Book Contests: Are they worth it?

When I first started getting into photography, I would submit my work to contests now and again. Most of these contests I found through social media platforms. While many of them had reasonable application fees, they were time consuming and I was competing against thousands of very talented photographers. After a while, I wrote off contests.   Fast forward a couple years. . . I published my debut book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, and now I was trying to gain exposure for my book. As a self-published author, it can be extremely challenging to get your book seen by the right audience. According to Forbes, anywhere between 600,000 to a million titles are published each year. The chances of readers stumbling onto your book on Amazon is pretty small.   In the beginning, I was mostly focused on social media marketing and advertising. By chance, I found out about a contest from the Nonfiction Author’s Association Book Awards program. I entered the contest and received two Gold Awards for Photography and Pop Culture. In addition, to receiving an emblem and title, which I could now use for my marketing materials, I got exposure from their marketing channels from […]

My Self-Publishing Journey: Social Media

I’ll be honest here. If I weren’t an artist, I probably wouldn’t be on social media or my presence would be limited. I’m very shy and introverted, and I’ve seen the ugly side of social media. However, while I might complain about social media, I also understand that it plays an integral part in our lives. This is particularly true for individuals who are marketing themselves. Social media has its place, and it’s here to stay.   I’m not writing this post because I’m an expert on social media. Like most people out there, I have struggled building my social media presence. Over the last couple of years, I have spoken to other artists who have experienced the same challenges as me and hearing their stories has helped me put things into a more healthy perspective. Let’s face it, the self-publishing world is not for the faint of heart and there are many days you might feel like you’re working for nothing. There were many days that I would scroll through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and think, “What am I doing wrong?”   Building a meaningful presence on social media takes time, but don’t discount the small successes along the […]

The Importance of Tattoo Placement

Meet Angela Angela Jordan is a personal trainer and owner of Camp AJ Athletic Conditioning. When I interviewed Angela for my book, she emphasized the importance of tattoo placement. The body is the canvas and tattoos are art, so where it goes on the body is very important. She explained that a tattoo can make the body look better or worse. For example, a poorly placed tattoo on the thigh can actually make the leg look bigger, whereas certain shapes of tattoos can make the body look leaner.   At the time of the interview, Angela didn’t have nearly as much ink. As a trainer, she felt it was important that people could see her physique. Several months ago, when I saw that Angela had added a glorious lion neck tattoo to her collection of body art, I decided to reach out to her. Even now, it’s rare to see neck tattoos. She first seriously considered getting a neck tattoo when she saw a photo of herself with a large necklace that covered most of her neck. She liked the look and quickly decided to take the plunge. While she has received reactions from people, Angela says that there hasn’t […]

Zach, US Navy: Tattoo Interview

In the past decade, tattoos haven’t just artistically evolved, but they have become so popular that many industries have changed their policies regarding body art. The military is no exception. In honor of Veteran’s day, I’m posting a portrait from my book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Zach got his tattoo in honor of his time in the Navy as well as his love for the sea. The tattoo on his chest is the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon. Zach also enjoys snorkeling and spear fishing.   I’m always grateful to have the opportunity to speak with soldiers and veterans. I know that as a civilian much of what veterans experience is outside of my paradigm. Nevertheless, I think it’s important for me as well as everyone else to be a good listener and honor what they have done for this country. Thank you for your service, veterans!

The Enchanted Pumpkin Garden

A couple of years ago I read an article about the talented and world renowned sculptor, Ray Villafane. In 2016, he transformed 24 tons of sand into a realistic sculpture of an elephant playing a game of chess with a mouse.   Villafane’s work is ephemeral, which means that his sculptures don’t last for a very long time. The elephant sculpture exhibit lasted for six months. I was intrigued by the idea of someone creating art that would only be temporary. I thought about all the hours that must have gone into the sculpture, only to eventually be eroded by Mother Nature. At the time, I was working on Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. When I saw that Villafane had tattoos, I decided to reach out to him for an interview.   Villafane explained that most art is essentially ephemeral. For example, tattoo artists create art that leaves the studio once they’re done tattooing their client. The tattoo may be permanent, but for the tattooist they will probably never see that piece again.   If you’re interested in checking out Villafane’s amazing sculpture’s, The Town of Carefree is hosting it’s annual Enchanted Pumpkin Garden from October 18 – 27. […]

Tattle Tales: Making the Book

Considering the fact that Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits was first photography book, I definitely went through a learning curve. Looking back on the process, there are things that I wouldn’t do and other things that I would do again. Creating a sample book was one of the best decisions I made. I feel with most things in life it’s a good idea to really know and understand what you want, but remain flexible and open to other people’s opinions. For my sample book, I used Mixbook because it’s fairly easy to use and they frequently have sales, which makes it more affordable. There are many websites that allow people to create photo books. I just happened to hear about Mixbook, and I felt pretty happy with their quality and customer service.   My book was pretty easy to organize because each spread was about one or two people. However, I wanted to make sure that my layout wasn’t too text heavy or stylistically repetitive. Initially, I wasn’t worried about the page order. If you try to make all the decisions at once, you’ll feel overwhelmed. I created the page spreads first. Afterwards, I took a few days away […]

The Importance of Trying New Things

Visiting The Mediterranean I’m not a landscape photographer. I’m much more comfortable photographing people. Landscapes are challenging for me because it’s hard for me to capture the enormity of what I see. I have to select which part I want to put in the frame. However, I admire landscape and architectural photography, and when I travel I experiment and give myself the opportunity to learn and make mistakes.   In September I went on a Mediterranean Cruise and visited Italy, Greece, Malta, and Turkey. I used the time to experiment with landscape photography, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself to get the perfect photo. I simply wanted to use the time to break out of what I usually photograph.   My biggest fear as an artist is making a mistake. Striving for perfection often prevents me from stepping outside my comfort zone and trying new things. The reason I’ve grown to love travel photography is that I don’t consider myself a travel photographer, so it’s okay if the images don’t meet my expectations. There is something therapeutic about picking up the camera and exploring new places.   Every place I visited felt magical to me, but, if I […]

Tattle Tales: Making the Book – Proofreaders

My book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, has been my first foray into the world of self-publishing. The learning curve has been huge, but I’ve learned so much from other people through social media platforms and blogs. While I don’t consider myself to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I like to use my blogs to discuss some of the challenges I faced and share what things have helped me.  In this post, I’m going to explain the importance of a proofreader.   My book doesn’t have a lot of text. It’s mostly portraits, but there’s nearly 16,000 words in the whole book and most of that were from interview excerpts. Although I think it’s a good idea to have someone you trust look over your work and get their feedback as a reader, it’s absolutely crucial to use a proofreader. My eyes spent so many hours scrutinizing this book that I could easily overlook an obvious error. For me, it wasn’t an option to not use a proofreader. Even when a mistake is minor, it distracts the reader and takes away from the work. Plus, having a professional review your work takes some of the […]

A Cup of Joe and a Slice of Humanity

My adventures with coffee shops   About a year ago, I wanted to create a space for myself to overcome my anxiety with writing, so I created a website called Demitasse Wanderlust where I blog about the different coffee shops in the greater Phoenix area. I’ve been writing most of my life. My degree is English Literature, so you can imagine the amount of writing I did in those four years. However, after I graduated from California College of the Arts with a MFA in Creative Writing, I noticed that I had developed a lot of anxiety when it concerned sharing my work with others. The workshops in graduate school made me acutely aware of all my weaknesses, but they also affected my confidence. The main and original purpose of this blog was to remind myself to lighten up. As my mother often tells me, “Even the longest life is a short one.”   As I’ve been working on this blog, I’ve realized that coffee shops are more than just a place to satisfy your caffeine addiction. They are symbolically significant in our society because they offer a place to gather, meet, and to feel a part of a community. […]

Robert Capa: Photographer Profile

Whenever I interview someone, I usually ask them about their greatest influence. You can learn a lot about a person from their influences. What qualities attract us? How do these individuals shape our style, workflow, methodology, and etc? Maybe this influential person is someone in our field, or maybe it’s someone we know well.   I had been involved in photography for a few years before I had learned about Robert Capa, but when I had watched a documentary about his life, I became fascinated with the way he worked, his courage, and his incredible talent. Capa was a Jewish Hungarian photojournalist as well as one of the founding partners of Magnum Photos cooperative. As a young man, Capa witnessed the violence that was consuming Europe. He was part of a generation that watched Spain fall into civil war and Hitler rise to power in Germany. Capa was undaunted by the danger all around him. For example, during World War II, Capa parachuted with American troops where they were dropped into Germany. Hundreds of paratroopers died and Capa could have easily died with them, but it never stopped him from capturing footage of the war. Because of Capa, we have a glimpse […]