It's Wednesday and I'm about to do something I've NEVER done before. I'm going "off the grid". I've been blogging and posting for at least the last five years, often sharing multiple posts on the same day - not just from me, but from a group of amazing guest photographers, educators and SCU partners.
This weekend starts WPPI and as I'm writing this, a meeting in Phoenix with Panasonic just wrapped up last night. I've made a promise to Sheila that I'm going to unplug right through the weekend. No email, no posts and no phone calls unless it's an emergency. I simply want quality time with my wife.
Now, here's why this is so worthy of this post...I'm actually having a hard time thinking about taking a break. After dozens of blog posts reminding you to recognize the signs of burnout, the importance of establishing priorities and recharging your battery, I'm stressing over trying to walk the talk!
Here's the message to today's post...Nothing trumps taking time off when you need it. While normally I'd build up a stash of blog posts, the last few months have been so busy I never had the time. But there's another issue and that's the importance of keeping things in perspective. We all have moments when we get caught up in our own self-importance. We start to act as if the world is going to stop if we're not answering our phone or email messages, or in my case writing a blog post every day.
So, this is a big thank you to all of you who are my readers and friends. I appreciate your support and feedback more than a blog post like this will ever show. I'll be back writing on Monday, from WPPI. If you're not at WPPI, then please join me on SPTV. I'm kicking off the show on Monday morning and looking forward to catching up to so many friends in the industry.
Thank you for all your support - See you on March 2!
I hate to sound like I'm trying to beat a "dead horse", but yesterday I got an email response from USAirways.
"Thank you for contacting us. I've received your most recent correspondence and am disappointed to learn that you are still upset with us.
I have thoroughly reviewed your case. Please be assured, all your concerns about this situation have been taken very seriously. I'm sorry if we initially left you with the impression that they weren't. The details you have provided regarding our service have helped us to identify areas where we need improvement. We certainly hope you will allow us a future opportunity to win back your confidence.
Again, we apologize for the difficulties you encountered. We value your business and are working hard to earn your continued patronage. We hope you will give us the opportunity to do so."
Here's the Customer Service lesson in all of this.
First, the only way I can communicate with "Rebekah", author of the response, is if I want to respond via another round of email and I have to go to through their website. There is no phone contact and if I respond to the email with "reply" it goes to an un-monitored email address. Second, while I appreciate her apology, why can't somebody just address and solve my complaint? Of course I'm disappointed - they haven't done very much. Third, why tell me how much you value my business, when you can't figure out a way to even issue the credit on the upgraded seats we paid for on a flight you forced us to not take?
So, I promise, this my last post about USAirways, at least with this issue. But, here's the lesson as you build a reputation for your own level of Customer Service.
Every company has problems, but as a number of consumer advocates have written about over the years, an upset customer is an opportunity for you to show how good you really are.
Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face.
You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.
Approximately two years ago my good buddy, Scott Bourne, started sharing a blog post every Monday, calling it "Marketing Monday". When Scott retired, I continued the tradition, always trying to have something in the pipeline for photographers to think about that related to different aspects of building more brand awareness.
Marketing Monday, isn't just a "cute name" - It's the start of a new week and for most wedding and some portrait photographers, your studios are closed on Mondays. But here's where many of you run amuck. Just because you're closed today, doesn't mean you're off. It's the perfect time to be thinking about everything you can do to strengthen your business. It's a time to just do it and stop procrastinating.
Okay, there are four bullet points from a list of hundreds of items to help you make 2015 one of your very best years, but you're the only one who can take control and get the job done. Remember my Nelson Mandela quote from last week...
"It always seems impossible until it's done!"
In response to yesterday's post about our experience with the lack of service from USAirways, there were a lot of retweets and comments. One of them, from James Crossman really hit home:
"I spent today moving notebooks from old workshops I've attended into Evernote,
and one statistic I wrote down today was illustrated by Skip's article:
1 in 5 clients will comment on a favorable experience, but 9-in-10 will complain about you to their friends and acquaintances, if they have a poor experience."
Normally I go off track on Sunday mornings, but today, I want to stay right on point. You have to make working with you an incredible experience. Let's take a few well known artists from our industry and think through what it would be like to be their client.
Here are three who come to mind: Kirk Voclain, Bambi Cantrell and Jerry Ghionis. Kirk's one of the finest senior photographers in the country. If you've heard his program or seen a few of his videos, then you know a senior walks away with a great experience. I've seen Bambi work weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and events. Without question, she's got her clients relaxed and laughing within the first five minutes and her results are stunning.
If you've seen Jerry's programs, you know right off the bat he's working to make his bride comfortable. I remember a video he showed years ago...the bride hadn't lost the weight she wanted and was depressed, feeling anything but beautiful. Within in minutes we watched Jerry work his magic and the minute she smiled was like the sun coming out, right after a storm.
It's a short post this with a few simple questions - What are you doing to make every session memorable for your clients? Is it an experience they want to share with their friends or simply underwhelming with average results?
Make working with you a fun experience. Make your promises mean something and deliver ahead of schedule. Make your technique/skill set so remarkable that you exceed client expectations every time. Make your subjects feel special and oh yeah, beautiful.
Don Blair was once asked, "It's easy for you, all your models are beautiful. What do you do when you have an ugly bride?' Don's answer..."There's no such thing!"
You've got complete control over the experience...you can be USAirways and hit those "9-10" numbers James Crossman talked about or be out front and the leading experience in your community.
The choice is yours!
Developing a strong sense of Customer Service is one of the most important brand elements you can build for your business. When I think great Customer Service I think about companies like Nordstroms, LL Bean, BassPro Shops on a national level and then a few smaller local companies and restaurants here in Sarasota. The point is they've all built a reputation on relationship building.
A bad experience with USAirways, now part of American Airlines, created the perfect foundation for a blog post about what NOT to do when it comes to working with an unhappy customer. You'll notice by the way, I've capitalized Customer Service, even though grammatically it should be lower case....that's because it's so critical. Sadly USAirways/American only has a "customer service" department.
Here's the scenario - due to maintenance problems our departing flight was late arriving in Nashville. Then, again because of maintenance problems, it was even later, leaving for our connecting flight in Charlotte. In order to get home we were forced to take another flight. Because we were going to miss our original flight and would have had to spend the night in Charlotte, the airline recommended we fly to Tampa (just an hour away) and take ground transportation home, which we whole-heartedly agreed with. While they picked up the cost for the ground travel to get us home, I still had a few issues.
I contacted them the next day to request two things. First, we chose to originally fly out of Sarasota because it's only 10 minutes from our home. While it's more expensive, it's so much more enjoyable to land and know we can be home in a few minutes. So, I wanted to be reimbursed for the differential in cost on the flight and also the $34 for the upgraded seats on the flight to Charlotte that, because of maintenance problems, we never made.
Well, here's where they failed...
1. You can't talk to a live body! Customer Service for USAirways/American is all based on email. In fact, trying to actually talk to somebody became impossible. I did make contact with their frequent flyer group, but only customer relations could handle our request.
2. When they did respond to my email they sent me an empty apology and offered to put 5000 points in each of our accounts. I went ballistic! I didn't want more points in an airline I'm going to do my best to never fly again.
3. I had to write back a second time, again because they're not accessible. When I didn't hear back I wrote one more time.
4. Over a week later I got a phone call from a rep by the name of "Kelly". She kept apologizing, but every time I made my request it was like talking to a character out of the "Stepford Wives". She told me the airline had fulfilled their responsibility when they got me home to my final destination, even though it was the wrong city! She made it sound like we chose to go to Tampa. Well, we did, but only because staying on our original routing would have meant staying overnight in Charlotte! She also agreed to follow-up on my $34 refund, which I'm still waiting to hear about. Last on the list she converted the 5000 points to $50 vouchers, but again, I have to fly USAirways or American to use them.
Here's the lesson for your own business:
Last on the list, remember the potential one angry client has to have an impact on your business. Look, I won't change USAirway's policies, but if I can at least get a few of you to think twice before you fly USAir or American, I get the satisfaction of knowing I had a little impact.
I've used this line before and while I'd love to take credit for it, my good buddy Scott Bourne came up with it first. If there's ever a contest to help USAirways/American find a new slogan, my suggestion will be...
"We're not happy until you're unhappy!"
Photo Credit: © BlueSkyImages - Fotolia
There's no telling who's going to show up on Throwback Thursday.
What I love most, is seeing the trends in photography. Just about everybody's headshot is the same. They're all so traditional in comparison to today's trends.
Over the last ten years, senior photography has been one of the fastest growing segments in portraiture with each session looking more like a celebrity glamour shoot than what we used to think of as the basic yearbook head shot. Even better is the process of capturing more than just the image for the yearbook, but the personality of the subject.
It's a huge market. Doing a little Google research, the best estimate for 2014 was over 17 million high school students in the US and a fifth of them seniors. That's about 3.5 million potential clients out there for those of you interested in senior photography.
As usual, a big thanks to those of you who are sending me images. I've got a few more to share, so if you want to be involved in Throwback Thursday, the only requirement is a sense of humor and sending me an image. It's also got to be at least ten years old! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my best to work them into the pipeline in the months ahead.
Best of all, remember what makes Throwback Thursday special...it's all about the power of an image and our ability to time travel back to another memory making moment in our past. What a kick we all share in being part of the photographic industry!
I woke up early this morning, but it was just too early to get out of bed. So, I stayed there and thought about everything that's coming up over the next few months and actually started to stress a little. It was probably those pre-dawn reflections that prompted me to find a quote from Nelson Mandela that I tweeted a few minutes ago.
"It always seems impossible until it's done."
So many of you are so afraid of stepping into the business and being committed to the task. You're spending too much time being overwhelmed and just can't seem to stay focused. You start projects, but don't finish them before moving to something else. You procrastinate about the next steps you need to take and you miss opportunities.
It takes a lot to be a business owner and at the same time an artist. Years ago Jerry Ghionis was teaching a program in Ohio and talked about how backwards the life of a photographer is. I'm paraphrasing, but you'll get the point.
You launch your career as an artist and have to focus on your skill set and developing your technique. At the same you're expected to be a business owner and understand all the components of running a successful business. The truth is, everybody should go out and be a second shooter for two years and develop their skills as an artist first, then jump into the responsibilities of running a business.
Here's my point...for most of you, you're still in the slow season and have lots of opportunities to fine tune your skills and at the same time, various aspects of your business. Personally, I love applying the low-hanging fruit philosophy to your personal growth as well as your business. Stop over-thinking everything you have yet to do. Focus on concepts you can implement quickly and take those that are longer term and set a time line for completion.
Great examples of low-hanging fruit:
The list goes on and on. The point is, start tackling some of those challenges you've been putting off. Nothing is easier than starting with projects that can be quickly done, but have strong impact.
Most important of all stop worrying about how much you have to learn and give yourself a pat on the back for how much you've already learned and accomplished!
Are you paralyzed with fear? That's a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator.
Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb;
The more scared we are of a work or calling the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
Last week my daughter sent me a link to an article about a new product, a company that's created an artificial skylight. At first, I laughed, not at the concept, but the fact that she's in the Boston area. If there's one thing every New Englander would like to see, it's more warm sunlight and less depressing winter weather!
Check out these two images and then click on either one for the story and more information about the company. It's pretty remarkable to think about your ability to bring a sunny skylight into an interior office or studio. In the article they wrote...
People who have had a chance to experience the skylight so far have been fooled into believing that there was an actual hole in the ceiling, and the sample photos on the CoeLux website come with a cautionary note: “The photographs on this site are real and unretouched. They are not computer renderings.”
At the moment, the cost is about half the price of a new fully loaded Corvette ZR-1 and they're lousy to drive in winter weather anyway!
With each episode of Weekend Wisdom we've tried to focus on just one topic and then, drill it down as much as we can in the time allowed. Well, here's a topic so many of you are wrestling with...making the transition to a career as a full-time professional photographer.
William Innes was an executive in the aerospace industry when he made the decision to become a photographer. Over the last few years William has become a good buddy and he couldn't be more open about the steps he took and continues to take to maintain his career. He's also one of Panasonic's Luminaries and is regularly teaching at various events around the US.
Just click the banner below to listen to the podcast.
I keep running into photographers who seem to think mediocrity is a strategy. After all, taking risks is dangerous and what if things don't work out the way you want? Sound familiar?
Mediocrity isn't a strategy - it's a lifestyle, created mostly in the minds of people who don't believe in themselves and therefore simply take the middle of the road, the safest path. Well, the truth is, it's not the safest path. In fact, I love the title of a book by Jim Hightower...
"There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos"
Look, I don't mean to sound like I'm lecturing this morning, but it is Sunday morning and you chose to be here reading this post and I am older than most of you. (Oh, it hurts to admit that. LOL) In theory, at least, that means I should have gained a little wisdom from my mistakes.
So, let's stop the quest for mediocrity as artists and business people. Let's take a few risks. Let's stop doing the same thing every day, because it's safe and comfortable. You need to mix up your game, change what you're doing now and then, and yes, I am speaking from experience. I spent years of my career working for other companies, but I wasn't as happy as I am now. And, while some days are scary as hell, nothing changes the satisfaction at the end of the day when an idea works out. When it doesn't, I've simply learned what won't work and get energized to tackle the idea from a different direction.
Think about some of the people we all respect most in this industry and every time you'll see they're risk takers. They take ownership for their actions and are constantly trying something new, building something different and forcing us all to not accept limitations.
"Don't bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals."
As always, wishing you guys a terrific Sunday and one filled with lots of love, family, friends, a few really good hugs and a day that's anything but mediocre!
Photo Credit: © TSUNG-LIN WU - Fotolia.com
The image is by Jonathan Thorpe. I love Jonathan's approach to photography, especially his "special projects". The behind the scenes video about this image and links to Jonathan's work is in a blog post I shared last May. The short version of the story on this image, "Forever Alone," is that Cupid worked all day, but didn't save any arrows for himself.
Even better, if you'd like to meet Jonathan in person and have a cup of coffee with him at WPPI, check out the schedule in the Tamron booth, 441. He'll be in the Tamron Cafe and it's the perfect time to get to know Jonathan and add an incredibly talented artist to your network.
Meanwhile, wishing everybody a fun and happy Valentine's Day!
I've never been a big fan of fine art water color effects...that was until one of the most talented photographers in our industry presented me with a gift of a print of me and my grandson. The original print, taken on an inexpensive point and shoot was a 4x6 from the Kodak Gallery. The gift was from a woman who's been a great friend of mine for many years as well as the entire industry, Helen Yancy.
The print was presented to me at the beginning of her program at WPPI approximately ten years ago. It was matted and framed and total size is about 20x30. Zachary is now 13 and that wetsuit wouldn't fit one arm, let alone his entire body! We were on Cape Cod and the water was pretty cold, so Papa and Zack had on their wetsuits and enjoyed a typical day on the beach in New England.
There's a different point I want to make with this Throwback Thursday post. Normally I use this topic to remind you what your images mean to your clients...to never compromise on the quality of an image and make it a point to present your very best work. However, Helen's skill set takes me in a different direction.
Helen made it a point from the beginning of her career to be the very best portrait artist she could be. In fact, she's lived her entire life that way and never compromised on her images, her relationships with friends, photographers and vendors. For that matter, she's never compromised on anything she's done with her life. At the time in her life where she chose to create this print, she was making her work stand out and look different from her competitors.
She's a portrait artist, educator, writer, past president of PPA and couldn't be more active in the industry. But, what really sets Helen apart, from so many other artists, is her passion for the craft and helping other photographers. If you know Helen then you understand what I mean.
So, there you have it...another Throwback Thursday image with a sidebar lesson. Make your work different. Build on your relationships and never compromise on the quality of your work. For me, this image brings back so many memories...first to that day on the beach, but second to my friendship with Helen and the day she presented it to me as she taught a standing-room-only crowd at WPPI.
Seriously, there isn't another industry in the world where we could have this much fun!
These two images represent approximately 160,000 square feet of trade show space and the MGM overall boasts over 600,000 square feet! That's the Marquee Ballroom above and the Grand Ballroom in the convention center below, which are used for the WPPI trade show. Now imagine these two rooms packed full of exhibitors and people! It's so important to plan your trip!
No matter what anybody tells you, WPPI is still the biggest photographic show in the country. However, if not done right, it can also wind up being one of the most expensive. The biggest issue is not being organized. You need to think through what you want to get out of the show; who the vendors are you want to see and network every chance you get.
So, since time is your most valuable commodity, let's go through my annual list of things you need to do before the convention and while you're there.
The one thing I find most frustrating with attendees at a big convention is they simply haven't planned their trip. They got their tickets and made it to Vegas, but then everything falls apart. Plan your WPPI experience so that you're not wasting time and even more important, your money.
Nothing beats the experience of a great trade show and convention, but it's up to you to get the most out of it.
It's Marketing Monday and I can't think of a better topic than to share a few of my highlights from IUSA's trade show last week. If you missed the show, don't worry about it - just don't miss the next big shows coming up with WPPI and ShutterFest in March and April. Plus, there are a few regional and state conventions still coming up.
You need to attend every convention you can, not just to keep up with technology, but to network and fine tune your skill set. I've written a lot about this in the past. The first quarter is loaded with great opportunities to pick up new ideas to help you build a stronger business and so many of them are at the national, regional and state conventions.
The recent IUSA show in Nashville, was actually a pretty good show, which surprised a number of us. Last year's show in Phoenix was pretty flat, but Nashville had a good crowd and a lot of solid enthusiasm from a number of exhibitors. For me there were a few major highlights...
There were a lot of new products/services being shown from Marathon, but what I loved the most was Bella Art Prints. First, the quality was outstanding. Second, I see Bella as having so many different applications for virtually every photographic specialty. Marathon printed a couple thousand posters to give away and even brought poster tubes. By the end of the show they were completely gone.
Marathon is part of the SCU family, so you can count on seeing some helpful posts in the months ahead, all loaded with ideas on how to take full advantage of this new product. Here's a teaser...it's perfect for an engagement shoot and a clever way to do a "save the date" announcement, but with the look and feel of a Hollywood poster.
Panasonic and LUMIX
There's a reason why LUMIX is the camera line so many photographers have been talking about. Just Panasonic's tag line of "Changing Photography" says it all. I bumped into Ann Monteith, past PPA president, educator, artist and writer who never misses an IUSA convention, on Monday. She had a LUMIX FZ1000 around her neck and couldn't be happier with the results.
Panasonic had scheduled a number of interviews in the booth on various topics and just recently posted them on their YouTube channel. Nobody does it better than good buddy, Frederick Van Johnson of "This Week In Photo". He had a number of Luminaries on as guests, and yours truly even jumped in there for a discussion on industry trends. Ann Monteith joined Frederick and her interview is below.
There's a lot of great content in Luminary Corner here at SCU, but even more in the LUMIX Lounge. Panasonic, together with mirrorless technology is leading the way in creating more creative tools for photographers, virtually every day. All the videos from IUSA at the link I shared above were all shot in 4K with a GH4 and my own shots, just grab shots from the convention, were all done with the GH3.
Isn't time you took a LUMIX camera out for a test drive?
Shutter Magazine and "Team Cincotta" is setting a new standard with everything they do. They had a huge booth close to the entrance of the show and demonstrated repeatedly why the magazine, along with ShutterFest are two of the most talked about products in professional photography.
What they've done is brilliant and a complete reversal from the way magazines are going in this industry. While the rest of the world started out in print in then chased readership in cyber space, Sal, Taylor and the team built it online first, hitting close to 90,000 subscribers. Then, last month they rolled out with the first issue in hard copy and at the show they delivered the February issue. They're two for two now with stunning images, great content and a magazine unlike anything else in the industry. By the end of the show, all of the thousands of magazines they brought were gone!
Throughout the three days there was always something going on in the booth. They set up a small presentation area and had several of their regular contributors to the magazine doing mini-sessions. I was flattered and delighted to be included, doing a program of "Five Tips to Create a Better Website".
If you haven't seen Shutter Magazine yet, what are you waiting for? Here's the link to check out one of the most exciting publications in professional photography today. Each issue is loaded with great content and information to help you become a better photographer and business owner.
A few more highlights...Starting with Profoto
Profoto was definitely the talk of the show when it came to lighting. I had a chance to talk with Dave Gallagher, President of Capture Integration. Their booth was packed with photographers and a ton of Profoto gear. He told me they went through all of their B1 literature they brought before the end of the second day of the show.
Profoto will have a huge presence at WPPI next month, so put them on your list and make sure you stop by their booth. The B1 has been referred to as the "game changer," but there's nothing less than the best with everything Profoto makes.
However, I've got to be honest...for me the biggest smile came from the creative use of a Profoto reflector! Nothing beats decent candy at a trade show! LOL
I didn't get much of a chance to really catch up to him, but that's always been the story with Scott Kelby at any convention. However, he always draws a crowd. He's definitely somebody who needs to be on your radar.
Other highlights, which is one of the primary reasons to be at any convention is building your network with new people and resource. Plus, you get to catch up to old friends, the newest in technology and recharge your battery.
The 2015 convention and trade show season is only half over. That means you've still got time to get to some great conventions. The other day I wrote a post about being in the parade versus the sidelines and watching it go by. Here's your chance to be right in the heart of it!
See you in Las Vegas or St. Louis!
It's a typical Sunday morning. The house is quiet and as usual I'm up early. Sunday morning topics are always a little random. So, I was getting my morning inspiration from a great little book, "Don't forget to sing in the lifeboats." by Kathryn and Ross Petras, when I found the gem below. The link to their book is on the left, if you want to read more or buy any of their books.
I found this quote by Teddy Roosevelt that just connected with me. I know it's a long one to absorb, but these are stunning words and thoughts...
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
Here's why it's so on point with my thoughts this morning:
I'm so tired of listening to people who criticize from the sidelines. Most often, in photography, they'll rip somebody's image apart in one of the forums as they hide behind the anonymity of their monitors. Then, there's the hurtful chatter through the grapevine, as so many people seem to love to pounce on rumors of bad news. When you question their source, they get indignant and respond with, "Well, it was on the Internet!"
It's a really short point this morning and directed to those of you "actually in the arena". You guys are the only ones who count. As hurtful as they can be, ignore the critics when they act like they're entitled to input on your life. There's nothing wrong in listening and here and there. Sometimes the critics might even be right, but it's so important to remember they don't get to vote on what you're doing.
Take ownership of everything you do and simply accept not everything you do will always be hit. As Teddy Roosevelt suggested, appreciate the triumph of your achievements and your failures, because at least you did something!
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday and as always, it's the perfect time to hug somebody special in your life.
Ever had a morning where you wake up and just lie in bed and think about something totally random? Well, this morning I woke up and couldn't stop thinking about my career, right up to this very minute. I guess it's because I've got a BIG anniversary coming up on Monday - my first full time job in the photo industry, washing bottles in a research lab at Polaroid.
"Don't become something just because someone else wants you to,
or because it's easy; you won't be happy.
You have to do what you really, really, really, really want to do, even if it scares the shit out of you."
I'm feeling pretty reflective this morning, so you'll just have to put up with me. When I started out on this journey, so many years ago, I just wanted a job. I loved photography, had worked in a darkroom in high school for the local newspaper, but I hadn't thought about it as a career choice. I fell into it, but grew to love it more and more.
Many of my choices over the years have been very much in line with Kristen's Wiig's quote above, especially when I started my own company in 2009. I couldn't have been more afraid of failing, but the quest to be happy trumped all my fears. Even more important was having an amazing supportive partner, my wife Sheila.
So, here's my point this morning. This is trade show/convention season and so many of you are going to be at the upcoming conventions. At the same time, many of you are frustrated with the time it's taking to build your business and your skill set.
For just about everybody this is the slow season. It's the perfect time to consider all your options, redefine your future and take advantage of all the great vendors, artists and programming you have a chance to be involved with over the next two and half months. Each one represents another door to walk through on your quest for success and happiness.
Photography, in your images as well as your career, is an art form. Nothing is cast in concrete. Creativity never has boundaries. Even better, passion doesn't have a cap - there is no upper limit. Think about the trips you have coming up and make each convention an adventure. Attend at least one program at every convention that's outside your comfort zone. Build your network with new people you meet. Make it a point to meet at least one person on the staff of every company whose product or services you use in your business.
Plan each trip with a goal to grow...your network, your skill set and your level of happiness!
Many of you are long overdue in exploring your options and all the tools available to make you different from your competitors. It's time to start building brand awareness on a platform of being unique...even if it does "scare the shit out of you!"
Photo Credit: © Creativa - Fotolia.com
You never know what I'm going to find when I go wandering through old files or boxes of photographs. Here are six classics from the past. They're senior head shots. Starting in the top left it's Lori Nordstrom, Bobbi Lane, Dane Sanders, Chuck Arlund, Me and Roberto Valenzuela.
Five years ago I put out a request to a whole bunch of people to send me their high school senior head shots. I was doing a post back then on my original blog. I honestly don't remember what I did with them, but I'm counting on these five friends above to be laughing along with me today.
If there was an award for best hair, it would have to go to Chuck Arlund. I think I'd pick up best unibrow under those glasses. I threw my own senior shot in to simply show I could handle a little throwback pain with the rest of them.
As always on Throwback Thursday, old photographs take us all kinds of different places. I know I'm the oldest in this group and my good buddy, Scott Bourne, will tell you Matthew Brady took my photograph just after the Civil War! However, that doesn't change my ability to look back at old images as if it was literally yesterday. One thing I know is true, time really does fly when you're having a good time!
Note: If anybody else wants to share their senior headshot, it's got to be at least 10 years old to qualify. If you still break out eating a candy bar, you're too young for Throwback Thursday. Send me your head shot, (email@example.com) and we'll start a series.
Outside of the fourth quarter and wedding season, there are only a handful of opportunities to pick up a little seasonality as a professional photographer. One of those is coming up in just ten days, Valentine's Day. While Valentine's Day is the 14th of this month, the whole month of February has a reputation for romance.
It's not Marketing Monday, but this could easily be a featured idea to help market your portrait and wedding business. Here's a product/service you really need in your bag of tricks, multi-media presentations. I still don't understand why more of you don't offer a product like this to your clients!
Check out this video by Suzette Allen from a recent engagement session:
Produced using Photodex's incredible software, Suzette has become the Queen of Hybrid Solutions over the last few years and her clients love it. Seriously, think about the things you need to do to make yourself different and then check out Photodex. They're constantly sharing new creative ideas to help you raise the bar on your presentations.
In fact, click below on the headline to today's Photodex post for some terrific new FREE fonts, just in time for Valentine's day. Photodex even posted a short video so you could see them in action!
For years I've been commenting on the importance of being involved in the industry and saying, "You can be in the parade or on the sidelines and watch it go by!" Little did I know that Mike Ditka had a similar quote...
"If you're not in the parade, you watch the parade. That's life."
This is a short and very to the point post this morning. Let's talk about how you can be in the parade. First, you need to define "parade", which might just be limited to your own local market. For example, I've had a few blog posts go viral, which for our industry I define as anything over 5,000 reads. I don't have a dog who can skateboard and is going to get a million hits on YouTube. However, several NILMDTS posts went even higher than 5K, going over 10,000 reads. Within our "world", the photographic industry, that's an amazing number.
Let's get you into your own parade...
It's all about building brand awareness and making yourself something more than just a photographer. Build your reputation on a solid foundation and pay attention to developing your skill set and you'll be in the parade instead of watching it go by!
PS - Those three images are from the DragonCon parade last September in Atlanta.
It's Marketing Monday and I can't think of a better way to tie in what the newest member of the SCU family just launched yesterday at IUSA. Meet bella Art Prints. Their tag line says it all, "beautiful paper, beautiful photos, beautiful art."
Bella is Marathon's entry into a product line destined for greatness. They brought several thousand prints to the show complete with poster tubes. Each print was stunning and their booth was mobbed. But here's the key as a product for professional photographers. This is about giving you professional quality prints at an outrageously low price.
I can envision so many different applications...as a graduation announcement for the senior market; as a promo piece for your own seasonal events; as an announcement piece for a charity fund-raiser you might be working on; as an engagement announcement mocked up as a movie poster...and the list goes on and on. Just like so many of Marathon's products, bella is designed to help photographers with a complete new line to offer your clients.
Click on the banner above to get your first introduction to bella, but remember, this is only the beginning! There's a lot more coming.
Please keep in mind these are grab shots I did with a LUMIX GH3, handheld...The quality of these images, together with the paper selections are remarkable and definitely a product you need to know more about.
But, Marathon would have been buried in photographers even without the excitement of the new product line. For years they've set the standard for customer service and marketing support. In fact, the image below is a perfect example of the infinite combination of images, color, styles, papers and shapes they put together all year long to help photographers market only their very best!
At IUSA? Get yourself over to Marathon (Booth 928/933) and check the new products out for yourself! Not at IUSA? Talk a short walk in cyber space and visit their site and all the new products.
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.