New Website #4

It was high time for a new website around here.

Always improving things.

Always improving things.

I often see ADs on set, taking a peek at their mobiles: head slightly bowed, and the thumb flick flick flicking upward. And the same thing on desktops, just with the index finger instead. I wanted to keep things simple, have the biggest images possible, and support natural use. 

After a quick survey, I settled on Squarespace, because they were Johnny-on-the-spot with the customer service, and they have a template that does most of what I want. And that most is important.

100% what I want vs. enough of what I want right now? The answer to the question has important ramifications for the rest of your activities (ask Axl Rose). So, there are some things on the site I wish were a little different, but none of them are important enough to spend the time that'd be necessary to address them, mainly because while my website is important, it's secondary to making photographs. And it's in making photographs where good enough isn't.


NYC Fotoworks Portfolio Review

In June, I attended NYC Fotoworks.

At the moment, portfolio reviews seem to offer the second best way to get in front of buyers that might hire you. I signed up for NYC Fotoworks mostly for this reason, although I was at the tail end of revamping my book, so actual portfolio reviews were a secondary goal.

Each day of the review is structured into 15 minute blocks, with about 20 reviewers. They're all at tables in a big room, and at the 15 minute mark, a sound plays, and the current reviewee says his goodbyes, and makes way for the next. There's a flurry of activity for a bit, then everything settles back down.

There's a lot of energy - photographers are excited to show off their work, and reviewers are eager to meet new people and look at books. Outside of the review room, photographers trade war stories, or handle business.

My approach, finalized in the 90 seconds before my first meeting, and refined throughout the three day event, was to greet the reviewer, and announce, "I'm Rob Prideaux, I work out of San Francisco, I do heroic objects and cautionary tales. I'm looking to meet people in the industry, show them what I do, get feedback, and find out how I can help.", which is pretty dense, especially delivered bluntly, as I do, but "heroic objects and cautionary tales" interested people, and was a good reason to open the book.

After that, I didn't offer much, just let them look, and offered corollary information if the reviewer seemed to want it. The reviewers are all steeped in professional imagery, and they mostly breeze through the book. A few, however, would meander through the book throughout the entire appointment.

Either way, I tried to steer the conversation. I was showing two books - a new black leather book with about 40 images, and the old red plexiglass book with almost 80 images, and I asked reps to comment on which book they preferred. With photo editors, I asked about how they work with artists based outside of NYC, and how much conceptual stuff they want to do. I asked agency buyers...not much, just tried to get to know them.

About the books, it was impossible to get a consensus. Some people loved the black leather book and thought the red plexiglass book was too much. Others were bored by the black book and loved the red one. Some thought 80 images was too much, others thought 40 wasn't enough. Still, the process worked for me, because I decided to do what I want to do, instead of worrying about what people might want.

Everybody really liked my more conceptual stuff.

People consistently returned to this page, and the basic thread was this: we all have 5000 product photographers within 50 yards of our office, but we're always looking for people who can tell a story, and illustrate an idea. They all want to see the straight-ahead product stuff, so they can get a sense of my technical abilities, but decisions are going to come down to conceptual ability.

Reviewers liked the 'worlds tiniest portfolio' I made.

The whole thing was a real shot in the arm. Self-promotion can be sort of one-sided, and this was instantly two-way. I heard a lot of enthusiasm for my work, and got a lot of laughs, pluse I got to meet a lot of interesting, smart people. I'm planning on attending the next summer review.

Different Books for Different Folks

I know, who cares about portfolios? I just tweet links to my Dropbox pdfs or whatever. Whatever!

I'm still using my red portfolio, but I recently added a black leather book, because there are a few people who react badly to the red one, I thought I'd make something just for them.

After asking around a bit, I went with a black leather 14 by 11 book from Iris Portfolios, with a silvery buckram box. Iris was recommended by the ever-helpful David Zaitz, and they were helpful and professional throughout.

I took both to NYC Fotoworks, where the corners and edges got all dinged up. As I suspected, some reviewers loved the red one, some loved the new black one, and some were indifferent to either, preferring to focus on the photos.

There's not too much to say about it. It's super nice - everything feels luxurious and looks cohesive. It's more elegant than the red one, and it's more...standard.

Which, of course, is fine. There's really no need to use the covers to try to stand out. Most people are after the work, anyway, and if it's something they want, it doesn't matter if it came loose in a FedEx box covered in donut crumbs. Conversely, if they don't want it, it...well.

At the moment, the black book has a really tight edit of 40 images, and the red one has 76.

I saw a few people at NYC Fotoworks showing work on iPads, but I'm pretty sure it was motion. Much like the black leather portfolio has a strong history in the arts in general, so does the printed, bound portfolio have a strong history in face-to-face meetings. Both my books are rich, detailed, and tactile, each has a scent, and a unique feel. An iPad is useful, but not as good.

Helpful Ideas for Busy Dads: Toddler Edition

Following up on the success of the original Helpful Ideas for Busy Dads, I've created a batch of new, time-saving ideas for dads everywhere. When a regular bib is insufficient, try MaxiBib.

The Peel-A-Wall system makes art project cleanup a snap.

Rain or shine, the Park VR system keeps youngsters occupied, if not exercised. iPhone not included.

And for a big detour into fake backgrounds and product photography, see here.