May 9, 2012 4:00 AM EDT

Few publishers in the history of photography have had as lengthy a track record of producing books that are now considered the medium’s landmarks as Robert Delpire. As most post-war publishers often have had brief existences in the world of photobook publishing (which is stunningly disadvantageous financially), over the past 60 years, this former medical student and hobbyist photographer created and managed one of the most iconic photography and graphic arts publishing houses in Paris: Éditions Delpire. A Tribute to Robert Delpire through the work of Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Josef Koudelka, Duane Michals and Paolo Roversi runs from May 10 – June 16 at the Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York City.

Achieving work-life balance can look impossible. And, frankly, it seems like it’s getting harder. In the ten years from 1986 to 1996 work-life balance was mentioned in the media 32 times. In 2007 alone it was mentioned 1674 times. Via The ONE Thing: A LexisNexis survey of the top 100 newspapers and magazines around the world shows a dramatic rise in the number of articles on the topic, from 32 in the decade from 1986 to 1996 to a high of 1674 articles in 2007 alone. The Onion jokingly implies that the only way to achieve effective work/life balance is to not have a job: [protected-iframe id="98a5845de7400ab940370cdd5ac48e00-1359921-60107343" info="http://www.theonion.com/video_embed/?id=1927" width="480" height="270" scrolling="no"] That’s hysterical — because it’s not remotely realistic. So what actually works? You Need To Draw A Line I’ve posted plenty of research on productivity, time management and procrastination – but that’s not the issue here. Not at all. Those are hacks that help you be more efficient but in the modern world you are getting 25 hours of to-do’s thrown at you every 24 hours. Thinking that if you spend enough time you will “get everything done” is an illusion. You will never be “done.” The happiest people are not people who don’t have a care in the world. Those people are bored. Research shows the happiest people are busy — but don’t feel rushed. Anxiety is reduced by a feeling of control. And what do studies say about work-life balance? Same thing — a feeling of control is key. You have to draw a line. You must decide what is important and what isn’t. How do you draw that line? By asking yourself one simple question a few times a day. “What’s The Most Important Thing For You To Do Right Now?” The main problem people have is they try to do it all and treat everything as important. You can’t do it all and everything is not equally important. So how do you determine the most important thing for you to do right now? 1) What Are Your Values? Clay Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and author of How Will You Measure Your Life?, knows what he values. Watch from 34:55 to 38:50: http://youtu.be/5DwYcNr0Nuw?t=34m55s He works Monday to Friday. Saturday is for family and Sunday is for God. Period. No work on the weekends. No exceptions. No matter what. Clay knows what’s important to him, drew a line and probably doesn’t suffer from many work-life balance worries. Is this effective for everyone at every company? No. But you have to start with knowing what matters most to you and drawing a line. 2) What gets you disproportionate results? Face it: often you start by doing whatever happens to be in front of you. But proximity does not equal priority. In his book The ONE Thing, Gary Keller applies the “Pareto principle” to the workday: Most of us get 80% of results from 20% of the work we do. So focus on that 20%. What really creates progress vs treading water? What gives disproportionate results? Do that first and most frequently. 3) What’s the thing only *you* can do well? If someone else can do the laundry at home, let them do it. If someone else can do the filing at work, let them do it. But if you’re the parent, you need to be at the parent-teacher conference and if you’re the sales lead you need to be at the sales meeting. Via The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done: All in all, the effective executive tries to be himself; he does not pretend to be someone else. He looks at his own performance and at his own results and tries to discern a pattern. “What are the things,” he asks, “that I seem to be able to do with relative ease, while they come rather hard to other people?” Management guru Pete Drucker says focus on the things that only you can do. Delegate, outsource or neglect the rest. 4) What’s most important right now? You feel good when you check a lot of things off your to-do list. But were they things that are most important and urgent? That’s what matters. Via The Decision Book: 50 Models for Strategic Thinking: [caption id="43812" align="alignnone" width="560"] The Decision Book: 50 Models for Strategic Thinking[/caption] As the Eisenhower Matrix above reveals, just because something is urgent doesn’t mean it’s important. And being important doesn’t necessarily mean it’s urgent. And as Clay Christensen points out, it’s all too easy to put off important family time for urgent work deadlines. If you’ve been neglecting your loved ones recently, work might be urgent but not important while family is both important and urgent. Sum Up So how do you deal with work/life balance? Here are some key ideas: Everything is not equally important. Do fewer things and do them well. Decide what your values are — and which ones take precedence. Do the things that get disproportionate results. Focus on the things only you can do. Do the important things which must be done now. It’s not simple and it won’t be resolved tomorrow but you can get much, much better at this with time. What’s the most important thing to remember? You can do anything once you stop trying to do everything. Join 45K+ readers. Get a free weekly update via email here. Related posts: 4 Lifehacks From Ancient Philosophers That Will Make You Happier What 10 things should you do every day to improve your life? How To Make Your Life Better By Sending Five Simple Emails This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.
Sarah Moon

Delpire’s transition from 23-year-old medical student to publisher came when he was asked to become editor-in-chief of the Maison de la Medicine’s cultural bulletin for its doctors. Delpire imagined the bulletin as a subscriber-based art review that would be richly illustrated, with a focus on photography. The first issue of Neuf (meaning both ‘new’ and ‘nine’) appeared in June 1950, and over the course of its run, would devote much of its content to photographic works by Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Izis (Israëlis Bidermanas), Willy Ronis and a young unknown artist, Robert Frank. Two of the issues were essentially monographs of Brassaï (Neuf #5) and Robert Frank (Neuf #7), which pointed toward Delpire’s interest in publishing books of photography.

So What Are The Six Steps To Being Funny? Mel Helitzer’s Comedy Writing Secrets is commonly used as a textbook in college courses on comedy writing. What does it say is the best method for how to be funny? Helitzer explains the “THREES” formula. It’s an acronym for the six essential elements that are found in everything from good one-liners, to funny anecdotes to full comedy sets: Target Hostility Realism Exaggeration Emotion Surprise Here’s a breakdown: 1) Target Via Comedy Writing Secrets: Humor is criticism cloaked as entertainment and directed at a specific target… A humor target can be almost anything or anybody, but you need to be sure you’ve focused on the right target for your particular audience… Humor is an attempt to challenge the status quo, but targeting must reaffirm the audience’s hostilities and prejudices…Successful humorists select targets with universal appeal. Louis CK’s target here is his doctor. (Note — All videos are NSFW): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ey4WSb-BVDQ 2) Hostility Via Comedy Writing Secrets: Humor is a powerful antidote to many of the hostile feelings in our daily lives. All of us have hostility toward some target… Comedy is cruel…some common sources of hostility (and therefore humor): authority, sex, money, family, angst, technology, and group differences. Lewis Black, the king of comic hostility, unleashes a torrent of anger regarding the milk section of the supermarket (around 3 mins 16 seconds in): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mCDZMWVWuc 3) Realism Via Comedy Writing Secrets: Most good jokes state a bitter truth,” said scriptwriter Larry Gelbart. Without some fundamental basis of truth, there’s little with which the audience can associate. Louis CK is quite harsh — but hysterical — when talking about his daughter (1min 29 seconds in.) But it works because it contains elements any parent can relate to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u2ZsoYWwJA 4) Exaggeration Via Comedy Writing Secrets: How does realism relate to exaggeration? As we accept poetic license, let’s accept a humor license that grants permission to expand on realistic themes with soaring imagination and unabashed metaphors… Eddie Izzard explains World War 2. For many, history can be dry but he exaggerates and dramatizes key moments to lighten the subject matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6omQ5JjjLsE 5) Emotion Via Comedy Writing Secrets: There must be a buildup of anticipation in the audience. This is really nothing more than the writer’s skill in using emotion to produce tension and anxiety. It’s a trick. Think of hostility as an inflated balloon. When you create tension in your audience, you are effectively adding more and more air to that balloon, building the audience’s anticipation over when the balloon will burst. Watch how Chris Rock leverages emotion to engage his audience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jaqBRsTQgI 6) Surprise Via Comedy Writing Secrets: …surprise (is) one of the primary reasons why people laugh. It’s no wonder then that it’s also one of the primary building blocks for a successful joke… “Comedy is mentally pulling the rug out from under each person in your audience,” wrote Gene Perret. “But first, you have to get them to stand on it. You have to fool them, because if they see you preparing to tug on the rug, they’ll move.” UCLA film school professor Howard Suber says surprise is the key to all storytelling. Jerry Stahl tells the story of how he managed to break his addiction to heroin… by switching to crack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ql_ECykkuIg (More on how humor works here. More on how humor can improve your life here.) What Can We Learn From A Pro? My friend Andrew Goldberg, a staff writer on Family Guy, gave a number of comedy tips in my interview with him. What can he add to the six tips above? Don’t get wedded to your first idea: I think some people make the mistake of thinking that the first thing that they think of is perfect, and they fall in love with it. You might write five different versions of it, and ultimately come back to the first version and decide that’s the best. But I think writing different versions is kind of the same thing — it frees you up to be more creative and to look for different ways to go with that same moment in whatever you’re writing. Keep at it. Keep trying new versions (“alts”) of a joke until one clicks: I’m a big fan of writing alts. If I come to a joke spot, even if I’m working on my own stuff, I’ll often write three or four or five different alts, and then I’ll show it to friends, show it to my wife, show it to my manager, show it to a director or somebody on the project, and ask them which they think is funniest. Usually the first joke you think of isn’t the funniest. One thing that I’ve learned from TV and working in a big group is: whatever joke is there, you can always beat it. There’s always a funnier joke somewhere out there. To read the extended interview with Andrew and learn more about how to be funny, join 45K+ readers and get my free weekly update via email here. Related posts: 5 reasons why humor is more powerful than you would ever guess Three secrets to creativity you can learn from a writer on “Family Guy” What makes something funny? Can humor improve our lives? This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.
Editions Delpire

One link between many of Delpire’s publications would be his interest in anthropology, as could be seen when he switched to publishing monographs of photographers under the short-lived imprint Huit (Eight). Robert Doisneau’s Les Parisiens Tels Qu’ils Sont (Parisians As They Are, 1954), Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Les Danses à Bali (Dances in Bali, 1954) and George Rodger’s Le Village des Noubas (The Village of the Nubas, 1955) are studies in the documentary vein encapsulated in three small-format hardcover books that feel like case studies of mankind. In 1957, he created a small collection of books on culture called the Encyclopédie Essentielle, which included the first appearance of Robert Frank’s Les Américains (The Americans, 1958). That legendary magnum opus came across less as the beatnik road-trip as which it was later perceived, but instead with a particular anthropological flavor through texts—by literary luminaries such as Faulkner, de Beauvoir, Steinbeck and others—that Delpire positioned opposite Frank’s photographs.

Delpire’s career path has been as varied as the books he has published. Aside from the realm of photobooks, he has run a publicity agency with clients that included Citroën and L’Oréal, opened a gallery in Paris, produced a number of films including two by the photographer and filmmaker William Klein, created a creative studio and publishing house called Idéodis and became the first French publisher of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are.

L.A. isn’t anywhere near as bad as it was in the 1960s and early 70s, when smog alert days were a daily fact of life. Cleaner car engines have helped reduce those emissions. But smog and other forms of air pollution are still a problem in the L.A. metro area, while Long Beach experiences serious air pollution from one of the biggest maritime ports in the world.
Photo Poche

In 1982 he was appointed by the French arts minister Jack Lang to be director of the Centre National de la Photographie, where he would organize exhibitions and create a collection of small pocket-sized books called the Photo Poche—the most successful series of photography monographs ever published. To date there are over 150 books in the collection, covering a wide range of photographic practices from the documentary-style traditions of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans and Lee Friedlander to the fine arts of Duane Michals, Paolo Roversi, Sarah Moon and Joel-Peter Witkin. Hardly any photographer’s bookcase is without a selection of these black-spine bound books.

Nevertheless, of all of his accomplishments, the name Delpire most conjures up his hand in the creation of books such as Josef Koudelka’s Gitans La Fin du Voyage (Gypsies – The End of the Voyage, 1975) and Exiles (1988), Cartier-Bresson’s D’une Chine à l’Autre (From One China to the Other, 1954) and Moscou (Moscow, 1955), Inge Morath’s Guerre à la Tristesse (War on Sadness, 1955) and De la Perse à l’Iran (From Persia to Iran, 1958), William Klein’s Tokyo (1964) and Indiens pas Morts (Indians not Dead, 1956) with photographs by Werner Bischof, Robert Frank, Pierre Verger.

Today, at 86, Delpire seems to sum up his accomplishments with a deceptively simple statement: “A publisher’s job is to showcase the work of others,” says Delpire. “It’s not just the work of a team; it requires deep mutual understanding. I’ve never published anyone who was of no interest to me.”

The Pace/MacGill Delpire tribute opens May 10 in New York City. Five simultaneous companion exhibitions across the city will expand on Delpire’s work.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions. Visit his blog here.

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