Oct 21 2018

How Blogs Make Money

Photo by Ray Potes

Ok full disclosure. Hamburger Eyes doesn’t earn enough to pay for itself. Sometimes it does, sometimes not. I know some people think we are living the rock star life over here. Not true. So, we have to experiment and try to add more income with commissions, exhibitions, prints, zines, books, tshirts, beach towels, etc. Also phone calls, emails, social media, and… website. I was thinking if I start writing articles, maybe it will draw more attention to what we are doing with photography and maybe that will lead to a few more books sold per month.

Today I was looking up some things about SEO and then I started coming across articles about how bloggers make money. I didn’t really know. How DO they do it? I thought I was going to find some exotic ideas and formulas I never heard of. But if you are in business for yourself, you could have guessed most of these. Here’s a list of some stuff I found.

1. Advertising.

Sell off different sections of your site in hopes of someone clicking on something. If they do, you get some money. I don’t think this is the route for Hamburger Eyes site. I have tried Google ads before and they look like shit.

2. Affliate Marketing.

This one I may try. I actually applied for it before with Amazon and I didn’t qualify. Basically you post links on your posts or pages to products and if people buy those products, you get a commission. No doubt you have seen a camera review site and at the end of the article they post a link to the camera listed on Amazon or B+H, when you hit that link and purchase, the blogger will get like $8.

This one would work here I think because we could post links to stuff you are already buying like film or batteries or make gear lists of what our favorite photographers are shooting with, etc etc. If I qualify this time around, I will experiment with this. Heads up.

3. Subscriptions. Donations.

Charge people monthly for secret content. Not sure about this. Or ask them to donate. We have Paypal. But not sure if either of these I am feeling. There’s is that Patreon service that is a combo of both of these, but still not sure if that is the right fit. I was thinking when we get on a regular production schedule with the zine, then we can start offering subscriptions again. It is hard to do manually since people move a lot and its a lot of staying organized because of people paying on different dates etc., but a system like Patreon could help facilitate that.

4. Products and Services.

We already do the products. We have all kinds of products in our online shop and we’ll be doing this one forever. I like my photos in print and I like to wear tshirts and hats.

We already do some services. Freelance photo, some workshops here and there. I think a lot of bloggers make their money here. Teaching webinars, live events, meetups, conferences, coaching, training, consulting, speaking.

Anyways, I have been writing articles for maybe 1 week and already it feels like I have crossed over from a “updating the website guy” to “blogger” and I like it. So get ready for more bloggings.

The other day my gf’s friend came over and he was like, “What do you do?” and as usual I got all weird. Because usually if I say “photographer” they will ask what kind of photography and I will have to explain that I just shoot what’s around me, so basically documenting my life. And after a whole conversation they would just be like, “Huh”.

And then if I say “publisher”, it will usually go through at least 2 rounds of “Wait, what is it called?” Not sure why it’s awkward. I have answered these questions 500 times. I usually say both photographer and publisher, but never sure which to say first because each will have another series of questions. I think it will be much easier now just saying, “Blogger.” And then they will go, “How do you make money?” and then I will send them a link to this article.

Oct 20 2018

Services vs. Products

Photo by Bill Burke

I’m on a roll today. I think it’s because I talk about this stuff all day all night with other photographers so it’s easy to regurgitate these conversations. If you quit your job and are trying to earn a living doing photography then there are some things to think about.

First off, now you are an entrepreneur. You are a business owner. You are an all-the-timer. Not part-timer or full-timer. You are trying to run a good business. Some people are lucky with talent and connections and Shark Tank. But most will have to grind it out and be smart.

Secondly, in most businesses you are offering either a service or a product. But in the case of a photographer, you are offering both. The service is your actions, the product is your eyes. This is where we run into crisis. The border between service and product is very undefined and if there is one, it is razor thin. It feels funny to sell your eyes.

The truth is Eugene Richards shot Starbucks ads. Mary Ellen Mark shot weddings. So on one hand, there is no way around commissions, but on the other hand these assignments could fund your projects and then you can sell those projects in the form of prints, zines, and books. But it is hard to sell that stuff. People don’t want to hang your weird stuff on their walls. Sometimes they will want it in a book on a shelf. It is random though and unpredictable.

Yes there are some lotto winners that get to do whatever they want and have all the money to do it and be comfy and all that. But I am talking to the 99% of you. I think the solution is to swarm the world with your mad visions. Overwhelm them and hopefully the right assignments come your way. The assignments that are easy and fun. You don’t have to shoot products in a studio or weddings if you play your cards right. Unless you want to.

Oct 20 2018

No One Cares About Your Photography Part 2 : How to Win Photography

Photo by Guido Gazzilli

Ok in the first part I talked about how no one cares but you can make them care once you start caring and taking it seriously. Not to be all serious about it because if you are not having fun and enjoying every bit of it, then maybe photography is not for you. I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Step 1 : What do you want?

This is going into the personal development department but really you have to define what success is for you. Do you want a book deal? Do you want to shoot a look book for Target? Do you want front page of New York Times? A1? I still always look at every photo credit in New York Times when I get the chance. At one point that is what I wanted. But things evolve too. That can happen.

Step 2 : How do you get it?

Strategy. Think about how to get from point A to point B. You don’t really have to invent anything here. The sooner you know what you want out of photography, then the sooner you will know how to get there because someone already did it before you. Sure everyone has their own path. But if you are paying attention, someone might have already blazed a trail for you and you just need to follow the tracks. Otherwise, get the machete and get to chopping.

Step 3. RELENTLESS DOMINATION

I was just gonna write “Relentlessness” but then I remembered Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is always saying “Relentless Domination” on his Insta. He is right though. Figure out what you want and don’t stop till you get it. My vote is to shoot 100 photos everyday until you start a fire. I think opportunities will arise from the ashes.

I have been fortunate to work with a lot of awesome photographers but what always impresses me the most is how much these pros actually shoot. You would hear stories of how Garry Winogrand passed away with over 3000 unprocessed rolls of film. Ted Pushinsky went shooting with him a few times and confirmed the legend to be true: Garry Winogrand would shoot 12 rolls of film by noon everyday. Ted said after shooting, he would drop his rolls into a big garbage bag that was already filled with tons of rolls.

When I had a darkroom in SF I would get random printing gigs. I had made contact sheets for Jim Goldberg before and one day he mentioned that he will be going to Bangladesh for a few weeks and will have some work for me when he gets back. Ok he came back with 800 4×5 negatives that I had to make contacts for. That was just the black and white. He said he also shot over 500 rolls of film, both 120 and 35. And digital.

Oh my. Imagine how much these guys shot when they were young? I’m saying you’re still young. And you could be doing more. Me too. Maybe this message is more for me than for you but maybe you will get motivated and start shooting more. We need it.

Oct 20 2018

No One Cares About Your Photography

Photo by Jai Tanju

Maybe a few friends and family do, but in general no one cares about your photography. Which is why this: YOU CANNOT STOP. Do not stop until they see, feel, and understand your message. I think if you care then you can make them care. If you have not discovered your message aka purpose than you haven’t been shooting and experimenting enough. If you have been shooting a lot maybe it is time to switch it up, go outside more or travel somewhere else or try a different focal length, different format, different camera, etc.

My friend Stefan (who helped start Hamburger Eyes) is a painting contractor and I have been painting houses on and off with him for years. One time his Dad, also a painting contractor, was in town and he said to him, “Hey Dad, Ray has been painting with me, he’s getting good,” or something like that. Then Ratko goes,”Yeah right, see me in 20 years and we’ll see if your painting is good.” I think it’s the same with photography. Until you have gone over every type of problem with every type of paint in every type of weather on every type of surface 100 times, you really don’t know shit.

Most of these articles I am writing are the subjects of emails I get. There are a lot of young photographers wondering what is next for them and I’m like, “You haven’t even shot anything yet.” I think there is a Henri Cartier Bresson quote that goes, “Your first 10,000 photos are garbage.” The harsh truth is most photographers don’t live past age 30. I’m talking about your photography went from “passion” to “hobby” to “minor interest”. I get it, it’s not easy to make a living. But I’m saying you didn’t shoot enough to properly find out.

You work hard and good things start to happen. You hear it all the time. It sounds like a pipe dream but it’s true. Think of every successful photographer you know. They shot and still shoot 100 times more than anyone you know. I think you can get there sooner if you shoot 100 photos per day starting today. The idea is that you will see more, edit more, learn more, etc more.

I struggle with this too. Maybe this post is for self motivation. For the past 10 years I have been identifying myself as a “publisher” first, “photographer” second. But now I am realizing that is wrong, I am a photographer first. And the world needs my weird photos and your weird photos. And we all need to shoot 100 photos per day. Otherwise everything will look like an Iphone commercial. And we don’t want that world.

Continued in PART 2.

Oct 19 2018

** NEW SYMBOL ALERT **

Double sided trident here representing land, air, and water x 2. We have tried many symbols over the last 18 years and none of them stuck. This new one came so easily and I think it is a sign of the times. Join us as we enter the new chapter, cruise with on this journey.

Usually we would wait till we got proper photos of people wearing stuff but this one cannot be contained. 3 new products, all embroidered. Photos coming soon. Here’s a discount code that will last a few days 15% off enter code ” TRIDENT ” before checking out.

http://shophamburgereyes.com

Oct 19 2018

Reptiles In General

I was just thinking maybe it’s getting too serious around here. Maybe we need to bring back some music. And this morning come these vids from long time contributor Alex Martinez. When we got our photo studio darkroom facility in SF around 2008, Alex was the first one to “intern” or volunteer there. He worked 2 days a week, every week, for like 5 years or more. He helped shape Hamburger Eyes during those years. He brought on Oskie and he too worked there forever. Alex is an awesome idea man, awesome music man, awesome aesthetic man. The simple design of this site is direct influence from him. Check out him out.

http://amart.tumblr.com/

http://www.stopinternetromance.com/

Oct 18 2018

What Is A Zine?

Photo by Alex Herzog

What is a zine? I don’t know. I guess I could’ve researched it and it’s origins and history but I don’t think it matters very much. It’s like researching and defining what is a mixtape. The various definitions might be generally the same, but generational-ly and genre-ly the definitions could be very different.

When I started making zines it was spelled like this: ‘zine. So I always thought it was like a baby magazine. A do it yourself junior magazine. People also called them “fanzines” because fans were making them to honor their favorites bands. If they were all drawings, you would just call it a “comic”. Lots of writing then maybe “booklet” would work or “pamphlet”, “brochure”, etc.

The gap between commercial publishing and independent publishing used to be so huge. You would see a magazine with Nike and Coca Cola ads, or your would see a magazine with no ads, hand drawings, and scissor cut photos. Nowadays the lines are blurred.

As I said before, if I had to describe it to let’s say my Mom, I would just say it is self published decorated pieces of paper folded and stapled for the purpose of reproduction for mass consumption. That’s it. And then she’d be like, “Oh you mean a pamphlet.”

There’s that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Jason Alexander has a book release party and Larry gets there and starts talking shit because it’s a stapled. He goes on and on saying it’s just a booklet. Awesome episode.

At one point, we were paying lots of money to have Hamburger Eyes offset printed which is how most photo books are printed. People were saying we need to call them “books”. That didn’t feel right since it was an ongoing series, so we upgraded “zine” to “magazine” and maybe for 10 years it was a “magazine”. We also had ads, which helped to call it that. But since we downgraded the print quality and are currently exploring newsprint styles, and have no ads, we brought it back down to “zine”. Today it is 120 pages with a perfect bind and we still call it a zine. And it feels way better.

Oct 18 2018

TAXONOMIES

Photo by David Root

So I am having fun writing stuff about stuff and it seems proper to add more categories to the site. If you ever noticed, there are category links at the bottom of every post. I think I will start to add related post links to each article as well.

Anyways, I don’t like to have lots of navigation in the menu bar at the top of the site so I made the archives page also the navigation page. Have a look. This is a work in progress.

Is it trippy digging through the archives.

http://www.hamburgereyes.com/archives/

Oct 16 2018

Crop Circles

Photo by Brandon Getty

You ever spazz out about crops? I do. Not all the time. Just sometimes. I have talked about it before. In this post I will try to describe the Rambo track my mind runs laps on.

It starts with Henri Cartier Bresson. He makes the composition with his eye in the viewfinder. He prints over the edge of the image so you get that black outline from the empty space of the negative. This is just extra emphasis that he framed it up when shooting and it is exactly how it is meant to be. He didn’t want any publishers to crop his photos ever.

And this is correct. This is the proper way to think of your shooting. I was taught this and this is also the proper way to honor your formats. For example if you are shooting square, you print it square.

But then 2 things happened to me simultaneously. The first thing was seeing an exhibition by Robert Frank. In this showing they displayed his regular exhibition prints but also his work prints and contact sheets. Some of his most famous photos were crazy cropped! In the contact sheets you can see that a photo was originally shot horizontal. In the work prints you can see different attempts at the crop. And in the book you can see the final version is a vertical image.

I was shocked but not that shocked. That’s because of the second thing that happened to me. I got into publishing. Well first I got into printing my photos a lot and then mass producing them for mass consumption. The problem is paper sizes don’t match photography format sizes, so when you want to go full bleed you’re gonna knock off a chunk of the photo. It is unavoidable.

So for me cropping is generally fine. If I can save a garbage photo by cropping or “re-framing” it a bit, then I will do it. If I have to move a photo around to avoid the gutter in a 2 page spread, so be it.

The problem is this: file preparation. Now that I am voicing this out loud, it doesn’t seem like much of a problem. LOL. Some photos will look good in all scenarios, but most won’t. Print form, zine form, in a frame, on a tshirt, blog or IG etc etc. Some photos do better in certain forms in certain crops. For instance, in a zine I might have a vertical photo at 2:3 but on the internet I have it in it’s native 4:3 and when I print it on an 8.5 x 11, it’ll probs go 5:7. I guess what I am saying is it’s weird having 3 versions of the same photo out there, so to combat that I have been hitting everything with 5:7 because I think that is my favorite ratio right now. BUT that crop doesn’t work for everything. And neither does a particular photo. See how we are just going round and round?

Anyways, I am overthinking it. Don’t be like me is the moral of the story.

Oct 15 2018

Raul Cañibano – The Cuban Wide Angle Bresson

We are opening up this site to regular contributing photographers and Chris Leskovsek came through with these videos. Visit his site and follow him on IG.

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Lecture #1 @ Foothill College, California, USA – 2015

Lecture # 2 @ Nordic Light Festival, Kristiansund, Norway – 2013

Hey guys, I would like to start this series of photo docs, with a photographer that many of you might never heard before, and I think at this stage it might even be more interesting than me posting another ‘Frank/Bresson’ documentary.

Raul Cañibano – The Cuban Wide Angle Bresson

I honestly do not know how I came across Cuban photographer Raul Cañibano, I think someone, years ago (2011/12 ?) might’ve mentioned it to me or something. I know that as soon as I saw his work, I inmidiately went looking for more info about him, sadly, at the time there was nothing on google. Not even a Facebook page on him. Only this little – and still – only book about his work ( https://www.amazon.com/Ra%C3%BAl-Ca%C3%B1ibano-PHotoBolsillo-Willy-Simons/dp/8415303823 ) which I STRONGLY recommend getting.

Years has passed, and still very little is known about Raul outside Cuba, except that one University professor from the US (can’t remember his name right now) came across Raul’s work and has since helped him get his work out in the world.

Now, the reason I’m recommending Raul’s work, is because, I think for us photographers, Cuba has almost it’s own label or category within photography. We all know the thousand tourists photos of the old cars, buildings, and what have you about Havana. Raul on the other hand, is Cuban, and has an ‘insider’ look to the cuban lifestyle, customs, and culture of his country like no other. Now, if you top that, to the fact that his eye arguably is right up there with Bresson or any of the high praised eyes on mount olympus (Magnum) the end result is simply something I’m sure you have not seen before. Even in 2018.

I honestly do not know how or why his work hasn’t got out there or why he hasn’t been published by steidl or the likes. Perhaps, he does not belong to the elite of photo fairs in Paris, NY or London, or simply maybe is because he doesn’t speak english, loves cuba and refuses to leave the country. In any way, please enjoy these very few lectures about his work.

For all of us gear buffs, his work was very limited in the beginning, to the point of having a camera body (Nikon F) that did not match its camera lens mount and he would just hold the lens in front the camera body and shoot that way. But throughout his career one thing has remained constant, a 28mm lens. I believe he now shoots with an Fuji Xpro1 and a 18mm f2 lens (28mm).

Also, I recently noticed that FINALLY, Raul has put together an official website this year, please check it out here https://raulfoto.visura.co/