How to make it in photography: sell overpriced bullshit to photographers

March 10, 2014

Have you heard?

fStoppers is holding an amazing photography workshop and conference at the end of May. Seriously. This is an event not to miss.

The greatest of the great will be there. Aaron Nace. Dixie Dixon. John Keatley. Mark Wallace. Michael Grecco. Mike Kelley. Peter Hurley, to name a few. They’ll be there to teach you the intimate and intricate details of photography that you, yes you, can integrate into your workflow, your inspiration, your perspective and your idea set.

It’s an opportunity to expand your knowledge while visiting an exotic location.

Oh. Did I forget to mention that the workshops are all to take place in Nassau, Bahamas?

Yeah, you’ll get to learn from these greats in paradise.

How much does it cost? You ask bright eyes and bushy tailed.

Well, you gotta get there. So there’s airfare. And per night at the selected hotels is generally $200/night. A little less at the budget hotel and a little more at the other.

You’ll be in resortland, so add in over-priced food to your budget.

Oh, and you’ll be in the fucking Bahamas, so if you’ve got kids, a spouse or a girlfriend or boyfriend (or both), you have to take them. Because who tells their spouse that they’re going to an important photography conference in the Bahamas, and I gotta do it alone.

How much is the conference? You ask with furrowed brow. 

That’s a good question. The menu for classes is a la cart. So a two-day seminar with Aaron Nace on how to plan your  dream photo shoot is $1500. One day to learn to light the Keatley way will set you back $750. Four-hours learning to shoot interiors like Mike Kelley, a measly $400.

Do the rough math for Tina and I to go — and for just me to attend workshops — add up airfare, miscellaneous travel expenses (cabs, trains, dog sitters, a beer at O’Hare, an Egg McMuffin in transit), accommodations, overpriced resort food, and a menu of outrageously priced photography workshops packing your days while you’re visiting fucking paradise … so now you gotta stay three or four extra days to soak up the sun and see the sights … I’m guestimating dropping between $12,000 and $15,000.

Let’s do some more math.

How many photographers do you know who do photography full time?

I do. That’s one.

I recently attended a bar powwow that my buddy Bill organized for photographers. Out of the ten photographers in attendance, I think three of us were full time. Three.

The average income of a photographer, I’ve heard is around $50k. On this site, it’s $25,000.

So let’s pretend that the average income for photography is around $35,000. Our income happens to be on a higher end of the spectrum, but we’ve been doing it for a while.

I personally don’t have $12,000 to $15,000 to spend, so I’d have to use credit or not go. If I depleted $12k to $15k, that’s much more than my average budget for gear, replacement gear, expenses, gas, mortgage, shoes, food for Talulah, a meal or two, other travel, other expenses.

Part of my point, though, is that more photographers are hobbyests and part-timers than full-timers. And what’s more attractive than spending five to ten days blowing hard earned dough in Nassau?

The target for a gig like this are photographers who are yet to make it. So they are probably on the low-end of that income level or they’re working a full-time job hoping to break into photography full time.

And what’s going to set a part-time photographer back from going full time more than blowing a shit-ton of cash on a frivolous vacation/workshop trip to goddamn Bahamas, where you’ll be sitting around watching Aaron Nace remind you a thousand times a second why you suck and he’s a genius.

This effort is literally the most egregious wannabe-photographers ripoff I’ve seen in a long, long … long time.

There’s so much shit, and I mean horse shit, marketed toward photographers, a herd of creative people nearly going extinct in the most rapidly changing market that it’s faced since Mathew Brady published images of dead soldiers during the Civil War and blew up how awful war is.

What fStoppers and all the photographers at the workshops are doing is a grift. They’re hustling a crapload of hopeful photographers into a den of thievery.

This workshop should be in a place and in a pricepoint that makes more financial sense for the market that they are targeting. As it is, they are handicapping the hopeful, pie-in-the-sky next generation by sucking their wallets/accounts/credit dry as an Arizona desert.

Because, as it seems, the way to make it in the photography world … is to literally sell hope and other garbage to sanguine photographers.

Yes. This means I’m not going. And I’m sure fStoppers and the rest could give two shits if a guy like me was there.

But if you are going, consider yourself hustled. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot. A ton, really. If the cost isn’t prohibitive to you, good for you.

I hope what you learn turns that $15,000 into a bottomless trough of clients with fat photography accounts and endless photographic and creative pleasure.

My recommendation is go to Nassau. Skip the workshops and buy every single one of Aaron Nace’s online videos.

You’ll save a ton, learn a lot and get a better tan.

misplaced passive assertive aggression

February 28, 2014

On the road to equilibrium, a friend made me aware of something I’m already aware of, but not in the sense of self-analysis.

Let’s say there are four types of communication. They are:

  • Passive
  • Assertive
  • Aggressive
  • Passive Aggressive

Defining these terms is likely somewhat simple for you. They were for me. For some help, a simple google search is doable. Or try this one.

There are a few thoughts I have regarding this new awareness of something old.

But the way I understand it, assertiveness provides the best form of communication, and how it was described to me, almost utopian in nature.

On further analysis, assertiveness is the form of communication that is the most absent in our culture. Most people communicate either passively or aggressively. Or passive aggressive.

I know I’m very guilty of this, here on this blog and in “real life”. For the most part, I’ve been unaware of how passive aggressive I am.

For instance, the other day, I photographed a band and it took me longer to do than I anticipated. Tina wasn’t with me, and she didn’t understand why it took me so long. She also wasn’t understanding that some of my negativity about the shoot was not directly correlated with the happiness of shooting a band like this.

So she kept harping on the idea that it was negative and asking why would I want to do it then. I became frustrated, because my communication, while direct to me, wasn’t sinking in to Tina’s brain. We had picked up groceries during the discussion, and when we were getting out of the car, I picked everything out of the car, expecting Tina to say, “What can I take up? You’re clearly bogged down with two camera bags, a grocery bag and a 12-pack of bubbly water.”

But she didn’t. So I didn’t say anything. I huffed up the stairs in a sort of temper tantrum-y, “Why wouldn’t she ask to help?” fit.

When I got through the door and to the table to set down everything, the cardboard in the 12-pack of bubbly water cans ripped and they tumbled to the floor. “FUCK!” I shouted and kicked one of the cans as it hit the floor, which immediately burst and splattered everywhere.

“What is going on!?” Tina called out. “What happened? Why didn’t you ask for help?”

“I was hoping you would notice that I was weighted down to the hilt and ask me!”

The argument dissolved, but I had to ask myself, “Why didn’t I ask for help?” Why did my passiveness result in a loss of temper? It was clearly my fault. I didn’t assert what I wanted, and I paid the price for it.

Aggression ain’t just a river in Egypt. 

On this road of discovery, I learned more about the concept of aggression. People often don’t realize they are communicating aggressively. Yes, aggressiveness can pertain to belittling others, or personal attacks, to get what the aggressor wants.

But aggression is also not listening. Aggression is talking over someone. Aggression is an “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude.

Assertiveness is allowing others to be right as well.

Where I grew up, religiosity was/is an aggressive stance in conversational activity. It’s aggressive in that it teaches not to listen to others points of view, not to be an active, empathetic listener. It doesn’t allow others to have a valid perspective.

And you know what, this aggression leads to developing enemies. It leads to developing a passive aggression from those who we love.

It’s an inadvertent yet direct way to say, “Fuck you.”

Be Assertive. Be be assertive. 

My misunderstanding about these types of communication types has certainly caused a dramatic withdrawal from my public persona, not only in my inner-personal relationships, but my business, my family and my social media.

Often, my communication slips from passive to aggressive in one fell swoop. I hate feeling like I’m being stepped on. I feel like I am not heard or listened to, and then someone posts something on Facebook gets the wrath of my passiveness.

The other day, I wreaked havoc on a friend’s wife. I mean, HAVOC.

Social Media is worsening the concepts of passive aggression.

When you post to a social media site that is controversial to one set of your “friends” and favorable to the other half, you’re basically saying to one group, “Fuck you” and to the other group, “See, we’re right and they’re wrong. Slap five.”

People think they’re being assertive, while they’re being aggressive in disguise. 

Being assertive is stating ones opinion, but not saying, “I’m right and you’re wrong.” It’s a listening attitude, rather than a one-way directional, from-the-pulpit kind of communication.

That’s why comments are always open here. So comment. And I’ll be better about keeping my aggression in check. :)

So that’s what those things are used for … vaginal syringes.

February 27, 2014


No, that’s not a dildo.

Or a salt shaker.

It’s a vaginal syringe. A device that:

When it came to the taboo topic of feminine hygiene in the 1800s, the common policy was “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Vaginal syringes, like those we found in our City Hall excavation, were used discreetly in order to maintain health, treat venereal disease and prevent pregnancy. Such feminine hygiene tactics were not discussed openly.

There are many other personal hygiene tidbits to be discovered in this article I found, including this one:

In 1935, a major advancement was made in toilet paper. By this time, the American population had already ditched corncobs, newspaper pages, leaves, and mussel shells for what we consider modern toilet paper. But it wasn’t until this year that Northern Tissue advertised the first “splinter-free” toilet paper. Paper production was still rather rudimentary and brands couldn’t always make this guarantee before.

Splinter free toilet paper. Could you imagine asking your spouse or loved one, “Uh, honey, I got another splinter I need you to get out.”

More great information about the history of hygiene here.



Thank goodness for this article: “Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience”

February 25, 2014

In the Daily Beast, Michael Schulson wrote an article called, “Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience.” He basically reams it as worse, or as worse, as the Creation Museum (or the creationism in general).


From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort (more on that later), Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares. And if you want a sense of how weird, and how fraught, the relationship between science, politics, and commerce is in our modern world, then there’s really no better place to go. Because anti-science isn’t just a religious, conservative phenomenon—and the way in which it crosses cultural lines can tell us a lot about why places like the Creation Museum inspire so much rage, while places like Whole Foods don’t.

My own local Whole Foods is just a block away from the campus of Duke University. Like almost everything else near downtown Durham, N.C., it’s visited by a predominantly liberal clientele that skews academic, with more science PhDs per capita than a Mensa convention.

Still, there’s a lot in your average Whole Foods that’s resolutely pseudoscientific. The homeopathy section has plenty of Latin words and mathematical terms, but many of its remedies are so diluted that, statistically speaking, they may not contain a single molecule of the substance they purport to deliver. The book section—yep, Whole Foods sells books—boasts many M.D.’s among its authors, along with titles like The Coconut Oil Miracle and Herbal Medicine, Healing, and Cancer, which was written by a theologian and based on what the author calls the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System.

Thank goodness for this article!

Go read the article here.

REBLOG: 1200 Calories

February 23, 2014


This article (reblogged below), despite its verbosity, is a good one.

I haven’t heard anyone say the 1200 calorie rule to women in a while. Tina and I count calories occasionally, and we manage to find more calories when we burn some from working out, which is absent (I think) from the original article.

For a TL;DR: Women who try to diet under the 1200 calorie “rule” will be sorely disappointed to discover that they’ll never achieve a beautifully “toned” body. Instead, consider a weight lifting regimen supposedly for men.

It’s validation for Tina on a couple levels. We’ve been eating more foods rich in vitamins and minerals. And she’s been taking a weight-lifting class twice a week. She feels invigorated and healthy, and wishes she would have learned about this kind of lifestyle years ago.

Originally posted on Sophieologie:

I don’t know why “1200″ managed to be the magic number of calories women should consume if they want to lose weight.

I don’t even know how I know of this number. Only that I know it, and my friends know it, and my mom knows it. Somehow, somewhere along the road, I was taught that if I want to have a flat stomach and tight tushy, I need to limit my calories to 1200 a day and do cardio. I don’t know how it got in to all of our collective brains, but somehow it did (if any ladies remember how or when they first heard the 1200-calorie rule-of-thumb for losing weight, please let me know via comment box).

What I do know is that 1200 is the general number of calories health professionals say women cannot drop below without suffering negative health consequences.

Interesting, isn’t it? 1200 calories. The…

View original 2,040 more words

Rekindling a lost love affair

February 19, 2014

Over the past few years, I’ve turned my attention away from a beautiful muse with so much to offer, she was overflowing like a mythological world flood.

Her name was Reading Books, and our relationship all but died. I mean, in 2013, I may have read through most of three books, but never finished one. Despite books by my bedside table, I resorted to a slide down Facebook’s walls or down a blog or two before bed.

I don’t know what to pinpoint as the culprit for losing my love for reading. A lot of the books I read up unto the point of our breakup were religious or non-religious in nature. In fact, many of the books were recommendations made by my brother. 

It wasn’t like no one tried intervening. A friend of mine who works in a real, live bookstore tried to keep the love alive, by hand delivering early copies of books from my favorite author, Chuck Palaniuk. I would start them, and get bored. Sometimes too quickly.

The internet is a tawdry temptress, and sometimes you feel “read” if you’ve got 16,000 bookmarks for constantly updating content and blogs.

But you know what revitalized my love for Reading Books again?

My wife Tina and her love affair with the Public Library. Over the past year, she’s contrasted my abstinence with a flourishing, sexy reading fest of a couple three books a month. Sometimes more.

In the car, there’s this constant, “Can you drive by the library, I need to pick up a new Book.”

I was green with jealousy. Green.

What’s this bitch doing with all these new, hardcover books with crackily plastic wrapped around them? The whore! I thought.

Or, to make me red with anger, she borrowed books straight onto her iPad via the Chicago Public Library website. Anything new, she could get either an old fashioned rub and tub via a page turning book. Or she could get a bit of a “how’s your daddy” from a virtual rental.

Before Christmas, I was determined to get in on that action, and jobs or business kept getting in the way. Once, we walked to the library, only to find out our branch is closed on Sundays. I blame the Catholics for preventing me from educating myself!

Finally, about three weeks ago, I said, “I’m fucking getting my library card renewed!”

I’ve already flown through two books, and scanned a couple photography books. Albeit, Dan Brown isn’t the level of literature I’d like to get back into regular reading, but it’s a start. You don’t hire the top hooker on the first go ’round, from what I hear anyway. 

And I can read on my iPad, iPhone, and likely my computer if I wanted to.

And where I leave off on my iPad, I can pick up on my iPhone. And any notes or highlights, I can review them later. And words that evade my intellect, I can google on the spot. And places, I can wikipedia. I can see a visual for a description that I have no context for outside of the words.

Reading ebooks is a sexy, rich, multiple orgasmic experience.

And you should give her a whirl … at least a roll in the hay.

The healthiness of not vaccinating

January 12, 2014

Over at Slate, Amy Parker writes about not being vaccinated as a child.

In the article titled “Growing up Unvaccinated,” She writes:

I had the healthiest childhood imaginable. And yet I was sick all the time.

Inside the post, Parker writes:

I had an outdoor lifestyle; I grew up next to a farm in England’s Lake District, walked everywhere, did sports and danced twice a week, drank plenty of water. I wasn’t even allowed pop; even my fresh juice was watered down to protect my teeth, and I would’ve killed for white, shop-bought bread in my lunchbox once in a while and biscuits instead of fruit, like all the other kids.

We ate (organic local) meat maybe once or twice a week, and my mother and father cooked everything from scratch—I have yet to taste a Findus crispy pancake, and oven chips (“fries,” to Americans) were reserved for those nights when Mum and Dad had friends over and we got a “treat.”

As healthy as my lifestyle seemed, I contracted measles, mumps, rubella, a type of viral meningitis, scarlatina, whooping cough, yearly tonsillitis, and chickenpox. In my 20s I got precancerous HPV and spent six months of my life wondering how I was going to tell my two children under the age of 7 that Mummy might have cancer before it was safely removed.

Keep in mind, this is only one, very subjective story. It’s not a cross section, nor is the account all that believable. Who are we to judge this woman’s “memories” of childhood?

The moral of the story, if you vaccinate your children, they will get autism.


The other moral, there is no global warming and evolution is false.


I almost became a Catholic over the holiday break

December 31, 2013

On our ride down to North Carolina, Tina took over driving for a few hours. I took the time to rest my eyes and catch up on social media.

On my Facebook feed, a young, Catholic girl posted an article that blew my mind. I mean. I’m dying to see how this current pope is going to change the current dismal perspective of Catholicism, but this particular article threw their efforts into overdrive.

Here’s the article if you want to read it.


And then the mind blowing began.

This in particular:

In a speech that shocked many, the Pope claimed “All religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there? In the past, the church has been harsh on those it deemed morally wrong or sinful. Today, we no longer judge. Like a loving father, we never condemn our children. Our church is big enough for heterosexuals and homosexuals, for the pro-life and the pro-choice! For conservatives and liberals, even communists are welcome and have joined us. We all love and worship the same God.”

And later:

“God is changing and evolving as we are, For God lives in us and in our hearts. When we spread love and kindness in the world, we touch our own divinity and recognize it. The Bible is a beautiful holy book, but like all great and ancient works, some passages are outdated. Some even call for intolerance or judgement. The time has come to see these verses as later interpolations, contrary to the message of love and truth, which otherwise radiates through scripture. In accordance with our new understanding, we will begin to ordain women as cardinals, bishops and priests. In the future, it is my hope that we will have a woman pope one day. Let no door be closed to women that is open to men!”

The words in that article, this passage above included, would almost — ***ALMOST*** — cure me of disbelief.

This section was pure gold:

Through humility, soul searching, and prayerful contemplation we have gained a new understanding of certain dogmas. The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity.

When I read most of the article to Tina, her response was, “Man, I’d consider becoming a Catholic again.”

That’s the rub.

The article is so well written and so ideal to what the church should do, but it gets too caught up in hoity toity, we’re right, they’re wrong bullshit.

It took three paragraphs before I said to myself, and Tina, “This is satire. We’ve been duped.”

So I looked further at the web site it was hosted on and sure enough, the site is satire.

Gold, though. Gold. Pure greatness.

Cheers to those folks at Diversity Chronicle. That was the closest I’ve been in a LONG time to consider even considering the consideration of a considerate thought about admiring the church.

And then you see stuff like this story (about how white American evangelicals reject science), and all that hope for the world is a flatulent balloon sound.

But then there’s the following, and my hopes are rejuvenated.

The war on which political ideology is CRAZIER!!!

December 17, 2013

You may have heard of the War on Christmas that has been waging from the airwaves of FOX News for the last handful of years.

There is a War on Christmas, because FOX told us so.

What you may not know — but you probably do — is there is a War on which Political Ideology is CRAZIER!!! There’s no mistaking that this is a universally recognized war, stemming from the networks, both liberal and conservative.

If it weren’t for the networks, you’d know very little about this superfluous war with a shit-ton more casualties than Vietnam or WWI, II or Pol Pot’s genocidal tendencies.

The casualties aren’t typical blood and guts killings. It’s more or less the rift it drives between family members and friends. A bomb goes off on Twitter. Napalm is dropped on Facebook. All of these stupid fucking arms come from ideas that belong nowhere near your loved ones of oppositional views and vice versa.

I don’t watch the CNNs, the FOXes or the MSNBCs, because knowing people who do causes enough rift for the rest of us. Those “NEWS” organizations do more to wage war between otherwise reasonable people who usually get along than any other resource.

It’s time to turn all of them off. It’s time to unify. It’s time to live in something that resembles harmony again.

Stop feeding the frenzy that your political opposition is crazier than you are. Because when the news organizations are roped into any peaceful scenario, blood will be shed and heads will roll.

Otherwise, this war will not end and the casualties will continue to rise.


Yay, science! Gravity visualized

December 12, 2013

Via Cyn C


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