic in a way, it stops us from rushing through life and take stock of things around us.

Quoting the author “We are the sum of our experience, the culmination of everything that has come before. “

4 Hour Body · Book Review · Books · Non Fiction · Productivity · Self~Help · Slow Carb Diet · Tim Ferris · Tools

Moonwalking with Tim Ferris



“Self~discipline is overrated and undependable.”

If I had to boil down the gist of the book and the mantras which helped me to loose weight, this would be it. I had been down the rabbit hole too many times ~diets, fads~been their done that!

The book divulges into myriad topic from

1. secret of loosing the elusive body fat

2. improving sex

3. perfecting sleep

4.reversing injuries

5.running faster and farther

6. getting stronger

7.learning to swim effortlessly in ten days

8.on longer and better life

Yes , its not humanly possible for me, a humble mortal to tackle all but will start with setting straight my elusive body fat percentage , what Timothy Ferris calls eyeballing it ~ for women~ if obese, aim for 25%, if you have just a bit of extra padding, aim for 18% (good luck with that , so I said to my past self~I stand corrected.)

The Slow Carb Diet

I love fool’s experiments,I’m always making them~Charles Darwin

As the story goes in the book , Mr Ferris has just consumed a whooping 4400 calories in the form of two full~size barbecue chicken pizzas and three handful of mixed nuts (some folks have all the luck in the world )~ hold on it gets better ~ it was his forth meal of the day.

After 72 hours he tested his body fat percentage with an ultra sound analyzer~dropped from 11.9% to 10.2%~ he had lost 14% body fat in 14 days ~ ‘ welcome to utopia ~ aka Slow Carb Diet.

The five Tenets of Slow Carb Diet ~Lose 20 Pounds in 30 Days without exercise.

a. Avoid”White” Carbohydrates.

b. Eat the same few meals over and over again.

c. Don’t Drink Calories.

d. Don’t Eat Fruits.

e. Take One Day Off Per Week.

That’s all, Folks!


I have been on the Slow Carb Diet for two weeks, and I know it may be too early to gloat and swear by it, but I am no rookie when it comes to dieting and trying to loose weight~ the mere convenience of eating the same meal and not having to count calories and macros is a winner in my opinion.And the fact that you get a day to live your deepest, darkest desires (Dieters Gone Wild ~as the author appropriately terms it ) is the cherry on the cake.

Book Review · Non Fiction · Productivity · Self~Help · Tools

Zettelkasten way~A Dynamic way of note~taking


The zettlkasten method was developed by Niklas Luhmann. A productivity tool which is life changing if understood and done in the spirit it was intended by its inventor. The very fact that Luhmann was extremly prolific in his lifetime~ he published 58 books and hundreds of articles. Luhmann rarely had any assistance at all~ “If I want something. it’s more time . The only thing that really is a nuisance is the lack of time”.

Key Learning

In the book Sonke Ahrens aims to give tools of note~taking and implement them into your workflow. It helps you seamlessly move between one task to another without loosing sight of the bigger picture. So the idea is not to be a planner, which makes things inflexible but a workflow that gives insight and new ideas which become a driving force that push you forward.


This is the heart of the system itself and is extremely simple . Luhmann had two slip~Box, notes were written on index card and stored in a wooden box.

  1. a bibliographical one containing the references and brief notes on the content of the literature.
  2. the second box to collect and generate his ideas , mainly in response to what he reads. Whenever he read something , he wold write the bibliographic information on one side of the card and make a brief note about the content on the other side. In the second step he would look at the brief notes and think about their relevance for his own thinking and writing . He kept the idea brief enough to make one idea fit on a single sheet.

The idea is not just to copy ideas or quotes from the text he reads, but to generate ideas and develop links between notes to different context.

The author gives digital options as well . Free program like ZOTERO is a great tool to get started.

He also mentions using Daniel Ludecke’s Zettelkasten. It is one of the only program that implements the principles behind Luhmann’s system and at the same time simple and easy to use. It is free and is available for different operating systems.

The Slip~Box is nota collection of note . Working with it is less about retrieving specific notes and more about being pointed to relevant facts and generalising insight by letting ideas mingle.

So give it a try, agreed it will not be easy to get use to this method and you may slip back into your old ways, but once mastered , it is truly game changing.