Business

Photolucida Portfolio Reviews

On March 16 I received an email from the Outreach Director at Photolucida telling me that a space has opened up for the Portfolio Reviews and I am next on the wait list. All I knew is that I wasn't ready for this but this opportunity doesn't come often. So I immediately said yes, I'll be there and sent my check. Now that I'm done I can truly say that this was a good decision, although there were moments of extreme agony wondering why I every even considered subjecting myself to such an ordeal. For those of you unfamiliar with the reviews, this is the Granddaddy of all reviews, the big one, and it happens only once every two years. It is four days of reviews, I had 20. The experience was priceless, from the standpoint of the feedback you receive, the people you meet, and the inspiration you receive from special speakers and other photographers. The fine art photographic industry is here looking at work. I was humbled to be among many experienced photographers who were showing some incredible work. My conversations were with publishers, gallery owners, museum curators, industry consultants and collectors. I spent 4 days in this room

The system of elevating your career in fine art photography is curious, and the portfolio review circuit is one of the many channels providing opportunities for artists to inject themselves into the system. These sessions are offered at several major photo festivals during the year, lasting usually 1-2 days. You have prearranged meetings with reviewers who spend 20 minutes with you answering questions and offering comments on your work. It's a brilliant system for meeting that key individual who would be virtually impossible to access otherwise. Can you imagine trying to come to New York and booking meetings with a museum curator, publisher, and gallery owner to meet you and see your work? Good luck! I've participated in many reviews prior to this so I knew what to expect, but the enormity of the entire experience really blew me away.

The highlight of the event was called the Portfolio Walk at the Portland Museum of Art where we had our portfolios out for the public to see. I was astounded by the response of the Portland arts community and their level of interest in photography. It was a special night.

Photo Walk - Portland Art Museum

There are so many lessons learned from attending Photolucida. All I can say is that it changed the trajectory of my career, I feel that this initiation was critical, and now I am on my way.

How commissions can take you in new directions

Morning Marsh View - Ft. George Island, FL - 108 x 30 Face-mount Acrylic Some artists avoid commissions. They feel that catering to an external requirement somehow interferes with their "art" or message. I totally respect this position, and sometimes I feel that this serves the artist well. I tend to do well with some direction. Maybe this is part of my engineering background, as I am more comfortable with structure and results-oriented tasks. Recently I was asked to provide a large piece similar to the style of artist "x" with a particular color in the foreground to match a wallpaper sample. I was happy to take on the request. The required image was out of focus and abstract. I knew what techniques I had to use, and where I could make the image. When a fellow artist saw the wallpaper sample on my desk, he asked, "What's this?" I explained my project, and he laughed out loud, "I can't believe you are prostituting yourself!" I was very curious about his response, and did some thinking about my reasons to do the work. I saw it as a challenge and a way to expand my skill set. I also saw it as a paying project and something I would be proud to say I created and was capable of doing. Nothing in the assignment violated my values or compromised my artistic direction. So I carried on and basically ignored the comment. The client was thrilled with the result and complementary on how accommodating I was to work with. I think some artists forget that many of us create art to satisfy purposes external to ourselves. Whether this discounts my stature as an "artist" or  degrades the work, I don't know, but I'm happy that everything worked out for everyone.

Rothko to Richter

rothko to richter book coverToday I received a copy of the book Rothko to Richter published by Yale University Press. The book is a catalog of an exhibition of abstract expressionist paintings from the collection of Preston and Joan Haskell. I got involved in the photography of the paintings earlier this year. We went on location at both the Haskell residence and offices to location shoot 27 paintings, some of which were quite large. The book is beautiful and I enjoyed reading the essays on Abstract Expressionism by Kelly Baum, the curator of the Haskell Collection at the Princeton University Art Museum. After two full days of shooting in some very tricky situations, I learned a lot about photographing large paintings for publication. I provided photography for 41 of the 43 illustrations in the book.

The exhibition is currently at the Princeton University Art Museum until October 5, and is at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens starting in February 2015.

 

 

Old world craftsmanship

Hugos Frame Shop - Clamps

I've been doing some work for Hugo's Fine Furniture and Interiors and had the privilege of doing some personal shots in their frame shop on Phillips Hiway. I'm really interested in work areas and seeing the environments where real work gets done. This was a fascinating shop, with equipment and tools everywhere. It's fun to discover these places because products don't magically appear out of nowhere. In this case furniture is made by hand from pieces of wood. Wow! No robots, no plastic, no fancy CNC equipment. Just saws, planers, shapers, sanders, and plenty of clamps. I spoke to Steve the shop manager who has been at Hugos for over 30 years. He has an interesting perspective on the importance of making things in a quality way. This was reflected not only in the feel of the shop but in the pieces he was producing. Steve is a true artist. I hope to return because you need time to take all of this in.

Hugos Frame Shop 1 Hugos Frame Shop 2

Hugos Frame Shop 3 Hugos Frame Shop 4

The Art of Doug Eng

arbus July/August 2012The July/August issue of Arbus Magazine featured a story about my artwork. I was thrilled with the result. Sometimes I'm embarrassed when I read something about me. Generally I'm not one to tell the world that I exist, but it's always nice to see your name and work in print. There's a sense of validation and accomplishment, which we all need. I'm grateful for the article and hope that you take a moment to look it over. Many thanks to Cinda Sherman, publisher of Arbus, and Meridith Tousey, writer, for this article.

 

 

 

 

arbus page 60

December Arbus cover

Cover_Dec2011_ArbusI was thrilled to have my amaryllis photo on the Arbus December cover. These photos were from a dining room table shoot on January 1 of this year. The issue also contained 3 other stories about projects I'm involved in: Message in a Bottle (page 12) , CoRK (page 14), and the Pop-up Galleries at Main Street Park (page 20). Many thanks to Cinda Sherman at Arbus for her dedicated support of the arts in Jacksonville. Arbus Dec Cork 1

Arbus Dec Cork 2

Arbus Dec Pop-up 1Arbus Dec Pop-up 2Arbus Dec Pop-up 3

Fine Art Print Workflow

Fine Art Workflow

Here is something to try if you want to test your skills as a photographer and printer:

  1. Obtain a painting from your favorite watercolor artist. In my case, it's my studio mate Robert Leedy.
  2. Photograph the painting.
  3. Make any adjustments in your favorite software.
  4. Make a print of the painting, same size as the original, on fine art paper, and show it to the artist.
  5. Ask the artist if they feel the print matches the original. If not, repeat Step 3-4. Continue until you run out of paper or the artist is satisfied, whichever comes first.

I was asked to photograph and print 5 paintings for Robert last week for his upcoming show, Beach Access. I eagerly agreed, not knowing what lay ahead. How hard could this be? I have a good camera, daylight balanced continuous lights, a calibrated NEC 2690 monitor, printing to an Epson 9900. Just take the shot, make the print, right?...not so fast. The first test print on 8.5x11 enhanced matte paper (a lot cheaper than the Hahnemuhle William Turner paper selected for the finals) was close. I started out in Lightroom and felt it was just a matter of getting the white balance and saturation tweaked. After about 4 test prints I started to get that sinking feeling. The blues were extremely problematic, and these paintings had lots of blues, different shades and hues. In fact, I don't even know how to describe them. And lots of subtle transitions to yellows and oranges. Robert describes them as "complex." Watercolors are particularly problematic. The colors are created through transparency, that is the only "white" is what is left of the paper that shows through. Much like the colors on your computer monitor. Which means the white balance is actually not white, but the color of the paper. In addition, the paper I'm printing on has a different white balance. Ok, so I'm sorta screwed on this. And yes, although they say a calibrated monitor matches the print exactly, well, it just ain't so. Either my eyes haven't developed the sensitivity to "see" a color match from a monitor to a print, or my system is still off somewhere. Admittedly, the conditions in my studio are not optimal... fluorescent lights, dirty lens covering the lights, some natural light from a window, no shade on the monitor, no balanced light for viewing the print. Horrors!

At some point I through in the towel on Lightroom. It seemed like some of the colors were ok. The reds, greens, and darker shades seemed to be more tolerant of my bad white balance. But those blues and yellows were off. It was on to Photoshop, and masking areas so that I could keep intact what looked good. It seemed like I was going around in circles. Plenty of adjustment layers...Levels, Curves, Hue/Saturation, and White Balance. There's always more than one way to skin a cat in Photoshop. Robert was always helpful in the process. He could tell me, "Doug, this color is way off...add some red here, take out yellow there." Without his clues I would be stuck. For me the blue just needed to be "more blue," whatever that meant!

The next big realization was that an 8.5x11 (really a 9x6) print may look fine, but not all things scale up to 26x18. In fact as we all know, a lot of glaring details start to appear, and the perception of color is no exception. I was in shock to see that what I though was pretty good was actually pretty bad, and I had the large print to prove it. So I went to printing test strips at full size just to get close. After blowing through about $300 worth of paper and ink, I got through each painting. The results are good, not great. If I expect to be doing fine art print services on an ongoing business, I need to go back to school on this. My goal is to arrive at a 90 minute process. If not, then it's something I can't afford to do, or a typical artist can't afford to pay.

Beach_10th_2011-0707-001 SouthandStrand_2011-0706-001

MorningRitual_2011-0714-004 ForRent_2011-0707-001

IPA Awards

Last year I entered several images for the International Photography Awards and just discovered (quite by accident) that I won an Honorable Mention - Cityscapes for my City Views Submission. I guess they never formally announced any winners, so when I went to submit again for 2011 I started browsing the last year's winners and found my work. What a surprise! I think I'll print myself a little certificate that I can hang on the wall. I find myself entering a lot of these competitions and forgetting about them...bad habit. Is going through the exercise of submission and the paying fees worth it? I think by being selective, one can hone your skills of efficiently submitting work, which is something you need to do when applying for grants and proposals. This has to be in order, or you'll spend an inordinate amount of time responding to these requests. Have your resume, artist statements, bio, and lo-res image portfolios well organized and handy. I've spent days working on a proposal...felt a lot like doing your taxes! Get your stuff organized and make it easy for yourself. And you may get an award to post on your resume!

ipa award 2010

RAM Art Gallery featured in Arbus

March/April Arbus coverThe March/April issue of Arbus Magazine features an article about the RAM Art Gallery with some great photographs :). I shot these late last year and was wondering when/if a story was going to run. The idea was to show how the RAM Art Squares could be used to decorate various rooms. Marsha Faulkner, ASID, arranged to have us install and photograph the squares at 4 different locations, so we spent the day carting a few bags of squares all over town. We had a blast. What a wonderful spread and a good read about this important project. If you haven't visited the Riverside Arts Market you need to do so. It is quite a phenomena, growing from an idea by Wayne Wood to one of the most widely attended events in town. Catch it every Saturday (except in the dead of winter) under the Fuller Warren I-95 Bridge in Riverside (north bank). Food, music, street entertainment and lots of art for sale.

March/April Arbus page 16/17

March/April Arbus page 18/19

Chase Jarvis on the new Social Art

chase jarvis

Chase Jarvis gave the keynote at PDN PhotoExpo in NY in October. The video of the presentation is available here (I don't know how long this link will work, I recorded the audio and will post if they take the video down). Jarvis is a well known Seattle-based photographer who is taking professional photography is a fresh new direction, and he encourages all of us to unleash are creativity everywhere through everything you do. He shares his inspiring work and creative projects liberally on the web through his blog and videos. "A creative world is a better world."

The furture of fine art photography?

Costco Art Gallery Today I found a link on the Costco Photo Center site to an Art and Image Gallery. Hmmm..."Select from more than 20,000 images of fine art, photography, and illustrations to create  wall decor" A small "images by Corbis" is in the corner. So here is the deal, for the cost of printing only, Costco allows you to select from a collection of 20,000 images from the Corbis stock collection. After browsing this collection I was impressed. A series of Brett Weston's B&W classics (125 images), a very nice set of national park images, flowers, landscapes, you name it, it's there. Knowing Corbis, the quality of the images is high so enlargements to 20x30 should not be a problem. And the cost? Costco already prints below my cost. They are running an Epson 7700 with K3 Ultrachrome inks on Fuji Luster paper. A 20x30 print is $8.99, and 8x10 is $1.49. A canvas 20x30 is $69.00. Costco quality is pretty good. It's not museum quality but for wall decor it is perfectly adequate. So if I'm an art consultant who needs to decorate a building why wouldn't I use this? I can make my selections, email images to the client for approval, submit an order, and pick it up in an hour at Costco. Now the biggest expense is the framing, which believe me is still quite expensive. Where does this leave a fine art photographer who is selling images to be used as wall decor in offices, hospitals, and people's homes? If you are shooting generic stock material, this EATS YOUR LUNCH! If I need photo of a flower, a landscape, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Milky Way, or the Eiffel Tower, why would I ever consider your photograph when I can have the whole piece for less than your printing cost?

This is the new economy my friends and this is reality. Those who cannot find their niche and specialize, those who cannot deliver a unique style or service will be replaced by a less costly, higher quality, more convenient alternatives. This is a business truth. For the most part, the general public buys very little art anyway, and when they do, it is from Wal-mart, Ikea, and now Costco. At least the quality is decent and who knows, maybe this will create an interest in photographic prints as art for the home. Right.

RAM Squares

Riverside Arts Market (RAM) is a local venue that hosts artists and food vendors each Saturday under the Fuller Warren Bridge. They have done a remarkable job creating and sustaining a vibrant arts following in Jacksonville. Their latest project (RAM Art Gallery) features work by local artists who embellish a 12x12 squares, similar to the Imagination Square concept. These are displayed and sold in the market, providing affordable art from some well known local artists. Marsha Faulkner, ASID was asked to use the squares in various interiors to give people an idea of what the squares could look like in their homes. Marsha and I took the day to cart these squares all over town, setting them up and photographing for all to see. So far sales have been brisk and likely to pick up for the holiday season. Check it out next Saturday.

RAM Squares - here's one by Jim Draper  RAM Squares

RAM Squares   RAM Squares   RAM Squares

Imagination Squared! Poster, Prints, and Photos

Information about the group photo download and for purchasing the exhibition poster and prints is provided on a sheet in your artist goodie bag that you received at the opening. In case you lost it or did not pick up your goodies yet, here is a downloadable copy: IS Poster and Print Info The group photo can be downloaded here. I also included some other shots that may be of interest. You can download off the site and the file should have sufficient resolution to produce a 5x7 print. If you need anything bigger let me know.

12x36 Imagination Squared poster

The 12x36 poster pictured above contains 900 squares. I'm really sorry if your square was not included but we got everyone who turned theirs in on time :). If you really, really want a poster with your square, I'll do a custom one for you...just email me and I'll see what I can do.

Imagination Squared Poster 1     Imagination Squared Poster 2

Imagination Squared Poster 3     Imagination Squared Poster 4

Each of the 4 - 24x24 prints contains 225 squares. These are printed on Enhanced Matte paper on my Epson 9900 and show the detail of each square. If you want to know which of the four posters contains your square, look on the back of your nametag for the number, or email me with your name and I will let you know. These are fine art prints and are produced to archival standards, so they will last years. We've also arranged to have posters and prints matted and framed by R. Roberts Gallery in Avondale for an extraordinary price. Details can be found on the downloadable info sheet mentioned above.

MOCA LAB Gallery Opening

MOCA Jacksonville promotion Doug Eng

MOCA Jacksonville exteriorOn Thursday, August 5th I am having an opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (affectionately known here as MOCA). Well, sorta. I'm not actually in the museum, but in their museum store called the LAB Gallery. This is an area reserved for "emerging" local artists who need to get exposure to the public. Hey, that's me! It's a great idea. There is an application process and your work is displayed on easels in the store for a month. For more information on the program visit the MOCA website.

LAB-Gallery-logo2-unfExposure is an important aspect of building an artist's presence. It's part of marketing yourself and also part of engaging the public in your art. I enjoy meeting people and talking to them about photography. Nowadays, everyone is a photographer, so my work can perhaps be useful to those wanting to increase their skills or find different viewpoints.

For the exhibit I decided to gather a selection of images where the subject is water. I've been looking for the opportunity to put this together and now I have it. Throughout my travels to various national parks and gardens, I find myself often observing a body of water from a lookout point or the shore. Where water meets the land always creates an interesting situation. Two opposites meeting. Sometimes a clash, sometimes a harmonious union. I plan on maintaining this body of work and adding to it. Establishing thematic categories for your work is important. More than just keywords (plants, trees, water, etc.), a theme addresses an underlying concept behind an image and serves as a reminder to look deeper at a subject.

Displayed with each image is a small story about the making of the photograph. Sometimes the story is more interesting than the image, together they enforce each other. If you can't make the opening, please drop by to see the exhibit which runs until September 1.

Brooks Jenson DVD workshop on Finding an Audience

LensWork collection Doug Eng "Emerging" artists (don't you just love that term?) are always looking for attention. For the most part most of us are shy, introverted people, who would rather spend a day in the studio or field by ourselves toiling blissfully away on our art. But ultimately, most of us feel the need to bring our art to the public. Sharing our creations fuels our production, and if we measure success, it usually comes in the form of monetary recognition. I'm a great fan of Brooks Jenson and his LensWork publication. I discovered LensWork back in 2006 when I picked up a copy of the magazine at a Barnes & Noble in Columbus OH. I now have a shelf devoted to the magazines and extended DVDs and these have become some of my most valuable and used reference material.

Jenson recently published a Visual Workshop DVD on "Finding and Audience for Your Work". It seems like all famous photographers have found their way into the education business, and the workshop format has been a staple of photographic education since Ansel Adams. Taking advice from other photographers on the business of photography is another story. Here we must rely on people who have achieved success in doing what we plan or want to do. Brooks Jenson is not a household name as a photographer, he is not part of any museum or corporate art collection (not that I know of) nor does he have multiple galleries representing him around the world. He is well know among fine art photographers for his LensWork publication (one of the best), but as a photographer, Jenson can be considered "one of us" (although he is a very talented photographer in his own right).

Jenson's workshop provides a comprehensive overview of the business of fine art photography and offers several ways to think about the relationship of business to art. As in all business endeavors, it all starts with your mission, or as Jenson puts it, "What juices your jets." Understanding what you want to accomplish with your art is fundamental to how you should be bringing it to market. And Jenson provides a "spectrum" of possibilities, with an exhaustive analysis of scenarios. You will either subscribe to Jenson's preference for "photography at real people prices" or not. Yes, our egos get in the way all the time. But this man who has sold over 40,000 prints has a point, and a quality of thought and accomplishment to back it up.

The high end "elite" art world is really elusive. Perhaps we should all aspire to being a part of it. Hey, this is America and anything is possible, right? But honestly, do you have what it takes to participate? Are you willing to do what you need to do? Or do you struggle just to find courage to show at the local art fair? This workshop offers some tangible advice and a roadmap for your journey. It's meaty, comprehensive, funny, and valuable. If you have any funds left over after your Adobe upgrades, treat yourself to this workshop. For an excellent preview, visit Jenson's promotion page for the product and watch the videos. You'll get an education just with those.

AIA Cover shot

The cover of the Spring 2010 issue of Florida/Caribbean Architect Magazine features a project I did for Powell Design Group in February of 2009 (see my Trapac post). I'm so excited about this, and give credit to the architect (and my good friend) Albert Rodriguez, AIA who created some really innovative designs for a series of buildings at the Trapac container distribution facility. The cover features a detail of the Administration Building, one of 14 uniquely designed structures for managing, inspecting, maintaining, and warehousing containers. This facility can be seen on the northwest end of the Dames Point Bridge. The article inside features some additional images and I can't wait to see it! Congratulations Al and Joanna on being published and thank you for getting me involved in your project. A PDF of the article: Florida Architect, Spring 2010 Article 

AIA_coverAIA_cover2

City Views at Fogle Fine Art

Work from my Jacksonville 400 project is now part of my "City Views" body of work displaying at Fogle Fine Art. It is great to see these images printed large and framed in a gallery setting. Fogle made excellent choices for the frames and I am thrilled at the results. I am curious to see the success of these images in the marketplace. So far the reaction has been very positive.

 

If you are in the area, please stop by to take a look. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday, 10a-6p and located at 3312 Beach Boulevard (in the St. Nicholas area). Here is a selection of images on display:

  

  

  

Epson 9900 - an early Christmas

Epson9900 Looks Looks like Santa dropped off his load early at the Eng residence, all 417 lbs. Now I have to figure out how to get this thing into my house and where to put it. I've been deliberating about this printer for a long time. With the Epson rebate and a Thanksgiving sale at Hunt's Photo, I caved in.

Horrors...Pbase is down!

I went to update my Pbase galleries and found this nice message: Bad news...

I suddenly realized that this is a BIG deal not only for me but for thousands of other photographers who rely on Pbase for image storage. My original images are saved on multiple hard drives, but my entire sorted collection of lo-res images for reference, review, and feeding this blog are all on Pbase. This ends up being 273 galleries and 7900 images. Pbase has been around for years and my fear is that they have not kept current with the technology required for managing such a large database. Apparently they are based on Oracle, and they lost their server. This can be some serious stuff. I feel for the owner of this business, because I'm sure every user is going to re-evaluate their decision to use the service.

Update: the service came up after about 3 days of being down, not a very good turnaround. I'm rethinking my options, Flickr and Picassa are free and basically can offer the same functionality that I'm paying around $70 a year for, hmmm, looks like a change may be coming.

Details, details...

Don't sweat the details? I think not. Execution on the details is critical to getting a business going.

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Sales Tax: If you are selling any product in FL you need to collect sales tax. It's the law, there's no way around it. Just because you are a staving artist doesn't give you a reprieve from the tax guys. So you need to apply for an ID, pay your dues, and report  every month (don't forget) your sales tax collected, even if it is zero. Yes, this is a pain. Don't forget you can give your local suppliers your resale certificate and ID to avoid paying sales tax on supplies you are reselling, like frames and mats, stuff from Staples, etc. Every bit helps.

 

credit_card_logos_15 = OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Merchant Account: Do you use a credit card? And do you think your potential customers use credit cards? There's nothing more convincing to a prospective customer that you are a total amateur than an inability to do a basic credit transaction (I know this from experience). Cash or check only? I don't know about you but I don't carry $200 in cash nor do I carry blank checks. So what makes you think your customers do? I called my banker to get a Merchant Account set up through First Data. I know I could have probably saved some money by going online and finding Joe's Credit Card Clearing House, but when it comes to swiping cards and having money being transacted, I want the security of knowing I can call my banker when there is a problem, and have funds deposited directly into my account. I will probably be going through PayPal for my online sales, but my bank is fixing me up with a small terminal to swipe or enter cards for $15/month. I'm ok with that.

How much photography did I get done today?