Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Man from Oz?

An outtake from a shoot last week in a kitchen.

© Michael Sugrue

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mill Valley

Working on some new stuff. I put a couple of other examples up on my site. It's not necessarily my usual style, but I'm definitely liking it.

Aaron, Mill Valley, 2007 © Michael Sugrue

Anna, Mill Valley, 2007 © Michael Sugrue

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wild Web 2.0

For those of you following along over at A Photo Editor, there's a cool new feature called Photo Rank which would ideally function like Flickr for pros. A place where you can find, judge, and discuss the work of fellow photographers.

I'm also working on adding a new feature to my site, but certainly on a much smaller scale. I made a little gallery to put up my most recent work, some recently published, others outtakes or personal work. It's not connected to my main site right now, and I'm not sure how, or if, it will be. I'd love to know what y'all think of it and if you have any suggestions. I kind of see it as a place to put stuff that I like but might not make the main site and other cool shots from the road, etc.

New Rep

As of about two weeks ago, I now have a new rep for advertising work in the U.S. I signed with Blake Pearson and VISU, and I'm pretty excited about going forward with them. Blake seems like a great guy, and I'm looking forward to working on some great new jobs soon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One more reason to love your iPhone

© mjs
It's not the smoothest or fastest (hey, who is?), but I now have Remote Desktop on my iPhone. You can access your home computer and play everything your iPhone can't: Flash, Quicktime, mp4, etc. The photo above shows the Flash-based version of my site, which is not accessible through iPhone's Flash-devoid Safari.

Not bad. From the good people at Google Telekinesis.

Note cheesy phone cover and world's best wedding ring.

Art for Art's Sake?

Here are a couple more images from the last month or so. The creative juices have been flowing while on the road. These aren't published images, nor are they even outtakes from the shoots I go on. Experiencing this great country just inspires me to snap away.

In a perfect world, I could just go around taking photos and someone would pay me every once in awhile.

Near Walsenburg, Colorado 2007 © Michael Sugrue

Gun Range attendant, Anchorage, Alaska 2007 © Michael Sugrue

I read some other blogs where it's all about the art all the time. That's cool, it's just not my reality. In that spirit, see the video below, from the Photo Busines Forum. It's certainly not my way of handling things, but pretty funny nonetheless, and also becoming more and more common for photographers.

Back to Business

Cordillera, Colorado 2007 © Michael Sugrue

It's been a little while since I last posted, and I can't say I'm glad to be sitting at a desk again. Recent travels have taken me to Texas and twice to Colorado.

One advantage of working to produce and execute shoots is the luxury of forgetting you have an actual business to run. I recently upgraded to Leopard and CS3, and I got a free one-month subscription to It's awesome! I highly recommend anyone who wants to learn any program to sign up. It's only $25 a month, and I'm spending as much time as possible catching up, and refreshing myself, on the programs I need to know to run a business like Filemaker, Flash, Photoshop, XML, etc. It's way more than just the basics, it really helps you integrate it for what you need to do, like edit pictures and produce invoices from the road.

Near Walsenburg, Colorado 2007 © Michael Sugrue

Friday, October 26, 2007

Did You Know 2.0

I just returned from a five day shoot in some beautiful parts of the country that I hadn't seen, southern Colorado and northern Idaho/eastern Washington state. Driving from Spokane to Moscow, ID was like traveling through Napa without the wineries, just farms. The occasional small town reminded me of Vermont. Why don't more people live there? A great part of the job, despite it's limitations, is seeing new things and meeting new people. It absolutely helps get the creative juices flowing. I was very happy with the images I got in both places, environmental portraiture.

I got back this morning and found this video very inspiring, if not a bit scary, on Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua's blog. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dave, Phil, Andrew, and Passion

I'm one of the many photographers in New York this week, catching up
with friends and showing my book. My primary agenda includes today's
ADC portfolio review and a shoot later in the week. I won't stick
around for the festivities this weekend.

Yesterday I met my good friend David Schinman for breakfast. Dave and I go back to our days as hardcore NY assistants. He's a very talented photographer, and he's getting more and more busy each time I talk to him. I was very inspired listening to the excitement and optmism in his voice. It's the tone you can only hear from someone who realizes that a lot of hard work is starting to pay off.

Another meeting of note yesterday was with Phil Mimaki at BBDO. The normal routine is an exchange of pleasantries, good feedback, "we'll definitely call your book in for something." In and out in 20 minutes max. It turns out that Phil is a very creative guy with whom I share a lot of personal sensabilities. We talked for close to an hour, and it made me remember that doing business is much better when you can get along well with someone as opposed to acting like dueling robots.

I ended the evening by meeting the Jackanory himself, Andrew Hetherington, for drinks near Astor Place. I was completely impressed with his take on the business of the working photographer. The point, I found, was that everything general about the photo industry needs to be personal first. We ultimately do it by ourselves, and reaching out to hold each other's hand once in awhile isn't always a bad thing. Andrew was very eloquent, and generously gave me a copy of his new book, which I'll gladly reciprocate when I return home to California.

The unifying factor was connecting with people who share a passion for what they do. It's infectious.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Want a new logo!

Jack should try being a photographer.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Forbes cover, gratuitous self-promo post.

Nothing like a guy on white seamless to pad the portfolio. The editors were great and I'm proud to have done it.

© Michael Sugrue/Forbes

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Enjoying the Road

I recently returned from a quick trip to Alaska for an assignment. This month has been particularly travel-laden, with some trips to some pretty cool places. I don't say that to show how busy I am, because most of my work is shot within driving distance of San Francisco.

My wife always gives me a hard time about traveling. It's tough to leave family, often on short notice to somewhere moderately exotic compared to home, and make it sound like I've got the short end of the stick. The truth is, I find traveling for work a lot like living in a diorama. The kind you made in 6th grade with Star Wars action figures and Brady grass inside a shoe box.

You get to see something new, but it's usually a very limited experience. Different people, different light, different landscape. But inevitably it falls short of anything resembling an enriching experience. You can't really enjoy it for long because you have to be responsible. Just when the shoot is done, the gear is shipped, you have to deal with all the crap that an airport entails. Two days shooting in Alaska hardly qualifies as a cool Alaska experience.

That's why it meant a lot to me when my assistant Kelly said that I was the most fun photographer she's worked with. In my previous life as a New York assistant, I worked for some serious pricks, so I guess I learned that lesson the hard way. Life is what you make of it, so you might as well rack up some frequent flyer miles along the way.

I met these dudes on the side of the road in Alaska on our way to the airport. Hitchhiking in the opposite direction, they were there to experience just what I had missed.

©Michael Sugrue

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Profit Margin

In the last few days I've heard a lot of people lamenting the existence of low price (or even free) stock imagery. Clearly, this contributes to the de-valuation of our work. I want to relate the following story that shows what photographers may be up against in some cases.

Earlier this year I photographed the namesake of a non-profit for a magazine. I liked the image, and after it ran in the magazine, I put it up on my website.

Several months later the non-profit contacted me about using the image in some of their collateral and marketing materials. I responded that I could give them a quote if they could give me the specific usage they needed.

They came back saying "We're non-profit and don't pay for photography. Other photographers in the past have just let us use their pictures for no charge." Of course, I'm not non-profit. I explained that, despite what the "other photographers" do, my business is set-up to earn a living from the licensing of my photographs. Perhaps a discount could be negotiated, but nothing would be given away free of charge.

They were so offended that I wouldn't give it to them that they called the magazine, which had my back. About two weeks after that, I received an e-mail from the attorney for the subject, requesting that I immediately take down the image from my website. I wanted to let them sweat it out because I thought it was vindictive and pathetic, but my attorney wife disagreed. I did the right thing and took it down.

I'm not sure if they found another photo of this person that sufficed, and I don't care. But apparently they're so confident that they can get stuff for free that paying for it genuinely upsets them. Clearly, I would not consider this non-profit to be representative of a sophisticated photo buyer. However, "good enough" imagery is proliferating the web, and usually at no- to low-cost.

This example just gives me motivation to hone my own vision, so those that hire me do it for a unique type of imagery that's not available elsewhere. And to pay fair market value for it.

There's a great example of sticking to your guns on Photo Business News here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Historical Relevance

There is an interesting article here by Errol Morris in today's NYT. He attempts to find out the truth behind Robert Fenton's famous photo, "The Valley of the Shadow of Death" from the Crimean War.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

American Experience

I just got back from a quick trip to Las Vegas. It was a magazine assignment with a quick turnaround. Fly in, sleep, shoot, fly out. Usually I enjoy going to Vegas, not so much for the gambling, but, on some level, I like the fakeness of it all. They try hard, and given the right mix of sun and booze, it works. If you close your eyes, and take a sip of your overpriced margarita, it can really feel like an exotic vacation. And the people-watching is incredible.

I've been there with friends, family, my wife, and had a good time with them all. Much laughing and drinking, and sweating. So trying to find a restaurant, navigating the hordes in the casinos, and witnessing all the hilarity Vegas can offer just doesn't feel the same when you're by yourself.

The photo below is the view from my hotel room in the New York New York. It's a nice view of the desert landscape, which is obscured by the monolithic glass monstrosity across the street, which is, of course, obscured by a roller coaster.

© Michael Sugrue

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tesla shoot

A shot from a recent shoot for Tesla Motors, the new electric car coming out this fall.

© Michael Sugrue

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Hanalei, Hawaii

Here's some stuff from my recent honeymoon in Hawaii. These, and other lifestyle images will be on the site soon. Available light, ya gotta love it!

© Michael Sugrue

© Michael Sugrue


Yes, I finally have a way to update y'all with new work, notes from shoots, etc. I plan to stay away from politics and serious art discussion.

I'm an advertising and editorial photographer in San Francisco, actually Sausalito, and I just got married on August 3rd. Best day of my life. And I would argue we have some of the best wedding photos ever. Here's one from the photo booth I set up for my guests:

© Michael Sugrue

Do not look here if you seek poems, cathartic introspection, or Terry Richardson-type snapshots. There are other blogs for that, which I sometimes read as well.