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Member Spotlight - Hamesh Shahani


[ March 23, 2009 ]   Today more and more photographers are creating unique online promotional techniques using the internet. From websites to blogs, marketing and promotion for freelancers is shifting everyday. Hamesh Shahani is a photographer based in Los Angeles that has been using sites like Altpick, email campaigns and two blog feeds for his promotions. We asked him to share some thoughts on the current state of photography and promotion.


Who are we?
We are everything. We are who we want to be, who we pretend to be, we are who we are and sometimes we can't help but be ourselves.

Who are you?
Part of a generation weaponized with information technology and communication... plus I'm a good friend and a decent pool player.

Do you use your camera as a weapon or an instrument?
I use my camera like a writer uses their pen.

What qualities do you instill in your work to get noticed by leading art buyers?
The energy of my commercial work is inspired from authentic personal moments... moments I feel we all experience. When creating promotional pieces I do think about how those moments can be conducive to an advertisers needs. Not everyone is going to connect with the work and even if they do, the right job might not be around. I think in some ways consistency in the work is important and in other ways I think diversity is important. Art buyers I have spoken with seem to connect to the quietness and simplicity of my work. Some connect with my use of color, others love my black and whites. One described the work as deceptively simple.... I liked that. But keep in mind, I'm also a very young photographer, if you ask me the same question next year my answer will be different.

Are you much more likely to be respected doing something that you believe in, or something you think people want to hear and see?
I don't know. Why not both? I make photographs because I don't want some moments to end, because of their potential to be looked at by others and sometimes to pay my bills. When it comes to paying the bills my client's needs are first and foremost. They know what I can do, they want me to do it and I do it for them with joy. In between jobs, I spend a lot of time experimenting in an effort to continue to define my visual sensibility and in an effort to offer more to my clients. I also work on projects that are meaningful to me, work which I feel is separate from my advertising and editorial work. You can see some of that work on my website under the "projects" link. I think its important to let people, especially art buyers and curators know I'm capable of expressing myself in different ways.

Photographers like cobrasnake and Bronques (lastnightsparty) have morphed the internet into a means of self promotion using very generic techniques, but still affecting a wide audience. What are ways a commercial or art photographer can promote themselves on the web yet still stay true to a very sophisticated image?
Cobrasnake and Bronques shoot quick, they act on opportunity. Making a single image for them takes seconds to produce... but they do more than make single images, their success is dependent on how much interesting work they can produce and distribute online to consumers not businesses.

Its beautiful to see them do what they do and I celebrate them more so because their process is sophisticated, contemporary and relevant as opposed to the production of a very sophisticated single image... which I also love. I feel technology allows us to think less about the single image and more about the many images all hyperlinked... its an interesting time when it comes to the future of images and commerce.

When it comes to my own promotion I am currently represented and my rep does send out promotions in the mail. For my self-promotion I personally use Alt Pick, Ad Base, I have a twitter account which updates my facebook account and my facebook account updates my network every time I upload a new blog entry, how cool is that? I get several thousand visits every month, its nice to have an audience. it makes me happy. in regards to a conversation on Cobrasnake and Bronques... I also want to mention Todd Selby, his work makes me happy too.



Recently Facebook changed its terms so that everything you've loaded up into your profile (personal pictures, etc.) belongs to Facebook, even after you've closed your account. There was a public up roar and Facebook subsequently terminated the change but with these types of technologies how can we protect our intellectual property and identity?
I don't think people have to protect their identity, it's their privacy they have to protect. For the most part social networks allow us to control what we want people to know about us... they let us mold our identity like a hipster's tight jeans and a doctors white coat. I know a lot of people that are paranoid about social networks, I understand their fear... its a new way of communicating. Some people are going to be hesitant about having social networking profiles, hey cool, no worries.. I'll still call you, maybe... hopefully you accept text messages! For myself and most of my peers it feels ok having so much public information out there. Now when it comes to a conversation about protecting intellectual property online I'm going to refer to Larry Lessig, he's by far my favorite thinker on the subject. You can google him!

People are influenced tremendously by social networks. The ability to express yourself instantly is considered a very marketable attribute in society today. Did you purposely create the photowall on your website to capture this attribute?
I didn't make it for marketing reasons, I made it for myself and I decided to share it with anyone interested. I love social networks, I love how one's profile acts like a personal record and documentation of one's life. Have you ever visited the profile of anyone that has passed? Their profile becomes a digital shrine. I find that interesting. I created the photowall as a way to archive images I shoot everyday with my little snapshot camera, its like my own personal archive open to the public through an RSS feed. I was influenced to build and maintain it from sites like flickr and stock websites plus web2.0. I think as a society we've become very good at finding information and we're only just beginning to understand how to archive and organize it for personal use, I think sites like facebook, flickr and delious are great for this. I've had a lot of nice feedback on the photowall from art directors and photo editors... they really seem to get it. Its my life in images: keyworded, searchable and shareable.



The PhotoWall


What's next?
I hope the same as yesterday.... I had a great day yesterday!

Thank you.
My pleasure, thank you.


- Contributed by Chris Jones



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