Creating my ‘brand’ and some Rock ‘n Roll for 2014.

2013 was a year of learning how to develop a freelance business. There are endless things to learn and do and I feel like I barely scratched the surface. Figuring out the business side, the in’s and out’s of insurance, taxes, accounting, building a website, creating estimates and billing has been daunting. Even more daunting is figuring out how to promote my name and work.. I’m incredibly fortunate that I have a lot of great friends and contacts who’ve generously shared time and hard-earned knowledge. I’m also lucky I have a body of work to start with.

I’ve always been goal oriented even if in an informal way. I’m not someone who makes New Year’s Resolutions. The problem with resolutions is that they’re always broken.  Goals are a good way to measure growth but not necessarily success or failure.  One goal I want to complete early this year is developing promotional material, both electronic and printed. It is so HARD!

I want to get the size, the paper and the printing just right.  But oh-so-much harder is selecting the images that will represent my personality and skill set as well as my future work aspirations. These photos will have to speak to art and creative directors. I want them to be something they keep and pin to a board, something that keeps my name in front of them.

I’m fortunate to know some of the very best creatives and graphic designers in the business and they’re right here in town.  This morning I met again with the wonderful Susan Dendy who designed my logo and business cards. She did a fantastic job on those and is designing my promo pieces to keep a consistent look and feel. We finalized most of the choices on printer, paper size and design. Now all I have to do is pick a handful of images to represent me. I had been anxious and a little stressed about making these choices until my wonderful wife reminded me that these won’t be the last ones I ever do and you can’t be all things to all people. Suddenly it became a bit easier.

Another nice surprise!

More than a year ago the wonderful people at Rock Paper Photo asked me to submit some of my classic concert photos for possible inclusion on their site.  They represent of the greatest concert photographers of the Rock and Roll era; people like Astrid Kirchherr, Deborah Feingold, Kevin Mazur, Baron Wolman and Henry Grossman.  Even being under consideration was enough to make me feel proud. After submitting the requested eight images they accepted those and asked for 40 more. I’m proud to say that I’m now represented by Rock Paper Photo and couldn’t be happier.

http://www.rockpaperphoto.com/art-meripol

From their site’s home page, here’s who they are…

“Rock Paper Photo is the definitive place to discover and collect iconic photography. With access that fans can only dream of, the photographers we represent have captured unforgettable moments and the legendary personalities who defined them.

We live to uncover rare and never-before-seen images, so you can collect them as beautiful Fine Art photographs. For those who never want the show to end, a Rock Photo Print is more than a unique and museum-quality piece of art – it lets you own the moment”.

They do extremely fine museum quality signed and framed prints. They also do all of the fine art printing for Rolling Stone Magazine. I hope you’ll check out my page on their site and the many greats there as well.

So, new promo pieces and new representation. Good start to the year.

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Willie Nelson at the first Farm Aid ConcertSept 22, 1985

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Wrapping up 2013 and looking forward.

In two weeks it will have been a year since I was laid off at Southern Living Magazine. Not being clairvoyant I couldn’t have imagined this past year. I lost my job and only a couple weeks later our beloved dog Henry died at 14. There were other major stress points in life at that time. And now, a year in, I couldn’t be happier. We’ll miss Henry forever. But I have a new career freelancing, some great clients and we have two new canine family members sharing my day and office space.

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As much as it might have made me anxious for the future it wasn’t all that upsetting to be laid off. In fact there was s sense of relief. I’d been on the road for almost 25 years traveling every week. After 3 million air miles, some 3000 nights in hotels and who knows how many Hertz-Avis road miles I was tired…of the grind….of being physically banged up…of the constant motion…of being gone from home. No complaints though. For some 160 plus days and nights a year I was witness to the best the South has to offer. I worked in an office full of bright creative inventive hard-working curious passionate professionals. We all leaned on each other for help in work and support in life. There could be no better world for a creative to be immersed. 

Looking back now in life’s rear view mirror I have come to recognize what was likely the single best part of my career at the magazine. I traveled week-in and week-out meeting and photographed people with a real passion in their life. They were involved in their community, their art, their craft or business in a way that was inspirational to others and elevated lives around them. It was humbling to try to visually honor what they were doing, to share their life and their story with millions of readers.

I was fairly convinced that after being off the road for a few months I’d get a ‘jones‘ to go, the road would call me. After all, it was all I knew for almost half my life. Hasn’t happened. In fact I’m fighting the urge to be more and more reclusive.  I’m willing but love being home and in my own bed every night. I need to go see family in other states but don’t even want to contemplate getting on a plane.

The most wonderful thing about being laid off, besides being home of course, is that I discovered how many people around me respected me enough to assign me work.  There are no words to express how much their faith and support has meant to me.  Those first few shoots gave me hope that I could survive as a freelancer. I met new people, saw new places and made new friends all here in Birmingham, a town I never really got to know. 

I won’t list all of their names or publications but you have left me smiling more than I have in years. Thank you all. 

I want to share a few photos from the year. They may not be the ‘best’ or most visual but in some way they were significant to me. Learning to shoot for new publications, to shoot something other than ‘Travel Photography’ made me push harder to learn new ways of looking and lighting.  I wish I could say every effort was a success. I can say every one taught me something, whether it was a software technique, lighting or just dealing with life with patience and a smile.

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