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.


Keeping it in Check: Shoeboxed

I’m not going to lie, I hate keeping tabs on receipts for that just in case moment. You know, when Uncle Sam comes knocking on my door and want to take a peek at my receipts for all of my business purchases while he’s spread out all over my living room. And you know these stores are not going to make receipts last more than lifespan of the return policy; the ink always fade faster than your tenure at your first real job at the local fast food joint and the paper gets wrinkled so easily unlike your lovely grandmother. You know the follow is also true, some of these receipts are so small, they’re meant to be shoved into that little corner of your pant pocket to be reborn again as clumps of pocket lint.

Then one Saturday afternoon, I found the holy grail of saving receipts by the ways of an app called Shoeboxed. The app is available for iOS devices (click here) and Android devices (click here).

The app is fairly simple which just requires you to create a ID and then the app will prompt you to take a photograph of the paper receipts. Once you take the photo of the receipt, it goes to a far away land, a physical person reviews the data, and then will input certain fields (ie Cost, Category, Tax) which you can review and edit later on So once you make a purchase for the business, it just take about 10 seconds to do all of this and you don’t have to worry about keeping the physical receipts anymore. If you have a tax or accountant guru, you can also export the data in many different formats that is compatible for Quickbook and Freshbooks, just to name a few. The best part about this app is that it is FREE. Free as in nada, nothing, zero.. FREE!

Give it a try and let me know what you think. As for me, I love it and it’s one less stack of ity-bity pieces of paper that I need to worry about.


A Singing Telegram from Me :)

Hi there!

It’s me, Nam. Yes, I’ve been away for a little bit and to be honest, I’m probably going to be away just little while longer. Life as a photographer has been busy lately as I’m traveling back and forth from Tampa and Orlando couple times throughout the week working on projects for clients. During the few hours I do have in between shoots, I’ve been working on some new material to add to my portfolio and every now then, look at my new toy, the Pico Dolly (

Oh and I ran across this interesting video during my daily internet buffets; in this case I was visiting the cool guys at I do a fairly good amount of product photography for clients and I think this video give a pretty good insight on how it’s done at an e-commerce biz that spits out a different product every day. Just a side note that I read in the video comments.. all of those crazy equipment in regards to lighting, stands, tripod but he’s still using a kit lense. I’m just saying..

Well, I have to drive back to Orlando now but check back often for some new stuff from yours truly, Nam P.


Product Photography Part 2.. How to shoot items larger than the cardboard box

Sometime ago, I’ve demonstrated on how to photography static items by crafting a cardboard box into a macro/light box. Granted, most of those items were fairly small but let’s say you don’t have a box or the stuff you’re shooting is a bit larger than the average box.

To be honest, this might be actually easier to construct than the macro box I’ve previous posted about (which can be found here:

So here’s the basic and bare minimum materials you will need:

  • 2 White Foam Boards
  • At least a single light source (in this case I will be using a 580ex flash shooting into an umbrella)
  • Something cool to shoot or maybe you want to sell on ebay

So here’s the setup..

Ah, take note young scholars! Notice that the foam board acting as a tabletop on top of a box and it's placed near to a fairly lit window. That's free light source right there (unless you live in a windowless apartment like Bin Laden before his demise) and you probably have noticed that I have directed the blinds in a way to light the right side of the playstation 2. Rearing and finishing the setup is another white foam board propped up against my closet doors. That's pretty much it. Fairly basic yet very effective setup.

Here's the finish product:


Review: eBay Lens Hood for Canon 50mm 1.8

Choices: To save money with an eBay lens hood or go for elite status for the real deal lens hood from Canon. As you can tell, I chose the former. Hey, it was only $5 so I thought it was worth a gamble.

Buying and receiving this item from eBay was the usual no drama affair. Click on the ‘buy it now’ button, pay for your goods and just wait around your mailbox for about a week.

From what I’ve seen and read, the Canon lens hood is a two piece design. I’m not too sure what the adapter is made out of but the hood itself is metal. As for this $5 eBay lens hood, it is a one piece plastic construction. If you’re prone to swinging around your camera and accidentally banging your lens on hard objects, I’m pretty sure this hood will break as it is just strong enough to hold a form.

Other than the fact my lens cap does not an entirely tight grip on the hood, it serves it purpose quite well which is to block stray sunlight from washing out your pics and occasionally keeps stray objects away from touching the precious glass.

So for $5, I got my money’s worth already. If this hood does eventually breaks into pieces, I honestly would probably stretch an extra Jackson for the real deal.


Macro Box Project

I’ve been reading up and doing some research on how to take better product photos and the solution was to create a ‘Macro Box’.

It’s pretty simple and fairly inexpensive. Here’s the list of materials you need:

  • Plain Cardboard Box
  • White Tissue Paper
  • White Poster Board Paper
  • A Pair of Lamps or Speedlights
  • And just some CFL bulbs

You might notice in some of my pics that I’ve cut four sides of ‘Macro Box’ but the minimum is actually just 3 sides needs to be cut out. Once you cut the sides, cut some white tissue paper and apply it to the box. The tissue paper will just diffuse and soften the light. Then cut the white poster board paper and trim it down to the proper width. It’s okay if the white poster board paper extends outside of the box. Place the lamps on the side of the box, place your item inside and wa-laa!

Even though the tissue paper is white, the light emitting from your lamps will still have a yellow cast. To overcome this, you would need to create a custom white balance within your camera. I guess if you’re using speedlights (flash), you most likely do not need to do a custom white balance.

Unless your photographing animals inside your box, the environment is essentially static. This would be a great opportunity to try out various manual settings on your camera (M on Canons. I’m assuming it’s the same on Nikons).