Posts tagged Maine

Dove Tail Bats Makes it in the Major Leagues

Across the country, spring has begun and with it, a new season of major-league baseball. In Maine, where spring is more concept than reality (often referred to as Mud Season), baseball is a sign that warmer days are ahead even if the weather hasn’t yet gotten the memo.

Maine, a staunch member of Red Sox Nation, now has another reason to get excited about the sport. The Dove Tail Bat Company, headquartered in tiny Shirley Mills, Maine–not far from Moosehead Lake, smack-dab in moose country–produces one-of-a-kind, custom-designed bats for the major leagues that look more like art and less like tools for knocking the stuffing out of a ball. Increasingly, across the major leagues, they’ve done just that.

Down East Magazine sent me to photograph owner Paul Lancisi, a former baseball player himself who once tried out for the Red Sox, along with his crew as they turned Maine hardwoods–ash, maple and birch–into glossy things of beauty.

Please read more about the DTB story in the May issue of Down East Magazine.  I had a great time getting to know Paul and his talented crew.  See below for additional images.

 

dove tail bat

 

 

dove tail bat

 

dove tail bat

 

dove tail bat

 

dove tail bat

 

 

dove tail bat

 

Showcase: Baker, Newman & Noyes

I’ve worked with the fine folks at BNN, a full-service accounting firm based in Portland, ME, for a few years now.  In honor of their 20th anniversary, they just relaunched their refreshed website look this week with a new logo and a few of the environmental portraits we’ve done featuring their principals within their beautiful downtown Portland office space.    They wanted to emphasize the personal, human component of their services, and I think the new web design and images work well to do that.

 

BNN_1_by_Brian_Fitzgerald

BNN_2_by_Brian_Fitzgerald

BNN_3_by_Brian_Fitzgerald

The state of (ME) sales tax and your photography business

Collection of sales tax is one of those things that photographers should be charging but may not be charging correctly.  This is because it can be hard to find information online, because each state approaches the issue differently and because as photographers we may (or may not) deal with things like prints, electronic image delivery, sitting fees, out of state clients and license and usage fees.  It can be very confusing.

I’ve directly contacted the state of Maine in the past to ask questions about sales tax, and have had many discussions with other local photographers including Kathleen Kelly, a Scarborough-based commercial photographer who has gotten answers from the state.    Recently I corresponded with a tax section manager, Peter,  from Maine Revenue Services regarding my most oft-seen scenarios.

His responses revealed a few surprises.  I’ll explain further, but must note that I’m not a lawyer or a tax professional.   You should hire a good CPA to handle your business taxes and if you have further questions, contact the state directly.

First, some things I already knew:   I don’t charge tax to my out-of-state clients, but I do to my in-state ones.  Sometimes I don’t charge tax as a separate line-item to clients in-state.  In these cases I’m still required to pay the state the appropriate state sales tax.  Electronic file delivery is considered a tangible product, just like a CD of images or a box of prints.  It’s taxable.

If you charge usage or license fees, however, it gets interesting.  If your license is unlimited in terms of time, then it’s subject to tax.  If your license is restricted to ten years or less, it’s not subject to state tax.  This is a recent decision on the part of the state of Maine to treat photography licensing like software licensing.  Note that they use a length of time (10 years), not type of use (brochures, web, etc) to define the restriction.

A couple of things to make sure of:  Make sure to apply sales tax to line items in your invoices.  Things like postage using common carriers (USPS, FedEx, UPS) are not taxable.  Reimbursed expenses aren’t either.

As always,  consult a professional when deciding how to approach state sales tax, and actively seek answers that pertain to your specific situation.  remember that just because you didn’t know the right way to go doesn’t make you immune from being held responsible by the state later.

It’s not about the cows. It’s about the people.

When people remark to me that I’m working long hours in my photography business, I usually respond, ‘hey-it beats working for a living’.   The truth is, it’s a lot of work to run a business—but the rewards are also great.   One of my joys is meeting new people and working with some really fantastic clients.

One of my favorites has been MooMilk, short for Maine’s Own Organic Milk Company.  This company is as tough and gritty as they come–formed as a response to being dropped from their conventional milk distributor last year.   The half-dozen organic milk producers comprising MooMilk are small family farms located in central, northern and Downeast Maine.   In addition to producing great-tasting, healthy milk they are running their farms and now, marketing their own product.  It’s not easy, but they are doing it.

In approaching my work with MooMilk, I realized that the idea I wanted to get across was simple:  MooMilk doesn’t come from cows.  It comes from people.  You can see a sampling of photos from my shoots above.   And there’s a great op-ed piece in the Bangor Daily News that speaks to the families that are MooMilk.

Maine blueberries mean summer

Summer is when Mainers get out and get active. The warm season isn’t all that long here, and people around these parts waste no opportunity to get outside–even if that means parking it around a patio table on their front driveway. Recently I photographed organic Maine blueberries for an article on summer activities for families–picking strawberries and blueberries at local farms being a good example.

Just looking at them makes me hungry.

What a candidate can teach us about brand

Everyone who relies on Facebook and other social media sites to market their brand and news needs to keep things fresh. That’s why I enjoy working with the McGowan for Maine campaign. I did some work with them in December and got some portraits of an active-looking Pat McGowan at his Hallowell home. Back then, the entire campaign could fit around his kitchen table. Things have changed, and he’s worked hard to get to the point he is at now. Trouble is, a portrait showing a foot of snow doesn’t fly when the thermometer is knocking on 90 degrees. So, we got a whole new round of portraits and other images for the campaign that’ll work well for them for a long time to come. It’s been great working with McGowan…but how does he get the energy?

Pat McGowan of McGowan for Maine