I needed this today

From an article called, “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown:

Tom Stafford describes a cure for this that we can apply to career clarity: Instead of asking, “How much do I value this item?” we should ask “If I did not own this item, how much would I pay to obtain it?” And the same goes for career opportunities. We shouldn’t ask, “How much do I value this opportunity?” but “If I did not have this opportunity, how much would I be willing to sacrifice in order to obtain it?”

If success is a catalyst for failure because it leads to the “undisciplined pursuit of more,” then one simple antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less. Not just haphazardly saying no, but purposefully, deliberately, and strategically eliminating the nonessentials. Not just once a year as part of a planning meeting, but constantly reducing, focusing and simplifying. Not just getting rid of the obvious time wasters, but being willing to cut out really terrific opportunities as well. Few appear to have the courage to live this principle, which may be why it differentiates successful people and organizations from the very successful ones.

After another long day of figuring out my computer woes and sending emails to potential clients that handed them a piece of their own asses, I needed to see this.

I get caught up thinking that every single opportunity needs to be embraced and taken.

But I didn’t get here, because I was that way. I needed to remember that discipline.

Oddly enough, and some of you might remember these days, back when I was a Christian, I’d make these similar statements about the bible. You know, you’d read a passage and somehow think it pertained to your day, right now, in a way it didn’t yesterday.

Same words. Different context.

Glad those days are gone.

Article seen at Kottke

Monte running


This is a video I shot and edited back in 2003. I threw copyrighted music on it at the time. I put it on YouTube and it told me that in some cases, the music distributer is cool with people using without permission.

I’m afraid they haven’t seen this video yet.

My original idea was much more detailed with a story about a guy trying to run over to his girlfriend’s house to save his relationship.

But this is pretty funny, too.

Promoting one artist while disrespecting another

I recently received an email from a publication asking me if I would consider shooting a local music festival, gratis. The festival is local, but many of the bands at the fest are somewhat large. The publication is international.

The request was for two days of festival coverage and deliverables of a few, edited images per band (up to 10 bands) and several candid festival images.

They asked that I provide this work complimentary. For the love of the art, as they say. I would own rights, but that’s hardly going to cover the cost of my camera’s neck strap.

So, to be clear, I would help this magazine promote one set of artists, musicians and professionals … all whilst disrespecting my own profession.

Does anyone else see the issue here?

I mean, I’m interested in shooting this festival.

Elvis Costello and GWAR will be there. These two acts alone would be amazing for my portfolio.

But there is a larger issue at stake here.

Let me set up backstory. Ever notice how many people have cameras these days? I’m not talking about little point and shoots. I’m talking, full-on DSLRs. You may even have one.

When I was shooting Lollapalooza, there were umpteen people in the pits covering bands with point-and-shoots, phones and consumer-level equipment. They worked — albeit legitimately — for larger news organizations, and likely many of them for free. But since they didn’t have a fisheye, they used a GoPro which shoots automatically with a wide angle look.

I often felt offended that my craft and passion were somehow disrespected by the dude who would publish a picture of Florence + the Machine shot with a hundred dollar camera, or his iPhone.

Thankfully, I was paid to be at Lolla. Not much. But way more than nothing.

My point is that with the surge in camera ubiquity has risen the number of publications who can entice photographers to work for a byline.

A byline.

I can’t pay my mortgage with a fucking byline. 

The problem is many fold, but I’m pissed off that we as photographers have allowed this to happen.

I’m even more pissed that there are publications and organizations who are either profiting or capitalizing on the ignorance of others. Okay, so this magazine doesn’t profit heavily from the photography. And maybe the artists they cover aren’t all that popular. Or so they say.

This publication wanted to hide behind “doing it for the art” while hoping that I would deliver stellar shots of GWAR and Elvis Costello … all to garner and attract attention to their magazine. Because everyone knows that without a picture, the article is less likely read.

And without bigger acts, you can’t attract smaller acts. It’s just the way the world works.

And with the level of non-reading-ness in this era, the circulation of stories is even more dismal.

The problem is not working gratis.

It’s the devaluation and the disrespect of one art form for the promotion and perpetuation of another.

I love what I do, and I want to get better. I want my name in lights, too, and I want to have a thriving business with tons of big clients and badass gear.

What this publication — and many like them — fail to note is that there is a major infrastructure sitting underneath an outfit like ours. And we’re not very big. Every year, we turn around large amounts of our revenue to sink back into updating software, hardware, maintaining studio space, buying or updating gear, dealing with weather and broken gear, etc. etc.


It would be my dream to lead the pack on moving photographers out of the dismal act of working for free. But I’m afraid it’s a larger problem than I ever imagined. The road has been paved with idiots and suckers.

Thanks, America!

Being business savvy isn’t your forte right now.

Below was my response to the last email explaining how this publication wanted to skip foreplay and jump right in the sack for this festival:

Thanks for the information.

We aren’t above donating or negotiating services, and on occasion work for peanuts for the love and respect of art.

On a similar note, we are working with [your sister publication’s] staff to cover their anniversary party (September 6) and provide video promotional material. The deal is trading services.

We are a company big on promoting art, artists, and their work. We keep interns as often as possible, and volunteer our time and energies to charities, as we’re sure you must as well.

Unfortunately, a multi-thousand dollar donation of our services to shoot [this music] Fest on behalf of [your] Magazine is not in the cards at this time.

We hope that [Your] Magazine considers re-evaluating the business model of promoting bands, artists, musicians, while devaluing another subset of artists and professionals.

 While this would be a great opportunity for a hobbiest or student, there is a greater need to promote the photographers who make large (apparently larger than recognized) contributions to this magazine.


Jeremy Witteveen

What is it? He controls the weather or not?

I know. I’m late to the party.

But since Isaac — the greatest hurricane of all time — is threatening to disrupt the Republican National Convention in Florida … and God is the bringer of weather and uses it to declare his clear and almighty messages … does this mean that God hates the GOP?

We know that nature hates babies and starving children in Africa. That much is clear and true.

But the money-bagged wealth descending on Florida to whoop up lame-old Romney and his Rage Against the Machine sidekick?

Where is the love?

And where is Pat Robertson’s interpretation of God’s clear voice now?

Go get ’em, Isaac!

Or, it’s just weather and we should carry on. Like reasoned, versed-in-science, level-headed nice people.