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.

Lexus of Tampa Bay and I teamed up again for another round! The difference this time was instead of photographing just one individual car on for the shoot I covered multiple vehicles for the inaugural Lexus Owners Meet that took place on May 18th. By the end of the event, about 40 cars had rolled through, including a showing of 7 IS-F’s. I was in heaven. This is the beginning of many Lexus Owner Meets and Events beginning here in Tampa, Fl. The next meet will take place on the 8th of June at 6pm.

Lexus Owners Meet at Lexus of Tampa Bay

There were lot of great outfits that showed and here a few of my ultra favorites:

Clean and Static SC430
Lexus Owners Meet - Slammed SC430

Lexus Owners Meet - Slammed SC430

Lexus Owners Meet - Slammed SC430 - Junction Produce

Rotiform SNA on a Lexus? Why not?!
Lexus Owners Meet - is250 is350 on Rotiforms SNA

Lexus Owners Meet - is250 is350 on Rotiforms SNA - Rear Quarter Shot

Ultrasonic Blue anything is just heaven!
Lexus Owners Meet - Lexus ISF Ultra Sonic Blue Stanced
Lexus Owners Meet - Lexus ISF lowered with Toms Kit

A great example of my ideal IS250/IS350 rolling on some Works.
Lexus Owners Meet - Lexus IS250 IS350 slammed on Works

Lexus Owners Meet - Lexus IS250 IS350 slammed on Works

Lexus Owners Meet - Lexus ISF at Lexus of Tampa Bay

This one is pretty special and everyone smiled at this beauty. If your an enthusiast you can see why and the team over at Lexus of Tampa Bay was filled with pride as they did most, if not all, of the work to this IS-F. Upgrades include installing the full Tom’s kit, glazed headlamps, blackout to the front mesh and performance bolt-ons. The wheels are Vossen CV5’s with fitment help from Wheel Tec of Tampa.
Lexus Owners Meet - Lexus ISF rolling on Vossen CV5

Lexus Owners Meet - Lexus ISF rolling on Vossen CV5

Lexus Owners Meet - Lexus IS250 IS350 lowered on some Vossen Wheels

Lexus Owners Meet - Lexus ISF Ultrasonic Blue at Lexus of Tampa Bay

Lexus Owners Meet - Lexus of Tampa Bay

If you’re a fan of cars, Lexus, a die hard enthusiast or just want to look at some great outfits, show up at the next Lexus Owners Meet where I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Vote #61->

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->

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.

Peugeot 208 t16 Pikes Peak restaging

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.

Peugeot  208 t16 Pikes Peak


Being a Professional Photographer is so much more than just pressing a button and capturing a shot. I’m constantly in the elements, being submerged in my subject and living that lifestyle. Just as photographers spend a large amount of time on what type of camera equipment they have and constructing the “right arsenal” I believe in investing just as much time into prepping your physical and mental well-being. We maintain our gear; we need to maintain our mind and body too.

Concentrating on my Physical State, Mental State is later. By no means am I a model! Frankly, if I could have pictures of me taken all the time from my shoulders up that would be awesome-I always get compliments on my smile and the faces I make. However, that’s not the case. And although, I’m not a model, I realize that I should photograph well and even more importantly, project the lifestyle that I sell constantly through my photography. As I said, I’m no model, so when I say this I don’t mean that if I shoot models I myself have to be a model but I do mean that I should be healthy, in shape and decently put together.


When I was younger I did not have to put as much effort into working out and staying in shape as I do now. I used to play sports and run and that was pretty much it. As I got older and went onto college my wife, who I was dating at the time, and I would work out and run together. And let’s face it, being Asian I was just naturally thin and had a high metabolism. Then we got married, my wife got pregnant and we had our beautiful daughter. I don’t know what happened after Sharonne got pregnant but I inexplicably began to gain weight alongside her. Lifting weights shifted to lifting bottles and jogging morphed to sprinting to the bathroom so my daughter didn’t have a potty accident on herself and I’d have to clean it up. I was slowly losing touch with my physical state being in the green zone. As a matter of fact it was so far into red that green was on the opposite side of the color wheel! But the most important thing that I noticed was that it began to not only affect my personal physical state but also my professional physical state. Yes, I’m throwing myself under the bus and possibly my wife too…

As a photographer I’m constantly moving around on a shoot. It could be the smallest thing as crouching down several times to get a low hanging shot. You know what that crouching motion is- A SQUAT. Do that 50-60 times from different angles with a camera in your hand, so keeping your center of balance is even more crucial, while shooting multiple items over a couple hours and see how you feel 6 hours after the end of the shoot! I realized at that point I needed to hit the gym again and get myself back in shape, if not for the sake of my internal organs and self perspective, for my professional work. Funny thing is it really is the smallest things that make or break you. You would think it would be me having to run a little chasing after skateboarders to get a shot or moving stuff around like a mad man on a car shoot. But it was those little squats that worked unused, dormant muscles really made say “Ohhh,” and not in a good way.


Over the past couple months I’ve done a detox, started stretching, practicing Yoga, lifting weights and created a workout regiment for myself that does not include lifting Lego blocks. It’s even more comical that looking back at it now, the whole “lifestyle” thing that I’m preaching (and practicing), when incorporated into your “lifestyle” it’s not as hard or impossible to fit in as you think. What I do, what I shoot really is my lifestyle and because of that makes it easier to get done. Find your inner Chi and you will be taken to a place of balance and self fulfillment!

Shoeboxes for Seniors is a wrap (pun not intended)!

Let me bring it back. There are great programs out there to help and give back to the community during the holiday season but the light is a bit dim for the elderly. Shoeboxes for Seniors is a program started by the Gio Brothers to help enlighten and appreciate some of the forgotten seniors during the holiday season. Its fairly easy to show some love; just get a shoebox, throw in some of your basic toiletry items, knick knacks, Christmas Cards, wrap the closed shoebox and drop it off at any of the Gio Brothers restaurants or any of their Shoeboxes for Seniors drop-off locations. The boxes would then get delivered in conjunction with Meals on Wheels; a meal with a present, how much better can you get than that?!

The celebration started on the 15th of December at the Joia restaurant to say thank you to all of the participants, friends and families for donating their time and efforts for another successful drive. The numbers of shoeboxes haven’t been tallied yet, but we’re predicting that we’ve doubled the donations from the previous year. Now if you missed that party, you can take a little to party it up in Sarasota at any of the three restaurants throughout the evening.

As a freshly proud board member of the committee, I’m glad to have taken part of such an heartfelt effort. The program is still fairly young but anyone who I have asked for help, want to do more for 2013 (which we will)!

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 ( 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)!


Such a crazy Saturday but would do it all over again! Help Portrait was the best thing I have ever done. For most of us, having a cell phone and any type of camera, we take that for granted but within the slices of society, some have never ever have had a portrait of themselves or with their families.. ever!

Donating one day to produce a family’s first ever portrait will be their lifetime.

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.