Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Everything But The Girl

I've been playing matchmaker with two really great things: video and ecommerce.  Today, I've come one step closer to making this arranged marriage a happy and healthy one.
We've now figured out how to empower our clients to sell their products directly within a video while it is playing.  So, if the video shows a hotel room, you can book a room.  If it's a video about consumer products, just click the product and pay with a credit card.  The video can be tied in with any inventory in many types of businesses.  Bands can sell t-shirts and music downloads and politicians can solicit financial support (we won't ask them what they plan to do with our money).
As a test, I quickly uploaded an existing video I produced with model Kendra Holliday.  We shot it one afternoon in Delray Beach, Florida.  She just happened to be wearing a few items that might be desireable to the average resort-going woman.  Everything in the video can be purchased (in the test, we're using "clickovers" to the product website but future videos will handle checkout within the same window).  Kendra's wearing RayBan Aviator sunglasses, a white crochet bikini and waterproof mascara from Blinc.  You can have everything...except Kendra.
I'll be testing this further with clients who happen to have a significant social media presence with blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  While video and ecommerce do make a nice couple, it's the social media presence that provides the perfect environment for those nice kids to mingle.
For more information, call 1.561.912.9921 or visit

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Web Hits Fill Ships


We produced this video for a luxury yacht marketing firm here in Florida.  The 3.5-minute film is designed to hypnotize you with visual and audible beauty, thus prompting you to click the link in the lower corner and book a week's vacation (costing you $100,000).

All kidding aside, the link is how we track response to the video as it gets picked up by travel blogs, Facebook fans and other websites around the internet, always driving traffic back to our client via the link that always travels with the video wherever it appears. Do your videos feed you bookings like this?

We featured the 130-ft. Westport tri-deck "Mary-Alice II" piloted by Captain Kelly Esser at 23 knots off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida just two weeks ago.  Helicopter wizardry was provided by Iftach Shimonovitc with Boca Raton Helicopters who had us at about 20 feet off the water at times.  Music composer was Ganga


If you're interested in seeing more of our work, please visit

Friday, October 14, 2011

Air-To-Sea Luxury Yacht Shoot

We were hired to produce a video of the 130-ft Mary-Alice II luxury motoryacht​qwf3wF which you can charter for around $100,000/week.

While I shot with a Canon 60D​nN9dwZ this BTS video was captured using our GoPro​GoProCar which was mounted to the cockpit windshield with the suction cup mount (still vibrated heavily). But, I felt it was good enough to enjoy along with Darko Saric's high-energy track​darkouplift

Skillful helicopter flying was courtesy of Iftach Shimonovitc with Boca Raton Helicopters​qyK0gpas the yacht was piloted by Captain Kelly Esser. The shoot lasted 1.5 hours and took place off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale and Dania Beach, Florida.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Love This Video? Get A Room.

We just produced a cool, dramatic, sexy video of Andaz San Diego, a boutique hotel brand you will hear more about in the coming year. As usual, we've included the "click to book" link so viewers can go directly to Andaz's booking engine.
We'll monitor traffic and our client will monitor ROI.  When did image marketing become so accountable?  It's about time.
Music track is by British electronica band Urban Myth Club

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How To Put Heads In Beds

Sure, every resort has a video showcasing its "fabulous spa" and "ten thousand square foot fitness center" and "championship golf course."  Oh and I almost forgot to mention the "award-winning chef."

Don't any of these marketing pros (many who are my friends and clients) realize that these words have become innocuous, if not annoying to the consumer?  But, properties continue to churn out these videos featuring the same two or three voice talents and stock musak tracks.

It's time to shake things up a bit.

While the above video is certainly not "award winning," it is a small test sample of a new direction in video marketing for resorts.  Visuals that are shot at the right time of day, carefully chosen and legally licensed music tracks with no annoying voices reciting the well-intentioned bullet points.  However, all important areas (i.e. guest rooms, restaurants, pools, etc.) will be well covered.

The best part is the ability to track response.  That logo in the video's llower right corner is actually a clickable link to an external website (my portfolio, in this example). But, imagine if consumers could click this link and be taken directly to a booking site.  Now that's a great idea.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fashionably Trackable

Suddenly I'm obsessed with driving ecommerce traffic to fashion websites.  Do you run a fashion website?  Want traffic from people who are—at that very moment—feeling interested, excited and/or seduced by your product?  Then let me produce a video for you. We will send it everywhere and track the results.
Above is a 42-second viral video for Levi Strauss & Company that when embedded, includes a clickable logo in the lower right corner which leads directly to product purchase. Go ahead, click the logo and see what happens.  (Well, at least wait until the video is over...unless you're so excited you cannot contain yourself.
Here are some other "case studies" of ours:
Our CK Perfectly Fit lingerie video has over 10,000 views and was picked up by many fashion blogs, websites and Facebook fans. We embedded CK's logo directly in the video, taking viewers to a page to purchase. 

Here's a "lookbook-in-motion" we did for Dear Earth, an organic apparel designer based in Miami.  This was shot in 3 hours using minimal lighting and equipment.  When it appears outside of my portfolio, a link at the end drives traffic back to Dear Earth's ecommerce website.

We produced this video for Dutch shoe brand United Nude at their Miami Beach pop-up store. After getting picked up by many fashion bloggers, it appears worldwide.

Here's the same video as it appears on the InYourHead blog and after being picked up by the Brazilian website where it drives traffic back to United Nude's website via the trackable link

If you're interested to know how viral videos can help sell your product, feel free to give us a call at 1.561.912.9921.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Marriott Image From Cancun, Mexico


Marriott is using one of our images from a shoot we did in Cancun, Mexico with model Toni Muñoz Marriott used it for their rewards program newsletter

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Courtney :: Architecture

We scouted and planned a sunny rooftop video shoot with Miami-based Elite model Courtney O'Connor. It didn't go according to plan when, on the shoot day, the weather was not sunny. In fact, it was dark, cloudy and pouring rain. The footage looked more like Northern Europe rather than South Florida. So, I bumped up the blue (a lot) and let Courtney take command of the architecture.

Soundtrack is called "Beached" and legally licensed from Shawn Ethier "Revalver" based in Montreal, Canada.

CINEMATOG: Corey Weiner
ASSIST: Jeff Herron
MODEL: Courtney O'Connor
SOUNDTRACK: "Beached" by Revalver

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ensemble Debt Collection

This morning, I was standing in front of the Ensemble Collection furniture store in Ft. Lauderdale holding a sign with the word "THIEVES" in large caps (and I never type in large caps). It's a hefty accusation to make publicly.

So, how did I get here?

It was bound to happen at some point. While I've always had slow-paying clients, it would usually end after a few uncomfortable phone calls and then finally, a payment. One time, I had a client file bankruptcy with a $3,500 write off. But, for some reason that I will never understand, Ensemble Collection decided it was worth it for them to test my will to collect a bad debt. So for the first time in my life, I exercised my First Amendment right to free speech and picketed outside their store in order to collect a long-outstanding debt of $1,600.

It all started in late 2010 when I gave EC some very nice art pieces to sell on consignment. It was part of an effort to establish relationships with a few high-end retail furniture stores in hopes of selling artwork to their customers. Since EC carries top designers like Kartell, Eames, Stark and Saarinen I thought they were a perfect fit for my artwork.

For those not familiar with art consignments, both artist and retailer are equal partners (unlike a supplier relationship where a retailer can negotiate months to pay). After consigning two pieces, I received a call from an EC salesperson who announced that a customer was about to purchase one entitled "Water" so after having to call multiple times to find out it had eventually sold, I invoiced EC in January 2011. When payment wasn't received by February, I followed up by sending a few polite emails and voicemails with no response. In fact, there was no response in April, May or June either. Internally, there were a few employees trying to facilitate payment but all of their efforts were falling on deaf ears at the top. Once, when I was lucky to speak with their CFO Kathy she told me the "check is going out tonight" and then rushed me off the phone. After 12 more days passed without payment and even more of my voicemails ignored, I suddenly realized they were making an effort to avoid paying me. According to our signed agreement, this money belonged to me "upon sale" and since they were refusing to forward my portion, I now considered this not a matter of late payment but matter of theft.

So, what's a recession-weary father-of-two supposed to do at this point? Call the police? Pay my lawyer good money to go after them? I decided on an interim step before legal action: picketing their store.

Ensemble Collection is located on a very busy intersection of Sunrise Boulevard and US1 and I knew that a regular weekday would have thousands of cars passing by. I cleared my schedule and planned to picket for two full days, 11am-6pm. I had some friends who offered to stand there with me but I figured I'd use them on the second day, if I had to. If that didn't work, I would then have my lawyer start the meter.

In a phone call with one sympathetic EC employee, I said that if their bosses brought me to the point of picketing, I would also use my 20+ years in marketing and my 5,000+ Twitter followers to make sure everyone knew that it was EC's choice to escalate this matter. The day before I planned to picket, I sent both store owner Joe Mirabile and CFO Kathy one last email in hopes either one would give me my money or at least respond to me in some way. Here is the final paragraph of my email:

I hope you understand I have done all that I can and have waited as long as possible before losing hope to be paid by EC. If you do not return my call today or a check is not received, I will be in the unfortunate position of having to collect this debt in court which will make it more expensive for both of us. Please don't force me to do this as I am only trying to be paid for my work.

Neither phone call, check nor response was received. Exactly twenty-four hours after that email, I arrived at the store with sign-in-hand and asked to speak with Joe in a last ditch effort to avoid publicizing this piece of dirty laundry. After all, it was Joe who I had originally met with face-to-face (yet was avoiding my calls and emails for six months). When store employees once again told me "There's no check here for you and Joe isn't available right now," I politely told them I would stand there with my sign until someone puts that non-existent check in my hand. It was 11:05am.

Over the next 20 minutes, I estimate 300-400 cars passed by with many drivers craning their necks to read my 4x3-ft sign. I had designed it in Adobe Photoshop CS5 using the store's logo and large, bold 900-point type (yes, 900 points) with a clean, black and white palette to match the store's sleek, modern inventory. The sign company also had an 8-ft sign but I felt mine was plenty enough to do the job. As I was standing out there in the midday Florida sun, five or six store employees and a few curious customers seemed somewhat entertained by my willingness to right this easily avoidable wrong.

By 11:25, an employee came outside and said, "Well, it didn't take long. Here's your check." Feeling relieved, I immediately drove one block to BankAtlantic and walked out with my $1,600 cash-in-hand.

Case closed.

Well, not so fast. I take pride in having warned Ensemble Collection multiple times that I am a publicist by trade (in fact, it's basically my only marketable skill) and it's so gratifying that I was able to use my advertising, PR and journalism experience to bring justice to the situation. Every EC employee knows how hard I tried to avoid getting to this point.

Once I posted this story, my Facebook page lit up like a Christmas tree with words of support from family, friends, friends of friends and complete strangers. It's been retweeted multiple times and shows it trending with 152 clicks in the first hour after posting. It seems everyone has faced something like this at one time or another and considering EC's 2-star rating on Google and 2.5-star rating on Yelp I'm not the only one unhappy with the way they do business. With the internet being the world's great information archive, your reputation in cyberspace becomes an organic, dynamic and permanent record of who you really are.

Ok, now, case closed.

UPDATE JUNE 22, 2011: Case re-opened. At 11:12am this morning I received a call that began, "Hi, this is Joe Mirabile." I immediately thought he was calling to sincerely apologize for mishandling this whole thing. Instead, he went on to say, "You mentioned in your blog that I'm the owner. Well, I'm not the owner. The owner is a company that might take legal action against you." After a stunned pause, I asked him, "After six months of ignoring my calls, that's what you called to tell me?" Then I hung up.

If Joe Mirabile is, in fact, not the owner then the owner must be really, really pissed at him right now. And, what's the first thing an incompetent manager does when the boss asks why some man is picketing outside the store on a hot summer day? Managers like Joe (and so many companies are filled with them) try to blame the victim (because he certainly couldn't have caused this himself, right?). I sure hope Joe's boss is smart enough to see through it. If not then any decent legal counsule should ask, "Why didn't you just give the guy his money to begin with?"

Monday, June 20, 2011

Johanna :: The Wall

If your father is Italian, your mother is Dominican and you're 24, there's a remote possibility your body could look like this. It might also depend on diet and exercise but without the genetics, you'll probably be on my side of the camera.
Wilhelmina New York fitness model Johanna Sambucini was in Miami Beach for a few days so we decided on a quick collaboration. Just east of Collins & 18th is a newly-painted white wall. Next to that is a beach shower. Add a model (and a bit of clothing) plus the Miami sun and you'll have all the ingredients of a video shoot.
Legally licensed soundtrack is "Macky" from Danish composer Ganga

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

PORTFOLIO-in-MOTION :: Kendra In-Studio

This is the strikingly beautiful Kendra Holliday. Kendra is a Miami-based Elite model and we've worked together before. I was thrilled when she agreed to be a part of this first "portfolio-in-motion" idea of mine.

A 2.5-minute video can give a photographer or filmmaker a better idea of what a model or actor would be like to work with more so than any headshot or still portfolio. There's a big difference between seeing a frozen 1/250th of a second that's been photoshopped to death versus seeing a captured 5 or 10 seconds of motion.

The cost of producing a video like this (with full studio rental, assistants, hair, makeup, etc) would certainly be a few thousand dollars. However, multiple talent can split production costs to make them palatable. Plus, every video doesn't have to include this many "looks" but we wanted to get as much done as we could while on set.

Equipment included one Canon 60D, 24-70 L zoom, Cinevate Atlas 10 slider, Gitzo 5-series, Glidecam 4000HD, ShotTracker skater dolly and one 7-ft Westcott diffuser umbrella. Lighting was done with either one or two Lowel DPs. Edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and color graded with Magic Bullet Looks 1.4 (based on their presets but highly modified).

CINEMATOG: Corey Weiner
MODEL Kendra Holliday
HAIR/MUA Jennifer Majewski
ASSIST Alex Markow
SOUNDTRACK Slinky Gal by Darko Saric

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Need Music Just Like This

Since moving into filmmaking, I have an ongoing need for great music. While I've managed to find a few very talented, independent composers who can license their tracks directly to me, most of the other stuff out there is really, REALLY bad.

I need tracks that are of high production and creative quality. Here's a link to a playlist with a few tracks I have licensed.

Anyone out there with more like these? Feel free to email links and license fees to

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Models, actors, musicians and other professional artists should be creating these short, 2-minute "portraits in motion" to promote themselves.

For years, models have shown potential clients their highly retouched portfolio or when the client asks, a very poor quality digital "Polaroid" snapped by a friend. Neither one shows the model as they really are.

Now, motion pictures (aka "films," "moving images" or the cheap-sounding "video") have the ability to show different angles, expressions, personality and features of a particular person. Beauty closeups, walking, jumping, laughing and other actions can be included, or not. The best part is retouching motion pictures, for now, is exclusive to the biggest budgeted Hollywood productions so you can be sure the model looks just as you see them.

We shot 20-year-old Austra Noelsson with 100% natural light one morning outside in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The shoot took about an hour and editing was about three hours. The music is a legally licensed track called "When I Close My Eyes" from Danish composer Ganga.

Monday, May 23, 2011

How I Handle Telemarketers

Such an unfortunate part of American culture is the acceptance of telemarketing calls. I really don't know why we don't take to the streets against these people interrupting my time with my family.

This is a list of all the telemarketers that have contacted me over the past few years. I created a contact for them so I can avoid their calls. However, the list grows weekly, despite me being on the so-called "Do Not Call" list.

This is a list of fax machines that call my cell phone. Most likely, they are the telemarketers too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Marriott Rewards Image

Marriott is using our image for their "Rewards" benefits email newsletter. So, why are we not upset their using our work? Well, because we shot it for them at their property in St. Thomas, USVI.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sushi Installation

Just installed four large metallic chromogenic prints mounted on aluminum at Bluefin, a local sushi restaurant in Boca Raton, Florida.  This is one of my actual installations as opposed to my "simulated" installs on

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Zoe & Me

Zoe is a fashion model in West Palm Beach and we shot some things for each of our portfolios.  This is one capture from a shoot at Spa Eleven in Delray Beach.  It was a curved bank of mirrors.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

You're Now Entering Another Dimension

I've always been a huge fan of Rod Serling. He used seemingly average situations to illustrate unique ideas with both style and substance. After every episode of Twilight Zone, viewers were left thinking "I've never thought of that before."

How does the late Mr. Serling relate to my photography business? Well, it might be a stretch but after 11 years of shooting still images (along with the occasional video experiment), I am currently in the middle of my first 3D product shoot for a manufacturer of hair products.

We used a live model to create a series of 52 still images from unique angles and then stitched them together in post-production. It is a less creative, highly technical process that what I am used to. The result is an impressive 3D image that viewers can click/drag back and forth with their mouse. For web designers, it takes up less space than showing multiple angles and you could certainly never show all 52 of them!

Since Blogger does not have the capability to show 3D images, I have set up a separate blog for this work:

Out there is another dimension. My goal is to find as many applications as possible for this unique imaging technology.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New York State of Mind

I just returned from a quick 72-hour trip to New York City and as usual, there were a few "only in NY" moments.

As a child in the early 70s, I remember riding the subway, walking through Times Square and playing in Central Park when these areas were well known for muggings, assaults and other fun things. By the late 90s, the Giuliani regime had cleaned up much of the city and aside from the occasional one-finger salute, tourists can now enjoy most parts of Manhattan unscathed.

One of the most beautiful areas of the city has to be Central Park. There is one area within the park featuring a majestic elm tree-lined path where my family and I enjoyed a few moments of zen over the weekend. And when I wanted to photograph the beautiful tree canopy, I used my mini-triopd to set my camera at a very low, dramatic angle, dead center of the pathway.

While adjusting through my camera, I watched a grey-bearded wizard-type creature walk right up to my lens, mumbling something like "At your service" and "Google my name." (He looked like a KKK member after raiding the wardrobe department on the Harry Potter set.) I turned around but there were no film crews, kid's birthdays or early Halloween parties in the area. I didn't know where to redirect him out of my shot.

In my experience with shooting in other urban areas, I remembered the magic formula for getting people to move out of my So, I offered the wizard guy $1 (expecting him to politely turn it down as not to compromise his holy wizardry) when all of a sudden...POOF! The wizard—along with my dollar—was gone.

When I returned home, I did in fact Google his name "Blackwolf the Dragonmaster" and found not only did he recently appear on Conan O'Brien but has many YouTube videos including this one which will give you an idea of how Central Park's characters have evolved versus 40 years ago.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Play That Funky Music

A Miami-based hip-hop/R&B music promoter is looking for a graphic designer to produce CD covers, posters, banner ads and other marketing pieces.

I'm no graphic designer but above are two quick sample CD covers I did using images I shot a little while ago. It's funny what just a little cropping and typography can do.

Before this week, I probably would have referred them to one of my very talented designer friends. But now, I feel like taking on new and different things so let's see how well this white boy understands the hip-hop market.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Smile, Cupcake!

Now for something completely different.

Lise Ode, a good friend of mine, is starting a wholesale gourmet cupcake business. She's been baking custom wedding cakes for hundreds of dollars each and will now segue into the neglected cupcake market.

If someone would pay $4 for a cup of coffee, would they pay another $3 for a cupcake to go with it? We will see. In the meantime, she needed product shots and it just so happens that I do accept cupcakes as payment.

The lineup above is (left-to-right for the color blind) Pinkalicious, Minty Chocoate Mint and Creamy Lemon Dream. If you're feeling hungry about now, check out

Monday, September 14, 2009

Never Say Never

Remember when Bush The Elder made a campaign promise of "No new taxes" and then a few months later introduced a bunch of new taxes? Well, I always said I would never get back into my former life of graphic design but here I go again.

David Omsky, a 12-year-old amateur tennis player will be having his Bar Mitzvah this year. Since he loves tennis (and therefore loves Rafael Nadal), I asked him to sacrifice his teeth for a really great shot. I used the shot in the above invitation design and voila, I'm back in the graphics business.

If your dog is having some friends over for tea, I might even do an invite for that too. Aunt Gladys having her 200th birthday party? Let me know because I might actually enjoy this job the second time around.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hotel Rwanda: Part II

In the mid-1990s, Rwanda literally could not find a friend to save its life. Now, everybody wants in on Rwanda's prosperity and I guess that's just how the world works.

Back in March, I received a phone call from a man telling me about this 4-star hotel he built in Rwanda and how he wants top quality images to help market the property. He said he liked my work for Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz and others and he was willing to pay for that same quality.

My first thoughts (aside from that movie) were: How could there possibly be a photogenic hotel in a place like Rwanda? Are four Rwandan stars the same as four American stars? Does this man know what American photographers charge?

As it turns out, my impressions of this central African nation were still left over from 1994 when CNN, NBC and a few other media outlets were kind enough to preempt an episode of Seinfeld in order to debate the definition of genocide.

In the 15 years since the horror, this tiny country has experienced an introspection and self-improvement that even "The Greatest Country In The World" would be smart to emulate. Women now make up more than half of Rwanda's parliament. Dubai World has committed to US$4 billion in Rwandan development. There are plans to install high-speed broadband across the entire country and construction is booming. I guess success is easier once you've hit rock bottom.

A small component of this success is the Top Tower Hotel, a short drive from the new U.S. embassy in Kigali. It was designed by a Chinese architect and built by a Chinese general contractor. My client deserves the credit for hiring me all the way from Florida versus a local African photographer. I'm sure my cost estimate was a tough sell internally but he's somewhat of a visionary and an example of the country's new thinking.

I am thrilled to play my tiny part in helping promote the new Rwanda. But I'm also proud to be one of the few Americans to see that Rwanda's sequel is so much better than the original.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Art vs. Commerce

With the partial collapse of the commercial photography market, I think it's a great time to venture into the completely collapsed fine art photography market.

I received a request to do a large print of one of my favorite images shot in 2002. It shows the platform area of the very beautiful Centraalstation, Antwerp, Belgium's main railway station designed by architect Clement van Bogeart in 1895.

The image was shot with a Nikon F3 and 28mm tilt/shift lens (the lens later suffered cobblestone impact thanks to my then 3-year-old daughter). The film was Fuji Reala which I was obsessed with due to it's great color saturation and low grain. However, with such a large print from such a small negative, film grain is an unavoidable yet beautiful component of this particular piece.

Printed at 76x50" (1.93x1.27m) on an archival light-sensitive substrate and mounted on 1/4" acrylic and 1/8" sintra backing, the total cost to my client was very reasonable including delivery and hanging. Being an "unknown artist," I haven't a clue what a gallery would charge for a piece like this so if there are any art consultants out there, please let me know.

I've only made a few art prints in my 11-year photography career and it is certainly fun. But, my true love is marketing: Creating and licensing my images to help clients move merchandise, put heads in beds, butts in seats, a turkey in every pot (you get the point).

Friday, May 29, 2009

I Dream In Color And B+W

Had the craziest dream the other night...

I was walking by Harrod's on a bright and sunny day when I noticed a young lady ringing a bloke from a red phone booth.  She was dressed just like a fashion model.  I reached for my camera and started clicking.  Instead of turning away, she struck a pose and make very fashion model-like faces.  The shoot lasted all of two minutes and then before I could invite her for tea...POOF!  She disappeared.

When I woke up, I ran over to my camera to find the above two images on my flash card...crazy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Humbled by NOTCOT

My updated portfolio site was recently featured on the design blog

NOTCOT monitors style and trends from all corners of the globe so to say I'm flattered is a great understatement.  If you love great design in fashion, architecture and gadgets, this blog is for you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Love Tennis

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to shoot the ladies' singles final and the men's doubles final at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida. A good friend of mine could not make use of box seats which, you can see from the angle of my shots, were very close to the court.

First, Belarusian 19-year-old Victoria Azarenka defeated Serena Williams. Then, Israeli Andy Ram was playing in the men's doubles but we didn't stay until the end of the match because we realized everyone had gone home except us and Andy Ram.

Larger versions of these shots can be found on my new portfolio site which I am quietly updating as we get some kinks worked out.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Remember This Name

You heard it here first...Laura Scott.

We had a great shoot yesterday with 19-year-old Laura who brought her 12-months of experience, a bag of clothes and some great genetics to an impromptu shoot along the Miami River. Full of ideas and attitude (the helpful kind), Laura is sure to be America's next top model.

As for me, I'm discovering the freedom and creativity that comes with shooting fashion. A corporate client might say about the above shot, "Looks great but can you have the model stand up straight and smile at the camera? Oh, and...we need it in color."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pretending To Be A Studio Photographer

In 10 years of shooting professionally, I've never needed a studio. Since all of my work was architecture and travel-related, most of my shoots were on location somewhere. If I did need to shoot something small, I would convert my kid's playroom into a makeshift studio.

Yesterday marks the big turning point in this journey. I booked a 4-hour studio at TYE in Ft. Lauderdale and shot the lovely and professional model/singer/dancer Allyse Gibson for her portfolio and my stock library.

We'll see what the future brings.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Perfect Gift For Your Farmer

You've always wanted a video camera with cows, right?

The famous USB Flip video camera now comes in high-definition with b/w cow photography design.

The Bovine Edition Flip MinoHD holds 60 minutes of HD-quality video on an internal 4GB hard drive and sells for a very economically stimulating $240.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Longevity Of A Golf Shot

We shot the above image for Hyatt on a shoot in Kauai back in 2004.  What you see is about 80% of a 110-degree panoramic image of Poipu Beach's stunning volcano-to-Pacific golf course.  I just recently stumbled Hyatt's website and was pleasantly surprised at the image's long shelf life on their Gold Passport golf-specific portal.  Considering the landscape hasn't changed in thousands of years, they can probably keep using that image for millennia to come.

The Kauai shoot was done with a total crew of 12 including client, agency, models, etc.  It was a large production that I'd love to see again sometime but I get the feeling resorts are a bit scared to invest marketing dollars at the moment.  Where do resorts sit on the necessity food chain?  Probably right next to resort photographers.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Undisclosed Leading Retailer

Nothing is more annoying than a photographer who feels compelled to drop the names of his clients, hoping that someone else's hard earned brand equity will suddenly rub off on him.  After all, if his work is good, the photographer should feel secure enough with himself...right?

I will tell you that we have been shooting interiors for a French retail client who is not known for being a low price leader.  There...that's all I'm going to say.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Think Different.

This was Apple's advertising slogan back in 1997. The company, long known for its creative thinking, inspired its core customer to think outside the norm.

After shooting about 300 hotel rooms over the last decade, I've learned the bed, desk, TV and lamps are all givens. So, if a photographer's job is to set clients apart from their competition, they have to think differently.

I shot the above guest room for a major resort client on the island of Aruba and decided to just ignore the room (yes, a room shot that ignores the room) and focus on two elements: windows and view. After all, most consumers can figure out what the rest of the bed looks like, right?

While the last photographer of this room certainly didn't take a bad shot, it looks like a very typical Caribbean resort room. If you put both images side by side, which room would inspire you to pay more per night? If you were a magazine editor, which shot would you devote more space to?  That, dear reader, is the bottom line. Photographers who are able to increase the perceived value of a client's product will always get more opportunities to Think Different.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Red Square Photography Turns 10

This month marks the 10-year anniversary of Red Square Photography. Just writing that sentence feels strange since I still consider photography my "new" career.

Back in November 1998, I had grown tired of the advertising business. As any ad agency staff can attest to, burnout is easy when you're overworked, underpaid and spend your days (plus some nights, weekends and holidays) surrounded by the wittiest, most intelligent, manipulative, fun and narcissistic people. I fell in love with TV and print advertising at a very young age and always thought I belonged in that industry. But after eight years in agency account management, I became depressed with the realization that the more brilliant our ideas, the more tumultuous the process of getting them approved and produced.

Finally, at famed Miami design firm Pinkhaus it was Joel Fuller who pulled the plug. He told me, "Corey, you're not the guy I heard about before we hired you" and he was absolutely right. He also said, "All the clients think you hate them" and he was right about that too. I agreed with Joel on all accounts, made a sincere apology and left that Friday with my final paycheck.

The very next morning, I got a call from Palm Beach interior designer Annick Presles who does very opulent residential work in South Florida and the Caribbean. My in-laws hired Annick to decorate their home and she had seen some snapshots I took around the house just for fun. She told me they were very good shots and that she would pay me to shoot her projects. I asked her if this type of photography was a real job and she replied in her very French accent, "Oh yes, I pay architectural photographers thousands of dollars."

That was all I needed to hear. I shot the job for Annick and began assisting Dan Forer, a veteran architectural photographer based in Miami. I told him that I had just given up my $70,000/year advertising job, my wife is three months pregnant and I wanted to be his assistant. Dan said, "Great, you can start at $5 per hour."

Lucky for me, I was also starting to shoot real estate for a Sotheby's affialiate in Boca Raton called Premier Estate Properties. Premier had three marketing-savvy partners who wanted to build their brand with the distinctive look of super high quality architectural images. They saw the value of good photography in not only selling properties but wowing a homeowner into giving them the listing to start. Over the next six years, I would shoot hundreds of homes for Premier, most of them massive estates which not only built my architectural portfolio but gave my client editorial coverage they would not have received with the typical low quality images like the rest of their industry.

That was how Red Square started. As of today, total company sales during the last 10 years have been $1,760,465.78 with the bulk of that from the last six years. While I do work from home in a mostly fee-based business, this number still includes travel expenses, employee payroll, equipment and other outside costs so it's not my personal income. But, what that number represents to me is the total value of my work to all of my clients. That's what they have given me to create marketing tools to help sell their products. In a way, I'm still in advertising.

Behind the scenes there are a few people who have been with me since Day 1 and they must be acknowledged. First is Lauren White who for 10 years has kept my books in order, taxes paid, forms filed and QuickBooks running. This is one job that I could not do.

The other person I have to thank is my wife Katia who was only supportive when I decided to change careers. Since then, she has spent many dusks and dawns alone with our kids so I can travel. She never gets to come with me when I work in amazing places like China, Bali or some island in the Caribbean. And now that I'm doing more resort lifestyle, I'm coming home with shots of models running on the beach or half-naked on a massage table. How many wives would put up with that? She knows she can trust me and she's right because I am doing this job for my family. I remember Addie Lorber (wife of photographer Peter Lorber) once told me, "We aren't 'photo wives' we are 'photo widows.'"

As for the future, I can see three things on the horizon (not including a painful recession): video, a new website and more photo products.

First, I've been experimenting with architectural timelapse HD video which I find a beautiful and natural progression from still images. I'm teaching myself Final Cut but have yet to find a commercial client willing to pay for this type of moving imagery. For the website, I have contracted with famed Belgian web designers Group94 for a complete re-design of the portfolio site which will launch next month. Last, Red Square's sister company Kamra will continue to make photo-based decorative and food service items for hotels and restaurants. It's been a slow start but I still believe the idea has potential. We will see.

This blog post officially concludes the first 10 years of Red Square Photography. Next update: November 2018.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

End of the line for Digital Railroad

Well, after signing up with Digital Railroad for distribution of my stock images and regretting it soon thereafter due to their inferior product, the company has just announced an immediate cessation of all business operations. Photographers using DRR's services are at risk of permanently losing their images unless they have them backed up (as mine are). So, I am sitting in my hotel room in China, trying to migrate 1,500 images over to PhotoShelter (who, incidentally, is also facing tough times).

This makes the stock photography market feel more like that other stock market, doesn't it?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bank of China at 6:15pm

This IM Pei landmark lights up the Hong Kong skyline at 6:15pm every
night. I snapped this while my big camera was doing a timelapse video.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Live From Kowloon!

It's 5:30pm at Victoria Harbour and while my auto exposures are going, here's a live iPhone dispatch from the Star Ferry Terminal. You can see my most valuable piece of equipment is an old ferry cleat and a new Novoflex MiniPod.

These shots will be part of my redesigned portfolio site which is set to launch in December.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hi, Hyatt

At this very moment I'm sitting in Continental's Newark lounge, testing my iPhone's direct-to-Blogger posting abilities which are, so
far, impressive. And, as I flip through this month's in-flight
magazine, I recognize one of my shots.

Back in 2004, we went to the Hyatt Regency Kauai and cleared a
restaurant of its tables, brought in lounge chairs and wet the floors
in order to make it look like a private waterfront cabana (they pay
us to think of these things).

One thing we did not plan is the tiny sparrow on the left, who landed
just as I snapped this exposure. He quickly left as the strobes
popped so I was unable to get him to sign a release.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Please Prepare For Takeoff

I know my last blog post was a while ago but I've been preparing for two big, long trips. The first is to China where I will be shooting in Hong Kong and then attending a trade show in Guangzhou (the trade show is to meet suppliers for Kamra). Then, I'm home for three days to participate in Florida's second presidential election debacle before heading down to the Caribbean for another shoot.

Despite the economy, current bookings seem to be good through 4Q/2008 and 1Q/2009 (if I can offer myself as an economic indicator). The other purpose of this post is to test the direct email-to-blog posting system which I plan to use while traveling.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fresh Cut Shoes

A few years ago, I was on a shoot in Orlando when I came across a patch of wheat grass. It looked thin, tall and green so it caught my eye and I shot it.

A few days ago, Zazzle launched a custom shoe program. Now, the boring white shoe and the tall green grass can live together in harmony. And, for $67.50 plus shipping, your feet can join the love fest.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fromage du jour

My two good friends, Claude and Jacques, are obsessed with an old radio antenna. And they've expressed their unrequited love by writing the sappiest poem, set to the cheesiest music. Feeling sorry for those two quiche-eaters, I allowed them to use my images in their video.

If you like cheese...bon appétit!


Friday, August 8, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

But What I Really Want To Do Is Direct

It seems a few of my photo colleagues have diversified into moving pictures.  As photographers, they should already know something about lighting and composition.  Combine that with the relative ease of editing through free software like iMovie and just about any geek can become Steven Spielberg.

The other side of the coin is that with both visual and audible creativity comes the ability to seriously annoy viewers if things aren't handled with taste.  (Anyone who doesn't understand this should watch a few minutes of cable TV advertising.)

I have had a few clients inquire about producing videos and figure it's a perfect time to see if I know a good movie from a hole in the ground.  With this in mind, I've been up late, experimenting with iMovie.

If you have eight minutes, please watch my first iMovie, a montage of still images from our recent shoot in Mexico.  There's a music track so make sure your volume isn't too high or too low.

Any feedback is appreciated.  Since each of my blog posts usually produces an emailed comment or two, I'm sure someone can tell me if I've acheived cinematic greatness or just another screen saver.


Friday, August 1, 2008

It's A Small Worldnik After All

It was interesting when I was hired by Moscow-based real estate developer Mirax to shoot one of their projects in Miami. Not only was the location interesting but so was seeing the long reach of Russian wealth and business interests.

It got even more interesting two weeks ago, during a lunch in Gent, Belgium with local web design firm Group94. Project manager Tamara Schauvliege casually mentioned a client of theirs, "Mirax" and my ears perked up. Could this be the same Mirax that I know from Russia?

As it turns out, it was the exact same company. Not only that, but I remembered during the processing phase of the shoot, my client rushed me to finish the images because they had to "get them to the web design firm." I never asked who the design firm was and like so many of my delivered projects, it was deleted from my cerebral hard drive to make room for new projects. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Group94, they were using some of my images to launch the project's new website.

It must be nice to be headquartered in Russia, manage projects in Miami and choose a web design firm in Belgium. Then, at a chance lunch, it all comes full circle. The world is certainly getting smaller by the minute.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Accept No Imitations

When I started my photography business back in 1999, I searched for a name that was simple to say and easy to spell. Most of my fellow photographers use their own names like "Joe Smith Studio," and this being a very personal business, it makes sense for the craftsman to have his name on the door.

But, my name is "Weiner," a name I hate to hear, spell or speak. So, my business name was to be my departure from my ancestors who came from Austrian Galicia in the 1880s. Maybe Weiner was a wonderful-sounding name back then but today, it's either pronounced "whiner" (a complainer) or "wiener" (a hotdog...or worse).

One day, my wife just said, "How about Red Square?"

Without any thought, I filed for the S-corp "Red Square, Inc." (d/b/a Red Square Photography) and designed a logo with, you guessed it, a four-sided shape in the color of red. At the time, I knew there was a very famous Red Square in Moscow and a Red Square nightclub in Miami Beach. I knew the nightclub wouldn't last and I figured the one in Moscow was too far away to be a factor.

What I didn't realize is how many other people loved the red square idea and how the internet would soon make any physical distance irrelevant. Hundreds of companies from all over the world in all different industries use a red square in their identity. It must be a trend because Wikipedia shows nine different "red squares." Even a fellow Florida photographer offered the sincerest form of flatulence.

The best example is another company actually named Red Square Photography in Derbyshire, England. They started about five years after me (which makes me wonder why they didn't just choose some other name) and they shoot weddings, kids and animals. Not exactly competition, except maybe at domain registration time.

So, here I am in an industry that lives by serving the newest, freshest and most creative ideas. We're supposed to help clients stand out from the crowd, build unique identities and other things like that. I'm going to stop whining and design a new logo.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Yo, Airtaxi!

A few months ago, I got a call from Stanford Magazine, the alumni publication of yes, that university in California. In typical photo editor fashion, the voice on the other end asked if I was "available for a shoot tomorrow" and of course, on a limited budget.

Normally, I would just politely hang up the phone at this point but realizing this could be the closest I might ever get to a fine educational institution like Stanford, I had to at least find out what they needed.

Apparently, two of the engineers behind the "on-demand" jet charter company DayJet were going to be at Boca Raton airport for just a few hours and the publication needed a quick portrait for an upcoming profile on these guys. They did a Google search for photographers closest to the airport and since I live about 3 minutes away, I guess I won the contest.

I immediately thought of that great portrait of actor Morgan Freeman standing on the wing of his jet. Another image that popped into my head was Sir Richard Branson in the Samsonite ad. Aviation is filled with interesting visuals, if only we had time to set something up.

The best we could do was open the hangar at dusk and position a few aircraft for the shot. (Luckily, DayJet's rocket of choice is the very light Eclipse 500 which the average photographer can lift and maneuver for good prop placement.)

By the next day, I electronically transfered the high-res file to California and they went to press. The online article can be found here. As a side note to photo geeks: See how the website's version of the image has dropped the color profile versus the sRGB-tagged example above. I guess Stanford could use a lesson in digital!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Florida Builder Crushed By Giant Snowball

Liz Ordoñez-Dawes is a fellow photographer and a friend of mine. She's based in South Florida so technically, she's my competition. But, since both of us share an open attitude towards the photo community, we have each benefited by sharing ideas as well as the frustrations of our industry. I met Liz over 20 years ago when we both attended the same accounting class at our very non-Ivy League university.

Hopefully Liz remembered something from that class because she just won a copyright infringement case with an award of over $12 million.

The case involves a residential real estate developer who hired Liz to shoot his properties a few years ago. Liz granted his firm an unlimited, non-transferable license to use the images to promote his building company, excluding usage by third parties. (This happens to be my standard license as well.)

When the builder ignored the license and the additional usage was discovered, the builder refused to acknowledge Liz and instead, let the problem snowball into a Federal lawsuit. The defendant then let said snowball grow by refusing to show up for trial (which the judge didn't really appreciate) so the entire amount of the suit was awarded to Liz. Apparently the judgment will stick, even if the defendant files for bankruptcy.

To some, this large amount of money might seem disproportionate to the value of a few house photos. But, our copyright laws award large statutory damages of $150,000 for each work willfully infringed. So, a few stolen photos can cost a few million bucks if the infringer is aware of the copyright but chooses to ignore it, as in this case.

I've had a few of my own infringement cases over the past 10 years and even when I was awarded a judgment, I was never "made whole" again after the battle. But in each case, I was able to make enough of an impression on the defendant that would certainly cause him to think twice about stealing my work again. I also learned some important lessons:

Our legal system is not based on truth. Seemingly good people will certainly lie in order to suppress the truth and when confronted with hard evidence, these liars will change their story in order to minimize the damage they've done to themselves by offering a settlement that should have been offered on Day One. When it's all said and done, the defendant will always see the plaintiff as the bad guy.

Nevertheless, I congratulate Liz on her victory and hope the news deters people from stealing property for commercial gain. With today's anti-copyright culture, it will certainly remain an uphill battle.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Photographic Plates

These aren't your grandfather's photographic plates. They're actually 8" (20cm) porcelain appetizer plates with green nature images I shot in Miami, Orlando and Lake Tahoe and orange images shot in Miami, Kauai and Puerto Rico.

They're part of my side-project Kamra, a product design firm where we create custom photo-design items for hotel, restaurant, spa and retail. We also make glassware, serving trays, votives and other items out of handmade glass, crystal and melamine.

Above are the porcelain plates left in inventory and we need to make room for a shipment of new products coming in (yeah, sounds a little Ronco-esque but it's true). So, if you act now, you'll get the green porcelain plate collection for one easy payment of just $39.99. Or, you can have both collections—that's eight plates in total—for just $79.98. U.S. shipping is always free so order your's today!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Live From Cancun

This is our first remote blog post, directly from Cancun, Mexico.

No, we're not here to parasail, drink tequila or jump from one hotel balcony to another. We're actually on day six of a 14-day shoot for a major resort company.

After four days of thunderstorms and schedule revisions, we're now back on track. It's 12:07pm and we've come inside to download about eight gigabytes of raw captures shot from 6am to 10am this morning.

The weather is spectacular and as proof, I shot the above image about 5 minutes ago. While I did use a polarizer filter, I promise that this color was not enhanced in any manner.



Sunday, June 1, 2008

Let Them Eat Nikon!

I haven't been this excited about a Nikon since I bought an F3 back in 1997. When the quality of digital SLRs overtook film around 2003, I sold everything Nikon and switched to everything Canon. Most of my colleagues did the same, all with no regrets.

So, why does this new Nikon make my mouth water?

First, it's actually a cake in the shape of a camera. Second, it's red velvet cake with vanilla buttercream and fondant. Third, it was created by Lise Ode, a good friend of mine who recently launched a gourmet custom bakery in Delray Beach, Florida. Lise (pronounced "Leeza") bakes cakes in the shape of books, dolls, flipflops and lots of other things (gift-wrapping available upon request).

No, the camera cake was not for me. It was a custom order for a photographer who was getting married last week. Lise studied Nikon's actual D300 product shots in recreating the menu buttons, hot shoe and eyecup. She cut the logo by hand and just about matched the font. She even remembered the little red triangle (what's that thing for, anyway?). She left out the small lens detach button but if someone wants to remove that lens, they can just use a fork and knife.

So, how many photo geeks does it take to make a camera cake? One to order it, one to bake it and one to write about it.


Friday, May 30, 2008

What's Your Vector, Victor?

When I was 17, I had saved up some money working as a busboy to spend six weeks backpacking through western Europe. It was the most liberating experience, much needed at the time. I took tons of pictures and kept a written journal through nine countries (which might get its own blog someday).

I've always felt the ultimate luxury was being able to transport yourself to some far off place to taste the food, see the art, meet the locals and feel like a foreigner. Lucky for me, my job takes me to places where I get to do just that.

Work-related travel for photographers is much different than travel for most people with real jobs. We're not traveling to open a new branch, source suppliers or close any deals. We are traveling because some client feels there is no one in that particular spot who can do the job better than we can. That's a serious validation of the service we provide. And in the internet age, when it's fairly simple to hire any photographer in any locale, I hope clients opting to send "their photographer" overseas continues.

A traveling photographer knows his job is not as glamorous as his friends think. Convincing a flight attendant that your carry-on is not actually 3x the weight limit, watching a clueless TSA agent smear his greasy fingerprints over your $2,000 lens and waiting in the baggage claim area with your fingers crossed is certainly no way to commute to work. One time, my assistant asked an American Airlines flight attendant for a pillow and she barked, "We have no pillows!" and once I was told, "since 9/11, we have no more magazines."

Did bin Laden plot to take away my in-flight reading material?

To keep a running documentation of these glamorous trips, I'm using a custom Google map of our work locations (not personal trips but places where clients have actually paid us to create images). The map will be continually updated as new travel is completed.

Once in a while, I am asked by a new client if I can work somewhere like...Ft. Lauderdale (about 15 minutes from my house). Now, I can just email a link to this map and they will see that my love for travel knows no boundaries.

Monday, May 19, 2008

My Images Are Not Orphans

Imagine a large company using a photograph of you, without your knowledge, to sell their products. It's your face, your expression, choice in hairstyle, clothes and identity working hard to put money into some stranger's pocket without any compensation to you. After the steam clears from your head, you would probably call your lawyer.

Now imagine your lawyer saying you had no case because the company is protected by a law that entitles them to use your likeness since... well... they just couldn't find you to ask your approval.

This scenario is what all photographers, writers, musicians, illustrators and filmmakers grapple with every day, especially with the proliferation of digital technology and along with it, the ease of copying, distributing and profiting from other people's work. And it's about to get a whole lot worse if certain interest groups have their way with the Senate.

At this very moment, lobbyists representing the publishing industry and other sectors are working to persuade our Congress to adopt S.2913, the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008. If this law passes in its current form, it will make it fairly easy for all companies to steal someone's creative work, for profit.

If you ask the proponents of this bill, they will argue that large amounts of historic images go unpublished because their photographers are unknown and probably deceased (hence the term "Orphan Works"). This is a legitimate concern since schools, public libraries, museums and other institutions cannot afford to be sued for copyright infringement by a surprise claimant. These images can be useful for any application for "the public good" where there is little or no commercial profit. And, if these were the only applications for Orphan Works, most photographers (including me) would wholeheartedly support this bill. Too bad the bill suspiciously omits any protections from large, for-profit companies who will certainly use it to their advantage.

If you think this is just a problem for photographers, think again. The same problem could eventually extend to architects, interior designers and many other industries reliant on innovation and protection for their original ideas.

If you think this is just a problem for professionals, think again. There are a lot of very talented amateur photographers showing their high-res images on photo sharing sites like Flickr. If I was a publisher under Orphan Works protection, this is the first place I would go to right-click a free stock image library for my advertising campaigns.

For those who are not in creative industries, just simply imagine doing your current job for free. Or, maybe just 2 weeks per month free. Or every Tuesday, for free. Would you accept any of those scenarios?

If you are a creator who opposes the Orphan Works bill and wants to join the cause, you can find your senators by searching for them here and write them using this template from photographers, rewording it for your particular industry.

If you're actually a supporter of this bill, feel free to leave any comments below.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Have A Cow

I know we're making Wal-Mart nervous. As of today, we are what business professors call "horizontally integrated," with solid footings in both the photography and farm animal t-shirt sectors.

The Six Angry Cows t-shirt uses an image I shot on a farm in Damme, Belgium back in 2000 when I was experimenting with Kodak's EIR infrared film. Photo geeks older than 30 might remember that anyone loading, focusing, exposing and developing this invisible light-sensitive film resembled James Bond diffusing a doomsday bomb. The film was so sensitive that you had to load your camera in 100% darkness. But, the grainy, glowing look was really beautiful and even under/over exposures had completely different and usable results. Kodak discontinued EIR film last year and I felt sad to hear the news, even though I went completely digital in 2004.

I had fun with Zazzle's custom apparel website and the interface is wonderfully intuitive. Other e-businesses have a lot to learn from them since they're one of the few who work hard on the front-end design so the consumer can quickly order what they want, minus their money. No "Want to take a survey?" popups or other annoying things that degrade the user experience. Within a few days, the order comes well-packaged and everyone is happy.

For $25 plus shipping, you can wear a piece of bovine beauty and halide history.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Addison Mizner's Latest Project

Anyone who has ever been to South Florida knows the name Addison Mizner. Mr. Mizner, who died in 1933, is the only architect to complete more projects in death than in life. If he could Google himself from the heavens, he would be proud to find over 30,000 results... or, maybe he'd sue for misappropriation of his name.

Today, just about every developer of apartment complexes, shopping centers and country clubs "borrows" Mizner's name, along with a gross bastardization of the great architect's design elements. One offender is Mizner's best-known project, The Boca Raton Club (as it was named in 1925). While being passed around various real estate investors, this once charming lakeside hotel erected an ominous pink skyscraper in the late 1960s. Retained are still some of the original charming areas like the mosaic fountain garden just beneath the tower but even that area is adorned with a large green vinyl awning.

So, imagine my expression when I was hired to shoot the new Grand Del Mar resort near San Diego, arriving to find a familiar "Mizneresque" style of architecture. This Mizner project, however, seemed much different than the others.

As we went through our shoot days, I noticed that despite the large scale of the resort, none of the individual areas seemed too big. Intimate living room spaces, hallways that lead to special views, staircases that wind down underneath spectacular chandeliers... someone actually thought through these things. The Moorish archways, pinkish exterior, Spanish tile roofs and an elegant motorcourt all made me feel like I was in Florida circa 1925. (The only difference was seeing the California mountains and not having to eat mosquitoes during dusk and dawn shots).

The Grand Del Mar is Mizner's best work in 75 years.

The actual project architect is Robert Altevers who, according to his wife Lyla, studied Mizner's style from old project plans and photographs. As I told Lyla, her husband did a great job of interpreting Mizner's style and design elements. It really feels like Mizner, who appreciated the warmth of Spanish villas and Mediterranean patios. Sure, there are some modern elements that take away a bit of the charm but I'm probably too idealistic to be objective about the technical requirements of a modern resort facility. Anything short of actual time travel is just not good enough.

That's probably why I take pictures for a living.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Weekend Update

It has been a while since my last post. We have been busy shooting in San Diego, Miami and Trinidad. I have about 200 RAW files to process (taking 1-3 hours per file) and I'm about to take a 4-day workflow seminar with the famed Seth Resnik at d-65.

On the stock photo sales front, despite my 1,000-image library with Digital Railroad, I have yet to receive my first sale (I did get excited to provide a quotation for one image to be used at a trade show in Ghana but they decided not to invest the $99). I am beginning to question DRR's interface and wondering if PhotoShelter might have been a better solution for me.

In other news, the German photography website Inpholio has featured our recent Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach spa shoot, along with some great advertising images from other photographers around the world. Once you're on the site, make sure you click on my image to see the others from the shoot.

More news later...

Friday, February 8, 2008

I'm Window Dressing My Stock Portfolio

My portfolio has tripled in the last year. Wait...let me correct that...tripled in the last week. As of now, I've got 527 stock images available for license.

While I'm not generally an obsessive person, I have been obsessing about uploading, keywording and monetizing my intellectual property. It's not that my kids are starving but more my pent up frustration with the lack of entrepreneurial options for photographers who want to license their images.

Most photographers using the traditional routes to image licensing like Getty and Corbis are keeping roughly 30-50% of the sale (details of which are kept from the photographer). If the sale is sub-licensed through some other agency, the photographer makes an even smaller percentage and has less control over the license and is paid anywhere from 60 days to one year. With Digital Railroad, I keep 80% of the sale, set my own pricing with complete knowledge of the details and paid in 15 days. Granted, agents like Getty reach millions of buyers a day but I'd rather keep my images rarely licensed at a premium than often licensed at a substantial discount.

There's a great interview with the legendary Tony Stone in this month's PDN magazine. In it, he discusses the royalty-free movement and the nature of photographers to be independent in all aspects of their careers. I think if Digital Railroad stays true to it's current path of empowering photographers to make a living with licensing, they are certain to succeed.

That being said, I'm going to get back to keywording and uploading. So far, all of my best images are included. If you don't believe me, just enter the word "beef" in the searchbox:


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