The most fun of this industry is all based on great friendships with new people who come into our lives.
It's Sunday morning and as usual, once the sun comes up whatever sleep I still need is put on the back-burner. Whatever happened to those days when I was younger and could easily sleep until noon?
As I sat down to write Sunday Morning Reflections, next to my computer were three small prints (one of them above) from our friends Russell and Angela Grace. They were gifts that came with the return of my Hasselblad X-Pan I loaned Russell. At that time I shared a post about their fine art business and Russell's infrared photography.
So, that got me thinking about a statement I've shared over and over again:
"The best part of this industry has nothing to do with photography,
but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft!"
This week was pretty remarkable when it came to kicking off new friendships and sustaining old ones.
I was on my way home from a board meeting at a non-profit I'm active with here in Sarasota. I was listening to Classic Rock and the Steve Miller Band was on. I heard the lyrics, "...I really love your peaches, want to shake your tree!" Well, being the crazy fun-loving husband I am, I texted those words to my wife, Sheila, letting her know I was on my way home. Well, the response came from Steve, "I'm not sure you meant this for me!" My last text to Steve was in my phone's history right next to Sheila's. Oops!
This blog post is too small a window to list everybody who had an impact on my life this week, but the snipets above represent what I cherish most about our industry, the friendships. Friendships are the foundation of, as sappy as it might sound, why I feel so blessed to have this career.
I might work solo out of my home office, but thanks to the Internet and the phone, my days are filled with great friends, new ideas and one adventure after another. And on that note - it's time to wish everyone my traditional eleven-second make it a great Sunday hug. If you're tuning in late, according to an article I read years ago, hugs lasting eleven seconds are therapeutic - so make them longer and enjoy them!
Most important of all - let those special friends in your life know how important they are to you. Life is too short to not share the love you have for them.
Happy Sunday everybody and thanks for being in my life!
Family isn't always blood.
It's the people in your life who want you in theirs;
the ones who accept you for who you are.
The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you, no matter what.
Image copyright Dan White. All rights reserved.
"Why?" is all about great artists, their favorite images and the backstories that go with each photograph. And, sometimes there's an even bigger story behind the portrait itself.
Dan White is a Pulitzer Prize winning artist, best know for his commercial and editorial work. Today he's in the "Why?" spotlight with more than just a story about a photograph. This is a backstory behind a passion-defining project for his hometown of Flint, Michigan.
So many artists over the years have talked about the importance of special projects to help you stay focused on your creativity and love for the craft. With Dan, this unique project goes all the way back to his roots as a kid growing up in the Flint community. Click on the image above to watch Dan's Kickstarter video on the project and learn more about his background and why this portrayal of the spirit of the people of Flint is so important.
To see more of Dan's work his website is just a click away. His images are stunning, and I'm sure you'll notice the same thing I did - this is an artist who truly loves the craft!
The two images above have literally lived in a shoe box for a whole lot of years and taken a beating. That's me around age two with my great grandparents. In fact, so far it's the only picture I've found of me with them and it couldn't be a bigger mess in the quality.
The image below is also me, I'm guessing around six months old with my Dad. I've shared it before - what makes it even more fun for me is what's on the back. I must have been mad at Dad for something and written in crayola, where it says "Ralph and Skip" on the back, I crossed out Skip and put in my sister's name. Dad and I laughed about it for years and neither of us could remember what the great battle was about! LOL
Everybody has old photographs stashed away, including your clients. They represent some great memories, but only if you can share them as relatively decent images. Most of you know my reputation as the low-tech poster child of the industry. I don't spend a lot of time on image manipulation and I need the easiest possible fix when trying to clean up something like these old photographs.
Rick Voight recently asked me, "What if you could restore the color (B&W, sepia) IN SECONDS?" Then he gave me a demo of Vivid-Pix RESTORE software.
I first met Rick, now CEO of Vivid-Pix years ago when he was with Kodak and I was with Hasselblad – so you know how long ago that must have been. We caught up to each other at Imaging USA last year where he introduced me to his amazing software. Rick, and his business partner Randy, leveraged insights from their patented Vivid-Pix LAND & SEA software (fixes land and underwater photos) and decided to create RESTORE to fix old photos (patent pending).
Here's what I appreciate about Vivid-Pix - It makes “fixing pics” fast and easy. And, once you've picked the restored image you like the best, you can save it or further fine-tune for color, B&W or sepia with easy-to-use sliders! It's an easy no-brainer approach taking up minimal time.
It's only available for PC at this time, but worth checking out. Try it for yourself.
They have a Free Trial: CLICK HERE
Wishing everybody a terrific Throwback Thursday! Remember to use your old images as a marketing tool reminding all those moms out there how fast time goes by and how much their family is changing every day!
Images copyright Jennifer Smith. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Even though boudoir photography, over the last few years, has become one of the fastest growing specialties, we've never had a post about the topic, and it's long overdue. From my perspective, one of the biggest challenges is building the relationship with the client and establishing a fundamental level of trust with the subject.
Meet a new buddy, Jenn Smith. We haven't known each other very long, but we do share a number of mutual friends. She couldn't be easier to work with. However, there's something else I noticed in our first phone conversation, her communication skills. Jenn's enthusiasm and passion for the craft was obvious from the very beginning. She couldn't have been easier to talk to about the topic and what she was going to write about.
The backstory on how we met goes back to Erin Zahradka of AIBP (Association of International Boudoir Photographers.) Erin is no stranger to SCU and did a fantastic guest post about her photo day camp for kids several years ago. Erin wanted to know if I had an interest in building content about boudoir at SCU and my answer was obviously "YES!" She put the word out on the AIBP Facebook forum, and Jenn was the first artist to respond.
Well, here we are a week later with Jenn's first guest post and the topic couldn't be more on target. Interested in seeing more of her work? Just click on either image to link to her website.
by Jenn Smith
The art of getting people naked, and taking gorgeous images of them, is not for the faint of heart. To be a successful boudoir photographer you have to not only read people, but build a deep level of trust with them. How? Here are my insider tips to building genuine and lasting relationships with your boudoir clients.
1. Set Expectations and Be a Trusted Guide Remember the last time a business or person let you down? As business owners, it’s our responsibility to set proper expectations and follow through on them. A great way to do this is to have in-person consultations with each client. When I book a client I always walk them through the entire experience, step-by-step, so they know exactly what to expect from their shoot.
Throughout this experience your clients are putting themselves in a very vulnerable position. They’re trusting you. In return for their trust, you need to confidently be their guide. Continue to tell them everything that will happen, even if you already explained it during their first consultation. The more they know, and feel confident about your expertise, the more comfortable everyone will feel. Which leads me to my next point…
2. Know Your Shit When a client arrives, you should know exactly what’s going on. You shouldn’t be checking a posing guide or Pinterest, or messing around with your gear. Of course, I always take moments to pause and think, and to take test shots, but during these times I always let the client know what’s going on. Your goal is to make your client feel completely confident about your knowledge.
3. Be Genuine When it comes down to it, the client is hiring you, as much as they’re hiring your work. So be your genuine self! If you’re trying to fake your way to your client’s heart, believe me, they’ll know.
4. Be Empathetic and a Good Listener We do this every day, but our client’s don’t. It is important to be a good listener and show empathy. Recognize their fears and anxiety if they verbalize them. Let them know that it is totally normal to be nervous and their images will be totally gorgeous despite their nerves!
5. Have Many Touchpoints I have 15-20 touchpoints with my clients from booking, to the time their products are delivered. I use a client relationship management software to help me accomplish this. It allows me to set email workflows with the click of a button. This helps my clients feel remembered and valued. I also make sure to respond as quickly as possible to text messages, calls or emails. My goal is to make each client feel like they are the most important part of my day.
Building relationships with clients starts the moment they set up a consultation, and extends past the photo shoot. You’re setting yourself up for success when you take the time to invest in building relationships with your clients. Successful relationship building not only leads to word of mouth referrals but clients who will return for your work time after time.
Model: Beth Claire https://www.facebook.com/bethclairemodel/?pnref=lhc
Makeup artist: Miranda Richards mirandarichardsartistry.com
From home cinema systems to camera gear, scuba, skiing, golf and clothing, we understand the concept of accessorizing. So, why not accessorize your sales with your clients? Create added value instead of just discounting!
Every business today has at some point felt the pressure of competition. Let's use Macy's as an example. There’s never a day when something in the store isn’t on sale. And, if you miss the sale, they’ll price protect if you kept your receipt. Going in another direction, a local furniture store, going back to our Ohio days, did a new promotion every six weeks and left consumers often wondering , “Did I really get the best deal?”
Many photographers are no different and too often they're cutting prices to get the event. They're reducing prices to almost impossible-to-make-a-profit levels in order to beat the competition. If your prices are going so low you can barely afford to feed your family, then it’s time to change your business model. It will NEVER work!
My good buddy Sal Cincotta is quoted as saying, "Nothing can screw up your business model more than bad pricing!" Even better listen to his advice directly in the archived YouTube video from six years ago. I've shared it before, but his topic is so relevant and it's worth sharing again below.
In the mid 80’s Polaroid introduced the Spectra line. It was the first Polaroid camera that came with a full line of accessories, including Cokin filters, wireless remotes, camera bags, a table top tripod, mini-albums etc. It wasn’t just a camera, it was a system. The system concept was based on studies that showed consumers were more likely to get excited and support a product if there was more to it than just a basic camera. The more “toys” to add to the collection, the greater the enthusiasm.
So, what are you doing to sell your clients a complete “system”? What are you doing to hook them on your skill set and get them excited about the other products/services you might add. You've got so much more to build on when you create greater value, rather than trimming down your coverage to keep in line with a lower price point.
There’s so much for you to choose from when it comes to added value:
This is a fraction of what you have to offer. Remember your primary goal is to exceed client expectations and make working with you habit-forming! Learning to accessorize each client's experience really doesn't have to be much more complicated than the kid behind the counter at McDonald's asking, "You want fries with that?
It couldn't be a more typical Sunday morning, with one exception. Ever wake up laughing? I have no idea what my last dream of the night was but I got up this morning with a chuckle and no idea what got it started. All I know is that I woke up and wanted to share something completely different for a Sunday Morning Reflections post.
And, since it's Father's Day and I'm a Dad, why not push the creative envelope with something a little different? So, here it is - my debut as a songwriter! Let's set the stage:
I'm not sure when or why it happened, but I got into country music. It's bizarre that it happened over the last few years. Why not when I managed a rodeo team for Polaroid back in the 80's? From events in Fort Worth to Cheyenne, twice a month I was at PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) events, but never got into the music that went with the experience. Well, here I am years later with Sirius radio and "The Highway" is always on.
Stay with me, because there's a link...
We were heading to St. Louis a couple of months ago for ShutterFest and one of my favorite songs, by the Brothers Osborne, "It Ain't My Fault" was playing over and over again in my head. So, I decided to write my own lyrics - just for photographers.
It's especially dedicated to those artists who like to take shortcuts and when something isn't right, find somebody else to blame. If only there really was a "Blame Remover" you could just spray over a mediocre print or album!
Well, the only blame remover out there is your skill set. Your clients deserve the very best, but for the moment, it's too much fun not to laugh at the situation.
I doubt that I'll ever win a Grammy, but we laughed the whole trip. Sheila and I had aisle seats across from each other and every time I wrote another line, I'd lean across the row and sing it to her! And yes, I did share it with my class at ShuterFest, reminding anybody who filmed it, I did NOT give permission for its release.
And that brings me full circle to wishing all you Dads out there a terrific Father's Day. Take the time to hug somebody special in your life or better yet - kick back and appreciate the hugs they give you! Wishing you all a terrific day and one filled with peace, love and plenty of chuckles!
Happy Sunday and Happy Father's Day!
PS Just in case you don't know the real version of the "It Ain't My Fault" with a little help from YouTube it's below.
Blame the print on the camera.
Blame the camera on the print.
Blame the know it all videographer who wouldn't take a hint.
Blame the bride for the groom.
Blame the groom for the bride.
Blame the lab for the prints that made you want to hide.
But it ain't my fault!
Blame your lack of cash on the cost of the gear.
Blame all the blurry pictures 'cause the focus wasn't clear.
Tell all your clients don't believe what they heard.
Don't forget with crappy pictures, you can't buff a turd!
But it ain't my fault.
I need more cash flow.
Don't need no skill set.
I got some great gear,
don't know how to use it yet
Just need a little help....and my work will shine!
Image copyright Jonathan Thorpe. All rights reserved.
I started this series a little over a year ago with one purpose, to introduce you to some of the leaders in imaging, but I underestimated the power of the backstories they'd share about their favorite photographs.
Jonathan Thorpe is in the "Why?" spotlight today. He's a perfect example of one of the things I love most about this industry - the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft.
I first met Jonathan through Tamron USA many years ago. He's one of Tamron's Image Masters and an incredibly talented artist. Although he's best known for his commercial/advertising work, there's nothing he can't photograph. One of his signatures is the way each image tells a story. When you listen to Jonathan's on this episode you'll understand why it's one of his most favorites!
Check out more of Jonathan's images with a click on the image above. And, follow Jonathan along with the rest of the Image Masters team. They're a diverse and talented group of artists who never compromise on the quality of an image or for that matter their dedication to the industry!
Intro by Skip Cohen
I don't usually repost other photographer's content, but every now and then somebody shares a piece of wisdom so valuable it needs to be shared and read by as many people as possible.
The post below was shared by JB Sallee earlier today and it couldn't be more appropriate advice, regardless of whether you're a rookie or a seasoned veteran. It's also irrelevant what your business is - JB's comments apply to any business owner.
I first met JB and DeEtte when JB won the Hy Sheanin Scholarship at WPPI fourteen years ago. Since that very first meeting there's never been a minute where I wasn't proud to call them friends. But the true fun of watching them over the years has been in the transformation from two "kids" with a dream to accomplished artists, then educators and while they grew professionally, they became pretty amazing parents.
As I've written numerous times before - the best part of this industry has nothing to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft!
Happy Anniversary as professional photographers JB and DeEtte - the industry is stronger thanks to the path the two of you chose and I'm so proud to have been a very tiny piece of your journey!
This year we enter our 15th year as professional photographers. In those 15 years we have been through our up's and down's but a few things have kept us going and I wanted to share those with you...
1. Find a best friend to split the workload with. Thank you DeEtte for being a partner in life and a partner in this crazy business. Bouncing ideas back and forth has been my favorite part of our path together in this industry.
2. Keep your chin down, work hard and be kind to others. You never know when someone you were nice to in the past will pave your way in the future.
3. Don't listen to the critics, not everyone is going to like you. Brush it aside and be grateful for the 99.9% out there that do like you.
4. NEVER use others as stepping stones. You will get ahead faster in life if you are kind.
5. Others WILL use you as a stepping stone. Don't fight it, it is inevitable BUT remember this... Karma is a bitch! ;)
Be kind, love others and give more compliments than you think are necessary. That one extra compliment may pave the way for someone else.
by JB Sallee
I found a quote recently from the great military strategist, SunTzu, but I modified it just a little. The word "enemies" has been replaced with "competitors"...
It is said that if you know your competitors and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your competitors but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your competitors nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
The Art of War is primarily attributed to Sun Tzu, but what if he had written The Art of Business?
If you know yourself but not your competitors, "you'll win one and lose one." So, doesn't it make sense to get to know your competitors?
If you don't know yourself or your competitors you're doomed to "be imperiled in every single battle." Here's where so many of you drop the ball; It might sound stupid, but you don't know yourself either!
You've taken short cuts to get your site out there, but your site is hard to navigate and loaded with mediocre images. You figured when it came to your galleries the more images, the more professional you'd look.
You're disappointed in the results of your promotions, but you spent a minimal amount of time thinking them through.
You call yourself a professional, but your skill set is weak - best example - you've declared yourself a natural light specialist, claiming you love natural light when the reality is you're afraid of studio lighting because you haven't taken the time to understand it. (Check out today's post from Profoto with a 3 minute lesson in lighting from Sandy Puc!)
I don't mean to be insulting, just hoping a few of you realize some of the things dragging you down. The best part of this is everything is fixable - but it takes a commitment!
Business today is tough enough with just the challenges of the economy, technology and keeping up with consumer trends. Pay attention to that face you see in the mirror every morning. Ask yourself if you're giving that person, the one looking back at you, the tools they need to be successful.
Most important of all, pay attention to your weaknesses and balance them with your strengths. Nothing could be truer than one of Shakespeare's most famous quotes:
To thine own self be true!
After a week out of commission, I was saving this post for tomorrow, but it's sort of the perfect topic for many of you to think about on a Sunday morning. Don't get caught off-guard - it takes so little effort to have a "what-if" plan.
Happy Sunday - wishing everybody a day of peace and time with the people most important in your life! And, don't forget those eleven-second hugs - they're the best when you're working on new ideas and planning.
"Consider This," is all about things you need to think about in your business and your life. I want to share ideas to help you learn from my mistakes so you can make new ones of your own!
by Skip Cohen
Over my career and my adult life, or at least the time when I was supposed to act like an adult, I've made more than my fair share of mistakes, but this past week has been a doozy and one I've even written about in the past. This is my first post in a week and here's why.
"Accidents only happen to other people. So all you other people, watch out!"
I remember seeing a billboard with that message at least twenty years ago and thinking about how true a statement it was. We all believe we're insulated from many of life's challenges. As we grow older, we think we're getting wiser, but so often it's just the opposite.
Here's the scenario - I'm currently battling the kidney stone from hell, which shut down my left kidney and put me in the hospital for a day. It's a 9mm little sucker that will eventually have to be laser-blasted to be removed. For those of you who are good friends or loyal followers - I'm sharing this as a lesson. I'm NOT looking for the sympathy vote. I'm feeling better, in good care and doing everything I'm supposed to be doing. Although a kidney stone is no fun, we all know people battling far more severe challenges.
But, here's the lesson. I've become too comfortable in the routine of my business and the things I do every day. I never anticipated any interruption. I blog post and tweet several times each day. I work with some amazing companies and have built a mountain of content, but when it came to my health - I had absolutely NO BACKUP plan.
I look back on the number of blog posts, articles for Shutter Magazine and workshops I've taught, and how many times I've talked about backup gear, support and the importance of a plan! Like the billboard I saw so many years ago - I honestly had become complacent enough to believe stuff like this would never happen to me!
So, here are some tips this morning, so you hopefully learn from my stupidity and save the time to create your own new challenges. All you have to do is be comfortable with your answers to these five questions:
No need for me to write more on the topic. In the same way, no professional photographer would ever head to an assignment with just one camera body and lens - put together a backup plan for your business. I'm not talking about the kind of Plan B that suggests failure, but a strategy to keep Plan A alive and well when life gets in the way!
It's so easy to do and will save you time and embarrassment when there's a serious change in plans outside your control!
Yesterday I caught up to good pal Matthew Jordan Smith at his workshop in Orlando. We've been friends for a whole lot of years, meeting in my early WPPI days. He's currently on the road with eight cities left to his almost two month tour.
During one segment of his hands-on workshop he was talking with the class about how you define success. Everyone has a their own definition, but the point he made was how important it is for you to be living your dream and not somebody else's.
I always go a little off track from business and marketing on Sunday mornings, so here's my point. Have you taken the time to think through your definition of success? I'm not talking about how you view other people, but the face looking back at you in the mirror. There is no right or wrong definition, but as you get older you'll notice it changes. It took me a long time to understand that happiness was the key to success.
A few years ago I did a podcast with Sandy Puc. She was very open about her revised definition of success and it wasn't about building her business, but about being happy. It's an incredible podcast and worth listening to, if you haven't heard it before.
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.
Wishing everybody a wonderful Sunday. Don't forget to hit those eleven-second hugs with somebody special in your life. Make it a day of appreciating happiness, and if you're not happy then take the time to step back and figure out what's missing.
This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof, that even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect.
This morning I discovered a new fun aspect to Throwback Thursday.
In an envelope of old photographs I found my baby portrait. The high-key vignette approach is fun to see, even though it's so out of style today. However, the most fun of the shot was taking a stroll in cyberspace with the information on the back of the print.
The name of the photographer was there along with his address and phone number. I love thinking back to the days when we had a word in front of a four digit phone number. In fact, I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I remember our phone number growing up, Elmwood 2-3413.
Well, looking up Claude Cassirer, here's what I found in a 2001 article from San Diego's East County Magazine:
Claude Cassirer, who survived an internment camp during World War II and became a lecturer in schools teaching students about the Holocaust, died on September 25, 2010. A portrait photographer, he later became a volunteer and licensed ombudsman for the State of California for more than 20 years, striving to assure proper healthcare for seniors. He and his wife, Beverly, were also prominent political activists and co-founders of the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club.
Recently, Cassirer made headlines by winning a court battle in September that allowed him to sue the government of Spain. His lawsuit sought to recover a Pissarro painting stolen from his grandparents by the Nazis, but he passed away before he could see his long-time dream fulfilled.
Further into the article,
The couple became active in progressive political politics, including John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign, which kicked off in Cleveland.
Although he passed away in 2010, what a kick to dig into a little more of the history of the photographer who did my baby portrait.
Throwback Thursday has so much potential to help market portraiture, and so many of you are always looking for content. Remember, your target is "Mom." The kids are changing every day and her time to capture memories is limited. Use old portraits like this to make a point and then tie it back to a promotional offer for a family sitting.
It's up to you to plant those seeds!
Image copyright Don Komarechka. All rights reserved.
Episode 1: Creative Discovery
We've all heard John Burrough's expression, "Leap and the net will appear!" That's the perfect way to describe part of the foundation behind "The Creative Envelope," a new podcast series Don Komarechka and I just launched.
Here's the background - Don and I met almost four years ago when we were both involved in a live Google+ Hangout in the Panasonic booth at PPE in New York. Don was the "talking head" on the monitor with me and Bob Coates as the guests on site. A few months later Don was my guest on Sprouting Photographer's Weekend Wisdom show.
Just recently we did an "EDU10" podcast prior to Don's free X-Rite Photo & Video webinar on resolving the challenges in printing macro images. Out of that webinar came one of the most viewed "Why?" images I've ever shared, Don's macro shot of an ant on a blade of grass.
With every project we've worked on together there's always been a lengthy old-fashioned phone conversation about some aspect of business, technology, marketing or the state of the industry. I'm fascinated by his mad-scientist approach and his constant enthusiasm to not only break the rules of imaging, but openly share new ways to push the creative envelope.
Here's a prime example - Don's book Sky Crystals was self-published and is a cross between a fine art table top book and a detailed "how-to" recipe book about photographing snowflakes. Before crowd-funding he built up a following on Google+ of over one million fans. Through their support he was able to fund a stunning book on a completely niche specialty - the macro world of snow.
In the weeks ahead we're hoping to combine the passion we share for the industry with topics on marketing, business, technique, social media and anything else that comes along. This first episode is all about NEVER compromising on quality, and the image above is the spider and UV experiment "Dr. Don" talks about in the podcast.
Welcome to The Creative Envelope!
Every Memorial Day I stumble around trying to figure out what to write. I always like to start out the same way, because we've stepped so far away from the definition of the holiday and how it got started.
Here's the definition from Wikipedia:
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.
In my family we've been fortunate and never lost anybody on the battlefield, starting with my Dad in WWII. But, Sheila and I have both lost friends over the years going back to the Viet Nam War. And, having a son who's actively serving today, and who has done multiple tours of the Middle East, we're very much in tune with the worries every military parent shares.
This is a short post this morning...
For any of you who have lost a loved one in war, thank you for your incredible service. We all recognize there's no sacrifice greater than the one you've made. For those of you with family members serving now, thank you for your support and dedication.
Lastly, for those of you thinking Memorial Day is simply the kick-off of summer - be safe, enjoy the day, but somewhere in the midst of your holiday barbecue take five minutes and think about our military. Regardless of your opinion and the politics, they always deserve our utmost respect!
"If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you can read this in English, thank a veteran."
"Your calm mind is your ultimate weapon against the challenges. So relax!"
I've truly grown to love Sunday mornings and the luxury I chose to give myself a long time ago has now become a wonderful routine. The fun of Sunday Morning Reflections is in writing about whatever I want. Since the majority of you are photographers, it's the equivalent of shooting a personal project - I have no specific goals except a little hopefully relevant self-expression.
Let's set the stage. Yesterday was my birthday. I don't have it posted on my Facebook page, although I forgot it was on LinkedIn. While I appreciate everyone's kind wishes, I love having the day exclusively with the most important person in my life, my wife, Sheila. I caught up with a few friends online and then unplugged for the rest of the day.
Yesterday was perfect, and it started with me, camera in hand, chasing a monarch butterfly around the yard, followed by the beach, a little shopping, dinner with Sheila making me a few of my favorites and binge-watching "House of Cards," which we never saw. And there you have it - I barely went online. Didn't think about the business, things I have on my to-do list, or making any notable contribution to society.
Here's my point this morning. It's taken me most of my time as an adult to realize this is my life; it's not a dress rehearsal. We all work hard, and while I love the paths my career has taken me down, there needs to be a time when I can just relax and step away from the business. It's okay to have a "slug day" now and then. In fact, without them, I'd crash and burn!
So, if you're having a tough time with the concept, and it does take a little advance preparation to get the right mindset, here are some suggestions:
And there it is - four ideas to help you create the perfect slug day, but for many of you, it'll be tough. Why? Because you're so focused on defining every minute as productive. You don't realize recharging your battery by just kicking back and smelling the roses might be the most productive thing you could be doing.
"Each person deserves a day in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.
Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us."
Wishing everybody the perfect Sunday, and if you need it, a slug day. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and be selfish with your time. It's a holiday weekend in the U.S. hopefully giving many of you the time to kick back and relax. Make it a day with as many smiles as you can pack in!
Image copyright Jared Platt. All rights reserved.
Jared Platt joins us on "Why?" today with an intense backstory and a bonus; a lesson in how important it is for artists to learn to see - not just their subjects, but the emotion of the moment.
I started this series to help you get to know photographers who need to be on your radar, but it's become so much more. Each artist, and especially Jared today, has shared not just the why behind a favorite image, but often the why they're passionate about the craft.
Jared is one of the leading educators in professional photography today, and he's going to be on the road a lot this year. If he's teaching in your area make it a point to get to know him. Just click on the image above to connect to his schedule and his website. He's also one of the leading educators for Profoto, and an X-Rite Coloratti. Click on the links below to follow Jared's Profoto YouTube series (16 videos in all) and meet the Coloratti team.
As photographers Throwback Thursday can be a powerful tool for marketing. Using your blog, it's a great way to generate a new post each week about photography and the importance of capturing memories, especially of kids as they're growing up. Every day they change a little more, and it's up to you to plant the reminder with "Mom."
But for me, and today's post is a perfect example, I love wandering through files of old photographs. While I think I shared this once before, it was years ago, so sharing it again is in itself a throwback event! I've got this huge smile on my face just thinking about the day above.
I got certified in the early 90's and scuba became an obsession. With a group of great friends we hit trip after trip throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Cocos Island and even Truk Lagoon off the coast of Guam. I heard a great expression once, diving isn't a hobby it's a sickness.
Sharing this sickness with me are two great friends, Kayce Baker and Bob Rose. The three of us went all over the world together. The shot above was taken at Catalina Island. They've got a wonderful marine park, all roped off and ready to explore. However, true to form and consistent with my perpetual horrible sense of direction, I managed to get lost and lose the two of them on a dive.
Getting lost in a small marine park supported one of the most important rules on every trip we were ever on: "Never follow Skip!"
Happy Throwback Thursday! And to Bob and Kayce - I miss you guys and the adventures!
"One important key to success is self-confidence.
An important key to self-confidence is preparation!"
If there’s one common denominator between all the photographers who we respect it’s confidence. They speak with the voice of authority. They know what they’re talking about, and it's so bizarre that so many of you think of them as "overnight" success stories. Their ability to be confident didn’t show up on their doorstep in a Fedex box – it came with years of practice.
We all have moments where we're treading lightly and lack a little confidence. However, as artists and small business owners there are so many things you can do to boost your belief in yourself and your abilities.
1. Your network: Surround yourself with positive people. Everybody doesn't have to agree with the path you've chosen, but if they're negative about it, then you need to find a way to remove them from your sphere of influence. I know it's far more complicated than I make it sound, but nobody has the right to step on your dreams.
2. Your technical skill set: Practice getting to know every aspect of your gear. Know the limits or your equipment and know how to push them to the max every time. Practice on window light, on and off camera strobes, dragging the shutter and experiment with depth of field. If you're a more seasoned veteran and heading off into more diversification for your business, then you need to practice in this new area of expertise, just like you hopefully did when you were first starting out.
But remember something about practicing. "Practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. If you're practicing it wrong, then you're accomplishing nothing." I'd love to take credit for this, but it all belongs to good buddy, Roberto Valenzuela.
3. Composition and your evolution: Look at the last 100 images you took. This one is easy, just take two sheets of paper and as you look at the images, crop them on your monitor. New photographers especially tend to put too much in the scene. At a program a few years ago Roberto dissected an image to show how many other potential images there were in the same scene.
This is also a chance for a front row seat on your own evolution as an artist. Pull some images from a few years ago and compare them to your most recent work. More than likely there's been a change in the way you shoot, the look and feel of your images and the quality of your work.
4. Videos: No, I’m not talking about creating them, but if you're a wedding photographer, what if you could watch the wedding video of one of the weddings you photographed. This requires a relationship with the videographer, but if you can establish that, just watch it and look for the images you might have missed. Train your eyes and ears to look for and listen for those special emotional moments.
5. Print Critique: Put a few of your images out there for critique. There are dozens of different Facebook forums where you can post your images and other photographers will tell you what they think. Remember to maintain a thick skin. Unfortunately, there's always one arrogant fool out there who will shred your image, but don't react. Most people have learned to "play nice." Besides, always remember, "Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!"
6. Visit your Lab: Get to know the staff at your lab and learn to understand what they can fix. I'm a huge fan of personal, live, onsite visits, but if you can't do that then make it a point to meet the people from your lab at the next trade show or convention. If that isn't possible then spend time on their site getting to know their product line and website as good as you know your own. Use the phone now and talk to your lab and find out what's new in their product line. Having exciting cutting-edge products to share with your clients are confidence builders all on their own.
7. Use your network: I started out talking about who you allow in your network, but this is about using it. Your network, if you've built it right, is made of positive people with common interests and a passion for imaging. Don't be afraid to ask for advice or help. It's the saddest thing to see a photographer struggle simply because they're embarrassed to ask a few questions.
8. Own your zipcode: Owning your zipcode simply means getting to know the people and businesses in your neighborhood, but it's also about them knowing you. Confidence comes with familiarity. Building relationships with the potential client base physically closest to you will help solidify your skill set and also help you understand the weak links.
7. Be active in the various forums: Facebook is remarkable, because anybody, no matter how obscure you think your interest in photography might be, can still find a group of people with a common interest. Type your specialty into the Facebook search box and you'll see what comes up. People are always asking questions and sharing the answers. What you'll most often find is you're not alone in many of your challenges.
8. Attend workshops: This is about spending time with other photographers and being able to talk about the craft and share ideas. You need to attend as many live programs as you possibly can. And, always talk to the people seated around you. This is more than just building your network, but about finding solutions to many of your biggest concerns.
9. Join the local guild: From PPA affiliates to meetups to ASMP, APA, and local camera clubs, in almost every community there are photographers getting together monthly to expand their skill set and share their mutual passion for the craft. You need to be a part of whatever group is in your area.
10. Role play: So often artists lack confidence in their selling skills. Even with an outstanding skill set, it's not easy to close the sale. That means you have to spend some time practicing your pitch and dealing with the negatives. Whether it's somebody in your family or some associates, get together and practice with each other.
Need a little help on how to close the sale? Check out this post from Scott Bourne and then practice, practice, practice!
11. Find a mentor: This is harder than it sounds, because everybody is typically so busy. However, that doesn't mean you can't develop a relationship with somebody who can help you from time to time with your journey. This is about building confidence. A good choice in a mentor can help you stay focused and smooth out the road here and there when you're feeling frustrated.
12. Be active in your community: Success in business today isn't about who you know, but who knows you. Work to build relationships with people in your community, active and potential clients and yes, your competitors. Great relationships help build confidence in your presentation and selling skills.
Here's the bottom line and it's not exclusive to photography. Building confidence is about being involved. You can't just sit on the sidelines and watch the parade go by. You have to get involved in the industry and in your community to build confidence in your skill set as a photographer, a communicator and a business person.
Need Help With Pricing?
It's not rocket science and profit isn't a dirty word. Bad pricing is one of the most critical mistakes artists make.
Just click on the image above to find out about Skip's Lynda.com series on "Starting a Photography Business" and "Pricing."
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound byte. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. There were fifty different artists featured in 2016 and we anticipate doubling that in 2017. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.
Skip Cohen is President of SCU, founder of Marketing Essentials International and past president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI. He's been an active participant in the photographic industry since joining Hasselblad USA in 1987 as president. He has co-authored six books on photography and actively supports dozens of projects each year involving photographic education.
Guest posts are a regular event at SCU and appear under their own heading as well as Luminary Corner.
SCU is proud to bring you some of the most recognized photographers in the industry. You'll also meet a few not so well known, but with terrific ideas to help you build a stronger business model.
Scott Bourne has retired, but as the first Dean of Marketing at SCU, a professional photographer and educator his support was critical to the success and growth of SCU. From time to time you'll see a reference to one of his Marketing Monday posts from the SCU or GoingPro archives.