Last week I went to an interesting event in Portland near Eugene called “FaerieWorlds” which is essentially a renaissance faire with a heavier emphasis on fantasy. I had gone to their previous event in february called “FaerieCon” in Seattle with my friend who is an artist and vends at each event. I met so many interesting people and there were so many crazy costumes that I just had to go to the big event and see how the ante would be upped. I didn’t want to just photograph costumed vendors in their appropriate setting, like faeries in the woods or fantasy creatures in a stream… I wanted to make a little commentary on where they stood with the rest of the world. It was a very fun and interesting time, you can see my edited story at my website but I’ll be posting the majority of my selects below. Let me know what you think!
edit: I’ll post the pics I shot in february at FaerieCon soon as well.
Last week I was talking on the phone with my mother and she mentioned that the most recent photo she had of me is over 6 years old. As photographers we never think much about going in front of the camera. It’s not that I don’t like getting my picture taken or have some kind of phobia about it… I’ve helped out a lot of friends with shoots and have been a model in some cases. So I asked a few close friends if they would be willing to set aside a small amount of time to take a portrait of me. I offered a trade of services, a portrait for a portrait but I understood that they were working professionals and may not be able to make the time. So to keep my options open, I decided to place an ad on Craigslist to see what the local area had to offer. I knew I would have to pay for quality and I said that I would pay “Market rates.”
What happened next sincerely horrified me.
I promptly received 30+ emails from people claiming to be “Professional Photographers” and offering me their services for as low as $55.00 for a 2 hour session with 5 poses and all images on a CD. NO career can be sustained on one off 55.00 jobs and that doesn’t even begin to cover your operating expenses let alone pay you a living wage. Not only that, the people that are offering such rock-bottom rates are hurting the local market by lowering people’s expectations and standards of photography.
Not all of the photographers were bad or anything, some of them were pretty good but were charging far too little. Turning the tables like that has opened my eyes on what it’s like to be one of my own clients. Not all but most of the websites were terrible, a flickr page or completely unusable. The emails were extremely unprofessional and poorly written. Some of them didn’t even contain links to portfolios, they just had attached photos. Photography is a service industry – first impressions, even via email are EXTREMELY important.
If you are unsure what to charge for your photography services PLEASE go here and figure out your operating expenses and then ask around about what other photographers charge in your area. You are doing no favors to anyone by being “The cheapest” and you certainly don’t want that to be your reputation. You get what you pay for and this venn diagram sums it up nicely:
For the last several weeks I’ve been involved in a film project. Having just returned in January from traveling the country shooting the Occupy Wallstreet protestors for nearly 4 months my one-off assignments and small personal projects just hadn’t been giving me the fulfillment that the Portraits of the 99% project did. I really wanted to make movies when I was kid and now that photography and video is overlapping I decided I wanted to work on a film project. I called up several friends in the film industry and some who are still in film school and told them I had no idea what I wanted to make – but I wanted to make something awesome. So we meet once a week for several weeks in a row and discussed concepts, wrote stories and worked out characters. We decided we wanted to make a web series based in the desert with a theme of isolation. The webisodes would be short, 3-5 minutes each and jump back and fourth between several characters.
On Monday, April 9th all six of us piled into a van full of food, scripts and equipment and drove out to the Salton Sea where we had 1 scout day, 1 shoot day and 2 driving days. We recruited local actors and despite some setbacks we got some amazing footage. Once it’s completed we plan to enter it competitions and just get it seen in general. Then we pitch it for crowdsource or other funding and shoot an entire series. We want to surpass the typical quality you see on youtube or web series, taking a dramatic approach rather than comedy which there seems to be a lot of out there. I can’t talk too much about the project, we haven’t even started post-production yet. What I can do however, is share some of the behind the scenes production stills of the shoot. Enjoy!
After nearly 4 months of traveling the country working on my Occupy Wallstreet project, “Portraits of the 99%” I have finally taken a bit of a break to recharge and get the body of work seen by the world. Upon doing some non-occupy wallstreet work, I’ve noticed something has happened: I’ve become REALLY good at making portraits.
Now, I’ve always considered myself a portrait photographer so of course I MUST be good at making portraits, right? Since working on the “Portraits of the 99%” series I’ve become much more observant of the nuances of the human condition within the confines of my frame. Gesture, facial expressions, body language. When I was on the road I had to work really fast because more often than not I was working on limited time and with people who were on the move so I became very sensitive to all of those things. Now that I’ve got the time to slow down and work with my subject things are much different. It’s hard for me to call my 4 month long and counting occupy project “practice” but I think photographers are always practicing while on the job or off. It’s really worth the effort and has made me much more aware of what I am photographing.
Quick post today, I wanted to share the interview that KTVU Channel 2 in Oakland did with me on the project last night. (I can’t post the video but you can click the thumbnail and watch it on their page)
I’m very excited at the opportunities that could come of this, some of you know that I have been shopping around for a gallery to hang these images in and this has already gotten me a few phone calls.
The other thing I wanted to share was the jump into color:
I’ve been working on a new promo to send to magazines showing that I am a portrait photographer. I thought what better way to do this then use some of my most well known work but something felt a bit off to me. So now I’ve been playing with really tight crops and color images from the “Portraits of the 99%” series. Let me know how you like it!
Some of you may know that I grew up in a small town named Abrams in Wisconsin, just a few miles north of Green Bay. Recently I visited my home town again with the intention of documenting the places I would go to regularly when I lived here. The economy has not been very nice to these cities, with a lot of buildings abandoned or something else entirely now. Things change, and while change can sometimes be sad it can also be beautiful.
Over the holidays I made my way out to the Midwest to visit some friends and family and also made contact with some of the Occupy Camps in Wisconsin. I ended up combing their photos because there was a disproportionate amount of people at both camps, but I also managed to catch the “Solidarity Sing-along,” which is a group of about 30 to 50 people who every day come to the State Capitol in Madison and sing anti Governor Walker songs. They all consider themselves to be supporters of the 99%.
I’ve also started working with Marcel Kuemmet of Wisconsin Confidential. We’re working on a video piece about myself and the project for promotional purposes as well as documentary purposes. He’s been filming the shoots and travels as well as assisting me.
Soon the images will be for sale at Portraitsofthe99.com printed by me on Archival Matte paper to the highest professional quality. If you buy a print all proceeds go back into the project for travel and furthering the project. You can also buy a poster, a book will be out soon and you can just donate a few bucks. Every little bit helps.