Dominique James, Photographer

It's all about the pictures …

To receive, and also to give …

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This is an unabashed open letter of appreciation, a love letter if you will, to my online friends:

You, my online friends, many of whom I happen to personally know offline, are truly, truly amazing! You make me want to always hit up Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest of digital social spaces where you and I are connected.

Despite what many might consider to be a magnificent waste of time going through endless posts, the next best thing to actually being around friends like you is to go through what you share online.

I really do take the time to look at your posts. I marvel at them. I am always eager to read your status updates, to see your pictures and to watch your videos. I enjoy finding out about the extraordinary things you’re doing, the wonderful places you went to, the interesting stuff you bought, the cool fashion you wore, the amazing food you ate, the thirst-quenching beverages you drank, the myriad of emotions you felt, the ideas you espouse or debate, and in between, all the other fascinating posts you re-share. I become one with you—in the joys of your celebrations, in the triumphs of your accomplishments, in the agony of your defeats, and in the pangs of your sorrows; in the wistful throwbacks of your yesterdays, in the measured, descriptive states of your todays, in the bright multicolored hopes of your tomorrows. Though separated by distance and time, and even if only through the prism of your selective online narratives, I do appreciate your in trust me, enough to be shared with, encompassed in your cultivated online circle. I marvel whenever you freely share whatever about you.

Because I am inspired by your thoughtful sharing, in turn I want to do the same. As you have shared, I too, want to share.

For quite some time now, I’ve been privileged to have been able to show you some of my pictures, among other things, and I can only hope to show and share more.

The way I see it, each picture I put up encapsulates a facet of my experiences too. I’m sharing my pictures because I feel it’s the best I know how to do online. I’m not good at jokes. I’m not good at memes. I’m not good at much of most other stuff. But I’m really all about pictures, and I hope you like them.

And so, for all the sharing that’s going on all around, from you to me and from me to you, I thank you!

P.S. I now share pictures mostly at http://www.dominiquejames.com, and I announce new stuff through my newsletter at http://eepurl.com/PPYpT.

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Written by dominiquejames

March 6, 2014 at 4:16 PM

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.

Blank Slates

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Michael Lopp, Rands In Repose:

This New Year, I wish you more blank slates. May you have more blank white pages sitting in front you with your favorite pen nearby and at the ready. May you have blank screens in your code editor with your absolutely favorite color syntax highlighting. May your garage work table be empty save for a single large piece of reclaimed redwood and a saw.

Turn off those notifications, turn your phone over, turn on your favorite music, stare at your blank slate and consider what you might build. In that moment of consideration, you’re making an important decision: create or consume? The things we’re giving to the future are feeling increasingly unintentional and irrelevant. They are half-considered thoughts of others. When you choose to create, you’re bucking the trend because you’re choosing to take the time to build.

And that’s a great way to start the year.

Yes, indeed!

Written by dominiquejames

January 3, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Here is New York

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New York City

Though Pulitzer Prize-winning writer E.B. White described three different “trembling” cities, the city of New York is really many, many things to many people. Depending on circumstance, experience, and perception, we each picture it to be this or that way. It’s remarkable therefore that photographs of New York, even of the very same places, come out different from one another.

This one picture, for instance, depicting the iconic Empire State Building taken from the vantage point of the equally iconic Brooklyn Bridge, which I took in the autumn of 2009, shows a perfectly sunny and bright day; yet somehow, exudes a quiet and melancholy mood. Looking at this picture, it’s almost possible to imagine hearing the muted sounds of people going about their business in the buildings, as cars and buses crisscross the traffic grids on street level with people pounding its pavements, and add to that, the rumbling of subway cars snaking underneath.

Straight out of the Nikon D2Xs camera, the original RAW image file of this image stands on its own. But with simple adjustments in Apple’s Aperture with the Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in from Google’s Nik Collection, I managed to coax out subtle details, and in the process, seemingly created a far more meaningful and engaging image. I doubt if this will look exactly the same next time I picture the same view. I am almost certain it will come out differently.

With every photograph of New York City, this and all the countless others, then and now, and in the future, I am reminded of a passage from E.B. White’s pristine essay, “Here is New York,” which he wrote in the sweltering summer of 1948:

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter—the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last—the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from Italy to set up a small grocery store in a slum, or a young girl arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embrace New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh eyes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company.

Ahh, New York, what a wonderful, maddening city you are!

With a drop here and there, welcome 2014!

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I am somewhat confused by the symbolism of many new year countdowns “traditionally” accompanied with things that drop—crystal ball, stiletto, boot, watermelon, peach, pineapple, moon pie, chunk of cheese, live possum, nut and what nots.

Willfully or accidentally, what does it really mean when things are dropped?

From Saba Hamedy’s report in the LA Times on the crystal ball drop: “There is a real emotional connection” with the dropping ball, said Jeffrey Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment, an organizer of Times Square New Year’s Eve. “It’s a shared moment. So when you think about all the drops, that’s a big sign of our success.”

So, for some weird reason “all the drops” is a sign of success? Seriously, since when did a drop generally and typically signify success?

We can perhaps put the blame squarely on the shoulder of one electrician named Walter F. Painer, who started this trend by suggesting the use of a “time ball” to be dropped in New York City’s Times Square, welcoming the year 1908. Painer got this idea when he saw one used on the nearby Western Union Building.

But, really, why copy a drop?

The more I think about it, I am more convinced that it makes more sense if things do rise up instead of drop, specially on an occasion as individually and collectively important as welcoming a new year, every year.

Drops are typically associated with things breaking, signifying a measure of bad luck. Who would want to usher in a new year with something like that? And yet, that’s what we’ve been doing—dropping things year after year. Because it’s tradition?

Maybe it’s time to rethink the whole “dropping” tradition. Maybe we’d be better off if we do the opposite—raise things up instead. It takes willpower, strength and skill to raise things up—widely considered to be some of the most essential ingredients of success. Besides, historically and culturally, raising things up generally carry positive connotations such as in the symbolic rising of the Phoenix from ashes, and the celebration of countless individual and collective achievements when reaching new, dazzling heights.

So, instead of letting things drop with gravity, why not defy it? We should be really raising thing.

Remember, hell is down below, and heaven is way up there.

Written by dominiquejames

January 1, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Our Family Christmas 2013

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As we gear up towards the new year, the holidays is beginning to wind down. With the goal of keeping the memory of our family’s Christmas 2013 celebration for years to come, I decided to do a video montage instead of the usual photo album. Besides, almost everyone in the family takes pictures so we’ve got lots of those. But we never had videos. This is the first time I did a video like this and in this way. Inspired by Apple’s holiday TV ad, the whole thing was shot, edited and put together using the iPhone 5s.

Written by dominiquejames

January 1, 2014 at 12:22 PM

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How to work through the Camera Raw dilemma

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Dave Johnson, TechHive:

All great debates are framed by at least two compelling, often contradictory choices: Mac vs. PC, Beatles vs. Stones, oatmeal raisin vs. chocolate chip. If you have a digital SLR or an advanced compact camera, you can make just such a choice when it comes to what format in which to save your photos. Most cameras default to the common JPEG format (and if you have a smartphone or very basic point and shoot, that’s probably your only choice). There’s a good chance your camera also offers a Raw option as well, though. You’ve probably heard that it is a higher quality option than JPEG, but comes with tradeoffs of its own. Should you take it? There’s no one right answer; it depends upon how you tend to edit and use your photos. It might be helpful to take a step back and discuss the differences between the two formats.

Written by dominiquejames

May 4, 2013 at 2:32 PM

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