Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My First Pro Photography Job

It was the summer after my Senior year in high school. I lived in the little "bedroom" community of Camarillo, California, and I had fallen in love with photography a few years before. I don't remember what had happened to the Yashika twin lens camera I had been given that started my journey into the world of photography, but I had since saved up and bought myself a Pentax K1000 35mm camera. I bought the camera kit, which came with a 50mm F1.4 lens, and a 35 to 150mm zoom lens. I loved that camera! It was tough! You could drive nails with it!

So I answered an ad in the local newspaper for a job in the paper's photo archives and darkroom. And they hired me! What a mess their archives were in! But the fun part was the darkroom, and now and then they would send me out to a local school sports event to get photographs. What a blast! I was a professional photographer at 17 years old!

I finally got their archives organized, don't ask me how...and it took all summer! What I do remember is how much fun I had covering the school games, and then seeing my photos in the paper! That was so cool! And of course now that I was a "professional" it was even easier to get pretty girls to pose for me! That was the beginning of my photographing new and "wannabe" models, and creating models portfolios. And it was the start of my glamour and boudoir photography career. I love this job! And I have since I was 17 years old!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My First Camera

I guess some kind of art is just in my bloodline. Yeah, yeah all kids like to make a mess with crayons, pencils and whatever they can get their hands on. For me it was a fascination with how you could take a flat piece of paper and put a pencil to it and make something that looked like more than that. Something with more than just 2 dimensions. Of course I'm writing this with my current understanding rather than that of a 2 year old...

Anyway, it wasn't just a passing thing with me. I loved to draw. My favorite was to copy pictures of famous artists out of art books , or to copy pictures of the human body from the encyclopedia. You know, the cut-away pages showing the various systems, like blood, skeletal, etc. I loved drawing with colored pencils.

Then when I was in junior high school an uncle gave me a really cool, big camera. It was a twin lens reflex Yashika. It was amazing! A whole different animal from the "Brownie" point and shoot cameras of the era. So I went to the library and checked out books on photography. Bought some black and white film and learned how to make photographs.

The very best part about carrying that big camera around was when I would go to the mall with it, I could stop any pretty girl I saw and they would let me take their photograph! That was a LOT of FUN! I was immediately hooked on photography at that point! And I've been "hooked" on it ever since! And people remain my favorite subjects to this day.

I don't know what happened to that Yashika camera. I know it was with me when I took my first photography class in high school, but by the time I finished high school I had replaced it with a 35mm Pentax K1000. That camera had a zoom lens, and was practically indestructible! And it was the camera I used on my very first professional photography job...with the Camarillo Daily News the summer after my senior year! More on that in another post.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Keiki O Oahu Project for Charity

Back in 2004 I embarked on a project, the purpose of which was to highlight local Oahu people who are involved in charity work. I called the project "Local Heroes", and asked people I knew to recommend or nominate subjects to be highlighted. I determined that there would be a total of 12 people that would be selected for the project, and I would interview them to find out what charities they worked with and what motivated them to do so. Then I would create a portrait of each of them.

The 12 portraits would be exhibited at the major shopping malls on the island accompanied by the written interviews explaining what they did for the charities, and their motivation. The 12 portraits and interviews were on display for one week at each of the 4 major malls.

As I got to meet and interview the subjects for the project, first I was impressed by the selflessness of each of them, and then I became driven to find other ways that I could help. Originally I intended to repeat the same project each year, but the cost involved turned out to be more than I could take on the following year. And so I discontinued that project. However, I was still very much wanting to help deserving charities in the best way I could.

As a subscriber to Professional Photographer magazine, I read each month about the different "good deeds" that photographers around the country are doing to give back to their communities. One such "deed" is a project to raise money for a local children's hospital. This struck a cord with me as one of the charities I had highlighted in 2004 was the Shriners Hospital for Children.

The project I had read about was being done in Chicago, and when I contacted the photographer there I learned that he was copying a project that had been done in Los Angeles, and that photographer was copying the project as done in Australia!

Anyway, in each case the call to action was basically a call for children to be photographed for a coffee table art book. All the session fees are being donated to the local children's hospital, as well as a portion of the sales of the art book. This appealed to me a great deal, so I contacted the Shriners Hospital here on Oahu and presented the project to them. They loved the idea, (of course), but didn't think their headquarters would approve of the Art Book part as it hadn't been done here before...

Of course anyone with any sense can see that the whole project hinges on the Art Book part of the project to make it work and get parents to sign up to have their children photographed for a charity project! After all, if they were inclined to make a donation without being given an incentive to do so, they would! They wouldn't need me to photograph their kids in order to make a donation!

Long story short, I finally decided to do, and publicize the project without the help of any hospitals or other charities. And I chose 3 local charities to benefit: Helping Hands Hawaii, which among other things provides school supplies to under privileged children; The Ronald McDonald House of Hawaii, which provides a place to stay for families of children who come here from out of state and who need special care; and the Shriners Hospital for Children of Hawaii, which provides care for children in need without cost to the families. All very deserving charities.

I have set a goal to photograph 100 Oahu children (keiki) for the first book, and raise $10,000 to be divided to the three charities. The session fee for this project is only $100, and 100% of that is being donated to the charities. If and when I have photographed enough local keiki to reasonably fill a coffee table art book, a portion of the sales of the book will also be donated to the charities.

The challenge I've been facing is getting the word out about this project. Without the help of any of the charities, when I send out a press release, as a for profit company it doesn't get much support from the newspapers or the radio and TV stations. And as a small business owner and only employee, I don't have a lot of time to go out and personally distribute flyers and posters, although I have put in quite a few hours of effort doing just that!

I'm just one guy who wants to help. Unfortunately since I began this project in November, I've only had 5 responses that resulted in keiki portrait sessions. If you have any ideas on how to get the word out about this project, excluding paid advertising, please let me know!