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08Sep

Fishing, like Marketing, is a Sport of Patience

One of my hobbies is fishing. There’s something about the calm I feel standing out on the ocean, smelling the salt water and reeling in a good catch. Even more than loving to fish, I dig seafood, specifically fish. Well, I love food in general! Just as some men are steak guys I appreciate a fresh catch. I’m Asian, what can I say?! Sometimes, my Snapper comes to me on a nice white platter with a side of grilled veggies. But most of the time, I have to check the tides, pack the cooler, bait the hook, stand around for hours (which is actually good alone time by the way) waiting for my catch, and then maybe, just maybe I’ll have a nice fish dinner. There are times when I go out and the tides just right, the fish are biting like crazy and I catch enough fish to stock up. Then there are the times when no matter how well I planned the fishing trip and prepared my line that I get nothing. The case is the same for any artist when trying to attract attention to their new business, new work or even to maintain a sharp presence on an agency’s or client’s radar that they’re already on. Being an artist is like fishing. You need patience, diligence, discipline and to keep on creating regardless if you get any bites or not. You have to market yourself.

Just like the fish see the bait on your line, if you’re continuously putting your work out there, the agencies, business and individuals that you’re targeting see your work…they just may not be hungry at the moment or have an immediate need for what you’re trying to feed them. Nevertheless, they see you and may even really like what you’ve put out, the time to bite just wasn’t there. There will also be times when you throw something random out there and the whole world seems to react by putting you on top…again, just like fishing. Marketing yourself as a creative is just like fishing.

It’s a waiting game that’s hard

Being a photographer is not an easy gig. The awards, accolades and recognition are amazing but most people don’t see or understand the effort that goes on behind the scenes so they think the results are instant (please don’t take offense, I’m speaking in general terms). If you put your best out there and have the patience to see it through you’ll reap the rewards in due time! It’s not easy to wait or to keep pushing forward when you receive no feedback, or worse, hear nothing at all. But it all comes back full force once you catch that first bite.

Be patient and calm – for no one can catch fish in anger.”

Herbert Hoover

As I sit here waiting for my fish to bite here’s a short clip and a little bit about the behind the scenes production on my 2014 Summer/Fall automotive marketing campaign:

I delivered a clean and simple mailer to my prospective clients and agencies that I would like to work with to not only show my creativity and skill set but to also pack as much visual stimulation and sense of quality as possible without making them go into sensory overload. In my former corporate life used to work in the marketing and media business, so I have a strong fascinating with papers, texture, font and all things digital. I also partnered with my artist rep and brand consultant over at SWP and Company for insight and guidance from an outsider’s perspective-you know that person that is detached from the work and can easily say yes or no to an image or idea.

On the outside, I started out with a smooth frosted satin envelop. Originally my thought was to go old school, something along the lines of a linen textured manila envelope but the clear envelop quickly develops a sense of transparent curiosity. You immediately see every bit of the contents packed. At this point, hopefully, I’ve got the interest of my fish intrigued.

Next, I personally wrote to all of the prospects on my list to give them a sense that these packages were not just made in a factory or by some random fellow busting copies out at FedEx/Kinkos Office. It is true that a handwritten note is not as clean or form fitted as a typed letter but I sent this mailer out to people who I would really like to work with and whose work I admire. I wanted to show to whoever opened this package that I am a hands on person. I not only want to work with these companies and individuals but create relationships that go beyond just one project. The paper I selected is a heavy cotton base paper that speaks to my appreciation of quality, especially in branding and all of the elements involved. It also gives the recipient that sense of texture I mentioned earlier.

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The piéce de résistance, is of course, my magazine portfolio. It features all of my recent automotive projects in a full spread fashion. Over the last several months we explored several options for my marketing mailers. I liked the magazine option not only for the many images you can include within that one mailer, giving the recipient a good feel of my style, but also the clean cut feel that a magazine brings. I figured, if any of my targets would like to use me for a print campaign, let me show them my work in that form. I also, like every other business person out there, had a budget. I not only wanted to send this mailer out to potentially land jobs but to put more of my work out there and show a sign of appreciation. Going with a magazine format instead of a hardcover book or more costly mailer materials allowed me to send the mailer out to people who follow and support my work. Those are the individuals that are the true bread and butter of my business and at sometimes even a motivator or inspiration. Because they really dig what I do, they’re always mentioning my name or referring me, without my asking. I feel it only right to give them props and send them something!

nam phan photography promo mailer fall 2014

The second to last page (last fold of the magazine) is intentionally blank. Remember, I’m targeting creatives, artists, individuals working on projects and works that stimulate our senses in some way. I wanted to stimulate theirs. The last fold is blank on both sides for the recipient to imagine and image I captured for them, promoting their product or piece of work. Or maybe they just have a “what in the world?” reaction, either way, a reaction was made and the purpose served. On the back of the magazine I included a QR code, that when scanned, takes the recipient directly to my website in which case they can view my work digitally, see my online portfolio and have my contact information. It’s not only a “business card” but a call to action that directs traffic towards my website allowing them to see more work if they’d like. Every detail was considered for me to show what I can bring to the table, now they just have to bite!

And there you have it, fishing and marketing.


Happy Mother's DayI wanna wish all the Moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day today! Normally I’m the one behind the camera but it’s obvious I wasn’t here. I’m thankful for my mom and love her very much…now if only she was only internet savvy and could see this. I’m in serious debt to my mom for the lifetime of service I receive! She was the one that I ran to, as a little runt, when I got hurt or wasn’t feeling well. She was the one always looking over my shoulder, even when I didn’t think she was and up until this day she always wants to prepare my favorite dishes. Being a husband and a father has made me realize the work and rewards of being a parent, the work my mother put in and the love she got in return. And then there are times, I’m sure, like most parents, that she felt all of her efforts were unappreciated, unnoticed or forgotten. They weren’t Ma and I love you!

I also want to give a huge thumbs up to the mother of my daughter, my wife, who deserves thanks everyday for all that she does. I love this woman with all my heart I’m giving her a Supercell high-five for her Super Mom services. I’m realizing that women really do have superpowers, it’s not a myth or fantasy.

Wishing all the Moms out there Happy Mother’s Day!


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As photographers, we tend to plan things out. Sometimes over planning. Don’t get me wrong, there are shoots that need planning, LOTS of planning. Planning has its place, especially in the commercial realm with many factors like deadlines, production schedules and client expectations. But as an artist, sometimes you just have to go with the flow and see what you create. Because much like life, photo shoots, don’t always work out they way we plan them. It’s one of the many reasons why I love shooting lifestyle photography and personal projects. That’s where the freedom to chuck the plan and go with the creative intuition that’s fostered in the moment can really shine.

Take this shoot for instance, I met with Trystan and her grandparents about 8 months ago and we planned a simple personalized shoot for her senior session to take place in October. Working around Trystan’s crazy school and softball schedules wasn’t an issue, it seemed we would have plenty opportunities to do the shoot…if only the weather would cooperate with our availability. Personally, I think Father Time stayed out too late with his boys one night and must have upset Mother Nature because she unleashed a fury this past fall and winter with hell breaking loose. I envisioned the usual calm October weather with rustic leaves and cooler air temps. Instead, we were treated with months atypical Florida weather. Lashing rain and extreme cold temps graced our sunny, palm tree scattered coastlines. We waited and waited until sometime around mid February, when we finally caught a break with both of our freed up schedules and awesome weather. Along with the weather change came a location change…it was all good.

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This shoot was a token of appreciation to Trystan from her proud grandparents. These photos weren’t entirely meant for the paid pages in the school year book to display. But more for her Grandparent’s to say, “Hey, we’re so proud of what you and everything have accomplished in your life. You have exemplified the true definition of perseverance, hard work and are now blossoming into a beautiful young woman.” Having my daughter, Liliana, growing up so fast, I totally understood where they were coming from.

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Trystan wanted her personality to show through this shoot, tough softball player with a natural girly twist. I think she definitely knocked it out of the park!

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Oh, did I mentioned that she not only plays softball but she’s so good that she recently accepted a full scholarship to an in-state university!

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We can plan, tweak, and prep all we want but sometimes Mother Nature knows best. Early Spring shined the sunlight on this soon to be high school grad that she definitely deserves. I couldn’t have planned it any better!


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For the longest, I have wanted to photograph a Tesla Model S. For about a 3 month span, I looked high and low for a Model S like you do with a lost set of car keys. As I was turning over every box and couch cushion on this hunt the quandary that I was in hit me. I didn’t know someone that might know someone that hopefully knew a special someone with a trimmed out Tesla. Every other vehicle was available and offered up to me. I would ask for a Tesla and the response would be “No, but I can get you a Ferrari.” The whole Tesla project was pretty much turning into a unicorn hunt. I pretty much gave up. Then out of nowhere, Warren from Concavo Wheels contacted me to photograph a customer’s Tesla Model S repping a staggered set of CW-S5. At first, I thought he said a Mercedes since I had succumbed to the idea that Teslas are the unicorns of the automotive world. It was too good to be true, my hopes were fulfilled by the needs of my client’s. My personal project coincided with my assignment. This is what every photographer hopes for-to be able to shoot what you love and get paid to do it!

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As I was waiting for the client at our hippy Tampa Heights randevú, a stunning white Model S rolling on the set Concavo CW-S5, that I mentioned earlier, appeared as it approached our meeting spot. My unicorn had arrived!

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The location for the shoot took place in an area that I would consider Tampa’s equivalent to Portlandia. I’m surprised no one decided to put a ‘put a bird’ on the outside of this all electric vehicle ride.

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-Equipment List-
Body: Canon 7D
Lens: Canon 17-55 f/2.8
Lighting: Alien Bees B800
Support: Manfrotto 055xb w/ Manfrotto 496rc2

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Be sure to check out the rest of the line-up of wheels from Concavo at www.concavowheels.com and be on the lookout for these photos on their website and in future publications.


23Jan

PREVIEW 2 | Orlon Mix

PREVIEW 2 | Orlon Mix from nam phan on Vimeo.

Another trailer to the demo reel I have been working with Orlon which I creatively labeled it as “Preview 2”. (If you haven’t seen the World Premiere of “Preview 1”, check it out http://namphan.com/preview-orlon-mix/) Photographed on a cold and windy night somewhere around the University of South Florida. We actually stumbled upon this location after our regular spot at the Argos building was locked down with another large dance crew. Call it divine intervention or just call it just the best luck ever, the new location was a better fit.

Shot on a Canon 7d peering through a Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 while gliding around on a Pico Dolly. Post production was done through Adobe After Effects CS6 and Sony Vegas Pro 12.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. -Fredrick Douglass


15Dec

PREVIEW | Orlon Mix

PREVIEW | Orlon Mix from nam phan on Vimeo.

You probably seen my good friend Orlon scattered around my portfolio works. What can I say, if you have talented friends within your circle, why not?!

After much consideration and talking late one night while chowing down burritos at the Taco Bus we gave it a “Thundercats GO!” approval.

The vimeo footage is just some snippets from one night in some vacant USF open area (Argos). Orlon still have a lot of bruises to lay down, lot of Gatorade’s to chug and beef Taco’s before we call this a wrap. So enjoy this little snippet on what’s more to come.

BTS: Captured on a Canon 7D with a Canon 17-55 EF-S lense. Edit in Adobe After Effects CS6 and Sony Vegas Pro. Music credit: Liar by Modcon


Vote #61-> http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/promo/readerschoice

First and foremost, THANK YOU for helping me make the list last year. For 2013, I would like to notch it up higher but there’s a catch: there’s a slew of talented photographers nominated for the list this year. So I need as much help as possible. Please vote and if you can, promote this on your social media pages.

If you think I deserve your vote, please head to question #61 on the survey and put a little check mark on Nam Phan Photography. I greatly appreciate the support!

Vote #61-> http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/promo/readerschoice

Don’t forget to check out the other nominees for the other categories.

Thanks again for the support!!


Peugeot 208 t16 Pikes Peak Morning Prep

Being in the element and photographing on location can be a tricky affair. Even more so when you need Mother Nature on your side and you’re trekking 9000+ feet of elevation! While I was preparing to shoot the Pikes Peak Test Run I had to pack some key essentials and, as I mentioned in my previous Blog, also mentally and physically prepare myself.

Here are my 5 key pieces to make my Early Morning Shoot, and I do mean Early Morning-3am, a bit easier for my body.

1. Wicking Base Layer Shirt – Shooting started around wee morning hours of 3am. Dressing in layers help to keep your body warm and comfy yet also makes it easy to stay cool by peeling off the layers as it warms up like an onion. It all starts with a wicking shirt as your base layer. A shirt that has the capability of wicking- Absorb or draw off (liquid). I personally like the ones from The North Face and Under Armour.

2. Various Munchies & Amp food (Energy food for me: Almonds, A couple Granola Bars, Smart Water, Unsalted and No Sugared Organic Trail Mix {no need to sugar shock or have salt dehydrate your body}, Bananas, Apples and if I need something sweet but natural small pieces of Dark Chocolate) and of course Liters of Water –Need to keep over hydrated. Drink about 2 bottles before even heading out…and leave ample time to relieve yourself!

3. Cross Training Shoes – Hiking boots might be a better option for some, but I feel most comfortable with my Nike Cross Trainers as they’re fairly light, provide a great amount of stability and pretty much match all of my workout and outdoor clothes. Yes Ladies, us men do look at our wardrobes too-We don’t need you clowning on us any more than you already do for looking like fools.

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4. Radios – To keep in contact with your Shooting or Production Team (if you have one). If you don’t have a team it’s still a good idea to have one to tap into an Emergency Channel in the event you need it and you have no cell phone signal. And for those thinking that radios are a thing of the ancient past and still wanting to rely on cell phones, if you saw the title above, the word mountain is in there, the possibility of you being lost in an abyss without cellular signals is a pretty fair chance!

5. Stretches -Or for those like my wife-Yoga. Yes, you read that right. The movements you do before and after working out are what I’m referring to. You need to stretch your muscles for all the movements they will be doing-even the ones you haven’t thought of. Walking may not seem like much but at high altitudes with lower levels of oxygen, for extended amounts of time and moving over long distances, the long steps you have to make while walking takes a toll on your body, specifically your muscles and your lungs. Imagine this-Your standing on the side of the mountain swapping out batteries, drop it and while bending over to pick it up feel extremely nauseous, like you want to faint and there is a shot that you want to capture about to take place in less than 60 seconds. Now you feel like crap both mentally and physically not to mention you most likely blew your shot because you’re recovering from your exhaustion over picking up a freakin’ camera battery! That would suck. This has a little more to do with what I spoke about in the previous blog on being in shape and working out and I tie it in here with the stretches and yoga as one of the things you learn to do and put into practice when you incorporate this into your daily routine is breathe control. You learn how to relax when you’re stressing out and in a rush. You learn when and how to properly breathe slower or faster. You condition your body over time so that when you finally meet the elements it automatically knows what to do-you don’t have to think about it and definitely don’t overact or overexert yourself.

6. Bonus: Patience – This ties into point 5. Don’t rush to a spot so quickly. I have a 3 Year Old Tot at home and think back to her bedtime stories as I type this. Think about the “Tortoise and the Hare”. Plan out the shots you want-or at least try to anticipate them in order to be where you need to be when you need to be there. You might be a little slower in getting there but if you plan to be there and take your time getting there-pace yourself I don’t mean Sloth mode, you’ll be where you need to be (unless it’s some crazy unplanned action shot and well, you just better pray and hit the shutter). Also, there’s lots of loose gravel on the ground and when trekking at high grades while carrying an equipment bag on your back you don’t wanna go tumbling down the mountain side, I for sure as hell don’t.

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Here’s the first in line of a new video segment that I’m putting out for all you photog and DIY geeks like myself. I’m calling it a pretty obvious and self explanatory name, Construct. All of the segments in the Construct series will consist of fairly straight forward weekend DIY’s, hacks and shortcuts. For this particular project, I’m showing off how to craft an ir Blaster. For those that don’t know, an ir Blaster basically acts as a wireless shutter release for your camera. This should work for a variety of camera manufacturers (i.e. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, Fuji). Check out the video with more details right after the break.



Here’s the shopping list you’ll need while rummaging through your garage and hitting up your local nerd synagogue-Radio Shack:

2 x infrared LEDs (950nm)
3.5mm headphone jack
Sandpaper
Crazy Glue
Soldering Iron

A couple of pointers when putting this homemade ir Blaster together:

  • For the 3.5mm headphone jack, you’re going to use just the positive terminals from the left and right channel. As for the negative terminal, you can just trim it off but make sure it does not come into contact with any of the positive terminals as it will render your ir Blaster useless.
  • According to the internet gods, the infrared LEDS would need to be wired in a reverse parallel fashion. I’ve never heard of reverse parallel but I’m not going to call up my 8th grade science teacher to try and confirm this so called reverse parallel shenanigan. So, for LED #1, the positive lead(+) should go to the left channel and the negative lead(-) should go to the right channel of the headphone jack. As for LED #2, the positive lead should go to the right channel and the negative lead(-) should go to the left channel.
  • If you want the LEDs to sit flush to each other, just stroke a little sand paper to make them fit all nice and cozy.

I haven’t had a chance to try the ir Blaster on a variety of phones but I’m currently rockin’ a Motorola Atrix 4g with Cyanogenmod which worked fine-most of you out there have a far better Android or iPhone so you should be fine. As for actual trigger performance and camera response, it worked really well. I hit my limit for the maximum distance I was able to trigger the camera from at around the 8 foot range. With that said, this isn’t the Holy Grail of wireless shutter release gadgets that’s going to allow you to go out and replace your Pocket Wizards with but for a mere $10 and an hour of your time, it can serve you very well if you’re in a pinch and if you don’t need the extended range.

Have any questions? Post it down below.


As we walk through life we experience events made up of both failures and accomplishments. I’m pretty convinced that somewhere floating in orbit there exist an individual timeline for each of us made up of several hash marks with footnotes pointing to those individual events. I imagine that they indicate the moments that we encounter along our journey-the first time you road a roller coaster, the feeling you had while drinking your Mom’s chicken noodle soup when you were sick or in my case Pho, walking into a lousy job, passing gas on a date and then watching your date try really hard to pretend they didn’t notice, seeing snow for the first time, failing a test, your first kiss-both the nervous feeling you get beforehand and the after affect high, a first place ribbon, quitting your corporate job to follow your passion in photography and start your own business-which is what I did, capturing an awesome photo that you thought was just another photo but becomes revered, you get the picture-pun intended. Sometimes these moments in the ebb and flow of life are so awesome we want to lock them up in a time capsule and never forget them, other moments we wish the hash tags didn’t exist and hope that no one, especially our selves, remembers them.

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But should we want to forget any of these moments? It seems in life people only want the “good” and not the “bad”. So in the business world you find business owners, especially artist, only wanting the “successes” and none of the “failures”. Even in our lowest of lows, you know the ones we sometimes feel we will never get out of, should we ever want to forget them? Aren’t those the ones that make the journey worth traveling? I definitely didn’t like the moments of doubt or the self questions of “Am I good enough?”; but I don’t look at those moments necessarily as failures but rather serious learning moments in which we see what to do and definitely what not to do.

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The decision to begin my journey wasn’t easy. My passion for photography has always been very present, the longing to have my own company has been an ambition and goal of mine for as long as I can remember but jumping ship at my corporate job and the uncertainty of the future was daunting, especially with a wife and new born daughter to support. It was odd, I had so many supporters cheering me at the onset of the journey and just as many Nay Sayers. Some thought I was crazy and my wife Sharonne, even crazier for supporting me. I didn’t take the first step blindly. I sat down, wrote out all the important things to solidify and make permanent, like a business plan, budget, timeline and a marketing plan-they all got trashed!!! All the business and marketing majors reading this are gasping out of horror and the artist are like “yeah!” But you have to remember there is usually a derailing (giant squid) factor that if you overcome during your expedition will become an extraordinary enlightenment. For me it was trashing the structured “business plan and marketing plans” and realizing it was okay to let my clients, my audience the world see me. Plain old me, amazingly that’s what people like. Taking photos, capturing images that reflect what and how I see the world and everything in it. I believe that is what the heart of a business plan for a photographer should like, then comes the structuring of the business.

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My business was started because of my family with my muse being our daughter. It took all the faith I have in God, the love and support from Sharonne (who is also my agent rep) and a lot of money from our bank accounts! There were days where I would stare at the phone wondering why it didn’t ring, why people weren’t banging at my door. Then came nights when I didn’t want to tell Sharonne that I was second guessing my decision. But through it all I always kept taking photos to stay on my ‘A’ game both technically and creatively. In all the posting of photos, social media, blogging, sending out promo e-mailers & mailers, making calls, you sometimes wonder are your efforts in vain? Does anyone avain read your Facebook posts? The real question: Is your bait that’s out there on the line going to reel in the right folks? That’s what I meant about being yourself. If your fish are potential clients, ad agencies, or publications then your bait better be the real deal and not a plastic lure. Look to the work of others for inspiration but make what you do yours so that you inspire others. You will never know your efforts until you get the call, if you get a call at all. Until then, you have to make sure, that you’re not only showing great work but awesome character. One might think that it’s only when you reach great success that everything you do or have done will be dissected, analyzed, washed and repeated. But I believe it happens along the journey. Sometimes you’re doing it yourself and a lot of times it’s an unknown person in the crowd waiting to buy a ticket to sit in your audience. Staying true to yourself, your art and your brand, that’s what people are attracted to. Just like hanging out with the someone with the cool, confident but chill personality those eyes in the business world watching you as an artist want the same thing. Someone who’s more than just awesome at taking photos but easy to work or collaborate with. Some of my best clients have come from FB or another social media entity. Whether it was them reaching out to me or me giving them a call.

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No one can ever predict where they will ultimately end up, but I’m absolutely certain that you have a say in steering the car and your attitude along the way. The only thing you can do is believe and no matter if you’re working at a temp job or a “dead end job” for the time being, you make sure that you’re continuously creating kick ass work. Hopefully you don’t stop when you ultimately get to where you were headed on your journey. I want to surpass that! It’s a bizarre yet scary feeling. My journey has been as the path has forced me to knock on doors that weren’t open; push through faint gaps and come out of the shadows to create a defined characteristic of myself. Starting a new journey that has no defined or definite path is usually viewed as foolish but you always have hear stories of those foolish decisions leading to amazing journeys that open up to new ideas of hope and happiness, ultimately leading to your purpose. My “foolish” expedition into photography would be one.

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So that’s a little snippet of my journey so far and some images how I’ve built Nam Phan Photography. This May marks our Two Year Anniversary and it has been an awesome walk. Just remember, when you think you’re alone with no plan-or a plan that gets trashed, someone is watching you. Just maintain a strong character, keep rockin’ out creativity and your efforts will be rewarded.

Concavo Wheels Audi A5/S5