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I have never written a bad review of any products or services that I have purchased. Until now.
Last year I was looking for an online service geared towards professional photographers to share information and learn from some of the big names in the industry. I thought I had found that service. PhotographyMentor.com seemed like it fit the bill. It was advertised as the first social network site for professional photographers to meet, share information and learn from some of the top pros. The big draw was the promise of exclusive video content from some top pros like Robert Evans (photographer AND the creator of the site). At $175 for a year subscription, you would think there would be some serious thought, creativity and useful content on the site. Sadly none of it is true.
The site is completely stale with months that go by with no new content. When I first joined, there were message forums that quickly filled with complaints. The answers to the complaints were always the same. They said they were working on the next big thing for the site and soon everyone would be wildly excited with all the new features and content. That never happened and as the complaints continued, the powers that be closed access to the forums entirely.
Next they started saying this new High Definition School was opening soon with amazing new content. Clicking the link (which I'm not going to post as to not help their search rating) brought you their smugmug site with the following announcement.
QUICK! You only have a few days to pay their $175 membership fee or the price is going up. Note that this announcement is nearly a year old and I have yet to see their entire 20 hour school video library in high definition.
Let's move back to the main site and see if there are any announcements for all the paying members. Here is a screen shot taken just moments ago. Notice how often they update the site.
OK, so maybe there isn't any new announcements to make. I'm sure there has to be some new, exciting video content from all the member sharing going on. This is a social network for photographers, there has to be something good. Here is a shot of the latest videos. I'm sure the YouTube video of skating babies is really going to help me in the photography industry.
To make matters worse, very soon after I signed up for this craptastic service, I began trying to cancel my membership and get my money back. This is next to impossible. Sending email to all the addresses I could find on the website promptly gets you an undeliverable message back saying their mailbox quota has been exceeded. I have tried sending them mail numerous times over several months with no luck. A quick web search for photographymentor.com turns up this link from another unhappy customer.
After giving up on trying to cancel this membership, I came back to it this week to see if I could get in touch with Robert Evans to finally cancel my account so I wasn't charged again when my year membership was up. Once again all my emails were bounced. Next I went to Robert Evans personal photography website and used his contact form there. What do you know, he responded right away. Here is his response when I told him to cancel my membership.
NO! When you signed up for the site you agreed to the auto renew. You have to go on Paypal and cancel that or it will renew again when you hit a year.
No problem. I went to PayPal and searched and searched and searched, but there is nothing I can find to cancel my auto renew membership with PhotographyMentor. I sent another response to Mr. Evans asking for more detailed instructions and I am awaiting an answer.
Please people, stay very far away from PhotographyMentor.com. It is a complete waste of money. I cannot believe a person like Robert Evans would put his name on such an unprofessional piece of crap.
I admit, it was way hard to go through all the archives and pull out my favorites from 2009. There were just so many images I had to not include. I decided to narrow it down to 15 just keep the blog post down in size. I'll probably look back again through my images and realize I choose the wrong images.
So here they are, "some" of the best of 2009.
Which one do you like?
Last weekend was the grand opening of Touleh Pet Boutique in Santana Row. To help kick off the new store I was invited to come on down and shoot portraits of the lucky dogs that showed up for the opening. Since it was Christmas and the giving spirit was in full force, I decided to collect donations for the Silicon Valley Humane Society in exchange for a beautiful Murphy Dog Studios portrait.
The opening was a success and we had a ton of wonderful dogs and their people stop by. In the end we raised $355 for the Humane Society which was also graciously matched by their board of directors bringing the final total to $710. I'm sure this will help to fill some bellies and keep some paws warm over the winter months. Thank you to everyone who donated.
Update: I just returned from dropping off the donation to the Human Society. I was slightly wrong about the matching program from the BOD. The matching only happens if you donate towards their building program (which goes towards the facilities). I decided the money was better spent going to save a life and it turns out $350 is exactly what it costs to take care of an animal (who doesn't have any serious medical conditions) and get them adopted. So the $355 donation will save a life and feed another animal for 5 days.
Don't let the name of my business scare you away if you are looking for photos with "humans". While I mostly advertise my pet photography, I actual shoot all sorts of things. Maternity photos, family portraits, couples, babies and more. I even have a wedding scheduled for 2010 (this one is for a friend, I don't normally do weddings). If you have followed my work for sometime now, you will know I spent a number of years shooting adventure sports. It's very difficult to market numerous genres of photography so I try to keep it simple and only focus on dogs and kids. I get totally jazzed when I get a call to shoot something else.
When our great friends Jamie and Ritchie announced they were pregnant, I made sure to let them know we wouldn't be friends anymore if they ever hired another photographer. Well, it looks like we are going to remain friends because this weekend I had the opportunity to shoot their last portraits as a couple with no kids. Jamie is due in September and I'm a sucker for pregnant bellies so I was really excited about this shoot.
I used to love bringing Murphy Dog down to the creek. It was the most powerful drug you could give that dog. Chick on the other hand is a little scared of water. He would say, "dad, it's for drinking, not playing in".
I miss going to the creek so I was lucky to meet a recent client of mine Jill, who wanted to have a photo shoot down by the water. She told me her dogs Rocky (11 years old) and Kascha (9 months old) can't get enough of it.
I must add that these dogs were the most well behaved dogs I have ever seen. Even Kascha at only 9 months old was completely trustworthy off-leash. Their amazing training was done by Calvin and Brent Cooper from Cooperhaus K9. I think my puppy Chick might be going on vacation soon.
There are all sorts of photographers. Nearly all of us have something we just love to shoot. My favorites happen to be adventure sports, kids and dogs. Add a couple of those together, like a big beautiful house filled with kids and dogs, and you got the makings of a wonderful photo shoot.
Last week I had an awesome photo shoot in Los Altos with a wonderful family from Canada. Catherine brought her three year old little girl Charlotte who was so cute (even if she wouldn't wear the tutu I brought for her), and TJ, one of the calmest little babies I have ever met. At their relatives house was their family dogs Taxi and Maggie. After a couple hours running after all these guys, I needed a long and well deserved nap.
Thanks guys! I had a blast.