Monday, October 26, 2009

Prelude To A Kiss

Well not exactly, but I've always liked the music, a 1938 song by Duke Ellington, and seen as more of a sign of "better things to come. I know I haven't been here in a while, so rather than put load of info on you all at once, I'll break it down into four parts and post text and images so you can read in nice small pieces. I know for me, huge, long blogs make me not want to read it all.

For some odd reason, every where I've been going I've been photographing my food. Odd huh? Yeah, well hopefully you won't see me on CNN or YouTube viral because I've lost my mind and I'm running the streets naked, except for some really wore out Nike's, trying to photograph people with a crazed look on my face...screaming: "Smile For the Camera!" LOL

So anyway...I digress. The next four postings will look like go something like this and include images at the end of each blog:

Episode 1 - Kids-n-Sports
Episode 2 - Model Testing
Episode 3 - Miami Fashion Week
Episode 4 - Wedding/Halloween

Friday, September 25, 2009

Successful TFCD & Things are Rolling Along

Hello...I think I've set a record this week for blogging...three times in one week, woo-hoo! But if anyone is actually paying attention to this blog, I still own the scale. (In my best Brooklyn New York accent) "So anywayz, U see, its like dis": I took pictures of a model called Victoria Marie 33 [who is 48 by the way]. And while she's not the normal 22-25 year old her pictures came out great, if I say so myself. I'll post them after the end of this blog-->so no peeking (LOL).

Things are rolling along...slowly, but rolling. I have three events lined up for October, a bunch of soccer teams tomorrow and one more TFCD for sunday. And that's it, no more TFCD unless her name is say "Beverly Johnson" or "Tyra Banks" okay okay...let's throw in Oprah for good luck. Nothing else really to report except based on the results of my images, I'm extremely happy with the decision to buy more lenses.

There was a dude [on Craig's List] with a 300mm 2.8, which I was so-so tempted to buy, but my "better judgement" kicked-in or prevailed and I decided to pass on the glass. So new goals for October are find a full-time IT gig. Find a nightclub where I can setup and take pictures weekly and start looking for some old empty abandoned warehouse in or around Miami or South Beach to convert into a photo studio. Wish me luck...woo-hoo! ciao

(Click the picture to enlarge)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Some Good Rules for Bad Times

Brief synopsis…I started grad school in the fall of 1993, but always the person to juggle more than one ball, I started a photo business out of my apartment and later out of an old run down house which I eventually bought and fixed up. I spent way too much money at Lowe’s and Home Depot, so much so I struggled to pay other bills and at the same time was a full-time student.

By the beginning of 1994 I was wondering if I had made the right decision putting so much money into equipment, the house, framing equipment, darkroom equipment, etc. I had also built a reception area to show off my pictures and a changing room.

My then girlfriend had maxed out her credit cards to try to help me out. It was freezing outside, minus 28, and I had thoughts of selling everything and just getting my old apartment back and focusing on school. As I was going through the Sunday newspaper I came across this article in Parade Magazine by Wally Amos, the founder of Famous Amos cookies. It was titled: “Some Good Rules for Bad Times”. I read the article several times and then grabbed a pair of scissors to cut it out and save it for future reading or motivation.

That one article alone helped me to turn my attitude & business around and by the summer of 1994 I had several large clients with money coming in and by 1995, still in grad school, I had to hire two people to keep up with all the work and business. Thanks Wally!

Fast forward to yesterday when I’m cleaning out and organizing my stuff in storage…and I find this old article…yellowed, but still full of good information. So I’ve decided to both retype it and post the original scan. Ciao!

Some Good Rules for Bad Times, by Wally Amos

“During the past four years of my life, I’ve been in debt. I’ve been sued. I’ve lost my name and had creditors call me every day. This is how I got through:”

PATIENCE: I’ve learned that it really is a virtue, especially if you’re involved in a lawsuit. The wheels of justice grind slowly, and there’s nothing you can do to hurry them. “I never feel victimized,” said Amos. “I take responsibility for what happened to me. That’s what’s important.”

ACCEPTANCE: Don’t become part of the problem. I have a friend who was chairman of a $4 billion company when the board fired him. He started listing all his options for the future. He didn’t waste a second. In very short order, his life moved in another direction. He’s happier than ever: Once you accept, you can get on to solutions.

FOCUS: When I started “Famous Amos”, I was so focused, I got it done in five months. Then I let my focus get diffused. I was all over the place when I should have been concentrating. I’ve learned to focus on starting my new company. The Rev. Robert Schuller once told me that the three important things are Faith, Focus and Follow Through-and Fulfillment follows those.

COMMITMENT: When you say “I will” with conviction, magic begins to happen. I was committed to creating a new life for myself. Commitment kept moving me on from one point to the next.

ENTHUSIAM: It is the well spring of life. It is contagious. Many times I walked into a situation where there was gloom in the room, and I walked in with a joyful attitude, a cookie and a smile and was able to change the whole energy. You do that by being enthusiastic.

POSITIVE ATTITUDE: It’s your mental attitude that creates the results in your life. I went through the lawsuit for 19 months. When it started, I was lying on the floor with them steamrolling me. But I had my attitude intact. It just kind of steers you in the direction of looking for solutions.

BY GIVING: I have not allowed my troubles to keep me from being involved with Literacy Volunteers of America and Cities in Schools, or from visiting the Boys and Girls Clubs. I believe good things have happened because I continue to give.

HONESTY & INTEGRITY: You must be positively consistent in what you say, think and do. That sends a clear picture to people of who you are. People believe you and want you to succeed and do what they can to assist.

(click on the picture to enlarge or print)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Busy • Loads of TFCD • Lessons Learned?

Well I've been busy shooting, surfing all my resources for jobs and work and generally trying to get my stuff together. I did get some good feedback from a new found frat brother named Elton Anderson ←click there if you're curious about his excellent blog/work. Strangely enough while our styles are different...we sort of came to the same conclusions about gear and both have moved to the D700.

Happy to report...I am feeling better about my huge investment in new lenses and also looking forward to Nikon's release of the D700X. This alone is not a big deal, but what it potentially might allow me to do is two things: (1) start getting some landscape and architecture work and (2) eventually start using my DSLR to make HD movies for events.

Last week I did three TFCD's and have two more scheduled for this week. I'll post the results here. I will post an image or 2 from the last photo-shoot here now: (click the image to enlarge it)

So moving on...I like to tell things they way they are. I was working with an online magazine. I won't say their name, but will say the publisher/editor was impossible to work with. Despite me providing "peace offerings" and inviting her to lunch, things ended badly.

Now the insane part of this is what she wanted from me was never promised to her. It was something I did on my own time and sold part of the images to Women's Wear Daily. So at least I made gas money. On several tries I attempted to get the "free" pictures to her, but paying-jobs always trump anything that's where my focus has been. She burned the bridge...which is kinda funny since her first name is spelled like bridgé.

I said that all to say...despite your best efforts, sometimes you cannot please a person and you'll still be accursed of doing bad things. Despite your best efforts you still do fail. But I suppose the lesson is better to fail trying than to fail at not trying at all. uhmmm...right?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Frontiers & New Equipment

So...I've been gone a while now. Sorry, promise not to wait that long between blog entries. I've been doing lots of TFCD (Time For CD), but need to focus on getting my edge back for haute couture and editorials again. When I was living in Europe...I could see fashion concepts before I loaded the first roll of film. With the digital age...we shoot more, but think less. Yeah I know its not good. So I'm trying to get back to shooting digital the same way I shot film...with careful planning. I spent a ton of money since the last time I wrote here but there's an upside, should I decide to get out of photography I can sell everything and get most of my money back.

So to date I've gotten a D700 with battery grip (click the picture below), a 50mm 1.4G, a 105mm VR Micro F2.8 lens (girl in pink top), an 85mm 1.4 lens (its crazy sharp...see the girl with brown hair/white top), a 24-70 2.8 zoom (insanely fast/sharp), an 80-200 2.8 AF-S and finally a 70-200 VR 2.8 zoom (close-up of blond girl). I decided to get serious about what I'm doing and devote more time, focus, money and energy into trying to get more paying work. Now I have the sinking feeling like..."goodness! - I hope I made the right move". But unlike say renting a building or buying something where your money goes bye-bye for good...I do have an exit plan option.

More News: I'm the BTS Photographer for a small low-budget movie called MonsterTown. Its a funny take on the old monsters of black/white films with everyone from "The Mummy" to "Frankenstein" appearing. I can't release any photos now, but once the movie's'll be the first to know.

I have more good news...which hopefully will let me recoup some of this money on equipment. I'm doing photos for two "Haunted House" attractions with the on-site printing and special graphics. Uhmmm...wish me luck cause I'm going to need to find and train help.

Finally...well, you don't know about this, but I was suppose to photograph two sisters from the UK and I had these visions of high-fashion and glamour photos. It never happened. Somehow we never connected. I am disappointed since I have put time aside just to photograph these two. But life goes on right? ciao!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vogue Magazine: African Edition! I wanted to see two things. One if my work would look good enough to grace the cover of Vogue Magazine and two, if I could design a fake cover from scratch and have it look at least 90% legit. Well its hard to judge your own work and be objective, so eventually I might get some feedback on this. the picture to get a better view!

ciao James

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Busy Past Few Days

Its been a busy past few days. I've photographed a wedding, scarves from India, a high school 30-year reunion and a Latin Sweet 15 party. I realized you have to wear a lot of hats in today's economy and being well-rounded in photography.

Recently...I have discovered that photography is a business. What I mean is most photographers with their big egos intact feel like if they are doing the best job possible and creating images their clients want and need, everything else fails in place, but this is simply not true.

Other photographers think there is some connection between how expensive and fancy their cameras are and how much they can charge clients or they simply think clients will flock to them because they use impressive looking cameras...again not true.

"Any good modern lens is corrected for maximum definition at the larger stops. Using a small stop only increases depth..." Ansel Adams, June 3, 1937

Even more so I have been turning my efforts towards advertising and marketing in an attempt to allow me to gain more clients and thereby deliver more excellent service. The realization has hit me that quite often, its NOT the most technical or artsy photographer who gets the jobs, but the most resourceful and smart in marketing and self-promotion.

As far as Photo-gear...oddly, professional cameras are more often owned by professionals like physicians, CPAs, engineers and lawyers than they are by photographers. Professional photographers don't spend money if they don't have to - it's a business. Photography is not a profession, although many photographers behave professionally.

So in the next coming weeks I'm focusing on the business side and getting more general and specialized clients. From weddings to wedding designers and from scarves made in India to models from India to showcase them. ciao!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Strange Day - Strange Lessons

Well today started out pretty normal, but by tonight's end it made me realize you have to be determined and extremely focused to make it in any business or profession...especially photography. I won't go into any details as to what happened, but I'll simply say...most photographers have big egos and if they think you're invading their turf...they will attack. Enough said.
So now it made me think of something I'd either read or heard somewhere. The title is: "The story about the Bird, the Cow, and the Cat" and it goes like this:

A bird was flying south for the winter. Cold and hungry, the bird found refuge in a barn on a farm. His wings were nearly frozen stiff with icicles. The bird thought to himself, “I am dead for sure.”

A cow in the barn came by, sniffed around and unloaded a big, stinky pile of cowpie on top of the bird. The bird was drowning in cow caca and thought to himself, “I am dead. I am dead.”
Although the cowpie stank, it was warm and helped thaw the bird, bringing much needed warmth. The bird struggled a bit and managed to poke out his beak to breath. The bird thought to himself, “Yes, yes, I am alive! I’ll be okay!”

The bird was so happy, it began to sing. A cat in the barn heard the singing and came over to investigate. The cat discovered the bird within the cowpie, dug the bird out, washed him and ate him.

Moral of the story:
Not everyone who craps on you is your enemy.
Not everyone who gets you out of crap is your friend.
If you are warm and happy and covered in crap, don’t sing about it.
Finally I've posted some pictures which I wanted to do something art-like with them. I like to people-watch and observe and reflect back in images and words. ciao James

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week - Miami 2009

I covered Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Miami's South Beach back in July, but thought I'd share some insight and images with you. I honestly had photographed fashion shows in Europe back when all cameras used film. But this was a different breed of photographers. You had to be tough, hold your ground, push, elbow and yell at anyone who attemped to prevent you from getting your "precious" which was good pictures. I barely made a dime off this entire venture, but learned a lot. I'd do it again.

Next year I'll be ready with my "mini-ladder", fast 200-400 f2.8 lens and color meter. I've posted a few images from the event. Hey if you know about any fashion shows...I'll photograph them for you. If you're a model and want some TFCD work done, let's talk. -James

The King is Gone!

I suppose I am late with the Michael Jackson tribute, but that's not why I'm writing this. I felt more so when he died it was a wake up call to me to get off my azz and get my "stuff" together regarding health, relationships, career, photography and life in general. So I'm starting my blog finally. I still have to make Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn and several other web-page accounts. If you're reading this...thanks for stopping by.

Yesterday...I did a CD cover shoot for Nikki Maoz...very nice person. I should have kept more control over my images, but you learn by your mistakes...uhmmm, right? I love the quote by Maya Angelou: "We did then what we knew how to do, but now that we know better we can do better." So I'll post one of my sample cover ideas.