December 6, 2012

  • The Fong Twins, Wesley and Willow at 13 months

    They are walking, playing pretend games, kissing us, telling us secrets, holding imaginary cell phones to their ears, eating finger foods, doing downward facing dog poses, waving bye-bye, pumping both arms up when we shout, "hooray".

    Though I've been a photographer all of my life, I'm finding the video clips are the ones I really treasure.  You get to step back in time, rather than freeze a moment.  So hard to believe that fourteen months ago, I never knew of Wesley - or Willow.  These guys are so amazingly beautiful and sweet, gentle and playful.




August 20, 2012

July 14, 2012

  • Sallee School and Joe Buissink

    Hi from the middle.  Here's an update on the cancellation of the Buissink/Sallee School Tour.

    I have had LONG talks with both Joe and JB.  JB asked me to call him, and we spoke this morning for a long time.  He is very passionate about his reputation, and felt that my saying that the tour was canceled because of low registration was one of the reasons why, but not the only reason.

    Having to cancel a tour should not be a reflection of anything other than the changing tide of skepticism for workshops in general, most likely.  It doesn't mean that the speakers aren't qualified, etc. because I know MANY people who are highly qualified who have had to cancel their seminars.  It's just the way things are these days, and there should be no embarrassment for having to be financially practical and cancel appearances.

    It happens often these days with concerts.  It's not a blemish on anybody's reputation, as far as I'm concerned.

    My issue was two-fold:  1) On the Sallee School website, on the first day of the tour (San Francisco), even though the entire tour had been canceled, on their website, every city said, "SOLD OUT" and 2) For a brief moment (according to JB he retracted this instantly) he posted on a Facebook page that he had canceled the tour because of a family emergency on Joe's side.  However long it was up spread virally, as so many people really are attached to Joe.

    JB explained that the reason his website said "sold out" was because as soon as he closes registration on a city, his cart defaults to "sold out" and there is no choice to say, "canceled".  He insisted that this was not intentional.

    I speak to Joe almost daily, and I know that there was no issue with his family that would have prevented him from going on the tour.  He never asked the Sallee's to cancel the tour, he suggested that due to low attendance numbers, they should consider cancelling, and that Joe would be ok staying home to be with his family during a rough, but not debilitating time.  The Sallees told me today that they unilaterally canceled it for Joe (without consulting him) because they knew how hard his family situation must be.  I was provided an entire email trail from Joe that showed the chronology.

    Many know that Joe had health issues a few years back, but he's really healthy at this point.  What flummoxed him was that people were contacting him asking if his health was ok.  This is how a rumour starts from "family emergency" to "Health situation".  When he really did have health issues, he was forthcoming about it, but what happened was the top coordinators in L.A. and larger cities were loathe to refer him, because they didn't want to refer a photographer who might not be well enough to shoot the event.  Joe's bookings dropped dramatically as a result, so understandably he would be sensitive about any announcement about his well-being.

    All parties are burned on this.  Joe had pretty much taken the month of July and part of August to do this tour, so there is lost revenue.  The Sallees are in a crazy spot because they have to refund the ticket fees, cancel the venues, etc.

    There is no contract between them (which is nutty for a commitment that is so involved) nor did any money change hands.  JB is very very insistent that he is doing the tour to "help photographers" and that there wasn't a concern for the low attendance, as he would have gone to give the class anyway.  I have no reason to believe or not believe him, but this much I'll say.  He picked up the phone and called me, and that always is a great idea.

    I took down the earlier post because the San Francisco event is over and 2) the website that said all of the cancelled cities were "Sold Out" has been taken down.  JB explained that he is calling each of the photographers who signed up individually to arrange for refunds, and for that I certainly don't envy that task!  If I were a seminar promoter, I would really take a wait-and-see position on making any plans for having audiences at shows.  I can tell that people are burned out of the whole workshop mania, and everybody is staying home.

May 18, 2012


    This is one of my favorite photos of all time.  (well, with the caption).  A democracy usually lasts only a couple hundred years, and it follows the same cycle - 1) the working class who had been disenfranchised by the wealthy finally raise up and dethrone the monarchy via coup, and establish a new voting government where each member has an equal say.  Then - as time goes on, the clever people in the society figure out how to beat the system, and the clever people congregate to do each other favors until they whap down the middle class - who then revolt in a coup and the cycle starts again.

    This time is different.  This time there is FOX News.  It's brilliant!  Make the poor and disenfranchised feel like they're on the same team as the wealthy!  Make them want to support the wealthy so that they can create jobs and prosperity for the working class.

    But it doesn't work like that.  When you give tax breaks, etc. to the rich - they put it in trusts that are locked down for a generation, money never to see the light of day.  Anybody rich is an investor.  And what do investors NEVER invest on?  Middle class people.  Not hard to figure out people!  When you're out there picketing for conservative clauses, picture the rich people below laughing at you - because trust me I know - they laugh at the picketers, about this hard:

May 10, 2012

  • Final Cut X and Additional Hard Drives

    Hey just a quick note - if you use Final Cut X and remote hard drives, if you have any folders inside it that say DCIM or AVCHD, you won't see your plugged in drive in the event library.  Put _ before each of these straight-from-camera image folders (example: _DCIM) and your drive will appear again.  Don't do this in front of every file, because if you do, FCP won't "see" your events or projects folder.  I spent quite a bit of time learning this, no reason for you to do the same!


    By now you're probably read about this in the news:

    Meagan Kunert did quite a number on professional photography recently.  With big news on how easily one can impersonate other photographers (by simply taking the images off of others and putting them in her own website) as well as words from the blog posts of others, there's yet another worry to add to the list of the unsuspecting client: the impersonator.

    Up to now, I'd only been aware of photographers venturing out to important events unarmed with knowledge, yet full of confidence from websites and seminars inspiring inexperienced photographers to jump into shooting professionally.  So not only are photographers claiming to be what they're not - they're claiming to be who they're not.

    I'd like to inform everybody how serious this can be.  Nine years ago, I sued a photographer because she used the name of my company and one of my images on the internet, took my studio name and used it on a website.  Because copyright and trademark infringement are federally policed, my lawsuit wound up in Federal Court.  A jury of nine took about a week to award me $240,000 in damages.

    You can see for yourself by googling, "teresa halton gary fong trial" and then scrolling to the link that says, 'FEDERAL JURY TRIAL'.  

    On the day of the order, I got a check for the full amount because she was insured by her business policy.  I wonder if Meagan Kunert has insurance?   Because the people who were damaged by her actions could form a multi-plaintiff lawsuit and sue her in federal court.  I'm not a lawyer, but my opinion is I'm certain they would win, and win big.

    I think it should happen - because my situation was a huge warning to others who thought this might be a good idea, and nobody did it for years - until it was too old news.  At least call a lawyer.

    Mine took my case on contingency, because he was certain we would win.

April 20, 2012

  • "...we've attempted to pay them back as much money as we can but unfortunately we are going bankrupt

    Wedding Photography can devastate you financially.  In asking for horror stories from wedding photographers, somebody shared with me how they photographed a wedding for $500, and half of the photos didn't turn out (accidental reformat of one of the cards) so the couple sued them and got $37,000!!!  (they lost their home and their retirement accounts).  

    Here is another story from the UK published in the Daily Mail.  The couple published their terrible photographs online, and the paper interviewed the wedding photographer, who had gone bankrupt refunding money to dissatisfied couples.

    If you aren't well trained and experienced at wedding photography, you can shoot weddings at high risk.  But be warned - this type of publicity is making couples more bold at suing their wedding photographers.

    You may think you're just going out and shooting somebody's wedding for a modest cost, but if somebody trips over your bag at a reception and gets injured, and you don't have an LLC or Corporation, and you don't have liability insurance - you could lose everything you have.  

    click here to read article

March 27, 2012

  • Great Letter

    Dear Gary,

    Morning, responding to your entry on Xanga about 'spraying and praying' and amateur photographers claiming themselves to be 'professional' photographers. Last July I was hired by a remove family member (Uncles ex wife) to shoot her registery office wedding. On the day I was nervous, I was more scared than anything of mucking the whole wedding up by producing less than acceptable photos, I charged her £150.00/$237.47 Canadian Dollars because I didn't want to be out of my depth and be in such a position where I was unable to repay her the money if she demanded a refund. 

    Every time I look back at the photos I took, I am ashamed, I'm distraught that I'd let myself down and let her down. Although upon handing he images over she said she was overwhelmed, I still felt somewhat bad for charging her for a in totally honesty, and please do excuse my language but a shit job!

    I've never once claimed to be a professional photographer, in fact at times when possible clients have approached me looking for a professional photographer, I always point them in the direction of one of my associates who are to me, professional photographers. 

    I respect you as a photographer and businessman and I your debates always interest me which one reason I'm writing this mail. You mentioned something yesterday or a few days ago saying that conventions or something similar should have staged wedding sets for which photographers could take photos of the set to use on template sites or something along those lines. I believe that would be a superb idea and follow that through with staged weddings with actors to teach up-coming photographers wedding photography techniques. 

    To show how ashamed of my work I am, I'll share a link and please, if you feel the need to use it as an example to show other photographers the mistakes amateur photographers make.


    Here is the link to his gallery.  Honestly, it was nowhere as terrible as he was making it sound, but he does have a point.