Portfolio Content

To wrap up the last two posts I am going to re-iterate a previous post.

When it comes to what is inside your portfolio, put in the the work you love, not what you think people want to see. Again I will refer back to my previous post about shooting what you love.

And at the same time have others you respect edit your book. We all get too close to some of our images and they may not always be our best. We may get a bit attached to a memory or emotion surrounding a shot, or we may have put a ton of effort into an image and therefore insist that it stays in the portfolio. You need to have objective parties look at your work and if consensus indicates that a particular shot should go… it should.

But also have those same people look through some of your work that is not in your portfolio. Because quite often there are these little jewels that you never thought twice about but really touch others, and these shots need to go into your portfolio.

Ultimately you need to be passionate about what’s in your portfolio if you are going to go out and show it to others and expect them to get excited about it!

Cold Calling

So to continue on yesterday’s train of thought

Before I had my motivation adjustment, I had long had a mechanism in place for making the cold calls and scheduling appointments. This too had it’s own unique mind set.

Again when I first started out, the thought of making cold calls was paralyzing. I would literally sit and stare at the phone. As if staring at it would make a client call me out of the blue, so that I would not have to make the call. Every day it was the same. I struggled to pick up the phone and make the first call… or the second!

My shift in this area came in the form of two things; organization and a game.

I’ll start with the game..

I don’t remember where it came from, but it started out very easily and built up to amazing productivity.
I made cold calling a game. And here were my rules:

  • Cold Calls were to schedule appointments to show the portfolio.
  • You either have to talk to the person you are trying to meet or leave a voice mail.
  • Cold Calls happen Mon-Wed
  • Portfolio Showings Wed-Fri (exceptions of course for people who could ONLY meet on Mon or Tues)
  • Day One: Make 5 cold calls and you are done for the day. (Needless to say I finished work WELL before lunch that day!)
  • Day Two: Make 5 new cold calls plus call back anyone from Day One whom you did not speak to in person. (again done before lunch!)
  • Day Three: Make 5 new cold calls plus call anyone from Day One or Day Two whom you did not speak to in person.
  • And so on…
  • And so on…

It was at this point that I was feeling pretty pathetic and realized that I could easily step this up to adding 15 new cold calls each day plus all of the un-reached calls and still not do a full days work. And with this the competition started (with myself). It worked like a charm. And within a couple of weeks I was making between 75-150 phone calls a week and showing the portfolio between 6-9 times a week. Being this productive made me a much happier person as well! I did not have time to mope around thinking about not working!

The other part of this equation was organization. In order to do this effectively I needed a system to track who I had called and who I had seen and who I had sent promos to and what they said on the calls when I spoke to them. For this I used some software that kept everything organized, findable, and useable. At the time my computers were PC-based. And I used a program called Act! It is a contact database and scheduling software. At the end of each day I was able to schedule my calls for the following day. I was able to schedule portfolio showings, notate what an art director said on a phone call, schedule a future call if they requested that I call back at another time and be able to say when I called back, what day we originally spoke and that they requested I call back. I was able to notate assistant / secretary names so that when I called back I could address them by name (which definitely helps when you are trying to get PAST the secretary and TO the Art Director) When I got voice mail I could leave a message and immediately schedule my call back for the following day. When someone called me I could flag them as a high priority to follow up with. All the while I was building my own client (or potential client) database from which I could do promotional mailings etc.

Since so many of us are Mac based these days (or should be) I will also share a link for a similar program for Macs since Act! is on PC. It is called Now|Up-to-Date & Contact. All the same principles but on a Mac.

So with the mindset of trying to out-do myself and see just how many calls I could get done in a week and the tools to organize the process, I became a cold calling, portfolio showing machine.

Showing Your Portfolio

When I first started out, a budding young Los Angeles Photographer, I did not have a rep. I had to get out there and pound the pavement on my own and get my portfolio in front people. It was a daunting task. I have learned a lot of lessons over the years and have realized that I was approaching this task in some ways from the wrong perspective. But I was also doing a lot of things right (at least for me).

Over time I realized the biggest mistake I made was the motivation with which I went out to show my portfolio. I was going out to “Get Jobs”. You might say “Well, duh! Isn’t that the whole point?!” The answer is yes. But if that is your driving motivation, you won’t get very far. You see, I had a very strong attachment to “getting a job”, and who wouldn’t, being a “just starting out” creative type. The problem is that despite how hard you try, that underlying motivation ultimately shows through. And people sense it. They may not be able to verbalize or identify it, but it’s there. And it affects how you come across. I found that to successfully pull in work, I had to come from a different space.

About 5 years into my career, I had an “Ah-ha!” moment. Maybe one that is obvious to others or maybe one that is completely lost on them. But for whatever reason it made sense to me and changed my outlook on showing my portfolio. This may sound completely simplistic but it made all the difference for me.

I stopped making the appointments to show my portfolio about “getting work”, and started making them about meeting new people. Not meeting them as potential new clients, but just meeting new people. And instantly the pressure was gone. And I am sure that the new people I was meeting, sitting across from me, sensed an entirely different person than the one sitting across from all of the other folks I had seen previously. A much more relaxed, easy going, stress-free person. And in the course of meeting these new people I would of course have to show them my portfolio. After all that was the premise under which I was making all of these appointments. But for me, that was a side note. And if the portfolio garnered any interest or if I got a call a few weeks later to estimate out a project, that was just gravy!

But none of this was on any superficial level. This was not something I needed to “talk myself into” each morning. It was truly where I operated from. Showing my portfolio and “selling” myself was no longer this task or part of my job that I hated. In a sense, because I wasn’t doing it anymore! Instead I had this great part of my job, where the only thing I had to do was drive around and meet new people. Not a bad job!

I’ll talk more about the mechanics of it tomorrow and some thoughts on portfolio content the day after!


There is a new web site out there for creatives to be able to post and share their work. It’s called jamuse. Although not open quite yet, it looks to be a great place to host a portfolio, share large files with clients, allow others to mark-up and comment on imagery and all done in a secure fashion so as not to allow hi-res images into the hands of others (unless you want them to have access)

The site has a clean easy to understand interface and has a “cover-flow” type browser (much like Mac OS X) to view images as well as a proof sheet style interface. You can upload a bio, your contact info and a full portfolio.

Museworx is their interface to send and share files. You can set up multiple projects and share them with one or multiple clients. There is the option for real time chatting and clients can comment, approve, and even draw and mark-up an image. It is all quite easy to use and the mark-up option worked surprisingly well!

When I was asked to join as an advisory member, I was a bit skeptical of the services and quite frankly doubted that I would ever use a site such as this, as I am fairly savvy with FTP’s and web download pages.
But the folks at jamuse (who are from the creative community themselves) have really built a relevant site that is worth looking into!

The fact that you can decide whether to grant access to full hi-res files or secure protected files is a big bonus!

There is really a lot more to the site, blogs, discussion groups, learning centers, articles, etc.
But I must say that the big draw for me is the ability to easily share and collaborate on files with clients.

We are looking forward to their official launch!

jamuse Site Advisory Board Member Portfolio

Welcome to B&H Photo and Google Ads

Over the weekend we welcomed some advertising to the blog.

B&H Photo has been a major supplier and low price leader for professional camera, lighting, and studio equipment for ages. They are one of three major suppliers for Dana Hursey Photography. We have over the years spent some major bucks with them. So despite the fact that we are here in Los Angeles and they are all they way out there in New York, it is without hesitation that we welcome them as a featured advertiser on the DHP BLOG. (Just because we are Los Angeles Photographers doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate our business!)

And Google Ads also joined the DHP BLOG. We have and do advertise through Google Ads ourselves so it seemed a natural fit.

So make sure to click on the links over on that right sidebar and check out those sponsors! Especially B&H for your equipment needs!!

Michael Hurd

Artist Michael Hurd as photographed by Los Angeles Photographer Dana HurseyBack in August we were in Alamogordo shooting a campaign for the 2008 White Sands International Film Festival. On the first day of shooting we were invited to do a portrait of Michael Hurd, a noted artist form a long line of noted artists.

As he walked us around the family property looking for a setting to shoot our portrait he (obviously saving the best for last) finally led us into his studio, which was his fathers studio before.

We of course had tons of equipment with us; needing to be prepared for anything. Well, we walked into this studio and the light was gorgeous. I have been in other artists studios before and the good ones always have amazing light. So there we were with very few decisions to be made. Michael clearly felt at home in this space, it was after all his environment, so we had to photograph him there. And despite our ability to light the hell out of almost any scene, the soft filtered directional light coming through the large windows was really the only choice. Sometimes the the key is to know when NOT to mess with a good thing! The only other variable was whether his rambunctious young Doberman Nemo, would cooperate long enough to be included in the shot. It took some coaxing but that too, came together. It turned out to be a very fun shoot with Nemo bouncing off the walls and wanting to lick the camera and Michael just shaking his head and the boundless energy of his young compatriot.

Well this week we finally got a chance to sift through some of the images and make selects of our own. With very little post production we settled on this one.

So we would like to thank Michael & Nemo for their hospitality and generosity and hope that our paths cross again soon!

Great Model!

So to augment yesterdays post we’ll also tell you about the opposite… a really great model. And we’ll gladly share his name right off the bat; Todd Nasca. He came on set got into character and stayed in character until he walked off set. He was amazing and gave us way more than we ever expected! We were laughing our asses off with how great he was. We needed someone to look very dejected and overwhelmed and he was spectacular.

His agent (Coast to Coast Talent) on the other hand was nowhere near professional. AFTER we had already booked Todd they tried to pull him from the job because we would not pay them more $! We won’t ever be dealing with them in the future!

But if we ever have the need for someone like Todd again, we will book him in a second (directly of course!)

Unprofessional Models

On a recent shoot we had a rare experience, twice. We have dealt with literally thousands of models over the years and 99.999% of models are GREAT too work with! They are fun, easy going and usually up for the team effort of getting the client what they need. Well on the shoot in question we not only had one, but two models that were mind bogglingly unprofessional.

They were both male models and truly no one you would ever know. Not a name, not a personality or celebrity – quite frankly we have work with plenty of celebrities and they would never behave as these two did!

The first walked onto the set as if he was the most famous person on the planet. He actually worked for us two days. The first day he was completely put out by the fact that he needed to try on different wardrobe to see what looked best, when we asked him to try on something different he said “I’ll just wait till you guys decide which one you want” clearly not understanding the concept that we needed to see what they looked like ON HIM. When we insisted, he proceeded to carelessly throw the freshly pressed wardrobe around with no care for the time the stylist had spent prepping the clothing for the shot. Then during a brief break he walked over to a directors chair where the client was seated and stated “I was sitting there”. The client, a bit stunned proceeded to get up and walk away. The stylist leaned over and told the model, that he had just kicked the client out of the chair. The model shrugged his shoulders as if to say “whatever”.

The second day, our location was at a studio , but the parking for the studio was actually a block down the street. When the producer told the model where the parking was his come back was “Will there be a car there to pick me up?” Stunned again by the audacity of the comment the producer replied, “No – Are you injured?, If you had a twisted ankle or something we would arrange for something but….No!” Well that day just before this models call time the producer gets a call from the model who is down at the parking lot and needs a ride because he has “twisted his ankle”! This days was absolutely crazy and packed with back-to-back shots and we really did not have time to get into it with a temperamental model so someone went down and picked him up. He limped through the studio, went through Hair, make-up, and wardrobe, stood in front of the camera for the shot and once done, changed limped through the studio and left. Once the door shut the set stylist ran over and looked out the door and watched the model walk back down the street towards the parking lot with no limp or any indication of injury or pain. We all actually had a great laugh at his expense.

The other model we had booked a week and a half earlier. The night before the shoot he calls the office to inform us that he doesn’t think he’ll be able to make the shoot. Another project he was working on needed him to come back for some pick-up shots and if we could change the day of the shoot he could make it but otherwise it was not going to work. Never mind that we have three other models booked along with him for the shot, and that we have built a set on stage and we have 6 clients and a crew of 15 on set, we’ll just tell everyone that this one model had something else he felt was more important to do and we’ll just scrap everything for his sake….. Needless to say I had a few choice words for him. Ultimately I informed him that this is not done by professionals and that he has a problem and he needs to fix it and that whatever it takes he needs to be on set. He asked if we could push it back even an hour, which we said we could accommodate. And so we called the other talent and pushed everything back a hour. But meantime we spent an entire evening scrambling to figure out a solution in case he did not show. Ultimately with all of our scrambling and changing everyone else’s schedule…. he shows up at his Original Call Time. (We did not pay him for the first hour!)

This was such an aberration that we were all left shaking our heads. Needless to say we will never use either of these models again! And we’ll be happy to share their names should anyone want to be sure to steer clear of them. Just give us a call or drop an e mail and we’ll tell ya who to look out for!

A Book Plug

We went to a book release party last night.

Back in the Spring we were asked if our house could be included in a book celebrating homes of all types in the San Gabriel Valley. We have a 1948 Mid-Century Modern Home in Altadena designed by noted architect Gregory Ain. The book, entitled “At Home Pasadena” is published by Prospect Park Books. The imagery was shot by two Art Center colleagues Jennifer Cheung & Steven Nilsson. And the Foreword written by David Brown who was the President of Art Center and is now the director of Descanso Gardens. You can see a few spreads of the book at their web site: http://www.athomepasadena.com/

Our house is featured on six or seven pages. One image of my favorite piece of art that resides on our hallway is on the web site if you go to “View Inside” and click on the third thumbnail. It is an illustration of Andy Warhol by a good friend of ours, Kamran Moojedi (also from Art Center – we’re everywhere!) We have three other pieces by Kamran that grace the walls of our home and would have more but we have run out of walls!

Go To France!

Last month we had a great evening with some dear friends who, a year ago, sold it all and moved to France. They were in town for a month visiting Family and Friends and we are lucky to be counted as the latter. Lisa, Tanya, and Cole have started a new life in France and own a gite (kind of a French version of a B&B).

Lisa assisted me for all too brief of a time. She was unequivocally the best assistant I have ever had. But alas she quickly moved onward and upward and now does high-end digital retouching and compositing (and now does it from France!). She worked on a couple of images for our recent UHC shoot.

At any rate the point of my post today is to send you to their web site as not only do they live in an amazingly beautiful region, they are amazingly beautiful people. So should you ever find yourself going to France, have I got a place for you to stay!!! La Maillerie Check out their web site! And make a reservation while you are there. We hope to be heading over in early 2008!

Merci et au revoir!

Another Casting Resource

A while ago we shared one of our resources for casting. There is actually a second one that we use equally as often. LA Casting Networks (http://www.lacasting.com). This too is free to casting directors, photographers etc. It has a different user interface (UI) but accomplishes basically the same thing. Both LA Casting and Breakdown Services have their strengths and weakness, but overall they are great resources. I must say that I do quite often get duplicate submissions of the same talent when using both services. But that’s okay, I would rather have duplicate than potentially miss a perfect match for a role. We have added LA Casting to our Photo Resources as well! —>

Epson Print Drivers & Leopard

So upgrades on all of the computers have gone, for the most part smoothly. But as with any new operating system, software will always be playing “catch-up”. And so much of the time you never know what will and won’t work until it does or doesn’t! Today we found out that Epson Print drivers are only minimally functional on OS X Leopard. On their web site they indicate that they should have fully functional drivers available for many of the printers in December. Although we are able to print, all of the customizing functionality in the Print Dialog boxes are not available. Ooops. So any high end printing that we might have done over the next few weeks has been put on hold.

OS X Leopard

We have been cautiously installing Mac OS X Leopard on all of our systems. We have heard a few horror stories about peoples systems being trashed by the installation, but as of yet we have had nothing but success.

We have done 3 of our 5 systems. Two of them have had 100% success and we love the OS. On our “shooting” laptop the installation showed that the new OS is not fully compatible with some of the software out there and that updates are necessary for some applications.

With Phase One Capture One Pro, it proved incompatible. For us Capture One has been on it’s way out for a while. This may have sealed the deal. On a shoot this week we relied on the Canon EOS Capture software (which does function with the new OS) and Lightroom to accomplish the shoot. Capture One is coming out with a new version but there is no tethered capabilities at this point so for us… why bother?

We are awaiting the new software called Phocus from Hasselblad which will be our capture software for medium format and we will probably rely on EOS Capture and Lightroom for small format shoots.

At any rate we are probably going to upgrade the last two systems this weekend and hope that we continue to have the same good luck as we have been having so far.

We know that some pieces of software (like our video board for our editing system) will not be fully functional until software upgrades trickle in over the next few weeks, but our primary software packages work, so we are going ahead with the transition and we’ll let you know if we hit any major hiccups!

November 2007

Kay Warren Book Cover Image

October 7th marked the opening of a one-man exhibition of Photographic work by Dana Hursey. Hanging at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music, the 12 pieces were commissioned for the 2007 Pasadena Art & Ideas Festival as part of the Conservatory’s contribution to the city-wide celebration. This year’s festival was themed “Skin”.

The Conservatory wanted to visually explore the interaction between musician and instrument and called upon Los Angeles Photographer Dana Hursey to interpret their concept. An Artist’s Reception was held on the evening of October 7th, 2007 and the series will hang at the Conservatory permanently, a gift from the artist. Limited edition prints will be available through the conservatory with 50% of all proceeds going directly to the Conservatory. To see a web gallery of the series, go to www.hursey.com/pcm

Staying Focused

We have been doing film and video projects off and on over the past 10 or 12 years. Our second company “Portico Productions” specializing in this work has had it’s ebbs and flows. But the past few years despite our love for occasionally working on a good film / video project, our attentions have been pull almost exclusively to the still work (my first true love). We haven’t really ever pushed or “sold” our film work, it has just kind of fallen in our lap. With technology the way it is these days, keeping up with new hardware / software requirements is a monumental task in any field. Till now we have been dealing with it on two fronts, Film & Photography! The few die-hard clients that we’ve had the past couple of years have really only served to pay for the constant upgrades that are necessary to stay current in the field. Consequently, last week we decided to officially phase out our Film/Video services. With the past few projects this division has started to show up as more of a distraction. So it is with heavy hearts and a little tear that we bid adieu (at least for now) to working on Film and Video. We will certainly be keeping our edit bay (you never know when you’ll need to throw a quick promo together) and if some irresistible project shows up we’ve always been know to change our minds on occasion. But for now we have moved “Film & Video” out of our “Portfolio” section on our web site and have moved it over to the “More” section (just to show our capabilities should we need to). Thanks to our loyal clients and we’ll be missing you!

Web Site Additions

We have made a few changes to the web site this week. The main one is the addition of “Conceptual 2” to the Portfolio Pages. This new section mostly contains imagery from our latest round of photography for Deutsch & UnitedHealthcare. We shot over 45 different set-ups in this latest round so there was plenty to share. Check it out by clinking on the “dhp – home page” link to the right and then click on “Portfolio”. We also cleaned up a bit of the programming. The Portfolio pages take a touch longer to fully load but once they do, clicking through the images is MUCH faster!

Skin Exhibition

In and amongst the chaos of the last month or so we actually had the opening of our Exhibition of “Skin” at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music for the 2007 Pasadena Art & Ideas Festival. It was a wonderful evening where we were able to share the collaborative work that we did with the Conservatory and it’s instructors and students. The images were quite well received and the evening was a pleasant break from the craziness of the production we were in the midst of. A few of the images were sold and limited edition prints are available through the Conservatory with half of the proceeds going directly to the Conservatory. The 16″x24″prints were hung in floating clear frames in the freshly renovated main hall. And we all enjoyed a little champagne and hors douvres. If you would like to check out the 12 images that were hung for the show take a look at the gallery on our web site.