Archive for July, 2011
The Howrah Railway Station in Calcutta is one of the busiest railway stations in the world.
I am a globetrotter at heart and have always had a passion for learning about various cultures and people. Still, even a chest full of boundless optimism doesn’t stop me from the occasional “I wish I were back in the comfort of home” when I’m traveling.
Travel photography poses many challenges – language barriers, different foods, different time zones and logistical difficulties. And India has definitely been my most intense and trying travel experience. After experiencing India, you truly understand what people mean when they say: “You either LOVE or HATE India.” Many people hate it because of the lack of creature comforts and conveniences to which we in the developed world are accustomed. Conversely, people love it for those exact same reasons – that it’s different from what they are used to and of course, you must have a sense of adventure and expect the unexpected. Nevertheless, my adventurous spirit was at least a little ruffled at my first Calcutta experience.
Upon arrival to Calcutta (one of India’s major entry ports), the humid, hot air and sudden throngs of people can be a rude awakening. Growing up as a competitive skier, I’ve always considered myself the extreme sports sort and thought I could do most anything. But India is a whole different sort of extreme sport. It took me 3 days alone to secure a train ticket out of Calcutta.
As I began my journey to explore the rest of India, I started to think that Murphy’s Law must be invented here. There are two train stations in Calcutta and they happen to be on the opposite ends of the city. Despite showing my taxi driver my train ticket and emphasizing the station name multiple times, he… (take a guess)… took me to the wrong station. I proclaimed that I would not pay him if I did not make my train. That certainly made for an “interesting” ride.
After a stressful journey with harsh words being thrown back and forth in various languages, a fender bender, the 100-degree heat, 90 % humidity and all that jazz, I jumped off the taxi, with bags of gear in tow, and darted toward the train through soiled pathways and open-handed beggars like a deft ninja. Meanwhile, the hot-blooded driver stayed close to my tail, screaming intermittently. I hopped on the train the very minute it was leaving – just enough time for me to throw some cash to the panting cabbie.
In spite of the extreme conditions, India is a photographer’s dream. If I had given up easily, I would have lost the opportunity to document the myriad of color and life – both in the people and surroundings. Learning to cope with extreme conditions has also conditioned me for high-pressure situations.
If you have the bug, get out there and play. Step out of your comfort zone and take the opportunity to see the world and immerse yourself in various cultures.
Skip Cohen has been one of the most profound influences on my career. He’s been a mentor, a friend and an ardent supporter of my work ever since our first phone conversation. During that phone call, he informed me that I had won the Hy Sheanin scholarship, an incredibly generous scholarship from WPPI to attend the WPPI expo in Vegas. He has also helped me on countless occasions to figure out how to channel my passion into marketable business skills. Because he knows the industry so well, he has been my guide all these years and I trust him to give me the best possible advice. Photography enthusiasts can look to his highly informative blog, Skip’s Photo Network, and seminal workshops, such as the upcoming Skip’s Summer School for an authoritative resource on the world of photography and photography business.
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Post By Skip Cohen
Okay, so you woke up this morning and for whatever reason decided your work is so good that one of the companies out there should sponsor you. Sound familiar?
Chasing the sponsorship rainbow can be a daunting task, mostly because there is no rainbow! The manufacturers, labs and service providers in our industry are buried in requests for sponsorship. The economy presents the obvious challenges and virtually everybody is cutting back on expenses. That puts you in line for support along with hundreds of other photographers and projects. What are you going to do to make yourself stand out?
Let’s see if we can develop a great list of things for you to think about before you go “fishing”:
What do you have to offer?
In my previous life at Hasselblad, I used to get requests from photographers who thought they should be sponsored just because they were creating great images with our cameras. NOT! Companies are interested in what you bring to the party in helping them sell their products and increase awareness for their brand. I learned a valuable way to look at sponsorship from Beth Meyer when she was at Kodak years ago. With every sponsorship request she would receive, she had one key question, “How is this sponsorship going to help me sell more Kodak products?”
Today, being a great photographer is only a qualifier. Being a requested speaker, being active in social media, having a blog, writing for one of the magazines or having a story about your work in a magazine are all key things a company will be looking at if they’re considering a sponsorship relationship. If you’re not a household word, then the issue becomes your potential. You might be a young gun and have potential for influence with newer photographers or you might have developed a unique application for the company’s products.
How are you using the products/services you want to represent?
Companies today have thousands of photographers to choose from if they’re looking for somebody who uses their products/services in exactly the way they were intended. It’s your job to find unique applications or events that will give a company greater exposure.
Long term versus short term?
There are all kinds of sponsorships to consider. Long term means just that – you’re looking to represent the company with some level of support or compensation for a year or more. Canon’s Explorer of Light program would be the benchmark for the most extensive sponsorship. At the other extreme would be a photographer who was only looking to borrow a particular product for a single application. Another example would be a charity event you’re about to photograph and looking for a lab to pick up the cost of prints in exchange for some level of exposure.
Obviously, everybody would love long-term sponsorship, but you have to walk before you can run and until you’ve made yourself unique and a virtual legend, most companies have limited funding for extensive support. It’s also important to define “extensive support.” The max is staying independent as a photographer, but being paid by a company on a regular basis to represent their products. These are pretty rare today, but it would mean being paid on a monthly retainer or for every program you taught using or promoting a company’s products/services.
How are you willing to be paid?
Are you looking for cash reimbursement of your expenses and speaking fee or are you willing to take support in trade? Being sponsored by a lab, for example, will often give a photographer access to all the great services they offer. The same would go for an album company, who would be willing to supply a photographer with product for his/her clients. Obviously, at the sponsor level, product/services trump any cash payments.
How’s your reputation?
Some of you are going to laugh about this, but I’ve seen some of the most obnoxious people on the planet furious because a company didn’t think they were good enough to be sponsored. Even more absurd is the fact that they protested too hard, aggravated everybody in the company and wound up taking years to recover. Nobody is interested in taking on your emotional baggage when it comes to handling rejection. Play it cool if you get turned down. The more professional you handle a rejection, the more likely you’re going to stay in focus for future projects.
Julie and Mike met one auspicious, sunny afternoon in October 2003. Both section leaders for a Computer Science class at Stanford, the sophomore and senior started talking about classes, professors and the finer points of Final Fantasy – and then some. In their six years together, they’ve traveled to 10 countries together, lived in 4 different abodes (each one slightly more spacious than the last), dined at a dozen Michelin-star restaurants, and built about 30 pieces of IKEA furniture.
I was referred to this adventurous couple by my clients, Charlotte and Peter, and it was a treat to photograph their gorgeous wedding at Nestldown, a private retreat in Los Gatos that had just the right amount of romance and whimsy. Wedding coordinator Joyce Scardina Becker, along with the couple, brought together all the necessary pieces and crafted an eclectic theme of “doors” – symbolizing the couple’s passage into their new lives together. Every touch was personalized, from the door-shaped invitations to a key exchange during the ceremony, to make for a unique and memorable day.
It was so fun working with Julie and Mike, especially, because they were creative and visual people – and obviously in love – yet they also trusted my artistic judgement completely. Thank you, Julie and Mike, for including me in your exceptional celebration. To find out more about Julie and Mike, read their story in the upcoming issue of Bride and Bloom in August.
Wedding coordinator: Joyce Scardina Becker, Events of Distinction | Venue: Nestldown | Photographer: Catherine Hall Studios | Florist: Asiel Design | Cake Designer: Beaux Gateaux | Caterer: P.S.R.T. (Parsley Sage Rosemary Thyme) | Dress: Vera Wang
It’s been an exciting 3 weeks since I kicked off my Lowepro-Catherine Hall Studios Self-Portrait Contest. Partnering with Lowepro, I wanted to find the most inspired photographic interpretation of your likeness and character. Your response to the contest has far exceeded my expectations. I’ve had a ball tracking your entries in and like many of you, I can’t wait to see who wins next week.
There are so many phenomenal entries and it seems unfair to award only 1 prize. Therefore, two other entries will receive honorable mentions and a Lowepro Slingshot 100 AW each. I will personally select two exceptional self-portraits based on their creativity, visual appeal and effectiveness in conveying the theme. The contest closed for entries yesterday, on July 5, but voting is open until July 10. Don’t forget to vote for your favorites!
In the mean time, enjoy this inspiration board of some of my personal favorites!
It was summer, and the soaring heat of West Virginia was adding to my agitation as I held my Canon 5DMII with my clammy hand. I had spent 4 hours photographing a family I found driving around in Appalachia – and I still hadn’t got a single magic shot. Right when I was going to give up, I saw through the family’s fence this girl playing in the cornfield. I took to my heels and ran next door. At first, her mom wasn’t interested, but after much persistent begging, she consented to “one” photograph. And that one photograph was magic.