Sunday, February 09, 2020

Trial Balloon

Lenny Foster was arguably Taos's first name in photography till he decamped to Saint Augustine. He and I traded portraits a few years back. Lenny is as photogenic as he is an extraordinary photographer and lovely human being. I took this in my garage studio with two softboxes.

You know that I’m not photographing when I resort to my vault of moldy oldies to come up with a post. Such is the case today. I’ve got nothing fresh so I’m resorting to my greatest hits, this time portraits. And to be fair I have an ulterior motive.

This image is of  JD, a self-proclaimed former street tough from Chicago who practiced martial arts and modeled at the Santa Fe Workshops. This was made with a single beauty dish.

I photographed painter Jan Norsetter with natural light at sundown on the beach in Keremma, France.

Recognizing that selling a so-called fine art photograph is as likely as seeing Haley’s Comet, I find myself contemplating the unimaginable, to pursue some kind of commercial undertaking. It’s not that I’m a total novice. On the odd occasion I’ve sacrificed my creative being for the almighty dollar but so far the debasement has been I dropped in my lap. I haven’t chased it. The one and only wedding come from a friend and collector. Way back I shot the interiors of luxury condos at the Taos Ski Valley. That came from a cycling buddy. I’ve done a little editorial work and that too happened when the writer of the article asked me to do the photos. Or more correctly I already had several thousand sheep herding photographs. We just had to choose the half dozen that fit the text. I’ve done exactly one paid portrait session which leads me to this.

Vared Pasternak asked me to make her portrait during our eight day painters retreat in Brittany. This is with natural light at sunset on the beach at Roc'h Ar Mor.

I photographed Mark Asmus in Peggy's studio with Profoto studio flash and two Chimera softboxes. Thanks to Mark I can call myself a professional portrait photographer.

If I were to enter the commercial arena it would almost certainly be studio and environmental portraiture. Over the years I’ve done a smattering of portraits, mostly of friends or other consenting parties. And given the paucity of fine art photography sales I find myself thinking about launching a portrait photography practice. What would I name the nascent business? Would I advertise? How might I use social media to put the endeavor out there? Do I have the energy to start something from scratch in my winter years? First, I’d need a Business Plan that would start with a Mission Statement which would express in a few lines the goal of the business and which would be fleshed out by the step by step plan for starting and building it. I am well-schooled in writing Business Plans having written them for several subsidiaries of Fortune 500 companies. All of that would be supported by a Budget which would detail how much it would cost to launch and support the business through the early lean times. Knowing me, I’ll choke over any significant investment and won't do it. But this is the closest I've come to pulling the trigger. Going through the planning process could lead me to a go or not go decision so it's worth the effort. The track record of my creative life is littered with unrealized goals so I worry this pipe dream will end up in the graveyard of good ideas. I offer The Last Shepherd (the long simmering sheep herding tome) as a towering example of not finishing the job. That has languished so long it’s become a laugh line.

Dado Lucena of Socorro, NM was attending an art opening at Wilder Nightingale Gallery in Taos. I shot this in front of the gallery with a small on-camera softbox.

More importantly, given my capitalist leanings, is what should I charge for a portrait session? Taos is notoriously cheap town, the kind of burg where being middle class means working three jobs. Generally, when I’m approached about any kind of gig, I immediately price myself out of the job. Whether that’s because I’m a greedy sot or want to be paid as much as a plumber I honestly don’t know. But I do envision a boutique operation charging more that a portrait booth at the penny arcade.

Anyway, I’ll make this short and sweet. Here are a bunch of portraits taken over the last couple of decades, ones that make me think it could work. Well, if I really want it to.

Are you in? Be the first on your block.

1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

A new year, new thoughts, new dreams, new projects. Your trial balloon is wonderful, indeed, as is the one photograph in the group I had not seen - Dado Lucena of Socorro. Business plan - check. You have that one. Your garage as studio for portraiture and the outer world for environmental portraiture, check. Got those. After chewing over similar subjects with multiple photographers over the years, the most difficult part is convincing people your work is worthy and you should be paid a living wage for it. And sticking to the prices you establish. My plan for the year is similar, but when that happens, we'll be in different markets and not competing, but perhaps can compare notes as we progress. If you ever need a guinea pig, you know I would be an example of the world's worst model! But good luck with it all and keep us posted.