As many of my loyal readers know, I have been a working photographer most of my adult life, with my very first encounter with something called "film" happening as far back as about 1966. Between then and now, I have shot just about everything you can name. And while this post is not technically about aviation, it IS about an aviator. Here's a look at Av8rdan's photo career:
My first gig with a camera was to play around with Papa Louie's police cameras. He was in charge of the Identification Bureau of the Fresno Police Department, about as close to CSI: Fresno as I ever got. He'd bring home all the photo gear required to photograph a crime scene, and we'd go out and shoot a few pics on the City of Fresno's dime. That led to my first actual "gig" as Boy Scout Troop 51's photographer, at the mature age of 12.
I have written about my journalism career here before, but not about the wrecks. The very last newspaper assignment as a full-time paid staffer was completed in 1988 was when a dude in an El Camino slammed full speed into the back of a tractor-trailer rig, and jammed he and his ride under the back bumper of the trailer. As the fire guys were using the Jaws of Life® to cut up his previous sweet Camino, and while I banged away to take photos, some kid came up to me and said "you newspaper guys really like the bloody ones, huh?" I quit the paper the next week. Then there were was Bridezilla:
Like any "pro" photographer, I did try weddings, but on the very first shoot, the Groomsmen started hitting the beer keg well before the ceremony, so they were not in ANY mood to have some goober they did not know take their picture. So I swore off weddings in an attempt to avoid the Bride from hell and her parents, and try to stay sane. I moved on to try studio work, with my own storefront, etc. This was inside the same 1906 building in Reedley, CA that Besaw the Photographer was using at the turn of the century. History or not, that didn't pan out either, as I didn't have the patience to wait for screaming kids to stop throwing their tizzy fits so I could shoot their pudgy little mug.
Over the last few years as I moved to digital, I began selling stock photos worldwide on Alamy.com. This was a decent deal, but when istockphoto came on the scene and bludgeoned the price of stock photography from maybe $300 for a 8.5" x 11" magazine quality shot to $10 for wall sized, it spelled the end of selling stock online.
But through it all, I have amassed a huge collection of digital imagery, enough to stuff three external firewire drives, including a sweet Ultramax 1TB beauty. So in an attempt to provide a shot in the arm to my photo business, I have gone in yet another direction:
I have been the "official" cast photographer for Fresno Grand Opera for maybe eight seasons now, and twice a year, I go to the William Saroyan Theatre in Fresno and shoot their wonderful operas. After using a few of these images in media and advertising pieces, they would languish on my drives, serving no purpose but to take up space. And more recently, I have had the privilege of photographing the beautiful dancers of Eugene Ballet Company, trying to stay out of the way of the company's "official" lensmen. Again, after shooting these photos and using them for my wife's Ballet Insider Pre-show lectures, the images would sit and basically rot. So I have made deals with both companies to offer these images online though my new Online Photo Marketplace, and will be giving back a fairly generous portion of the gross sales as a donation.
As I set up this "store" on Smugmug, I will finally be presenting my work in a way that offers a high-quality line of real merchandise. Prints of my images will of course be available, but it goes far beyond that to offer photo merchandise such as apparel, mugs, and various other non-mainstream ways to display images on your wall. But what has me over the moon is this:
Before I set this store up, I searched all over for a hosting site that offered commercially-licensed digital downloads, where I could set the price to agencies, creatives and graphic designers. This SmugMug site now makes that happen, and essentially creates my very own branded stock photo site. With my own stock photo presence, I can work to drive traffic there, and once the visitor arrives, there will be zero competition from other photographers for their attention and dollar. Sure, I can't price my work like the large high-end stock sites such as Getty, but at the same time I can offer them at prices that respect my talent and years of experience. And I don't feel like a whore by selling them on sites that only charge $1-10 for commercial stock images.
If you are interested in seeing my new work, here is a complete listing of the galleries currently up and running:
And yes, when you visit there, you will see no aircraft, not even a hint about aviation. But trust me, that is coming. I just don't have enough released aircraft imagery right now to make up a gallery. So no airplanes, not now. But, if you really need a humongous framed canvas print of one of Eugene Ballet's graceful stars doing a Grand jeté across the stage, I'm your guy.