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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jigar Shah, CEO Carbon War Room - on Earth Day 2010

Jigar describes the role of the entrepreneur within the environmental movement. 

Rights: CC Earth Day TV

Friday, April 16, 2010

MG3Media: Arts to Entrepreneurs - Pt. 2

Photographers sharing their business approach to the Arts - Three Part Series

As a photographer, how would you further describe yourself as an entrepreneur?
Most photographers, except staff photographers, are entrepreneurs simply by the nature of the industry.  We're all self-starters.  We create our own schedules and run the full spectrum for our businesses from booking to marketing, accounting to creating albums.  These businesses are run, if not alone, in partnerships or small groups.  Actually taking the photographs has proven to be a rather surprisingly small part of my job as a photographer. But, it continues to be the most exciting part and that's what keeps me in this business.

I run two small businesses, both photography based, but very different from development stages to end results for clients.  One is focused entirely on wedding photography, 'So Many Moments', and the other is the catch-all for the other jobs that find me.

How would you describe your style of photography?
Since I run two companies,  I have two distinct answers.
For weddings, my style is all about the moments, hence the name 'So Many Moments'.  My goal is to unobtrusively document the big day with style!  I want to capture what ACTUALLY happens as beautifully as possible.  When choosing a wedding photographer, I think it's really important the couple find an artist who really reflects their personal style.  Some photographers set up a lot of shots during a wedding.  For instance, some may go so far as to fake an exchange of the rings after the ceremony, to get that tight shot of the hands. To me, that's cheating the couple out of their day.  Either throw on a long lens, and snap that shot while it's actually happening or find something better to shoot at that moment.  But at least be real!  Because when the couple sees that hand photo, they'll remember the photographer faking the shot after the ceremony; I want my clients to remember the actual moment they exchanged the rings instead. That's the difference to me.  I want my couple's to enjoy their wedding days with their guests, not to spend the day posing for shots.

For freelance portraiture work, I prefer the polar opposite.  Like my earliest idol David LaChapelle, I prefer to bend reality in my portraits rather then tell the truth. "People say photographs don't lie, mine do."  I like to think I build moments or scenes for just long enough to take a photograph of them to prove they existed, even if only for a little while.. I have some big budget fantasy shoots living in my dreams and sketchbooks waiting for the right client to come along, but in the meantime I make the best of what's around.  A recent portrait I took of my friend Kalle, for instance, is her wearing a red throw blanket from her bed, balancing on her grandfather's old milking stool in her side yard.  That's a zero$ budget photo; we made something we can be proud of from nothing.  Maybe that's creativity at it's core, and entrepreneurial, too. 

Do you have a few images you can share with us?
I would love to!!!  The following is a sampling of both my portraiture work and some recent wedding photography from So Many Moments.

*Photographs Courtesy of Samantha Yeakle.  All Rights Reserved. 

Did you go to school to learn photography, or are you self-taught?
I took my first photography class in high school, and while it changed my life, it did not inspire me to focus on photography as a profession.  I had always heard that to work in photography was ridiculously competitive. During another photo class in college, a neighbor asked me to take her portrait and she paid me $40.  Her friend liked the photos and hired me.  I charged $60.  It just sort of grew from there.  Within a year, I was seeing my photos published on album covers and in magazines so I quit working behind bars to work behind my camera full time.  As it turned out, the people who told me photography was competitive were correct, it's an insane business.  But the constant challenge keeps me excited and on my toes.  I can't imagine doing anything else.

As an artist, how important do you think it is to have "good business sense", and what specific steps have you taken to insure your business success?
My business is a success because I've made people happy and enjoyed the journey in doing so. Success, for me, is about doing something that means something.  If I'm given the opportunity to document an important day in someone's life, or create a portrait of them, I feel that's a great honor.  I hope my photos will live longer then I will and the custom albums I create will become family heirlooms. I find pride in that.

How do you balance the artistic and business requirements of your work? 
I'm in the business of making art, not business. There isn't so much balance as there is unity. The art comes first, that's what I'm creating for people, the business falls in line behind it. I've enjoyed learning about marketing, advertising, accounting, web design, and how to conduct meetings.  My background in graphic design has helped me develop my own business cards, price menus, logo and brochures but, it's all a process.  It's always evolving. I'm always moving forward, sometimes more slowly then others, but a forward motion none the less.  And if I ever stop moving forward, if somehow one day I don't care anymore, then I'll quit.  I can't stand to meet jaded vendors, especially in the wedding industry.  If you don't love what you're doing, it's time to find something else to do.

Did  you or do you currently have a mentor that guides your business growth?
I wish I did have a mentor when I was starting out. I spent the first couple years learning a lot by good old fashioned trial and error. More recently I've found people who are happy to help me.  I've written and received replies from photographers I admire, and have found support simply in having friends who also use cameras either often or professionally.  The friends who are happy to have techy conversations late into the night discussing the pros and cons of different lenses and other gear have certainly been a fantastic influence. Most notably, my talented boyfriend

What inspires your work most?
When I first saw "LaChapelle Land" in high-school it changed my world.  It was innovative, sexy, exciting, humorous, and shockingly beautiful.  It spoke to me as nothing else ever had. It was my definition of art, and his collection of books still live front and center on my coffee table today.  He was so bold!  Now there's a flock of us mimicking his reckless love of saturated color and the unusual sense of reality.  Now I find myself inspired by all sorts of artists. Mostly unknown, or struggling, but all so beautiful in their own expressions.

Since moving to Portland, I've been very inspired by my environment.  I want to pay homage to the city with a photo series which I'll shoot this spring/summer.  It will be my first complete body of work suitable for showing. It will also be, by far, the largest scale project I've ever tackled and most demanding, as far as technicality and gear is concerned.  To say I'm really excited to see it all come to life is an understatement.  I can't wait!

Thank you Samantha for taking the time to meet-up with MG3Media to share your thoughts on entrepreneurship with our new business community!

For our readers, if you'd like to learn more about Samantha and her work, please visit her website:

Have an Entrepreneurial Insight or Story To Share?

Monday, April 5, 2010

MG3Media: Arts to Entrepreneurs - Pt. 1

Photographers sharing their business approach to the Arts - Three Part Series

As a photographer, how would you further describe yourself as an entrepreneur? 
I keep my day job!  And I have learned how to handle weddings and bar mitzvahs, which pay money I can use to fund my photography in other areas.  I now work for a wedding agency, and I make a day rate shooting for them, while they handle basically everything that happens before and after the wedding.   Aside from weddings, I have two niches.  One is photography of political events.  I do that pro bono for Indy media, and sell some of the photos through the Corbis stock agency.  The other is photography of Latin Music.  I have been connected with Latin Beat Magazine and International Salsa Magazine, as well as and several other websites.  I get requests to buy pictures from the archive on my website or from my magazine contacts.

How would you describe your style of photography?
My style depends heavily on composition.  I like pictures that are strong graphically.  I use a full kit, and I am handy with everything from fisheyes to long telephotos. In clubs, shooting bands, I use very high ISOs, and I don't worry too much about noise. During those shoots, something very real is happening, and I try to capture it.  My goal is for the viewers of my photographs to feel they are "there."

Do you have a few images you can share with us?
Yes, here are five images, showing the breadth of my work:

*Photographs Courtesy of Peter Maiden.  All Rights Reserved. 

Did you go to school to learn photography, or are you self-taught?
I took a handful of photo courses at Foothill College and San Jose State University in the 90s.  Otherwise I am self-taught.

As an artist selling work to the general public, how important do you think it is to have "good business sense", and what specific steps have you taken to insure your business success?
It’s very important to have “good business sense.”  I should say that anyone getting into photography seriously, should be prepared to spend $8-16,000 for a kit.  It's like buying a car, or a mechanic's set of tools.  I was careful to have the resources to make that possible.

How do you balance the artistic and business requirements of your work? 
As a volunteer, I can shoot music or news as I see fit.  Doing weddings I have to please the client, but if I am true to my own vision o the wedding, the clients will likely enjoy the pictures.  I'm doing a series of black and white portraits of media workers for social change, with lights, shot on location and there I am thrilled to have creative control (in collaboration with the subject).  

Did  you or do you currently have a mentor that guides your business growth?
I had a mentor at a wedding studio for two years in the late 90s. She was very tough.  She came out of eight years as an Air Force photographer.  She couldn’t hold onto assistants.  I was tenacious, though, and as a result, got an education.  I think mentors are very important to the learning and continual development process.

What inspires your work most? 
I am inspired by action in front of the lens, and by control behind the lens (within myself).

Do you have a website or blog where readers can learn more about you and your work?
Absolutely! (see “My Life in Salsa” on the music page).

Is there anything you'd like to add?
Practice the photography that pays, but make the pictures you were born to make, paid or unpaid.  When you can do both at once you have made it in photography.


"Words well spoken, Peter!" It is interesting to see that no matter what field you enter, there are some basic elements that every entrepreneur needs to consider. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with MG3Media Business Insights readers.

 Key Take Aways
* Entrepreneurs balance "big vision" with reality: consider keeping your day job, while gradually building your skills and customer base as a new business owner.
*Entrepreneurs respect the value of education to stay at the top of their game: whether you pursued formal or self-directed learning, build and maintain your value through continued education and/or mentoring. 
*Entrepreneurs understand the importance of a sound business model: evaluate the work to income ratio of your current business model to see if adjustments are necessary. 

Do You Have an Entrepreneurial Insight You'd Like To Share?

Great Business Story Response!!

Entrepreneurs Connect

After years of hard work, against all odds, or the totally unexpected outcome . . . this describes just some of the dozens of totally inspiring stories we've received this past month, from companies who have responded to the "Tell Us Your Business Story" request.  We've selected 10 of these stories to post in April and May;

I'm personally and professionally moved to read about the drive, tenacity and courage these individuals and teams upheld in pursuit of their goals. Can't wait to share their stories with you!!