Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Future Self

As part of  by Tara Mohr's Playing Big program we've been asked to think about our "future selves" and to consult with our future selves for conundrums of today.   I have issues with this for a number of reasons.

The problems of today can't be solved with the level of thinking that created them in the first place. 

If I imagine a future self and ask her for help with current puzzles, I'm really only asking myself. And myself is part of what created the puzzle I'm in to begin with.

A different perspective than my own is probably more likely to yield new information and new ideas to solve current puzzles. Spouses and friends are extremely helpful in clarifying my thinking by providing a different way of looking at it.  Famous people can too. Thinking about questions from photographer Imogen Cunningham, US newspaper executive Katherine Graham or US business woman's Rosabeth Moss Kanter's perspective is likely to yield richer input.

Life isn't one straight line.  Most of us have to be transplanted, like a tree, before we blossom.

And above and beyond all that is asking my God for divine inspiration and wisdom through the Holy Spirit.

James 1:5 promises, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (NIV)

Unfortunately, the only thing I got from the "future self" exercise was the word "biceps".

Monday, May 30, 2011

NewSpace Center for Photography

I had visited the NewSpace Center for Photography on a past trip to Portland, Oregon.  It's a wonderful gallery and teaching space, clean and light with rental facilities for photographers including darkroom, studio, lighting equipment and digital lab.  NewSpace also offers a nice long list of classes for aspiring photographers every season. Recently, I had the opportunity to check one out.

HDR, Panoramas and Extended DoF taught by Mark Fitzgerald went from 10am to 5pm.  All the how to's came in the morning followed by 2 hours for shooting and lunch. Then we returned to the digital lab and began to implement the how tos. Here's a before shot:

Here's the after shot:

You can see there's a pretty big difference.

Mark was a fabulous teacher, providing handouts that matched the lecture talking points and were easy to follow. For our shooting exercise, he also provided a shot list of considerations for each type of shot so we'd experience the greatest success in the lab afterwards. Mark's own images using HDR were captivating.

My class mates included some new to photography within the year, serious enthusiasts and long-time as well as more recent professionals. But no one seemed to be a braggart, no one was intent on proving themselves to the others so the atmosphere was easy.

The digital lab is well equipped with 10 computers split between Mac and PC.

With the additional skills I learned particularly in Photomatix, I suddenly could "see" differently.  I could see what could happen with a scene with some digital work.  I walked around all the rest of that weekend reminded that the world is such a beautiful place.

I had such a good experience that I'm looking into their summer class schedule.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Zombie Runner Chocolate

Yesterday, I stopped by Zombie Runner in Palo Alto for a refreshment, chose hot chocolate and look at the incredible creation the co-owner / barista made!  He is seriously talented.

There are a couple of couches and coffee tables complete with books about zombies to enjoy while you sip a hot beverage of your choice.

Made my day to see this totally consumable and perishable artwork.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Making Your Own Book

Having recently decided to make my own book with text and photos as a result of participating in Playing Big, I've had the opportunity to blaze a trail, form some opinions and develop some resources.

My Advice: 
Let's put the key takeaways first.
  • Think of making, marketing and selling the book as a separate project from creating the content.  
  • Think of it as equal in importance and effort.
  • Select a service with your creative and customer end in mind
3 Options
Here are 3 websites that help you publish your own photo book:
4 Considerations: 
Here are a few things to ask yourself as you look at these services. Notice, all of these questions aren't related to creating the content to go into the book. They are all about what happens to it.

  • Product
    • Software: For each any required layout software is free but how easy is it for me to use? Does it allow me to accomplish my creative vision? Or am I going to have to make a lot of manual adjustments aligning my photos to where I want them to be?
    • Form: Does the selection of things like size, paper quality, font selection and layout options match my creative vision? Does one have a cool feature like lay-flat binding that I think is really important to the overall presentation?  What sizes does that feature come in?
  • Price
    • Is there a way to set a price for wholesalers separate than from end customers? If I buy direct for resale, can I buy it at a discounted price for resale?
    • What price point should my book sell for?  Think of shopping at Borders for a soft cover fiction book at around $8 and an oversized coffee table book at upwards of $70. Do the prices allow me to achieve my target price points?
    • Is the book specifically for a family special occasion like Mother's Day so I don't care about price?
  • Place aka Distribution: 
    • If I get a direct order (from friends or family who don't like to order on-line), does the company drop ship to my customer's address?  
    • Will the company act like my store? Or do I need to set up my own store front?
  • Promotion aka Marketing: 
    • Does the company just print my book(s) or do they help me market it with links (Facebook and Twitter). 
    • Can I put a badge on my blog that links to their store? 
    • Does their logo appear on the book or can I go logo-less?
If you're making, and/or marketing and/or selling a book or thinking about it I would love to know what you've learned from the process.