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.

nam phan photography promo fall 2014 v1

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.

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
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.

Sometimes its best to stay out of dark alleys.

An impromptu video of my coolest homies and brand new parents, the Ali’s. Just having fun in the kitchen and baking some cookies.

Music: The Golden Age by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

Go grab the December 2012 issue of Focus Magazine.

I had such an awesome opportunity to photograph this cover with the cutest kid winners of 2012. To everyone that is reading this, I challenge you to take a photo of five kids! Without the support group  and chaos control from Focus Magazine (thanks Mike and Aldo), Sharonne and the parents, this shoot would went down in flames.

Photo was taken at Christmas Lane in Dover (christmaslane.org). Pretty awesome place to take the kids and family as  it’s really off the beaten path as it’s not off of any major streets or highways. So now you know (and knowing is half the battle)!



Some people from various forums asked me what entailed as a ‘simple’ edit to one of my recent bboy photo. Well, here’s a quick bts of the edit. Its not the actual edit to final production in this video capture but should give you an idea of what was involved.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – Leonardo da Vinci

Favorite Professional Photography - Nam Phan Photography

Nam Phan Photography nominated and voted as Favorite Professional Photography by the Tampa Bay Business Journal 2012

Yes, you’re reading that right! The people has spoke and voted! We’ve made it to Tampa Bay’s Business Journal 2012 as Favorite Professional Photographer.

Professionally, I’ve been in this big dance less than two years but I love every minute of it that I’m in it to win it. I would never expected myself to make any list of some sorts. Anyone can shoot great photos but I try to do more than that by crafting lasting relationships with anybody and everybody no matter if they’re photographers or stay at home moms. Every businessman/businesswoman can scream that is rule #1 but that should be the golden rule as a caring human being.

Again, from the way bottom of my heart, like the bottom of the cereal bowl where all the nice bits sugar from the Frost Flakes is waiting for you to slurp down, THANK YOU!

With Much Love, Nam Phan!

P.S. Follow you dreams

Yesterday, I was mentoring a friend about anything photography. I don’t have a course guide or regiment of any sorts other than just having fun. Then a question to myself hit me later on that night which I had to ask myself over and over: as a photographer, what is my ultimate goal? Is it to travel? Make enough money to make PB&J sandwiches for my kid? I realized something that I never really spoke or even expressed about before but I discovered what it is!

It’s really hard to teach and put into words the feeling you get when I hand my client a cup of Joe in the morning then slide my signature yet simple brown paper wrapped package to my client across the small bistro table. Whomever my clients are, they always have this blank look, like the seagulls in Finding Nemo. I guess it might be due to my packaging as it is very plain. Curious, my client goes through the motion of pulling apart the butcher’s twine, then carefully peeling away the grip of the tape to reach the goodies on the inside. As all of this is going on, I’m sitting on the other side of the table, gripping on my hot latte as the heat emitting from the cup singes my hand but I don’t care ’cause I’m waiting for the one thing from my client: the Smile!

It’s kind of difficult to explain the joy of ‘the smile’ until you felt it the first time. Even if we all don’t have a client of some sorts, I think as a photographer (hobby or pro), we all have the power and just maybe, the responsibility, to leave a great mark on a family or friend’s timeline where in their description it will read *happy face*!

Well, I leave a little video from my mentor, Sue Bryce and just wait for the reaction ’til the end as it sums it all up.

The great thing about shooting on location is that you have the product readily available should anything goes awry. The challenge within this opportunity is that I’m now taken out of my comfort of my studio (and pajama pants) to shoot within an environment I have never photographed before. All of these things run in my mind such as lighting, lighting, and more lighting. Insert Coins. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

So how did I pull off this particular on-location shot?

It’s fairly simple setup. Referring to the diagram, I was flanked by a pair of Alien Bees b800 with the left unit outfitted with a shoot through umbrella while the opposing unit was equipped with a 43″ silver lined umbrella. Sitting on the corner of the table in front of me were two Canon flashes; a Canon 580ex2 on the right corner with the bounce card extended and a Canon 430ex on the left. This is a bit odd: the 430ex did not have a bounce card built in which I thought those little plastic things were a standard affair. Lucky me, I had an assistant, my lovely wife (also my agent and producer), Sharonne hold up a 6″ white paper plate to bounce the light to illuminate the grapes. Oh, a note with the 580ex2 scheme: I wanted to bounced light to hit the champagne glasses to diffuse a variety of semi-hard light drama that we never see too often with product shoots and in this case, it worked!

To trigger the lights, the Canon speedlights were set off by my Canon 7d pop-up flash as I had a pair rf-602 receivers on hand which in this case, they were tagged to the back of the Alien Bees. When the pop-up flash is active, the hotshoe becomes nonfunctional so the rf-602 transmitter had to connect to the 7d’s pc sync port.

A couple clicks later and the shot was done.


Early Bird Mini Session

Sure, the heat outside is still pretty relentless but the cool weather and the turkey-filled holidays are right around the corner. With that being said, we’re throwing down on an early bird mini-session but there’s only limited openings so reserve your spots pronto!

Same great quality, fun experience yet at an early bird rate.

15 minutes – 3 looks – 1 outfit – private gallery + $175 = Early Bird Mini Session 🙂