Mar 22 2023


Photo by Ray Potes

When it comes to my photography/publishing practice I like to think it is a 50/50 split when talking about time space and energy. In reality though, it fluctuates. The swings can be as big as 90/10 in either direction.

The system is sensitive and swings can be caused by various circumstances like economies, romances, injuries, insecurities, moon phases, etc.

To re-balance it, I self-advise, “Shoot more.” The photos feed the zines, and the zines create more zines which are hungry for more photos. It used to be the same with darkroom printing, shoot then print then shoot then print, one informs and shapes the other.

My weird logic is to tip the scale on the shooting side so much so that the printing/publishing side is forced to catch up. This is why if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve seen me say it 1000 times, “Shoot more.”

But this post isn’t about balance. It’s about purpose.

You start with a photo curiosity, then a photo passion. Then a photo purpose. That purpose can be simple and exploratory like self expression with photography, or it can be complicated like influencing geopolitical policies with photography.

After photo purpose comes photo commitment. This is where you consciously decide to make photography your full time gig. Intrinsic drivers evolve with extrinsic drivers. That is things like passion and mastery grow and multiply with things like achievement and paying rent.

You are somewhere along this path in your photographic journey. “Shoot more,” is only good advice if you are in the curiosity phase. In all other phases, shooting a lot is basic. Or more like it is a life style choice.

So me saying, “Shoot more,” is as if your photography is without purpose which is presumptuous and asshole-ish of me. I think my new advice to any one at any phase of development would be, “Get money.”

This is a better presumption. It presumes that you are already committed or, even better, it motivates you to be on your way. Also like weather patterns, we cycle through all of these phases, sometimes stuck in a rut, sometimes hyper with no where to go. So it is supportive, “Get money.” It conjures potential. It sparks action.

Photography isn’t about money. But all the stuff you need to do photography full time costs money. Gear, rent, food, car, computer, etc. It is time to start figuring it out if you are feeling it is time to level up.

I get questions about how to get noticed, or how to get more followers, or how to blow up. In other words, how to get money. I only know what has and hasn’t worked for me (and I am very much still figuring it out), it is different for everybody so it is impossible to say in any type of formulaic way. Of course there are generalities, but each path is so specific and unique. This is one of the reasons why I think photography is so cool, it is both relatable and unrelatable at the same time, including and especially between photographers.

Sure, there are some who are happy enough with photography as a weekend hobby, but there are also a lot of us at the crossroads looking for direction. Stay tuned for the next post. It will be about all the different ways different photographers make money. Most are doing it in multiple combinations of ways. Let us count the ways.

Mar 15 2023


During quarantine, a friend had been eye-balling a piece of property for a while and finally pulled the trigger. It is on a beautiful river and I went there as much as my stimulus would allow while the world was shut down. And I still go often.

I needed a waterproof camera for all the fishing kayaking canoeing swimming floating jumping bbqing and chilling we were doing. So I bought an Olympus TG-6. I like Olympus. This one is the latest in their line of “tough” series cameras. I got the red one. I now use it for everything and it is very close to being my most used camera since I got it.

Here is what is wrong with all digital point and shoot cameras ever made except for this one – they are very easy to break. All of them look and feel and are janky. Every single one. Also, they are slow. Very slow. From powering on to firing off a shot, you already missed all of the action. Like an hour ago.

Not this camera, it is fast. And sharp. And water proof and shock proof. It has flopped out of my pocket and onto the street multiple times and it is still going strong. This alone is my number one reason to recommend it.

Also, I like how there is zoom and the lens stays internal, there is no extending of the lens from the body. I like how there is a macro mode.

This camera will miss focus sometimes, but I’d rather have a soft photo than no photo. Most digital point and shoot cameras will prioritize focus over shooting, meaning they won’t fire until focus is locked. This only adds to the feeling of slowness.

Overall, it is just fun to use and I never worry about it. The only worry I have is that if I do break it or lose it, will I be able to get another one? There may be an upcoming shortage of them which will make them more expensive. Olympus has recently sold their entire camera division to another company. That company started a brand new camera company and it is called OM Digital Solutions. Kinda lame sounding and who knows if they will continue with this series of camera.

Yes, you might need larger sensor, you might need lots of things. For me and what I am doing (zines), this camera went from a nice piece to a crucial piece of the camera collection.

All photos here are shot jpg with the Olympus TG-6. They are then converted and seasoned to taste in Photoshop. With the smaller sensor, the image breaks up in some areas. It resembles grain to me and I think that adds to the vibes.

I also like the flash, great coverage and more than enough power.

Lastly, you’ll notice there is some “blooming” in the highlights of some of these photos. There’s a softness and a glowy-ness to the highlights.

This camera does not come with a lens cap, nor does it have one of those self closing ones. You can buy one separately among other accessories. (Another reason I like this thing, many cool accessories.) The lens is simply encased in hard plastic.

Over time this plastic has gotten scuffed up and the glossy finish is wearing off. It goes in my pockets or bag and rubs against things. I have since been keeping it in a pouch when in a bag or backpack.

At first I thought I would lose auto focus, I didn’t. What has happened is it has organically turned into a diffusion filter and is creating those effects in the highlights. I like it. Cinematographers pay lots of money for vintage lenses or fancy filters or post production for similar results.

I have no affliation with the company and am not getting any commission or compensation for my recommendation. I just like this camera a lot and if you are like me and like to have a camera on you at all times that is not your phone, this is a great one for that. It’s durable, snappy, and weird looking. It’s affordable, fun, and easy to use. 100 thumbs up, A++, 5 stars.

Photos by Ray Potes

Mar 07 2023


Did you get one of our new hoodies yet? I’m psyched on them. It’s a new chapter for us, new logo, new city, new vibes, etc. Celebrate with us. More colors coming too. Stay tuned.


Mar 02 2023

How to Get a Photo Book Published

Photo by Ray Potes

I get this question a lot. It is interesting that the photo book is now being prioritized over commissions or exhibitions. At least according to my emails and DMs, but also just look at all the book fairs popping up all over the world in recent years.

It is asked in many different ways like, “Can you list for me all of the publishers that will want to publish my book?” or “What are the steps on getting a book published?” or “Will you forward my work to all of the publishers and ask them to publish a book for me?” or “What is the formula to get a publisher to publish my work?..”

Here is my answer – I don’t know. I am being serious, I have no fucking clue.

I have friends who have sold prints to museums, have had multiple solo gallery exhibitions, huge commissions, speaking events, etc. and still are having a hard time trying to get a photo book published. On the other hand, we have seen people shoot a few polaroids and get multi year book deals, billboards, movies, champagne, and limo service. The truth is there is no exact formula on getting a book made. It just happens.

Reminds me of a quote, “The first thing I learned when becoming an adult is that there are no adults.” I don’t know who said it, but it applies here. Everyone is just kinda best guessing at life.

There’s 2 basic ways that I have seen books get made – firstly, you know someone who knows someone. Secondly, your photography is so wildly popular that a publisher is confident they can sell a ton of your books. It’s usually a combo of both.

Let’s start there. A big time publisher will spend $20k+ on a book and guess what, they want to make that money back and more. They have an office, a warehouse, and a bunch of employees, designers, sales people, etc. Your photo book is meant to feed all of these people. And they will eat before you do, you will get your royalties when there is a profit. I mean this both figuratively and literally, they will expense their lunch on the project’s budget (your book’s budget).

It’s an investment/risk to publish your book. These companies hedge their bets by publishing 20 titles a year. It’s not that different for smaller publishers, if they can’t publish a bunch of titles at once, your book just might make or break them. Sometimes stuff sells good, sometimes not so much. Sometimes it is because the photo quality is great, sometimes it is because the economy just sucks. Either way, it’s a huge commitment. And I think it’s a long term one.

Ok, let’s best case scenario this – let’s say someone puts out a book for you. You have a few events, you give a few talks, etc. A year or 2 goes by, now what? Time for another one, time for another body of work. Similar to the music industry, “You’re only as good as your next record.”

This leads to my main point. It’s all about the work. Make the good work. Do the good work that magnetizes. The book is a side effect of this magnetism. The real question, “How do I get better?” This is a combo of studying and crafting. It is my belief that good work will get good attention.

Besides self-publishing our regular stuff, Hamburger Eyes has had 3 different book deals from 3 different publishers. Looking back now, I am realizing that each time there was some kind of momentum that preceded the book deal. Like each time there was a good run of zines and books, shows and events, commissions and collabs for a solid year or 2, and then discussions with another publisher started happening. (This is not regular. Some of our years are very quiet.)

Also, we were already somehow connected to that publisher. Someone knew someone who knew someone that had we had met somewhere along the way. It is inevitable to meet other photographers or other ambassadors of photography if you are actually pursuing photography. It is inevitable that someone you know right now will have a nice job one day at a nice photo related place of business.

Thus, a photo book formula based off of this freestyle blog – work your ass off, hang out with other photographers. Work some more. Show the work to people, anyone. Get feedback, work some more. Be cool about it.

Notice I didn’t say anything about pitching, pdfs, portfolios, cold emails, cover letters, etc. It’s because I don’t think any of that is enough. I haven’t seen it. Again, I really don’t know, this is all just my opinion. I think their board of directors have whole networks in place scouting and recruiting new investments, both big and small, you have to end up on their radar.

Something else to think about – do you really need someone else to publish your first book? Do you really need 3000 copies? Can you sell that many? How about self-publish 100 copies and see how that goes first? (Don’t worry, I am already planning a series of blog posts about doing it yourself.)

Yes, some people are naturals, their photos are amazing with little to no effort. They talk all good and shit. They are young and good looking. Publishers and benefactors can’t wait to give them money for multiple eras of future works. This is not the norm.

“Your first 10,000 photos are your worst.” – Henri Cartier Bresson

This is the norm. There are always exceptions, no doubt, but most of of us here haven’t shot enough. I include myself. This is not meant to discourage you. This is meant to hype you to go out and shoot more all day all night.