It's Throwback Thursday, and if you're going to do it right each week, you'll notice how it starts to become an art form. A throwback image is anything you want it to be, as long as you have to jump into the "way-back machine" to appreciate it.
Appreciation comes in all forms, but for me, it's often split between our roots and technology. I love old photographs, especially when they tie into family. Black and white images are in all our roots in photography. There are few photos more fun to look at than old classic black and white portraits.
That's Sheila's great grandmother, Kitty Gentry on the left, and my great grandparents on the right. My guess is there's about a ten-year span between when the images were taken, Kitty being first, around 1865.
As I follow the worldwide crisis with immigration today, I can't help but think about the story of my own family landing in NYC and getting off the boat from Russia. Then there were the challenges Sheila's family faced when her great grandfather married a full-blooded Cherokee.
A few years ago I sat in on a terrific workshop with Beverly and Tim Walden. They talked about their portrait business. They position each portrait session as much more than a photograph but the creation of a fine art family heirloom. They're not creating stunning portraits, but art to be handed down from generation to generation. They even do a certificate of authenticity on the back, establishing its value as a memory to be savored for years to come.
We're an industry of magic, and as sappy as you might think it sounds, we help people stop time, capture memories and turn them into tangible moments to be cherished forever. Sheila and I love these two old photographs, and in fact, Kitty's in an antique frame and hangs in a corner in our home.
I always suggest you use Throwback Thursday as a marketing tool in your blog to remind your target audience of the power of old photographs and the importance of capturing today's memories. But you also need to look at old images for yourself. In the day-in-day-out challenges of business, it's so easy to forget the value of what photography gives the world.
So, take the time today to dig through some of those old family prints and take a walk down Memory Lane! You won't regret it.
At the start of each Beyond Technique podcast, my co-host, Chamira Young, always shares the same opening line..."Welcome to Beyond Technique, a podcast empowering photographers to bring their businesses to the next level." I've been thinking about that statement and defining the next level.
As artists, all of you are working to raise the bar on your skill set and the quality of images you capture and present, but there are so many choices in goals for the next level, and that's what I appreciate about the team at PhotoShelter. They're helping you present your images in the best way possible, but their dedication doesn't stop there - the next level for one photographer might be to build stronger brand awareness, while another needs to diversify or share better content. All along the way the PhotoShelter team is there to help, right down to live phone support with the best customer service team in the industry!
Adam Mowery joins us in this new podcast, and he's an artist constantly striving to hit that next level. His passion couldn't be easier to understand - it's all about life. There are a couple of lines in his bio I want to share:
Adam is an adventurer, creative thinker, and constantly pushes life to the limits. He will never be caught "status quo." To Adam, creativity is a lifestyle not just a means to an end.
One look at Adam's galleries and you're immediately hit with his love for the outdoors, people and photography. His images capture the look of fine art, lifestyle and here and there even a whimsical moment. Obviously, there's nothing Adam can't photograph, but his images are mostly about his passion for the outdoors and people.
Lots of people are doing podcasts these days, but we couldn't be prouder of the quality of artists sharing their insight into their journey in imaging. A BIG thanks to Adam for sneaking in the time to join us on this new episode of Beyond Technique, and sharing a lot of great insight into relationship building, pursuing your dreams, diversity in imaging and lessons he's learned along the way.
Visit Adam's galleries with a click on any image in this post, and make sure you look at his collection of tear sheets. It's one thing to capture great lifestyle and adventure images, but another to see the diversity in how they're used in editorial and advertising.
And, we always love to thank the team at PhotoShelter. Every day they set a standard for the services and products they offer each client. They never slow down in their dedication to the artists they support and their focus on customer service.
Images copyright Adam Mowry. All rights reserved.
It's Marketing Monday, and over the last few years, I've repeatedly written about using your own images for your holiday card, thank-you notes, and stationery. As professional photographers, you need to show your work at every opportunity, and nothing is easier than a great holiday card.
Because of an incorrect address in her files we got a pleasant surprise in today's mail from Sarah Petty. If there was an award for the best holiday card of the season this year, here's the presentation that would win hands-down. From the very first panel of this black and white fourteen-panel accordion style card to the last, it's a celebration of photography, family and Sarah's ability to walk the talk!
From the cover shot of her twin daughters, right through to her son and the two girls in 2018, Sarah's sharing her journey as a proud parent and Mom! Every page is worth savoring - beautiful photography combined with great expressions and Sarah's ability to tell the story.
I grabbed a few pages to share with you, just because it's so outstanding.
Sarah's sharing a seventeen-year body of work spotlighting her three kids. I can't think of a better way to remind people what she does best as a photographer, artist, and let's not forget Mom and parent! Her last page below brings everything together. I called and asked her for permission to share these images, and she sent me the pdf, but on the card I received she topped it off with a hand-written wish for a happy new year.
Sarah and her team are regularly sharing outstanding marketing tips to help you build a stronger business. Click on any of the images in the post to link to her Joy of Marketing blog. And, if she's teaching at any conference you're attending, run don't walk to grab a seat.
Snow Goose at Sunrise
Bosque del Apache
Panasonic Lumix G9 with the Leica 100-400mm lens
Exposure triad: f/11, 1/800 sec, ISO 640.
Seeing this image shared by my buddy Shiv Verma last November, I realized that Bosque del Apache has been on my bucket list for far too many years. It's time to change that in 2019.
Just in case you don't know about Bosque del Apache:
"The Refuge is 57,331 acres located along the Rio Grande near Socorro, located at the northern edge of the Chihuahuan desert. The heart of the Refuge is about 12,900 acres of moist bottomlands - 3,800 acres are active floodplain of the Rio Grande and 9,100 acres are areas where water is diverted to create extensive wetlands, farmlands, and riparian forests." Quote taken from: https://www.newmexico.org
"Each season, the Bosque del Apache offers unique bird and wildlife viewing opportunities. Peak visitation occurs in winter when bald eagles and thousands of sandhill cranes and snow geese flock to the fields and marshes. Plan to visit the weekend before Thanksgiving during the annual Festival of the Cranes. This world-famous event includes speakers, special tours, and arts and wildlife displays." Quote taken from: https://www.socorronm.org
While it is "Mirrorless Monday," today's post is also a perfect example of the best thing about our industry, the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Although Shiv and I crossed paths several times in previous careers, we've managed to get in a lot of quality time over the last couple of years thanks to Panasonic. Shiv's a LUMIX Ambassador, and over the years we've caught up to each other at various shows and even my house for dinner when he's speaking at the Southwest Florida Birding Festival in Fort Myers.
He posted the image above on the LUMIX Photographer's Facebook page, and it was so beautiful, I wanted to share it here in a post. Remember, this is a screenshot, so you can imagine how stunning the original must be at maximum resolution.
Check out the gear Shiv used to capture this image with a click on either of the thumbnails below. "Changing Photography" is Panasonic's tagline. They never slow down in bringing the very best in creative tools to photographers all over the world.
You'll enjoy more of Shiv's work with a click on today's "Mirrorless Monday" photograph above. Then follow him and the entire US LUMIX Ambassador team. They're regularly speaking at LUMIX retailers and conventions around the country. They're one of the most diverse and creative teams in photography, and should all be on your radar, and you'll be surprised at how much great content they share.
It's no good running a pig farm badly for thirty years while saying,
"Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer." By that time, pigs will be your style.
The other day in the Facebook Wedding Photographers Forum in commenting about a post that was up, a photographer responded with..." wedding photographers are considered the bottom feeders of the business." Yes, I'm taking it out of context, but it doesn't change the nature of the comment.
Having worked with professional photographers for the last 30+ years, I've got a lot of friends on the wedding side of the business. And, while I'll admit I consider photographing weddings one of the very toughest specialties in imaging, it's anything but filled with "bottom feeders." Sure, it's the easiest of the photographic specialties to break into, but that's also because it's got the highest demand with a relatively stable need of 2.5 million weddings each year, just in the US alone.
Wedding photographers, working on a day when Bambi Cantrell has described as, "Logic doesn't reign as king!" they have very little control over the event they've been hired to photograph. They work in some of the most difficult lighting situations, often with unreasonable time constraints and stress. Yet, many of them capture stunning images, tell incredible stories and create the first family heirloom of a new family!
However, what really bothered me was the way a comment like this can be perceived, and I went off searching through the SCU archives, because I know I wrote about being happy with your career choice several years ago. So, if you read parts of this post in 2015, my apologies, but it's too much on point not to share again!
On a fairly regular basis I'll hear a photographer comment about the things they don't like about their career choice. It's always the same tone as they look back and say something like, "I really wanted to get into fashion, but..."
No matter how long or short a time you've been in business, there's always the opportunity to change paths. Nothing has to be forever. And for those of you who are already rolling your eyes and saying, "That's easy for you to say," I know exactly what I'm talking about. I'm the guy who left a great job as President of Rangefinder/WPPI, because I was no longer happy in what I was doing. It wasn't easy, but had I stayed; it would have only been a matter of time until my heart just wasn't in it.
This year it will be ten years since I resigned from Rangefinder Publishing/WPPI and started my own company. It's been an amazing ride and continues to still have me jumping out of bed each day, smiling and filled with the curiosity of a kid on Christmas morning. Adapting isn't easy, but it's incredibly fulfilling. The industry is constantly changing; technology keeps expanding how we communicate and share images; and the world keeps getting smaller. I shared images in a spotlight post last week from Chad Pennington, who I caught up to while he was having lunch in Nigeria!
If you're unhappy with what you're shooting, then you owe it to yourself to identify what's missing. That applies to everything you do, including what's going on in your life. Find the time to stare into space and ponder the meaning of life.
What works best for me is to find a quiet place in the house. We've got this one chair in the living room that's incredibly comfortable. I'll typically get a glass of wine, put on some of my favorite music and kick back for an hour or more to think about a specific task or project. The key here is uninterrupted thought. I might even have a small notebook close by to write down some ideas. At some point, I'll have ideas for a solution, and that's where Sheila comes in.
You need a sounding board, and ideally, it needs to be somebody who knows you better than you do! This is about trust, understanding, and expression. Often, some of the ideas in my head are good, and other times they're horrible, but Sheila's insight helps me focus. This approach works for the significant challenges, as well as the small ones...the key here is being honest with yourself and living by that line from Shakespeare,
"To thine own self be true."
Remember, you can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it!
If I was going to put a more specific title on this post, it would be The Art of Saying Good-bye, but I want to minimize the drama. Even though It's a tough topic, I am NOT writing this for sympathy, just sharing the mix of emotions I'm dealing with, which is what Sunday Morning Reflections are always about.
Everyone thinks they have the best dog and none of them are wrong.
Molly, the Wonder Dog, has been with me for 13 1/2 years and has pretty much never left my side. Over the years we even made a few road trips together. In 2009, on the drive from California to Ohio over three long days of driving, she listened without comment as I talked about my future with Sheila. LOL
Recently she seemed off a beat - waking us up in the middle of the night to go out, and now and then having difficulty with her back legs when getting up. So, off to the vet, we went.
After a barrage of tests, he didn't like her liver numbers. He put her on a nutritional supplement used to improve liver function. Within a couple of days she was acting better.
He also referred us to a pet oncologist. The doc did an ultrasound, as we held Molly on her back, pretty much panic-stricken, while her stomach and lower abdomen were scanned. And there it was - a big ugly tumor on her liver. The prognosis, without doing a biopsy, was whether malignant or benign it will eventually end her life. I cried the whole drive home, acting like I was saying good-bye that night.
All of this happened December 18, and since then, Molly's had plenty of energy. She's back to sleeping through the night. Her back leg problem comes and goes. Every day at 4:00 we're out chasing tennis balls, and she's the same goofball she's always been. She rarely leaves my side during the day...her appetite is terrific...and we reenact a series of obnoxious "Timmy and Lassie" scenes every day.
So, here's the bottom line...I wish I didn't know what was going on and hadn't done the ultra-sound. I know she's in no pain and if I didn't know about the tumor, she's never seemed healthier, just older and now and then a little slower.
The vet had suggested we do a biopsy and I turned it down. Molly's almost 14, and I will not prolong her life with any level of pain. Like so many of you, when that day comes I'll let her go, and I'll be miserable, but I am so grateful to have her in my life. I wish I could have squashed my need to dig deeper into her ailments and just let things take their course.
I look back on friends who have had to let go of their pets, and so often the heart-breaking posts they've shared on Facebook. I've empathized with their loss, hugged Molly and have been grateful it's not something I had to deal with at the time...well, it's different when the problem is on your doorstep.
And there you have it - the art of saying good-bye to your pup in a situation like this, is just not to say good-bye. I'm packing in daily memories, plenty of ball-chasing and every minute appreciating how lucky I am to have Molly the Wonder Dog in my life. Now and then I slip with a tear, but overall, I'm keeping my big boy pants on!
Photography through all of this is playing an enormous role. Every print and digital file I have has become more valuable to me.
Molly's one of the most photographed pups in the industry having been captured on film and digital over the years by Bambi Cantrell, Judy Host, Carey Schumacher, Nicole Begley and her entire pet photography class here in Sarasota (which is where I met Janet DelTuva), Helen Yancy, Suzette Allen, and most recently Robert Vanelli. Those photographs have become a collection of memories that will always be priceless to me. They're a constant reminder of the power of imaging and the importance of what we do for a living!
So, I wish all of you an outrageously great Sunday. Cherish the time with family, friends and the pets in your life. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, including ones with your pup. And while a lot of people think we're nuts talking to our dogs as if they understand, don't believe for a second they don't! Most important of all, don't waste a minute not making memories - life is too short.
Happy Sunday and thanks for listening!
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
There's so much great content available on the Internet and especially on the Profoto website. I ran across this post in the "Inspirations" feature in the Profoto Archives, and there's a significant reason why I wanted to share it.
So often over the years, especially going back to my Rangefinder Magazine days, I'd hear photographers comment on a particular cover. The usual comment was, "I could have shot that!" The reality is they didn't, but it goes much deeper than that - they never tried. They weren't working to build a reputation as one of the very best. They hadn't done any relationship building with the staff. Mostly they were sitting around and waiting to be discovered!
What I love most about this post, "Alexvi Reveals How He Created a Cover for GQ Magazine," is that Alexvi really does share his vision combined with his thought process in delivering an outstanding image as the finished product. Part of that process is also thinking through the format of the magazine.
From the post, Alexvi wrote:
Vicson, the creative director of GQ China, came out with a fun and bold idea – the ten people in the photo are standing in a circle, and they are all looking down at the camera. Due to the different distances between the subjects and the camera, there would be an overlay relationship between the models.
To test whether the idea was feasible, they arranged ten staff members as models to simulate the shoot and identify potential problems. The lighting setup was designed to imitate the natural sunlight from behind, while the subjects' faces also needed to be lit.
The whole image would be folded twice and thus divided into three sections while avoiding broken lines on the subjects' faces. At the same time, the full-width image had to be well composed for the fold-out.
The challenge we'd so often see at Rangefinder was photographers submitting work that didn't fit the cover size. First, it's a vertical format - so, horizontal images just don't work. Second, there are specific areas of the cover for the title and an open space for the address label. If you're submitting work to any magazine and hoping to be published and scoop the cover, you've got to take the time to consider the format and needs of the magazine. Just submitting beautiful images isn't enough!
There's a lot of outstanding insight in this story and it's well-worth reading the entire post. Alexvi should also be on your radar. He's a phenomenal artist.
"Alexvi is a well-known Chinese photographer. He is the photographer with whom Ang Lee most frequently cooperates in China, and he documents the daily life of Ozzy Osbourne. He has also shot for directors, actors, singers and most celebrities in China.
Alexvi, born in 1984, is a Profoto China ambassador and a master at balancing art and commerce. He collects inspiration from his daily life, which makes his work with diverse perspectives silent but profound. In a sense, he can be regarded as an artist rather than a fashion photographer.
He is the founder of ASTUDIO and has shot covers for several fashion and art magazines, such as Chinese GQ, Esquire, Bazaar Art, ELLEMEN and Traveller.
In 2015, his photo book “Lonely Planet” won the Photobook Awards Martin Parr Edition at Lianzhou Foto Festival, and in June 2016 his project “Peking Apartments” won the Fine Art Photography Awards in London. In addition to his work as a photographer, Alexvi is also a director and director of photography. In 2016, he curated an exhibition at UCCA, one of the best known art galleries in China. The exhibition involved nine influential Chinese artists."
Check out the entire article from "Inspirations" with a click on any of the images above. And, take the time to find the Profoto dealer nearest you. Isn't it time you find out what all the buzz is about. Profoto never slows down in manufacturing the finest lighting gear in professional photography.
One of the best things about my lifetime career in this industry has been the adventures over the years. I have photographs and digital files everywhere. I found this 5x5 print recently tucked away in a file drawer and it's a testimonial to memory-making.
That's me, Tony Corbell and Duncan MacNab on the annual snowmobile trip to Yellowstone. I have no idea why I was holding a can of SPAM, but what a kick to look back on these trips.
For ten years, every winter, a group of us flew into Bozeman and headed to Yellowstone for three days with a ton of camera gear. It was before all the restrictions on sleds in the park, so we had almost complete freedom and typically covered 300+ miles over the short trip. The idea started with just Bob Thompson, Duncan, Chris Kent and me, and eventually grew to 25 people, almost all from the photo industry.
On one day each trip, we'd ride up to "Two Top." If I remember right, the elevation was around 9000 feet. Duncan had a gas grill on runners he'd tow to the top. Equipped with everything, for a backyard barbecue the smell of cheeseburgers and grilled onions were in the air within minutes. I remember another group on snowmobiles showing up as we were having lunch. The WTF expression on their faces watching a group around a grill on a remote mountain top was priceless.
The view at Two Top was incredible, and you could see for miles. Temperatures hit well below zero and between the wind and the snow Mother Nature created a new art exhibit on the trees and bushes every day. This shot of a "Snow Dragon" was one of my favorites.
Use your throwback images as a marketing tool on your blog. Old photographs showing changes in style, your family growing up, etc. are perfect reminders for most of you to share with your target audience. Remind "Mom" how fast things are changing in her family and the importance of an updated family portrait. And, if you don't like to share old photographs, take the time to appreciate them just for yourself. They're a great reminder of the importance of this industry and the magic you can deliver to every client.
By Chamira Young
If you've never been to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on the west coast of Michigan, it's a lovely place to venture when you have the time. At nearly every turn there are countless possibilities to make both great memories and fantastic photos. The area is very picturesque, and today's featured photo is evidence of that.
I snapped this photo years ago while hiking the dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan. The original image is a bit dark, but had a ton of potential. I couldn't resist taking it into Skylum's Luminar and seeing if I could add a dreamy quality to it. Check out the original image:
Adding a Dreamy Quality in Luminar
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the entire process took me all of about five or 10 minutes. That's what I love so much about this software.
First I selected the "Outdoor" category within the list of presets. Although there is a "Daydreams" preset, I decided I wanted to add my own dreamlike quality manually, so I selected the "Autosmart Enhancer" preset. From there, I raised the Vibrance to a value of 70, which was a little on the high side but like I mentioned before, I wanted to go for a dreamy quality. From there, I added the HSL Filter and raised the Blue slider to an aggressive value of 67, and the Aqua slider to 14, which effectively enhanced the sky. I also raised the Shadows slider to 11, which brought out just a bit more detail from the blades of grass. In order to add even more detail, I raised the Clarity slider to 43. And as a final touch, I used the Sunrays Filter to add just a hint of warm glow between the branches of the trees.
Check out the final result below. I was quite happy with it!
Still the Biggest "No Brainer" Decision in Photography!
Put in the special discount code of "SKIPCOHEN" and receive an additional $10 off. That means you can buy Luminar 3 for just $59 USD.
Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.
I'm not sure what sparked my thought process this morning, but the magic of this industry is so much on my mind. This is a short post dedicated to magic - not the magic of love like the Lovin' Spoonful's song from 1965 for you old farts out there, but the magic of our industry.
The magic, when you have a career you love, is universal, but as a professional photographer, you've got the tools to truly be a magician. Think about it for just a second - What could be more magical than your ability to stop time, capture a memory and hand a client that moment in a tangible form for them to cherish forever?
Here's my point - all of us have days when the clouds roll in, and we can't find the silver lining. We get buried in the bullshit of running a business, dealing with the peaks and valleys in sales, paying bills, thinking about the year ahead, dealing with the competition, finding new clients and the list goes on and on. Plus, it's convention season, tax season and we're thinking about what we have to pay a government who's currently showing anything but professionalism and acting like adults. We've all seen more maturity on elementary school playgrounds!
So, when any of these things happen, you've got to take a step back. Recognize the signs of what I call short-term burnout. Step away from the business. Find yourself a quiet place, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a cold beer and chill. Think about what brought you into this business in the first place and if you have to, force a smile - it'll relax your face and help change your perspective on the challenges you're facing.
And yes, it really is almost that easy! The tricky part is forcing yourself to step away and take the time to pat yourself on the back for everything you've accomplished so far!
It's just a bad day - not a bad life!
Images copyright Ken Sklute. All rights reserved.
I started this series as a way to introduce you to the movers and shakers in the industry. Whether you're new to the industry or a seasoned veteran, there are so many artists who have helped blaze the trail in technology, creativity, education and pure passion for the craft. It was time for a project sharing their work and the stories behind their images.
It's a kick to have Ken Sklute join me on this new episode of "Why?" because we go back so many years and share so many friends. He's a photographer, educator and good buddy to so many of us in the industry.
I love the backstory he wanted to share, not on one image but several. There was a unique point he made, and it's important to share it here as well.
Ken talked about the importance of visualization before you pick up your camera, as opposed to walking around and looking for something to photograph. I'm not sure Ken's mind's eye visions ever shut off, but spend some time with him when he's shooting, and you'll see an intentional approach to images he chooses to capture.
One other fun aspect of this episode is the reminder of how small the photographic industry is. The wedding image below is of Judy Host and Eddie Tapp in Malibu. Not only are Judy and Eddie good friends of mine as well, but they also have recorded episodes of "Why?" in the last couple of years.
To see more of Ken's work, click on any of his images in this post.
The fun of a project like this is in the diversity of the content being shared with two common denominators - everyone's incredible love for the craft combined with their passion for supporting the industry! There are now 111 artists featured in the "Why?" series. A BIG thanks to Ken along with all of the artists who have opened their hearts and shared a small piece of their journey.
Images copyright Chad Pennington. All rights reserved.
Chad Pennington and I met online many years ago when he reached out to me with a comment about something on Facebook. While I love an IM conversation on Facebook, I often just pick up the phone and call. Well, that kicked off a great friendship. From there we've bumped into each other at various conventions over the years; stayed in touch through IMs on Facebook and grabbed a few phone calls here and there.
But more than anything today, this is one of those spotlight posts that's a testimonial to what I love most about this industry and social media - it helps us stay in touch.
It started a couple days ago when going through birthday notifications on Facebook; I wished Chad a Happy Birthday. It was early, and I never expected him to respond right away, but he was right there in the IM box. He thanked me, and that kicked off a "catch-up" conversation.
He's in Nigeria this week, and curious about what he's working on, I asked him to send a couple of images from his trip. He immediately dropped these two stunning images into the IM thread mentioning these were from his visit three months ago. (Click on either image to visit Chad's website to see more of his work.)
I haven't lost touch with Chad, but I had lost touch with his work. It's easily been five years or more that our friendship took off, but I hadn't been looking at his galleries. I've often written that the best thing about this industry has nothing to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft.
Well, Chad loves the craft! That quest for the ultimate image runs through his veins every time a camera is in his hands, and I'm so grateful that social media gives us the ability to stay connected.
When I think back to the early days, when I first came into the professional side of this industry at Hasselblad in '87, the only way we'd share images was either in person or through the mail. The Internet changed the way we share photographs, share friendships and share our passion for the craft!
So to Chad - thanks for following through and sending me the specs on both images as well. Thanks for a great friendship, and thanks for always being true to quality in everything you do. I'm sure proud to consider you a buddy - safe travels!
Note: Chad's shooting with a Canon 5D Mark III.
His model for both images is Folowosele Tomi from Lagos, Nigeria.
Over the years we've all heard the word "recipe" over and again, most of the time in relation to either food or success. B. F. Fairless, a 20th Century American steel executive wrote:
What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: chose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of a team.
Welcome to Tamron Recipes where we're sharing the ingredients for great photography and combining imaging and success by some of the finest "chefs" in the industry.
David Akoubian joins us in this first episode, and following B.F. Fairless's lead: He's chosen a career path he loves; always gives it his best; he rarely slows down seizing/capturing incredible images and without question he's part of remarkable team, the Tamron family.
About the Image and the 24-70mm lens: The image was captured around 6:00 am just as the sun was coming up. We talked with David about this image and photographing in the Grand Tetons.
Early morning photography: We had such a beautiful majestic landscape, why not capture it in the very best light?
The Tamron 24-70mm lens: The focal length of this lens is perfect and the sharpness is unmatched.
The Grand Tetons: Looking back at my career as a "chef" - this is one my favorite "kitchens" to work in. My Dad took me there in 1976 and every trip back has been a memory-maker.
About "Chef" David: Based out of Jasper, Georgia, Bear Woods Photography is all about David's love for photography, education and travel. Living in the mountains of North Georgia with his wife Evelyn, they're in an area they named Bear Woods.
We've shared a lot of David's work and videos over the years here at SCU. He definitely needs to be on your radar. Just click on his image above to visit his website and don't forget to check out his workshop schedule. You'll never be disappointed in a class with David!
Stay tuned - there's a lot more coming this year from the "Tamron Kitchen." And, if you'd like more information about this remarkable new G2 lens, just click on the banner below.
It's that time of year when, for most of you, things are relatively quiet. It's the slow season, but as I've already written numerous times before, that doesn't mean it has to be slow for you. Now is the time to be fine-tuning various aspects of your business. However, everything you're hoping to do in 2019 starts with your mindset.
There's a great one-liner I've shared before. While I'd love to take credit for it, I first heard it close to forty years ago from Ed Foreman, a terrific motivational speaker. I heard him speak back in my Polaroid days. I've quoted him easily a dozen times in the past in both live programs and posts.
"If I can see the world through my client's eyes, then I can sell my client what my client buys!"
So, before you continue to lay out the year ahead, plan your marketing strategy and start thinking about how you're going to grow your business, read that one-liner once more.
It goes a lot deeper than just putting yourself in their shoes. You've got to literally work to see things the way your clients do, and that includes their perception of you. It's all about building trust. It's about listening more than talking. It's about putting your mind's eye into high gear and visualizing how they want their images to look, and why they've come to you in the first place. You've got to sense their concerns together with their expectations and create products unique to them and express their personality, lifestyle, and passion.
When I interviewed Kirk Voclain many years ago for an article in PDN, he talked about the key to success in photographing high school seniors. It was all about talking with them and watching for the most natural expression when they hit a topic they loved. It was about creating an experience for them. I'm paraphrasing a little, but Kirk's comment really stuck with me:
"Skip, there are a lot of mediocre photographers out there who make a great living photographing seniors because they make the sessions fun!"
Think about that...now raise the bar and be more than just a mediocre photographer. Listen to your clients, see the world through their eyes and don't forget about "fun." "Fun" is that all too often lost word in business today and we all need to work to bring it back!
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's Mirrorless Monday, and Daniel J. Cox is in the spotlight together with the Swans of Lake Kussharo.
Daniel's sharing another great image, and "how-to" tip, especially for those of you interested in photographing wild life. He's no stranger to SCU, always sharing ideas to help you raise the bar on your images. Over the last few years, we've shared a lot of his work together with some terrific insight into photography. You'll find more of Daniel's work in the SCU archives with top shelf images and helpful articles.
If you've got even the slightest interest in travel with a camera in your hands, Daniel and Tanya need to be on your radar. They run one of the best travel and photography companies in the country, Natural Exposures. Daniel regularly shares outstanding information on travel, photography, and technique on The Corkboard Blog. Just click on the banner below and check out one of the most diverse blogs in photography.
Find out more about Daniel with a click on today's spotlight photo. Then follow him, along with the rest of the LUMIX Ambassadors. They're one of the most diverse and creative teams in photography. They should all be on your radar, and you'll be surprised at how much great content they share.
Check out the gear Daniel used to capture this image with a click on either of the thumbnails below. Panasonic's tagline is "Changing Photography," and they never slow down in the quality and creative tools they're bringing to photographers all over the world.
by Daniel J. Cox
The Swans of Lake Kussharo
For this picture I was lying on the shore of a partially frozen lake this group of swans spends the winter on. Most of these beautiful birds migrate to Russia for the summer but always come back to the more temperate winters in Hokkaido, Japan.
Getting down to your subjects level is always a great way to create more interest in your picture. Sometimes, it’s even better to get below your subject as is the case with the Whooper Swan taking flight. Being below the swan taking off and having one of many birds in motion is also a way to add implied movement to still image.
I shot this picture with the Lumix GH4 and the 7-14mm F/4 lens. I used an aperture of F/11 for getting substantial depth of field. This image would not be successful if the swan in the air was sharp but the swans in the foreground were not. ISO was 160 and shutter speed was 1/500th of a second, plenty fast to stop the motion of the swain flight.
"Don't anticipate life; meet it. When you try to anticipate, you're being an idiot,
because nobody's got the brain to outwit nature.
I'm talking here about patience, about believing in yourself.
I'm talking here about having courage to wait.
You will get what you deserve.
Typical of most Sunday Morning Reflections, I start out thinking about things I've read over the past week and conversations I've had with various photographers. Often the idea behind a Reflections post begins with something that's come up during the past few days.
Maybe it's because it's the start of a new year or the slow season, but I've picked up on so many artists who are waiting for success. They act like any day now the Success Fairy is going to sprinkle magic dust on them and their images and reputation will skyrocket to the top!
So, they sit and wait. They don't do much promoting of their work; they're not practicing very much to raise their skill level and the longer it takes for "success," the more they blame everybody but the face in the mirror.
This is a tough industry to be in. It's incredibly competitive, and trends and styles seem to be constantly changing, and keeping up with technology isn't easy either. But, if you've got the passion, then most of you find ways to pull the reigns in on your frustration. You've already realized how much you love the craft, and know there's nothing else you'd rather be doing.
So, however, you define success, and we all have different goals, there are two common denominators to achievement - believing in yourself and patience. I guess that's what drew me to today's opening quote.
Always believe in yourself. No matter who's around you being negative or thrusting negative energy at you,
totally block it off. Because whatever you believe, you become.
Patience is not simply the ability to wait.
It's how we behave while we're waiting.
There's my point this morning. If there is a Success Fairy, she's only touching those hearts who believe in themselves and more often or not we think of her as "luck." But luck comes in all shapes and sizes and starts with being thankful for everything and everyone in our lives. The glass really is half full for all of us, as long as we stay focused on the prize, which is all about being happy.
Before technology brought auto-focus to us, we all focused our cameras manually. Looking through the lens we had to decide what we wanted sharpest in every image. And we played with depth of field to capture what was most important. Well, your career path and your life are no different...and there is no auto-focus.
Have fun being patient. Appreciate your growing skill set and everything you need to do to keep raising the bar on the quality of your work, business and relationships. And, all along the way, never give up on believing in yourself.
Two of the significant lessons in my life I've seen proven over and again are: Everything happens for a reason, and everything always works out for the better. That doesn't mean you can just kick back and wait - you've got to stay focused on your happiness and take those opportunities to grow whenever you can. Just don't give up on your dreams!
Never give up on something you really want.
It's difficult to wait, but more difficult to regret.
And as always, I wish everybody a terrific day ahead. For those of you caught in the storm zones which seem to be nationwide...stay warm and dry, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and most important of all, remind whoever you're hugging how much they mean in your life. Don't forget they believe in you just as much as you believe in yourself.
Everyone in the "kitchen" at the SCU Diner is surprised that we still haven't run out of menu items for Fast Food Friday. However, if you think about how many different aspects there are in running a business, then it really shouldn't be that surprising.
Fast Food Friday blue plate specials aren't always quick meals, but they are nutritional and fortunately, with the government shut down we don't have to worry about dealing with the FDA!
(Sorry, with the nonsense going on in Washington and thousands of people not getting paid while the members of Congress still draw their salaries, it's hard to not have a little sarcasm spill over into today's post. Sheila had a great idea the other night, suggesting every member of Congress also have their pay docked and be fined $20,000 a day.)
Okay, back to this week's special - I do not profess to be an expert on this dish, but it is one I'm cooking today, and it's all from the heart! Let's talk about things you can do to find balance. And, while "balance" is such an abused all-inclusive word, we're really talking about adjusting your priorities.
Wearing Multiple Hats
Today's special is my own recipe. It's taken me years to perfect and ironically, most of what I learned I first heard from my grandmother but wasn't sharp enough to understand! I'm hoping you can learn from my mistakes so you can make new ones of your own.
We all wear multiple hats as business owners, parents, spouses, friends, and children, just to name a few. The challenge comes in remembering you've only got one head! And, while the buzz-word today is multi-tasking, you're still only one person.
So, here's what works for me and it's taken me years to perfect it, and I'm still work in progress. I have a morning routine:
Obviously, there are phone calls and interruptions throughout the day, along with scheduled conference calls, appointments, etc. but at the end of the day, usually around 5:30 everything shuts down, and it's family time. Sheila and I have dinner together and then move to the TV for our favorite shows, a fast run through the news and maybe a movie.
Our day typically ends around 10:00 PM watching a rerun of Friends. Why? Because the news used to be the last thing we watched and it's become so depressing we needed to laugh before going to sleep. I think back to my folks always watching the 11:00 PM news before going to bed. Well, these days it's all nightmare material, so we finish the day watching something entertaining.
That's our routine, but it only works if there's a lot of open, honest communication. Both of us have learned to share the challenges in our life, our aspirations, and disappointments. We've learned to trust each other and for example, when I'm off balance and too focused on a business challenge we talk it out. We're both work in progress and it's not always smooth sailing. But there's also that great quote about calm seas not making skilled sailors!
Most important of all, take the time to be thankful. So many of you are obsessed with finding success, but you've never taken the time to think through what that really means. For me, it's about waking up with a smile on my face every morning.
We've worked together to find balance. We're like a medieval castle. We think of our home as surrounded by a moat. When the enemies are clamoring at the gate, we recognize when we need to help each other and pull up the draw bridge.
It's been a little while since I jumped in the way-back machine and posted for Throwback Thursday. That doesn't mean I gave it up, only that I wasn't sharing old memories in blog posts. I still take a few minutes at least once a week to wander through an old album or look through my archives of old images. Why? Because they remind me of my journey in this industry. Every old photograph brings back so many memories.
I always suggest professional photographers use Throwback Thursday as a marketing tool to remind your readers how fast time flies; how much their family's changing every day and the need to capture those memories with tangible photographs. But, even if you don't share your throwbacks, take the time to look through old images and enjoy the memories they bring out. Do it for your own enjoyment.
Speaking of memories, today's post is perfect for the first throwback of 2019! I found a copy of the June 2002 issue of Rangefinder Magazine. I saved it because it was the last published issue before I joined the company that July. Over the next couple of years, we'd build one of the best teams in publishing and conventions, taking the magazine to over 350 pages.
I apologize for the quality of the scans, but it was the best I could do. Check out the winners from WPPI that year, which was held at the Tropicana with attendance around 3,000. It was the last small show WPPI had, moving to Bally's the following year. A few years later we took over both Bally's and Paris, and when we ran out of space there, it was over to the MGM Grand.
Whether you enter prints in competition or not, get yourself into Las Vegas a day early and take the time to sit in on the judging. It's one of the very best educational opportunities at each convention. It was also one of my most favorite events, and it brought out a lot of stunning work. Four of the winners in the wedding category that year were Joe Buissink, Ken Sklute, Frank Cava and Joe Photo. They're all active photographers today and Joe Buissink's print from that year hung in our office for many years.
I also had some fun looking at the ads. I couldn't help sharing the one below, featuring my good buddy Matthew Jordan Smith. While his equipment has changed over the years, nothing has changed in his love for photography or his ability to create stunning images. Over the past eighteen years, since publishing Sepia Dreams in 2001, Matthew's become one of the industry's leading educators, speaker, author, blogger and a good friend to so many of us. He's an artist who should be on everybody's radar.
And here's my point for Throwback Thursday today - take the time to walk down Memory Lane. If you don't feel like scrolling through an old album, find an old photography magazine and have as much fun as I did this morning looking at old ads, articles, and photographs. Pay attention to how styles have changed. And, as much as technology has changed, giving us more creative tools that at any time in history, the industry has never budged on the importance of quality, creativity, and your passion for the craft.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Over the years we've shared a lot of videos featuring Tamron USA's Ken Hubbard, "The Hub." Everything he shares is always loaded with helpful content with each video designed to help photographers raise the bar on their skill set.
Last week I got the first copy of the Tamron newsletter for the new year. There's a lot of great content being shared in each issue, and it's FREE. I like the fact that I can go through it on my timetable because lately, I seem to be buried in interruptions. Sound familiar?
In this new issue, there was a feature story, Travel Tales from The Hub, and it couldn't be simpler to appreciate. Ken shared a few of 2018's high points, and always with a camera in his hands! His opening paragraph says it all...
2018… Another year of crisscrossing America, with thousands of miles flying high above the clouds and hundreds of nights in hotels, countless mornings waking up and wondering where am I, what day is it and why am I here??? Life on the road can be tiring and tough sometimes, but it takes you to amazing places to photograph.
So, if the "Where's Waldo" series did a yearend travel log it might look something like travels with "The Hub." But, Hub's got better photographs, a tip here and there and he gives us the ability to live a little vicariously through his travels.
If you are a photo industry #roadwarrior, you fully understand, and hopefully your loved-ones understand the lives we lead. We love the road, we love seeing all that America is, and we can never get enough. Not everyone can understand this wanderlust drive to keep going, to meet and teach, to see and photograph, to live and experience everything there is to take in on our travels.
Got an interest in finding out more about some of Ken's favorite lenses? Just click on the thumbnails below.
And, if you're not currently on the subscriber list, getting the Tamron newsletter is just a click away.
One of the things that's surprised me over the years is how often somebody talks about something they're going through, and I'm feeling the same thing. Then there have been comments from many of you about posts I've written, especially on Sunday mornings, when many of you have responded you're feeling the same way.
I'm not about to take up your time getting philosophical about life, but the reality is we all go through similar challenges, doubts, aspirations and even moments of glory. This morning is a perfect example:
Last night I was taking Sheila through our travel plans for February and WPPI. I made a comment about dreading the airport if the government remains in shutdown mode. Sheila responded by reminding me to stop being negative and think positive about the upcoming trip.
This morning I checked in for my daily dose of inspiration from Melody Beattie and the title was, "See How Happy You Are." She went on to write about not wasting energy on negative visualizations, but use our creative powers to think about positive events in our lives. She finished with:
See yourself doing all the things you'd like to do.
Take the time to use your creative power of visualization to create the life you'd like.
But above all, take the time to see yourself being happy.
Since starting the SCU blog six years ago this week, we've shared a few thousand posts about ways for you to build a stronger business, fine-tune your skill set and exceed client expectations. But, there's that old line about you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. There are still too many of you who waste time overwhelmed by the challenges in being a small business owner and an artist. Instead of patting yourself on the back for what you've accomplished and following a path of positive visualization, you freeze up, procrastinate and tread water.
It's January and the start of the "slow season" for most of you. Take the time to follow Melody Beattie's advice - pay attention to your happiness. Throw pessimism out the window and remember that the glass is half full with new technology, new customers, new skills and an industry loaded with people who are here to help you grow - one of them being me! Use this time to experiment with different aspects of imaging and business. And, remember: Growth only happens outside your comfort zone!
Happy Hump Day and Happy Anniversary SCU!
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 bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.