Friday, March 30, 2012

Fleeting


Ghost Man, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Fleeting.

Adjective: Lasting for a very short time: "hoping to get a fleeting glimpse".

Synonyms: transient - transitory - fugitive - ephemeral - passing

Monday, March 26, 2012

Artist Presentation


CemetaryRow_6300, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Thanks to all of the folks who came out on Saturday to attend the artist presentation I gave at the Austin Encaustic Arts group meeting. It was well-attended and we had a most excellent discussion. I think there were about 25 or so people there (maybe less but it felt like a full house) so thanks for coming, folks.

For those of you who could not make it, I gave a talk on portfolio presentation materials. Everything from what goes into the presentation packet to some sample cases and boxes that you can use to present your work. I also (briefly) discussed how my personal presentation has evolved (a bit) over the years-now, of course, looking much more polished and professional. You too can get that "polished" look with a little bit of preparation if you follow the steps I outlined in the talk (or, you know, just put a little bit of effort into it.) For those of you located far away, I might be doing an eBook of that material at some point, so look for that to come. I'll post more details if I do decide to make an eBook of this type of work.

As far as books and presentation materials go, I've ordered two presentation cases and will not be holding onto them for long. I hope to start sending out my own (personal) presentation early next week (at the latest.) I will be getting my own cases this week (they are coming in the mail!) as well as printing my materials. I worked on the materials some this weekend and will continue to do so until I'm ready to send out the work. Look for that happening soon.

Of course, I'll let you know once (if?!?) I get any 1-person shows. I have a few galleries in mind and I plan on aiming "high" and then working my way down as far as the gallery presentations. We'll see how this works out for me but, please, keep your fingers crossed (and hope to see my iceberg photos coming soon to a gallery near you.)

This one was taken inside of St. Louis No. 1 in New Orleans. I have always loved the way the wrought iron looks through the soft focus lenses. I think it yields a very painterly feel and just looks all frilly, soft, and cool, so I did a bit of that while I was there last.

Until next time...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Business in a Box


MutedWindows_5601, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Yesterday, my new printer, the Epson 3000, arrived. I have not yet set it up but will probably get started on that today. For those of you in Austin, I will be giving a presentation at the IEA meeting on Saturday about portfolio and artist marketing. If you are so-inclined, please come on by-it's free to attend and you do not need to be a member of the Austin Encaustic Arts group to participate. The meeting will be held at Pigoata Studios north location, on Jollyville Road (across the street from Jardin Corona's.)

In other news, I was talking with somebody this week and she mentioned that she was starting up a new business. She told me she was going to get business cards and was looking at a website. It's an interesting thing, really, and helpful for photographers, to know that nowadays we can get an entire "business in a box." They really have made it very easy to setup a small business these days.

For starters, there are many web companies that host websites. You do not really need to know a heck of a lot about programming or even HTML to setup a website these days and, frankly, you don't even have to pay a lot. Some of the companies I recommend here are the good folks at VisualServer.com and also the folks at BigBlackBag.com. It's very easy to setup a website for yourself-just decide upon a name, go over to the site, select a template you like, fill in some information to provide minimal content, and *poof* instant website. It might not be the perfect site, but it gets you up and running pretty quickly. It's easy to do this and you can spend your valuable time doing things like adding content, rather than fussing over templates and trying to make the website "look" right (the people behind these type of website hosting services are far better website designers than we'll ever be-trust me on this one. The templates actually look quite nice and work for a variety of small businesses.)

After that, there's Moo. Oh how I love Moo! Let me count the ways. You can upload multiple images into Moo and make your own business cards. They are high quality and again here their user interface is so easy and all setup for you. It takes just a second and Moo cards look wonderful. There's really no reason anymore to hire a graphic designer to do any of this-it's all just presto clicko on the web and *bam* instant business cards.

Once you have your website and cards, you are pretty much in business. It's easy as pie.

In the early days, when I first started as a photographer, I had business cards but I had to go the old school route of making them. I opted to design my own back then (I had nice ones too!) but it took me so long. I had to first design them and then figure out how to go and get them printed. I even had to go to the paper store, purchase the paper for the cards, and then go to the printers and provide the paper for the printing of the business cards. Nowadays? Nope. I just Moo and it's done. Frees me up to do a host of other things and my cards actually look pretty nice. Yes, this business in a box thing is so incredible for photographers.

One thing I have noticed though is that a lot of photographers either don't get business cards made or they neglect to hand them out. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you should purchase a small business card case and keep it with you. Hand out your cards! It may sound old school, low tech, whatever, but it really works. I can't tell you how many people I've handed cards to who I am now still in contact with-they read my blog, visit my website, buy prints, or just touch base in so many ways. Events like the East Austin Studio Tour are a great way to hand out a ton of cards. I routinely go through about 2 or 3 boxes of Moo cards just for those events. And, it's well worth it. I get a lot of feedback, a lot of visitors, a lot of web traffic (which can also translate into dollars) by doing this. It's just such a simple act. When you're talking to somebody hand them a spiffy Moo card with one of your images on it. When you have a show, as if you can leave a pile of cards out. Leave cards at the camera store, at the place where you get your printing done, at the place where you buy your frames, etc. It's cheap and it really gets the word out. The more people who have heard of you, the more likely you are to sell work. Such a simple idea and yet I see everybody walking around with expensive camera gear and no cards! I'm guilty of this myself, as I don't always carry the cards with me and I don't hand them out as often as I should.

Still, you know, this "business in a box" stuff is just great. It allows us to concentrate more on the images (which should be our focus) and makes the marketing a bit easier to swallow especially if you are somebody like me who doesn't really love to do all of that marketing kind of stuff.

Business...box....you! I hope you can make it happen and, if it's been a while since you've done this kind of stuff, I'd recommend you revisit it-times changes and things have gotten a bit easier on us, especially in light of all of this automation and services on the web offered now. The websites today have made our lives a lot easier since they allow companies to provide all kinds of services to us that are simply a click away.

Until next time...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My New Epson iPad


RedAndPink_5829, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

So, I've been thinking about getting an iPad for a while but just haven't managed to pull the trigger. Yesterday, I was browsing a bit yet again and I was feeling a bit of a spendthrift, so I started shopping on the Interwebs.

Instead of an iPad, I wound up buying a new printer. I am soon to be the proud new owner of an Epson R3000 series printer. This printer features hot swappable black inks as well as Epson's new HDR inkset. It will also run fibre paper, which I absolutely love. It's limitations are that it only prints 13x19's (no 16x20's for me just yet) and that it is a bit slow to swap out inks when moving between matte black and photo black. No worries though, as I've wanted a new printer for a while now and this one really just fits the bill.

I've wanted a printer, and for good reason, for a while now. A new printer will allow me to better print on different papers. A new printer will allow me to cut down the amount of time I spend prepping for shows, since printing will be quicker for me now and, hopefully, less error-prone. I'll have snazzier looking prints and be able to move more photos. It's a direct impact to my bottom line, as it were, as a photographer.

A new iPad? Not so much. Sure, it's a great device and, yes, now it even has a spiffy new camera on it, plus a great retina display, but it has little, if any, impact upon my bottom line. Yes, I would like to get an iPad someday but, frankly speaking, I don't *need* an iPad. A new printer? Yes, I so need one of these (well, need is a bit of a stretch but, having one? Yes, that would so help me out in more ways than one.)

Often, what we spend on as photographers is not what most would call "sexy." Everybody has this wonderful vision of photographers always drop shipping spiffy new shiny white L-series lenses off to exotic locations. Frankly, I've done some of that too. I do have (now anyway) what many would call a "sexy" camera and I do have my share of L-series glass. Canon is not hurting for want of money "donated" by yours truly. But, yesterday, I also purchased some postcards and new business cards to be used in my next marketing campaign and push for my next round of shows. These were what I would have to call "completely un-sexy" but very necessary and helpful to me in advancing as a photographer. Sometimes too, yes it's true, you have to spend money on things like postcards (as boring as that might sound.) So, while it's not "sexy" I too will soon be the proud owner of some spiffy new Moo postcards.

The printer? Yes, that's on its way to me. The iPad, maybe next time, as my next purchase will probably be me booking travel to points afar and, surprise! A lot of ink to go with my spiffy new printer.

I am always surprised by a lot of folks starting out in photography, how they budget, scrimp, and save up for that spiffy new camera. Sure, a camera is great, it's very important, in fact, but many people over-buy a camera. Most basic cameras do what you need them to do. Sure, it's great to have the latest and greatest newfangled thing but, frankly speaking, if you are just starting out, you might seriously consider spending less on a camera and investing your hard-earned dollars in other places. Things like postcards, ads, marketing, business cards (remember those?) go a long way. I can't tell you how many photographers I meet who do not have proper business cards. Spend $5000 on a camera and a bit of L-series glass? No problem. Broke and can't spend $50 on a set of business cards? What are you thinking, man? That's crazy.

I've always said my most profitable model happened when I was shooting my $350 camera and the economy allowed me to sell my prints for more than that. Yes, it's true, I was selling one single framed print for $375. Doesn't sound sexy, no, but me making and selling one print, just one little old print, paid for my entire camera rig. And selling 10 or 20 prints? Wow. Can you say "profit!" Yes, that's a sexy sound to my ears. So, while I might not have had the sexiest of sexy rigs, I made out like a bandit.

A lot, so much in fact, of what we do in life is about tradeoffs. Do we skip the latte and put the money towards something better? Do we eat out 10 times a week but maybe not go to as many movies? Photography is no different. Sometimes the most successful people got there by sticking to the basics, finding out what is really important, and spending wisely. To put it another way: it's always new in the store and money is hard to come by. (Learn that fact if you want to be a successful photographer, for it surely will help.)

Enough preaching from me today. Heck, who am I to talk? I just spent a bucket load of money on a new printer!

Until next time...

Monday, March 05, 2012

Canon 5D Mark III


SonestaAtNight_6062, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
No doubt many of you have heard the recent announcement about Canon's new 5D Mark III camera. I thought it might be a good idea to chime in with my thoughts, in case, you know in case you were curious.

For starters, I love the Mark II. It's a great camera. What I love about it though is kind of intangible. It's got a great feel in my hands and I love the ease and fluidity with which I can shoot. As far as cameras go, it just feels right.

Having said that, I'm certain, on paper anyway, the Mark III is all of that and more. I'm absolutely sure it's a stunning new camera with lots of features, plenty of bells and whistles, and, frankly speaking, it's probably more camera than most people need. On paper anyway, if you make the comparison, the Mark III has a better/bigger sensor, it has better autofocus, it has a better native resolution to handle noise reduction better in low light. It has a larger viewfinder. It really sounds like a great camera and one that I would seriously consider if I were into getting the latest and greatest of cameras.

The big problem, as far as I see it, is that the Mark III is $3500. As of today, as I write this, you can purchase a Mark II for $2100 or so. That's a $1400 dollar difference. Sure, I've no doubt that Mark III is all that camera and more but, it really just begs the question here, is what you're doing really worth that extra $1400 in camera body?

Frankly speaking, $1400 can buy me a lot of frames. I could get a new lens for that. It could buy me postcards, a website, and some great prints. There's a whole lot that $1400 can purchase.

Now, many photographers, I'm sure will argue with me about this. And, yes, I'm sure they will need (read: justify) a better camera body. No doubt, the Mark III is a better camera body. But, I just have to ask the question, I mean, this jump in price just *begs* the question: is what we're doing with this gear really going to justify a $1400 bump in price?

Many people fall in love with photography because they are in love with the camera gear. There are many beginners and even advanced amateurs who run out and have to have the latest cameras. No doubt, the Mark III will wow them. I'm sure it's no slump in the "wow" factor for these kind of people. If though, if on the other hand, you are one of these people who views photography as a business, it really does make you wonder if you are getting all that much more of a camera for that extra $1400. Frankly, many people today sport more camera than they need or, to put it more bluntly, I see a lot of folks running around with high-end cameras, many of these folks don't really take high-end images so that just begs these sorts of questions. Wouldn't you be better off taking a class, investing in some good quality prints, getting a spiffier website, or even getting a better lens to go with your cheaper camera?

At the end of the day, these are choices photographers have to make. At some point, if you are like me anyway, your gear will become so "craptastic" that you'll be forced to upgrade and, at that point, you might just want to get a Mark III. It really is, and I do have no doubt about this, a great camera. But, frankly, for my hard-earned money, I know what I would purchase. To put it another way, there's nothing wrong with a Mark II and buying a really great $1400 lens. This isn't just sour grapes talking, it's really just how I feel. It's a big bump up in price for something that's well, something that's better, yes, but *$1400* better? Frankly, I'm not so sure.

A lot of photography comes down to making choices. Many of those choices are not even "fun." Sure, we get to decide if we are going to travel to Spain or France this year, and that's "fun" by any stretch, but some of other other choices? Meh, not so much fun. Spending an extra $1400? Is it worth it? That's not really a fun choice, at least it's not for me (and, yes, I do know where I would put my money if I had the options.)

So, that's my take on Canon's big new announcement. I'm sure the Mark III is all that it's cracked up to be. It's just that, well $1400 is a lot of (if you'll excuse the expression) crack if you ask me.

If you want to be an ok photographer, sure spending money on a spiffy new high-end camera is a good idea. If, however, you want to run a success photography business, spending that same money a bit more wisely might get you better results. Check out the Mark II and a nice lens if you think I'm wrong here.

As usual, I welcome your comments on the gear-related items, although I have to warn you, I'm not really all about gear so much as I am great shots.

In other (unrelated) news, I'm doing a bit of writing so I have not been posting all that much here recently. I'm sorry for that but I've been pegged to write a piece and I want to get this done. I have limits on how much I can write in one day and, when another gig comes along that I just cannot pass up, well, it drags me away from my post here. I hope you'll understand. I do except more "normal" blog posts to resume sometime soon. In the meantime, this is some of my recent New Orleans at night work. I hope you like it.

Until next time...