Dominique James, Photographer

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Homeless, no more …

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Screenshot 2014-02-28 10.50.45

For a longest time, my pictures online can be seen here, there and everywhere, but in fact, nowhere. I can point you a link here, there and everywhere, but where to really look can get really very confusing, really very fast.

The way it’s been going on, and the way I’ve been carrying on, you can say that I’ve been squatting online in too many places for far too long.

Of course, I’ve always wanted to have one of those incredibly beautiful, professional-looking online photography websites that many famous photographers have, where you can go and see all of my pictures. And believe me, it’s not because for the lack of trying. I tried it this way and that way, and then another way. But it just didn’t happen quite like I wanted it to.

I’ve known all along since early 2008, when I was living in New York City, that there is this one perfectly elegant way for me to do it.

The very first time (and the only time) I attended a group meeting of a small, special-interest photo club in New York that I was thinking of joining in the fall of 2008, Allen Murabayashi happened to be the guest speaker. He gave a talk about the best way for a professional photographer to establish an online presence. Yes, he was pitching PhotoShelter, of which he is the co-founder and chairman, but everything he said made very apparent sense to me. His talk definitely resonated with me, and I must have decided more than a hundred times thereafter that I’m going to go with PhotoShelter. Of course, it helped that Allen was so good-looking in his freshly-pressed white shirt when he delivered his talk.

I don’t know how many of the dozen or so people listening to Allen that afternoon signed up with PhotoShelter’s service, but I did sign up, and I did try their 14-day free offer. However, I didn’t follow through. Somehow, I was skeptical and hesitant, and I resisted the idea for as long as I can. I was always coming up with excuses, which was (thinking about it now), unnecessary and senseless. But all those times, through several photo projects and a number of photo industry events where PhotoShelter was represented, from New York to Atlanta, I never stopped thinking and considering an online presence with PhotoShelter.

In fact, I went on to constantly compare PhotoShelter with the many other online offerings of doing the same thing; and the more I did, the more I was convinced that going with PhotoShelter was not only the right way, but it was the best way. Always, and in comparison, all the other services fell short.

And so, about 5 years down the road, fast-forward to today, I told myself, enough of putting up pictures here, there and everywhere, but instead put everything together already in one, single place—a certain place online where you can see all of my pictures all at once, both new and old.

That place online, my place, on PhotoShelter, is now up. You can see it at www.dominiquejames.com.

With PhotoShelter’s Beam, each and every photograph in my portfolio is beautifully exhibited. But other than just providing an “exquisite wrapper” for my pictures online, PhotoShelter is doing many behind-the-scenes heavy-lifting that makes it easy and practical for an independent professional photographer such as myself to have a really amazing online presence. What’s more is that I can now focus and concentrate on being a photographer. And, more importantly, viewers now have a beautiful experience looking at my pictures, and directly from within my website, an easy, convenient and safe way of ordering photo prints and licensing the images for personal, editorial and commercial use.

Yup, my online squatting days are over.  I’m proud of my new online home. With PhotoShelter, my pictures are homeless no more.

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Ram, a New York model’s portfolio

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Ram • Portfolio

The main title page of Ram's New York fashion portfolio available for viewing online.

I enjoy working with professional fashion models. I love the idea of creating all sorts of interesting looks. It’s hard work for sure, but at the same time it’s undeniably pure play. Working with a expert team of innovative and professional hair and makeup artists, fashion stylists and some of the fashion designers themselves, the whole process has been a thrill. It is all about bringing imaginative fantasies to visually believable and oddly compelling realities.

I particularly had a blast shooting Ram, one of Ford New York’s prominent Asian male models. In this portfolio, we recently created all sorts of looks, from casual to formal, with the multifaceted Big Apple as the grand backdrop. Take a look at Ram’s complete 50-photo NYC fashion portfolio set. Click here.

Free Hi-Res Photo Download: Lower Manhattan Skyline of New York City

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Free Hi-Res Photo Download: Lower Manhattan Skyline

This is a sweeping view of lower Manhattan's skyline.

This photo that I took shows the grand and sweeping view of a major portion of the Lower Manhattan in New York City. It also shows a little bit of Jersey City in New Jersey, the Hudson River, and at a distance, a tiny view of the iconic Statue of Liberty and the historic Ellis Island.

Download now for free (from this link) the high-resolution JPEG image file (11.41 MB) of the Lower Manhattan Skyline of New York City. You have full, non-exclusive, and perpetual license to the use of this image. The usage license is unrestricted and unlimited in any way for educational, commercial, personal and all other purposes. Please feel free to use, modify, crop, edit, alter, resize, and/or combine this image with graphic designs, objects, materials, other photos, and all other elements. There is no restrictions, limitations or conditions on the download and use of this image. Get this image now and tell others about it.

[Photographed by Dominique James. To get and collect fine art photo prints, visit  the Dominique James Zatista Store. For more information, send email to dominiquejames@mac.com.]

My “Hipstamatic Prints”

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BY DOMINIQUE JAMES

On Facebook, my friend Danny recently asked me a couple of interesting questions that I believe needs to be answered.

Here are Danny’s two questions: “Dominique, what in heaven’s name are Hipstmatic Prints? Where in the moon do you get them?”

For sure, these are interesting questions that I cannot ignore. These must be answered properly. And so, I aimed to answer in full and with clarity here.

This is my response to those two questions:

Danny, “Hipstamatic Prints” is the title of my digital photo albums here and here where I post daily all sorts of mostly artistically-inspired B&W photos on my Facebook. (By the way, I also have a similar online photo album on Facebook called “Pixelpipe Photos” here.)

Anyway, of course the matter of “artistic merit” is largely subjective, depending on each of the picture and also on who’s looking, among other things, but hopefully you’ll find a few that will prick your fancy.

Anyway, these photos have all been shot using the camera of my iPhone 4 (I’ve gone through all of the iPhone models since it became available) with an app (or application) called Hipstamatic.

The album’s name is not my own choosing. It is the album name automatically created by Hipstamatic when I linked (and authorized) this app to post to my Facebook all photos that I deem worthy or interesting of sharing. By linking, these pictures that I share are automatically and directly posted from the Hipstamatic app in the iPhone 4 to Facebook (either through WiFi if available or through the regular AT&T cellular network).

Hipstamatic, as you can imagine, is one of the most popular iPhone photography apps where images that has been shot are processed using different types of “films,” “lenses,” and even “flashes.” The combination of these films, lenses, and flashes creates enchanting, almost sometimes, otherworldly or unreal images that looks quite different but still familiar and the same from actual real objects or scenes we see that has been photographed. My objective is to show these objects or scenes or even people in a different but still familiar way. I thought it’s an interesting thing to do and a lot of my Facebook friends seem to “Like” it very much

I’ve been shooting all sorts of iPhone photos for more than 2 years now, and I’m happy to share them day after day here on Facebook with appreciative friends like you. If you like the photos, please press “Like.” And also feel free to comment. I read, and sometimes reply, to comments posted. In fact, I’ve had a great many thought-provoking, funny, interesting, serious, joking conversations with friends from all over the world on Facebook through these photos.

If you are interested, there are many fantastic resources available online about Hipstamatic, and also on iPhone photography in general.

For starters, more information about the Hipstamatic app, can be found here -http://hipstamatic.com/the_app.html.

Or, you can also check this out – http://hipstamatic.com/.

And then there’s this that you might find interesting – http://community.hipstamatic.com/.

Wikipedia, of course, has something on it too – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hipstamatic.

Then there’s a whole, thriving group about it on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/hipstamatic.

And not to be outdone, on Flickr as well – http://www.flickr.com/groups/hipstamatic/.

Then, there’s this controversial thing about a seasoned war photographer who recently won a major international award with nothing more than a Hipstamatic to create the pictures – http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/finding-the-right-tool-to-tell-a-war-story/.

And this is how and why he did it – http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/through-my-eye-not-hipstamatics/.

So that, Danny, in heaven’s name, is what my album “Hipstamatic Prints” and the Hipstamatic app is all about.

And where in the moon did you ask to actually get them? That’s a very good questions because, well, you can actually buy online a real limited edition, signed and numbered fine art photographer’s photographic print (that comes with a certificate of authenticity) from here – http://www.zatista.com/store/index/Dominique-James.

These frameable fine art photographic prints are available from as low as $49 each to as high as $10,000 each (shipping and handling not included). As you can see, whatever your budget, there’s one that’s suitable for you. And, you can choose from almost a hundred available fine art photographs. And the collection is growing.

You can frame and decorate your homes and offices with these awesome (if I may say so myself) fine art photographic prints.

These fine art prints, like any other fine art such as paintings and sculptures in museums and art galleries, are not only a beauty to behold, cherish and covet, but they do appreciate in value over time which makes them a very good and stable financial investment.

Anyway, Danny, thanks for asking. And feel free to ask more questions any time. It’s good to keep “conversations” like this going.

Beautiful Monday, beautiful art …

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Red Marks The Spot by Dominique James

"Red Marks The Spot," a fine art photograph by Dominique James featured on Zatista

BY DOMINIQUE JAMES

I am guessing that for most people, Monday is not a favorite day. It is possible that one’s favorite day could be any other day of the week—Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, but rarely if at all, is it a Monday. If only to avoid the stress, tension and anxiety that accompanies jumping right into the first a pressure-filled week, a whole lot of people would probably want to skip Monday and move right ahead into Tuesday.

Of course week after week, Monday has to happen. There’s absolutely no escaping it, and different people do all sorts of things to make the most and the best out of it with the hope that the week starts out at least smoothly, if not right.

Sometimes though, Mondays can turn out to be more than just smoothly or right. It can actually turn out great. My Monday this week, for instance, turned out to be surprisingly awesome. Early in the morning, I got a very uplifting email from Christine Clark of Zatista. In her brief message, she wrote:

Periodically Zatista has a guest curator who picks their favorites from the site, and we pull them together in a nice feature. Our next guest curator is Robert Verdi, and he has chosen one of your pieces for his collection. Congratulations on being chosen.

It’s a very simple and straightforward message. But it’s one of those messages that Zatista artists don’t receive every day. Since I just woke up when I read it, I had to read it several times to make sure that I really understand what it meant. When I finally and fully absorbed the good news, I know that my week will be all right.

I joined Zatista, an online store, in December of 2009. To date, I have about a hundred fine art photographs available for sale. I have managed, so far, to attract a number of buyers and has made good sales.

Every once in a while, some of my works will be prominently featured in Zatista’s website. I always think it’s a big deal whenever any of my pictures are featured. This means that more potential buyers will be able to notice what I have to offer. But this is the first time that a guest curator has proclaimed one of my fine art photographs as a “favorite.”

Eleven industry insiders have so far been invited as Zatista’s guest curators. This includes prominent names such as: Michelle Adams, Sasha Adler, Laura Kirar, Abby Larson, Amy Preiser, John Robshaw, Kim Seybert, Jason Oliver Nixon, Elizabeth Bauer, Ryan Korban, and Anthony Cochran.

Robert Verdi, this week, is the twelfth to be invited. Verdi is the head of the very exciting Luxe Laboratory in New York.

According to Zatista, Robert Verdi “is a leading lifestyle expert, celebrity stylist and television personality. Verdi stands alone as the sole expert to bridge all-three major style categories: fashion, entertaining and home design. He is the go-to style guru for celebrities like Eva Longoria and Tony Parker, Bethenny Frankel, Kathy Griffin and Hugh Jackman. Famous for his wit and wisdom, Verdi has become one of the most highly recognizable faces in the world of fashion and design today.”

As a guest curator, he selected 6 favorite pieces from the roster of Zatista artists. Other than selecting my work, Verdi also chose the works of Nina Fuller, David Page, Chris Horner, and Justin Wheeler. And in an interview, he talked about his selections while sharing his bright ideas about art, design, photography, among other things.

Looking at Verdi’s choices and looking at the choices made by the previous guest curators, I cannot help but wonder how a work of art is chosen from among thousands and thousands. Zatista artists are never really told when, how and what goes on in a curatorial process such as this. I’m inclined to think that a whole lot of factors are involved, including pure luck. In any case, I’m very thankful that someone such as Robert Verdi decided to pluck out one of my pictures as one of his top picks.

For an artist such as myself, I am deeply humbled when someone of great esteem, impeccable taste and exquisite aesthetic perception such as Robert Verdi bestow approving appraisal of one of my works. In all humility, can only view such affirmation as an honor.

[Note: To view Robert Verdi’s selection, please click here. To read the entire Zatista interview with Verdi, go here. To check out Verdi’s website, Luxe Laboratory, visit here. For free professional advise and consultation on advertising and commercial photography and visual media design, contact Dominique James at dominiquejames@mac.com. Also, you can view and purchase the fine art photographs of Dominique James online at Zatista’s website. Thank you.]

In pursuit of …

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On Golden Pond, a fine art photograph by Dominique James

"On Golden Pond," a fine art photograph by Dominique James featured in Zatista.

DOMINIQUE JAMES

Every now and then, as I sometimes foray aimlessly into the endless wilderness that is the Internet, I stumble upon gems that serves to enrich my experience as a photographer and as a visual artist. I’m sure my experience is not unique.

What with the incredible wealth of information all around, it is hard to imagine anyone in today’s world living a sustained creative life in a vacuum. However, I can still say that the way I go through the morass of materials, the meandering path that I take, the serendipitous nature of my discoveries, the mental coagulation that takes place and whenever things fall into place, are all uniquely mine.

Creativity, like most everything in life, must be nourished and nurtured in order to grow. And what with the Internet’s big pipes, among other things, we are mercilessly subjected by the strong currents of great swirling forces of creative influences all around us—all the time. There’s almost no way of turning it off.

About the only reasonable thing we can do with the deluge of information is to allow ourselves to open up to the countless bits that scurry along and pluck upon those which we feel matters the most. It’s almost like picking the pieces of huge puzzles floating aimlessly all around in a huge vat of information pool.

So, we build our lives today by bits and bytes, actually just like for the most of our past, but in a more intensely interesting way than ever before.

[Note: To view some interesting results of the visual, and sometimes philosophical, mish-mash of such “influences,” visit the Dominique James online gallery of fine art photographs over at Zatista. Thank you.]

Food, glorious food …

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Sisig

Sisig, one of the Filipino-themed all-time favorite specialty dishes served at the newly opened Side Grill Restaurant in Jersey City, New Jersey.

DOMINIQUE JAMES

When I was starting out as a professional photographer, my young and impressionable mind was blown away the very first time I heard that photographers[1] use mashed potatoes when photographing ice cream. It was a lightning bolt of a revelation! It totally made sense to me since the structure and consistency are visually the same, and mashed potatoes never melts—not even under very hot lights.

For good or bad, this bit of handy knowledge became part and parcel of helpful and useful things that I carry in my head, as if some kind of cardinal or even Biblical truth, a manna from heaven. Since then, the way I look at photographs of food, and even my relationship with food, has forever changed.

I don’t remember the name of the first person who told me about using mashed potatoes for an ice cream. Through the years, as if a mantra, this nugget of wisdom would be repeated to me often enough by all and sundry, many of whom were not even photographers. Surprisingly, hard as I try to recall, the one true master of food photography himself, Mark Floro[2], never ever mentioned this to me, not even once in any of our many conversations[3]. In any case, outside of the rarified domain of food photography, does anyone really care to know what a photograph of an ice cream is really made of as long as it looks deliciously real?

As my career progressed, and though my expertise, interest and focus leaned towards portraiture and fashion, I was lucky enough to have been entrusted with taking pictures of food for commercial campaigns of several fastfood chains and fine dining restaurants[4]. In almost all of these shoots, except for a trick or two here and there, I actually photographed real, edible food. Even the one time I took pictures of Ilustrado Restaurant’s[5] famous gourmet Sampaguita ice cream, we used the real thing[6], not mashed potatoes.

Still, even with a number of professional food shooting experience tucked into my increasingly widening belt (all from eating), I still somehow cannot help but doubt the authenticity of sumptuous-looking dishes photographed by others that I see in ads. In my skepticism, I even try to discern fakery whenever I look at pictures of food, but alas, none to successfully. Perhaps the idea of delicious dishes is too overpowering on an empty stomach?

I was once teased (or dared? or challenged?) by someone who is well aware of my terrible, terrible love of photography. If I had to choose one over the other, which would I prefer: photographing food or eating them? What a torturous question! This is one of the few questions that actually stopped me in my tracks and take the time to answer. I just hope no one ever thinks of torturing and embarrassing any of the Ms. Universe beauty pageant finalists in the Q&A portion with a question like this. To me at least, this is one of a deep probing that ranks high up with all the other questions on the mystical nature of humanity and the universe.[7]

At first, of course, taking the high road, I desperately wanted to answer that I enjoy photographing them more than eating them. After all, I consider myself to be an artiste; and artistic expression is what I live and die for, by culinary standards or not. I mean, choosing to photograph food rather than eat them seems like the right kind of answer—the one that judges of the Ms. Universe competition would certainly think as the right answer.

That’s the “intellectual” side of me rationalizing the whole deal. But then, who am I kidding? I mean, I’m really more concerned with what I put in my mouth than taking pictures of them. If I might confess one thing right here, I actually never bother taking pictures of food (no matter how incredible the presentation) before I eat them. I always end up giving in to the base instinct of my human nature, which, after all, is universal, and therefore, relevant to everyone. I eat them! So, the fact remains, I like eating more than photographing food.

But hey, once in a while, I get the chance to actually do both. Here’s the thing: I get to eat the food after the shoot! Most of it, anyway. For me, that is what’s actually fun about photographing food—taking pictures of it, and then eating it. What could possibly be better?[8]

I recently photographed the dishes being served by a newly opened Filipino restaurant in Jersey City, New Jersey, called Side Grill. Located right smack in the middle of West Side Avenue, where many of the half-a-million Filipinos living in that area are clustered tightly into a community, Side Grill serves some of the most awesome all-time favorite and all-time popular Filipino dishes originating from the different regions of the Philippines. Chef Herman Villadolid kept plating one exquisite dish after another which, in the end, resulted in an awesome culinary snapshot of the authentic Filipino cuisine. The pictures, taken as a whole, represented almost all of the major typical Filipino culinary experience not only in the Philippines, but of all Filipinos whichever corner of the globe they happen to work, or live, or be.

The thing about Filipino food is that it is truly comforting. Each dish has a distinct signature taste that is familiar to the palette. As Filipinos, we know how it should taste like, even as we compare and reference it to how we remember the taste from countless others that we’ve no doubt tasted in the past. We judge a particular food against the taste of how our parents, grandparents, or cousins, aunts and uncles cook it, based on the family’s heirloom recipe, or we compare its taste against that of a favorite cafeteria, fastfood, or turo-turo[9] restaurant. We compare it to our own cooking. And we form snap judgement, whether it is good or not. But none too harshly, I would suppose, because we still eat it, no matter how terrible we think it tastes. There is a sense of comfort to eating the familiar that it’s almost a solemn communion. It beckons to us, it calls us, it makes us, all at once, taste home.

[Note: The food photography project for Side Grill’s first major promotional campaign was done with Dennis Altobar, Together, we’ve photographed on location almost 50 mouth-watering dishes within the span of a week. We’ve also photographed Side Grill’s restaurant interior and exterior during the day, and at night time. Many of the pictures are now featured in Side Grill’s beautiful and elegant website, serving as a counterpoint to the fantastic logo designed by Mark Gonzales[10]. Some of the food photographs are individually featured as the main visual element of full-color posters and all other collateral promo materials designed by the creative artists of The Studio. These posters and promo materials has been professionally printed by Marisse Panlilio[11] of MPGrafx.]

[1] Together with an army of hardworking food stylists who collaborate with them on commercial food photography.
[2] I used to sneak in Mark Floro’s food photography workshops next door every moment whenever I’d get bored from the nude photography workshops I used to conduct at the Philippine Center for Creative Imaging.
[3] We were probably too preoccupied with talking about so many other topics of mutual interest to have time to actually talk about something like food photography!
[4] I’ve done food photography for Alfredo’s Steakhouse, Illustrado Restaurant, T.G.I.F., among others.
[5] Ilustrado Restaurant is located in the historic district of Intramuros in Manila.
[6] Never mind if it kept melting and we had to do it over and over again!
[7] Ok, that’s hyperbole right there, but it is what it is to me.
[8] I can think of one, but never mind.
[9] The word “turo-turo” means “to point at.” This is a kind of restaurant where you simply point out to the attending server which dishes you’d like to order.
[10] You can view the works of Mark Gonzales at his website http://www.smallzinc.com and you can email him at me@smallzinc.com.
[11] Marisse Panlilio can be reached at marisse@mpgrafx.com.

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