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In Ed Kashi‘s new book, THREE, images from his 30 years as a top documentary photographer are combined into triptychs that consciously abandon the idea of context or traditional narrative. Some of those triptychs will be part of a show opening tomorrow at FiftyCrows gallery in San Francisco (founded by liveBooks CEO Andy Patrick), so I thought this would be a good time to talk to Ed about the project. I love the book (that’s my copy getting flipped through) and find his words inspirational. Hope you do too.

“This book has freed me up to be more open-minded about my own photography and to see new connections within my work.”

As China-based photographer Ryan Pyle says, first exhibitions can be daunting affairs for any level of photographer. For his recent Toronto show of documentary work from Chinese Turkistan, Ryan walks us through the endless tasks he had to navigate — and the rewards that made them worth it. For more info, check out Brian Kosoff’s posts about his first exhibition after leaving commercial photography, and Ryan’s earlier post about making photos on an extreme Tibetan trek.

I recently had an exhibition of my work from Chinese Turkistan, or Xinjiang, China, in Toronto, Canada. It was my first solo exhibition, but similar shows will happen in Europe and China next year. Putting on a gallery show can be a very trying experience for any photographer, emerging or established. But as I learned, the rewards outweigh all the hard work that goes into it.

In the early days of my time in China, I realized that I had a strong connection to the province of Xinjiang, the mainly Muslim region in northwest China. The Chinese portion of the Silk Road, once known as Chinese Turkistan, is changing before our eyes. Ancient mud brick homes and labyrinth-like towns are being torn down in the name of “progress.” I had traveled in the region often and felt an immediate passion to tell the stories of its people, but I didn’t actually make images there until some years later, in 2005, when I visited the region on assignment.

I’d made the images for myself, but wanted to share them with the world. I like to contact the galleries I’m familiar with by email and set up face-to-face meetings to show prints. Some galleries are very open minded and want to meet emerging photographers. Most galleries don’t even reply. It’s a competitive, in some cases cut-throat, industry — and the economic crisis has made it that much more difficult to get started. More »

We asked a wide variety of former staff photographers the same question, and here’s what they told us. Please share your own stories — as you can see, you’re not alone. Follow the “more” link to see all photographers, and check out Monday’s “Group Therapy” for photographers’ back stories and websites. Click here for a list of all other “After Staff” posts.

  • What did you do to build awareness of your photography and your new availability?

Stuart Thurlkill
I talked with everyone I knew and then went and talked to everyone I didn’t know. I found out what each person’s greatest need was and tried to find a way to fill that need. I made it a point to go everywhere with advertising and marketing material. I worked with some great photographers here in Arizona who gave me a chance to cut my teeth while I built a portfolio. I also built my own flash website. I don’t recommend this unless you have a lot of time on your hands. I also put together a print portfolio and started to shop it around to as many people in my community as I could get an appointment with.

Christopher Record
I would say a strong website is the most important first step for people starting out. I was lucky in that I had worked as a photojournalist for many years, in which time I had assembled a diverse portfolio. I also started doing weddings on the side while working at The Charlotte Observer. I was able to build my wedding portfolio while working full-time at the paper. By the time my wife and I decided to go out on our own, I had already been photographing weddings for six years. The newspaper industry has been going through so many problems and the timing just seemed right to go out on our own. We’ve been lucky that our websites have been able to attract clients from across the country.

Michael Mulvey
I instantly jumped on getting my website together and I happened to use liveBooks. I also started a blog. This allows me to routinely update a photo area with what I am immediately doing at the moment. I joined several associations and jumped into the business end of photography concerning branding, copyright law, marketing, etc. I also started networking and using the various social media sites to get the word out, build new relationships, and keep the ones I always had. More »

You’ve packed up your boxes and hopefully made off with most of your images, too. One of the first things to decide is how to share them with the world — especially potential clients. A website is pretty much required, but do you need a physical book too? Should you focus on single images or stories? Diversity or a unique vision?

John Kaplan
, who wrote Photo Portfolio Success and has had impressive success with his own portfolio over the years, is here to answer your questions. Leave a question in the comments section, along with your website if you have one, and he’ll respond asap, also in the comments, so others can benefit from the good advice.

John Kaplan
John Kaplan is one of America’s most accomplished narrative photographers, having been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography, POY National Newspaper Photographer of the Year, the Overseas Press Club Award, two Robert F. Kennedy Awards, and the Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant. He is also the author of Photo Portfolio Success, which helps photographers edit to their strengths and prepare stunning portfolios that eliminate doubt in the minds of editors, buyers and contest judges.

A full professor at the University of Florida and a Fulbright Scholar, John teaches throughout the world and has twice been named a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes. His work has appeared in LIFE, The New York Times, American Photo and numerous book annuals.

John’s work is exhibited at museums and galleries worldwide including solo exhibitions in the United States, Peru, Bolivia and Korea as well as shows in the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Korea, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. His project on survivors of torture in West Africa was awarded the Overseas Press Club Award for Feature Photography and the Harry Chapin Media Award; the United Nations used the work to help facilitate contact with the victims.

Presently, John is directing and producing his first feature length film, the autobiographical Not As I Pictured: A Pulitzer Prize-winning Photographer’s Journey Through Lymphoma.

Click here for a list of all other “After Staff” posts.


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