Author Archives: Doug Menuez

THE BIG MOVE

“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.”

A NEW PHASE

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…

Sunday
11
October 2009

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THE “BEST” IDEA FOR THE NEW BUSINESS MODEL

CHASE JARVIS NEW iPHONE APP, BOOK, COMMUNITY

©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: thebestcamera.com – 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.

Sunday
04
October 2009

CK OUT 100 EYES: CHRISTIAN POVEDA TRIBUTE

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

Tuesday
15
September 2009

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.38

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.


Thursday
03
September 2009

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THE WISDOM OF NY: A Work in Progress

EACH MONTH SOMEONE FROM A DIFFERENT COUNTRY AND THEIR SAYINGS WILL BE FEATURED AS WE COMPLETE THE PROJECT

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!

Friday
21
August 2009

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NEW ON LIVEBOOKS RESOLVE: BREAK EVEN

Another post in my continuing series for photographers starting up or re-booting their businesses. (A big chunk of my workshop this coming weekend in Woodstock addresses this also: The Center for Photography at Woodstock ) Meanwhile, please take a look:

Seeing Money: Stop sabotaging your profit margin | RESOLVE — the liveBooks photo blog

Wednesday
19
August 2009

A TALK & WORKSHOP AT CPW

“ART vs. COMMERCE” Workshop at CENTER FOR PHOTOGRAPHY WOODSTOCK AUG  22/23 – Some space still available, call now!

The Center for Photography at Woodstock

AND: SATURDAY, AUG 22, 7 PM: A TALK AT CENTER FOR PHOTOGRAPHY WOODSTOCK: Fearless Genius: Silicon Valley 1985-2000, A Work in Progress
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Please join me at CPW for a presentation about my new book and documentary film in progress: “Fearless Genius.” The project covers the explosion of new technology in Silicon Valley in the 1980′s and 1990′s, from the digital revolution through the rise of the internet. I was in the right place and lucky enough to get access to the key innovators of the era, such as Steve Jobs and many others and spent 15 years inside the leading companies. The work explores the human side of technology development; the manic passion, struggles, and joys of the silicon dream, as well as the sacrifices made to create a whole new world.

Thursday
13
August 2009

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ALL NEW SITE: WWW.MENUEZ.COM

I’m really pleased to announce we have completely overhauled our web site and are soft launching it now. An email blast will go out in a day or so after we are sure all the obvious bugs are solved. I was very happy to work with liveBooks on this using their new custom service. They were incredibly helpful and creative problem solvers as we worked out how to fit a large amount of work into a simple interface.

Please have a look and let me know what you think: Doug Menuez

Tuesday
28
July 2009

RELATIONSHIP BANKING: On liveBooks RESOLVE

If you’re starting your photography career or re-booting it, please check out my new post on liveBooks RESOLVE blog about the business of photography:

RESOLVE BLOG. SEEING MONEY: Getting a loan for your photo business

Wednesday
22
July 2009

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PREGNANT

From “Blur: A Memoir,” an ongoing and random series of stories, dreams, and memories from my life as a photographer. This is #3 in a continuing series from “Tesåo,” about my wife Tereza and our relationship. A recurring theme in any photographer’s life is how to maintain some semblance of family life, or to even keep friends.

©2009 Doug Menuez

©2009 Doug Menuez


We were about to leave Sausalito for Hawaii on an assignment when Tereza came down with a serious fever. I took her to the doctor right away and he became very concerned, forbade her to travel and did some tests. I went anyway as we needed the money but I hated to leave her like that.

The next day I called to see if Tereza was well enough to join me. She said the doctor told her she had severe thyroiditis and would have died of shock within twenty-four hours if she had gone with me undiagnosed. A really long week passed until I was able to finish my shoot and get home. She was feeling better and we went to see the specialist our doctor had arranged. A pill, each day, would regulate her thyroid and keep her well.

Forty-five days later, Tereza tested positive. She was pregnant. Tereza had never been able to have children in her previous marriages and was told in Brazil she never would, so birth control was not in our picture. It turned out the reason was related less to my Basque heritage and more to the new thyroid medication, which the specialist knew would make make her fertile but, um, forgot to tell us.

I was shooting a movie star in Aspen when I got called to the phone by the star’s husband, also a movie star, who happened to be my favorite TV actor when I was a kid. He played a cynical, daring thief, my perfect role model. Tereza was calling with the good but shocking and completely unexpected news. That night at dinner after the shoot I was in a dream-shock state. The star’s husband, still handsome and flashing his trademark grin, asked me why I thought I was the father since I travel so much, and, he added, he was in Sausalito a lot. The movie star kicked him under the table which snapped me out of my shock. I began making plans. Our lives were changed, blessed to be sure, but I had to grow up quick and figure out how to be a father. Something I was sure I would never be, nor be any good at.

Sausalito, 1987.

“Tesão” is from our publication URGE and can be purchased through my web site:

http://menuez.com/ Then select:  Information > Store > Limited Edition Books > URGE/Tesão


Tuesday
14
July 2009

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