Dominique James, Photographer

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An invitation …

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Dominique James Photography

Hello! I am pleased to invite you to subscribe to my photography email newsletter.

It’s a brief, no-fuss personally handcrafted newsletter that you’ll get once or twice a month. It features one picture and one very short paragraph.

Please sign up at http://eepurl.com/QBGCv if you aren’t subscribed already. It won’t take a minute—you’ll then receive a confirmation, and you’re done. Also, please feel free to ask others who might be interested to subscribe as well. Rest assured that I take privacy of subscribers very seriously, and there’s always an option to unsubscribe any time.

This photography email newsletter is my way of reaching out to you. I’m excited to be able to share new and previously unpublished pictures from my personal and professional body of photographic works that’s going to be showcased on my photography website at www.dominiquejames.com. I hope you are excited as I am with my growing and evolving collection of fine art, editorial and commercial photographs.

As always, I welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. Feel free to email me at dominiquejames@mac.com. I read and reply to all. Thanks!

B, H, N, Y, C, U, S, A

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BY DOMINIQUE JAMES

A seemingly strange string of letters makes up the title of this blog post. If you’re a professional photographer, you probably have an idea what it means. If not, allow me tell you.

B and H, the first two letters in the sequence, stand for the name of a photo and video equipment store. Being a non-chain store, it is located only in New York City, which represents the next three letters. And it is the biggest in the United States of America, which brings us the final three in the string of letters. I could have added a W at the end, for it is also perhaps the most well-known in the entire world.

Sure, there are other B&Hs out there—an airline service, a publishing group, a music service, a brand of cigarette, a railroad company. But for our purposes, we refer to B&H as B&H Photo Video.

B&H started out in 1973 as a storefront shop selling film on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It is run by Herman Schreiber and his wife, Blimie, which pretty much explains what B&H stands for. Quickly outgrowing its space, it moved to a large loft on West 17th Street, in an area that was known in the 70s as the Photo District. Catering to the needs of neighborhood artists, the store expanded to sell film equipment and other photo products.

In 1997, B&H moved to its present 9th Avenue and 34th Street location. By October 30, 2007, it had opened the floor above the ground level sales floor, bringing the total to 70,000 square feet of sales space. Products such as pro lighting, binoculars and scopes, video, audio, darkroom, film, as well as home and portable entertainment are all on the first floor. On the second floor are analog and digital photography equipment, computers, printers, scanners and related accessories. With more than 235,000 products in stock, it’s almost certain that if a doodad exists, it can be bought at B&H.

B&H has more than 1,500 employees. On average, they serve an average of 11,000 to 12,000 in-store customers per day. In addition, B&H conducts a considerable amount of business on the Internet. In 35 years, B&H has grown into a “superstore.” With knowledgeable sales professionals and the installed  mechanical labyrinth to magically bring you each and every item you ask for wherever you happen to be in the store, B&H is the gadgeteer’s equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

B&H is so firmly established that it’s almost fair to say no self-respecting professional photographer (or professional videographer for that matter) from anywhere in the world has not heard of it. In fact, it is likely the world’s top photographers and videographers, at one point or another, have bought stuff from the B&H store, or at least ordered online.

When I moved to the city three years ago, I knew for sure I’d visit B&H soon enough—just to check things out. To me, it was an “attraction.” Of course, it doesn’t quite compare to the grandness of The Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty, but to a professional photographer such as myself, it’s one those not-to-be-missed places.

The first time I stepped inside B&H, I was somewhat overwhelmed and bewildered. I didn’t understand the store’s layout, directional signs, waypoints, and the many personnel stationed all over. But it soon enough made sense—these were all guides that had been carefully setup to orient where you were and direct where you should go.

As I settled into the city, I began to visit there to do something more purposeful: buy stuff. I can imagine that many cards like mine have thinned a millimeter from being constantly swiped at B&H’s checkout counters, more than at any other establishment in New York. Visa would be justifiably happy.

Everyone’s B&H experience is encapsulated between two points: an expectant beginning at the entrance door with Pedro, the cheery greeter who ushers one and all into the store; and a happy ending at the exit door with the smiling Sheila, who hands out survey coupons, and Alfonso, who expertly shows the proper way out.. In between, of course, is the heart and soul of the B&H experience, the encounters with the Davids, Solomons, and Jacobs at every nook and cranny of the two-floor selling area. This carefully controlled piece of Manhattan real estate hums with efficient commerce under a veneer of genuine, professional friendliness.

Lately, I have been hanging out at B&H—almost every day these past two months, more than I ever did at any other place in the entire amazing city of New York1. Just check out my recent check-ins at Foursquare2. And I don’t even work there! So there, that’s all there is to the string of letters that serves as this week’s blog title.

But wouldn’t you like to know why I’ve been spending a lot of time at B&H? I mean, how often do I (or anyone for that matter) really need to go there? Sure, I’ve been buying stuff, only because no one can remain impervious to the temptation on display. But shopping is not the only reason that I go there day to day. That’s the story I wanted to tell you.

Tucked in an area on the 2nd floor is a compact space called Event Space. It’s actually almost so inconspicuous that many people who go to B&H may not even notice it. I’ve been going there for photography lectures, seminars, and workshops, conducted by some of the most talented pros from around the world.

The B&H Event Space, launched in November of 2007, is a learning environment designed to educate, inspire, and cultivate a community of like-minded individuals who aspire to be great at what they love to do. By offering workshops and lectures in photography (and also video and pro audio), their mission is to help those in the community achieve their goals. David Brommer and Jennifer Diamond are two of its central figures. They are supported by a team of photo, video and audio experts: Allan Weitz, Andrew P. Byrd, Casey Krugman, Gabriel Biderman, Jason Friedman, Joey Quintero, and Larry Cohen.

Finding the right speakers to conduct talks at B&H is important. In many instances, they directly reach out to those whom they want to speak at the Event Space. “We find photographers on blogs or other industry websites, and will contact them if we like their work. Other times, we find speakers through recommendations,” Diamond said.

“The qualifications that we look for in a speaker are: first and foremost, quality of work; secondly, it’s important that the photographer has good public speaking skills. If the photographer is an instructor, that is a very good quality to have because it’s a strong indicator that they speak well. The usual concerns when getting speakers are scheduling—deciding what day is most appropriate for them to speak.”

The B&H Event Space also partners with major manufacturers in the imaging industry and academic institutions in the arts to produce a wide range of workshops and seminars, covering a vast spectrum of topics.

“There are times where speakers are sponsored by manufacturers, in which case the company chooses the speaker,” Diamond said. “Not all speakers are sponsored by companies, only about 10 percent are. Sometimes speakers will ask us to help find them sponsorship, and this can be very challenging. It’s really the responsibility of the speaker to find their own sponsorship. If we can assist, we will at times but it doesn’t always work out. It’s challenging to find sponsorship, especially in this economy.”

In addition, B&H “Mavens,” employees who are experts on a specific topic, teach classes in the Event Space. On Sundays, high-profile and emerging photographers, as well as industry professionals, deliver inspirational lectures about their work and spin their personal tales of success. “We like to have more artistic lectures on Sundays,” Diamond says.

The very first speaker at the Event Space was Mike Corrado from Nikon. It was a D300 and D300s product launch. Since then, the Event Space has hosted a number of prominent speakers including Brian Storm, Vincent Laforet, Joyce Tenneson, Joe McNally, and John Paul Caponigro. (Oh, by the way, just like everyone else, most of the speakers often shop before and after their lectures, sometimes spending thousands of dollars.)

The most requested topics are on software, mainly Photoshop and other editing tools like Adobe’s Lightroom and Apple’s Aperture. Lighting seminars and travel photography are also very popular.

The sessions that were the most memorable, Diamond says, were the Lensbaby photo safari through Times Square, Real Exposures with Harvey Stein, The Women Photography Panel, the f295 symposium, Sarah Small’s lecture, and David Brommer’s Composition class.

The best-attended session of all time was Joe McNally’s lecture—92 people!

All the sessions at the B&H Event Space are free. “We believe in providing free education to the public so that everyone has an equal chance to learn and benefit from the service we are providing,” Jennifer Diamond says. “We are not interested in gaining a profit from our events, but we realize that attendees who visit our Event Space may be inclined to shop once they are inside the store.”

The B&H Event Space can comfortably sit around 60 people at a time. Reservations to any of the events can be made online.

I found out about the Event Space during my first visit. I’d attended a couple of sessions before. Then two months ago, I decided to check it out again. Like a sudden addiction, I ended up attending most of the scheduled events, all within the span of 8 consecutive weeks. I sat for 2-hour stretches at a time, listening to different speakers: Peter Turnley, Katrin Eismann, Tim Grey, Adam Barker, Jim Vecchi, Will Crockett, Kareem Black, Andrew Gruber, Kerrick James, Jem Schofield, David Guy Maynard, Marc Silber, Allan Weitz, Rudy Winston, Quest Couch, Amy Kosh, Rick Berk, Victor Ha, Lili Almog, and Lindsay Adler.

Sitting in these sessions, I also got to know some of the other regular attendees. There’s Tina, the professional pet photographer who taps extensive notes into her netbook PC, There’s Meryll, who always asks questions about matters that are unclear. There’s Emmanuel, who listens attentively, absorbing everything like a sponge. And then there’s Jim who records the sessions with his Flip Mino.

After each of the 2-hour sessions, I invariably hang around the store a bit, wandering here and there, and almost always deciding which of the thousands and thousands of items on display I will  buy next. If you hang out in B&H long enough and often enough like I did, you’ll soon come to one inescapable realization—you want to buy everything.

But the B&H Event Space experience doesn’t end when the session ends. In fact, the lectures, workshops and seminars are just the beginning. The B&H Event Space is turning out to be a hub for a small but growing community. Beyond sitting in the sessions and receiving pro-level instruction and inspiration, anyone who might be interested can get involved in other ways.

For instance, you can sign up on their Facebook and Twitter pages to keep abreast of the goings-on, including additional unscheduled sessions, pop quizzes with special prizes, and many other surprise goodies. You can join and contribute photos in their Flickr group. On iTunes, you can download podcasts of some of their recorded sessions. And, here’s something that very few people know about—you can become one of the B&H Infinitists by joining the Infinity Photographic Society’s monthly gathering.

With all this, no wonder Sergey Brin, president and co-founder of Google, said that B&H is his favorite camera store. And yes, if it isn’t obvious yet, it’s mine too.

THE ART OF IPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY: I’m happy to share with you this good news—my book, The Art of iPhone Photography, (Rocky Nook) will be available soon. You can now pre-order this book online from Amazon. Do check it out! Thanks.

ONE MORE THING: As a way of saying thank you to the readers of The Pictorialist blog, I’m giving away a free high-resolution, full-color image of the Statue of Liberty. You can download this professionally photographed 7.57 MB JPEG image file now for free on my Flickr gallery. Just click here. You can do whatever you want to do with this photo, no restrictions and no strings attached. You can use this picture for personal, educational, commercial or any other purposes. This is the first of many more free images I’m going to be giving away. To keep up to date, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter. Also, check out and bookmark my blog here. Thanks!

Notes:

1The other places in New York where I spend a lot of time are museums and art galleries.

2Foursquare is a social networking software application that allows you to “check-in” and broadcast your location in real time using mobile devices such as an iPhone.

[About the author: Dominique James is a New York-based professional photographer. You can contact Dominique James through email or visit his fine art photography website Zatista. For more information, please click here.]

Free Download: The Statue Of Liberty

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The Statue Of Liberty

The Statue Of Liberty

BY DOMINIQUE JAMES

The Statue of Liberty is a universal symbol of freedom. It is a beacon of hope to countless people from all over the world—including myself. When I moved to New York three years ago, it was one of the first things I wanted to see. But as I went about my new life, I would only be afforded, from time to time, a very distant glimpse of her. It wasn’t until recently that I finally got the chance to see her up close. She is every bit as magnificent and as inspiring as I thought her to be.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Lady Liberty:

“The Statue of Liberty (French: Statue de la Liberté), officially titled Liberty Enlightening the World (French: la Liberté éclairant le monde), dedicated on October 28, 1886, is a monument commemorating the centennial of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence, given to the United States by the people of France to represent the friendship between the two countries established during the American Revolution. It represents a woman wearing a stola, a radiant crown and sandals, trampling a broken chain, carrying a torch in her raised right hand and a tabula ansata, where the date of the Declaration of Independence JULY IV MDCCLXXVI is inscribed, in her left arm. Standing on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, it welcomes visitors, immigrants, and returning Americans traveling by ship. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi sculpted the statue and obtained a U.S. patent for its structure. Maurice Koechlin—chief engineer of Gustave Eiffel’s engineering company and designer of the Eiffel Tower—engineered the internal structure. The pedestal was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was responsible for the choice of copper in the statue’s construction, and for the adoption of the repoussé technique, where a malleable metal is hammered on the reverse side. The statue is made of a sheathing of pure copper, hung on a framework of steel (originally puddled iron) with the exception of the flame of the torch, which is coated in gold leaf (originally made of copper and later altered to hold glass panes). It stands atop a rectangular stonework pedestal with a foundation in the shape of an irregular eleven-pointed star. The statue is 151 ft (46 m) tall, but with the pedestal and foundation, it is 305 ft (93 m) tall. The Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world, and of the United States. For many years it was one of the first glimpses of the United States for millions of immigrants and visitors after ocean voyages from around the world.”

On my visit to Liberty Island, I took many pictures of Lady Liberty. I didn’t really know what to do with all the pictures I shot, until I thought it makes perfect sense to just give one away for free.

So, as a way of saying thank you to the readers and followers of this blog, I’m giving away a free high-quality, high-resolution, full-color image of the Statue of Liberty. This is the first time that I am giving away a professionally-created photograph. You can download this high quality, un-watermarked picture in full 7. 57 MB JPEG image file right now from my Flickr gallery. Just click here and download the largest file size available. You can do whatever you want to do with this photo. I impose no restriction whatsoever. As they say, you can get it with “no strings attached.” You can use this picture for whatever purpose—personal, educational, and even commercial. It’s nice if you can credit me as the photographer, and if you can provide a link, but that’s something I’m not requiring you to do. This is the first of many more free images I’m planning to give away. To find out when I’ll be giving the next free photo image, follow me on Facebook or Twitter. And, if you want to check out what other kind of free images I might be giving away, visit my fine art photo print collection over at Zatista.

Thanks, and do tell all your friends to come over and download this professional quality Statue of Liberty photo image file for free!

A photo session with Mrs. Josie Natori in New York

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Mrs. Josie Natori photographed by Dominique James. Copyright © 2009. All rights reserved. For authorized use only.BY DOMINIQUE JAMES

I’ve always admired Mrs. Josie Natori from a distance, even when I was still based in Manila. Prior to this pictorial, I’ve never met her, not in any of the numerous fashion events and functions where both of us may have most likely attended. I’ve known her only from magazine profiles and through anecdotes of some of my closest designer friends, who, naturally, spoke glowingly of her. From a distance, I’ve come to regard her with fascination. I see her as one of the very few women who possess an impeccable sense of style, grace, and elegance, which I view to be iconic. The way I see it, she is the perfect representation of the best from Asia and America. She is an amalgam, an international citizen.

As a photographer, I’ve also thought that it would be quite a thrill to get the chance to photograph her someday—to capture at least a facet, if not the total essence, of an Asian woman who’s timeless style has been much admired all over the world. In my more than 20 years of photographing fabulous women, including Mrs. Natori in my photography portfolio would be an honor and an achievement.

Imagine my surprise and excitement when I received an editorial assignment to photograph her. Within two months since I arrived in New York, and barely settled, I received a message from my editor from Manila, Joyce Fernandez, who arranged the photo session. They needed exclusive photographs that will accompany a piece to be published in two month’s time. Since the story is about Mrs. Natori’s love for classical piano, my main duty was to reflect that in the photographs.

Together with my Hungarian assistant photographer, Miklos Solyom, I met with Mr. James R.H. Booth, senior vice president of licensing, marketing and public relations of the Natori, for a brief pre-production meeting at their Madison Avenue headquarters. Details were threshed out and a date was set for a simple pictorial at her posh private quarters located at the upper east side of Manhattan.

It was a morning shoot, and it was a timed pictorial. Knowing how full her daily schedule is, and realizing that photo sessions can go on and on, I was told to keep to the clock. The phrase “in a New York minute” kept running through my head, as I packed, checked and double-checked my gears for the shoot.

I arrived at Mrs. Natori’s apartment a hour-and-a-half before the shooting was to begin. Together with my assistant photographer, Miklos, we immediately set up our equipment for the 3-outfit layout in the main living areas of her exquisitely appointed residence. Meanwhile, in the other room, Mrs. Natori’s hair and makeup artists, Nicole Potter and Dyana Nematallah, were already at work with her. From years and years of professional shooting experience, I can tell that things were moving along very well. It helped that Sierra Fromberg, senior public relations and marketing coordinating for the Natori, was there to oversee the production of the shoot.

For the first image, Mrs. Natori, in a white dress with pleated skirt, sat lightly on the back of a small sofa, between the two grand pianos in the foreground. The natural morning light streamed from a tall window that lit Mrs. Natori, while keeping the foreground and other areas dark. Despite the massive foreground, I kept sharp focus on the photo’s main subject.

In the second photo, wearing a black dress with a woven thick belt surprisingly accented by a pair of chopsticks, Mrs. Natori stood by a blank white-beige wall. With generous light streaming from one side, it was a bright picture with her elegant frame in the middle. She was showing a dimpled smile, and the picture has a down-to-earth, conversational-style to it.

Finally, for the third picture, Mrs. Natori wore an amazing black silk kimono-inspired ensemble. I love the first two clothes she wore, but this third outfit has a “cinematic” quality to it that I know would look very photogenic. For this layout, she was leaning forward, towards the black reflecting table, and in the background were solid grey panels. Instantly, I knew this was going to be my favorite layout. The monochromatic color scheme of blacks, greys and whites was just awesome. And then, in a flash of inspiration, and because I wanted to do more, Mrs. Natori agreed to an alternate layout, with the same outfit, where she sat on one side of the sill of a huge window. With morning light streaming in, she was enveloped in an ethereal glow. For this shot, I framed the entire window.

Concentrating on the shooting process, I forgot all about time. When I looked at my watch, I was surprised that we finished early. I was anxious that we might not have enough time to do everything, but I am glad that we completed the shoot way ahead of time. When shooting, I tend to work fast. When I know that I got the image I wanted, I know that that’s the time to stop. And, it always help that I was surrounded and working with professionals. It makes the work faster, easier, and lighter. And, in some cases, even fun.

Photographing Mrs. Natori turned out to be quite an experience for me. Throughout the pictorial, she was very accommodating and gracious. As one of the most-photographed women, and having been photographed through the years by many of the world’s foremost photographers, I am glad to have been given the opportunity to have a private pictorial session with her. I consider this to one of my most memorable photo assignments to date in New York.

[Note: For inquiries and for information on professional photography assignments for editorial and/or advertising purposes, as well as post-production digital image editing and enhancement, please send email to Dominique James at dominiquejames@mac.com or call 912-246-1131. Thank you.]

Photographing and designing a new magazine cover

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This is the Spring 2009 cover of GP (Global Philippines) Magazine.

BY DOMINIQUE JAMES

Popular Filipino actress and singer Stella Ruiz graces the cover of the new and exciting Spring 2009 issue of GP (Global Philippines) Magazine. Stella recently gave up her lucrative showbiz career in the Philippines to permanently move to the United States. For some time, she was initially based in the West Coast, but eventually, she settled in the East Coast. Despite her now more quite lifestyle, away from the glare of the limelight, and away from the intrigues, Stella is still quite well known among a number of Filipino communities here in the US from coast to coast. Her popularity has even led to several solo singing engagements. Stella is noted for her edgy rock, pop and ballad songs laced with a selection of all-time favorite standards. The first time I’ve photographed Stella was when we were still both in the Philippines, at the time when she was about to launch her musical career. Fast-forward to today, we worked again for the magazine cover shoot. The recent pictorial therefore felt like a comfortable reunion of sorts. The mood was light, breezy, and fun. Doing a four-layout pictorial was therefore easy and fun. Much of the success of the pictorial is owed to Stella’s personality. She was gregarious and talkative all throughout the session, making sure that everyone feels comfortable and relaxed. The cover photo shoot was held at the Hyatt Hotel at Exchange Place in Jersey City, New Jersey. The exact location was at one of the boardwalks of the famous Hudson River overlooking the much more famous Manhattan skyline that prominently showed one of the tallest buildings in the world, the Empire State Building. The production team for this shoot included fashion stylist Zaldy Labaco (whom I’ve worked with on a number of pictorials in Manila and who also recently migrated from the Philippines to the United States), hair and makeup artist Ryzelle Bayacal, and production assistant Don Cendana. Production of the cover pictorial was managed by GP Magazine’s publisher, Manny Agbanlog. This Spring 2009 cover of GP (Global Philippines) Magazine featuring Stella Ruiz marks a radical departure from the old magazine through a dramatic redesign, refocus and rebranding. On the inside, this magazine features: Romy Luz, Nonette Teodoro, Camille Villar, Dario Octaviano, Kim Bello, Ysa Langdon, Chris Boucher, Toff De Venecia, Karlo Miguel, and others. It also features Roberto Tomas, Kaye Cloutman, Alex Uy, Florante Aguilar, Ric Ickard, Perfecto De Castro, Angelito Agcaoili, Victor B. Velasco, Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Amos Manlangit, Rommel V. Manlangit, Ace Durano, Stanie Soriano, etc. The print edition of GP Magazine is mainly available in the East Coast (generally in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and other nearby states), and it can also be accessed online for free at GP Magazine Online. [Note: For inquiries and information on professional photography assignments for editorial and/or advertising purposes, as well as for professional post-production digital image editing and enhancement, please send email to Dominique James at dominiquejames@mac.com or call 912-246-1131. Thank you.]

The naked truth about The Naked Bee

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The Naked BeeSuccessfully re-imagining a product is one of the goals of modern product photography. How can an established brand and an already well-loved product line with an almost cult-like following re-ignite the excitement of its currently established market, and at the same time appeal to a broader segment of a much bigger market? In this photograph I took of The Naked Bee’s incredibly sweet-smelling and best-selling Moisturizing Hand & Body Lotion, I strive to create a new image that is a dramatic departure from the usual, standard catalog photography. This style of photography sets the product apart, and gives it a surprisingly pleasant and somewhat sophisticated or luxurious feel. This new image is designed not only to appeal to the sensibilities of the consumers, but also serves as a key visual element that heightens the experience when using the product. Check out the official website of The Naked Bee for more information and to check out what the buzz is all about.

Written by dominiquejames

March 19, 2008 at 5:31 PM

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