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