Archive for February, 2010

23
Feb
10

lunch with a friend and the business of photography

I had lunch today with Tim Grey, friend, author of many great books on image editing, creator of wonderful instructional DVD’s, and the Ask Tim Grey newsletter.  As always, it was great fun catching up and exchanging stories, but the crux of the conversation was this:  How does a freelance photographer/writer/educator make their way in today’s economy?  Most of the professionals I know have income streams in several areas.  These almost always include workshops, lectures, and product sales, either of their own, or a percentage of sales with sponsors whose products they use.  But our conversation kept drilling down to how best to allocate time.  As a former owner of a business (over 100 employees) I confronted this issue daily.  When we were terribly busy in the plant I would jump in to add my labor to make a deadline ~ but was it the best use of my time?  Tim’s confronting the same issues….as am I now, as a photographer.  Where is the balance between self promotion, shooting, teaching, keywording, stock submissions or making prints/books/dvds.

After thinking about the two photographers I know personally that are still thriving in this economy, I think the answer must be that more time is needed in self promotion.  Alain Briot and Tony Sweet have maintained their workshops, their product sales, and private teaching in a continually contracting market.  How did they do it?  Continual self promotion and of course, huge amounts of hard work…..all geared to offering a product (their knowledge) that has real value.  When I applied this thought to my own work as I am clearly not a photoshop Dream Team member (Tim) or a landscape photography master (Alain) or a Nikon Legend (Tony), I had to distill what it is that I know that may have value for someone else.  So here’s my self promotion:

I know books.  I know bookbinding, a fair amount about book design, I know about printing, both offset and fine art inkjet, and I know about publishing and distribution.  All of this came from nearly 20 years in the printing and binding industries in the Mid-Atlantic states and with several years now of producing fine art prints and books for consulting clients and for myself.   I have created a book in collaboration with Dominique Barbier of which I am very proud.  It is titled MEDITATION FOR TWO and is available on Dominique’s website.  From this book I have received several commissions for shoots and am anticipating that this market will grow as the book garners a wider distribution.   But I have also received inquiries about helping people put together their own books and assisting them through the process from concept to distribution.  I’m writing all this to illustrate how one endeavor can create avenues of work and further recognition.  Next time, when you are thinking about a project, try to envision the other areas that it could impact your work and hopefully, your income stream.  If the project is created from deep knowledge and love of your subject, coupled with a precise plan for getting the work seen, your likelihood of success is virtually assured.

Here’s an illustration of the front and back covers…and a few shots from inside.

14
Feb
10

glow….and Happy Valentine’s Day

As I type this I am struck by how awkward the word glow looks.  Yet the quality or attribute of glowing in a photograph is anything but awkward.  I’m talking about subtlety…not a plug-in or technique.  I’m not anti-plug-ins, the truth is I have very little knowledge of or experience with them.  But I’m talking about recognizing something in the light and tone of shapes and moments that translate into glowing photographs. This morning, I had a wonderful breakfast with my son in a favorite spot here in Seattle.  As is my habit, I photographed the setting.  A fleeting glance at the display told me that I might have a nicely glowing photograph.  It’s not a prize winner, but it is a sweet reminder of a glowing moment, and a reminder too, of many other happy moments in this spot.  And when I started to gather a few photos for this blog post I was struck by the happy memories that each called forth.  A coincidence?  No.  I feel very strongly that when we are in a glowing mood…the energy attracts the same.  We see how we feel.  It’s just another variation of my belief that we photograph as we are.

I’ll be back this week with some ‘serious’ photographs…but for now, Happy Valentine’s Day.  Wishing you lots of glow for your day, your life, and your photographs.

07
Feb
10

serendipity: aka photographer’s luck

“We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting.” Kahlil Gibran

Last weekend I went to Healdsburg to photograph a client.  Because this was the first time I was photographing a person for a job I had more than the usual nervousness.  As the insecurity and senseless internal dialogue was brewing I knew I had to do something to get out of that energy if I was going to create successful photographs.  For me, a successful photograph includes many elements, but the foremost is the satisfaction of the client.  Readers of this blog will know that I am familiar with the location and have photographed horses at Barbier Farms many times.  I am always a little anxious about seeing things new in a setting that is somewhat limited and thoroughly known.  So I slowed my breathing and switched the internal dialogue from the static channel to the compassionate, grateful channel.  I met the client with a smile, listened to her desires for the photographs, suggested a few settings and started to work.

I know that everything I am saying is simple, perhaps even simplistic.  But it is too easy to forget and get caught up in thinking about what comes next or what if this or what if that….rather than just being still and taking in all the information that is being sent.  My client and friend, Candida, was giving me her thoughts about the movements that she wanted photographed….the light was changing rapidly….the dogs were playing…activity in the barn was picking up as it was feeding time…..other clients were coming to the barn for lessons….and through all of this, remembering to smile kept me centered and calm.  Soon there was a flow to the shoot akin to the gentle pace of deep water moving.  It was undisturbed and developed a quiet energy as we progressed.  By this time the light was getting  a little higher and stronger than I wanted and I let some doubt creep in….just as I silenced that thought and asked Candida to move to another area,  I caught the reflected light off the horse’s mane onto my friend’s face.  We were able to play with that for quite a few minutes and I enjoyed a bit of photographer’s luck.

The shoot was a tremendous gift for me as it brought more fullness to my resolve to create calm and expanded awareness in the midst of a great deal of activity.  Further, I think that my ability to project that created ease for my client, and certainly for the horses as they are so aware of all that is happening on the physical, emotional, and etheric levels.  I am looking forward to the next challenge of this kind and seeing what gift is in store, what serendipity arises.  It’s all around us.  We just have to remember to find and to feel our smile.




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