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MSP Seven Year Anniversary this May

websfrontpage03One of my first online advertisements for my business, branded with (if I remember right) my second website attempt.  Still broke at this point (still broke now) I was working off free web hosting; which is a really inefficient way to run a business, no doubt.  We make do with what we can though and work for better day’s.

Look at me, you can tell something is missing from my life.

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In 2008 I was returning home from living in Portland, OR for under a year.  I was without a job, without much savings in the bank and most my friends had moved away while I was gone.

This wasn’t the end of the world though.  I had enough to survive while I looked for new work, and you can always make new friends.

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2008, canon powershot. Portland, OR.

By April I had created a new circle, new memories and somehow forgot to really look for work, but the matter couldn’t be ignored for much longer.  Then one of my new friends got a hold of me in a desperate situation. He needed dental surgery or face severe medical consequences.  He had six months previous purchased a new Canon EOS Rebel xti.  Still owing about a grand on it (apparently his dentist doesn’t take credit) he needed the cash and sold it to me for $300.00 which at this time was a steal as it was still one of the newest models for hobbyist photographers.  This was the rekindling of an old obsession.  I quickly set to work to learn everything I could about the new camera, having only dealt with SLR’s or digital point and shoots previously.

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My first paid shoot in 2008, October.

It was like I was in high school again with my first Kodak dock digi point and shoot.  I was taking pictures of everyone, all the time, everywhere.  I was taking four hour drives around the state looking for new things to shoot, often finding nothing all that inspiring.  Looking back now I could have assigned all sorts of limitations to a day to create inspiring from nothing, but live and learn.  These habits could also be to blame for my being broke, it was a hard decision as to whether to invest in gas to find shots or invest in building branding.

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One of my first landscape shots, hand held before I realized the importance of a tri-pod for even the fastest speeds.

I can admit I guiltily got swept up in all the crazy lightroom editing trends.  Over processing my way to embarrassment before I came closer to my artistic center and leveled out.  Although it didn’t take me long to level on my portrait work; I struggled with mastering my saturation / contrast with landscapes for a little while.

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When I started to get a better feel for my lenses and landscapes.

There was also the issue of equipment, it took me awhile to build the things I needed for the variety of genre’s I had planned to attack.  I got plenty of bad advice along the way, a regular lewis carol adventure navigating the photography world.  I am still recovering from some of the bad advice as it linked directly into important gear like lenses.  I will bounce back one day and in the meantime people seem slightly impressed with what I have managed to do with what I have.  I find those to be some of the greatest compliments.

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My second paid shoot. This family was one of my best clients until they moved.

My progress has been slow although my learning came quickly and continues.  Sometimes it surprises me how many styles I have been through, and some I wonder why I left behind. HDR might have been one of the hardest styles to perfect and I don’t think I’m there yet, though I am a lot closer than I was year’s ago.  I thought after already purchasing Photoshop that I would have to buy separate software good for HDR editing.  Thankfully I was wrong and found a good process with photoshop HDR editing.  A process previously shared in the blog.

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Mid 2009 portrait / documentary style series for a musician.

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Mid 2009 portrait / documentary style series for a musician.

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Mid 2009 portrait / documentary style series for a musician.

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Shot 2010 in Monette, AR. First HDR edit, blown out and over saturated. Previous my learning proper HDR editing in PS.

Shot from 2010 in Monette, AR.   Second edit in 2012 after learning new HDR process.

Shot from 2010 in Monette, AR.
Second edit in 2012 after learning new HDR process.

I know seven years isn’t a special milestone or anything but it seems unreal to me that this much time has already passed.  I guess when you look at my work though it’s easier to believe.

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My first clone shot attempt in 2010. Howell, MI

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A few months into my clone adventures, Oct. 2010 at Cass Tech High School – Detroit, MI

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My clones got attention. Violin Monster wanted to be cloned / shot by me in 2012, Ann Arbor, MI

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I wouldn’t have gotten a lot of my practice out of the way without these two. Clone shot 2012, Summer, Linden, MI

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Night time clone shots in Ann Arbor, summer 2012.

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2011 self portrait clone, Brighton, MI

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Self portrait clone, 2012 Summer

Seems like 2013 was the first year since I started clones that I haven’t done any.  It was a busy office year on top of a ton of personal things happening, I am hoping to get back on my photography game in 2014.

At least in 2013 I still worked on general portrait work.

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Thinking about doing something special for MSP seven year anniversary, not sure yet.  Maybe I should just wait until I reach ten years, if we make it.  Here’s hoping.

New Year

I hope everyone had a great New Years celebration.  I myself had to stay in due to funds and a tooth ache, I wasn’t even awake at midnight, I woke up half an hour past.  So unfortunately I have no awesome New Years shots to share with you, but there will be more in the future, murphy’s law permitting.

MSP is excited for the changes coming this year.  Prices are remaining the same as they are industry standard but mini-sessions will be greater and hopefully this year more tactfully distributed.  Image

I am hoping to be able to afford advertising this year and hopefully 2014 can be the year I get my website back up, now that I’m getting a little attention to my venture that’s now seven years in.

A lot of other people would have given up with so little profit turn around from such an expensive business venture like photography.  It is however a passion and my ability for work is still very much limited.  I struggle to make what I have work.  Business wise speaking I’m on a sinking ship I should have abandoned years ago but I’m determined to patch her up and get her afloat again.

I thank everyone who has helped and supported me a long the way so far.  You’re all very dear to me, like family.

Here’s to also hoping that I am able to keep the web store running with discounts in place.  The site I use is free but the special things are not.  I have to pay for an app (monthly) that allows me to install discounts that automatically tally at checkout.  I also have to pay (monthly) for an app that tracks abandoned shopping carts and sends an email to the forgetful shopper.  The web store cost me just over $20 a month to run and has sold one print in the half year it has been open.  I have high hopes of keeping it together but with all my other bills coming in combined with lack of sales my hope is starting to seem highly unrealistic.  The fat lady hasn’t sung, the curtain hasn’t fallen yet.  If I have to cancel the web store discounts and tracking systems they will surely reappear when I have the money to fund them again.  It wouldn’t be a forever thing.

ImageTo help increase web store sales and hopefully not have to take a period of time without store discounts, I have added over 50 new images to the MSP web store.  Phone captures collection, since my phoneography seems to catch a lot more attention than my DSLR work, sadly.  It’s a compliment to my eye and style either way so I’ll accept it and if people like it, I shouldn’t keep it from them.

I hope everyone has an exciting year filled with adventures, changes and opportunities.  Let’s hope MSP is able to blow your minds this coming year.  I sure am going to try.

“I should get one of those.”

_MG_9513rtThese played out words fumble from many unsuspecting consumers lips.  “Those” is a DSLR.  Often while working I hear these words.  I was there myself at one time, except I never really said that.  Others said to me; “you should get one of those” as they watched me play with theirs.  I would go coy and mumble about expenses, shrug and usually at that point I would hand the camera back.  Not wanting to get too attached to a pipe dream.  It was honestly random chance that got me my first DSLR and I flew from there.  Most people that proclaim they should get a DSLR while watching me work I never take very seriously.  I have learned that many don’t follow through with their desire.

I fully encourage people to explore their artistic abilities and desires.  Those with a natural eye too you might think really need to get their hands on the right equipment.  You don’t know until you try.

thumbs-up-button-proThese things are all true.  However here is the problem I see repeatedly in various locations in one’s life when approaching photography / DSLR’s for the first time.

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You may have a great eye, a natural talent and at first what seems like an undying drive but then not even a year after you sink half a life savings into gear it now collects dust in the back of your closet.  You let Uncle Jack take it out for a spin on family vacations it gets so little use.  The alternative, overly charmed by the magic of photography but under educated with no ambition towards research, formal or self education.  They buy the body with the starter kit and think this is all they need to make magic. When this doesn’t happen they get bored and you find a rudely expensive camera knocking around their back seat.  Not even in a bag mind you, just tumbling all over the place like it was that first kodak dock digi you got when geocities was still a valid site building service.

Try with a loaned camera first.  Don’t know someone willing to trust you with one?  Rent one!  It’s a small additional investment to the venture vs. diving into the deep end and have trouble selling your gear later.

For some people I feel like doing it this way, borrowing or renting one first will actually help some that might abandon their cameras early on were they to just go out and buy the gear, actually stick with it in the long run.  Just think about your options before diving head first… photography is an expensive thing to pick up, if you don’t plan to stick with it, you might as well get a new car…. or two… it’s that expensive.