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  • Opportunity and Hazards Attending Portfolio Walks

    “You get only one chance to make a first impression.” This adage rang through my head as I walked through a sea of photographers with work on view at the 2014 Society for Photographic Education (SPE) portfolio walk. These increasingly popular events are often held over a two- to three-hour window during a photography festival or conference. They tend to be casual and are usually open to the general public for free, in contrast with the more structured (and fee-based) portfolio review. As an informal event, a portfolio walk is more in line with introductory networking opportunities than as a venue for print sales. Here are a few lessons I noted last year, as well as helpful tips from eight of the SPE student scholarship recipients I corresponded with to research this story.

    25

    Mar 15

  • Jurying the Far Away Places competition

    I was asked to be the juror for a photography competition on the theme of Far Away Places. As I reviewed the work, I tried to keep in mind the summary of the call for entries: From the far corners of your backyard to the far away country it takes weeks to traverse to, we want to see where you end up when you go “far away”. As I was editing, I was thinking how could I explain to those photographers who did not make the cut, why that had happened? So I kept notes as I went, which make up this blog entry, one that ideally would serve as the answer to those photographers who did not make the final cut.

    10

    Oct 14

  • Sampling my CreativeLive workshop

    I recently gave a class on personal projects and the photo-essay that was recorded and broadcast over the web by CreativeLive. Photo essays are compelling, dynamic, vivid mission statements of a photographer’s work — every photographer should have a working knowledge of this narrative art form. You can get a sample of the class by watching this preview segment.

    16

    Jul 14

  • Tiffinbox interview: Creating Powerful Photo Essays And Personal Projects

    In advance of my CreativeLive course called “Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects” I sat down to talk with Seshu Badrinath of the tiffinbox site to discuss the class and how photographers can create photo essays and personal projects as well as publish them on their own.

    28

    Jun 14

  • Video Hardware That Works For Me

    I recently blogged about the software that I use when making my narrative videos. Here, I will be talking about the hardware, the cameras, lenses, microphones, recorders, tripods, etc., that I use. My technology choices (whether hardware or software) are very specific to my process, my workflow and my budget. The gear I use solves my unique set of problems and nothing more. Every person making videos should ask themselves, does the gear I have (or the gear I am considering) solve my problems?

    25

    Apr 14

  • A GREAT question

    A former student of mine, who has gone on to great accomplishment, wrote me with a GREAT question. My answer was be used on his blog page, but I thought it was such a good question that I am cross posting it on my page as well.

    06

    Dec 13

  • Lessons learned jurying a photo competition

    I recently had the privilege of jurying the work for Car Culture competition for the PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont. It was real education, both in terms of photography and learning about the global world of cars. As a photo-educator, I look at moments like this as “teaching moments” and so I wrote this blog entry about the jurying process. (As I also wrote the “juror’s statement that will accompany the final exhibition of prints that will opens at the PhotoPlace Gallery today, November 8th.)

    08

    Nov 13

  • Is Gene Smith turning in his grave?

    I write this entry in mid-May in a pretty agitated state of mind.  I am posting this in September because posting it in May might have burnt a bridge for me professionally.  I also wanted to see if the anger I felt back in May subsided.  It has not and so I am burning a bridge now.

    27

    Sep 13

  • Me and Jackson Browne at Tanglewood

    Ok, so there were 18,000 other people besides me and Jackson Browne on July 4th at the Shed, in Tanglewood, Massachusetts (the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.) I was not even have seated particularly close to the stage. But I have been listening to (and following) the work of the California singer-songwriter for a long time. As I listened to him play and thought about the shows I have seen over the years, I note some similarities in our careers and our creative processes.

    26

    Aug 13

  • How do I use my time?

    A professional photographer is perceived as someone who has the pure pleasure of getting paid to snap pictures all day. Though I have been a professional for over thirty years, my working life has never been that simplistic or idyllic. So, earlier this spring I tracked EVERY thing I did for seven days. I do mean everything. For anyone considering “going pro,” a few minutes spent looking at my detailed list of one week’s labor will be real eye opener.

    16

    Aug 13

  • Seven Questions You Should Ask Every Accomplished Photographer

    I have been taking photographs for almost four decades—mostly for money and always for myself. Over those forty years, I have slowly figured out what I wanted to ask the many photographers I encountered along the way.  I have distilled this down to a list of questions that I would ask any photographer, knowing that the answers will help any photographer.

    02

    Aug 13

  • Finland? Finland!

    I spent the first two weeks of June teaching a photo-essay class to university students in Finland. When I started the class, I was worried if it would go well. I have a hard time working with college students, since most of them don’t want to speak out in class, out of fear of “sticking out from the crowd.” Since those same students were Finnish, a notoriously shy people, it had all the makings of a train wreck. I am thrilled to say it turned out much better than I expected.

    28

    Jun 13

  • How a liberal arts education saved my career again and again

    College graduation season is upon us and with it discussions about the importance of educating young people for the so called “jobs of the future.”  With a daughter half way through college, I have plenty to worry about in terms of her future. Yet I am here to make a last stand for a liberal arts education, the one thing that has saved my career again and again.

    07

    Jun 13

  • Photography as a second language

    With graduation season upon us, thousands of photographers-in-the making will soon be graduating from institutions across the country. The commencement speakers those students would be listening to will be loath to admit it, but getting paid to be a photographer is dying as a career option and it is clearly time for a new paradigm in the business of photography.

    10

    May 13

  • Rochester takes down another photojournalist

    The annual winners of the prestigious photojournalism contests are starting to be announced. Another photojournalist has got himself stuck in a controversy, largely of his own making. One upside is that this is one of those old fashioned ethical controversies where digital image manipulation had NOTHING to do with it. One downside to commenting on that is that I have indirect ties to a few of the players so I might appear to have a conflict of interest. I also thought that those ties gave me an unusual position to speak from in terms of the controversy.

    01

    Mar 13

  • How to Build Awareness for Your Work

    This week’s blog entry is a cross posting of a blog that was the result of an interview I did with photographer and marketing expert Cindy A. Stephens for the Boston Photography Focus blog, which is sponsored by the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University. The blog was posted on February 13th, 2013 and was titled: “How to Build Awareness for Your Work.” Below is the full text (the interview and the blog that was built around the interview.)

    22

    Feb 13

  • Being interviewed via Google plus

    I had the pleasure of hanging out on Google plus (and being interviewed by) Frederick Van Johnson, the ball of energy behind many interesting photography projects including This Week in Photo. I enjoyed the hangout immensely wanted to share it.

    25

    Jan 13

  • Words of advice for a soon-to-be graduate (part two)

    In last week’s blog entry I parsed an e-mail from a “soon-to-be graduate” The two questions that he raised were: “…what are your favorite aspects of your work” and “…how someone could break into a field like this.” I suggested the real question to ask and answer was “…what are your least favorite aspects of your work.” I answered that question last week so now I can turn to the “…how someone could break into a field like this.”

    04

    Jan 13

  • Words of advice for a soon-to-be graduate (part one.)

    With a subject line like the title above, how could I not reply to the e-mail that recently came in from a “soon-to-be graduate” and how could I not turn my reply it into a blog? I have been sitting on this for awhile trying to figure out how to answer without turning into some cranky old man talking about the ”good old days.”

    28

    Dec 12

  • The business side of workshop teaching

    In my last blog entry, I wrote about how interns/teaching assistants can maximize the opportunities that such professional opportunities can offer them. Since then I have received a few comments and queries based on what I wrote (including two that are at the bottom of that blog entry.) This week I want to answer another professional development question, in this case about photography workshops, which I saw posted in a forum. It was one of those rare questions that I see on line which I actually feel qualified to answer.

    17

    Aug 12

  • A word to the wise for interns and teaching assistants

    In the general media and especially the business press there has been a lot of discussion (yelling and screaming) in the last year about internships. Most of that noise revolves around the question of paid vs. unpaid internships, which can also be thought of as job stealing (unpaid) vs job making (paid.) I have blogged a lot on internships in the past and I can argue both sides of the paid vs unpaid question. What I am blogging about this week is what interns should be doing once they have internships, paid or unpaid.

    03

    Aug 12

  • If I were starting out now

    I am an old photographer, (duh!) That means I have been taking pictures seriously for a very long time (forty years to be exact in 2012.) It also suggests I have some kind of wisdom to offer young photographers, which may or may not be true. Arguably, the most common question I get from young photographers is what would I do if I were starting out in today’s photography market. My answer usually starts with “I don’t know” and ends with “I’m glad I am not.” Since neither of those are a real answers, I owe a real answer to readers (and to a friend who asked me that same question recently.)

    15

    Jun 12

  • The best college for photographers

    My daughter is about to start her fresh-man (fresh-person?) orientation at college. This “momentous” occasion prompted me to think about college in general, as well as my own experience in college. Finally that led me to this blog entry, considering which is the “best” college for photographers.

    19

    Aug 11

  • What makes a good photo editor

    In late April, I had the honor of presenting my work to undergraduate and graduate students in the photojournalism program at the University of Texas at Austin. This PJ program is highly regarded and has produced some great photographers over the years. The last thing I did during my brief time there was an open portfolio review, primarily looking at the work of graduate students. Throughout my time in Austin (and during that portfolio review in particular) the question was repeatedly raised, “how do you make a living in this incredibly difficult photojournalism market?” Near the end, one student said something about where he might go in the future with his photography and I was all but dumbstruck by his brilliance (and my inability to respond.)

    13

    May 11

  • Failure is a requirement

    I have been thinking about failure recently. What first comes to my mind when I say that word is the phrase, “failure is not an option.” NASA engineers made that line famous during the nearly disastrous Apollo 13 space flight. The phrase and its very focused message have long since entered our collective body of speech. The older I get, the more I think that at least for creative people, like photographers, failure is all but a requirement. For me this dichotomy is doubly interesting since, had I not become a photographer, I would have probably become an engineer of some sort.

    08

    Apr 11

  • Does the photography world need more ‘pros’

    I tell my students, especially those who ask me questions outside of the classroom setting, that there are group questions and there are individual questions. The former being something that when answered in front of the whole class will benefit the entire group, especially those students who will learn from my answer, even if they have yet to articulate the question. The latter usually are more individual queries and are often best answered one-on-one. They are more typically “what is the meaning of life” kind of questions. One of the students in my photo-essay class in Singapore recently asked me what seemed like an “individual” question. As soon as I started thinking about (and writing to answer her, I realized it was really a group question (and this blog is the overdue group answer.)

    31

    Dec 10

  • Defining my own place in photography

    It is mid-September, which for me means the beginning of my working year. During the summer that just ended, like most recent summers, I certainly worked hard, but I also relaxed a good bit. So, now I am starting my busiest season of September to June. That is when I travel the most for work, teach most of my workshops, give most of my presentations, make most of my stock photos and do most of my assignments. I have been planning out the next nine months or so for the last year and a half. I am aware that in this age of last minute planning, this much advance planning seems counter-intuitive. But for me, such long-term planning allows me to get as close as possible to achieving most, if not all of my goals. Defining those goals has been a long process, as has been learning to manage my time in order to achieve them. That long (and continuing) journey is the subject of this week’s blog entry.

    24

    Sep 10

  • Exploring our responsibility to the people we photograph (part two)

    In the last (and the next) few blog posts, I am exploring the question, what is the photographer’s responsibility to the people they are photographing? On one level this is an intensely personal decision that is best answered after an equally intensely process of decision-making. On the other hand, it has to be guided by some larger philosophical framework. If that sounds like an ethical dilemma, I think it is. Because I am slightly closer to the end of that long process rather than the beginning, I can identify and share some of the milestones of my own journey.

    31

    May 10

  • Pictures, purges and process (part two)

    As of late, I have been writing about the massive spring-cleaning I have undertaken over the last few weeks. I am pretty much done with this archival edit and purge. I have also been thinking how much fun it was looking through thirty plus year’s worth of work. In all, it was a good starting point to reconsider the evolution of my style as a photographer. If I had to give that journey a title, as I went from a beginning photographer to an established professional, the best phrase would be “moving the goals posts.”

    03

    May 10

  • Pictures, purges and process (part one)

    I recently wound up a series of blog entries exploring my experiences with and thoughts about technology. The non-technological process of spring-cleaning prompted all of these posts. In the process of that cleaning (or more accurately my massive archival purge,) I looked at thousands and thousands of my old images. Some scared me, some impressed me and some surprised me. Though it was not my intention, it turned out to be a great way to consider the arc of my evolution, as a photographer and as a professional.

    30

    Apr 10

  • Surviving “Hell Week” in fine-art photography

    The phrase “Hell Week” refers to a number of similar rituals, among them the initial time of hazing in college fraternities, the most rigorous component of the United States Navy SEAL training program, a police academy’s most rigorous training regimen, the technical week of theatre rehearsals or the most common usage, the week of intensive conditioning before the start of any season of a sport. There are undoubtedly other examples of this ritual of hard work, emotional stress and personal challenges. The first “Hell Week” that I survived was at the start of my first of two seasons playing water polo in sunny Southern California. A couple of friends recently survived what I have come to think of as the “fine-art photography” version of “Hell Week.”

    09

    Apr 10

  • Some more new resources for photographers

    I recently spent five short days in Vietnam. I will be blogging about that soon, and posting a pod-cast exploring my reactions to that country. I want a few days to digest my experience in terms of blogging and few weeks to make the multi-media piece. In the mean time, I wanted to share some information and a few web sites that I came across recently. The connection to Vietnam is that although I was well into the developing world there, because of the Internet, I was able to keep up on many things happening in the world of photography.

    15

    Jan 10

  • A new look at complaining about the “good old days”

    I was exchanging e-mails with Bob Krist, a freelance photographer who works regularly on assignment for National Geographic Traveler. Our dialogue started with the idea that when we were younger, the older photographers we admired complained about the good old days. I wondered if, today, when he and I are no longer young and are more prone to complain, are we just being nostalgic or is something really being lost in today’s photography market/climate?

    04

    Dec 09

  • Lessons in the business of photography

    Last Monday, November 9th, I gave a presentation in New York City at the Apple store in SoHo. It was titled “It’s the journey not the destination (but who does not like a good destination shoot?)” I was one of two photographers presenting that night. When I agreed to do this talk, months ago, I thought it might have made for a somewhat interesting evening. Little did I know, just how interesting that whole evening would actually be!

    16

    Nov 09

  • An impromptu course in design of web-sites for photographers

    These days, all photographers, from commercial/documentary to portrait/fine-art, live and die by their web sites. That should mean that most websites for photographers would be built with the same goal, showing the photographer’s work to its best advantage. You also would think that an equally important goal would be making those same sites easy to navigate and very user friendly. Based on my recent experience reviewing 13 photographer’s web-sites, those assumptions would be largely wrong.

    09

    Nov 09

  • Philadelphia vs New York in baseball (and photography)

    Professional baseball’s World Series is underway and the Philadelphia Phillies are playing the New York Yankees. Having lived in both Philadelphia and New York, I know just which team I am rooting for! My experience in each place, as a resident and as a photographer, strongly shapes my team loyalty.

    02

    Nov 09

  • A big, what is the meaning of life, kind of a question

    A former student/intern wrote me with a big, “what is the meaning of life” kind of a question. The process of answering her ended up becoming something of a dialogue within myself about photography and “meaning” for me. After I sorted things out in my own thinking, I wrote her an answer I could also use as a blog posting.

    24

    Aug 09

  • A poignant reminder of the brevity of our lives

    In my last blog post, I was responding to an aspiring photographer’s query on how to advance his career. That got me to thinking about the career paths of photographers, including, but not limited to my own. I went on to update my knowledge of the career path of another photographer that I started out working along side of a couple decades ago. Reading about him, I was poignantly reminded of life’s brevity….

    03

    Aug 09

  • An aspiring photographer wrote me…

    An aspiring photographer wrote me: “What advice might you give me on how to find opportunities (no matter how small), where I might find some interest in my work, or how to best focus my efforts.” Such a question leaves me wary because answering it takes away from what little time I have left between earning a living as a photographer and nurturing this site. As I pondered how to answer him, I realized the answer was really another blog post in the making.

    31

    Jul 09

  • The future of commercial photography and percieved value

    A friend wrote to suggest I “talk about photography as a business and how it relates to our economic times.” I was hesitant at first, unsure what I could add to the discussion since my expertise is minimal when it comes to economics, business or marketing. I thought about it for a while and realized I did have something I could add to the discussion.

    02

    Mar 09

  • Photo-essays, past, present and future

    I have been producing photo-essays in one form or another for a couple decades. In that time, my approach to them has changed, as have the various ways that photo-essays are seen. After a long, slow decline in outlets, a new and exciting one has appeared.

    23

    Feb 09

  • My “brief stint” as a fashion photographer

    I was reading an interesting article in The New York Times about the Presidential dress code.  Barack Obama’s recent choice to be photographed without his suit jacket in the Oval Office was front-page news. It rang a bell and then I remembered how another President’s fashion choices changed my life as a photographer.

    02

    Feb 09

  • Long time coming

    I am often asked, what am I working on now? Like many people, I have lots of things in the works. I am pleased that some of these efforts have recently come to fruition, after the typically long time cycle that is common to this business and sometimes frustrating to me.

    30

    Jan 09

  • One photographer’s career path

    This podcast explores my career path, from student photographer to established professional. As I tell my story, I show photographs from the many phases of my career.

    28

    Jan 09

  • The questions I would ask any accomplished photographer.

    If I could corner an accomplished photographer in a bar and ask them anything, the questions I would ask are not the ones you might expect. They have little to do with the camera brand they use, the paper they print on or the bag they carry.

    05

    Jan 09