Saturday, May 28, 2011

New blog site

Okay, I've been pretty busy lately putting up new sites. This blog is now moving to a self hosted blog at I'll no longer be putting posts up here, though I won't take anything down for now. Make sure to head to the new site if you've been following this one.

Also, I now have my portrait and film based fine art images up at Check it out if you want to see what I have been up to lately.

On the new blog you can also see the first image of my 365 project I've decided to start, so you can head on over daily for a little dose of something new.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Images of Arch Cape, Oregon

I had the wonderful chance to visit Arch Cape, Oregon last fall for a workshop and only recently seriously looked at the images I made, as I was going through them to enter another photo competition. Here's an eclectic selection that I think exemplifies the amazing variety of places and things you see on the coast, on the boundary of water and land. Enjoy.








Monday, May 2, 2011

Unpaid internships are exploitation. Period.

I had to write a post, seeing a tweet for Walrus magazine for an unpaid internship. 6 months, 30 hours a week and no pay what so ever. This pisses me off. Big time. I've written about working for free before and I'll say it again. Don't. Period.

Why? How about the lovely term exploitation? Ring any bells? Yeah, I feel very strongly about this. Working for free does NOT benefit you. Yes, you'll get on the job learning, but guess what, most business pay YOU to learn how to do your damn job. Your time is valuable, worth money and should be compensated. You aren't going to an internship, I hope, knowing nothing at all about the job. Chances are, you are fresh out of school and have several years of education to back you up. When you take a job for free, it says very clearly that you put no value on all that time you spent learning how to do something. It also says, you are OK with an employer placing no value on your time either.

Unpaid internships should be banned. Since that is impossible to do, make a point of never accepting one, encourage everyone else not to accept one, rat out the shameful behaviour of these companies who demand one, and stand up and say NO!

Don't buy any of that bullshit about how it's an honour to study under a big name professional. Or that what you learn will be worth it, no matter what. They are making money from your labour. They are getting paid. So should you.

Insist on it. Don't know how to say it? Watch this video. Mike Monteiro will tell you how, in clear plain english.

2011/03 Mike Monteiro | F*ck You. Pay Me. from SanFrancisco/CreativeMornings on Vimeo.

Stand up for yourself, have some self respect, value yourself and your time and demand that they pay you, damn it. Even minimum wage is better by far than free. After all, if someone doing a brain dead minimum wage job actually takes home money, why the hell shouldn't you?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The cult of youth and the arts

Lately I've been looking at a lot of art competitions as a way to get my art out there. It gets it on walls in group shows which provides experience and simply gets it seen. Even online competitions can be valuable that way. After all, if no one can see your art, what's the point?

I've been getting rather annoyed though as I look through the requirements for many calls for entry, some of them quite major, and find significant barriers for many emerging artists. And worse yet, this is in calls for entry specifically for emerging artists. The big barrier, sadly, is our society's ongoing fascination with the cult of youth. That's right, even the arts are prey to ageism.

Here's a news flash to curators out there. Many emerging artists are over 35 or even 40, the age limits on many of the calls for entry specifically for emerging artists. Many new artists are not fresh out of art school at 20, and even if they are fresh out of school, they may be 45. Artists are not all set on their careers from day one, just like most other people in most other careers. Many of us have come late to our artistic calling, may be on second, third or even fourth careers. It's hard enough to change your path later in life without having this kind of discouragement placed in our way.

If the goal of the curators who set these limits is to ensure they get only emerging artists, or feel that's the way to get new, fresh, contemporary art, they've failed completely. Young artists can be very successful and far from a new voice if they've been out there for 15 years. Conversely, a 50 year old who's only been starting to show their work can bring a vibrancy lost to someone who's an old hand at it. Their are better ways to limit work to emerging artists than age. Things such as number of shows, if any, success with sales and collectors. Really, how much has their work been out there and how long have they been doing it is the main definition of an emerging artist is it not, so why not make that your limit? 

Drop the artificial and quite frankly discriminatory age limits and celebrate all emerging artists, no matter how old they are.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Laziness is the mother of efficiency

In my last post, I briefly mentioned I don't do much in the way of test strips. I don't like doing them as it takes time, and more importantly, wastes paper, and quite frankly, the less effort I have to make the better. And at a buck a pop for a sheet of 8x10, (yes, Foma is expensive, but gorgeous), I hate wasting paper.

Instead, I make work prints, one sheet per negative, without bothering with a test strip at all. How do I do that? Well, I'm no darkroom guru, reading my negative and knowing just what exposure it will print at. You need to spend a few years slaving away in a commercial lab, day in and day out, making prints, to get to that stage. For us amateurs, there is an easier way, an enlarging meter.

I have this nifty gadget from Darkroom Automation, which allows me to do wonderful things like profile my paper versus my negatives and stuff, works as an enlarging meter and a densitometer, but I'm lazy. I use it to simply give me a base exposure which allows me to pop out a work print in one go. I measure the darkest tone, which gives a value in stops. I compare that to my base negative (one I've printed with a full range of tones and a known exposure time and value for my paper) and calculate the difference in exposure. Using that, I can pop out a work print, usually with a reasonable exposure (at least as a starting point to fine tune from) with just one print. If I want to also factor in contrast control and dial in the right amount of magenta, I can also measure the lightest tone, and with the difference between the two, (compared to my base neg/print which I measure all against) I can dial in the contrast too.

It does involve using a calculator as I might need .67 of a stop less exposure, but I'd rather use a little time than waste paper, and do things only once. Thus, other than determining that first exposure for my baseline negative, which I do test strip, to get a baseline exposure, I don't bother with test strips at all. Unless of course, some bastard at the darkroom changes the enlarger bulb on me. At which point, I usually have to do it again. Now, bear in mind, I am using the same enlarger all the time, and if you use more than one, you would need to do a test with each one to get your baseline exposure for each.

I'm all for making your life simpler with handy gadgets that actually work.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

F-stop printing

I wanted to share a darkroom technique that I use when I print that not many people seem to know about. It's called F-stop printing.

Now, this isn't something new, it's been around for a long time, but it's not what we are taught in school or in many photography books. When I was taught to make test strips, we'd make them based on multiples of seconds. So start at say 5 seconds, the next bit would be 10, the next 15 etc. I personally find this to be rather inefficient.

Instead, I do my test pieces (which are few - but that's another post) based on using stops. Just like when you factor in stops when you shoot, you can factor in stops when you print. A stop more is doubling the light, a stop less is halving it, regardless of whether you are exposing film or paper. So to begin, I'll pick a starting exposure in seconds based on a best guess, knowing what my paper, aperture etc tends to go with. For me, 10 sec to 20 sec, which is one full stop by the way, tends to cover my average negatives, and makes for easy calculations. This will be different for you and depend on your paper, your negatives and what aperture you choose. I use a very slow paper, Fomatone, which is a full two stops slower than Oriental for example, and commonly print at f8, if you are curious.

Next I simply divide that one stop range into quarter stops, so you get 10 sec, 12.5 sec, 15 sec, 17.5 sec and 20 sec. Now, someone is likely to pipe up at this point, that these aren't exact 1/4 stops, which is true, but they are close enough and a simple extra 2.5 sec from my starting time. If you want real quarter stops, from 10 to 20 it would be 10/11.9/14.1/16.8/20. See the link below for a chart if you are picky. While I am very exact with measuring chemicals, 0.7 of a sec at this point isn't a big deal.

I then expose the test piece or strip accordingly. When I take a look, I can see which is closest to the exposure I need and since it is all roughly quarter stops apart, I can very accurately, off that one strip, pick a good exposure. No guessing, or fiddling around with a few more seconds, here, or a few less, taking several tries to get it narrowed down. Now it can be pretty close and sometimes hard to tell the bits apart, but you can always make it thirds or half stops, whatever works for you.

F-stop printing also helps when it comes to burning and dodging, as it makes things easier to decide. You can burn or dodge half a stop, a full stop etc.

Here's some further info to take a look at, including a couple of manufacturers of F-stop enlarger timers, which are on my wish list.

If you own Tim Rudman's The Master Photographer's Toning Book, (a previous post) there's a chart in the back. If you don't, what the heck are you waiting for?

Give this a try the next time you print. You might be surprised at how it simplifies things for you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The allure of the hand written letter

I love getting mail. Period.  Even catalogues and some junk mail. Other than bills, finding things in my mailbox is like getting a present. Something new and mysterious to be savoured. And since the quality of my mail these days is rather sad, I've been looking into penpals.

I had penpals way back in secondary school and wrote to people in far off countries. And even now, in our internet age, people still want to write real letters to far off, or not so far off people, whom they've never met. Really. And I'm one of them. 

There are those who will consider people like me luddites, or anachronisms but when you get something personally addressed in the mail, a letter, card, post card, what have you, doesn't it make you feel rather special that someone took the time to let you know they were thinking of you? That they actually put effort in; had to write it, go get a stamp, mail it effort. What can make you feel more appreciated than a hand written thank you note?

Time is the most valuable thing people have. By sending a piece of snail mail, you've spent a little of that on someone and I personally think it counts a hell of a lot more than dashing off a quick email or sending a text. And you can't exactly draw something or otherwise embellish by hand an electronic communication like you can a piece of paper.

And besides, how else can you use fun and cool things like fountain pens, sealing wax and seals, pretty stamps and paper.....

Here's a few links for those interested in giving it a try.

Places to find penpals:
The Letter Writers Alliance
Good Mail Day Blog (post on call for penpals)

Sources for awesome stationery and pens:
In Vancouver, Paper Ya on Granville Island is fantastic. One of the few places locally to buy real writing paper. (from France, mmmm)
Etsy always has cool stuff
Perks, a really cool pen store on Cambie in Vancouver (the store is listed with others on this site)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Another darkroom DIY - film drying cabinet

Here's my second darkroom DIY project. A film drying cabinet.

I purchased one of those soft plastic hanging clothes storage bags, the rectangular type, from Ikea. I got one of those old bonnet style hair dryers that has a dryer base, hose and shower cap style plastic head cover from my grandmother. Hadn't been used in probably over 20 years. Packrat grannies can be good thing.

I cut a hole in the side near the bottom of the bag. Then I cut the hose fitting off the bonnet and taped it into the hole in the bag. After hanging it from a portable shower rod, I was able to attach the hose to the bag. Some duct tape around the hose took care of it being sticky from plastic breakdown. While I put some small slits near the top in to let air out, they didn't do much, so I just keep the zipper down a foot or so so the air can escape. Now I have a nice, heated film drying cabinet.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Directing your marketing to the right people

My business, which is still in its infancy, has me doing a lot of marketing research and planning, especially as I work on my business plan. As someone who is looking at marketing a unique product, to the fine art portrait market, and going for a niche portrait photographers generally aren't, I need to be as innovative with my marketing as with my product.

I want to very tightly focus my marketing as I am going for a very defined group of clients. While I expect most of my sales to end up coming from word of mouth, I still need to get my work out there in front of people and this is a prime way to market to specific groups. For an artist, getting the right people to see your work and ideally buy it takes more than just getting it in front of as many eyeballs as you can. The most bang for your buck will come from getting it in front of qualified eyeballs.

If you are a portrait artist and looking to make a living from your work, the people who can afford your work are the ones to show it to. Beyond economic stratification, your audience also needs to be refined by interest group, gender, age, profession or anything you can use to narrow down the parameters of your market and define who you are marketing to. To make your marketing very direct, pick a group with a common interest or characteristic (your theme), and create a body of work or curate one you already have, to appeal to that specific group. Have a show that will appeal to those people in particular, at a venue they already patronize and you have essentially a pre-qualified audience who will very much appreciate what you have to show them.

A specific example would be the equestrian community. Portraits of members of the community or their horses, shown at one of their clubs, would be a very strong draw for these clients. You would have very closely defined your market, given them an exclusive look at your product and whether they buy then or there, they will remember you when they are ready to get a portrait later. 

Now it's up to you to figure out how to do this for your business.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Do it yourself darkroom lights

Finding darkroom lights these days, that don't cost a fortune, can be pretty tough. I came up with a simple solution for red lights, as I do a lot of lith printing and want to make sure I don't have fog problems.

Now bear in mind, I haven't tested these to see if they might fog. I figure, if ruby lith film has been used on windows safely enough, it'll be fine for led lights and they aren't pointed right at the paper for long anyhow.

Now, what I did was go and get three little push lights from my local Canadian Tire, the kind with three leds. What is nice about them is that you can have one, two or all three leds on, and so control the amount of light. I also picked up some ruby lith film, which I cut into a circle and taped over the light with opaque tape around the edges. If you don't know what ruby lith is, it's a red film used by printers and generally pretty safe for darkroom stuff.

These lights are surprisingly bright and even with the red film on them, which does cut down light intensity, they still give off quite a bit of light. What was surprising is that the light is rather directional, far more of a beam than I expected. Which is good, as I am able to nicely hold one in my hand (they are only about 3 inches across) as a darkroom torch. With one light on, they work very nicely to check the progress of my lith printing. 

Now go have fun in the dark.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Music in the dark(room)

I love music. I've played various instruments over the years and have a nicely eclectic collection of cd's, heavy on world music. I wanted to share with you some of my favourite bands and artists. I can't live without my music while I'm in the darkroom. Sitting for 15 minutes doing a lith print, in the dark, listening to myself breath would drive me nuts.

Now in no particular order.....

Bellowhead: An awesome band from England playing English folk music as you've never heard it before. 11 piece band with a brass section. How cool is that? Greensleeves would never sound the same. Not that they play that one, they choose much more interesting songs than that.

And for a little taste....

They were even more amazing live.

Pink Martini: Another fantastic ensemble, this time from closer to home in Portland. They perform in over 8 languages, songs from all over the world. Mix in Bossa Nova, French cafe music, Cha Cha and lounge music and you get as they put it themselves a "rollicking around-the-world musical adventure".

An intro....Also incredible live.

Stan Rogers: And being Canadian, I can't forget our own wonderful talent. One of the greatest Canadian folk singers was Stan Rogers. Incredible voice and great songwriter. If you really want to get an idea of Canadian music this is it.

Audio only I'm afraid.

The Arrogant Worms: And for something rather different, The Arrogant Worms. A wonderful example of the great Canadian sense of humour. It's their 20th year together, so be sure to try and catch a concert if you can.

Now, does anyone have any suggestions for more great music?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Sussing out your competitors

Another major part of writing your business plan is researching your competitors. One of the sources I used the most was, of course, the internet. Now there are other places to look, such as business directories etc, but my way of thinking is how do I find who is most visible?

If your competitors don't have a web presence, whether it's personal sites, gallery sites (for artists), online shops, Facebook or even listings in web directories, how much competition are they going to be, really? Now many companies tend to find clients and operate mainly by word of mouth, but they still need some form of advertising to the uninitiated if they are going to grow. Companies that want to reach out and connect are are going to be competing more directly with you than anyone else.

When you go on their sites, you can see if they have direct financial info such as pricing, which is certainly beneficial to help you set your own and see what market rates are. Even if they don't have that, you can see what products they offer. What might be even more valuable data though, is how they are marketing it. What is their website like, are they blogging, on Twitter or Facebook, do they do a newsletter? Besides giving you ideas for your own marketing, these sources can give you an idea of their reach and help you determine whether they are likely to be much direct competition and who their target market is.

A good example, which applies particularly to me, is portrait photographers. Now, I am going for an unusual concept with a pretty unique product, which rather limits my direct competition. But research on more mainstream photographers is still useful. By checking out the people in my area, as well as provincially, nationally and internationally, I was able to get an idea of common products on offer such as the standard photo studio products and how people are trying to innovate in that. This gave me points to show how I was doing something very different and examples to share.

I was able to see if anyone was doing something somewhat similar (of which there were few) which helps define my unique marketing features. It also helped with pricing as I could see what the market rates were and the ranges people were charging, based on service and product variations. By paying attention to the copy on their sites and blogs etc, I could see who their intended market was and how they were trying to reach them and tailor their messages. This let me eliminate them as direct competition and it can help you define your unique niche.

In my case, given I was trying to do things differently, I also tried to look at who would be possible alternatives for competition. Portrait artists in other mediums such as painting are an example. Fine art photographers who weren't doing portraiture were also looked at.  Artists and professional organizations, business articles, marketing reports and business websites mentioning art in particular were also useful sources of information. 

By being a little creative and trying to find tangential data, I was able to get more info to support a business plan for a non standard business idea, which is something to really look at doing to for your own business.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Where to find info for your business plan

Working on a business plan is hard work. There is simply no getting around that. You can find a ton of resources online on how to do a business plan, what kind of information you need etc. But one area these leave things a little wanting tends to be exactly where do you find that information.

I've had to do the basics of a business plan as I've been applying for the small business entrepreneur program through EI. While I have yet to succeed in my applications, it has not been from my business plan in general. Instead its been due to attempting to innovate and create a niche which means data is very scare on the ground, and not having enough to convince the review panels that my idea is economically viable.

I expect I'm not the only person who has run into this so I thought, as I posted before, that I'd share some of what I've learned.

Finding your data: Sources to look are the Canadian Census and provincial and even municipal data. For example, the BC government has the BC stats page which includes links for census data and a variety of statistics.  Metro Vancouver publishes a housing data book (pdf) which has income per household info. Why would you want this? One large part of your business plan is determining your customer profile, their incomes, age, location etc.

Proving economic viability: This one is a little tougher. If you are selling widgets, you can certainly get potential buyers to provide you with letters of intent for sales. When you are selling something art based though, or something new to the market, that doesn't tend to be so easy. What you can do though is what I would call more a letter of possibility. Interview several people who could be in your target market and if they like your idea, ask them to write a letter stating that if they were in the market you what you are selling, they would definitely look at getting it from you. You may even get a surprise and they'll write you something that says when, not if, and that they will get it from you. Of course, best yet would be make a couple of sales.

When it comes to your business plan, the more info you can gather, the happier the reviewer is going to be and the better chance of success.

Friday, February 4, 2011

How is working on spec any different than working for free?

Or in other words, how else can a small business owner save money while supporting other creative professionals?

Where is this coming from you might ask? Well, I saw a tweet posted by a very influential photographer encouraging other photographers to use He advocates a service that unfortunately is part of the ongoing problem with low pay for creatives based on people being willing to work for free. That's what spec work is. In particular, with a site like this, and it's not the only one by far, they hold "contests" for design work such as a logo, and if your design is chosen by the person wanting a logo, then and only then, will you get paid for your work. And to top it all off, "prizes" are generally less than industry rates.

I find it very ironic that a photographer or other creative professional would support such shenanigans given the same problems in the photographic industry. How often do you see posts and articles bemoaning the ongoing lowering of the bar for rates due to all the would be photographers who will work for free or very little pay for "experience" or "exposure"? Its a problem that has become even more pervasive with the easy access to professional level gear.

The only way out though is education. We need to teach photographers and other creative professionals to value their time and each others'. We need to teach our clients to value our work and pay what we're worth. And those clients may be us! That means charge industry rates yourself. And pay each other industry rates. Find someone who will do the work you need and skip the spec stuff. There is a range of prices in every industry that hovers around an average. You should be able to find someone you can afford. If you think you can't have you looked at other options than straight cash? Contra deals, or barter of services in other words. Saving up a little longer to afford the one you really want to work with. Will your designer or whatever take multiple payments? How about some creative fund raising like After all, the money you spend on marketing your business is the best money you'll spend and why would you cheap out? You wouldn't on your gear when it counts.

And don't forget, if you don't want to work for free, why should anyone else?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why bromoil?

I'd like to tell you a story. About why I love to do bromoils. I had a wonderful chance to see a fantastic exhibit of pictorialist photography here in Vancouver, a couple of years ago. It was the TruthBeauty exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Pictorialist photographs from about 1835 to 1945 were on show and they were fascinating. The premise of the pictorialists was to use photography to create art, not simply record what they saw realistically, but what they envisioned. Many different printing processes, now called alternative processes, were used to produce fantastic works of art. I fell in love. The images, the visions expressed, the interesting printing methods, all spoke to me of what photography could be. And in our digital age, so much of photography ends up seeming the same in the end, an exact as possible realistic rendering that all blends together after you've seen so many.

One process in particular stood out for me. Bromoil printing. I had to find more out about it. To give the short answer, bromoil involves bleaching a black and white print, and then stippling on layer after layer of ink to bring it back. You can achieve a wonderful etching like quality to a print that has a luminous depth or even a highly photographic style rendering, depending on your technique. It offers a great deal of control over your print, creative freedom in producing your print, and the satisfaction that comes of handcrafting something beautiful.

I love the unique look of a bromoil print. For me, the prints have a different feel to them. They produce an emotional response beyond just the subject matter. I love the historical connection. I am using a process that is over a hundred years old. My teacher learned from masters of the process and there is this long unbroken line of learning stretching back into the past. Also, wonderful historic processes used with modern photography allow us to connect directly with the past, something that is lost so often in our high tech digital world. 

Crafting your photograph in general, directly making the print by hand is a tie to the past that digital technology has robbed us of. Creating images this way allows us to appreciate the beauty of something handcrafted, another castoff from our mechanized age. And the rarity these days of these processes, of handcrafted works of art in general, especially with photography, allow us to create something that truly is unique.

If you'd like to see some prints, I've posted some of my images earlier. This is the link

Monday, January 31, 2011

No luck so far with small business program applications

Well, I haven't had much luck so far with my applications for the EI small business entrepreneur program. Both the Douglas College New West campus and the YMCA New Ventures didn't choose me for the next session. Both programs have a lot of applicants, 50-60 and only about 15 spaces. So I am in good company there, unfortunately. A lot of us didn't get chosen.

So I am off at the start of the week to apply to the Coquitlam campus for Douglas College. They have a separate application and apparently, more space in their program. After that, I can try Capilano U. I can also try to reapply later to the Y.

Either way, I have done a lot of work to get the basics of a business plan together. I was thinking last night, this is something that other people might find of use. I found a lot of resources on business plans in general but not necessarily info on where to find what I needed. Also, how do you show economic viability for a new concept, where you don't exactly have direct competition and you certainly haven't made any sales yet, since you are still trying to get things off the ground?

So over the next few weeks, I'm going to share some of what I learned and give you some examples of what I came up with.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Second group show opening Saturday in Vancouver

Awesomeness. I have managed to get two images accepted to a second juried group show here in Vancouver. This is pretty exciting for me, as these shows are my first attempts. The show opens this Saturday, Feb. 5th at the Vancouver Darkroom Co-op Gallery. You can pop over to 652 Kingsway (at Fraser St.) for the 7pm opening if you are in town.

If you can't make it, here's a preview.

If you're wondering what this is, its the remnants of a shipwreck, the Peter Iredale, on the Oregon coast. These are lith prints on Foam Chamois fibre paper, beautiful creamy coloured paper that for Foma, gave me some wonderful, subtle colours with the lith process.

Are you also wondering what the heck lith is? Well, its a black and white printing process where the paper developer is based on lithographic film developer and the combination of papers and developer chosen can give you a wide range of colours. The basis of the look, besides colour, is great detail in the highlights and gritty blacks. The fun of it comes from substantially overexposing the print under the enlarger, (this controls the highlights) and leaving it in the developer until the blacks reach just the right point and immediately tossing it in the stop bath without waiting for the print to drain. You do this as the blacks develop through a process called infectious development where they start off slowly and the development speeds up exponentially as you go. If you were to leave the paper in the developer til completion, the image would go completely black because you have overexposed it an average of 2-4 stops. So you have a minute time frame to choose just how you want the print to look and your never quite sure at the start how it will go. 

This is just one of the wonderful things I love about darkroom work in general. Creative, fun processes that always have a lovely element of surprise waiting to be discovered.

See you on Saturday.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sources for film and darkroom supplies

If you love printing in the darkroom as much as I do, finding a reliable source for supplies including film, paper and chemicals is pretty important. Here in Canada, its pretty limited. If you are lucky, you may have a local store in a large metro such as Vancouver, that carries some stuff. If not, mail order it is, and depending on what you want, may be hard to come by.

For local stuff, I use Beau Photo now and then. A lot of the paper and chemicals I use they don't carry. Now, they tell me they can special order it in, but it'll take a month. If I need it in a week or so, that won't really do. But they are the best source locally for the widest variety of things overall. Another option in Vancouver that still carries some stuff is Lens and Shutter on Broadway. You won't find it on their website, but they still have some stuff in store.

Canadian mail order is not something I've done much. Here are some options you can try though.
The Camera Store in Calgary
Darkroom Central in Winnipeg
The Frugal Photographer in Calgary
Henry's in Toronto

Now for myself, I live within a short hop of the border and my preferred order spot is Freestyle Photographic, down in California. Fast service and the largest selection, as well of course, good prices. A pretty good source for the more esoteric stuff too.

Other options in the US include
Photographer's Formulary in Montana - large selection of bulk chemicals too
Digital Truth in Texas - also manufactures EcoPro environmentally friendly chemistry
Calumet Photo in Illinois

Have fun printing!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

First Group Photography Exhibition

Woohoo! I got my first images accepted to a juried group exhibition. In fact, this will be my first exhibition period. I'm pretty excited, as you might guess. The exhibition is at Photo Haus Gallery, 14 W. 7th Ave in Vancouver, if anyone is inclined to attend. The exhibition is entitled The World Around You and opens January 28th. It coincides with talks Jan 29 & 30th from Freeman Patterson, the well known Canadian photographer who is also teaching photography workshops that week.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Lith Prints

I've made a set of 4 lith prints recently, as I wanted to submit them for the Vancouver Darkroom Co-op call for entry for the latest exhibit. This is the first time I've submitted work for a juried group exhibition and in fact, for the first exhibition at all. I've haven't found yet whether they'll be accepted, but we'll see how it goes.

Creating a set or series of images is something that I've not done much and I suspect that's the case for many photographers. Unless you have a specific project in mind, it's not something you may think of. As an exercise, this is something I'll be trying the next time I go shooting and you might want to think about it too. When I see something that really catches my eye, I'll either look for similar items that I can put with it as a theme, such as close ups of flowers framed the same way or multiple shots from different angles and views of a single plant for example. Another option would be images of related items that can make a theme such as shadows or reflections. As long as you can shoot them in the same style, you can relate the images. Shooting with at least three or more images together will get you enough to at least do a triptych.

These images are of the Peter Iredale, or at least the remains, of a shipwreck on the Oregon Coast. I tried a new paper, Fomatone Classic Cream base Chamois finish paper. The fibre based paper is actually a very deep cream colour, almost a light beige. It has a nice, lightly textured finish and with the lith chemicals I use, Moersch Easy Lith, has nice subtle colours, at least for Foma paper. You'll have to excuse the lines, my scanner is not doing too well these days.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Small Business Entrepreneur Program

I haven't made an entry in quite a while. I spent most of December and January working away at my business plan to submit to the EI Small Business Entrepreneur Program. These programs are run by several places in the lower mainland such as Douglas College Small Business Program and the YMCA New Ventures program. I've applied to both programs and have my interviews the beginning of the week. These programs have some pretty stiff competition as there tends to be 40-60 applicants for about 15 spaces. They run on average 10 sessions per year, so that's quite the number of people looking to get in and get a business going.

If you've thought about starting your own business, this program can really help you get going. Eligibility is people currently on EI or have had a claim in the last three years and this includes parental leaves. The program is 48 weeks long. The main benefit financially is for the duration of the program, while you operate your business, you can continue to collect EI until your claim expires and then, or if you haven't an active claim, you get financial support of $300 per week, up until the end of the 48 weeks. These programs help you get your business up and running, providing help with your business plan, business skills development as well as ongoing support during the program.

It can be pretty involved, getting an application ready for the programs. You essentially have to come up with the outline and some of the hard details for your business plan. The concept, market analysis, financial details, competitive analysis, your pricing and product details etc are all part of the info you have to fill in on the application. Of course, this isn't fully fleshed out. They will help you with that once you are participating. It certainly took me a lot of research and time, especially as my concept is art based rather than something more common like selling widgets or a service. And even then, if your concept is something rather different than what you see in the market, it's even more fun trying to build a case for economic viability. Then you need to get creative and get letters of reference and letters from people who might buy what you are selling.

If you want further information here are a few links to explore. Be aware, not all programs may be running right now. As with anything the province has a hand in, funding is always an issue in BC.

BC Urban Entrepreneur Development Association - links to programs 
Douglas College Self Employment Program 
YMCA New Ventures Program