March 26, 2011

An expensive addiction.

I received a new toy the other day just time to shoot my portrait project.  So I gotta admit, I am addicted to film and this is a damn expensive addiction, which explains why I only have $40 in my bank account until I get paid from my recent commercial gig.  

Mamiya TLR C330 with 80mm f/2.8

I enjoy shooting with a rangefinder camera and currently I own a Mamiya 7.  However, I wanted something a lot smaller.  After researching various sites and checking the reviews at, I decided to purchase a Voigtlander R3A.  This camera is a lot cheaper than a Leica, (I'd go with an M4 or M6) if I had the money).  I found a used body on Craigslist for $265.  This camera has a built-in meter, aperture priority, 40, 50, 75, and 90 Framelines and top 1/2000 shutter.  My favorite feature of this camera is 1:1 viewfinder which allows me to take take a picture with both eyes opened.  This is crucial for me because I am more in tune with my surroundings rather than hiding behind the camera  when taking a photograph.  Shooting film slows down my pace and forces me to think about my composition.  My R3A is equipped with Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 and this set up is light and inconspicuous. I found a good deal on a Canonet GIII QL, one of Canon's best selling cameras (over 1 million sold) on Ebay for $50.  This is my beater film camera that I bring with me on my random outings. 

Voigtlander R3A w/ 35mm f/1.4

Canonet GIII QL with 40mm f/1.7

I will post some pictures once I get them developed and scanned.  But it will be a while, I've had these two cameras for over a month and I haven't even finished a roll yet.  

Marketing & Visibility . . . continued

I received my promo cards last week and I've been spending the last three days putting them together. To add a personal touch, I included a thank you card with short handwritten note along with my business card taped on one side with scrapbook double sided tape (this works better because it's easier to remove without ruining the card).

Both promo cards and thank you note goes inside a clear envelope (9.25x6.25) that I purchased from Clearbags.  I went to the post office to get the proper postage and they informed me it would cost .61 cents to mail it cross country and $1.82 to Europe.

As for mailing labels, I used Avery 8160. white Easy Peel (1" x 2 5/8") with an existing template in Microsoft Word. It's easy to use and I was able to incorporate my logo on the return address.

I already have an existing list of editors whom I met at Eddie Adams and Missouri Photo Workshop but this is an opportunity to branch out with other editors and publications. My good friend Emily Berl and I worked together to compile a list of editors and publications using LinkedIn and visiting its official websites to gather their names and physical addresses.  In the end I am sending around 70 promo cards.

So let's add up the cost:
Promo Card Design: Free (trade with LoricoMedia)
Promo Cards (2x100): $150
Clear Envelopes (100): $40
Stamps: $43
Mailing Labels: $14
Thank You cards: $14
Business Cards: (Free -  used existing ones)

Total: $261

Okay, what do I expect after all the efforts of putting this together? Landing an assignment?  Let's hope.  At the very least, I want to encourage traffic to my website, establish my visibility in the market, and distinct myself from other photographers looking for work.  This is an ongoing process but I am sure that it will have positive results in the future. After mailing these promo cards I will send a follow up email and phone calls.



Thank You Card w/ Business Card

Thank You Card

Promo Cards Stuffed in Clear Envelopes

March 24, 2011

Marketing & Visibility

"We become what we put our attention on.  The energy doesn't just appear, your efforts bring it out.  You create and direct energy that will bring you a successful conclusion with your effort and "attention".  You create your reality," (Depak Chopra).

This quote has been one of the guiding principles to me for sometime now.  When I feel lazy and unmotivated, I re-read these words over and over until it sinks in and I am reminded that things doesn’t happen miraculously and require efforts on my part.  Bottom line, if I don’t do it then who will?  I found it easier to keep focused by being organized and making small realistic goals that would help me achieve my long-term goals.  These are my goals this year that I intend to achieve.  

Goal as a new photographer:
*Build identity and visibility in the market place
*Build Sales & Marketing Tools such as Printbook, Website, database, directmail, &Visual emails.

Sales Channels Ops:
-Visual Email
-In Person Portfolio Showings
 In person networking opportunities
-Social Online networking
 Portal placement
 Print Sourcebook

My first task was to overhaul my website.  My site had too many galleries and images and confusing to navigate. I spent 3 weeks revamping my website after watching Photoshelter webinar Building a Better Online Portfolio with Stella Kramer, a Pulitzer Prize winning photo editor.  In the end I took out hundreds of images from my gallery maintaining 15-20 images per gallery opting for a much tighter edit.  I also limited multiple images from the same shoot and spent the majority of the time sequencing my images to create a visual story.  Because I was very concerned about the overall simplicity and navigation of my site so I asked a couple of my photographer and graphic designer friends to go through my site and asked for their inputs and suggestions to make it even better.  This is my much improved Site.  

My second task was to create Editorial Promo Cards.  My friends at Lorico Media helped tremendously with this project.  This project is also much simpler to execute since I've already sorts through my images and picked out the best ones when I revamped my website.  I found this great article on Aphotoeditor on self promotion.  There are 4 parts to this discussion and it helped me a lot in determining the layout of my promo card.  Initially, I wanted to make 5x7 promo cards, but opted for 6x9 because I wanted to include 3 images per card from a single series. Again, one of my goals was to create a visual story and I didn't think having 1 image wouldn't be enough to showcase my style or vision as a photographer.  I picked 1 image to take up one side of the card, which will be the center piece, ideally I would want the editor to put this up on their board so the image has to be significant and provoking intellectually and emotionally.  The other 2 images would be supporting casts on the other side of the card that would enhance the 1st photo and leave another positive impression. My logo and font remains the same as the ones on my website.  To start I ordered 100 copies of my series from Haiti and Las Vegas via 4over.  Rather than using regular mailing envelopes, I plan to use clear envelopes (USPS approved) and white mailing labels.  I will also include a thank you note with a handwritten note and enclosed one of my business cards as well.   

     From Haiti series "Lavi Kontinye," Life Goes On


From A Convincing Lie: Hedonistic Vegas

From 26/11 Mumbai Terrorist Attack

From Kawah Ijen Sulfur Mine

From Being Jojo

From Music

I will be making similar promo cards targeting potential similar clients in Sacramento.  Making these promo cards costs several hundred dollars but if I am able to land an assignment from it, it's definitely worth it.  As for printbook, I am still researching for the most cost effective method but still yield great quality and visual email is also something I am still testing out.

Other updates (following my motto of "gotta be in it to win it" but still waiting for results)
-applied for a paid internship at Sacramento Bee
-submitted my portfolio to Panos
-participated in San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographer Association Annual News Photography and Video Competition

March 20, 2011

Old Soul Inc.

Recently I was commissioned to photograph Old Soul locations for their new website.  My friends Lorico Media of Sacramento referred me to this assignment and I was very happy to be a part of this project.  Old Soul has 3 locations in Sacramento.  Their location on 17th and L is one of the oldest original coffee shops in Sacramento and they provide baked goods and coffee to many restaurants and businesses in the area.  Old Soul is also active within the community and when Starbucks left, they took over the location in Oak Park next to 40 Acres Gallery and their live music of Friday nights couldn't be missed.  I am a regular at their location in midtown on 21st and H, and it's crowded all the time because it's a popular spot for the midtown folks.  After thousands of signed petition they are opening a new location at Sacramento International Airport and this is a victory for local business since major chain like Starbucks and Peet's tried to take this spot.

My focus on this project is to convey the name "Old Soul" by portraying wisdom, character, authenticity, timeless, and community.

March 8, 2011

Updates, updates, updates

It’s already March of 2011, 3 months into the New Year; it’s amazing how fast time flies.  I know I need to keep up with this blog because an entry every 6 months is definitely doing it half-assed.  I used to love writing but it had become more of a chore and that’s probably why I tend to avoid it.  But I realized that my writing skills have taken a nosedive because my usage of diction is now limited and I struggle to express my thoughts and reasoning through words.   I guess it’s true what they said, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” This is pretty alarming because being a great writer is essential when it comes to writing grant proposals to fund photography projects.  Furthermore, great writing skills will open more opportunities for me in this career.  Ultimately, I have to start thinking more than just being a photographer but an overall communicator that is capable of sharing his experience and putting his ideas, findings, and conviction in words effectively for others to learn and comprehend. 

Thus, I promised myself to at least write 2-3 times a month to hopefully get back on track and sharpen my writing skills.  I promise to keep it strictly professional, with a little of rant here and there.   This is not a journal, so no “day-to-day how I feel and I am having a fight with my girlfriend” kind of entry.   Also, I will keep the cussing at a minimum but I can’t guarantee it.  I am a blunt person and I think it’s important to keep it honest.  So if something is fucked up, damn it then I will have no problem dropping the F-bombs.    

Okay, now that’s out of the way, let’s get everything caught up since my last entry.

Missouri Workshop MPW. 62: Damn good learning experience. It was intense and challenging but I met a lot of great people and I highly recommend it.  Having Randy Olson and Maryanne Golon as my editors really pushed me to the next level.  This is the link to the story that I shot for the workshop. Being JoJo

Eddie Adams XXIII: This is perhaps the most prestigious workshop in the country since it’s highly competitive and it was an honor to be chosen.  I was in the Sports Team, with Al Bello as my team leader.  This was a crash course in shooting sports since I’ve never really shot it before. I ended up shooting cyclocross and I had to look up on Youtube at 3am to get an idea of the sport.  But, Al Bello was pure class, he helped me out a lot and pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I showed my portfolio to 9 editors during the 11:30 club, and I had many great feedback except for one, well he might have been drunk or pissed off, not sure which or possibly both.  This is the link to the photo that I shot for EAW. CycloCross

Haiti: I spent a month in Haiti from 12/17-1/18.   I need a separate entry for this experience. Here is the link to my series from Haiti Lavi Kontinye.

After returning from Haiti, I’ve been revamping my website to make it much simpler to navigate, less images, better sequencing, and emphasizing my style as a photographer.  But from looking all the images, I’ve realized that I need to take more portraits.  Thus, incorporating my newfound addiction to shooting film, I’ve decided to purchase a Mamiya C330s with 80mm/2.8 lens to shoot portraits. I hope to break the familiarity and fast pace of normal shooting since the camera is a 6x6 square format and fully manual.  Plus, by utilizing a waist level finder, I hope connect at a more personal level with the people that I photograph. 

In addition to shooting with this camera, I’ve also purchased a Voigtlander R3A with 35mm/1.4 lens.  This camera utilizes 1:1 viewfinder thus it allows me to shoot with both eyes open and does not separate me from the scene.  It will take some time to get become comfortable with this new approach but I like it already since I am more in tune with my surroundings and always in the moment. 

Shooting film is an expensive addiction considering $5 a roll and $5 to process plus $535 for Epson V700 Negative Scanner.  But, shooting film forces me to think about my composition and slow down the pace.  Shooting with the R3A is a joy since it’s small and inconspicuous compared to shooting with my Canon DSLR.  I will post some photos once I am finished with the first roll.

Some other projects that I am working on include creating an Editorial and Commercial promo card and working on Old Soul Inc. new brand.  I recently got my Substitute Teaching Permit and I’ve applied to the Substitute Pool at Sacramento School District since I need to start saving to fund my move to Jakarta.  Also, I have upcoming trips to SF to shoot WonderCon in April; Charlottesville, Virginia for LOOK3 photo festival and New York in June; and Indonesia in August. 

Okay so everything is pretty much caught now so my next entry wouldn’t be so long and boring.