Friday, September 24, 2010

September 24

Autumn is upon us. My favorite time of year in the tropical latitude of 21 degrees north... just before the winter wet season sets in (let's bloody well hope that it sets in this year). The area where my land-fort lies at roughly 1500 ft. above sea level is exposed to the prevailing north-easterly trade winds. This time of year, the otherwise steady winds tend to back off a bit... just enough breeze to keep the air clear of cane-fire smoke & volcanic smog (vog), yet light enough to enjoy the outdoor living even at that elevation. Blissfully warm early mornings & nights of autumn, the week has also brought the harvest moon, bright enough to light interior rooms in the house and cast strong shadows.  The quality of the light early mornings and late afternoons this time of year is nothing short of magnificent. You can almost see the flora readying itself to receive the rains of winter after the extreme parching  wrought by an exceptionally dry summer. 

Been feeling unusually knackered at the end of each day this week due to lack of sleep. Either the moon phase, new miniature canine-critter, snoring spouse or a combination of all the above conspire to wake me well before any reasonable human should.

The first good winter swell began pounding the north shores of these islands sometime in the night... light winds and clean head-high surf as I drove into town this morning. The international surf-nazis should be arriving soon enough to fine tune their quivers as they prepare for the Triple Crown competitions on Oahu. There's always a buzz in the air at the onset of big surf season. Excitement.

Lots of appointments for my rounds thru H-lulu next week to flog the new portfolio. Everyone so far has been most receptive to the idea of my visit, shiny new book in tow (must have mentioned that I'm planning on arriving armed with Krispee Creme®, a commodity both popular & lacking on the Island of Oahu). Magazines, Ad Agencies, Record Labels, Resort  HQ's, PR Firms... no rock left unturned. Airfares inter-island are, for some unknown reason, extortionate. Car rentals unusually reasonable. WTF? Arrangements for a couch for which to lay my weary head upon after each of the three days of pavement-pounding has been secured. 

Also busily preparing myself for the transformation to "fine-artist" Framing, matting, packaging, working out the details for a proper display of THE WORK. The "gallery" display and sittings at the Four Seasons Resort in Wailea begin the first week of October. If there's work that you would like to own, now is the time to purchase, before I become famous and prices skyrocket.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The Lawyers...

Dick the Butcher uttered that memorable line from Shakespeare's Henry VI and he may just be on to something. Okay, I will grant you that a good lawyer comes in handy when you need one, but just how often do you need one really? And you can't have just one lawyer now can you? No... there must be at least two of them to communicate in that dry, humanless, dense & indecipherable language of legalese spoken amongst members of their tribe. If one lawyer is involved, then there must always be another to translate their gibberish into something understandable by you & me.

And lawyers these days, at least on a media corporate level, seem to have very little to do these days and now occupy their expensive time drawing up offensive, over-reaching documents now being circulated as "Contractor's Agreements" or "Freelance Contributors Agreements". If you have been or are a regular contributor to large scale publications, either as a photographer, writer, designer or illustrator, chances are you've encountered one of these wretched little things.

OK... I understand that the lawyers are only doing their job, assisting their clients in protecting assets, securing intellectual property in ways that allow the utmost flexibility in generating not only use & exposure and, ostensibly, profit too... or at the very least, limiting cost exposure in terms of  future, unforeseen use & distribution of art, words and other forms of content published in their pages, on their websites, social media sites, etc. And while the new corporate media paradigm we see emerging may be an excellent business model in the conscience-less, non-human corporate-world model, it does very little in building human relationships between corporate media giants and the contributors they rely on to fill their pages.

To wit: Here's a copy of an "agreement" I received yesterday... after receiving & executing the assignment and delivering the preview images to the assigning editor. Names have been obscured to protect the greedy:

To be fair... immediately upon receiving the above, I contacted the assigning photo-editor to let him know that this "agreement" was unsignable in it's present form and that I had been shooting assignments for this publication for several years and had never been presented with an agreement like this... or any agreement, for that matter. Licenses, along with budgets & fees were always agreed upon prior to the assignment and written up in my standard invoices & Terms & Conditions, as it should be. His response was sheepishly apologetic. Yes, he had received howls, complaints and refusals from freelancers around the country ever since the new policy was instituted, the magazine had been recently bought up by a larger publishing conglomerate, all of the photo editors at the conglomerate's other publications were also experiencing the same cries of "foul" from their contributors, the photo-editors were talking with corporate about changing the wording of the agreement's template, changes were in the making and in the meantime, please feel free to cross out, initial & date any and all objectionable language.

Fair enough. The agreement  was literally gutted with my trusty sharpie and additional language was inserted stating that the use license contained within my invoice superseded any conflicting language in the publisher's agreement and that no rights of use in any form were granted until payment in full had been received. 

The point I'm getting at, beside the myriad reasons why no self-respecting free-lancer should sign one of these things in the first place is this: 
  • Relationships Matter: Photo-editors are, more often than not, your best friend & biggest advocate at the publication level. They hand out assignments, they provide valuable art-direction, they provide you with feedback on your work and how you can improve your work to better meet their needs (which, in turn, can lead to more assignments). They sometime (usually, in my experience) fight for your rights and respect at the corporate level. Unfortunately, these boilerplate, rights-grabbing templates do little build relationships by setting up an adversarial relationship right out of the gate. Photo editors, by and large, get caught in the middle. While they understand our concerns about these contracts & sympathize with us, even advocate to their bosses on our behalf, in the end, they have only so much power of persuasion when it comes to influencing company policy.  Ultimately, photo editors are bound to toe the company line, whatever that line may be. They don't like being thrown into adversarial situations any more than you and I.
  • Time Is Money: As a result of the corporate move to hungrily devour rights unnecessary in most instances, photo editors, as I mentioned above, get caught in the middle. Time that could be invested in researching new talent, new story angles, developing a pool of talent is now often wasted fielding the howling calls & emails of free-lancers, advocating on our behalf to their bosses, etc. On our end, precious time that could be spent shooting, editing, marketing is now expended in trying to read these nearly indecipherable documents, attempting to negotiate new terms, etc. Time is being wasted in an way that is ultimately wholly unnecessary. That gets frustrating for both sides.
  • The Demands Are Unnecessary & Uncompensated: Traditionally, editorial photography has always been a lower paying gig than, say, a corporate or advertising assignment. The trade off to editorial work is that it allows the photographer a great deal of creative freedom, albeit within certain parameters of the assignment of illustrating the accompanying text. There is also a certain measure of the "exposure" factor to be considered. While there are some benefits that do come with the exposure of having your work in print and before thousands of pairs of eyes, exposure in & of itself can never be the prime consideration if you plan to operate a sustainable, profitable business operation. Demanding worldwide rights of use in all media, in perpetuity & without additional compensation and for only a basic editorial day rate is unfair, especially given the fact that in most cases, those rights will never be exercised. Furthermore, should you grant Publisher XYX such far-reaching rights of use, you ability to offer any sort of limited exclusive license to future art buyers become virtually impossible, limiting your ability to profit from your creative output in the future.
Now... rather than just make blanket statements about why a free-lancer should never sign one of these contracts as is... let's tear the one I received yesterday apart point by point, shall we?

OK... the introductory paragraph states the date of the agreement and introduces the scope of the assignment. So far, nothing objectionable here.

  • Paragraph 1.1: Here it states that if you, the photographer, fail to meet the deadline without a pre-arranged understanding with all assigning parties, the publication is under no obligation to accept the work or to pay you or cover any expenses incurred in executing the project. Fair enough...
  • Paragraph 1.2: The publisher states here that they reserve the right to alter by cropping, editing or augmenting your submitted images. Cropping to meet space requirements or to increase a photograph's impact is and always has been acceptable. The word "edit " & "augment" leaves some cause for concern. No attempt is made to define the terms "edit" or "augment".  In today's world of easy Photoshop manipulation & compositing, selective editing, and an overly litigious public, this language leaves a lot of room for trouble. Say, for instance, that some editor at the magazine had an axe to grind with one of the subjects you were assigned to photograph and decided to Photoshop the head of one of your subjects onto the nude body of a porn star and then run the composite with a inflammatory caption. In that case... and it HAS happened, you are now exposed to all sorts of legal action against you. Chances are, if you've maintained good records and paper trails, you will prevail, at least legally, in the end. Unfortunately, getting to "the end" may bankrupt you in the process.
  • Paragraph 1.3: Kill Fees... not uncommon. The language "Contractor agrees that publication of the Work will be solely at the discretion of [Publication XYZ] ..." is a bit troubling. If the work submitted does not meet the scope of the assignment given, is of poor quality, etc... then I feel the publisher is within his rights to reject the work. I also feel that they need some substantial reason to reject the work beyond there was no room in the issue for it or some other arbitrary decision not to publish. Demanding 30 days to either accept or reject assigned work is objectionable for obvious reasons. A Kill Fee "not to exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the scheduled publication fee." is equally objectionable. By "scheduled publication fee" they limit payment only to a small fraction the agreed upon creative fee for producing the work and exclude any form of reimbursement for pre-agreed upon expenses incurred in producing the work.
  • Paragraph 1.4: If the publication decides to publish the Work, then it agrees to pay you upon publication. Let's not forget that in a previous paragraph, the publisher also wanted 30 days to notify you that the work has been accepted. Factor in that most publications assign work at least two months prior to the issue's publication date and, in most cases, even farther in advance... you're now looking at 90 days, 3 months, six months or more before getting paid. In essence, you're making a loan to the publisher. The loan is uncompensated, no interest accrued, until the publication date... which, by the way, is at the sole discretion of the publisher. Is your business in such a position that you can afford to make such a loan?  Your licensing agreement should contain language that includes legal remedies for payments not received within 30 days or less of submission. Your license should also contain very clear language stating that no right of publication or distribution in any form is granted until full payment has been received.
  • Paragraph 2.1: OK... here's where things really go off the tracks. Traditionally, editorial work, due to the traditionally low fees that come with it, has been licensed as "one-time use only" in whatever primary publishing form it is intended to appear... print, web, etc... If the work was assigned ultimately for print publication, then without additional compensation/use-fees all publishing options were excluded, that included online versions of print publications, iPad & Kindle® media formats, etc. Furthermore, use has been traditionally limited to specific regions and languages without additional compensation. We see in this paragraph that the publisher is demanding all rights in all media in all languages in perpetuity... forever & ever for the initial fee. Chances are that fee did not include what has long been traditional compensation for such a  broad and over-reaching demand of rights. To be fair, the wording in this paragraph does include the caveat " [use] as described in the Project Outline". In this instance, the photo-editor was kind enough to state in the Outline at the bottom of the form the specific print publication and the accompanying online version. Also, in the spirit of fairness, I know that this publication publishes magazines in several major metropolitan areas around the country and often, stories and other content are published simultaneously in several different regions & markets. In those cases, such a demand of far-reaching rights may be somewhat justified given that the associated editorial fee is in line with that extensive use. In the case of local & regional content destined to appear only in one specific region or market, such attempts at a rights-grab without additional compensation is both wholly unnecessary & offensive. 
  • Paragraph 2.2: This paragraph deals with the traditional embargo of assigned editorial photography (and other content). Traditionally, embargoes of the Work have been until first publication of the Work. That's only fair as the publisher was the origin of the assignment and, in turn, should have first right of publication. Due to the low pay structure of most editorial assignments, photographers have always sought other venues for publication of work, even assigned work once the first rights have been exercised. Demanding an embargo of  90 additional days after first publication is not completely objectionable, in my opinion, I can see where there would be cases where the images may be newsworthy or otherwise time-sensitive and such an embargo would limit the author's ability to generate income from his/her intellectual property. It's going to be up to the individual to decide whether or not to agree to this term on a case by case basis. The unusual language in this paragraph is the demand that subsequent publishing of the Work requires the accompanying statement "previously published by XYZ Media" and further requiring the photographer to "notify [the original commissioning entity] within five(5) days of entering into said agreement" to license work to another party after the first rights of use have been exercised.  My only response to this is WHY? Never have I seen this language in any agreements previously sent to me. Silly, offensive and again, unnecessary.
  • Paragraph 3.1: This starts out innocently enough. You warrant that the work submitted was created by you, that you have the rights to license it for publication and that you do not violate anyone else's copyrights or proprietary rights by offfering the Work for publication. That past of the paragraph is pretty standard stuff and I take no objection to any of it. sadly, the publisher goes a step further, demanding that the phoitographer INDEMNIFY & hold harmless anyone ever associated with or working for the publication, either now or in the future, against "any and all liability, loss or expense, including reasonable attorney fees, resulting from any breach of warranty or representation made herein." One one hand, this language would seem to make some sense at first glance... that the warranties made to ownership & right to publish the Work are proper and legal. That's simply good business sense and good ethics in doing business as an editorial photographer. However, even if your paperwork is legal, proper and correct and your warranties accurate, the language of this portion of the paragraph appears so vague and open-ended that a scenario in which some former publisher's employee might see fit to alter the intended original use of the Work and potentially portray someone inaccurately or unflatteringly could open up a legal can of worms for you sometime in the future. Once delivered, the files held by the publisher are out of your control completely. It is only proper that the media company does everything within it's power to protect against improper use or unflatteringly altered work ever seeing print. In the event that it did somehow happen, agreeing to this paragraph could leave you holding the bag for legal fees to defend yourself for improper conduct on the part of the commissioning publisher. It is never a good idea to indemnify a client commissioning work for you against anything. In fact, most photographers Trems & Conditions require the client to indemnify the photographer against improper use by the client.
  • Paragraphs 4.1, 4.2 & 5.1: Nothing out of the ordinary here. No objections to any of this language.
  • Paragraph 5.2: Unless you alter this contract completely or even better, refuse to sign it altogether and provide your own licensing language and Terms & Conditions, by signing it you are bound to it's terms. Don't sign it as is. Do what ever it takes to negotiate on the vital points to work in your favor. That's not to say that your alterations will ultimately work against the publisher's interests... quite the contrary. The be enforceable, any contract needs to be a "meeting of the minds" and work towards the benefit of both parties involved. In my case, when confronted with this contract, I simply crossed out this paragraph entirely, initialed and dated it and then inserted my own language stating that the license included in my invoice & terms supersedes any conflicting language in the free-lancer's agreement.
  • Paragraph 6.1: Finally, the contract concludes that any disputes regarding this agreement shall submit to the jurisdiction of the California courts. Do you have the time and money to fly back & forth to deal with legal issues arising from your licensing work to the publisher? I don't! make sure your agreements fall under the jurisdiction & laws within the state where you do business. 'Nuff said...
As a measure of full disclosure, let me state now & for the record that I am not an attorney. I offer the above only as a guideline for you, dear reader. When faced with agreements like the one I discuss in this entry, I encourage you first to carefully read the thing before you sign it, to do your best to negotiate on the objectionable points and to seek competent, professional legal advice when you have questions. 

Here's an example of my license/invoice and standard terms & conditions as suggested by the organization Editorial Photographers (EP) just to give you an idea as to how most of us present these matter to our clients. You can click on the image below for a larger, readable version.

I encourage all of you, especially the new, up & coming photographers out there to  spend as much time researching business practices when you venture into the areas of editorial & commercial photography as you do marketing and promoting your business. These niches of the photographic industry are very different from, say, "consumer oriented photography" (i.e. wedding, portrait, school photography, etc.). It would not be unreasonable to state that freelance editorial photography is currently under attack from corporate publishing behemoths hell-bent on securing rights that they will never use or need. If they were willing to compensate us for these over-reaching attempts at rights grabs, things might not be so bad. Sadly, they are not willing, in most cases, to provide additional compensation. Furthermore, I have yet to be confronted with one of these agreements where I could not negotiate terms more in line with long-established business practices. In the end, negotiations have always ended up with a contract containing far more reasonable language. 

Remember that you are absolutely powerless when confronted with these attempts to limit your ability to profit from your creative output while granting the client opportunities to potentially distribute, dilute and yes, potentially profit from your work until you find yourself willing to say NO. Also remember that negotiating is possible in nearly all of these cases, at least in the ones I've encountered thus far. It's important to learn to say no while leaving the door open to form a more reasonable agreement. In the end, I've found that client's have greater respect for those that stand up for reasonable business practices and their right's as artists. 

Ultimately, the world of publishing works best when there is a spirit of collaboration, when publishers acknowledge the value of work they rely on to fill their respective products and freelance artists feel motivated to produce the best work possible on any given assignment. To pay the extortionate retainers to a team of lawyers hired to pull the rug out from under contributors seems to me to ultimately work against the best interests of publishers. These adversarial agreements would seem to limit the talent pool publishers have to select from, though I also know that there are many freelancers, both new and established, willing to toss away sustainable business models in exchange for the promise of exposure and a small check. Perhaps these publishers may never reach the bottom of the shallow end of the talent pool... as artists continue to operate from a position of fear or from having no experience or understanding of traditional business practices. The world would be a much better place if, in the end, the money paid to these legal teams to generate these offensive documents was spent to fairly compensate those that actually generate valuable content contributing to the final valuable product.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Offerings Sent, Prayers Answered

Odalon Ceremonies At Pura Tama Sari, High In Bali's Mountainous Interior

The last two days have been spent creating and sending out the latest in the ongoing email promo campaign. So far, the new piece has been well received and has already (literally within minutes of sending it) generated an editorial assignment from Chicago-based photo editor Jeff Milles for Modern Luxury Hawaii in addition to a flurry of kind & generous responses from a respectable number of recipients. 

Tuesday, received the hoped-for invitation to join the artists program at one of the major South Shore resorts. Can't say which one yet as the paperwork is still being finalized.

I have to say I was shocked as how it all came about. I was told by the program's director that I needed to come to the resort with a handful of sample works to show to the hotel's general manager. From there, the manager would meet with the acceptance committee and make recommendations on the artists he/she thought would best fit the program. Those artists would be called for a more thorough show & tell review and from there, the committee would select one participant to join the program.

Childhhood experience as a boy scout taught me to be prepared. Last week, I cleared the walls of my home & studio of artwork, bundled up both framed and unframed prints alike and headed down to meet with the GM. The meeting consisted of me showing my work to the GM from a borrowed bellman's cart in the luggage storage area in front of the lobby. The whole meeting lasted about 5 minutes and I was certain I had failed in my mission, but left a few of the unframed prints behind for the committee viewing at the GM's request, bundled up all the framed stuff and headed back home with fingers crossed but no real hope.

Tuesday morning, I get the call. It's the GM again. Am I still interested?, the GM asks. Of course I'm still interested. I'm told that my work has been given the nod and I don't even have to come back for the second committee review! 

Wow! Cool! Thank You!

Today I have also joined Hawaii's biggest stock photography agency/distributor - Photo Resource Hawaii. Thanks Tami!

Now I have a mountain of work to keep me busy between assignments... editing, keywording & uploading images to the stock site. And there's the research & purchasing that needs to be done for wholesale frame, mat and packaging suppliers, display manufacturers, etc. in preparation to start the weekly resort art program sittings.

Next week I'll be making calls to set up appointments for review of the new print portfolio at all the Honolulu Ad Agencies, PR Firms & Publications. Heading to Oahu at month's end to make the rounds & beat the bushes...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Microstock's Sudden Brush With Karma, or Shouldn't You At least Buy Me Dinner Before I Bend Over?

It was less than ten years ago when the model for distribution of photographic images known as Microstock first reared it's ugly head and changed, perhaps forever, the stock photography landscape. Professional, skilled photographers once distributed their work thru various stock agencies charging real-world licensing fees and curating enormous collections of captivating imagery from pros who depended upon these agencies to distribute & license their work to art buyers. Back in those days, if you had a good understanding of the marketplace, it was possible to earn a very decent living from relatively decent royalty structures within these stock agencies.

Enter Microstock. Rabidly defended by those that chose to participate as a sort of fuck you to what had become an elite & greedy stock photography establishment dominated by companies like Tony Stone Worldwide, Getty Images, The Image Bank, Superstock and others. Microstock contributors viewed themselves as pioneers, taking smaller percentages of sales far, far below traditional licensing fees from the major stock houses. The theory was that lower prices meant increased sales volume. As a result, photographers producing work below the standards of the big stock distribution agencies had suddenly found homes... even incomes from their work. Suddenly, images licensed from Microstock agencies were finding their way onto the covers of major publications, delivered and licensed for fees amounting to pennies on the dollar from what would have been garnered thru licensing from traditional, rights-managed agencies.

Pro photographers heavily invested in producing work for these traditional, right-managed agencies cried foul... claiming that the business models of companies like iStockphoto & Almay, two of the biggest players in the Microstock field, were unsustainable. Citing that digital technology had enabled amateurs producing inferior work and were now wrecking the market with bargain basement licensing fees.

On September 7th, iStockphoto (now owned by Getty since 2006) COO, Kelly Thompson, dropped the bomb and confirmed what most of us already knew... Microstock models ARE unsustainable... for the contributors, that is. With an announcement posted on the agency's forum, Herr Thompson outlined the plan to drop royalty fees structures to iStockphoto's contributors. Under this new fee structure, royalty percentages to agency contributors would be dropped, for some as low as 15% of the gross sale. 

Jeremy Nichol, of The Russian Photos Blog, likened the statement to a PR blunder worthy of BP's Tony Hayward. While breaking the bad news to it's contributors, iStockphoto's chief went on to describe how business overall had increased. Nichol cites a statement made by iStockphoto in January 2008:

"That our revenue and payouts have eclipsed those of many traditional stock photography companies confirms that microstock is a viable and profitable business model for contributors & clients."

Nichol also cites an August 9, 2010 company missive, which reports:

"Since roughly 2005, we've been aware of a basic problem with how our business works. As the company grows, the overall percentage we pay out to contributing artists increases. As a business model, it's simply unsustainable"

OK... I was never good at math, but something stinks here... business grows, sales increase. The business model here depends on and profits from work produced by the "contributing artists". If growth has occurred and sales have increased then, of course, payouts to those contributors would rightly increase also. What should be a win situation for all involved is now appearing to be an atavistic exercise in the very same greed & hubris railed against by those very same "pioneers" who set out to change the landscape of stock distribution and the many foolish contributors who tied their fate (the most profitable of them tying their fate EXCLUSIVELY) to this pioneering effort. 

And the burghers are not the least bit happy with the news. All is not well in the village. Pitchforks are being sharpened and cauldrons of oil have been placed on the pyres. At the iStockphoto forums, over 3,336 posts, overwhelmingly negative before the thread was locked, were posted in response to Herr Thompson's initial announcement. Thousands upon thousands more have been posted in new threads discussing the change in royalty structure in recent days. One of the more entertaining and spot-on retorts on this forum came from a seasoned pro who waded into the cesspit with this:

“All of you have been so happy to undercut traditional stock photography, copying the best selling images, shooting every hamburger you ever ate, and now that the traditional photographers (often derided as ‘trads’ by you) have come in to beat you at your own game, you’re shocked- yes, shocked!- to find out that this is a business, not a little happy family giving each other muffins and logrolling in the forums. Well, welcome to the real world- the one that you made for yourselves. 145 pages of whining and wanting things to go back to the way they were- it’s so pitiful. Face it. You aren’t going anywhere. You are going to stay here, and do what the man says. You are getting the bed you made yourselves, so go lie in it. Or go back to what you do best- arguing over the color of your little ribbons.”
You can read the rest them for yourselves here.

Outrage! And rightly so, methinks. Not that I ever thought that the microstock model was viable in the first place, but those that did decide to throw their creative output into that ring are now faced with trying to figure out just how many sales grossing $25, of which their take could be as low as 15%, they will now have to make to cover that mortgage payment or to upgrade from that Canon Rebel.

Bottom line: image demand is up, yet rates for the licensing of images has been in a downward cycle not only instigated, but encouraged by those who prey on the fears & insecurities of those involved in creative pursuits... or simply by those entering the field with little to no business background or real understanding of the costs of operating a profitable business model and an overwhelming desire to see their work in print. I meet these folks every day.

Viewing and treating your creative output as a commodity is unsustainable. Sure, in the current economic climate, concessions must be made from time to time. To adopt these concessions and give-away pricing structures as a long-term business model is madness. As Rob Haggart wrote at A Photo Editor:
"Trying to be the cheapest is a miserable business to be in."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Odds 'n Ends

Much of the first part of the week spent catching up with old DC mate and keyboardist Gregg Karukas & his better half, in town to gig with Smooth Jazz All-Stars guitarist Peter White & sax-man Michael Paulo. A near capacity crowd packed the McCoy Studio Theater last sunday evening and were treated to an evening of stellar musicianship. And while I generally prefer my jazz to be quite a bit more angular and oblique, it's always fun to watch Gregg perform. Hanging around for sound-check and then backstage before and after the show I got to meet all of the artists and chin-wag ad-nauseum about the trials of the road, how to deal with Facebook friends & fans, the jazz scene in Jakarta, Indonesia... Bassist Dwayne "Smitty" Smith, it turns out, is also a DC refugee and we compared notes on the scene, mutual friends, favorite clubs & venues...

Gregg @ Sound-Check

Michael & Peter

Peter & Gregg


Dwayne "Smitty" Smith

The arrival of Chester earlier in the week has helped keep the excitement pace up on the home front. Sleeping through the entire night last night meant the missus & I finally got a decent night's rest. Puppy poop & piddle, I am happy to report, is now entirely confined to a couple of strategically placed & ridiculously overpriced pads made just for such purposes. Spare no expense when attempting the save relatively new bamboo floors & rugs, I suppose.

Proposals completed & submitted for a new restaurant project on Oahu on monday, stylist is standing by... still waiting for the word. Let's hope the word is GO!

Wednesday evening brought an interview to be included in an artist in residence program at one of the major south shore resort hotels.  Again, awaiting the good word as this could be a great opportunity to show & sell personal work with the rapid approach of the winter holiday season. Now, to just find some work that might match someone's sofa!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Meet Chester

Ever since the sudden & unplanned exit of the Maxster, the feral chickens from the pasture next door have decided that they can now travel where they wish with impunity. They're in the garden... on the lanai... in the driveway. They eat the freshly fallen avocados before I can gather them. Now I've caught them jumping high in the air to attack the ripening stalks of bananas.


Something had to be done.

Enter Chester, six & a half week old, blue-merle australian shepherd. In a few weeks, he should be just the thing to keep that noisy flock at bay.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Creating Light To Match Your Environment-Gregory Heisler

Portrait master Gregory Heisler discusses the lighting scheme used to capture the heroic portrait of Rudy Giuliani for the cover of Time. Note his comments on creating "believable" light that appears as if it's coming from the natural environment.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010