Author Archives: Doug Menuez


©2009 Doug Menuez.

©2009 Doug Menuez.

New Yorker’s always find the upside in any situation. Yeah, tough, but kinda optimistic too. Wishing you lots of NY attitude this holiday season.

December 2009

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Regular readers of this blog may have noticed a lack of words being generated in this space over the last month. Or not! I’ve been overwhelmed with the various projects we are pursuing. Regardless, it has been a pleasure to share my stories, thoughts and experiences with younger photographers making there way, and with the veteran shooters with whom I can commiserate. I have learned a lot from both groups. And that is one clear benefit of all this social media: a community has truly been created and is communicating big time. So even if my missives are more random in the coming year, I will continue to try to engage. Here are some random notes from my recent travels and projects:

PARADE MAG: FORMER PRES GEORGE BUSH ETC: I’m starting to get back into editorial which is tremendous fun, and recently shot a gig for Fast Company and then President Bush and Barbara Bush for Parade. We flew to Kennebunkport and were very welcomed. Although I’ve been a lifelong democrat I quickly went back into apolitical journalism mode for a few hours. I am a history junkie, so meeting a former President is a big deal (I had met and photographed him during a campaign in ’88) and instructive once again of some of the better features of our democracy. There is a fair amount of plasticity that remains at play in our system. Advertising: then spent two weeks in LA shooting massive campaign which started with 52 shots for ads, then expanded into a library shoot.

STOCKLAND MARTEL PHOTOGRAPHERS DINNER: Bill Stockland and Maureen Martel invited me to join the family of shooters they have built, whoever was in LA or lives out West, at an annual dinner they host. It was a rare chance to meet some photographers I’ve idolized and admired, young and older, such as Walter Iooss, Kwaku Alston, and Hans Gissenger. I also got to chat with Vincent Laforet and his lovely wife Amber and see beautiful images of their kids. But the whole thing was so cool and such a good idea. Photographers are typically pretty isolated and competitive and bringing everyone together, especially the young and veterans into the same room, was so smart because it inspired everyone there. We all felt part of a larger unit which gives you confidence and courage to keep fighting the fight.  As one of the newer members, it made me quite proud and happy to be part of it. Then I stole away early with the talented writer and editor Kristina Feliciano– she writes the SM blog among other projects– and begged her to help me hone my TED speech. We worked till 3 in the morning and then I went off to prep my ongoing shoot.

TED X SF: I arrived from LA for the most terrifying talk I’ve had to give in years with little sleep and an outsized case of stage fright. I’m always nervous when I talk but this was the first time I was presenting my images from my 15 year documentary in Silicon Valley project to actual people from Silicon Valley. I wasn’t sure if anyone I’d shot would be in the room either. It was a test also because I was given only 18 minutes. Those who know me understand this was draconian. In Portuguese I believe the term my wife applies to me is “bocao” or big mouth. Had to keep it…short. And the other speakers were a seriously brilliant collection of deep thinkers and activists so I had to raise my game. (Videos will be up in a few weeks on the site or at  youtube searh for ted talks and tedxsf). I’d like to thank Suzie Katz and PhotoWings for bringing me to TEDx SF organizing committee attention. I also must thank the organizers I met: Jason Johnson, Christine Christine Mason McCaull, Taylor Milsal, and all the others who busted out the hours to make it happen and made us all so welcome.

©2009 Doug Menuez

©2009 Doug Menuez

As some of you may know, I shot this work behind the scenes in the 80’s and 90’s with unusual access of the leading innovators of the day.  Stanford has been preserving the work but now with the help of the amazing picture editor Karen Mullarkey we are beginning again to edit the 250,000 images. What I have been able to show from that era is taken from less than 3000 images Karen edited some years back. But the work touches on the every aspect of the digital revolution and the rise of the internet and now we believe we can create a film (produced by Brian Storm of MediaStorm with our archive President Dave Mendez) and book (with text by Paul Saffo, design by Michael Rylander) that can ultimately provide educational value. Not only to deliver lessons learned for the next wave of innovation, but to help inspire the next generation of engineers.  We have formed a new non profit (Backlight Media Group) to produce the project.

My talk basically described how I got from shooting AIDS, and famine in Africa to Silicon Valley to cover the story of the human side of tech development. It was an explosion of creative innovation that began in the 80’s, building on the previous decades breakthroughs which had set the stage, and gained speed until an even greater explosion of innovation led to the rise of the internet and the dot com era. This of course came crashing down with the collapse of the dot com bubble. I ran out of time and was unable to deliver my observation (not original) that when this crash occurred in 2000, this was also the end of the last era in which America led the world in innovation. Tom Friedman and many others have been arguing for years that China and India, and now Brazil are eating our lunch and that we have to recapture that energy and spirit. The brilliant entrepreneur Judy Estrin argues that the investment model that was created and solidified during the dot com era, in which investors must get their money out in 18 months, actually put a brake on innovation. We may think we are still super innovative and creative but innovations such as Facebook and Twitter are just software apps that have leveraged what came before. They are not massively scalable technologies that can employ millions of people in factories across the globe such as was the case during the information/computer revolution. For that level of breakthrough, we must look to the coming wave, perhaps from green tech. But industry leaders such as Rob Walker, co-founder of LSI Logic argue that even if you find that magic, scalable green tech, we don’t have enough engineers to populate the industries that will rise from it. At least not here in America. Less than half the engineers here in America are American he points out. And under Bush we cut the visas available to bring in foreign engineers. Rob says the Americans are not innovative enough because they are not hungry enough and he would not hire them. Where does that leave us? With a soft, fat delusional culture in my opinion. So it’s worth a try to get a few kids excited about math and science and to push our educational system to serve these kids.

But it’s also about wonder, and imagination and the sheer joy I saw in the engineers I met in the early 80’s who truly believed they could make the world a better place with their technology. During the dot com era that shifted to a basic human feeding frenzy based on doing IPO’s for products that were not really ready for markets that did not really exist– enter Wall St. and the sub prime mess, all built on tech and innovation run amok. But the marketing was great!  True creative innovation does not happen in 18 months. Investors have to start going long term and we have to better educate our young to make it to the next big wave of innovation.

©2009 Doug Menuez

©2009 Doug Menuez


From there my wife Tereza and I were invited to go with Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt to the superb TECH Museum in San Jose where we got to see one of the best slide shows I’ve ever seen, produced by the TECH’s  brilliant David Whitman and with editing again by the incomparable Karen Mullarkey, and which had images from Salgado, Jose Azel, many Magnum images and a host of other great photojournalists. In that context, where they were giving cash awards to innovators in the third world who are struggling to bring energy, health care and education to the most impoverished people in the world, it was a powerful display of the continuing importance of photojournalism. You could hear the Silicon Valley movers and shakers commenting on the images. One gains hope for a “dying” form of communication where one can. But photoj’s not dead, not by a long shot.

After the slide show Al Gore gave a speech and got an award which although failing to move the few Republicans around us, impressed me as one of his best. The smartest line: “Oh, the earth will be just fine.” In other words, Mother Earth doesn’t give a shit what we do, she will survive. We humans have a little problem.

I ran into Steve Wozniak  and his wife Janet. I shot Woz back in the 90’s showing one of the first Gameboys to John Sculley, then CEO of Apple, both of whom will be in our book and film. I told Woz that I had reminded my audience at TEDx that before “Dancing with the Stars” he had co-founded a little company called…Apple. He remains a lovely, generous person who happens to be one of the true fearless geniuses of our time.  John and Marva Warnock were also there, and John and I discussed the latest big format digital cameras with 64 mp size files that look like 8×10 or bigger film and how all this has changed the game again. I was documenting John when he was starting Adobe in the 80s and he will also be featured in our upcoming project. You had the Guttenberg Press and for 500 years not much happened. Then John Warnock and Chuck Geshke created PostScript, and later Photoshop (with the Knoll bros.) PDF Acrobat, InDesign, Premiere, etc etc etc…

©2009 Doug Menuez

©2009 Doug Menuez

FEARLESS GENIUS/Stanford: I followed up the TECH with meetings about our non-profit and how to get the funding we need to produce the film and book and educational materials. I’m very excited to be working with Stanford Library on this as they have offered their support and access to their priceless collections. I had various meetings in the valley also and got a lot of strong interest and commitments to help. Documentary films typically don’t make money, so our hope is that by going non-profit we can attract those who are passionate about education and technology and want to help preserve their own legacy.

News Flash: We got our first small donation from some insanely creative thinkers doing great work at the Palo Alto Institute. Just meeting Joon Yun, wth my old friend Devi Kamdar, and hearing their plans (with Susan Oshinsky) and ideas gave me great hope for the future. And I came away convinced that our Fearless Genius project is going to attract wide support. The timing just feels right.

Photographers with book or film projects have to really act as entrepreneurs. There are so many grants out there and people with money who want to support the arts. If you can create a solid plan you can get funded. I talk about this in my workshops and I’ve done it several times in the past. But every time I do this I learn something new. And honestly, I’m not that great at it because I’m a photographer, not a businessman. Although many may confuse me with being a business guy because I write about it and share my experiences. I don’t pretend the money arrives magically.  But that is because I think too many shooters hide behind their fear of taking control of their own lives and destinies. The price for doing that is learning the basic ways in which the world works and how money flows around. It’s a high price to pay for any artist, I grant you that.  But the reward is doing your best work. Read Andy Warhol’s bio people.

STUDIO/ARCHIVE: Tomorrow I will get to see all the hard work our incredible team have been putting out in our new studio and archive. Moving our studio from Kingston to West Chelsea in Manhattan has been a real test of willpower, as anyone who has moved their studio can attest. But phones and printers and lights and shelves and desks and all that good stuff seem in place. I’m starting to get this wierd feeling that just maybe I will actually be able to put down roots again, for the first time since Sausalito, and I sure hope so. I don’t want to move again. Ever. Well, for a long while anyway. But thanks Dave, and Chris, Josh, Whitney, Matt, Karen, Lindsay and Peter and Dan for all the kick ass effort. I’m being coy here in that we are cooking up something new and fun there in the new studio but I don’t want to put the cart before the horse is fed and ready to march. More on this spectacular team and Menuez Archive Projects in this space soon.


©2009 Peter Turnley

©2009 Peter Turnley

PETER TURNLEY: Peter has always been a great inspiration and his generous spirit is a lesson in how to live well and do good work.  He is now offering some of his limited edition master prints for sale and the prices are unbeatable. I highly recommend spending your savings on these masterful images. Here is an excerpt from his note:

“As the holiday season approaches some people have asked me about the possibility that I might offer a significant discount price on one or more of my signed collector photographic prints. Below I have included information pertaining to an exceptional holiday season discount to the usual gallery price of my signed 16 x 20 silver gelatin archival collector prints of my photographs.

My black and white photographs are printed by the great Parisian master printer, Voya Mitrovic, who has printed for 40 yrs for photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Josef Koudelka, Sebastio Salgado, and Rene Burri. His traditional silver gelatin prints are of stunning quality and make wonderful wall pieces.  Every black and white print will have my signature on the front as well as both Voya’s and mine on the back.”

welcome to

CLIVE BOOTH: An old friend of mine who used to be a client and built a stellar career as a graphic designer for global brands such as Toyota, is now building a second career as a fashion photographer. Clive has a documentary style that is humanist in tradition, but modern in application with his use of shallow depth of field and attention to foreground detail. His work is just beautiful and shocking for how timeless he renders the world of fashion,  a world of pop culture ideas and products not known for lasting much beyond a season. Clive is also now directing short films for amazing clients across Europe and in NY and you will soon know his name and work. He is a true star with deep talent that we can all be inspired by. Check out his site:

©2009 Clive Booth

©2009 Clive Booth

Now for brief Thanksgiving family break then off to Brazil for two weeks of shooting…tudo joya…ate breve!

November 2009


NOV 17: TEDx SAN FRANCISCO Talk: “FEARLESS GENIUS: When Silicon Valley Innovation Transformed the World, 1985-2000”

I’m very pleased to confirm I will be at TED X San Francisco showing images from and discussing the work in progress from my 15 year documentary behind the scenes with the leading innovators and companies who brought us the digital revolution and the internet. Please join me at this amazing event. Tickets are available at their web site and it’s not too late!


Welcome to TEDxSF serving the TED community of the San Francisco Bay Area.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx, a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxSF, where x=independently organized TED event. At our TEDxSF events, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

To learn more about TEDx, please visit
October 2009



Advisory: Cotton Coulson may or may not be using this product. Photo©2009 Doug Menuez

Advisory: Cotton Coulson may or may not be using this product. Photo©2009 Doug Menuez

As so many of us are aware, there are many studies showing the relationship between madness and creativity– a fine, sometimes manic, line between an artist’s free flight or funk. And to me it seems that so much of what Facebook, Twitter, and social networking is about is a not so subtle mood report; those everyday activites and comments about sharing cool suff and whatever catches our eye, really reflect how our day is going and how we’re doing.

So as a public service to semi-crazed artists, creatives everywhere, and anyone who could benefit from an emotional forecast on the day ahead I thought it would be useful to publish a daily weather report for the soul.

Please look for my collective unconscious DAILY MOOD REPORT on Twitter and Facebook and get your mood properly sorted out before the day’s events rush in.

Of course we’ve had top research scientists, Jungian analysts and Joseph Campbell studies PHD candidates carefully gathering the data points from creative sources worldwide, and then advising on our report. We are 100 percent confident the DAILY MOOD REPORT will in fact be fairly accurate, provided you’ve already dropped a few hits of four way sunshine!

October 2009

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We all want to spend the majority of our time shooting images as opposed to managing the business and following the basic practices that keep us shooting. In the RESOLVE blog and this space, I’ve tried to share some of my experience with an underlying message about striving for longevity and how to merge art and commerce. Which is why I highly recommend John Harrington’s updated new book “Best Business Practices for Photographers.” It’s well written and compelling and his core theme is also that we must think long-term to make good business decisions. We must face up to the responsibility of our own careers and lives and John sets out a beautiful foundation to build on. All photographers benefit when we improve our business practices. Please take a look:

Best Business Practices for Photographers by John Harrington – Rave Reviews

October 2009

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“In a very real sense, I am starting my career from this moment. In many ways it is like starting over but of course with the benefit of hindsight and experience.”


Readers of this blog can tell I’ve been missing in action from my usual 4 am post, pounding away at my keyboard.  And why? Well for the past four months we have been negotiating a deal to fund the preservation, development and marketing of my 1 million image archive. The good news is that we have successfully closed that deal. This means that the historic images of Silicon Valley now housed as part of the Douglas Menuez Collection at Stanford University Library can be scanned, researched and made available for scholars, and we can now finally edit, scan, keyword and market the many thousands of model-released images I have that are perfect for high end advertising. To that end my wife Tereza and I are starting a new company called Menuez Archive Projects, or MAP — more on that soon– and moving my studio from Kingston to a beautiful new space in a former gallery in West Chelsea. I’ve been joined by David Mendez, an accomplished Silicon Valley entrepreneur and film producer who is the new President of MAP, our studio manager Whitney Kidder, a budding photojournalist and well trained by my agents at Stockland Martel. We are hiring some other key staff soon to arrive. We are now in the midst of moving hell and I expect that to continue for the next few weeks. Here’s the new space just before the boxes arrived:

H09_027_301I’m very excited and energized at this new opportunity to build the next phase of my career. In this space and in my workshops I’ve been trying to share my journey to merge art and commerce and my thoughts about how to refine your personal vision to the purest form and then figure out how to make a living from that. I’ve often said it’s all about creating longevity and to build longevity for your career all your decisions have to align with your values and goals.

In a very real sense, I am starting my career from this moment. In many ways it is like starting over but of course with the benefit of hindsight and experience. Still, it’s really hard to find and follow your true path and I’m reminded of that daily and I’ll continue to share what I learn as I move forward. I do believe this new iteration will be the ideal way to synthesize all that I’ve done in the past, which will pave the way for what I do next. Of course all this talk makes me itch to get shooting ’cause it’s all about the pictures, right? More to come…

October 2009

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©2009 Chase Jarvis Blog

©2009 Chase Jarvis Blog

I am floored, speechless, amazed and inspired by something I can’t even get my brain quite around yet, although to the gazillions already downloading Chase Jarvis’ “The Best Camera” Apple iPhone application and book of his iPhone images, as well as those many who are uploading and sharing their iPhone pix on Chase’s new community site it probably seems bloody obvious.  See what I’m talking about here: – The Best Photos

So what is the new business model for photographers? We’ve been riding a razor rollercoaster through this down economy combined with the rise of “free” as a suposed way to engage with the digital revolution. Give your work away for free has been the clarion call, especially among the undereducated mobs of young people struggling to break into a career in photography. I’ve been asking here on my blog as well as at my talks around the country, and brainstorming at my workshops, to find solutions to the onslaught of the free thinking as to what could be a viable model for making a living as a photographer. What’s wrong with copyright law? Why do we suddenly need to give away all we worked for because of disruptive new technology that has created cheaper distribution methods?

Well, Chase has just shown the way forward. Raised the bar a skyscraper’s height, but still, he has shown how to take the new media of social networking  and create something financially rewarding AND actually meaningful because people responded, en masse, to participate. And anytime you can create a community around something you have shown that you are doing something worth doing.

We all need to pay attention to this development. I mark it as the most significant synthesis of new media thinking and action within the photo community since… Photoshop?? Well, you can decide if I’m smoking something or not for yourself, but please check out what Chase is doing, it’s truly groundbreaking.

October 2009


Photograph ©2009 Nanni Fontana from "Honduran Death Trip"

Photograph ©2009 Nanni Fontana from "Honduran Death Trip"

Andy Levin’s always amazing blog features a tribute to the slain photojournalist Christian Poveda who was gunned down at 52 in El Salvador while covering the gangs. Ironically he was just having a resurgence of success with his work on the deadly Maras gang and documentary “La Vida Loca.” Reportedly the gang was demanding money as they learned of the increasing success of his work. Many issues to think about and discuss here. Nanni Fontana’s outstanding images from her essay on gangs in Honduras illustrate the tribute to Poveda with an essay by Carlos Lopez-Barillas. See it and all the other stunning work on 100 Eyes here:

100Eyes: Photography Magazine and Photo Workshops for Emerging and Professional Photographers

September 2009

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From “Blur: A Memoir,” an ongoing and random series of stories, dreams, and memories from my life as a photographer. This is #4 in a continuing series from “Tesão,” about my wife Tereza and our life together.

©2009 Doug Menuez, from "Tesåo"

©2009 Doug Menuez, from "Tesåo"

I should not have been surprised to see her husband rushing out the door of our house as we pulled up with the groceries.

He’d been calling us for months from New York at all hours, threatening and harassing Tereza until she refused to answer the phone. Six months back he’d convinced her to marry him, then kicked her out after a month to get back with his previous girlfriend. Tereza was devastated and not eating. She was down to 85 pounds when I asked her to move to San Francisco and start over with me.

Now he wanted her back and had secretly planned this trip for weeks. Before I could even park, he was pulling Tereza from our car and pushing her into his. He hauled ass down the hill, going the wrong way, toward the bottom of the hill and a dead end. I knew I had a few minutes before he would discover his mistake and come back past me. I called my friend M. who skidded into my driveway less than two minutes later in his new Porsche. I hopped in bringing M’s 38 caliber revolver which he had forgotten at our house weeks ago. Frankly, I was scared of Tereza’s husband and made a clear, conscious decision that whatever it took, she was going to be safe.

His car zoomed past us, up onto the narrow cliff road with a 1000-foot drop on the passing side. M. was a war photographer, loved the action and gunned it. We easily caught up, passed by and forced him off the road. He started insulting me as I jumped out of the Porsche and approached but his ranting was incoherent and his threats rang hollow. I realized I’d won without a fight. I put the gun away and stood back. He got out of the car and tearfully begged Tereza on his knees to come back with him, offering her half a million in cash. She stayed.

September 2009

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THE WISDOM OF NY: A Work in Progress


In New York City what we call “street smarts” is considered our highest form of wisdom, hence the rueful admiration of our “wise guys.” But there is another kind of wisdom to be found in the collective wisdom of the proverbs, sayings and idiomatic expressions brought to New York by the vast range of immigrants coming here.
Samuel arrived from Ghana ten years ago. He prays to get up early each day to work as a limo driver. "If the strength is there, if God grants me another day, I get up at 5 am and go to work... But as of now I would not say there is a future for me here in New York." ©2009 Doug Menuez.

CLICK ABOVE TO SEE ROUGH EDITS. Samuel arrived from Ghana ten years ago. He prays to get up early each day to work as a limo driver. "If the strength is there, if God grants me another day, I get up at 5 am and go to work... But as of now I would not say there is a future for me here in New York." ©2009 Doug Menuez.

A few months ago I started working on a new documentary film called “The Wisdom of New York” which is a work in progress about the sayings, proverbs, insults and jokes that people bring with them to New York City from their home country. I thought it might be great to share here some very, very rough edits of the interviews I’m doing as the project develops. What these people have to say is valuable and interesting even in rough form and so every month I’ll feature a different person from a different country. I hope you find this a new filter through which to view the city and our chaotic life here.

Although I began this as a simple, light piece, sometimes the sayings have much deeper meanings. These are everyday sayings people recite to console or encourage, or to affirm some beliefs about life, and provide a connection to their homes far away. Through these sayings we can get a glimpse into another culture. Without having grown up in the subject’s culture we may never really understand the true meanings, but we do get a fresh awareness of just how differently we all view the world and life.

Over 100, 000 new immigrants arrive here each year, making up more than a third of the population and approximately 45% of the New York City workforce. We often hear that the city is a melting pot, but to me it’s not really true. There is more assimilation with higher education and income of course but most new immigrants stay in their own enclaves. As you move through the streets it feels like a cacophony of misunderstanding as we talk past and around each other. Yet it all somehow works because everyone who comes here have the same goals: to make it, to have a home and a job, to find that melting pot and fit in. To many of those I interviewed, these sayings can be quite meaningful and helpful to the newly arrived immigrant in search of comfort for the soul as they fight their way up the food chain in the big city.

My emotional connection and inspiration for this is the convergence of my return to NYC five years ago and getting to know the city with fresh eyes with the memories of my wife arriving in NYC as an immigrant from  Brazil in the 1970’s, learning English as she worked in a garment sweatshop, then babysitter, teacher and then assistant TV producer for O Globo. To this day she always has these sayings from the rural area of Brazil she came from that to me sound crazy– something is always lost in translation even though I speak passable Portuguese. In 2005 and 2006, I was commissioned by the Mayor’s office of Ecomonic Development to document the five boroughs. That put me back on the streets, meeting lots of new immigrants. So I’m combining a lot of those still images with the interviews in the final film.

A few weeks ago we shot Samuel from Ghana, see above  video link, who had some great sayings and stories. One of my favorites of his is “If you think you are smarter than everybody, you’ll end up wishing a goat ‘Good Morning!'” Meaning, if you get too conceited or overconfident you’ll soon make a foolish mistake. Samuel’s life here as an immigrant has been difficult and he thinks he will be returning to Ghana soon. Business has been bad ever since 9/11 and the recession has made it only worse. Yet he was very positive and commented that he often bolsters the hopes of his fellow drivers and Ghanians with appropriate sayings from home to keep them going here.

Our shoot day was saved when by multitalented Ron Dawson who filled in as DP. He blogged about our day here: Shooting Doug and “The Wisdom of New York” – Blade Ronner: The Blog of Ron Dawson

Please enjoy and let me know your thoughts– that’s the point of sharing a work in progress!

August 2009

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