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How Kyla was prepared to take on the coronavirus

A year ago, little did we know about the challenges we were about to undergo. The world health organization declared a global crisis after the Coronavirus hit the globe. And, despite years of warnings from major leaders, no one was prepared for what has to come. Except for Kyla, one of the most comprehensive, COVID-19 solutions for the workplace.

Kyla brings together onsite testing, technology, and physicians in order to deliver one of the most comprehensive COVID-19 solutions. The company offers a service that brings nurses to test employees on-site weekly. Plus, an application that allows its clients to monitor symptoms and vitals daily.

Thus, they ensure and safe, comfortable, and easy way to get back to the office and, our almost normal life.

In a conversation with Garick Hismatullin, CEO of the Kyla company, we learned further about it. How did they prepare themselves for such an unprecedented event? What were their major challenges and how did they manage to overcome them?

Kyla met its true journey with the coronavirus

“I still remember that meeting. We were kind of learning the end of the world was about to come. Our chief medical physician was telling us that based on all these mathematical models there would be 20 percent of the hospitalization rate. And we knew already that based on those models, we were maxing out of hospital capacity. So that was our main focus.”

Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021

Coming from an urgent and primary care background, Garick had already in mind the risks of a pandemic. In 2011 he worked with an emergency room physician and by the end of 2012, early 2013 they had opened up their first clinic.

Medical physician running a covid-test at a drive-through in Orange Count, via Leonard Ortiz

Back then, Kyla was an internal software designed to create a more engaging primary care program for its patients. But as Covid came about, they saw and opportunity to help and took it.

“It was pretty obvious that testing would be important,” he told me. Thus, they added a service line to their existing centers for testing.

“It seems that all this came together quickly, but in reality, we’ve been working on this for more than 8 years. All the little pieces were kind of already in place and when we recognized an opportunity with covid we took it off.”

Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021

However, it might surprise you to learn that these conversations were happening as early as December 2019.

“By the end of December we knew that Covid was not going to be like other pandemics,” he admitted.

Judging by how it was affecting other places before it reached the US, they knew it had lots of containment. Once containment was breached, we knew that there was no stopping COVID spread globally. And realized testing was going to be important.

“Specifically for essential workers, manufacturers, etc. People who had to go to work or else we would run out of food and basic services.”

Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021

Then, by February 2020, not only had Kyla opened up its first drive-thru in Santa Clara County, but it was already sending nurses out.

By November, the state of California mandated that if you have more than 2 positive cases in any two-week period then the employers must test every week. “That was a huge validation,” said the CEO.

Buying time and saving lives

Meanwhile, while we civilians learned about the spread of this new virus, Kyla was thinking about what was going to happen and how counties they needed to be.

Indeed, weekly testing of more than 2 thousand people has its logistical challenges because you got to get the results, to the employers, themselves and coordinate people to go to work. Likewise, they knew it was a time-sensitive matter. That was their first challenge.

Physician running a covid test in a lab

“We got it down to 30 secs: the patient downloads the app before. The apps connect them with the employers profile they submit their insurance info (so we have all of their information at the back end) and, at the point the nurse gets to their on-site facility, they just show their barcode, the nurse takes a picture and their profile automatically pulls out,” said Hismatullin.

Garick continued, “The nurse swaps their nose, meanwhile, a label gets printed. They stick the label to the tube and the tube goes directly into our labs where it would be scanned and automatically uploaded to the person’s and employer’s profile in less than 24 hours.”

With this type of systems you can test more 3 to 4 thousand people. That is what allows for upscale operations to work.

But, perhaps the most challenging obstacles they

Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021 faced were not the virus itself, but the governments trying to control it.

Kyla’s challenges along the way

“We were building the plane as it was running down the runway.”

Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021

Coming from a company that had to face the coronavirus and the testing firsthand, it was surprising to hear that the most challenging of all things was “insurance reimbursement.”

What does that even mean?

In fact, insurance reimbursement impacts everything. From the amount of money that’s there for investments, to the relationship with the clients and patience.

Not to mention, that for a service like Kyla, which is technologically sustained, it also changed the app’s own design and business model.

“It was frustrating because the rules were changing all the time. And we would just build a solution to fit the use case of what they wanted us to do, and all of the sudden they would change a week later, and then two weeks later they would update the language in such a minor way but it completely changes the meaning of any major sentence.”

Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021

That at the federal level, but at state-level was even worse. The state was saying completely different things. They came up with their own rules, competing with what the government was saying. Thus, who should they listen to?

Kyla had to rebuild the app, re-create the contracts, re-create their business model many many times. “We went through that probably March, May, and another one in June, July, then steady up until October and then another major shift,” he explained.

Who is responsible for all of these? Is it the employee, the employer, the government? Who is going to pay for all of these? Those were the real questions. And they changed weekly…

Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021

Not to mention that health care workers don’t know for up to 90 days whether or not they are going to get paid. So, running these businesses already is making a multimillion-dollar bet.

Many of the employers were understanding about the situation, but many (reasonably) were not.

And, while the government was still trying to get into a consensus agreement on how to handle the crisis, Kyla was ready. However, the government’s disorganized approach didn’t make things easier for this front-line worker committed to saving lives.

The future of Kyla

Up until now, Kyla has worked with more than 400 companies, ranging from publicly traded to small business operations. Their start-up-like model has allowed them to change and adapt to the unique setups that each business has and their requirements.

“One of the best parts of being a start-up company is that you get to experiment, and you learned a lot. And then when disruption happened you get to take that learning and apply it, and that was our opportunity to do so. And [it] got to help a lot of people along the way.”

Garick Hismatullin, Kyla CEO 2021

Truth is, testing is not going anywhere. As the cities are beginning to open, they need Kyla, and all other testing services, now more than ever.

And, if there is something that we all have learned from this pandemic (besides the systematic racism that is still very much present) is the importance of our health.

Not only would companies be more aware of the health of its employees, but individuals would be more aware of their own health as well. Services like Kyla will enable us to track and monitor our health in a much easier and engaging way.

But, as Covid-19 has welcomed health data collection, we also need to be aware of who are we sharing it with.

And, judging from how the government has mishandled information lately, I would much rather prefer having my health-information safe in the hands of physicians and doctors, who have dedicated and committed their lives, to our wellbeing.

Prison massacre in Ecuador uncovers corruption and more

On Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 79 prisoners from 3 of Ecuador’s maximum-security prisons were slaughtered to death. The Ecuadorian prison massacre comes after the assassination of Jose Luiz Zambrano Gonzales, leader of Los Chonero the biggest narco cartels in the country.

The “unprecedented” event, not only exposed the power of prison gangs but also shocked the entire nation.

Along with disturbing videos of the murders, came a message threatening Coronel Orlando Jácome — Deputy Director of the National Service for Comprehensive Care for Adults Deprived of Liberty and Teenage Offenders (“Snai”).

Coronel Orland Jácome presented his resignation on February 24, 2021. More than 17 million people are now looking for answers as to what happened.

In Ecuador’s largest-ever prison massacre, what happened?

On Tuesday morning, at 7:12 an emergency call from Guayaquil’s prison was received. Followed by an emergency call from Cuenca and Latagcunga at 9 am and 10 am respectively. Yet, the police arrived only to find blocked doors and arson that blocked their way.

Meanwhile, inside the prison, videos were taken of the horrific events that were happening. Explicit videos of inmates being decapitated, hearts on palms still beating, others dismembered with chainsaws. All while others played soccer with the heads of the victims.

No guards nearby. No alarms.

Wednesday of that same week, it was confirmed that 37 prisoners died in Guayaquil prison, 8 in Latacunga and 34 in Cuenca. The three prisons jointly hold more than two-thirds of the country’s entire inmate population.

After careful investigations, it was concluded that Ecuador’s prison massacre began after the leader of the biggest narco cartels was killed in December 2020, leaving a vacant seat to seize power and control over prisons and the narcotic roads of Ecuador.

The Choneros

Juan Luiz Zambrano Gonzales, also known as JL, was the leader of Los Choneros, Ecuador’s biggest drug Cartel.

The Choneros are in charge of all the logistics that go into transporting drugs from one country to another. They are in total control of Ecuador’s routes, hence making them a valuable asset to major drug cartels like the Sinaloa Cartel.

Not only were they powerful for their route control, they were powerful for their quantity. The Choneros had over 5,000 members spread across the entire country.

The problem arises when The Choneros try to uphold the control of Guayaquil’s port — the key to drug trafficking routes.

However, once The Choneros tried to establish their power in Guayaquil, they encounter resistance from Los Lagartos, the gang who was in control of Guayaquil’s drug logistics.

By this time, JL had already created a name for himself. Not only had he gained control over almost all trafficking routes in Ecuador, he controlled all three prisons mention earlier as well. He became respected and feared among his cartel and others — no one could dare to touch him.

But, Los Largartos were not letting JL take control of yet another trafficking route. And, on December 28, 2020, JL was killed in the middle of a mall in the city of Manta.

However, it is said that Los Largartos did not dispose of the resources to kill such a prominent figure. Authorities, therefore, suggest that they had made an agreement with the Sinaloa Cartel Leader, the one and only Chapo.

Another suggestion is that there is a revolution happening within The Choneros themselves. It is said that a new generation of Choneros is trying to seize control over the entire organization. Thus, partnering with Los Largatos and helping with the assassination of their own leader.

Framing Correa

Once JL out of the picture, they had to get rid of JL’s predecessors: “Junior” and Tito (the same guys in charge of keeping control of all three prisons). However, that never happened, both of them received information about the intent of their murder ahead of time. And, just in time when arms were infiltrating to prisons for their murder, the riot started.

This not only uncovers the power and terror that these prison gangs are able to uphold over the police but also pointed to further evidence that Ecuador’s ex-president might have been involved.

After the riots, an investigation was opened on the matter. Evidence was found that suggested that Ecuador’s former President had, in fact, close connections with El Chapo Guzman (the main suspect behind Ecuador’s prison massacre).

It happens that, Telmo Castro, a retired Army captain had a close relationship with Rafael Correa. He was sentenced to prison after being framed as the main representative of El Chapo in Ecuador.

Later, evidence found in his blackberry proved the relationship between the former president and José Antonio Aguilar Orozco, Darwin Stalin Gómez Vélez, and Edgar Fernando Sandoval Puga who were later found guilty of drug trafficking.

prison massacre
Correa smiles with José Antonio Aguilar Orozco, Darwin Stalin Gómez Vélez and Edgar Fernando Sandoval Puga. (Photo found in Telmo Castro’s BlackBerry)

It is important to note that the events come during a sensible time in Ecuador. The country is currently undergoing political elections where Correa’s political party is trying to re-take control over the country.

Still, whether that frames him as an accomplice of all the Ecuador’s prison massacre is yet to be discovered.

April Walker is the founding mother of streetwear fashion

If not the first, April Walker is one of the pioneers of streetwear fashion. She is, in fact, the first woman in the lane of urban menswear and, the first woman designer to secure endorsements with legends like Tupac, Biggie, and Notorious B.I.G.

Thus, when it comes to streetwear, forget about Supreme or Stussy, it is Walker Wear that should first come to mind. Because besides being one of the first explorers of urbanism in fashion, Walker Wear is actually one of the founding brands of streetwear culture.

April Walker the entrepreneur

April Walker is not only a creative but, an entrepreneur. Elements that are both rooted in her DNA partly because of her father, and partly because of Brooklyn.

When April was a child, she saw first hand the powerful coalition of creativity and entrepreneurship. Her father was in the music business managing Jazz musicians. Thus, April grew up watching him “beat his own drums.”

Walker went to school studying communications and business. Later, she took a job at American Express only to realize that she was meant to own her own business and not work for anyone else.

Like all children in this world, she had fed on all the creative and entrepreneurial energy her father had radiated.

Thus, at only 20 years old, she became an entrepreneur. Yet, it wasn’t until a visit to Dapper Dan’s in Harlem, that everything clicked: she was to become a fashion, streetwear entrepreneur.

“I was amazed at what they were doing. It was a custom tailoring shop and I told myself I am going to open one of these in Brooklyn.”

April Walker, The Source Magazine, 2015

In 1987, Walker opened her first clothing business at her home: Fashion In Effect. Only one year later, in 1988, she opened her first clothing shop on Greene Avenue in Brooklyn.

Later, noticing an ongoing trend in the Brooklyn streets, in 1990 she launched Walker Wear — one of the first official streetwear brands. And became the first one to open distribution doors which commanded millions of sales.

Soon, she was working with celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Biggie, Tupac, Aaliyah, and Run-DMC among others. It became the brand directly linked with Hip Hop’s culture and history.

“If you are a good business person and a creative, you would learn to give them [the people] what they want. You are never bigger than your audience or your fans. And the way I stayed creative is by doing custom pieces and limited editions”

April Walker, Vibe Magazine 2015

In this manner, April Walker became one of the firsts to be responsible for sharpening the streetwear culture that emerged in the NYC ’90s.

Thus, she has written books and appeared in several documentaries, including the award-winning “Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion,” detailing the emergence of the category.

Her efforts in both fashion and hip-hop have made her a key player in streetwear style formation. And it is her history and background as a designer that makes her advocate the roots of this now popular category.

She wrote an essay for Medium Magazine, “The Fashion Industry Needs A Hard Reset — Especially for Black Designers.And here, she details the fundamental lack of Black representation and Black spending power.

More importantly, she highlights the ironic fact that while Black creatives are largely for creating this multi-billion dollar industry, they are largely unrecognized.

Thus, already being a pioneer and a streetwear designer herself, April Walker has also become a guardian and defender of the roots of this fashion style category.

Cam Kirk tells us the secrets of starting a photography studio

Starting a photography studio is not only a way to document history, but a way to build up other creatives around you. There are more than a million photographers out there contributing to the culture in their own unique way. However, none are like Cam Kirk.

Kirk is a creative that has thought of everything and everyone throughout his process. Building a studio for himself was not the only mission, but to also build it for all creatives who have something to offer the world.

Cam Kirk explains the highs and lows of starting a photography studio

I knew when I first started shooting lights, I wasn’t skilled or trained professionally by college or anything. [It] would have meant the world if I had someone there that can say “What look are you going for?

Cam Kirk, 2021

Thus, Cam Kirk Studios is built to help both up-and-coming and professional photographers to achieve their maximum creative output.

Every photographer that walks into the studio is provided with an assistant, plus there are no walls, allowing creatives to get inspired by the work of others.

I know a lot of photographers in their come-up don’t have a team because they can’t afford a team, so it’s like when they come and shoot here they get a team. They adopt my team and they get the same resources that I shoot with.

Cam Kirk, 2021

Let’s learn more about how Cam Kirk started his own photography studio.

Cam Kirk’s photography studio

For someone like Cam Kirk, photography is just part of the journey. His true passion lies more in marketing and business, and thus opening a studio business was always part of his journey.

However, starting a photography studio was just not enough for this creative entrepreneur.

I get offended when people say you made it. Because it’s like you are putting a finish line in my career, or even my goals. You thought only this of me, Nah! Don’t put a finish line on me. I have not made it! And that is just the way I always think. Had my first studio, now I need one in another city. Now I need one overseas. As soon as I get close, I push it back.

Cam Kirk, 2021

For Kirk, it is all about the entrepreneurial mentality, no matter what point on the race he is. Starting a photography studio was one step, but by no means was it the final one.

I never approach myself as a photographer, just as an individual. I approach myself as a business, so when you really start to think of yourself as a business, you realize you have five years and you are still a baby. The ten-year company probably is still figuring things out. And you start to realize this is a marathon.

Cam Kirk, 2021

Advice for young entrepreneurs

For me, there is always a bigger picture. And for me, it’s always been about progression. I judge my success and I know if I am on the right track by asking if I am moving forward. And every year I need to be moving forward. Even if last year I moved 10 steps forward and this one 1 step forward, I’m still moving forward.

Cam Kirk, 2021

When it comes to starting a photography studio, there is much to think about.

The location, space, the lighting, and much more. But with a hunger for success and passion to keep moving forward, it all comes down to how many hours of work you are willing to invest in building your dreams.

If you are creative and you are an entrepreneur, you are the entire company, so off the rip, I learned straight from that alone you can’t be taking yourself seriously if you don’t work at least 9 hours. You are not even doing what your parents do, or someone else in your life does just to be a part of it. So you always gotta work at least 9 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus more.

Cam Kirk

Galapagos wildlife photography sure to take your breath away

Photography of wildlife from the Galapagos Islands gives us some of the most diverse and enriched pictures of animals known to man or woman.

It is not a surprise Charles Darwin spent weeks on end on the island, and based an entire study of evolution upon the wildlife he saw.

In his book, On the Origins of Species, Charles Darwin revealed two of nature’s most guarded secrets to the entire world: the evolution theory and the amazing diversity on The Galapagos Islands. 

The Galapagos Islands lie 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. For years, the Islands remained a closely-guarded secret of the natural world.

Until one day in 1835, the 22-year-old Darwin arrived and changed the way we understand the natural world.

A brief background on Charles Darwin and the Galápagos Islands

The Gálapagos Islands are home to the famous finch specimen that led to Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selections. 

Darwin spent five weeks on the islands exploring their unique flora and fauna, only to realize a subtle, but critical, difference in the animals’ physiologies, diets, and behaviors.

This led him to formulate his theory of natural selection.

What makes the wildlife in the Galapagos unique?

The Islands are home to some of the most unique species of the world. In fact, 80 percent of the land birds, 97 percent of the reptiles and land mammals and 30 percent of plants are endemic.

And, what has really caught international acclaim and attention is the island’s marine species. More than 20 percent of them, including the giant Galapagos tortoise, marine iguana, and the Galapagos penguin, are found nowhere else on earth.

Here are six wild animals in the Galapagos captured by photography that you cannot see anywhere else in the world.

Giant Tortoises

A Giant Tortoise lies on a grassy field (Photo by: Nathalie Moeller)

The Galapagos tortoise is one of the most well-known species in the Galapagos Islands. These giant reptiles are the largest living species of tortoise in the world.

Some specimens exceed 5 feet in length and reach 550 pounds. They are also the longest-living species in the world, on average they live up to 100 years.

Unfortunately, there are only 10 types of giant tortoises left in the Galapagos, down from 15 when Charles Darwin arrived. It is estimated that more than 100,000 tortoises were killed off during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, hunted by pirates, whalers, and merchants for food.

Hence, many of the tortoise subspecies are now listed as endangered or critically endangered and have been strictly protected by the Ecuadorian government since 1970.

Blue-Footed Boobies

Walking with confidence are Blue-Footed Boobies (Photo by: Tui De Roy)

Blue-Footed Boobies are another one of the Galapagos’ main attractions. Although you can find them on the western coasts of Central and South America, they are most popular in the Galapagos Islands.

In fact, the population includes about half of all breeding pairs of blue-footed boobies.

These incredibly diverse birds take great pride in their blue-footed feet. The bluer the foot, the more attractive they are. It is common that during mating season, males show-off their feet to prospective mates.

Galapagos Penguins

A Galapagos penguin stands on a rocky shore (Photo by: Pexels)

These are the only penguin species in the Northern Hemisphere.

Their population is fewer than 2,000, and thus they are considered an endangered species.

And the biggest threat to their existence is climate change and pollution, as well as diseases carried by other animals.

Darwin’s Finches

A Darwin’s Finch stands on a branch (Photo by: Megan Palsa)

Darwin’s Finches, as the name suggests, are animals named after Charles Darwin himself. They are actually not real finches. They belong to the tanager family.

Their closest known relative is, in fact, the dull-colored grassquit, and this photography captures the Galapagos wildlife up-close and personal.

Once the original grassquits arrived at Galapagos, they diversified and adapted to the different environments found on the Islands, eventually becoming different species.

Hence, these species became the pinpoint of ground for Darwin’s studies.

Marine Iguanas

A Marine Iguana clasps a mossy rock (Photo by: Patricio Saremiento Reinoso)

The marine iguanas can be seen anywhere in the Galapagos Islands. Charles Darwin famously described them as “hideous-looking,” and “most disgusting, clumsy lizards.”

Thus, their homely looks are what they are known for.

But what these unusual animals lack in looks, they make up for with their amazing and unique ecological adaptations. In fact, each of the Galapagos Islands hosts marine iguanas of unique sizes, shapes, and colors.

The species is also considered vulnerable to extinction and their exact population is unknown. They are under constant pressure from non-native predators like rats, feral cats, and dogs, who feed on their eggs and young.

Galapagos Sea Lions

A Galapagos sea lion swims (Photo cred: Pexels)

They are one of only a few marine mammals resident in the Galapagos. In fact, they are the largest endemic land animal in the Galapagos.

And, although their appearance might look similar to the California sea lion, they are smaller and breed only on the islands.

These sea lions are common on the islands and very friendly as well. They love to swim with people. And, if you are lucky you might also see them breading right next to you.

They live within the cities and mix with the people. Because of this, there are strict rules to protect sea lions and other animals that live there.

The Galapagos Islands and their wildlife is a pure treat in photography

Word of the islands has grown since Darwin’s daring expedition. In 1959, the Galapagos became Ecuador’s first national park. And in 1978, they were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today, more than 300,000 people visit the island to see the incredible animals and landscapes. And because of photography, we get to see this beautiful Galapagos Islands wildlife in all its beauty and splendor.

Creative trends for 2021 look promising but what’s Shutterstock’s prediction?

Creative trends for 2021 look promising, but what are the real vibes? The Shutterstock 2021 Creative Trend Report might just have the answer.

In a globalized era, we take for granted the power that digital communication has granted. Not to mention our disregard for credibility and, or, different perspectives.

For good or for bad, we have seen action and people coming together because of digital communication. People being able to relate with each other now more than ever because of the closeness that the internet provides. Being united by a single cause. 

Thus, perhaps there is no better time to learn about all different realities, to see the world through the eyes of its citizens rather than just the media industry. A time for creators

With a network of more than one million contributors from all different countries of the world, Shutterstock is able to provide high-quality visuals that reflect the reality of all corners of the world through diverse perspectives.

It is a leader for businesses and creators to get licensed visual content. 

What is Shutterstock? 

Shutterstock is a global creative platform offering full-service solutions and high-quality visuals and audio content and tools to help creatives and brands tell their stories.

It is the market place helped businesses around the world; license photos, vectors, illustrations, videos, and music that they need for communication including marketing material. 

They are constantly innovating and finding fun ways to inform and inspire all creators around the world; from creative directors to bloggers and small business owners. And, unlike any other microstock platform, their core mission is to empower creativity through their high-quality content. 

They also enjoy a network of one million contributors which ensures that their brand always delivers really fresh campaigns and content that speak to the here and now. This not only allows them, but their clients as well, to stay relevant, relatable, and creative. 

In fact, Shutterstock has a content team in charge of analyzing each year’s visual trends and how they evolve through the year. This not only helps to provide insights about the type of content clients can use for the upcoming campaign or social posts.

And, essentially, allows both clients and themselves to share content that is not only eye-catching but also on-trend. 

“Our site is viewed by global users: not just the creatives, we also have social media managers and small business owners, and even journalists from all over the world in different countries. So our search data report is not just a reflection of what is going on in the creative industry, it’s also a reflection of cultural changes globally”

Flo Lau, Creative Director at Shutterstock

These trends mirror not just what is going on with society at the moment, but what would happen next. And, in a way, they allow businesses, creative or not, to enhance conversations with their communities.

Shutterstock 2021 creative trends report clue us into what visual demand currently looks like.

What images, videos, and visual aids are people looking for in order to tell the stories we read or news we consume? What are the realities we are exposed to? Is there a common denominator? How are people creating content? What gets them inspired? How can businesses relate to clients?

All these are questions that can be answered by analyzing the type of visuals we are consuming. Understanding not only what the audience is looking for, but why are they related to these type of visuals, can potentially reveal larger cultural shifts.

At first glance, what these trends truly reveal is a more colorful, brighter, sincere look to a new year

Surreal Faces

Shutterstock Creative Trends Report 2021
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021


Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

This trend is composed of current and translucent hues snaking metallic swirls, and foamy sprays of color that shape the landscape of these free-flowing textures.


Tie dye has not only become a staple of at-home fashion, but now is the new darling of digital design.

“Although not surprising, tie-dye has become one of the most interesting Creative Trends for 2021.” According to Flo Lau, Head of Creative at Shutterstock, Tie Die is expected to grow hugely in 2021 especially in the fashion world in particular.

tie dye data
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

Identity Unfiltered

Shutterstock Creative Trends Report 2021
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

Representation matters. The past year has been eye-opening in a way that has shown the power and importance of representation. Thus, it is important and, perhaps encouraging, to know that brands, businesses, and people are taking action over it.

Shutterstock Creative Trends Report 2021
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

Inner Life

inner life trends
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

Eccentric Animation

animation data
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

According to Flo, this trend has around 13,000% over year increase in terms of search.

Particularly in 2020, people being trapped at home and all video productions become more challenging. Animation and other forms of illustration have been a huge solution.

For one, not only is animation much cheaper than an entire set production, but it is an effective way to communicate a strong and clear message.

The Sublime

sublime data
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

Strings and Uplifting Playful

Shutterstock Creative Trends Report 2021
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

The Unexplored

“One of the most surprising, but not really because we knew it was coming,” admitted Flo.

Shutterstock Creative Trends Report 2021
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

“We have biodiversity: people trying to break out of their day-to-day social media and use media consumption and get back in nature and get an understanding of evolution. There is also a rise in mental health and people realizing its importance .”

Flo Lau, Creative Director at Shutterstock

Perhaps this trend is one of the most revealing ones.

It mirrors a combination of everything that happened in 2020 and, at the same time, it encapsulates the internal reaction that people are having. The societal reaction to the reality of 2020 and its uncertainty.

Maybe it comes as a surprise, but stock image relevance goes far beyond the media industry. It creates a connection between people from all over the globe and brings representation of everyone and every corner to light. It helps people connect with each other and bring attention to situations that matter.

At the same time, the fact that there is a wide range of contributors allows the platform to provide an unbiased representation of the different realities of all corners of the world. And the 2021 Shutterstock Creative Trend Report proves that.

“It is important for [clients] to see and understand what is happening in the world in order to communicate it effectively through their campaigns. Documenting different realities through images or videos, and capturing cultural and societal trends, is not only powerful but necessary”

Flo Lau, Creative Director at Shutterstock

Amanda Gorman’s brief career in the spotlight carries hope and resilience

Amanda Gorman, just 22, has only lived a small fraction of what is sure to be an iconic and prestigious career. Amanda Gorman’s speech on Inauguration Day was not just impassioned, but transcendent, and her resilience shines a light forward for the youth in America.

Her brief time in the spotlight on inauguration day and in the subsequent days after, brings hope to a troubled state, as with our youth leading us in short order, we may be alright after all.

The presidential inauguration day was a remarkable moment for America and the entire world. Kamala Harris became the first woman, the first African American, and the first South Asian American (hopefully not the last of any of these) to become vice president.

The first lady, and former first ladies, restored the fashion sense at politics with their stunning outfits by remarkable designers. And, of course, no one will ever forget Bernie Sanders’ chair that crashed the internet.

Even with all the star power at the inauguration, it was Amanda Gorman who stole the show

And, while Joe Biden became president of the United States, restored hope, and saved America from tyranny, the person who really stole the show was “a skinny Black girl, descended from the slaves and raised by a single mother, who dreamed of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one” — Amanda Gorman

Not that Kamala, Joe, or Michelle Obama’s belt didn’t catch our undivided attention. But, Gorman presented what was meant to be the perfect finale for the start of a resilient era. 

And with other youth rising up as iconic leaders in speech like Amanda Gorman, or otherwise, their careers, and thus our country, already looks more promising than just a short time ago.

The youngest national laureate encapsulated in a single poem all what we, American or not, have collectively learned over the last year. And installed hope and conviction in the leadership of younger generations’ culture

Amanda Gorman speaks on resilience

Amanda was born and raised in Los Angeles by, as her poem stated, a single mother. Her twin sibling and she were born early which caused some unfortunate developmental delays.

For Amanda Gorman, that meant a speech impediment. 

“I basically had to teach myself English and language in a way that my peers around me did not… But I think in the end, it made me a stronger poet.

Because I had to work so hard to make that leap from someone who couldn’t say her last name or the school that she got into for college — to make that leap to be a youth poet laureate performing at the Library of Congress. And I think having that type of journey made me appreciate having a voice.”

Amanda Gorman, Amanpour and Company, 2021

To sum it up, Amanda went from being treated as a special needs student to being the first National Youth Poet Laureate at only 18.

Amanda learned to talk through the art of poetry, no wonder why reciting poems come out so naturally and eloquently for her.

Gorman went to Harvard University, “a cruel irony,” as she said, given her trouble with the Rs. There she studied sociology and found the motivation and impulse to use her poetry as a tool for activism.

Not only is Amanda Gorman using her career to help young girls with speech impediments learn resilience to overcome their problems and advocate for human rights. But, she is also using words to install hope and justice in America, just when we need it most.

“Poetry is inherently rebellious in its nature, I think it becomes the language and rhetoric of the people. We get to play on it and use those words to realize our thoughts and hopefully transform them into action.”

Amanda Gorman, 2021

It is no coincidence that rhymes stick in our minds easier than sentences.

For the multifaceted and brilliant Amanda Gorman — why a career in poetry?

Amanda Gorman found her passion for poetry at a very young age.

She was in 3rd grade when she discovered that words had the power to transfer meaning to the most common of things. Her teacher had read Dandelion Wine, and when Ray Bradbury related candy to something completely different, she realized what she wanted to do with her life.

Ever since then, Gorman has used poetry and speech to bring awareness to social injustice. She elevates conversations to certain issues, shedding light, but more importantly, instilling hope.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when America seeks to congregate its ideals it does so through poetry. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we see a poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty as oppose to a scientific formula or a prose paragraph. Or even at a Black Lives Matter march, you see the barriers that read: ‘They might bury us but they didn’t know we were seeds.’

That is poetry. And you know, it’s not a coincidence that we call for poetry in those moments”

Amanda Gorman, 2021

And it’s not.

American linguistics and philosophers, Lakoff and Johnsons, explain in their book “Metaphors We Live By,” that people understand the world through metaphoric comparisons.

They argue that metaphors are the basis of our communication and understatement of the world. Just think about when you say “the grass is always greener on the other side,” what better way to say that we are always comparing ourselves to other people?

In fact, Amanda described poetry as an “old artifact of the land before time.” Thus, it’s perhaps the long-standing history that makes it one of the most powerful and political form of art. “All art is always political,” she said.

“Poetry stands as a reminder of the past that we stand on and the future we stand for”

Amanda Gorman, 2021

What’s next for Gorman?

Amanda Gorman knows how to use her powers, both of resilience and of articulate prose. She is going to open the next Super Bowl, officially taking poetry to places it has never been before.

But, when asked where else does she hope to come in life, (given the how far has she come in such a young age), she said:

“For me, it’s not about beating the last thing I did, or competing with myself or competing against anything that I have done. But I will like to stay in the trajectory that I started for myself.

I never want to diverge from that and for me using my poetry to touch and heal and impact as many people as possible and that can be in a presidential inauguration, at the Superbowl or in a classroom, or even a living room. That is what’s next for me”

Amanda Gorman, 2021

(You will find that her eloquence is not only when reciting poems, but when talking as well).

Thus, one thing is certain, America (and the world) should be grateful to live in an era where we are able to see how this young and promising woman contributes to culture through her art.

I personally think that for many years, poetry, being one of the first forms of art, has been overlooked. Speech for Amanda Gorman and all of us, is more important than we may ever know.

We find poetry everywhere, in our favorite songs or books, yet little do we notice or recognize it. But after January 20, 2021, that will happen no more.

The world was reminded of its power and beauty, and that is resilience at its core.

Why visual intelligence is a skill that every photographer should acquire

In photography, there is no greater asset to have than the skill of visual intelligence. Other people of different trades seek this skill, but it is only those that look through the lens of life and art with clear, unbridled eyes, that can perfect it.

So what if I told you that photographers possess a skill that might save humanity from any type of treatment?

That the military service, the Department of Homeland Security, and all of our national guards, are trained to adopt this skill that for most creatives, comes naturally?


Or that only the best doctors and nurses possess it? Because, beyond the thousands of pushups and hours of study, there is one mental training that makes all the difference when it comes to every single duty in life: attention to detail

Amy E. Herman calls it visual intelligence, the ability to perceive things (or situations) objectively. She is, in fact, America’s secret weapon.

What is visual intelligence, and how does it relate to photography?

Amy Herman’s course “The Art of Perception” has served the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the NYC Police Department. She has taught in countless hospitals and medical facilities.

The course, like the title suggests, teaches through art how to train your mind to be open and attentive to details — something photographers practice every day. 

And the good thing is? This skill is not something you are blessed with at birth. You can actually learn how to sharpen your sight.

Amy Herman’s Visual Intelligence, Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life

In her book, Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life, Herman explains the profound benefits that sharp perception has had in her life.

She is a lawyer with an MA in art history. And thus she has learned to enjoy the benefits of both art and science in an unconventional way. Through her career, as she explains, she discovered how dependent we (all humans) are on people’s ability to see things clearly and unbiased.

In law, like in life, there are plenty of life-or-death situations that depend on witnesses’ ability to see and communicate with detail. 

The book tells plenty of examples of where sight makes or breaks a situation. Doctors missing key information to accurately diagnose a person. Lawyers overlooking easy loopholes. Pilots not knowing when to land because a bottom didn’t light up, but everything else was clear.

Both terrifying and optimist stories where visual intelligence plays a key part in the outcome. But how do we learn to sharpen our sight? 

Amy uses an interesting approach. She teaches her students; agents, doctors, consultants, etc, about art. She uses paintings, photos, and all types of artwork to train her students to see thoroughly. 

Stand before a painting, describe what you see, from top to bottom, use numbers, and be specific with color. Annotate, then come back in a couple of minutes, and do it again. You’ll find you missed some information that is key to understand the paintings and thus, a situation. 

Beware of the social filters 

But more interestingly, and perhaps something all photographers should take into consideration, are the social filters that Herman tells us we should try to avoid. 

visual intelligence photography

Amy Herman explains that more often than not, we are told what we are looking at, deliberately planting a bias image on the viewer’s head.

Once you are told what you are looking at, it’s almost impossible not to see it.

She uses Renshaw’s cow as an example; a black and white picture of a cow, which can easily be seen as one of those Rorschach psychology paintings. Yet, once you know it’s a cow, it’s impossible to unsee it. 

amy herman

How can these lessons help photographers? 

The point is to learn how to perceive things through an unfiltered and unbiased eye. Unlearn how an object should look like to see it in a new, renovated way. And Amy Herman suggests using the same visual exercises that teach people to see through details.

So, to avoid the mainstream photography of a flower or the typical portrait, make it different and exciting — new to the eyes.

Next time you are instructed to take a portrait or a simple picture of a flower, double-check what you are looking at.

Forget it’s an object you were told. Take your time to learn its details, what gives the subject personality, instead of what the subject is.

And, if this sounds like something that would elevate your visual skills for photography, you might find yourself enjoying Visual Intellingence, Sharpen your Perception, Change Your Mind.

Photography is the ultimate barometer for how quickly humans can use their visual intelligence. It is thus a skill that photographers should consistently work to hone in on.

And still, visual intelligence is a skill for all humans, of any trade. And it can be perfected at any point of the day. We are always seeing, we are always analyzing, whether we know it or not.

So get out there and practice your own visual intelligence. Practice makes perfect.

Sony Alpha a7iii

Are you team Sony Alpha? How the a7iii changed videography

When the new and renovated Sony a7iii camera came out in 2018, the reviews really underestimated its performance. Still, team Sony Alpha continues to impress with its high-quality cameras.

The new mirrorless camera was known to be a “basic” camera model. The camera, however, not only holds the same features that the A9 did at a fraction of the price. But, it also turns out to be the perfect camera for videographers in the making. 

Are you team Sony alpha? Here is our comprehensive review of the Sony a7iii camera.

How does Sony’s a7iii work for photography?

For photography, the camera is excellent. It has a 24MP sensor that boasts 15 stops of dynamic range and ISO from 100 to 51,200 (expandable to 50-204,800). And it holds the same AF features including 693 phase-detection AF points, covering 93% of the frame as the A9.

The a7iii has 24 MegaPixels, a perfect update from its predecessor, and an amazing dynamic range allowing the user to cover details at a low ISO. Its high ISO capabilities are amazing as well.

And, according to a review written on shot kit’s webpage, “the Sony A7 III actually scored better in low light than its brothers the A7RIII and A7SII over at DxO Mark.”

Now, let’s review the Sony a7iii camera’s videography.

In review, the Sony a7iii camera is perfect for video

Once you get past the complicated menu of the a7iii, you will learn that the camera has great features for videography if you know them well. 

Thus, our review of the video side of the Sony a7iii must first begin by explaining key features of the camera.

First, although the camera allows for recording video files in any mode by hitting the record button, you’ll need to switch the dial to movie mode to see an LCD overlay that relates to movie settings.

Then, set the exposure mode to manual exposure. This will allow you to fully control the exposure. 

The camera also offers 4 different file formats, allowing you to choose to capture incredible details at XAVC S 4K, XAVC S HD, or AVCHD. 

And don’t let its size trick you. It is commonly known that the smaller the machine gets, so do the LCD Screens. But the LCD in the a7iii is set to display 4:3 imagery, and when it switches to movie mode, the LCD changes to 16:9. 

More video details of the SONY a7iii camera

Also, with small screen, focusing becomes an issue. However, the a7iii has a focus assistant and peaking feature. This allows for further capturing details on the move and at whatever light you have. 

The camera has complete audio settings. It allows removing the visualization by turning the audio level off but keeping the sound on.

And it has complete marker settings that can turn on the 2.35:1 aspect ratio guide, for those who intend on cropping their footage or applying a letterbox in post production.

Finally, there is a wide variety of recording settings that you can set to fit what you are working on. Like all other video cameras, the a7iii allows you to adjust the color profile to accommodate post-production needs.

Under the profile section, you will see ten pre-built profiles that you can adjust:

  • PP1: Example setting using [Movie] gamma
  • PP2: Example setting using [Still] gamma
  • PP3: Example setting of natural color tone using the [ITU709] gamma
  • PP4: Example setting of a color tone faithful to the ITU709 standard
  • PP5: Example setting using [Cine1] gamma
  • PP6: Example setting using [Cine2] gamma
  • PP7: Example setting using [S-Log2] gamma
  • PP8: Example setting using [S-Log3] gamma and the [S-Gamut3.Cine] under [Color Mode].
  • PP9: Example setting using [S-Log3] gamma and the [S-Gamut3] under [Color Mode].
  • PP10: Example setting using [HLG2] gamma and the [BT.2020] under [Color Mode].

Team Sony Alpha is changing the world of videography

It comes as a great surprise that a 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9 camera can hold so many features.

Not only does the a7iii offer the perfect formats for whatever videos you want to shoot, but it also has Eye AF actions, that will allow you to capture unpredicted movements without micro-adjusting the camera position.

It comes with an additional dual memory card slot, which is always appreciated by working professionals. Also, more than 5 axes for image stabilization and an amazing level of customization.

And it all comes at a price lower than $2,000. There is no better investment.

So are you a member of Team Alpha? Sony’s cameras are only getting better, and the a7iii is no exception. Get to creating.

Meet these liberal photographers capturing the Proud Boys

The majority of us, either willingly or not, know who the Proud Boys are. Largely, this is due to the Proud Boys photos that seemingly go viral whenever the group makes a public and sinister appearance.

But who are the photographers capturing this group of unyielding “men,” and even more curious, are many of these very photographers on the liberal side of the spectrum? We investigate several liberal photographers who have captured Proud Boys photos, and how they manage their jobs.

The photos tell part of the story. But how did the Proud Boys get started?

After the Jan. 6 storm of Capitol Hill, we all know what the Proud boys are capable of. They have terrorized America with their unwillingness to accept defeat in the election, and their actions will be recorded in history, as the first time in hundreds of years that U.S. democracy has been so close to the brink of collapse.

This is not the first time the organization has taken action to disturb the peace. In fact, this far-right, neo narcissist, male-only political organization has been around since 2016. The same year that Donald Trump won the presidential elections, coincidence?

The Proud Boys have been responsible for a number of far-right rallies, including the white supremacist Unite the Rally.

The organization emerged as part of the alt-right movement and it originated in the far-right Taki’s magazine under the leadership of Gavin McInnes — Vice Media co-founder.

In 2017, however, McInnes distanced himself from the movement. And, since 2019, the group has been led by Enrique Tarrio, an Afro-Cuban American, chairman of The Proud Boys.

What do the Proud Boys want?

Although they are have been identified with the Alt-Right, The Proud Boy’s main focus is not race. Instead, they believe that the entire western culture is under siege.

Nonetheless, they participate in racist events centered around anti-left movements. Inflicting their beliefs with violent attacks such as the ones we saw on January 6. So much so, that the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes them as the “alt-right fight club.”

How long is it going to take to classify them as a terrorist group? Surely, after the Capitol Hill’s events, not only is America aware of their tenacity, but the entire world is too. And that has us concerned about the future and prosperity of America.

The day when Donald Trump is no longer president of the United States approaches, and thus it is crucial for us to never forget what he and his supporters are capable of.

Thankfully, we have these brave liberal photographers who risked their lives for history’s sake and captured The Proud Boys group in times of terror.

Jon Cherry

“As a Black member of the media, I have often found myself the target of harassment from these far-right groups. When I was taking photographs of Proud Boys before they started marching, one of them started fake coughing and sneezing on me without a mask,” told Cherry to ArtNet magazine.

Jon Cherry, Art Net Magazine 2021

As a freelance photographer and contributor for Getty Images, Jon Cherry was part of a fearless press that braved tear gas, pepper spray and attacks, to record not only the violent acts of the Proud Boys organization but to proof the danger of having a narcissist president running a divided country.

Jon Cherry is portraiture, wildlife, landscape, events, and product photography. He believes that every photograph should be able to tell a story and invoke a reaction. And as a dedicated photographer, his Proud Boys photos capture the sheer horror that permeates when the group is together.

Stephanie Keith

Stephanie Keith is a prolific photographer working as a contributor for Getty Images, Reuters, and The New York Times. Her work focuses on the polarization that America has suffered during the last few years. Fitting for taking photos of the Proud Boys and the group’s extremist agendas.

Due to her efforts, bravery, and fine eye, Keith was one of the six recipients of the Yunghi Kim grant Award in 2020. The photo that got her the award portrays a Trump supporter pointing out a finger to a cop at the October 25th rally in Times Square.

Keith is recognized as a hard-charging news photographer and one of the few women who are embracing hardcore, breaking news in photojournalism.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds is a staff photographer and editor with AFP. Having worked in Washington D.C, the Middle East, and South Asian countries, Caballero-Reynolds has captured a series of events around the world which not only provide him with different perspectives, but also allow him to grow his skills with travel photography.

He is one of the six brave photographers from Agence France Presse that were on Capitol Hill on January 6. His images caught the attention of multiple magazines and platforms, one being Getty Images.

During an interview he had with ArtNet magazine, he said:

“My one picture that for me captured the day was the noose someone had set up on the National Mall. It was a large structure. They wrote on the side of it ‘this is art.’ There were a lot of people who just loved it.”

Andrew Caballero Reynolds, Art Net Magazine 2021

Due to Caballero-Reynolds and those like him, the greater public was able to see Proud Boys photos and other harrowing images detailing the grim events of the day.

Tayfun Coskun

After what I saw happen in the Kenosha riots, I think I was already expecting what was coming. They seemed so angry and frustrated. But as a Turkish American, I was kind of surprised.

Tayfun Coskun, Art Net Magazine, 2021

Tayfun is a Turkish American photographer associated with Anadolu Agency. He has covered many protests and rallies concerning The Proud Boys movement. But, as he told to Art-Net Magazine, Capitol Hill’s events did surprise him because of the violence and fury that filled the environment.


Kent Nishimura

Kent Nishimura was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and was raised in Honolulu. He is the staff photographer of the Los Angeles Times and previously worked as a freelance photographer based in the middle of the pacific for clients including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

Not only is he a photojournalist, but he also has a prolific eye for portrait photography capturing prominent cultural figures such as Taika Waititi, Todd Phillips, and is one of the expert photographers capturing Kanye West’s Sunday Service.

He was recently on the beat on Capitol Hill but he has previous experience capturing the Proud Boys. However, as all other photojournalists would agree, he was astonished by January 6 events.

“I took a photo of a window on the east door, you could see the crack on the bullet-proof glass and I caught the reflection of the American flag in the window, and the crack is right over. And you can see some of the residues of the pepper spay projectiles on the door.”

Kent Nishimura, Art Net Magazine 2021

Nemo Rodriguez

Nemo Rodriguez is a latinx photographer specializing in photojournalism.

She has captured Proud Boys photos on a number of occasions, emphasizing the group’s violent acts outside events such as the Capitol Hill but focusing on a number of different rallies that they have held. Nemo is based in East Bay California.

The terrifying reality of being a liberal photographer covering the Proud Boys

We saw what the Pro-Trump mob did to photographers and journalists during the storm of Capitol Hill. Hell, we even saw what the ostentatious “Blue Lives Matter” crowd did to police officers.

For how much journalists and photojournalists are told to be unbiased, when one side of the spectrum calls for insurrection and thwarting of democracy, there’s only so much toeing the line you can do.

Thus, these liberal photographers covering the Proud Boys are constantly putting their safety on the line for the common good. Because only once we see what these people look like in the flesh, unmasked, can we begin to try and thwart their extremist agendas.

These Proud Boys liberal photographers are some of the toughest photojournalists working right now, and we salute them.