Ybor City Historic District

Ybor City. Classic. Historic. Beautiful. I never thought there would be a city that I would love as much, or more, than New York City, but then comes historic Ybor City. With its old world flavor and charm, it is the perfect visual candy after an over dose of gleaming glass and chrome towers. Cobble stone streets and crosswalks, sidewalk cafes and a fully functional trolley car transit system! Yes, Ybor is the place to be. And I am blessed and honored to have my photography studio right in the heart of it!

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The Gateway to another time and place… Historic Ybor City! It may not be very large as in square mileage, but it is huge in character and personality. In fact, it is officially listed as a neighborhood (located just northeast of downtown Tampa), and designated as a National Historic Landmark District. And in 2008, the American Planning Association was so taken by Ybor’s busy 7th Avenue, which is the main commercial thoroughfare, that it recognized it as “One of the 10 Great Streets in America!”

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I love the trolley cars, though I have to admit, I have yet to ride one. With their distinctive sound and “old movie” appeal, some people actually ride the trolley as a ride, with no real place to go.

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The stylish but modern Muvico Theater. As much as Ybor City holds fast to its Old World ways and looks, there must be places and activities that speak to a broader audience. Also in the area is a game room, for young and old, alike.

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The Italian Club. Tampa’s first Italian-American Society was organized April 4, 1894, with 116 Italian and eight Spanish immigrants. It started its monthly meetings on the first Sunday of every month, at 10:30am, even though organized religion may have preferred otherwise, and that schedule continues today.

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No Ybor City photo set would be complete without the world famous Columbia Restaurant! Founded in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., the Columbia Restaurant is Florida’s oldest restaurant℠, and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.

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Rich in history, culture and food. When visiting Tampa, one must visit Ybor City, to dine at the Columbia if for no other reason. Who else shares my opinion? In 2010, Nation’s Restaurant News crowned the Columbia as a “Top 50 All-American Icon!”

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Cigars are even more of a staple in Ybor City than the wonderful food, and King Corona is a long standing cigar bar and restaurant that serves as a daily meeting place for many residents and workers.

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Right above the King Corona is the Ybor Art Colony. It is cooperative of artist, painters, sculptors and photographers, me being one. I am proud to call Florida my home and Ybor City my business location. And with the support and connections of other creative individuals in the Colony, I feel more energized than ever in my craft!

To view the entire Ybor City gallery, please visit this link: Ybor City Historic District

Really? Seriously??? – Payment

I have been taking pictures, in one form or another, for about 30 years. I won’t say that I’ve seen and heard it all but I’ve seen and heard quite a bit. I learned in my long and wonderful life not to let too many things bother me but there is one thing that really, really gets under my skin, and that is when people devalue photography services. They want to trade and barter, they want to offer you what ‘they feel’ the services is worth because their “uncle used to be a photographer,” or they basically think that the work is easy and that “it shouldn’t cost that much.” There’s no other business that I know where people feel they can run it for you, other than photography.

Why this posted rant, you may ask? Sure! Recently, I came upon a job posting by a marketing company that requested a photographer to photograph their properties, leading to a “long term working relationship.” The payment, they stated, would be to trade services where they would either give advertisement in the form of a web video or Search Engine Optimization services, and these packages would be worth $795 to $1,295 to the photographer if they had to buy them! Advertising is a strange beast. You could pour hundreds or thousands of dollars into advertisement and only get moderate success and then you could shoot a family reunion, pass out business cards and next thing you know you have three months worth of clients bringing in enough money to cover that planned Disney Cruise.

Why do potential clients always feel they can cut down or completely eliminate payment to a photographer? As payment for a wedding, I was once offered “bring your family, and we’ll cover their meal.” Really? Seriously???

I am not saying that trading and bartering are not useful business tools, in some circumstances, and advertising is a necessary business practice, but I think first and foremost the offer to any professional should be an actual payment.

My wonderful and talented daughter was in an acting workshop, a couple years back. I attended, shot some pictures, and passed my business card onto the director. She said “Hey, you can shoot everybody’s headshot for free and if they really like the pictures then maybe they’ll book a full session!” So I was supposed to be naive enough to enhance her business model by giving her students free headshots and then sit back and wait for work to hopefully come my way? Really? Seriously???

To put it bluntly, I find it highly insulting and professionally disrespectful when a potential client feels that they can dictate the terms of the working relationship. The same way a person walks into a mechanic shop or picks up the phone and calls an electrician or a plumber, and would not even dream of playing any creative payment deals, they should approach a photographer the same way. Yes I know photographers who will shoot a wedding for $300 and a plate of food and I have one friend who shoots bands for a $50 bar tab, but I am not talking about the weekend optical warriors.

Please, do not get me wrong; I am not saying that simply taking a payment makes anyone a professional nor am I saying doing photography work free means you’re a bad photographer. It just seems that few people view the day in day out general photographer as a real and true business. Some people think that unless you are photographing $3,000 dresses in some fashion capital or shooting fast moving cars on some foreign race track, you’re not a real photographer. I feel that any person who takes up the art and business of photography, learns the craft, buys thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of equipment, and puts themselves out as a professional, either part-time or full-time, should be treated as such. Whether you are photographing babies, the high school football game or real estate, a potential client should have one question about your work: So, what are your costs?

I have spent over 9 years working for Walt Disney World as a photographer, a photographer trainer and also in the quality assurance the department. There’s one thing I have learned from The Mouse; while it is a good practice to make a person happy, that person should always understand there is a price attached to service and that any changes or negotiations are at the sole discretion of the service provider.

My photography mentor recently told me to set my prices, stick to them and be prepared to watch quite a few people walk away. However, in the long run I will be happy because I will end up with clients that are willing, able and understanding enough to pay for my services.

Yes, I still love photography with all my heart. As for the unreasonable payment offers, I simply and politely decline, and watched the surprised look cross their face. I guess they’re thinking: Really? Seriously???