State of The Arcanum – July 2015


                                                                                                                                                               Image by Stuart Davidson

Happy Birthday to The Arcanum!

On June 24th 2014, The Arcanum was officially “Outta Beta” and off to the races! About a year later, it’s a perfect time for a little reflection and a sneak peak at where we are headed.

Reflection and Insights

Trey Ratcliff, Curtis Simmons and I (Peter Giordano) started The Arcanum because we believed that for learning new skills like Photography, we learn best by doing and working with others. The idea was simple – connect a Mentor and a Protégé, a Master and Apprentice, and let them work together to level up their skills. One year later we’re awestruck at how great it’s working (and how much more there is to do!).

But it’s working because of different reasons than we originally thought:

  • Community is Key. We believed that the main value of The Arcanum would be a 1×1 relationship. Yes – there is a lot of value in that. But it turns out that sharing a passion is incredibly poweful in terms of motivation. The Community aspect of The Arcanum is the big “Ah Ha!” for us!
  • Masters as Community Leaders. We learned that the best Masters focus on the health of their whole Community as much as each individual’s unique path.  For the best Masters, being a great artist and educator are “table stakes”.  The best Masters are also world-class coaches and community leaders.  Masters tell us that being a Master in The Arcanum is a wonderfully enriching experience – it fuels their own passion to improve and teach their craft!
  • Build a Movement. Finally we learned that in order to achieve our mission of unlocking the “Creative Awesome” in every individual. We had to build something greater than the sum of its parts. More than an organization or company. We had to build a movement. This only happens with you – each member of The Arcanum Community – one by one.

Fearless and Forward

As of this newsletter there are 50 Masters leading Communities with more than 900 Apprentices from 44 countries. We are honored and inspired by the hundreds of stories from Apprentices moving from their “comfort zone” to “creative awesome”. I love this wonderful video montage created by Master Stephan Bollinger – it features Apprentices within his Cohort expressing the impact of The Arcanum on their lives. There are more stories here

But we have more work to do.

We see a world with MILLIONS of members in The Arcanum – a world-wide community of people that learn, work, create and share together in a culture of respect, humility and vulnerability. In order to accomplish that vision we must continue to deliver on our promise of providing the most personal, effective and fun learning experience in the world.

We can’t do it all at once. It will take several steps. So here are a few of the steps we will take the rest of this year:

  • Personal Journal. We’re adding new capabilities for Apprentices to track their personal path within The Arcanum. Think of it as a journal that captures your Goals, Level Assignments, Progress, and Portfolio.
  • Sphere Builder. We’re adding new features that make it easier for Masters to create, manage and share Cohorts, Spheres, Levels, and Challenges.
  • Community++. We want to do more, WAY MORE with the Community! Photowalks, Meet Up, and Creation Wars – Oh My!

Photo Walks & Meet Ups. If you live in the United States – definitely sign up for on of the Bus Tour Photo Walks. I see this USA event as a way to kick-off a “world wide wave” of photo walks for The Arcanum.

Hangouts & Shows. Ollie and Stu continue to transform the weekly Creation Wars into a full blown Info-edutainment-bonanza — bringing on new guests speakers, debates (Camera Wars!), and of course Creation Wars episodes.

In Anything Worth Doing, it Takes a Team to Win.

“Ideas are easy. Execution is everything. And in anything worth doing, It takes a team to win.” — John Doerr

To accomplish our mission and deliver on our promise – it takes a great team. Trey, Curtis and I are delighted to work with a team of folks that have high integrity, a fierce passion for our mission and vision, and unwavering desire to create the best learning experience in the world. A truly magical learning experience.

I’m personally honored to work with each of the following people each week to make The Arcanum dream come true. You should feel free to also contact these folks if you have any questions.

Dev / Engineering Team ([email protected])

  • Gene “The Coding Machine” Dower
  • Robert “Wall Breaker” Tyska
  • “Magic” Mike Cox

Master Development – Identifying, Inviting and Onboarding new Masters

Path of the Protégé – From Apprentice to Master within The Arcanum

Community – The Heart of The Arcanum – You! ([email protected])

A Culture of Feedback

Your feedback is the fuel that drives us forward. We only improve when you let us know what we’re doing well and what we need to improve. Don’t be shy. Send an email to [email protected] and share your thoughts on how The Arcanum can be the most personal, effective and fun learning experience in the world.

Refer a Friend

Finally – if you’re having a great experience in The Arcanum, please consider inviting a friend to join. We’ve made it easy to do so from within The Arcanum web application…. just log into The Arcanum, click on your name, then select “Invite a Friend”.


Thank you so much for being a Member of The Arcanum!
Peter Giordano and The Arcanum Team

All About Pantraits With Baz Anderson

photography, pantraits, The Arcanum, Apprentice, spotlight

Pantrait of Bob McTavish by Apprentice Baz Anderson

Recently. I caught up with Apprentice Baz Anderson of Jackie Rankin‘s Cohort. I asked him about his work with Pantraits, or panoramic portraits, as well as his time in The Arcanum. Have you tried anything like a pantrait? Are you going to? Let me know in the comments.

T: Who’s cohort are you in? How has your experience been in The Arcanum so far? Has it met your expectations?

B: I am a member of Jackie Rankin’s Cohort and my experience with The Arcanum to date has been nothing short of great. With their support and encouragement I have been re-energized as a photographer, I guess I burned out a little from the commercialism.

T: How long have you been photographing? How did you get started? What do you love to shoot?

B: I have been photographing since the mid sixties (1960’s), golly that’s 50 years :), My Dad was a wedding photographer so I was introduced to the wet darkroom in my early teens. I traveled overseas with cameras in my twenties and really became hooked, returning to Australia in 1978 and studied Visual Arts at Sydney College. Upon graduating, I started my own Photographic business which ran for 21 years. I have always seen the world as a sea of faces, so I photograph people. I love shooting portraits.

T: What is a Pantrait? What inspired your first one?

B: A Pantrait is a panoramic portrait, a word created by a friend Peter Lance, who penned the following:

Pantrait (panoramic portraiture)
“with these digitized panoramas Anderson renews the portrait, traditionally a record of status, wealth and identity. Anderson invites the viewer, his subjects and other photographers to question their personal construction of identity; and their place in this ritualized activity composed of photograph, recognition and exhibition. As we glimpse the fragility and majesty of these domesticated beings, are we reassured that we stand in the company of those who value meaningful contribution, and the search for meaning?”

My first pantrait came about through investigating software and seeing just how far the stitching technique (pano) had come. I was looking to explode my portraiture with a larger narrative so these two (pano & portraits) seemed a natural fit. I had always seen the sitter’s surrounding environment to be telling as well, and a further opportunity to multi expose the sitter, thereby telling even more about themselves. So that thought was the inspiration for the first of many.

T: What makes a perfect Pantrait to you?

B: When it all stitches together in post production to match the pre-visualization I had to start with. Yes!

T: What do you consider before shooting?

B: The personality of my subject, their activities and their environment and with this how to create a narrative.

T: What gear / software do you use for your Pantraits?

B: Currently using the Panasonic Lumix GH3 with their kit lenses and a RRL Pano Rail, along with my iMac, Lightroom and Photoshop. The full exhibition of Pantraits can be seen at

If you are in Sydney, Australia you can catch an exhibition of Baz’s work until 31 May at the Head On photo festival.

About the Image:

Bob McTavish
Surfboard Manufacturer, Byron Bay
Once a teenage stowaway to Hawaii, Bob is now a surfing legend. Attributed as being the initiator of the short board revolution, he has spent his life designing and developing the surfboard. Even now at 70 years of age, his passion continues to push the envelope, in a huge international industry.

Story by Tiff Gilleland, Hero of The Arcanum.

(Extra)Ordinary: Finding Inspiration in the Everyday

Photography, Inspiration, Everyday, Objects

Post and Images by Master Scott Norris

There are days – many days actually – as an artist where I can’t seem to find the inspiration to create. It could be the weather, it could be lack of sleep (although that is almost a constant), it could be any number of things. Whatever the reason, the camera stays tucked away and the computer screen (my canvas) stays blank.

How do I get out of this funk? It is quite simple actually. I look around.

Photography, Inspiration, Everyday, Objects

Yep, just around the house, or wherever I happen to be. OK, it is a bit more than just looking – you have to look at things with fresh eyes, as if you’ve never seen any of the things around you before.

Photography, Inspiration, Everyday, Objects

Look for colors you may not have not noticed before. Try to see patterns or shapes in the ordinary. See the way the light illuminates and shades the mundane. Heck, pretend you are a famous impressionist painter looking for your next masterpiece still life – whatever works for you!

Photography, Inspiration, Everyday, Objects

The point is, the great images – photos, paintings, whatever – are always there. All you need to do is see them.

What do you do when you’re stuck for inspiration? Let us know in the comments.

About Scott Norris

My goal, my calling, if you will, is to help others make photographs – make works of art – that are filled with who they are. What the subject is, is not as important as what the subject is saying – the STORY, the mood, the emotion. Without that, a photograph is just a snapshot. I’m a 3D animator/motion graphics artist by trade, shooting photos all the while. Texas born and raised, now in Milwaukee, I’m married and have a little toddler running around the house.

This article originally published at

Vulnerability, Sharing, and The Art of Creativity

creativity, art, photography, teaching, inspiration Image by Apprentice and Hero Tanya Wallis

Post by Peter Giordano


“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
— Pablo Picasso

Have you ever seen a piece of art that struck you, emotionally.

You want to create something like that, that can pull that emotion in someone else.

You want to dig deeper into yourself, to better understand your own voice, but you haven’t found it yet. You want to understand how other artists are able to do this.

You will learn to find, develop your voice, and evoke these emotions in others.

On the surface, The Arcanum seems to be about education, learning Art and Photography. And yes, those skills and knowledge are valuable. But skills and knowledge are but a byproduct of what The Arcanum truly provides. The Arcanum is about inspiration and experiences that enable us to be the best that we can be. The Arcanum considers Creating and Connecting as two of the most basic of needs for humans, right along side of air, food, water, and shelter. The act of creating produces Art – no matter how big or small. Therefore The Arcanum believes that creating Art is a critical, essential, non-negotiable part of life.

When we don’t create we stop growing, we atrophy, we wither. We lose our drive and ability to connect and lack content to share.

When we don’t connect we can’t share our creations, our thoughts, our aspirations, dreams, fears. We become isolated. Isolation inhibits our creativity and we slip into a downward spiral.

“I feel more free, free to produce great images, free to produce some that flop, and to learn from both. Free to have fun, to learn, to expand my “style,” to try new things, and I am loving it!!!”
Kyle Van Etten, Apprentice

Without creativity and connectivity we experience a void and an emptiness that can’t be filled with anything else other than our own creations. No material thing or anyone else can fill this void – they can only help create the environment, conditions and experience for us to do it ourselves.

Many of us are stuck on this precipice – on the brink of creativity and connectedness. Teetering on the edge producing middling creations that barely fill the void with little more than a trickle. Some of us will never tip toward the creative. Most of us just need a nudge. The Arcanum provides that nudge by connecting you with a Master who believes in you, trusts you, but also challenges you. Within The Arcanum – There is no veil to hide behind. No curriculum, lesson plan, standardized tests or any such thing. Our goals define our path and the Masters are responsible for guiding each of us along that path. Sometimes the Masters provide instruction, on a basic principle for example. Most of the time the Master is the coach, the mentor, the advisor – asking questions that create clarity needed to unlock the creative nature inside of each of us.

“It’s like falling in love I guess you could say. At first, your all excited, almost borderline jittery, and everything is new and wonderful. It’s a whole new world because you begin to see the world and everything in it a little differently. You look more, you see more, colors seem more vibrant, your carrying your camera around with you literally everywhere, you feel happy and alive! The passion that you had for photography is basically smothered in lighter fluid and then ignited or re-ignited.”
Molly Kate, Apprentice

The Arcanum finally gives us the transparency we need, the environment to be vulnerable, produce the creations that are already inside of us and share them with family, friends and the world. In doing so we understand our own goals and the path to accomplishing them becomes clear.

Can you coach and mentor someone toward their goals? Then follow one of these paths:

Do you want to unlock your creative awesome? Then complete an Application here:

Thanks for taking some time to read to this point. Please let me know your thoughts and comments!

Post by Peter Giordano, CEO and Founder of The Arcanum.