Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: Bring it on!

I went to bed early on New Year's Eve. I'm not the party boy I used to be. Instead, I snuggled with my dog Louie who was NOT liking the fireworks and celebratory action at midnight. Uggg with the gunfire people! I'm sure there were plenty of people that had the time of their lives. I just let 2013 slip away quietly into the night. See ya!

2013 was not the best year. I thought I had finally made it as a commercial real estate photographer after all the success I had in 2012. 2013 started off well. I photographed an advertising agency's new office and started working with a property redevelopment company. But things changed. The California property development company that was sending me tons of business in 2012 moved on. They weren't able to buy the REO properties that were their bread and butter anymore. Banks held their properties. Foreclosures dried up. Prices on houses saw big gains in 2013 and it's fair to say the market may be back where we started before the big financial crash in 2007.

Work with the realtors and flippers I do have relationships with also slowed down. I would imagine people saw the rising prices and decided to wait a while to sell. The economy didn't really improve that much, at least not for the rest of us and had to be a factor in keeping people from wanting to buy a home. And I have to admit, my marketing efforts were piss-poor at best.

That's my biggest goal for 2014: Marketing. Not only my commercial photography, but my fine-art landscape work as well. I joined Fine Art America late in the year to provide an easy way for people to buy my work. I joined SmugMug and set up a gallery over using my stand alone website and my work never looked so good. I did sell some work and was published a couple more times in 2012, but only by blind luck. I guess blogging and posting to Facebook and Google+ did pay off. But I wasn't consistent with when and where I made my presence known.

So, here are my 2014 resolutions. I don't usually do this kind of thing. Let's call them professional goals instead. 

1. Marketing: Publications. Phoenix is the perfect storm for publishing. I already have a great in as the designer of one pub in Scottsdale. I need to take advantage of this and get out and shoot. Even for free in need be. Nevertheless, there are so many other magazines and newspapers I could be contacting. This could also be the year I muster up the courage to contact Arizona Highways and get the ball rolling there.

2. Marketing: Real Estate Photography. A few years ago I went around with hundreds of fliers dropping them off at Realty offices with zero success. The fliers were beautiful and I offered a great introductory price. Nada. This year I plan on putting together a real advertising campaign. Contacting the brokers and meeting them face-to-face is the only way I'll be able to add clients to my business. I may even find a way to advertise. I know there are trade pubs for realtors in the Phoenix metro area. Word of mouth is great if it works. It hasn't. So I need to ramp it up and make it happen in 2014.

3. Marketing: Social networks. I have a FacebookGoogle+, Twitter and LinkedIn account. 2014 is going to be the year I maximize my presence and take advantage of these free services. There also are a ton of photo sharing sites and publications to utilize.

4. Bucket List: There are still a lot of beautiful places I need to photograph in Arizona. 

Here's the short list in no certain order:

• Canyon de Chelly. I rolled through there a few years ago coming back from Nebraska when my mother died. I spent hardly any time there and even managed to lose the shots in a backup. I didn't even see Spider Rock on that trip. So, it's time to go back. 

• Monument Valley: Another place I rolled past two summers ago on my big whirlwind summer vacation tour. I know this place is perfect for my panoramic style and need to hit it hard when the conditions are right.

• Petrified Forest/Painted Desert: I spent a couple days here a few years ago, but I was just getting started and my technique wasn't the best. I did get a couple keepers, but there is so much more to photograph there.

• Grand Canyon, Toroweap: It's long drive and the furthest spot away from me, but a must do this year.

• Marble Canyon, Tatahatso Point: I finally found this spot during the summer, but wasn't prepared to stay and shoot it. Now that I know how to get there, I need to shoot this spot in earnest. It is a fantastic location that only a very few photographers even know about. The vistas are mind-blowing and the bend in the river is way better than the way over-photographed Horseshoe Bend near Page.

• Coal Mine Canyon: Get a permit and go. It's another place perfect for my style of photography. I love canyons in general and always gravitate to them. 

• Sedona: I have very little good stuff from Red Rock Country. I much prefer wild places and dealing with tourists makes my skin crawl. Nevertheless, there are some great scenic opportunities that I need to get some good images of. 

• Fossil Creek: I've make several trips to this area already. It's a gorgeous creek with emerald and turquoise-colored waters. My first trip's shots also were lost, so it's time to go back. 

• The Wave/Coyote Buttes: I'm not sure if this one is going to happen unless someone invites me. I see waaaaay too many shots of this area and I'm not sure it's really my thing, but probably a place I should see. I'm not the type to follow the rest of the crowd and am not thrilled about dealing with getting the permit via the lottery system.

• Southern Arizona: This area doesn't get much love from the landscape crowd, but I know how beautiful it is down there after living in Tucson for 10 years. I did manage to shoot Chircahua National Monument in southeastern Arizona this summer and loved it. Still I didn't get the shot I really wanted and will undoubtedly go back again in the near future.

• Western Arizona: This is another place that doesn't get much love. I had a blast shooting Cibola National Wildlife Refuge on the Colorado River north of Yuma a couple years ago. All along the Colorado River are more of the same kinds of places.

5. My Health. I went gluten-free late this year and have never felt better. The fog in my brain has finally lifted. I'm losing some belly fat and have more energy. I sleep better and most importantly, my attitude is so much better. I had no idea this one simple thing would have such a huge impact on me. Gluten is very bad I am convinced. The new grains are so different than the ones our parents and grandparents ate. The enhanced gluten content as well as an additional addictive protein now found in the highly hybridized modern wheats are definitely to be avoided.

6. The other thing I am determined to do is shoot with other photographers. I'm not the most social creature on the planet. Being alone is not a big deal for me and in many ways I prefer it. Being active on Facebook has provided me a bunch of friends that are also shooters and like-minded individuals. Making an effort to be more social and making some actual friends needs to be high on my list this year. So Bob, John, Ron, Paul, Pam, Peggy etc... get ready. Time to have some fun!

2013 taught me a lot, not so much about who I am as what I need to do. I realized I can't just let it happen if I want to be a success in photography. I need to make it happen. It's time to get off my butt, get out there and show the world what I have to offer. It's really the only way.

Thanks to all my friends and family for the support this year. Even though it wasn't the best year, I couldn't have done it without you. Have a very happy and safe 2014.

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