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little snaps from my iphone, among other things

Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

amateurs vs pros

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so seems like this recent nytimes article had been making the rounds within the photo community:


yup, all us pros are worried about the death of our livelihoods because these suburban hobbyists are more than happy to give away their images because it’s fun to see their pictures appear somewhere beyond their computer desktops and refrigerators.

but you know what?  i’m not all that concerned.  because in the end, the difference between an amateur and a professional is the ability to negotiate with trigger-happy teenage soldiers at checkpoints, to deal with third world bureaucracies and airport customs, hiring fixers and finding one that actually speaks english, traveling 18 hours a day on a shitty dusty road in the back of a beat up toyota pickup, not stepping on a land mine, staying healthy while eating rancid weeks old goat meat, not drinking the local water, triple and quadruple backing up camera/computer gear, dealing with the sat phone in order to deliver an image on deadline, being away from family and friends for months at a time, hoping your family will still be around when you do finally come home, knowing which bullet-proof vest will protect your from a 7.62 NATO round, hoping that you won’t die when you go down this alley while chasing the bangs of gunfire…

or for us stateside: being able to deliver on a $100k ad job, obtaining proper city permits for location shooting, dealing with craft services and to make sure that the art director on scene gets his/her special triple vanilla skim latte, to organize 10 cases of lighting gear, have the available cash flow to pay your subcontractors, have double backups when your tethered camera won’t tether while the client looks over your shoulder, to deal with uncooperative models/subjects, to deal with delivering a sunny photograph while shooting in a downpour, to make sure that what your shooting fits into the ridiculously awkward design hole that the art department demands you shoot for…

and on top of all this, shoot a damn incredible portfolio-level picture every time. oh, and now shoot video too.

so in the end, i’m not too worried about the amateurs.  let the amateurs shoot on spec.  and they can have that $1 microstock sale on that sunset pic.


Written by John

April 1, 2010 at 7:21 am


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here’s a few pics from the very last issue of its 68-year life, a beautiful rural pennsylvania thanksgiving spread shot by roland bello:


friggin beautiful spread.  so classy.  it’s simple, as if you just happened upon this little buffet.  very random, but not.  i especially like the quad detail photos of the plates.  it’s could be a pretty version of what william eggleston might have done.

so this is the way they’re going out, huh?  a bit anticlimactic.  and to continue the thought i had from a few posts back, i wonder what the gourmet staff would have pulled off had they been able to plan for a finale.  not saying that the work in this issue isn’t good, just seems very down-to-business.  not very celebratory.  very abrupt.  if they were going to end their 68 years right, they should have gone out with a bang like hunter s. thompson did, when his ashes were fired from a cannon.

strewn throughout this last issue are ads for gourmet subscriptions:  “12 issues just $15”.  maybe they should have upped the price a bit.  maybe those few little extra pennies from raised subscription fees could have made their books look better and pushed them just past the axe.

funny little tidbit about my efforts to get a copy of this final issue…  i guess it came out on newsstands on oct 20th.  i spent several hours running from newsstands to bookstores to supermarkets throughout san francisco looking for a copy of this final issue.  seemed that others had the same idea i had.  i finally found a few copies at a crappy barnes and noble in the city of colma, where the dead outnumber the living 1,000 to 1.

oh well.  sorry to see you go gourmet.  i was just getting to know you.

Written by John

October 22, 2009 at 10:54 am

a very poor decision

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condé nast is shuttering gourmet magazine because a bunch of ivy league consultants told them to.

in all fairness, that’s what mckinsey does, so it’s not really their fault. condé nast asked them for their opinion, and they gave it to them.

maybe the condé nast roster has no need for two similar culinary mags.  and according to this explanation by condé nast chief charles townsend, bon appétit is much stronger by the books.

fine, i get it.  business is business.  and if you had to make a decision based off of numbers, then you cut gourmet.  my rationale would be to cut details instead, because that’s an unnecessary magazine all together.

it just seems so absolutely knee-jerk to ditch the 69-year-old gastronomical institution.  perhaps you make cuts elsewhere.  maybe you get rid of golf world.  or maybe they should have pulled back on anna wintour’s fur coat budget.

it also seems to me that killing the magazine is a big waste of a brand.  why not sell it to someone else and let them try to keep it going?  condé nast would at least reap the immediate benefits of some capital from the sale.  not sure whether they ever floated that balloon.  i tried googling “condé nast gourmet sale” and nothing came up.

well, below are a few pages from the october 2009 issue, an piece about a restaurant in louisville, ky.  beautiful photography by john kernick. too bad the final issue of gourmet (november) is already on its way to print.  i would have loved to see what ruth reichl and her team would have done with their final issue if they had time to plan for it.


Written by John

October 5, 2009 at 11:51 am

i’m back, if only momentarily…

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ok, for the 3 people who occasionally read this, you might (or might not) have noticed that i’ve been a bit lazy about updating.  i think it’s been at least a month or two since i updated last.

it’s not that i didn’t want to.  i just got busy.  see, i started this blog during the deep deep gut of the recession, when i had absolutely no work coming in.   i would just sit there in front of my computer all day, still wearing the same t-shirt and shorts i wore when i woke up in the morning.  i was home so much, i got to know our mailman.  i also got to know our regular ups delivery guy.  he and i now wave hi to each other when we spot each other on the street.

but then around march, i noticed a slight uptick in assignment work.  people started calling.  perhaps we all got sick of the daily doom and gloom and willed ourselves to get off our ass and do something about it.  i guess it’s like trying to start the crowd wave while in a sports stadium.  someone’s gotta start the damn thing.  so you get up and wave your arms.  eventually others will follow.

april came, i got busy.  perhaps the crowd wave was catching on.  really nice and busy.  it was refreshing.  but then i found that it was really hard to get my ass into gear.  i got used to sitting on my ass all day.  it’s kinda like when you first start exercising again after months of inactivity.  your body hurts for a while.

may was really nice.  busy.  lots of work.  my bones and muscles got used to doing things besides sitting on the couch.  to celebrate, i went out and got a new 5dmkII.

so now we’re in june.  so far so good.  and all the economic eggheads point to the end of this year as when we’re officially out of the recession.  i’m starting to get more calls, seeing an uptick in my google analytics numbers, seems like people want pictures again.  cool.

stupid, now watch me jinx it all by saying it’s getting better.  idiot.

but what was my point?  oh yeah.  i got busy, so i stopped writing.  when i’m busy, i write less.  when i’m not, i write more.  so i hope to not write a whole lot.

here’s a picture of a giant camera.


Written by John

June 8, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Posted in economy, freelancing