Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Soldering for fun and profit

I don't consider myself a big photo gearhead, but I do maintain, occasionally fix, and sometimes build my own equipment. It goes without saying that everything you own is much less prone to failure than rental equipment.

I usually rent a suite of Profoto gear for shoots, but I own two Dynalite packs that have served me quite well over the past few years. Manny Millan, for whom I assisted in New York, practically gave them to me for free when I began shooting on my own in 2005. I also assisted another photographer, massive gearhead Heinz Kluetmeier, which is where I learned to solder, among many other things. We once handmade 500 Pocket Wizard cords in one afternoon. Those things are about $25/ea. new. The total cost to make 500 was about $40. I smelled like burnt metal for days though.

Recently, one of the adapters I use to fire newer heads off an older Dynalite pack failed on a shoot. These things are about $75 bucks new, which is not that expensive I guess. I simply took it apart and compared it to the one that still works. I used my trusty 40 watt iron to fix it in about 20 minutes. I've also used it on packs, heads, radios and other electrical devices that might otherwise cost hundreds of dollars to repair. It's not that I know anything about complex circuitry, but I can certainly recognize a severed wire or two.

The point isn't that you should invest a very small amount of money in order to save a marginally larger amount. It's that it forces you to use the left side of your brain in a way many creatives detest, thinking critically about problem solving and being resourceful. Having an intimate working knowledge of all your gear will make you a more efficient photographer, but forcing yourself to work through situations by thinking outside the box will come in handy when those situations present themselves unexpectedly, like many of the things that can and will go wrong and/or unplanned on a photo shoot.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Apple pulls out of MacWorld

The humanity. See for yourself.

5D Mark II video

I tested out the new 5D Mark II this weekend. Did some tech tests and shot a pretty simple music video for a talented, and local, artist named Jerry Hannan. He wrote the song "Society" that Eddie Vedder sang in Into The Wild. Sort of like Tom Waits meets Jack Johnson. Good stuff. This was for his song called "Sandcastle". A couple of early mornings, a lot of rain and 7-11 coffee.

Also tested out some new lights that I totally love called Litepanels. I'm still not sold on the new 5D2 though. For video, the most discussed problem is the 30p limitation. While my eye isn't quite trained yet to see the difference from 24p, additional, higher framerates would be much appreciated. Of course, with the amount of footage on the internet, who doesn't want to see some guy's dog drooling at 120fps? Or more flower shots in slow motion?

Also, the shadow detail isn't great at low light and there's really too much file compression to do anything too dramatic (like significant color grading) in post.

Here's a couple stills from the video. Hopefully I'll have time to edit the footage before leaving for the D on the weekend. Certainly the RED, or even the HPX170 or Sony EX1/3, still seems like the way to go for shoots with any budget. While far from perfect, the 5D2 is a step in the right direction, and might create a few new Spielbergs by facilitating access to some cheaper tools.

© Michael Sugrue

© Michael Sugrue

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Editing decisions

Here's how my monitor looks in Final Cut as I'm editing a recent commercial video piece. Kinda reminds me of the Eye-In-The-Sky in Vegas, although a little less sinister.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Joe Saunders, Chairman and CEO of Visa

This portrait is an outtake from a story running in Forbes this month. Pretty nice guy, he reminded me of one of my uncles in Detroit on my Mom's side.

Joe Saunders, Chairman and CEO of Visa; © Michael Sugrue

Monday, October 27, 2008

High times in the High Sierra

High Sierra, © Michael Sugrue

The wife and I went up to Bear Valley to visit a friend this weekend. The drive out was insanely gorgeous. Pretty much car-commercial scenic west of Stockton. Turns out that, for a blue state, it gets pretty red in some of those towns.

We had beautiful, warm weather and cool nights. Perfect. Despite the earlier post, we spent the majority of our time outdoors, hiking around Ebbetts Pass, and enjoying my hot and spicy mushroom salsa. As well as the requisite high-altitude hangover.

The haze in these photos is real. The Forest Service was conducting their own controlled burn several miles east of us. Can't wait to go back up this winter.

High Sierra, © Michael Sugrue

High Sierra, © Michael Sugrue

High Sierra, © Michael Sugrue

Also, I just got the green light on a new project I'm pretty excited about. A couple months of back-and-forth and it's finally a go. Could be the start of something pretty good.

Random travel photo

© Michael Sugrue

Good times

8500 feet up in the Sierras + wine + old random boardgame = good times in Bear Valley.

If you don't know, you better aks somebody.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Silicon Valley or sweat shop

Here are some shots of my assistant Kelly at a shoot a little while back. I finally got around to emailing them to her.

She kinda looks like she's making Gucci knock-offs for a nickel a day.

© Michael Sugrue

© Michael Sugrue

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cinematography for the masses

Forget low-priced HD camcorders and even high-quality cell phone cameras, this site is the gateway to a new way to make movies so cheap, it's free! Camera blocking, lighting, and, choreography have never been easier.

xtranormal.com - "If you can type, you can make movies." And with the Lego people, too! Despite the animatronic voices and stiff movements, it's quite a start.

Via Prep, Shoot, Post.

Friday, October 3, 2008


It's that time again...

Defending your copyright

There are a few other posts out there that deal with defending your copyright amid the potential Orphan Works Act.

Rob Haggart mentioned the site mygazines.com, which basically shows scanned versions of many magazines free of charge. This spurred debate on how freely available photographer's (and other creative) content is bound to become with changing technology. Apparently the magazines fought back.

As we know, the cover price of a magazine is a drop in the bucket for their revenue, while the real money is made on the advertising. I'm not sure why publishing companies would be upset about mygazines.com. As I see it, it simply puts more eyeballs on the pages. If the publishers could properly document it, they would certainly raise their ad rates.

Maybe mygazines.com didn't want to share that data, so the publishers did the next best thing and propped up a copyright claim to get them to stop. It follows YouTube and Yahoo settling similar claims. It seems the dam is leaking. How long the bubblegum will hold remains to be seen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beijing Bronze

A sweet, charming Olympic trap shooter I photographed in May for Field & Stream just won the bronze medal last night in Beijing. Corey Cogdell only took up the sport three years ago, and she just won a medal. Not bad. It's out now in Field & Stream. My assistant and I were very impressed. She's a great girl and I'm extremely happy for her.

Great job Corey!!

© Michael Sugrue

Friday, August 8, 2008

HD video project

I just started working on some video. I'm pretty excited about where it's going and looking forward to developing it.

Some stills from the most recent (ie., only) project. Still need to find time to tighten the edit. More in the works, but not finished yet.

Me and Nadav (and about 100 others)

Glad to say that some of my work is now available from Gallery Stock. I was contacted a little over a month ago to contribute. Definitely some heavy hitters involved, so it couldn't hurt to be guilty by association.

Bayou, New Orleans, LA © Michael Sugrue

Marin Headlands, Northern California © Michael Sugrue

Red states, blue pictures

Been a while, but after a relatively sluggish start to summer, things picked up quite a bit in the last several weeks.

This is from a flight into Dallas entering a nasty storm. Also checked out western Nebraska, which reminded me of Arizona and Colorado. Plenty of corn, but nice landscape too. I was pleasantly surprised to have some of the best salsa I've ever tried in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I know. Lemon mushroom salsa. I'm going to make some tonight for a little Opening Ceremony shindig.

© Michael Sugrue

Also, out now is this image in Outside Magazine. Shot in the backyard in a very blue state.

© Michael Sugrue

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sleepless in Seattle

It's easy to complain about air travel...so...you know. The view was nice though.

© Michael Sugrue

More Photoshop Fakery

The New York Times has a story about the picture of the Iranian missile launch yesterday. Apparently, the fourth missile was added to cover a fourth, unlaunched missile on the ground. The altered photo ran in publications around the world, originally distributed by AFP. For their part, "Agence France-Presse said that it obtained the image from the Web site of Sepah News, the media arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, on Wednesday. But there was no sign of it there later in the day."

In the eyes of the general public, I'm certain this will further damage what little credibility the mainstream media currently has. People are simply becoming more cynical and skeptical, and this doesn't help.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Where do we go from here?

An article in AdAge today says what we all know. Advertisers are pulling back across the board. Vincent Laforet presents a mixed bag of despair and guarded optimism. And, of course, we've simply resorted to blatantly ripping each other off as we cut own own throats.

No, it's not as bad as people think. Yes, it may get much worse. Some people are able to go about business as usual, barely noticing a profound change in the landscape of the photographic industry. That may yet prove to be a blessing or a curse. For me, yes, it's been much slower than last year. The projects I've done, although fewer, have been largely rewarding, both financially and creatively. But like every other photographer I know, I didn't choose this job to sit around and wait for the phone to ring.

Challenging myself and learning new things are two traits that have pretty much defined me. Although I'm a former competitive swimmer, I don't see this happening anytime soon. One of my buddies, just missed a chance to go to his 3rd Olympics. Despite being much younger than Dara Torres, whether or not he decides to try again in four years has yet to be determined. The point is that how you choose to proceed at such a critical juncture will ultimately effect how the future plays out.

Don't worry, I'm not going to play the Tony Robbins "Get Fired Up" card. But over the past several months, after the normal lull between shoots has passed, I've begun to actually consider how efficient and effective my business has been, but more importantly, how it will be in the future. And of course, taken action to effect it.

In the past, I relied on the simple equation of good photography equals business success. There's a strong relationship there, but nowhere near the direct parallel I assumed. If business was slow, I must tweak the lighting. Over the past couple of years, I've shifted my focus to things like refining my promotional contacts to further ensure that the appropriate people are getting my message, re-processing older images, and calculating the ever-evolving cost of doing business. I've also learned new software and a few new tools, essentially allowing me to offer an entirely new product to my clients.

In addition, I've taken steps like any stock analyst would. Given the overwhelming amount of information available, I also have an opinion of where the industry is headed. While my opinion isn't fully developed, I know it will take a lot more than static, single image making to get ahead. A refusal to evolve (whatever that means to you at this point) pretty much guarantees ultimate business failure.

The necessary diversity of answers to today's questions will determine the future state of the industry. How much of a say will you have in it?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Further refining target marketing

This isn't perfect by any stretch, but a company in Boston has developed technology that allows you to click-through from TV to web on a product you're interested in.

You Tube video

I'm guessing it won't boost any sales directly, but it gives companies valuable information on whom to target further.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Jerry Sugrue, Bronx, 1936.

I love you Dad. Thanks for being such an inspiration.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Great cinematography

© Discovery Channel

You must watch Discovery Atlas. It's a very well produced documentary series that profiles a different country in each nearly two-hour episode. If you're familiar with Baraka, you'll love this. If you can't catch it on tv, each episode is also available for download on iTunes.

Here's a YouTube clip from the episode on China that I watched last night.

Discovery Atlas website.

Friday, June 6, 2008

New work

New work from earlier this week. Thanks Aziza!

© Michael Sugrue

© Michael Sugrue

He shoots, he scores

The Wings won their fourth Cup in 11 seasons on Wednesday night, and one of the best stories is Dallas Drake. He was on the team back in '94, just when they started to get really good. He was traded to Winnipeg, and after bouncing around with several teams, he was finally cut from St. Louis last fall, and his career appeared over. He was so superstitious about the Stanley Cup that he said he wouldn't even look at it if he had the chance. He thought you should only touch it if you get your name on it for winning it. The Wings took a chance on him, and he won the Cup with the team he started on. He was finally able to hold it high above his head Wednesday night for all the right reasons.

I was and am a big Wings fan, but my college roommate and Scotsman, Paul Latimer, didn't know much about hockey until we discovered NHL 94 on Sega in the dorm room. We spent countless hours kicking each other's asses on it. As college swimmers, we had competitive streaks and we weren't really there to be scholars. The funny thing is that Paul's only association with the names of the Red Wings, my team every time, was through that video game. Now he's a bit of a fan, but it all started with crappy graphics and monotonous sound that you couldn't get out your head.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Two beautiful women, my mom Carole (above) and mother-in-law Pam (below) taken in my wedding photo booth last August.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Crew

No, I didn't sleep much the night before. Call it nerves, a cold, whatever. But I slept like a log the previous night, and I've heard that's the one that counts anyway.

Before going any further, I'd like to lay out the crew for this baby. Surrounding yourself with people who know what they're doing is an invaluable tool.

I present, in no particular order...

Producer Emily Miller, with garlic fry.

Art Director Liz Ciavarella, start scooping.

Art Buyer Chris Peters, on a sugar crash.

From left to right, PAs Michelle, Paul, and Kelly, fighting wind and fog in the Marin Headlands.

Also, Erin Gallagher (hair and make-up) and Yael Gitai (stylist), both of Koko Represents.

More Pre-Pro Fun

Now we've agreed on the locations, and Chris and Liz will be flying out from sun-starved Minnesota the day before so we can check out the plan together.

Side note: It's always a wise PR move to have clients out to the Bay Area for a shoot. You can't go wrong with the food, views, wine country, etc. Right Travis?

While Emily has been going nuts organizing everything, including booking the legally-required, on-set teacher for child talent, the permitting process has gotten out of control. We're now less than three days from shooting, and the woman in Marin has yet to get back to us to confirm all the paperwork is in order. While our Man-On-The-Scene Jim Jackson has moved mountains and greased wheels for us with the city permits, things seem to be a bit more frazzled in Marin. It turns out she's still working on permits for the following day, so take your place in line. And, oh yeah, we're not giving permits for the day you want, Wednesday, April 9th because of the Olympic Torch Relay. Thanks, it's now Friday, April 4th at 5:35 pm. Surely this can wait till later, right?

Turns out Jim Jackson is able to rearrange all of our paperwork for the 9th, so we simply switch the days so we get Marin on the 8th.

The gorilla in the room, at least as Emily and I had been avoiding it until the other details had been worked out, was how do we eat. Having enough food delivered for 20 people to a remote spot in a state park is cost-prohibitive. Add to that the idea of hauling 40 35- and 25-lb. sandbags up a small hill, and you've just hired yourself a third assistant. Even Willie, the RV driver, was psyched to see the Mollie Stone's boxed lunches from Sausalito, which would be expertly delivered by PA Michelle Mitchell.

Finally, it seems everything's ironed out. Time to shoot.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Home is where the heart is

Where I used to live, on an afternoon stroll:

© Michael Sugrue

Where I live now, on an afternoon stroll:

© Michael Sugrue

Although Vitamin D isn't for everyone.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Scout Is On

After a conference call with Chris Peters, AB, and Liz Ciavarella, the AD, I knew what I had to accomplish with a scout. Not a lot of time, but some efficient spots to get a lot of images in a small area.

First job was to check out my backya
rd, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. After an initial run through, Chris, Liz, and the client narrowed it down further. So I went back with my producer to shore up some of the production details and questions.

The first location would be in San Francisco, an urban park-like setting. After racking up miles on a rainy Friday, I had some options.

"We like the stuff from the Yerba Buena Gardens," said Chris and Liz. Great, so do I. Unfortunately, the Yerba Buena Gardens wasn't down with us.

"Your shots from the DeYoung look great, but the client said no way."

"We like the Conservatory shots, but where are those steps?" Perfect. About 100 yards away.

© Michael Sugrue

We'll also be shooting at the Palace of Fine Arts, in the morning of the first day. Back to the GGNRA. Did a loop through the park, picking up shots to cover each contingency. A smooth shoot could be three locations here, two longer set-ups, AM and PM, with a quickie just before lunch at the third spot.

Found a spot the client loves on a one-way road near Muir Beach for setup #1. No problem. Except no trucks or RVs allowed. Well, park the RV up top and have the talent come down as they're ready. We've got radios and the RV can meet us at the next spot. No cube truck for the gear, cargo van instead. Done.

© Michael Sugrue, Producer Emily Miller taking copious notes on how we're going to make all of this work.

It should all work great, ending with the afternoon shots on the beach. Except the weather's been sketchy, and the waves there have been known to swallow small children and pets. Hmm...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Calistoga, CA

Why wait 50 minutes when you can wait 49?

© Michael Sugrue

Friday, April 25, 2008

Back and forth

So after Chris and I chat for a few minutes, I ask him to contact my rep, Blake Pearson at VISU. Blake calls me with some of the specs and asks when we can get an estimate together.

The next move was the first, best thing I did on the whole job. I called a trusted producer, who came highly recommended from my friend in New York, Shannon Fagan.

Emily Miller was a God-send on this shoot. I knew she would provide incredible logistical support as we went through this, but at the moment, she was out of town on a shoot and can I call you when I get back in a couple of days? Ummm.....

Yeah, absolutely. But in the meantime we had an estimate to come up with and fortunately this wasn't Blake's first trip to the rodeo either. Apart from a few California- and Marin-specific modifications, we were able to bang out a pretty thorough estimate for Chris pretty quickly, and we had Emily on board shortly thereafter to help us smooth out some rough edges.

After some back and forth, a few days longer than we anticipated, eventually (admittedly, I might have been holding my breath a little) Chris called back to say he was holding a signed estimate and we got the job.

"Hallelujah! About damn time, with this job I'm going to book a nice weekend with the lady and maybe a nice dinner tonight to celebrate!!" Then I realized, no, you're not. You're going to get your head out of your ass and produce this thing because we're shooting in a week, 5 locations, 2 days. Plus it's almost tax time, so you can't spend that money anyway, and you have two editorial shoots to do in the meantime.

Quit staring at the computer screen and get on with the scouting.

And then there was one...

I've heard this before, "We love your work and we're considering you for this big, cool shoot. Can you estimate it for us?"

When Chris Peters, Art Buyer at Colle+McVoy in Minneapolis, called me in March and said something to that effect, I was flattered. It's always nice to know some people actually look at and appreciate your work. The first of these types of calls came in the winter of 2006, when there was a particular job in Tasmania with a particular agency in Portland. "It'll be huge," I thought, as I mentally booked my trip to Tasmania, scoured the internet for production resources, even went so far as to ask my doctor brother Pat if I should consider anything specific for a job there. "We're deciding Monday" turned into "It'll be early next month" turned into simply not hearing back until two months later, saying the job had been canceled outright.

Of course, I learned not to get my hopes up for these types of things. Work hard and fast to get them what they want, but don't hold your breath. Not that I wouldn't take it or didn't think it would ever happen. It's just that it's a numbers game. You can't get every single one, so don't waste energy thinking you will. Of course, I'm sure there are a few Tiger Woods of photography that do, but I'm not there yet.

Back to Chris. I showed him my work while on a shoot in Minneapolis last April. We talked for awhile and he mentioned a couple people he knew that used to live in Sausalito. Small world. Show the work and get some face time, don't embarrass yourself, and out the door. Chris was much more gracious than that, of course. With varying degrees, I've managed to get along quite well with many of the creatives I've met with. Of course, you don't get the job because you're a nice guy, but it doesn't hurt.

The lesson learned above, though, can be applied to most meetings as well. "I like the work. Let's hope the right job comes along," could be code for "Thanks for wasting my time, that's 20 minutes I'll never get back." Although pessimistic, the point is that I never let my hopes get too high, or too low for that matter, after meetings like that. I hope for the best, but realize there are way more variables than I can even fathom to worry about it. I did what I could. Next.

Colle + McVoy + Me

A couple of weeks ago, I shot a fairly large production (relatively speaking) advertising job, right here in sunny Sausalito, CA and San Francisco. This job was a new adventure for me. My work has primarily consisted of about 75% editorial and 25% commercial, meaning flying around and producing jobs at the last minute, working with mid- to large-size design firms, great magazine editors, and the occasional corporate client.

My work has evolved greatly since I quit assisting and began shooting on my own in February 2005. I've been very happy with the magazine work I do, but I began seriously courting the eye of larger agencies a little over a year ago. I've had the occasional nugget, a book called in for this or that, even told I was one of the final two or three up for some of them, keeping me and my reps slightly on edge.

Finally, this one landed.

I kept a loose diary during the production and through the shoot that I can now share to shed some light on how the process went for me. I'll take a couple of posts, hopefully over the next week or two, and work through some of the lessons learned (catering is king) and wisdom gained (hire a good producer). Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions you'd like answered, such as:

Why does it take 3 assistants to hold up a scrim?
Why do you need to hire a teacher?
What does Tibet have to do with catering?
When's the right time to leave the bar after a shoot (don't worry Chris)?
Why "copy that" became a catch phrase by the end of the shoot.

All in all, it was a great experience. As soon as this job was done I couldn't wait to get on with the next one.

Video knowledge

I'm probably a little late on this, but there's a video of this year's PDN 30 Seminar here.

Regardless of what you think of their work, it's inspiring to hear photographers talking passionately about what they love and how they got there. As photographers, we all had to make a conscious break from convention at some point, which was, and still is, a huge risk. Each photographer has their own unique way of coming to that decision, and the idea of that risk actually paying off definitely puts some jump in your step.

© Morgan & Owens

Jeanine Fijol, PDN

Mike McGregor
Morgan & Owens
Adam Krause

Amy Lundeen, Budget Travel
Fiona McDonagh, Entertainment Weekly

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Old School Cowboy Photography

Nice piece in today's Times on Texas photographer Robb Kendrick here.

©Robb Kendrick

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

True colors

I don't know who this is, but it's the latest rage in patriotic swimwear. As a former competitive swimmer, I thought this might be an appropriate way to illustrate my pride at becoming an Irish citizen last month. Apart from swelling my chest and slamming a Guinness, I can now work, travel, and get paid much more easily in Europe. Also, when the time is right, I can legally buy property, and there are some heath insurance benefits as well. At the very least, I can become an Irish swimsuit calendar photographer. It looks like there's a job opening.

At long last, I have the new version of my site up here. And of course there's a good deal of new work. Given all the discussion of iPhone websites, I figured I'd update that too. This blog even looks different! I solicited advice from a few trusted friends and colleagues and decided to overhaul my logo and presentation. It's not exactly radical, but a little cleaner, simpler, and of course classier.

Hiring someone to help me with the backend of the site was a great decision. I don't really know the first thing about it, and trying to learn it would be totally overwhelming.

I'm also proud to mention that a portrait I did of the former next President has been chosen for American Photography 24. This is the second year in a row I've had an image in there. Last year was a portrait of Symantec CEO John Thompson.

In addition to some editorial shoots, I'm currently working on two separate projects, one of which is an ad campaign with Colle+McVoy in Minneapolis.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Play Ball!

For those of you that don't know, today is Opening Day. That means I pretty much shut down operation here, at least for a couple of hours, while I watch my Detroit Tigers start the 2008 season.

Thank God for MLB.tv.

I have a magazine shoot later today, and a lot of work to do before an advertising shoot next week. But this morning is for baseball.

I should have more on a couple of other recent professional developments in the next day or so.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Delegation Sensation

I just read John Loomis' post here about delegating. For pretty much my entire life I've been stubborn and insisted on doing things myself. Even yesterday I spent a good hour trying to fix a plumbing problem. I realized a Leatherman isn't made to fix everything. I called a pro. Problem fixed, and actually not that expensive.

With optimism, vigor, and a lot of coffee, I too, have been cranking away at Lynda.com. I've learned and re-learned many of the valuable applications necessary to running a photography business.

Then there's the website.

I've been designing and coding my own site ever since I was in college and took an HTML seminar at the Texas libary. I've even managed to make a small profit developing the sites of other photographers and designers.

Enough is enough.

As much as I enjoy working in Flash, and I do, the time finally came yesterday to hand the scripting, coding, and backend development reigns over to a professional.

We all want to maintain high standards, doing things the right way and the best we can. I know I could totally fake it on the backend and my site would look the same to anyone viewing it. However, to really make it a professional site, I would have to eventually work with all of these crazy acronyms: PHP, MySQL, CSS, XML, etc.

Not my job. I'm a photographer. I've used my site to promote that and not the other way around. Don't get me wrong, ever since I was first exposed to HTML, I've continually learned just enough to be dangerous. Which is to say enough to do what I wanted, but not enough to really know what I was doing. Certainly not enough to do it efficiently.

Last year I finally hired an accountant (not that I really needed one until last year), but only now do I feel strangely liberated. I'm free to work on other Flash projects, including my own site, but for once I won't be burdened with tediously recreating and redesigning the site every time I want to update it. And I can focus exclusively on my passion for making and taking pictures.

As my business has grown a lot over the last year, I've learned many valuable lessons. Not least of which is to have a budget and not loose sleep when you pay a lot of money for something (equipment, marketing) that you've determined you really need.

So, the new site will be done by the end of March. At least that's what my new Webmaster tells me. There will be a lot of new work, and my logo may look a bit different. I'm excited, and I don't have to sear my retinas determing a proper tween rate for a movie clip.

I am no longer the webmaster of my domain.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Viral Advertising

From the Creative Review comes the video below, showing some ads for Will Ferrell's new movie "Semi-Pro" digitally added to a woman's clipboard, a building, and the side of a taxi cab.

Knowing how it got there makes it easy to notice. It seems like a more sinister version of the green screen adds behind home plate on baseball games.

As far as what this means for photographers, it means we now have one more place where we have the opportunity to be proactive about pricing the usage fairly.

"Just watch the first minute or so of the above clip, a Brits broadcast from online entertainment channel ITN On. As product placement goes, you might think that Will Ferrell’s new film, Semi-Pro, had lucked in what with the reporter’s clipboard proudly declaring its title to camera (0.33). But keep watching – Farrell’s only gone and innocuously got his film into another shot (from 1.12-1.30): this time the intrepid reporter’s standing next to a billboard advertising the movie and – hey – there’s its title again, on the side of the taxi she’s climbing into! Lucky coincidence?

Well, no. All of these references to Semi-Pro were actually added in to the broadcast digitally and, according to MirriAd who are behind the work, this is a first for “embedded advertising in showbiz content”. While the work is for an online commercial channel, targeting an audience who, potentially, would be interested in seeing the film, doesn’t this all just feel a little creepy?"
-Creative Review

Friday, February 15, 2008

More Alaska

Another new image I'll be adding to the website soon.

© Michael Sugrue

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What could you come up with?

It doesn't much pertain to photography, but I try to use as many different mediums as possible to tap the creative juices. My mom, who works at the Detroit Institute of Arts and is always on the lookout for some cool stuff, forwarded this to me. The Hirshorn Modern Art Gallery in DC recently had an interesting contest. They solicited submissions for designs using only one sheet of paper.

Here's one of my favorites.

You can see the other entries here. (via)

For those keeping score at home, I'll be updating my site soon with some new work and a slightly modified design. Below is one of the new photographs I'll be adding, a headshot of a bowhunter in Portland.

© Michael Sugrue

Friday, February 8, 2008

World Press Photo

The winner's are up from this year's World Press Photo. I highly encourage you to spend a little time and check out the winner's gallery.

UK photographer Tim Hetherington won Photo of the Year, but I was particularly struck by the work of C├ędric Gerbehaye or Belgium, who's story on the Congo won 3rd Prize, General News Stories.

All incredible work.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New iPhone Website

After noticing a lot of clicks to my site from iPhones, I finally got around to making a dedicated iPhone-optimized site. It's been cold and rainy here in San Francisco, so today was the day. Fortunately, tomorrow I'm going to the only place in the US that isn't blue on a weather map, South Florida.

My site still reroutes people without Flash to an HTML site (still not quite finished yet), but now I've sent the iPhone people to this page. It's definitely not the best way to view my portfolio, but better than the alternative on an iPhone.

I couldn't find too many examples of photographer's websites optimized for the iPhone, but I think it's way better than any HTML design I could've come up with because it functions like your iPod.

If you're reading this blog, you are a fairly early adopter and may very well have an iPhone of your own. I'd love your opinion on it. Just go to my site, www.sugrue.com, on your iPhone and you'll see it. If you're reading this in a reader, you'll have to manually type in the address on your phone otherwise you'll get "Install Flash" bounce page.

You can e-mail me right from the site.

I did the best I could, but some suggestions would greatly help, so I still consider it a work in progress. Of course, it will work a little faster in WiFi than the EDGE Network, but have at it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Easy Copyright Registration

It's been awhile since I last posted, but this seems like a great reason to. Dan Heller has a great idea that might help curb gross copyright violations (primarily by big companies) and make it easier to register your work. I'm sure someone could find a problem with it, but it sounds like a great start to me.

His idea would primarily affect those who might not have otherwise considered registering their work (ie. Flickr photos), but would ultimately make it much more difficult to get away with stealing photos off the internet.

Read it here.