Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's Becoming Difficult NOT to Publish

Are you willing to take a chance on your own work?

When you have a great idea and begin to shop it around to a publisher, you may find yourself the only one who does think it's a grand idea.  These days (and those days too) if it doesn't look like it's going to make a good return on investment quickly, a publisher is likely to pat you on the head and tell you to come back when times are a little bit better.

As if.

Several years ago I self-published a book of Idaho photographs using the online book maker Blurb.  The result was better than I expected, much better, and would fully serve the purpose I had envisioned for it as a major  part of my portfolio. (You can see it here.)  It was fun to make, tested my lay-out and design skills, and I learned a lot by doing it.

And it cost me $80 a copy.

Obviously, if I had planned to market it, it was not going to be a big seller, even if I would settle for even the slightest profit.  (I don't mind admitting I need all the profit I can get.)  But since I had no such plans it was worth it because now I have an eye catching piece to add to my portfolio

Also, if I want to pitch my idea for a book to a publisher, I now have something to show other than just a pile of prints.  And as of today, however, I also found a way that might help me to pay for the publishing myself and be able to offer my book at a decent, sellable price.  Which brings us back to my original question.  If you are willing to take a chance on your work and think you can make a profit on it it's easier to do now than ever before.

This realization came to me when I visited The Luminous Landscape, a hugely entertaining and helpful website for photographers interested in landscape photography.  If that describes you, you should bookmark it now.  Or at least wait until you finish reading this post out of simple courtesy.  This morning when visiting this site, I clicked on a link that stood right out at me:   Self Publishing a Landscape Photography Book by Irish landscape photographer Peter Cox (website here).  He describes his successful efforts in publishing a book he had long wanted to see in print.  The most important part for me was his story of how he received more than enough financing to do it through a website called Kickstarter.  I won't go into how Kickstarter works, you can read that yourself when you go there.  I think if you've ever had dreams of publishing a book or getting any kind of project off the ground you really must take a look at it.  You can learn a lot from Peter's article I mentioned above and then going to his Kickstarter page and looking at his marketing video.
The Gap of Dunloe, Co. Kerry, by Peter Cox
So I ask you again, are you willing to take a chance on your own work?

  * * * * *

And another thing . . . 

I shot this last week on the banks of the Boise River.  I admit to extensive manipulation.  I have yet to come to a decision about whether or not posterity deserves to be left with it or not.  What do you think?

That's quite enough for this week.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Writer's Block for Photographers

boise river winter scene
If you're serious about taking, or making, photos, something you'll likely suffer some day is a complete and utter lack of inspiration.  We'll call it photographer's block.  If you you're also a writer, wow, you get to have the other block too!  Sometimes you even get to have both at the same time.

That can lead to depression.  To insecurity.  To pessimism.  To fights with the spouse. Shoot, maybe it leads to toe fungus too.  It sucks.

It can sometimes seem like you're in a negative feedback loop - the longer it continues the harder it is to do anything about it.

So what do writers do?

They might simply go back and visit some of their old work.  When you find and re-read that well-turned phrase that brought a warm glow to your cockles a while ago, it's bound to cheer you up at least a little and remind you of that genius within struggling to get out. So try taking a look at some of your old photos.  You have put some on the wall haven't you?

Maybe you need a change of scenery.  Or maybe you just need to sit down and start typing.  Sort of reminds me about the old joke about the constipated mathematician - we all know what he did.  Perhaps there's a grain of wisdom in that joke!

Another action that I believe can really help is just do a web search and see what comes up.  I did that yesterday and quickly found enough to get my out of the doldrums.  I discovered a site run by James Beltz called "Picture Defense".  It gives very clear, concise and easy to implement information on what to do when you discover one of your pictures on the web in a place you didn't want it to be.  You know what I mean:  you were ripped off.  This is a godsend to me because I have had this happen a number of times and I suspect it is happening right now.  In any case, this is a site that you will want to bookmark immediately, especially if you post your images on the web, which pretty much includes everyone doesn't it?

So what does this have to do with writer's block?  Well, besides getting enthused by a photo related story, I followed a link back to one of Jim's other sites: "Phototips".   I then clicked on his "Tutorials" link et voilá, number five on the resulting list was "Overcoming Photographer's Block".  This guy is busy, knows his stuff, and is fun to read so you'll probably want to bookmark these pages too.

So before it got dark and any colder than it already was, I suited up, got my gear ready and took a walk down to the river.  That's what the picture above is all about - I worked it out with a camera!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Big Picture

Last month I received a rather unique request and opportunity, unique for me at least. A large and well known Boise car dealership, Bronco Motors, requested the use of one of my photos for the entrance lobby of their new Infiniti dealership. The uniqueness of the order lay in the size to which they wished to reproduce the image, a whopping 4'x6'! Now, I realize that for many photographers this is a regularly repeated exercise; for me however, it was a new one. My first concern was if the 12.2 MP image would successfully blow up to that size. The design consultant for Bronco Motors, Wendy Mitchell,was a bit concerned as well and wanted me to allay her fears if I could, before she officially submitted the image to the top brass in Japan for approval.  Since we had agreed to use a local business, Idaho Blue Print, for the enlargement I asked them to run a test on the image for me and then sent them the file they would use.

After a few days passed I visited their store front and picked up a test strip of elephantine proportions.  I was very pleased with the color and didn't see any pixelation but I just couldn't judge how sharp it would appear from say, six feet away.  I had Carollen, my wife, hold it up from across the room and, from that impression, gave the go-ahead to print.

When the print was finished and it was delivered to the framer for mounting on a floater within a frame, I still had not seen it.  The holidays came and went and I was growing more and more excited (and a bit nervous) about seeing this first time for me epic sized print of one of my photos.  The few people who had seen it were very happy with it so I was somewhat reassured, but I had to see it myself.

That opportunity finally came last Friday when Wendy told me should would be visiting the frame shop, Prints Plus and invited me over to see it.  (The picture would be hanging out there until the show room was finished.)  She, Bill Sommars, the master framer and owner of the shop, and the framed and mounted print were all there waiting for us when we arrived:

David Ryan and Wendy mitchell standing with large 4 x 6' photograph
L to R:  Me, Photo, Wendy
What a relief!  I'm very grateful to Idaho Blue Print, Prints Plus, and of course Bronco Motors and look forward to finally seeing the print hung.  It will be accompanied by another photo taken at the Idaho Statehouse, but this one will "only" be 24" by 36".  Piece of cake!

View across the second floor of the Capitol Rotunda, Boise, Idaho
The second print chosen (only 2x3')