VSCO Open Studio

How frickin’ cool:

We know how expensive it is to rent studio space, and that it can be especially difficult to justify the price when it’s for your own passion project. But if it’s a project that excites you, that drags you out of bed at the crack of dawn and keeps you up late at night, we want to give you the opportunity to create it.

BYO camera? Free?

Not many excuses now to not do that thing you want to do, New Yorkers.

Kudos to VSCO. They’re providing platform after platform for photographers (and “”creatives””) to do their thing. It’s fun to see them stretch and grow beyond film-looking presets for Lightroom (that I still enjoy and use).

I’d give anything for a space like this in my area. My next project is dying for a location to shoot some portraits. I don’t need equipment – just space.


Take A Break

Don't feel bad about taking a break from photography.

Such good advice from Eric Kim:

If you’re bored of photography, don’t feel inspiration, or feeling lost– take a break. Discover new artistic avenues, and replenish your creative fields.

Feeling like you have to take a photo every single day? Don’t.

This runs counter to a lot of advice out there. And there’s the idea of a 365 project, which Kim says often ends up feeling like a chore.

I’ve felt the pressure first-hand, and the lack of gumption to get out there and shoot—especially after my big portrait project last fall—so I took some time off. I’m taking breaks from Instagram here and there, too.

The kicker to getting over the guilt of taking a break. That’s what I’ve learned to accept lately.

Why feel bad about not doing something that’s totally voluntary anyway?

Race to the Bottom

Samuel Zeller on giving away his photos on Unsplash:

But stock photography is dying, people pay less and less for images. I know, I worked for years in a design agency were we regularly had to buy images for clients, and our clients budgets were always getting smaller.

Why should I need to sell images if I have clients paying me to shoot specific images ? To me working for a client face to face is rewarding, way more than making money on digital sales to people I will never interact with.

Zeller’s approach won’t work for everyone, but it is an alternative to trying to make a few bucks off of an online store.

A lot of workers in the United States are worried about computers and robots taking over their jobs. In the photography world, it’s guys like Zeller that worry the stock photographers. Facing a race to the bottom, photographers may have to give their stuff away and hope a client stumbles on them.

Or you can give your photos away and not worry about the rest.

Spock’s Beard, ‘The Light’

By 2008, Neal Morse had been away from Spock’s Beard for the better part of the decade.

But here, he returns, full force, to perform “The Light,” his first Spock’s Beard song, with his former bandmates.

So great, so celebratory. And the piano interlude at 9:30 is Morse at his beautiful best.

Travel Season

Lobster Landing - Connecticut

Taking a vacation is a good excuse to make some photos. You’re in a new place, with new sights and people to see. Everything is fresh and wonderful (especially when they have lobster rolls along the Atlantic Ocean, as above).

But most of us can’t take a vacation all the time.

So what if you took little trips, around your hometown, or to the cities you’re next to?

I started a little project based on small towns around Michigan a few summers back – little towns that I had never visited, or had only traveled through. I’d take a lunch hour and prowl around main street, and shoot what I see.

You don’t have to go far to see a new place. Chances are, there’s something to see within a few miles of where you are right now. This idea is not new.

August is travel season for a lot of people. Now, challenge yourself to travel a little more local for a new perspective.

How to (Maybe) Make Money Selling Photos

Make Money Selling Your Photos

Here’s the deal: money shouldn’t be the main reason you make photos. The reality is, you probably won’t make very much.

But it is possible to make some gas money selling your photos online. Take this old chestnut:

  1. Make photos
  2. Post them online for sale
  3. ???
  4. Profit!

Step three is the tricky one. Here’s what I’ve found in the few short years I’ve had an online store.

For one, don’t expect any sales. Start there. No one will buy your photos.


Okay, accepting that, keep doing what you’re doing: Instagramming, sharing your photos on social media, giving prints away to friends and family, and keep shooting.

Then, when someone asks, “Hey, do you sell your stuff? Can I get a copy of this-or-that photograph?” you say, “Sure do!” And send them a link to your store, with a link to the photo they’re looking to buy.

Boom. There’s your profit. And be grateful for it.

You may get a few sales through searches or people stumbling on your stuff. But that’s what all those question marks in step three are: dumb luck.

It’s different if you attend art shows, or do wedding photography, or shoot on commission. Those all involve hustle, investment, and time. If photography isn’t your main gig, it’s more difficult to make a buck.

I have a few sales here and there every month or two, and then it’s only a few bucks – enough for a coffee. If that’s as ambitious as you get, you probably won’t be disappointed.

Me? I put almost every dollar I make from photography—online sales, wedding gigs, etc—right back into my hobby. Because I’m not doing this stuff for money, I’m doing it for fun.

Make the photos you want to make. Post them online for people to buy. And when people do want to buy your photos, make it easy for them. One, two, three.

I can’t think of a better, less sleazy, way to do it than that.

Marketing, Not Photography

Setting Up A Photography Store

Brooks Jensen on LensWork Podcast ep. 948:

The minute people starting thinking about money—about selling their art work and marketing, etc.—the art of photography was diminished.

Jensen says his wife enjoys gardening, but doesn’t expect to be paid for planting something in her own yard.

So maybe the switch between “I make photos for art/fun/etc.” to “I make photos for money” is what makes so many people take the same kinds of photos.

It’s marketing, not photography.


Why Buy Photographs

Why Buy Photographs?

We are, each of us, dripping wet with photographs. Culturally speaking, we are drowning in them.

Limited Editions are a Useless Floodgate: the ocean of images cannot be tamed. — infinite industries — Medium

So why buy photographs?

“Value is not held within the [physical] object,” Travis Shaffer writes. “Rather, it is the opportunity to stand before the work which we desire.”

Which is exactly why I’m a small-time collector of the photographs I enjoy. The idea of (a) supporting emerging artists and (b) collecting appealing work is reason enough to spend a little money of not-so-limited prints.

I don’t do it because it’s a potential investment. And I surely don’t do it to be Mr. Art Collector Guy.

I do it because I want it hanging on my wall.

Making Up Limitations

Making Up Limitations

Craft inhabits whatever medium or tool you work with, if you let it.

I revisit Craig Mod’s articles every once in a while, just to feel what he’s feeling at these times of digital/analog transition.

The above, from 2014, recall Mod’s thoughts about how mobile phone photography – always connected, quality digital files, the idea of a singular photograph changing – was growing into its own.

With everything set to automatic, where was the craft in an iPhone photo?

Mod’s point: It’s all in the restrictions you put on yourself.

It’s one reason why I love using a 10 year old digital camera to make most of my images. Almost nothing is automatic, there’s no video setting, and only 12 megapixels. Every day is a limitation.

But even with cameras with auto HDR and leveling and intervalometers and all that, you can make using your camera feel like driving a manual transmission car if you still want that experience.

Turn the display off. Turn auto everything off. Set your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO on manual. Don’t use built-in filters (or do, and treat it like film stock). Etc.

Cameras these days have few limitations. So make up some, and start a new project.