On Client Lists

Ray Massey on client lists: "He is able to offer a long and tedious list of impressive clients from around the world, guaranteed to send the most diligent art buyer to sleep."

What do client lists mean, after all? Are they merely an ego boost for the photographer himself?

Holiday Promo

Many hours of propping, shooting, printing, cutting, building, stamping, writing, stuffing, and delivering later, my holiday promo is done. Still not enthusiastic about sending just a postcard, so I built this image into a "framed" picture for the desk, made sure I slapped a sticker on the back with my website address, and included a handwritten note.

I think the high point was seeing that I'd included someone with the last name of "Frost".

Reflections on Self-Promotion

So...the view from below, meaning my perspective is as a beginning photographer, not an established one, being a good photographer is not enough. Being a great photographer might be enough, but even then, people have to find out about you somehow.

Thus, marketing.

I've been skimming Guerilla Marketing recently, and this section on Patience struck me.

Twenty-seven times. The book says that your materials must pass in front of the buyer 27 times before they buy. And throughout those 27 times, they're gradually warming up to you, paying increasing attention, figuring out how they can use you, etc.

But meanwhile, what that looks like is total silence. Because why would they contact you unless they're going to buy?

It's just business, after all, nothing personal, but of course what you do is, hopefully, personal. So how to maintain sensitivity as an artist but harden up as a business person? Or even better than harden up, become like water? And how to keep going in the face of all that silence, especially when so many other people seem to be doing so well?

It's tempting to seek validation in other areas, like contests, and vanity publications, and paid portfolio reviews, and the local scene, but that validation is fickle, ephemeral, and expensive.

I've been told, and I think every day it's truer and truer: the work is the answer. Just keep making photographs. The recognition that you've expressed a photograph that has integrity and material must be validation enough.

Portfolio Revamp

I finished this awhile back. Well, "finished" anyway. Heretofore, it's been difficult to find enough pictures to put in my book. This time around, I'm doing double-sided pages and I'm still pushing the physical limit of the book, so here's to making pictures.

Naturally, it's a real question as to whether a printed portfolio is necessary any longer. If I ask, "Would I rather have a portfolio if someone asks for one?", the answer is obvious.

I'm still using the Waterfield cases I got, and I still haven't found a good way to identify myself on the outside of the case. Embroidery might be nice, or some kind of slick luggage tag. Or maybe I'll just stick a business card on it with a mess of gaffers tape. Ha.

I still like my custom cut and beveled red plexiglass covers with grey chrome fabric binding. I've got a variety of responses, from "Looks like you're trying too hard." to "This totally introduces your style perfectly." So.

I'm printing on Moab Lasal doublesided. I tried a bunch of different papers, and I like the detail, saturation, and tactile sensation of the Lasal best. Toothier papers softened up my images too much, although they feel more luxurious and arty.

Of course, the matte papers scratch so easily, especially in big black fields, which you find a lot in my portfolio. I wonder about the various sprays - they don't seem to do anything, but I keep trying. This time I tried the Krylon one, and it seems to be as ineffective as the rest. It did, however, make my book smell like a man's clean cologne. I kind of like it, but I'm airing it out, since people get freaky about odors and chemicals.

So yeah, most of the time, people use the website, sure. But I'm ready for the rest of the time as well. Plus I have to say, websites are nice, but looking at this book is a pleasure of a different order.

I love my 1400

Well, I was loving it a lot more before it started putting a black smudge on the trailing corner of the paper. But that's the middle of the story.

My first photo printer was an Epson 2200, the workhorse in it's class at the time. I was pretty amazed when the first print came out of it, but I slowly grew to hate it. Doing work prints wasn't too bad, but printing a portfolio was an expensive, frustrating process, with many wasted pages and ink, not to mention time. Eventually, the thing had a one in five chance of doing an acceptable print, and I gave it away on Craigslist, and the 10 ink cartridges I included were payment for hauling the little monster away.

I had always hated the look of pigment inks on matte paper, so I had done that portfolio on luster. The luster paper was on a roll, and it never truly flattened out, plus the surface was forever slightly tacky, so handling the portfolio was off. After doing some research, I came to understand the basic difference between pigment-based inks and dye-based inks:

  • Pigment inks last a real long time
  • Dye inks have better saturation

Since I do work prints (pinned up on the wall for a month or so, then stored) and portfolio prints (stored in a book for a year or two, on display for 30 minutes at a time), I realized I don't really care if they last very long. Well, I don't need them to last a hundred years, anyway, and I'm way more interested in saturation. Further, the dye inks, especially the blacks, are far richer on matte paper than the pigment inks.

So I marched down to Staples and got an Epson 1400, which was on sale for less than $300.

It's been real good to me so far. It prints pretty fast, for my purposes at least, the prints look great using the Epson settings (which is good because the drivers are pretty lame), it never jams, and there are a bunch of improvements:

  • Full bleed printing (although...)
  • When an ink cartridge runs out, the current print pauses, and resumes when a new cartridge is installed. The 2200 would spit out the current print, wasting it.
  • It's a little bit smaller
  • The Claria inks produce rich, even blacks, which are far better than the 2200 ever did

It's not all peachy though. Recently, the 1400 started smudging the prints as they exit the printer. I took a look inside, and there a couple of foamy reservoirs, and a fabric pad, and all that stuff was pretty soaked with ink. I was doing a lot of full bleed printing, with a lot of black, and it turns out that when it does full bleed, the overspray goes on that fabric pad. I think I overwhelmed it. I took it to Deen's in Richmond and they fixed it up for $85.

Also, on the portfolio front, I've cut, punched and scored a book by hand, and can't ever get the pages to square up exactly right. So I've been taking the sets of prints to JR Press, but they recently suggested I just bring them stacks of blank pages, and I was all, duh.

Overall, I'm pretty amazed at what I'm able to produce in the office, from big art prints to small runs of deluxe promos, work prints to portfolios. Just add a paper cutter, a bone folder, an X-Acto, and some glue, and I'm set.