Mar 282008

PhotoShelter - I <3 Photos<3 Photos” />It’s been around nine months or so since I started to work at PhotoShelter, and I’m having a great time. When I first started here, we were a company of less than ten people in a small office near Madison Square Park (and Shake Shack). I didn’t have a desk as much as I was sharing portions of two other peoples’ desks. A month or so after I started, we moved down to Union Square on the second floor of the Decker Building. While we did move away from Shake Shack, we did end up overlooking the Greenmarket in Union Square, one of the first farmer’s markets in New York City. We’ve also grown–there over 25 full-time employees!

I’ve worked on a lot of interesting projects here. For example, not only have I learned how to use Apple’s development environment Cocoa, but also I’ve learned the intricacies of international tax law and how it applies to royalties. (Do you know what W8-BEN and 1042-S forms are? I do!)

Our largest project in the past year has been the launch of the PhotoShelter Collection, a photo licensing site. Photographers submit their photos to us, and after our editors review the photos the photos are made available for purchase. There are over 15,000 photographers from over 120 countries, and we add over 4,000 images each day. There are many competitors in this market, and our goal is to offer buyers images they can’t get elsewhere while respecting photographers by acting in a transparent manner.

We currently have a promotion running where new buyers can get 20% off of any purchases for three months. I think the site is very easy to use as a buyer, and it’s even possible to license images for personal use. The Collection does not sell prints or merchandise; the photo is provided as a digital file.

[In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that there is a fun contest in the office as to who can refer the most buyers this month. That being said, please do not flood the site with bogus registrations on my behalf! :-)]

We are also always looking for new photographers to submit images. You can join as a photographer with no risk or costs. We offer photographers a 70% commission on all image sales, and we work with our photographers as well as if not better than any other company in our business. Most of the founders of the company have worked as professional photographers, so we have a strong appreciation for their work and photography in general.

If you are a photographer but aren’t interested in having PhotoShelter sell your images through the Collection, you may also want to consider setting up a Personal Archive account. Quite frankly, it’s crazy to not back your images off-site if you are a professional photographer. Heck, it’s even crazy if you are a hobbyist that really cares about your photos. I feel strongly about this issue: I try to tell every photographer I know that even if they don’t store their photos at PhotoShelter, then at least back them up with one of our competitors. PhotoShelter allows you to set up a free account with 50MB of storage space, so you can easily check it out without paying anything. And, if you decide to go with the Standard or Pro accounts, you can integrate PhotoShelter into your own website with e-commerce.

Rachel HulinOne of our recent hires is Rachel Hulin; she is in charge of Shoot the Blog! I read it throughout the day–her commentary is spot on. Without the blog, I would have never run across this photo shoot with a lion.

PhotoShelter is a great company to work for. The folks here are smart, the location is terrific, and we try to do the right thing. I believe in our products, and hope that other folks like using our site as much as I enjoy working here.

 Posted by at 6:32 pm
Mar 242008

I hate being sick at home. It’s very boring.

I started to get a cough and feel a bit tired on Friday. This past weekend I was feeling a bit worse. Yesterday, I didn’t have enough energy to do much of anything. I’m staying home today to try to shake this thing and to not get coworkers sick, but I’m still feeling tired. I can’t even work from home because I can’t concentrate.

Hopefully, I’ll kick this thing by tomorrow.

Update 2008-03-25: Staying home was the right thing to do. I’m feeling much better and am at work today.

 Posted by at 4:24 pm
Mar 222008

Sometimes, it’s late and you haven’t had a chance to buy ingredients for dinner. You just want to be able to throw something together with what you have on hand. After all, it’s important to eat before it gets too late. (Personally, I try to finish dinner before 10 p.m.; if I eat later than that I find it hard to get up in time for work.)

So what do you make? Well, if you are like me, you typically have some standard breakfast staples lying around: bacon and eggs. You probably also have some nice dried pasta and Parmesan cheese, and you may have a nice bottle of white wine (preferably dry). So what do you do? Spaghetti Alla Carbonara.

There are many variations to this dish, but the basic gist is as follows. Bring a good amount of salted water to boil. Chop the bacon (pancetta if you have it) into quarter-inch pieces, and saute it in a bit of olive oil until browned. Pour in a glass of wine and cook off the alcohol. Meanwhile, beat a couple of eggs and add in a bunch of grated Parmesan cheese.

Put some of the pasta water aside, and drain the pasta. Place the pasta into a serving bowl, and add in the egg/cheese mixture. Make sure it is well combined; the eggs will be cooked with the residual heat of the pasta. You can add some of the reserved pasta water to the sauce, but make sure you cook off some of the liquid. When the sauce looks ready, pour it over the pasta. Add salt and freshly cracked pepper–you will want to season the dish liberally.

Garnish the dish with more freshly grated Parmesan. Serve it immediately, as it is at its best when served just after preparation.

  • Wins: made from readily available and affordable ingredients (breakfast items for dinner), quick to prepare (under 20 minutes), easy to prepare, and tasty.
  • Added bonus: 3/4 of a nice white bottle of wine to drink with dinner.
  • Bad parts of this dish: quite a few dishes to clean.

Need exact measurements for this dish? Look up any number of recipes on the web. A lot of them may call for ingredients like garlic, peas, mushrooms, onions, or cream. None of these are necessary for this dish, but all of them can be easily added. (Want to make the dish richer? Throw a pat of butter into the sauce or use extra yolks in the egg/cheese mixture.)


 Posted by at 10:38 pm
Mar 102008

Before I left for the airport, I decided to check out the Canadian Centre for Architecture. I was mainly visiting to see 1973: Sorry, out of gas, an exhibition about changes in architecture due to the 1973 gas crisis. The gas crisis provoked changes in how houses were designed by creating a need for more energy-efficient insulation, heating, and cooling. It was fascinating to see some of the home designs of that period, from houses underground and using wind power on the top of apartment buildings. It was also interesting to see what ideas had come into the mainstream, such as simply providing a house with good insulation.

No photos were allowed inside the building, and I wish I had more time to see all of the other exhibits.
Canadian Centre for Architecture

Here is a photo of an ice sculpture outside
Canadian Centre for Architecture

 Posted by at 9:37 pm
Mar 102008

The last evening I was in Montreal I ate at Joe Beef. Joe Beef was recommended to me by Marc at Au Pied de Cochon when I ate there the previous evening. It was a wonderful experience. I stopped by the restaurant at around 9 or so, and the staff was kind enough to squeeze me into the bar. It’s a small but very pretty space, with a large chalkboard listing all of the dishes and wines by the glass and bottle.

Working the bar and shucking station was one of the owners of the restaurant, Fred Morin, and we chatted throughout the evening. Later in the evening, his fiancée/co-owner Alison Cunningham stopped by. She was working at the restaurant next door. Along with David McMillan, they also own a total of three restaurants side-by-side.

I started out with a bunch of oysters from Prince Edward Island and the northeastern United States and followed it up with a large portion of sweetbreads and sausage served over spätzle. Sweetbreads are offal, and I think this makes may people nervous about eating them. However, I believe this preparation could convert almost any hater of organ meats. The meat was crisp on the outside and warm on the inside with delicious flavor. The sausage and spätzle were good complements to the sweetbreads in both their flavor and texture. It was a warm and hearty dish, and it provided good protection against the cold.

Like Au Pied de Cochon, the folks at Joe Beef were passionate about their jobs. They had a love of food and wine, and it was a lot of fun enjoying dinner there. Fred is a fantastic chef and well-respected by his peers. As I was leaving and the restaurant was closing, he was welcoming other chefs into the restaurant. Some of them had been guest-cooking at other area kitchens, and he fired up the burners late at night to cook for both the out-of-towner and local chefs.

The other customers of the restaurant are also fun and gracious. I spoke with a local wine/liquor distributor named Paul throughout the evening. At one point, I admired his Homer Simpson bottle opener–every time it’s used it says, “Mmm… Beer. Heh heh heh heh. Yes Oh Yes! Woo Hoo!” Despite my protests, Paul insisted on giving it to me!

I left my contact information with the folks I met there, and I hope they reach out to me if they ever visit New York City.

I don’t have the best photos from Joe Beef, since I try not to use a flash inside of restaurants. (It’s bad enough that I take photos at all.) Regardless, below is a picture of my main dish and the general decor behind the bar.
Sweetbreads at Joe Beef
Joe Beef

 Posted by at 9:35 pm
Mar 102008

The Festival Montreal en Lumiere, or Montreal High Lights festival, was going on when I visited. Specifically, I visited on the night of the “Montreal All-Nighter,” a night of cultural events. I didn’t know that the festival was going to be happening before I visited, so I didn’t really make plans. However, I did enjoy the fireworks late into the evening. In addition to photos, I also shot a few videos.

Woman dancing with fire at the Montreal All-Nighter

Fireworks at the Montreal All-Nighter
Fireworks at the Montreal All-Nighter
Fireworks at the Montreal All-Nighter
Fireworks at the Montreal All-Nighter

 Posted by at 9:34 pm
Mar 102008

The Bonsecours Market is one of the earliest markets in Montreal. It’s a very beautiful building. When I visited during the day, it was a bit empty. There were several high end shops, but I enjoyed walking around the area a bit more. It’s worth walking through the market, but to me the exterior was much more interesting.

Bonsecours Market
Bonsecours Market

 Posted by at 9:31 pm
Mar 092008

The Notre-Dame Basilica is a large church with stunning stained glass windows and painted wooden sculptures on top of the neighborhood of Old Montral. It was built in the mid-1800s. I’ve hear it’s busier to visit in the summer, but since it was the middle of winter I was able to get in immediately.

The church is beautiful: simultaneously tranquil and stunning, relaxing and stimulating.

The Notre-Dame Basilica
The Notre-Dame Basilica
The Notre-Dame Basilica
The Notre-Dame Basilica
The Notre-Dame Basilica

 Posted by at 9:30 pm
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