Monday, May 19, 2008

Orphan Works Legislation Must Be Rejected and Rewritten

Orphan Works legislation is making its way through Congress at the moment. It's time to take action and defend the photo industry. Our careers are stake here for decades to come. Contact your congressmen and let them know what you think about this nefarious legislation. You can find their contact info here

Read prior posts for more info on this legislation. You can use the following letter as template to write to your congressmen or women:

Dear Senator ____________ _________ _:

I am one of your constituents, and a professional photographer. It is
crucial to my professional livelihood that you oppose this bill in
its current form. If this bill's current language becomes law, it
would permit, and even encourage, wide-scale infringements of my
copyrighted photographs while depriving me of many of the protections
currently available to me under the Copyright Act, including the
right to ask the courts to award statutory damages and attorneys'
fees. In the publication world, the reality is that most photographs
will easily become considered orphaned, depriving me of a significant
part of my much needed income.

I urge you to oppose this bill unless and until it is amended to
contain at least the minimum provisions that are critical to protect
photographers, including but not limited to a notice of use that must
be filed before the use is made, upon penalty of losing eligibility
to claim orphan work status for failure to file the notice; an
archive of the notices, to be maintained by the Copyright Office or
an approved third party; and other protections that appear in the
current (May 15, 2008) language of H.R. 5889.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can provide you
with any additional information. Thank you for your time. I hope that
you will take the necessary actions to protect my interests and
prevent the passage of this bill until it is amended to be fair and
reasonable to all parties.

Respectfully yours,
(your name)

Read more!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Take Action Against Orphan Works Legislation

The Orphan Works Legislation is in front of Congress at the moment. If this bill passes, it will be extremely detrimental to the livelihood of photographers.The Orphan Works bill is reaching a critical stage. Depending on the outcome of the vote on the House of Representatives floor tomorrow we will need the help of each and everyone of you. This bill does not have the best interests of creative artists in mind and will adversely effect all of us. In the coming days APA will call upon the photographic community to write their elected leaders to express their opposition to this legislation. Please be ready at that time to stand together as one and let our voice be heard. Our future as creative artists depends on it.

For more information on the "Orphan Works Act of 2008" and the APA's Position please visit

To volunteer your time and effort please contact Rebecca D. Shulman at

You can read an extensive post detailing the ins and outs of the bill, written by John Harrington. Also read this post detailing positions of other organizations concerned.

These bills will affect your lives for decades to come. Call or email your congressmen. We're all in this together. Don't let apathy take you out, this is too important. John Harrington has a list of congressmen on his post with their email addresses. Tell them what's on your mind.
Take action this one time !

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Friday, May 2, 2008

30 Years And Counting

Corazon's 30 year anniversary celebration is coming up this Sunday May 4th from 2-5 pm in Anaheim, California. Read on for the press release.

Thirty years ago, three Orange County residents felt a need to help the poor in several villages surrounding Tijuana. They provided food, clothing, basic supplies and spiritual help. In 1978 they officially formed Corazón ( as a nonprofit organization. During the early years Corazón helped by meeting the immediate needs with food, clothing and shelter. Volunteers repaired some of the “homes” (actually shacks of pallets and cardboard) of the residents. This “repairing” quickly turned to building complete houses.

Over the next five years Corazón developed a turnkey construction system for a 12’ x 20’ house with a wood floor and foundation. Using this system, a volunteer sponsor group on a one-day contribution event could build a complete home for a family. From 1983 to 1996, Corazón grew from building 8 houses a year to building 8 houses in a day. In 1995, the familia Corazón program was conceived and developed as an overall approach to help families escape poverty while building a stronger community.

Today, Corazón has built over 800 new homes and repaired hundreds more. This non-profit organization has profoundly affected the lives of over 1,000 families, provided annual scholarships to thousands of students in primary, middle, and high schools, as well as college. The familia program works as these college graduates are returning to their villages to teach, and help, giving back for what they have received.

On Sunday May 4th, Corazon will be celebrating its 30 year anniversary at the Hotel Menage 2-5pm, 1221 South Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92805 There will be a fundraiser and silent auction, as well as a photography exhibition of work by young adolescents living in Corazon communities in Tijuana, Mexico.

Local professional photographer, Greg Clarke (, recently went down to Tijuana, Mexico to give a photography workshop to these youngsters to impart some basic skills, as well as share some of his experiences traveling around the world, but most importantly to inspire them to capture their world and express themselves. They were given disposable cameras to do this. The results are outstanding to say the least. Greg Clarke commented: “I had no idea what to expect. These kids had never taken photos before. I encouraged them to share a bit of themselves, to go beyond using the camera as a souvenir catcher, and to tap into their creativity. When I saw what they came up with, I was so impressed by their sensibility. I have to say I am very touched to have been part of this experience.”

This Corazon event is a celebration of community, of undying commitment to the less fortunate. Come be a part of the heart of Corazon, people like you and me who pitch in any way they can. It promises to be an incredible event with great art and a host of fabulous auction items.

Sunday May 4th from 2-5pm

Hotel Menage

1221 South Harbor Blvd.

Anaheim, CA 92805

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Young Photographers

Well here's a quick post before I hit the sack. I've been reviewing and editing the photos taken by the kids in Tijuana. I gave them a photography class a couple of weeks ago. Then we gave them disposable cameras to take home.

Today I received their photos. I was really impressed! All I did to them is adjust the contrast and tone. Here are a couple of them.
Can't wait to see them all framed.

They have an ethereal quality I find. Keep in mind that this is the first time these kids use a camera. Very promising !

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Great Board Meeting !!

Yesterday, I presented the mentoring project idea to the local ASMP board here in Los Angeles.

It was accepted !! It feels good. The national board of ASMP had rejected the idea a month ago, on grounds that they wanted it to start small.

So here goes. Everyone of the board members was fully accepting and enthusiastic about it. The next step is to write the copy for the website, get it all set up, then enlist some mentors.

For those not aware of the mentoring project, we are going to basically copy what NPPA has done. On their website, they have a list of mentors available. Any member can log in, read the mentor bios, and pick one they want to work with. Contact info is right there on the mentoring webpage. Then it's up the individuals involved to sort out how they want to set up the relationship. Easy as pie.

I'll keep everyone up to date on the progress. It's exciting because this could have an impact on a lot of emerging photographers who are struggling to make it in this competitive and challenging industry.

By the way, the board meeting was a lot of fun. Not at all what I expected. We ate in a fancy french restaurant, free food yeahh ! We joked around a lot and just had a great time.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Photography Organizations: Why Join One?

At the moment, I am member of APA (Advertising Photographers of America), as well as ASMP, (American Society of Media Photographers). Why did I join them? There are a number of good reasons. Both of these organizations put on seminars and presentations that are highly educational, and inspiring to professional photographers. They range in topics from 'how to market yourself,' to slide show presentations of well known photographers, to 'search engine optimization' (the topic at Blake Disher's talk last week).

Another great advantage is the camaraderie of other professionals. Who better than other professional photographers can understand us, joke about the industry, give us advice... ? Who else will want to listen and share your excitement about that 70-200mm VR f2.8 lens you just acquired?

Joining ASMP and APA also allows you to get photography business insurance at a reduced rate. Discounts are available as well with vendors such as Adobe, Apple, PDN, and others.

There are online forums as well that are worth checking out and participating in. On there, you'll find the top pros in the industry sharing their knowledge and experience. You can post any relevant question and get an assortment of answers from its members. Some of the better ones are Yahoo groups. Their names are APAnet, APAdigital, ASMPproAdvice, ASMPArch.

Something else I am working on with ASMP is creating a mentoring group. The idea is emerging photographers who are members of ASMP, could look up a list of available mentors, contact them and set up some kind of mentoring relationship according to their photography/business needs and schedules. That is still in the works. I'll keep you updated of the progress.

There are many more perks to joining these and other photography organizations, but I will let you discover them on your own. These are a few of the important ones in my mind.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Negotiating Fees

I was talking to a photographer friend about fees. Actually we talk a lot about it because I like his approach and I want to learn more. He manages to earn a lot of money. He's been in business 10 years now, so he does have an established clientele. Yet he still uses this approach with new clients.

When he gets a call about a job, he tries to find out the budget. Oftentimes, he won't be given the info, so he'll charge what he thinks is fair. Now what I think is fair is different. He charges way more than me. What happens is he gets less clients than he could, but the ones he shoots for, he earns a lot. So he's working less, and earning more.

My friend has this mentality of 'why limit yourself in your thinking? Just because everyone else is charging this amount doesn't mean you can't charge more!' I love it, it's the opposite of low-balling. You have to have balls to charge that kind of money, but he gets what he wants some of the time. One of the reasons is he can handle objections when they come up. He knows what to say to clients in response to their doubts or concerns. He's good at selling himself. That takes studying, thinking and practice.

It's also how you are with the client. He doesn't come off as needing the business. It's like when a guy approaches a girl in a bar and seems needy and insecure. The girl is turned off and rejects him. Yet when a guy is confident and doesn't care if the girl likes him or not, the girl becomes attracted. Same concept. If the client turns him down, he's not worried about it. It's more like a game to him.

Photographers starting out have a tendency to charge too little. The problem is sometimes, we're not aware of market prices, or we're not confident in our skills, or we're desperate for money or the opportunity. When we charge too little, we end up hurting the market and it becomes harder for everyone, not just us, to make a living.

It's our responsibility to learn from other photographers. The other day, I got a call about doing food shots (which I have hardly any experience in) for a restaurant. I told them, "sure I can do it," as I was trained to do. I can always bring an assistant experienced in that type of photography to the shoot. However I had no idea how much to charge, so I called up a photographer who did, and asked him. That easy. Photographers will share that kind of info because it's in their best interest to do so, for the reasons listed above.

Why stop at that though? Why not charge enough to live well, rather than to just get by? That's what I'm pondering. Believe me, I'm not charging as much as my friend, but I will be. I want that kind of lifestyle, where you can work hard, for less hours per week, and still have time to play and relax.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ASMP is offering a seminar on April 23rd. on web marketing. It's being put on by Blake Disher, one of the presenters at the Strictly Business 2 ASMP conference. This guy is intelligent, knowledgeable and very entertaining. If you have a website and would like to know how to increase your business with it, click here.

Read more!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Networking Tips

As many of you know, the best investment of your time as far as marketing goes is building relationships. Referrals have the highest rate of closes. Cold calls the least. Take your pick.

There are some proven methods of networking. The first is to join a trade or industry organization that most of your prospects belong to. In my case, it would be AIA, the American Institute of Architects. They have regular outings, meetings and events. Making connections there is the single best way to market myself.

Join networking organizations. There are a ton out there. I have been going to BNI, Business Networking International, for the past year. It was not worth the time and money I spent there. I would however recommend it to portrait/wedding photographers. There is great potential in that arena. I have a portrait photographer friend who made 33k his first year there as a member. It's just not the right place to find architectural photography prospects.

There are many more organizations. Research and let me know what you think. Go to Chamber of Commerce meetings. They are much cheaper and very well attended. Going regularly is recommended. If you just attend a couple of times, people won't have a chance to really get to know you and vice-versa.

Don't come off as a salesman. Vibe with people, be friendly, open and attentive. Become a resource to everyone there. Let people know that when it comes to photography, they can come to you with any question. Give them tips, ideas, and info free of charge. Always be imparting information when you are speaking with someone. Be the expert, but listen for what people need. This will help build trust and credibility.

When you do a job for someone, ask them if you can use them as a reference. Ask them to sign a letter of testimony. If they don't have time, write it and give it to them to sign. When you meet a potential prospect who you can sense is doubting you, bring out the reference letters and say: 'Please don't take my word for it, here are testimony letters from past clients that will testify to the quality of my service.'

Introduce yourself to people you don't know. Oftentimes at networking meetings, members will congregate with others they already know and it becomes more of a social gathering. Remember why you're there: to generate leads for your business. Go to the shy person and help them feel included.

When someone asks me what I do, I share the what and the why, not so much the how. People are not interested in the technical aspects of photography, they want to know what's so great about my service and why would anyone want to hire me. I share the benefits of hiring a professional photographer like myself. For an architect, that might be to develop an outstanding, powerful portfolio of their completed projects to attract new clients to their firm.

Another important aspect is your personal image. I know of a local photographer who shows up at networking meetings in sandals and t-shirts. That may work for some, but it does put off a lot of business people. Looking professional doesn't necessarily mean suit and tie, but decent slacks and a button down shirt.

Let me know if you have any more suggestions we could add to this list.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Free Promo WInners

Rob Haggart, former photo editor of Outside Magazine and Men's Journal, put out a call a few weeks back for photos from anyone out there. He picked 297 and put them on his site which gets viewed by art buyers and other photo editors amongst others.

Here are the winners !

Read more!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

APA Seminars Coming Up

Here are some great opportunities to fine tune your assisting skills. What a great idea for a workshop!

APA/LA Assistant Boot Camp

Saturday May 3, 2008

With so many photographers seeking work, how can a photography student gain an edge? Until you can build a stellar portfolio and use it to market your photos, learn the business behind the business. Whether your goals include gaining more commercial experience or learning about being an assistant, this moderated panel of leading photography apprentices will provide the knowledge and confidence to send you in the right direction. We'll cover career opportunities and the ins and outs of getting hired in the industry. A good resource for film assistants, prop work and film crews.

APA/LA Photo Assistant Training 101

Saturday May 4, 2008

Attendance is limited to 20.
Register Now!

(Prerequisite: attendance at APA/LA Assistant Boot Camp (2007 or 2008)

APA/LA is proud to present our new full day Photo Assistant Training course in conjunction with out Assistant Boot Camp. In this course held on Sunday May 4th attendees will be able to participate in HANDS ON instruction and demonstration in a more intimate atmosphere allowing participants to have the opportunity of handling the gear under direction and supervision. Basic lighting set-ups will be discussed in length and you will have the opportunity to take notes and draw diagrams. TIME PERMITTING, participants MAY be able to shoot a few frames for your records and note taking.

For more info, go to

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Maria Piscopo Workshop Coming Up

How to Make Money with Your Art and Photography - two workshops by rep and author, Maria Piscopo

Santa Monica College Continuing Community Education presents photo rep and author Maria Piscopo’s two workshops on marketing and self promotion: The Business of Photography on Saturday, April 26 and Portfolio Development on Saturday, May 3.

Click to see PDF Version of this Press Release

Maria Piscopo, Marketing Workshops for Photographers


PRLog (Press Release)Apr 11, 2008 – Do you want to make money with your creativity? Art Rep and Creative Services Consultant, Maria Piscopo, will teach marketing and portfolio development for artists, graphic designers and photographers at Santa Monica College Continuing Community Education on April 26, 2008 and May 3, 2008.

Learn how to start and successfully run a creative services or photography business with the first workshop, "The Business of Photography" (course number 110008) on Saturday, April 26. Topics include finding clients, selling techniques, copyright issues, pricing your services, cost-effective self-promotion and planning your marketing.

The second workshop "Portfolio Development" (course number 110009) is on Saturday, May 3 and covers development of your portfolio for finding clients and creative assignments and jobs. Topics include indentifying your direction, image selection for portfolio, portfolio formats and a personal portfolio review.

For information, call SMC Community Services at 310-434-4000 or visit their web site and check by course number.

Maria Piscopo developed her workshops from her years of art/photo rep's experience and her two most current books, Photographer’s Guide to Marketing & Self-Promotion, 3rd edition and Graphic Designer's and Illustrator's Guide to Marketing & Promotion, both published by Allworth Press,

She is also a contributing writer for industry magazines such as Communication Arts, Dynamic Graphics Magazine and she writes the Business Trends column for Shutterbug magazine. For more information, visit her web site,

# # #

Maria Piscopo is an art/photo rep and author/consultant based in Southern California. She teaches business and marketing at Orange Coast College and Laguna College of Art & Design. Maria is the author of 3rd edition Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and the new Graphic Designer's & Illustrator's Guide to Marketing and Promotion-both published by Allworth Press. She is a frequent contributor to Communication Arts Magazine and Shutterbug Magazine.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Photo Assisting

So today I found out about this great resource for photography assistants. Most photographers have assisted at some point in their career. Today actually, I made a bunch of calls to photographers checking in to see if they needed any help.

Assisting is, in my mind, the fastest way to learn how to handle professional jobs. It's great for picking up on lighting and photography techniques, even business and sales methods. Most of it cannot be found in textbooks either.

So without further ado, visit
On it, you'll find great advice on finding work as an assistant. You can post questions on all kinds of topics in some very active forums. You can even watch cool video tutorials on things like loading 4x5 film. You can also post your resume on there and get some work from it.

Yesterday, I went to Tijuana, Mexico to give a photo class to some kids who are active participants in their community. This was organized by Corazon, a non-profit that has been around for 30 years. It was an amazing experience. We all had a great time. I was teaching adolescents. A psychologist friend of mine I brought along gave the little kids an art class. Good times! This was one the photos I took as part of the class.

I taught the kids some basic photography, then we gave them disposable black and white cameras to take home. I am going to pick one or two photos from each camera and they are going to be framed. Corazon is having its 30 year anniversary party next month. The photos will be hung on the walls at the party for everyone to see, and perhaps bid on at an auction fundraiser.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Photo Competitions !

A few photo competitions coming up worth entering:

As a sidenote, always read the official rules to find out if entrants keep the copyright to their images. Never enter contests that reserve the right to use your images any way they please.

  • Here are the winners to an underwater photo contest, and another on Youtube.
  • Winners of the Center for Global Initiative contest.
  • This one I found on page 87 of my google search. Dude, this thing should be on page 1!!

Ok how many times have you gone past page 5 when doing a google search, really? From now on, I'm always going to check page 87 when googling.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Julius Shulman

I confess I just discovered the legendary architectural photographer Julius Shulman today. His career has spanned only 7 decades as he is reaching the tender age of 98. His work is astounding, I'm an instant fan. This is probably his most famous photo. Shulman has worked for most of the architectural icons of the 20th century like Frank Loyd Wright, Mies Van de Rohe and Richard Neutra. He was even voted an honorary fellow by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and was awarded their gold medal for architectural photography. Here is more of his work.

Listen to an NPR interview of Julius Shulman.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

On A Mission

I am on a mission. I am going to be the most effective, organized and professional person I know. I want to be the guy that all my friends go to for advice on becoming organized. I want to be that guy that people know they can rely on no matter what, a man of integrity.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am currently putting together an organizational system that works for me. My life is going to be a concertedd, focused surge of energy towards success. I am fully recharged!

Why all the enthusiasm? Well so far this year has not gone the way I wanted. I have been steadily losing hope and running on fumes. Not anymore. I realize how much my effectiveness and my success relies on my planning. It's like how can you get where you want to go if you don't have the directions and you don't even you're lost. Not anymore.

So what do I have on my side? Some people close to me who are experts at organization are helping me out. I've also been reading the bible of time management, 'Time Power,' by none other than Brian Tracy, the foremost expert on the subject. I don't need any other books. That one covers all the bases. Here is a more detailed review.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Getting Organized

Is it possible to be effective in business without strong time management skills? Not from my experience. Becoming organized and productive has been a strong focus of mine in this past year. I have made huge strides considering where I started.

Now is a new phase though. I had been feeling completely overwhelmed these last couple of months with the amount of projects and tasks on my plate. I just did not know where to start, or what to focus on. I had no idea how I was going to possibly get it all done. It was like this massive overpowering feeling of helplessness. Not pleasant.

So I have had to regroup. This past week has been spent going back to the basics. I completely reorganized my bedroom/office. I got rid of every useless item I did not have some strong attachment to. I installed new shelves, cabinets, and a large desk. Everything now has its proper place. How neat my workspace is directly affects my mental state. If it's busy, and in disarray, so is my head. Clutter is the enemy. And no, I am not OCD :-) Quite the contrary.

Another thing I've done is write down all my projects. Every project has been broken down into all the individual tasks that will lead me to their completion. The more precise the tasks, the better. Each task is scheduled into my calendar in a reasonable way. You see, I have a tendency to schedule too much in each day. Then when I don't get it all done, I get upset with myself. So I am working on being more conservative or realistic in my planning.

Planning is the key. Plan the work, then work the plan as they say. By the way, in case you're wondering, I am using the Franklin Covey system to do all that. It's all integrated and highly effective. You can learn more about how it works here. They give you the option to go either the paper or the electronic route. I have been using a day planner for a year now. I just started with the electronic one this week though. It's called PlanPlus. They have a free 30 day trial, so I'm checking it out. I'll give you a review once I've got a good feel for it.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

A Local Charity To Contribute To

Here is a wonderful way for photographers to help out a non-profit. Check out this organization. Picture Me Happy provides cameras to hospitalized children and bring creativity and joy into their lives. Volunteering for non-profits is a way to give back and feel good about making a difference in other people's lives. It's also a means to network and meet influential people in a variety of capacities.

Next weekend, I am headed to Tijuana to give a photo class to kids in an impoverished community. We are going to give them cameras, then develop their photos. We'll frame the best ones and put together an exhibition and fund raiser. This is being organized by Corazon, an amazing non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of poor Mexicans by giving them the means to become educated, learn career skills, and acquire decent housing. I am going to definitely contact Picture Me Happy to find out how they run their program. I should get some useful tips.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Great Chance!

Here is an incredible opportunity to get some free promotion guys brought to us by Rob Haggart in his blog! This guy is a photo editor and will put two of your images into a slideshow and show it to art buyers, no joke. Check it here for yourself. You have 24 hours left to send those two image to him though, so no procrastinating allowed.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mentoring Program

I've researched and found that the National Press Photographers Association has a successful 4 year old mentoring program. You can read about it here. It's absolutely brilliant! I talked to the guy who set it up and was very impressed. Apparently it took some work to set up initially, but has not required much maintenance since then. It's all done through their national website. They have over 90 mentors at the moment.

The way they set it up is the 'mentee' (if that's the word for it) selects the mentor on the website and contacts him on his own. Mentors can have as many mentees as they want. The relationships can be set any number of ways, whatever suits the parties in question best. I researched and found out that people want mentors for different reasons, so it's more effective to allow them to set it up personally. General boundaries can of course be set, as they were stated on the NPPA site.

I have begun talking to ASMP leadership about setting up a mentoring program this way. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully it will be presented at next week's national board meeting.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Off To Chicago

Hey guys, I'll be in Chicago the next week to ten days. So I'll be posting again when I get back. I don't have a laptop to take with me yet. Sometime soon :-)

By the way, don't forget to ask any marketing or business-related questions to our resident advisor, Maria Piscopo. She has been graciously offering her help and we have learned a lot from her. If you have never read her book, 'The Photographer's Guide To Marketing And Self-Promotion,' go buy it. It's a must read. Maria has been a rep/marketing guru/lecturer/author for the past 30 years. She knows a lot. Maria is our secret weapon, our awesome resource !

Please email me with the questions at and I will relay them to Maria, then post them (while keeping you anonymous if that is what you wish) so we can all learn.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Have any of you had mentors? What type and what did you get out of the relationship? Or maybe you were a mentor to someone. What was that like? I am working to set up a local mentoring program with ASMP Los Angeles.

The idea is that emerging photographers could use the guidance and expertise of established photographers. Starting out in this industry is tough. You practically have to figure out everything by yourself when you run your own business. It's not like you have a boss training you. There are NO training wheels. So benefiting from the wisdom of an old pro is a wonderful gift for a newbie.

What does the mentor get out of it? Well for one, it's a way to give back to the community. It's a way to give of yourself and feel good about it. The other thing is a lot of emerging photographers just don't know good business practices. They make mistakes, lowball... and hurt the industry as a whole. So what better way to circumvent that than to establish mentoring relationships? It's not the magic bullet, but done right, it could make a significant impact.

I'd love to hear what you guys think about this. Any and all ideas, opinions, suggestions welcome. Email me or comment. Thanks.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Marketing With Photo Contests

Rob Haggart, author of the great blog and former photo editor for Outside and Men's Journal magazines, writes here about photo competitions. Apparently, editors much prefer to pick out photographers to hire from contest winners, rather than source books. It makes sense since the former will show only the best, while paid advertising does not weed out anyone but the poor.

Haggart even mentions what contests he would regularly pick photographers from. So this is a great incentive to start submitting to competitions. It's a cheap and effective way to advertise, if you win. You remember what it said on the wall of your high school classroom? "You never achieve anything until you try." That saying usually will not make a pessimist budge from his position, but you'll never know.... until you try.

haha ok ok, I'll leave you guys alone.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Finally Fixed The Comments....

I've been going nuts wrestling with the template on this blog for the past three months trying to get the comments section working. Finally got it fixed today, and it was the simplest thing. It took one click and about 5 seconds. Sometimes we make life so complicated. I even had blog gurus trying to figure it out. They gave me all kinds of crazy ideas, and I was completely overwhelmed and frustrated with the whole thing.

Someone had a good laugh at my expense. But hey, I'm laughing at myself now too :-)

I shot this cute blonde girl at the local baseball stadium the other day for a promo.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Online Usage Fees

Remind me to charge more for online usage! Disney is projecting 1 billion dollars in revenue from online content this fiscal year. So as Leslie Burns, the photo rep, likes to remind us, don't let any clients tell you the photos are just for online use.

Read it for yourself.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Free Food

Those words will get any college student's attention. Want to fill up a lecture hall or an art gallery, just mention those two words. Nowadays, it takes a little more for us uhhh business professionals. How about freeeeee software?

Go to ASMP's Pricing and Estimating Guides page and check out some cool stuff. You can download, among other things, Photobyte, a photography business management software tool. Donations accepted of course. Be sure to check out NPPA's Cost Of Doing Business Calculator as well. Quite the useful tool!

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Test Your Creativity-More Publicity

From Wired Magazine...In this week's photo contest, we want you to commit photographic suicide: We want you to shoot yourself. With a camera.

Use the Reddit widget below to submit your best self-portrait photo and vote for your favorite among the other submissions. The 10 most-highly ranked photos will appear in a gallery on the homepage. So get out your timers, remote triggers, mirrors; whatever wizardry you need to be both shooter and subject. Hang your skills and your mug out there for all to see. And please, make it interesting.

The photo must be your own, and by submitting it you are giving us permission to use it on and in Wired magazine. Please submit images that are as large as possible, the ideal size being 800 pixels or larger on the longest side. Please include a description of your photo, which may include exposure information, equipment used, etc.

If you're using Flickr, Picasa or another photo-sharing site to host your image, you'll have to provide a link to the image directly and not just to the photo page where it's displayed.

We've seeded the widget with a couple of our own photos to kick things off.

Also, check out the winner's galleries from our previous contests: Holga and Red.

Vote on self-portrait photos submitted by other readers.

Show entries that are: hot | new | top-rated. Submit your red photo.

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Email Marketing

Email marketing is the fastest, cheapest way to reach potential clients. It's also easy to track unlike direct mail. You'll know who has opened your email, how much time they spent reading it, and if they clicked on any links. It's also paperless and therefore environmentally-friendly and I know all of you care about that.

There are a few basic rules that you should follow in order to be effective with email marketing. Permission needs to be given for you to send messages to a client. You don't want to spam and get blacklisted. That would be the end of your business' internet presence. You'll also want to include a 'call to action,' as marketing people like to say. It's great to have a clear, concise, well-designed email, but if you don't ask the customer to do something, you're wasting your time. The CTA could be as simple as 'Click here to view my portfolio.'

It's very important to educate yourself before attempting email marketing. Here are a few places to start:

You'll want to buy a program designed to manage and track your emails. There are a couple that have been recommended to me. I'll include reviews of them in a subsequent post once I try them out.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Strobist Meetup March 9th

Hey guys, we got another meetup coming up next Sunday, March 9th. This one is going to be about 'Umbrella Specular Portraits.' We're moving along in the L102 tutorials on Strobist.

This series of lessons is about mastering the seven different ways to control light. Once you do that, you can apply that knowledge and experience to any type of photography. Whether you are a serious hobbyist or a pro, it's probably the most crucial thing you could dedicate yourself to learning. And what better way to do it than for free with a bunch of other passionate photographers !

We'll meet in Huntington Beach at 2pm. From there, we can hit up a number of different locations. For more info, contact me at

Curious about what we shot at our last Strobist meetup? This is one of the images we came up with.

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Goals For March

So I talked of setting goals for March in my previous post. The trick in setting goals is being ambitious, but not too much. I'm good at setting the bar too high, and then being disappointed when I can't reach it. So I'm going to try a different approach.

I learned an interesting technique for setting daily goals from Jack Canfield. He sets really small ones. He'll have a goal to, for example, exercise five minutes a day. That's nothing, right? There is no logical excuse to not exercise at least five minutes a day. So what that does is get him started. Then guess what? He rarely ends up doing just five minutes. Most of the time, he'll exercise say 30 min., but if he does only do 5 one day, then he has still fulfilled his goals.

The hard part in having a daily goal is getting started. Some days you just don't feel like it. So if you keep the goal easily attainable, then your chances of doing it everyday increase tremendously. Consistency becomes possible. Progress becomes a reality. I've tested this out over a few days and it works. So now for the whole month !

Daily goals:
-two phone calls to potential clients.
-15 min. of database work on my potential client list.
-5 min. of organizing.

Weekly goals:
-surf and yoga twice.
-one product shot.
-1 networking meetup.

I will keep my word. Some days may be more difficult than others, like Wednesday when I go snowboarding on my birthday. I could plan it out ahead of time though, and call from the car on my way to the mountain. This is all about going above and beyond, getting past my 'excuses.'

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

The 30 Day Trial

March of last year was definitely one of the most productive months of my life. Why? Well I spent February doing Tony Robbins' 30-day Personal Power program. He's a motivational speaker and so I got into a great rhythm, getting so much stuff done. At the beginning of March 2007, I set goals for that whole month. I broke them down into weekly and daily goals. Then I kept track of what I accomplished everyday. I even wrote down what time I ended going to bed each day. Sounds crazy? Well the results were spectacular.

I'm setting out to do the same thing this March. Tomorrow I will write my goals down for the months, weeks and days that follow. Then I will track them diligently. One of my common mistakes when I set goals is that I set them too high. So even if I get a lot done, I am disappointed that I didn't accomplish my goals. I will make them more attainable this time around. That is not easy for me, but I'll do my best.

I encourage you guys to try it out. Do it for one month and see what kind of results you come up with. You will be amazed! High achievers and ultra successful people do this kind of thing over years. I'm just saying I will do it to this intensity for one month. That means that every minute will count. So when I am relaxing, it's because I planned it that way, not because I don't feel like working. If this sounds like it would take spontaneity out of my life, well I suppose it does to a certain extent. But I am so much happier when I play the game of life at a greater level and intensity. There are trade-offs. I am out to get the max out of this limited time I have and this is the best way I know how for them moment.

Steve Pavlina is a big inspiration for me. I thought of doing this after reading his article: 30 Days To Success. Trying out something for 30 days is the perfect way to either make it into a solid habit or find out if it's not the best thing for you. If you take this on, let me know how it goes. We can help motivate each other. You can reach me at

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

My Day

So it's now 11:32pm. How did my day turn out? Well I went surfing for an hour, caught some good waves, then rushed off to a Cashflow game meeting. Not sure what the board game Cashflow is about, read this post.

We played for 4 hours and I learned a lot about investing and increasing my cashflow. The other participants included a financial advisor, a day-trader, and a couple who invested in their spare time (they have 6 houses at the moment), and me, who knows absolutely zero about creating a positive cashflow. These games are played once a month around here. Apparently they are taking place all over the country actually. It's a great place to learn about investing in a fun, free way. For info on where they might be meeting in your area, check

I won't go into much further detail about what I actually did today. The rest was not that exciting! I learned a valuable lesson though. The reason I often don't accomplish what I set out to do is that I act according to my feelings. As long as I am motivated, I will continue my task. However, as soon as I find something more interesting to do, more captivating, I stop doing it. If I get bored, tired... I'll look for something else to do. In order to honor my word and finish what I set out to do, I must separate my actions from my feelings. It's called discipline.

I did ok today. I worked hard and got a good amount of stuff done. I wasn't as focused as I could have been though. I did get distracted, but hey I'm a work in progress. I'm only human. I still strive to constantly adjust how I spend my time. Procrastination is the number one cause of failure. I just made that up, but it sounds right to me.

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How Valuable Is Your Time ?

A little known fact: 20% of our activity produces 80% of our work. We spend most of our time doing things that have zero impact on our goals. It could be writing endless emails, internet surfing for hours, tv watching, long phone calls for no particular reason. It's endless interruptions, distractions... that prevent us from concentrating on what will make our dreams a reality. Is that effective? Hell no. So I have gradually improved my ratios by asking myself, before I take on an activity, 'is this the best use of my time? Is it really?'

It's 7:22am on Saturday March 1st. I'm doing something a bit different. Usually I post at the end of the day. Here, the idea is to look at this day as being infinitely important, as in every minute counts. I know everyone has heard that saying: "Treat this day as if it were your last." Anyone who has actually managed to do that, I would love to hear about it. No, what this is about is having the intention to make this day matter. In fact, every minute is going to matter.

I love to do this, though it's not as refined as it could be certainly. It doesn't mean I can't have fun and have to be 'productive' all the time. No, it's about having balance and living with intention. For example, spending hours watching tv is not having balance. Personally I don't have cable, so it's not an issue. I do watch movies quite often though.

Operating like this is especially important because I am self-employed, and self-managed. As such, I have to wear a lot of hats, and my to-do list is a mile long. In fact, I don't think I will ever get through it because everyday I add stuff to it. It's ok though, as long as I focus on the most important items. I get lost in the details, the meaningless stuff, all the time. And then I act surprised and disappointed when I don't get the results I want.

Another tactic that works well to increase productivity is having chunks of time (60 to 90 min.) dedicated to an activity, with zero interruptions allowed. That means phones are off, no internet surfing, no snack breaks, no tv... It's about focusing intensely on the task at hand, working with speed, concentration and care. I get more done working that way in 90 min. than I do in a full day working the haphazard way, no joke.

So in summary, it's not just about improving productivity, it's about improving my work/play balance, making every minute count, and focusing on what will impact my goals. It's an ongoing process for me. Let's see how it turns out today as an experiment.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Blog into a Book

This is a wonderful marketing idea, blog-turned-into-book. The ultimate 2.0 self-promotion tool,

Click on the video ‘Daily Monster’,i think it’s up to #160. You gotta see this guy draw, wow! I am ordering his ‘Monster’ book today!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Palm Springs Photo Festival 2008

Here is a great opportunity to learn, share and create with other photographers:

The Palm Springs Photo Festival is America's most talked-about photography event. Meet and network with today's important photographers, art directors, museum curators, art buyers, creative directors, industry leaders and visionaries in the spectacular environment of the Southern California Desert.
1 800 928-8314

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How To Speak With A Client

This I learned in my 'Professional Selling' class. Certain words have a negative connotation. They trigger nefarious feelings in clients and can kill a presentation or a negotiation in an instant. Words/phrases either advance your sale or they don't. Some are highly effective. Choose them wisely.

Some words should be avoided at all costs and replaced with positive ones. Here are a few:

  • cost/price ------- replace with ----total investment is/value
  • contract -----------------------------letter of agreement/forms/paperwork
  • down-payment -----------------------initial investment
  • pitch/spiel---------------------------presentation/I'd like to talk to you a few minutes
  • deal ---------------------------------opportunity/special offer/added value
  • sign ---------------------------------authorization/could you ok that for me?

John Harrington has also put together a list.

I am starting to realize how crucial my choice of words is. It is a surefire way to increase my income. I'll let you know how that goes.

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How To Speak With A Client

This I learned in my 'Professional Selling' class. Certain words have a negative connotation. They trigger nefarious feelings in clients and can kill a presentation or a negotiation in an instant. Words/phrases either advance your sale or they don't. Some are highly effective. Choose ones with an emotional value.

Some words should be avoided at all costs and replaced with positive ones. Here are a few:

-cost/price replace with -total investment is/value
-contract -letter of agreement/forms/paperwork
-downpayment -initial investment
-pitch/spiel -presentation/i'd like to talk to you a few minutes
-deal -opportunity/special offer/added value
-sign -authorization/could you ok that for me?

John Harrington has put together a similar list.

I am starting to realize how crucial my choice of words are. Now that is a surefire way to increase my income. I'll let you know how that goes.

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Monday, February 25, 2008


I am taking a professional selling class at a local community college. Why? Because as a professional photographer, I am selling a service. How well I sell my service has a lot to do with how many $$ I have in my name. Learning how to turn a qualified lead into an appointment into a paid assignment into a satisfied client over the long term who gives me referrals, is a skill that goes way beyond how great your photos are.

Last year, I made hundreds of cold calls to architects and interior designers and got very few appointments. It was a lot easier back in the film days. If clients wanted to see your work, you had to meet them in person. Now they just ask for your website address and tell you they will call when they need you. Well, you could be waiting a while. So now I am learning, among other things, how expert salesmen handle these types of situations. It's invaluable information. Getting face to face with clients increases the number of assignments significantly. For more info on how to handle phone calls to clients, stay tuned.

Today I am going to talk about negotiating. I just finished a classic on the subject, 'You Can Negotiate Anything,' by Herb Cohen. It was written in 1980 because, as you may know, selling and negotiating is THE oldest profession. Negotiating is a universal skill that is applied by all of us in the bedroom, kitchen, office, school, playground, stores... It's how we get what we want, how we get our needs met. Some of us are better at it than others. The good news is these are skills that we can all learn, which will in turn dramatically improve the quality of our lives.

I'll just give a brief summary of a few important things I learned in this book. There are 3 crucial variables in any negotiation: power, time and information.

  • Power: whoever needs the outcome to go his way the most has the least power in the negotiation. For example, if you are an average looking guy and you approach a sexy woman in a needy way. Will she be interested? It's likely she won't be. She has options. You're acting like you don't. You have no power. Game over. If you think you have no power, then you have none. If you think you have power, you have it, even if you don't. It's a mental game. When you truly believe it, your behavior, what you say... will give off power and give you a definite advantage in a negotiation.

  • Time: a friend of mine got a call from a photographer to see about assisting him for that very afternoon. My friend accepted, but he doubled his assisting fee. The photographer was in a crunch and had to bite the bullet. The deadline meant he had no time and therefore, no options. Finding out your client's deadline is crucial.

  • Information: how much do you know about your client? How much do you know about your competition? Does your client know more than you do? The actual presentation or meeting with a client is part of a long process. Research as much as possible on clients beforehand. Find out what they really need, what their deadlines are... before the actual negotiation because it is much easier that way. Skillful negotiators usually don't give out that info during a meeting. So the more prepared you are, the easier it will be to counter objections, the easier it will be to reassure him you can satisfy all his needs, and the easier it will be to close the deal.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

My New Livebooks Site

So I finally got my Livebooks site finished. Check it out here: It took about two months to finish cause I'm so damn finicky :-)

The way it happened is I told my Livebooks designer (you get your own personal one) what I was looking for. She came up with a design mock-up and I didn't like at all. I was down about it and told a product designer friend of mine. He understood immediately what I was after, and in the next two hours, proceeded to make it a reality. It was amazing !

So I gave the mock-up to my Livebooks designer for her to make into my new Livebooks website. Well it wasn't that easy because there were a few things their platform could not do. Livebooks uses a program for its editsuite that has certain design parameters.

So after using up all my revisions and then some, my site was put online. There are still a few things I want to change, particularly the text on my contact page. But overall, I am happy with it. Yesterday I registered it with Google. So hopefully, it will appear on their search engine soon. Then I'll work on getting it on the first page yo !!

Am I happy with Livebooks? Yes. The designer I got wasn't the best as far as design went, but she faithfully executed what I gave her. She was also very helpful and forthcoming with all the changes I asked for. Now I must add, I have yet to see the true power of the Livebooks site with marketing, tracking and ease of use because I just got it, but I will let you guys know soon.

Tell me what you guys think of the site. I'm open to suggestions.

This shot was taken on the North Shore of Oahu. My friend John and this other guy had just come in from surfing Sunset. You can't tell but those waves were 20+ feet, gigantic. The guy is talking about getting thrashed by the outside set of waves that came in and broke half the surfers' boards out there (including John's in the foreground). That was my first day on the North Shore and I happily stayed on the beach for that one.

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Livebooks Site

So I finally got my Livebooks site finished. Check it out here: It took about two months to finish cause I'm so damn finicky :-)

The way it happened is I told my Livebooks designer (you get your own personal one) what I was looking for. She came up with a design mock-up and I didn't like at all. I was down about it and told a product designer friend of mine. He understood immediately what I was after, and in the next two hours, proceeded to make it a reality. It was amazing !

So I gave the mock-up to my Livebooks designer for her to make into my new Livebooks website. Well it wasn't that easy because there were a few things their platform could not do. Livebooks uses a program for its editsuite that has certain design parameters.

So after using up all my revisions and then some, my site was put online. There are still a few things I want to change, particularly the text on my contact page. But overall, I am happy with it. Yesterday I registered it with Google. So hopefully, it will appear on their search engine soon. Then I'll work on getting it on the first page yo !!

Am I happy with Livebooks? Yes. The designer I got wasn't the best as far as design went, but she faithfully executed what I gave her. She was also very helpful and forthcoming with all the changes I asked for. Now I must add, I have yet to see the true power of the Livebooks site with marketing, tracking and ease of use because I just got it, but I will let you guys know soon.

Tell me what you guys think of the site. I'm open to suggestions.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Search Engine Optimization

As the digital world is now upon us, it's crucial that we learn to tame it and use it effectively. Having a website is one way to do that. Along the same lines, we have to know a minimum of search engine optimization in order to make our site visible amongst the billions of others on the net.

Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is not as scary as it sounds. It need not be solely understandable by computer geeks. There is a good amount of free well written info for people like me who cringe at the thought of doing anything remotely teckie on the web.

First off though, it should be noted that when people search for anything on the web, 80% of the time they will not look past the first page, or even the first ten listings. They won't even look at the ads on the right hand-side or the top. If they don't find what they are looking for on that first page, they'll search with different words or another search engine. So if your site is not listed on the first page when people search, then you are invisible.

The good news is there are many different easy ways to tweak websites to get them better rankings. You will have to do some reading though.

A good place to start might be here. There you will learn the basics of how search engines work.

Then you could go over to the google site, and let those friendly people explain to you themselves how to get ranked high on their search engine.

After that, it's a bit of a free-for-all. You can read as much as you possibly want on these sites. They are some of the very best resources on SEO out there:

-High Rankings Forum
-Search Engine Watch
-Keyword Research Tool

Those sites are keeping me plenty busy. Great stuff, check it out.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Strobist Meetup Feb.24th

We'll be holding a meetup again this Sunday Feb. 24th at 2pm in Huntington Beach. We'll be going forward in our Strobist L102 seminar. This week, we're taking on the 'Cooking Light' assignment featured here:

It's a ton of fun and a great way to learn and share your knowledge. Come join our group here:

Contact me for further information at

The image is entitled 'Life Seen Through A Whiskey Bottle.'

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Establishing Trust

I had a great learning experience the other day with a client. I had an portfolio appointment with an architect. He needed some shots done of a building he'd had built.

Well first off, the meeting was only to last 10-15min. so I was not able to do a full presentation as I had planned. I quickly showed him my portfolio and he quickly told me about this project he needed photographed.

All he needed were two shots of a fairly plain building. He knew exactly what camera angles he wanted. He just wanted a professional to do some 'quality' shots of it. This architect runs a one-man operation. He has no employees. I'm not sure he has ever hired photographers. I didn't think to ask. Anyhow, my gut feeling was he had no idea how much this was going to cost and it would probably be way above his budget.

I got the specs, taking into account the travel time to the shoot, the production costs, the per-shot fee... and I emailed him my estimate. As expected, he could not afford it. I had lowered my prices as much as I could and still didn't hook the client. I had a feeling that would happen.

So a much better to handle this potential client would have been to be straight-up with him from the beginning by saying something like:

"I understand you want some great shots of your building, and that it is really important to you. However, I feel that hiring me for this job is not in your best interest. You only need 2 shots and you know exactly what angles they should be. These are exteriors, so no special lighting equipment is needed.

"You could take fantastic photographs of this building yourself, with a decent digital camera and the sun in a good position. That would save you a lot of money. I don't think you need a professional photographer for this job. If I were you, I would wait for a more complex assignment to hire me."

You see, I knew this client would reject my estimate. It was obvious. Being honest with him and taking into account his best interest would have won him over. I am in the business of customer service. That is about building trust. Had I done that, there would have been a much greater chance he would hire me in the future or recommend me to his architect friends.

So now, I will consider if clients really do need my services. I am not going to go after every sale. That is foolish and bad business etiquette. I will be honest like the mechanic a few months back who told me my engine light was on just because I didn't close my gas cap all the way, and my oil leak was only due to a few screws not being tightened correctly. Well guess what? Now I trust that mechanic completely. He could have charged me a lot of money and I would not have known any better. Now he will have my business when something happens to my car again, big or small. That is building trust through honesty. That was the lesson I learned with that last client.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Epic Day

So my last day in Hawaii was magical. The waves were huge everywhere, so I decided to go out surfing anyway. After all, it was my last day. Up till then, I had surfed the breaks with the smaller waves, nothing too crazy.

I was nervous, even a bit scared. I was with my friend, Regina. We are about the same skill level in surfing, but she surfs these breaks everyday and has been out in 20ft+ waves many times. Without her knowledge and experience, I would never have dared paddle out in those conditions.

That day, I decided Sunset Beach was the best place for me. The waves had 12-15ft faces. The conditions were clean, no wind, a bit crowded, but that is always the case on the North Shore. I paddled out using the channel, which allows you to get to the take off point without getting crushed by any waves.

Once out there, I just got my bearings, trying to stay out of everyone's way and making sure I didn't get annihilated by any of these mountains of water heading my way. It was so exhilirating and scary at the same time. You'll see these this giant masses of water in the distance hurtling towards you and you have to paddle for your life before it crashes on top of you.

There were a few stand-up paddlers out there. These tall, and muscular guys are standing on their enormous surfboards at all times. They have a long paddle which they use to move forward and catch waves. They look like sea gods out there. These particular guys happened to be world famous. They would stand way out there and catch the most enormous waves hurtling down the face of waves, bottom turning, and zip along inside of massive barrels. Best stay out of their way.

I got a bit adventurous and tried to catch a few waves, but my board was a bit short for the conditions. I placed myself farther inside in the impact zone, determined to catch one. Soon I saw this giant wall of water coming towards me. I ditched my board and swam for the bottom of the ocean. The wave still grabbed me, spinning me around, washing-machine style as they say. I held my breath as best I could, not fighting it too much.

After a while, I climbed up my leash (which attaches my board to my foot) to the surface, not knowing which way was up or down. I came up, out of breath, and shocked at what happened, just in time to see another 15ft wave crash in front of me. I made my way to the bottom and got worked again. I came up, got back on my board and paddled back out to the line up, a big grin on my face.

Surviving these kinds of conditions makes you feel so alive. The guys around me for the most part were probably accustomed to these kinds of extreme conditions, but I wasn't. This was truly a test for me, and I was loving it. However, I still hadn't caught a wave. I was not heading back to california without catching one of these. There was just no way.

I looked over at Regina and shared how much fun I was having. It was truly a great day. She hadn't caught any waves yet, but we were both determined. A bit later, we paddled for the same wave, but I was better positioned. I was not going to give up on this one. I paddled into it with every ounce of strength I could muster. I felt the wave surge under me. I hopped to my feet and stared down at the vertical drop in front of me.

Without thinking, I dropped in and raced straight down the face of the wave. I thought my board would do a nose plant and I would be destroyed by the lip. Somehow I made the drop, and I looked to my right at the lip pitching forward into a huge barrel. There was no way I was pulling into the barrel. I had no tube time and I was not about to learn out here at Sunset.

Regina got the next wave and we were both soooo stocked ! I ended up catching another wave that day to cap off an amazing surf session. I paddled in to the beach, a huge smile on my face. It was such an exhilirating experience, 3 hours of my life I will always remember. What a way to end my trip.

The experience has changed my whole perspective on surfing. Now I have way more confidence. Southern California surf spots with their sand bottoms and soft waves compared to Hawaii are just not intimidating like they used to be. Now I understand how taking calculated risks, not allowing my fears to stop or even slow me down, and pushing myself past my 'limits' can truly change my life. Now that is something I can apply to my photography business.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Communication Arts Photo Competition

Just got back from Hawaii on the red-eye flight. Still in a haze from a lack of sleep and vivid memories swarming through my mind. Here's a quick post for a great competition... until I can get situated here. Reality sometimes takes a while to set in for me.

Communication Arts magazine announces the deadline for their 49th Photography Competition--March 11, 2008

Enter the most prestigious competition for creativity in photography, the 49th annual Communication Arts Photography Competition. Any photograph first printed or produced between March 14, 2007 and March 11, 2008 is eligible.

Selected by a nationally representative jury of distinguished designers, art directors and photographers, the winning entries will be published in the August 2008 Photography Annual. Over 70,000 copies of the Photography Annual will be distributed worldwide, assuring important exposure to the creators of this outstanding work.

As a service to art directors, designers and art buyers, a comprehensive index will include addresses, email and telephone numbers of the photographers represented.

For submission guidelines and FAQs, visit:

To download an entry form go to:

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Valuing My Time

I am learning to value my time. After all, life is short. Why waste any of it? That hour that just went by will never be replaced. It's gone forever. Yeah we've all heard it, Carpe Diem and all that. But how can that be applied in my life?

Well I choose who I spend my time with. I have a busy life, meaning I have a lot on my plate. So when I hang out with people, I do it with people I really care about. It's important to me. I share my time with positive, motivated, caring friends. I want to live in an environment that I can learn from and contribute to.

Every minute counts. I strive to live life to the fullest. I was talking to a good friend tonight who said: "I want to be sitting in my rocking chair when I'm 80 and not have any regrets. I want to have given this thing called life my best shot. I want to be able to cherish amazing memories. I'm in the business of creating great memories." That sounds amazing to me.

I feel like I am living that way to a certain extent now. For example, I have no cable in my house. TV is a waste of time I feel. I get that it is a great escape and enjoyed by millions, but I don't feel it adds anything to my life. I would rather watch a good movie on occasion.

Some of my friends have made a list of 100 things they want to do before they die. Now they are going through it and checking them off one by one. I am going to make that list. That way, I'll have no regrets. I want to live with intention and I think I do to a great extent. However, it's time for me to step it up.

Every minutes counts. What positive, powerful thing can I do today to contribute to life?

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Friday, February 8, 2008

A Typical Day On The North Shore

A huge west swell came through today and pumped some huge waves into Pipeline (you figure out why it's called that) and Sunset. Hundreds of people packed the beach watching the world's top surfers taking on the best of what the ocean has to offer. Photographers with super long lenses lined the edge of the water.

Shouts erupted from the crowd every time a surfer got spit out of an insane barrel, hands lifted to the sky! Occasionally someone got pitched over the falls. fell down 20 ft faces head first into razor sharp coral reef and everyone just cringed. We only saw one guy get taken away on a stretcher.

My friends went out and made it back to the beach in one piece, though one board didn't. I hung out on the safe sand, witnessing the mecca going off !

Another good day !

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Waikiki Circus Act

Wow, what an amazing 24 hours in Hawaii ! Last night was Mardi Gras craziness in the streets of Honolulu with the trading of beads for favors. Why they do this in Hawaii, I have no idea. But hey, I'm not complaining.

This afternoon, it was off to Waikiki Beach. The air was hot and humid, just the way I like it. It reminded me of Georgia. And best of all, the water was warm. The waves were small and fun, perfect for the 10ft and a 12ft boards we rented, massive ones I tell ya.

My friend Regina and I tandem surfed the big board. It wasn't as hard as I imagined and we rode a bunch of waves all the way in huge grins on our faces. Then we decided to step it up a notch being the kids that we are. So Jordan caught the same wave, rode his board along side ours and then jumped on. Haha, all 3 of us rode the same board, laughing hysterically.

We're staying up on the North Shore for the rest of our trip. The waves along this shore are the playground for the top surfers on the planet. Kelly Slater has a house down the street. Needless to say I am way out of my league. Tomorrow, the surf will reach over 10ft. Yeah, and did I mention that hawaiian waves are way more powerful than what I am used to in southern california. I may just sit this one out folks and take photos from the beach lol.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Time For A Vacation

I'm off to Hawaii today for a week of surfing and photography. I'll be staying on the north shore of Oahu, home of Pipeline, Sunset and other little breaks lol.

I'm looking forward to shooting everyday. There is nothing quite like the feeling of being in that creative mode. When I think about it, it is the pursuit of that precise feeling that has me creating this business.

I feel best when I am shooting on a regular basis. I am inspired by those photographers that carry their camera around wherever they go. They stay in that creative flow and shoot amazing work. They are not so motivated by making money at it. Photography becomes more like breathing to them, natural. Their work shows it.

In art school, I was mostly taking photos for my classes. A select few were always shooting no matter what. They did not need any outside motivation. It was simply a way of life for them. That is what I consider an artist in the purest form. That is what I strive to be. Shooting everyday in Hawaii will be easy. What is more challenging is shooting in your everyday life, being creative with the mundane.

I believe my everyday life is amazing though. So why not photograph it ?

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Online Photo Extravaganza

Nowadays most print magazines have an online version. There are also a host of strictly online photography magazines. You could spend weeks reading all the content available. How do you sift through it all? Here is a list of online mags. Check them out briefly and look at your favorites periodically.

A quick sample of what's available:

  • Good business related info (Professional Photographer).
  • A few cool podcasts (Popular Photography).

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Marketing Info

Here is a question posed to Maria Piscopo:

I am going to have my photographs published in a design book written by a world famous furniture designer. I have questions about licensing. There will be thousands of copies of this book. Do I need to license my photos so that with every book, I receive a percentage of the sale of the book? Thanks.

Maria Piscopo's answer:
"Photography to illustrate books can be licensed several ways. You will have to ask the publisher for his 'standard' contract and go from there:
1. Flat fee per print run of the books.
2. Small advance payment and higher royalties.
3. High advance and lower royalties.

For definitive information on this topic, go to and check out their book 'Art Licensing 101.' The information does apply to all image licensing. Finally you should probably have your attorney look the contract over before you sign to make sure all the terms are in line with copyright law."

Check out Maria Piscopo's articles on promo pieces, direct mail and advertising. Well worth the read!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Copyright and Metadata

There is currently legislation making its way through Congress that would allow anyone to use and reproduce any images deemed to be 'orphaned,' as in not having a known owner. This Orphan Works bill may eventually pass into law.

What would this mean for photographers? Well if you don't attach metadata, including copyright and contact info to your images placed on the internet, they could potentially be used by anyone, for any reason. The problem is metadata can be stripped from an image, so then the copyright owner of the image could be intentionally 'not found.'

Suing for copyright infrindgement at that point would give the owner damages according to the perceived value of similar images on the market. So if a similar image can be had for cheap using royalty stock photography, then guess what? You'll get little redemption.

We are entering a new era where copyright is of little concern to people. Look at the music, entertainment and software industry. They have taken huge hits because of people copying materials illegally. Will photographers have to deal with the same issues? It seems like we're on the way.

I don't like to propagate this kind of negative news, but I feel it is necessary in this instance. It's not really 'negative.' It is what it is. It's simply up to us to respond accordingly.

There are some ways to reduce, though not eradicate, the likelihood of copyright infridgment of your images. Make sure you attach copyright info to all the images that leave your computer. Go to Photoshop and File Info. Do NOT use the 'save for web' photoshop option because it strips images of some of the metadata. Apparently Adobe will be coming out with a plug-in tool to safeguard the metadata when use the 'save for web' option. Not sure when.

Another option is to use PLUS, which is 'an international non-profit initiative on a mission to simplify and facilitate the communication and management of image rights.' This coalition was created in order to respond to these ongoing image rights issues in various industries. Using PLUS will facilitate the standardization of licensing language, greatly reducing the common misunderstandings between art buyers and photographers over copyright issues. Additionally, images will have embedded codes in them revealing exact usage rights, as well as copyright and contact info of photographers.

Something else you can do is register your images with the copyright office, which I haven't done to be honest. If you find someone has used your images in any way without your permission, you have the right to take them to court. Having your images registered will give you a much better chance in court, even though you already own the copyright. Here is some more info, offered by ASMP. The form to fill out is here.

Feel free to post any additional info in the comments section.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

SB2 Seminar Reviews

So here are some interviews made during the conference. It's worth a look, especially for those guys who are on the East Coast.

SB2 schedule:

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Saturday, January 26, 2008


Wow, what an amazing day !!! I've been at the ASMP Strictly Business Seminar. My head is so full of info right now. I think it's going to explode.

Must get some sleep. Another full day tomorrow. I'll share more about it soon, sooo much good stuff.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Combining Flash and Landscape Photography

I know some of you out there are strobists and shoot landscapes. Why not combine both? Here are some interesting examples.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Helping Out A Charity

Givers gain. Volunteering services to a charity organization is an excellent to practice your skills, contribute to your community and build relationships.

Here's an opportunity in the LA/OC area brought to you by Maria Piscopo:

Project Cuddle’s next fundraiser is Saturday, February 23rd, 2008 at The Reef Restaurant in Long Beach- Dinner, Dancing, Silent Auction with John Stamos and Music & Entertainment by Surf City Allstars. They still need items donated for the auction and volunteers for the event.

If you are able to help out with anything, please contact the Project Cuddle office for a list of items we still need for the Auction. Email or call us at the office 714.432.9681.

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