If your email is like mine, every day there's another workshop being announced, which is why I don't write about very many of them - there are so many from which to choose. Well, here's one a lot of you need to know about.
Eddie Tapp just announced his upcoming Silo City Drone Experience in Buffalo, NY. Three days with Eddie in a small class environment (only 12 students) is not only a guaranteed learning experience but one of those memory-making workshops you'll never forget.
Regardless of your photographic specialty, more than likely there's an opportunity for photography using a drone. Flying a drone is one of those skills where you can't fake it 'till you make it - at least not without hurting somebody, doing a little property damage or spending a lot of money crashing the aircraft! Eddie and associate Mark Maio are offering twelve people the ability to learn drone photography literally from the ground up.
Click on any of Eddie's drone images in this post to connect to the registration page. Here's a chance to not only bring two talented artists into your network but expand your skill set and give some of your images an entirely different perspective!
Images copyright Eddie Tapp. All rights reserved.
Images copyright Barbara Bower. All rights reserved.
Every photograph we look at has a backstory, but today's "Why?" is unique as we explore a little of Barbara Bower's world of equine photography.
Barbara is an artist, educator, and writer and while there's probably nothing she hasn't photographed in her career, without question horses and the relationship with their owners is a very special passion. To visit Barbara's website and see more of her work, click on either image.
In the hierarchy of why people hire a photographer in the portrait/social categories, the top three are brides, babies, and pets. Most of us think of pets as being a whole lot smaller, but spend time with anyone who has a horse, and they're clearly a member of the family just like any dog or cat.
I asked her to talk about both images because they each represented a slightly different skill set, but the common denominator is capturing the relationship between the "horses and their humans."
Barabara's new book is scheduled to be released later in the year. Just click on the thumbnail to link to Amazon and place your order.
by Skip Cohen
Just because you didn't land a session or an event with a client doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to still build your reputation and brand.
I've written a few posts over the years about a friend who's a realtor. Being a real estate agent is very similar to being a photographer. You need people skills. It's about relationships, trust, and communication. And, just like photography, the real estate industry has seen its share of ups and downs.
Whenever my buddy loses a listing to another broker, which isn't very often, he calls the client and asks:
"I know you listed with another agent, but it would really help us a lot to find out what you felt we were missing."
Then he's just quiet and listens. The information he gets in response is incredibly valuable.
So, start talking to those clients who didn't hire you. Approach them in a way that's disarming. At the end of the call thank them for their time, consideration and wish them good luck. Then send them a thank-you note a few days later.
Too often photographers think they lost the job because somebody undercut them on price. But maybe it wasn’t the cost. They might have liked the albums they saw at another studio better. Maybe they were looking for longer coverage at their event, or they’ve read or heard more about the other photographer they hired. If you’re a wedding photographer, maybe the other photographer offered them a product you don’t include, e.g. an engagement session, a Facebook page of images or a slideshow, etc.
Take a shot at this concept and contact a client or two who didn't hire you - you might be surprised at what you learn. And, what you learn will help you create a blueprint for how to grow your business! All the answers are out there, but you won't get them if you don't do a little research and ask!
I started doing Sunday Morning Reflections for the fun of sharing a little of the real-life challenges we all deal with outside of business. The feedback I get has been incredibly fulfilling, especially when I hit on topics like the challenge of Alzheimer's I shared last Sunday.
Well, this week I hit a problem that hasn't happened in a long time. I hit the wall and had my own personal meltdown. I was a train wreck! Too many projects to do; deadlines; not enough sleep; missing my folks and a host of little irritations sent me directly into a crash and burn mode!
When I was a kid and woke up moody, my grandmother used to say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Well, I not only woke up on the wrong side - I stayed there all day! I was hyper-sensitive over everything until I finally took the time to slow things down, and here's what me back on track...
"Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy.
There's going to be stress in life, but it's your choice whether you let it affect you or not."
And there it is - the bottom line and what I forget each time. It's rare I melt down, but each time, it's the same lesson: remembering that happiness is a choice. Sometimes it's difficult to make the right choice, but that's where the most inner circle of your network comes in - those most-trusted family members and friends who can help you through the process.
Wishing everybody a Sunday that's filled with peace and plenty of happiness. Use the day to relax and clear your head for the week ahead. Go for those eleven-second hugs I always write about - seriously, right now go hug somebody in your life and literally count in your head to eleven. See what I mean?
Happy Sunday everybody!
Images copyright Bob Davis. All rights reserved.
Every day we look at hundreds of images without knowing the backstories or for that matter the artists involved. I started "Why?" so you could put some of the most respected artists in our industry on your radar!
This new "Why?" is especially fun because it's by an artist of an artist. Chicago-based photographer Bob Davis is in the spotlight today with two very different images of Annie Leibovitz. It's a great story from an incredibly diverse artist. And both of these images were captured back in his days when Bob was working for the Chicago Sun Times and done on film - no chimping!
Bob's a photographer, most often recognized for his wedding and portrait work, but there's nothing he can't photograph. He's also an outstanding educator, writer, and friend to so many people in the industry. Follow Bob's workshop schedule with a click on either of the "Why?" images above. And, if you'd like to see more of his client work and get to know both him and Dawn, visit their site. It's just a click away.
One of the few things most of us feel Facebook does right is keep us connected. A few weeks ago Joe Elario posted the image on the left from a trip to NYC, and then yesterday, Facebook sent me an archived image with the title - "Eight Years Ago Today" on my home page. It's from my last convention as president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI.
Numerous times over the years I've written about the best quality of our industry having nothing to do with imaging but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Well, Joe and I met in 1988, my first time in the Hasselblad booth at what was then known at Photo East. Today, it's PPE and still in New York each October.
Joe was a Hasselblad shooter and came by the booth each year. When I moved over to Rangefinder/WPPI we started catching up to each other in Las Vegas as well as New York. Joe's son JP was probably in the business when he was old enough to hold a camera. He was in his teens when he started coming to the conventions with his Dad, and as they say, "the rest is history!"
Hit any of the major conventions and you'll often find JP speaking in the Miller's booth and on a daily basis, check out the family blog.
Joe and JP aren't just one of the more remarkable father-son teams in professional photography, they're creative artists and relationship builders. They never slow down in building relationships with their clients, friends and vendors.
I recently found this postcard mailer they did years ago. It's probably from the 90's some time, but the perfect example of a terrific direct mail piece. Each time they did a new one Joe would send me a copy.
The fun of this particular Throwback Thursday post goes well beyond a trip down Memory Lane - great marketing ideas are always fun to share. This card was 6x9 and clearly got through all the noise and made a point about the consistency of Elario quality.
I entitled today's throwback post "The Art of Being an Elario" because they really are unique. There are some terrific ingredients that go along with being an Elario - integrity, a strong belief in friendships, quality in their images and a thorough understanding of what it takes to build relationships.
And let's not forget diversity. While weddings are clearly a passion for both Joe and JP, there's nothing they can't shoot! I shared a post of Joe's images from a day at the track in 2014. Just click on the image below to see more of his work.
I found the video below in the archives from Profoto's introduction of the B2 two years ago. Although I had shared it previously, it's perfect to add to this profile post.
So, Happy Throwback Thursday and a big thanks to Joe, JP and their families for adding some special memories to my career and friendships my wife and I cherish!
"You must master your time rather than becoming a slave to the constant flow of events and demands on your time. And you must organize your life to achieve balance, harmony, and inner peace."
Looking back through the SCU archives I found this post from several years ago and the topic this time of year is so relevant! Just because it's the "slow season" doesn't mean there's nothing to do. This is the perfect time to look at everything you do in support of your business.
For so many years imaging workflow has been a hot topic, but what about your business flow? I'm referring to the day in day out process of making decisions, answering correspondence, talking with customers and managing everything that comes across your desk or computer.
So, here a few quick tips:
1) The best advice I was ever given was "handle each piece of paper only once!" Put that in contemporary terms and it means read the email, make a decision on whatever needs to be done and get on with your life. Dump it or archive it, but do NOT delay dealing with the question, request or issue in the email. Do not save it on your desktop to address later unless there really is some research needed before you answer.
I worked for somebody once who just couldn't make decisions. His philosophy was, why decide today, when it can wait until tomorrow? Sure, there are times when you have to give a decision ample time to review all the options, but this was on everything. He'd put everything off, ponder the meaning of life and as a result we often missed some great opportunities.
Today's market waits for nobody. We're an instant fulfillment society and often not answering somebody mimics the "Can you hear me now" attitude of a Verizon commercial. Silence is not a strategy and delaying an answer is often perceived as negative. "No news is good news" just doesn't hold water today.
2) Prioritize your daily activities. I'm not sure where life turned around on me, but I used to wake up, have some breakfast and then go to the computer. These days I love to hit Facebook and Twitter right while I'm fresh, and then when I've done the things I need to do in social media Sheila and I have breakfast together. Look at the things you need to do every day and get yourself into a pattern. Once my thoughts for the day are more organized I go to the blog and then to my email. If everything on the site is working right, I can then start on whatever projects I have in the pipeline.
3) Call people back! If somebody made an effort to call you and you weren't available, get back to them ASAP. The same goes for email. Make everything in your business that's related to communication a priority. If you schedule clients during the day then do the same with your outgoing phone calls.
4) Make marketing a priority! Part of your workflow needs to include time for developing your marketing plan along with new projects to keep your creative juices flowing. But, it needs to be something you do for a little time EVERY day. Start by building a list of ideas on things to build a stronger brand. It doesn't matter how random an idea might be. Keep building on the list each day and at other times work on ways to expand some of the concepts in more detail.
5) Be a lunch slut! I've often referred to myself as the biggest lunch slut in the photo industry! Here's what I love about lunch - unless you're flat out on a project that won't let you take a break, you're going to need to eat. So, why not do it with a friend or an associate? Why not use the conversation time over lunch to not only catch up, but bounce a few ideas off of new ears? You listen to yourself all day long, but you don't get the same response as the expression on somebody's face listening to a good or bad idea when they're sitting across from you. So, add lunch once a week with somebody out of the office to your priority list and workflow.
6) Archive it - File it - Get rid of it! Being a pack rat is fine, but when you've completed something get it off your desk and away. It will accomplish nothing to have stacks of papers or tons of handled emails staring at you all the time. You need to clear space on your hard drive in your computer and in your head.
7) Keep a journal or diary...I'm not talking about the diary everyone's sister had in fifth grade, but a simple notebook of things you work on during the day, notes from phone calls etc. I've found it really helpful to keep a spiral notebook on my desk and when it's full I start another one. I can already see those of you who are iphone addicts rolling your eyes, but for me it still works better to write out the information long hand rather than load it into my computer. I remember it better if I've written it down instead of typing it.
While there are lots of impressive programs like Evernote, I'm still not quite there. For those of you who are a whole lot more progressive in this stuff than I am, it's definitely worth checking out. I love to hand-write everything, including a giant whiteboard over my desk.
8) Last but not least, recess and nap times were terrific when we were little kids, but how come we forgot about them when we got older? You need a break now and then, so take it! You don't have to have a little rug to sleep on like you did in kindergarten, but pulling your brain out of the daily routine for a few minutes and going to "recess" will definitely help you get organized. Seriously, haven't we learned anything from our kids? Recess should be an adult concept, not just for elementary school. I want a bell to ring around 10:00 every morning and it should be mandatory that I walk outside and play with the other "kids" for at least fifteen minutes! (I think I might be on to something!)
The bottom line is stop procrastinating. This is the perfect time to be working on building a stronger foundation for your business in the year ahead. And, if you want to grab lunch let me know!
Today is my mother's birthday, and although she passed away almost three years ago, that doesn't change the bittersweet smile on my face as I take a quiet trip down Memory Lane. The way our memories filter out the hard times is pretty remarkable. These days I have to work to remember the challenges we had with Mom's Alzheimer's. I only look back over the moments that make me smile. The numerous moments of frustration and sadness have dissipated under the overwhelming strength of human nature and my faith in knowing Mom's in a better place today.
But the topic this morning isn't about Mom, but sharing some of the things I learned and hopefully helping some of you fighting similar battles.
So, as usual on a Sunday morning, I've gone completely off-track, and while it's social media taboo to get too personal, I'm hoping this just might help a few of you out there. I'm no expert on dealing with Alzheimer's, but just maybe sharing a few of my experiences will help.
Most important of all is to remember you're not alone and take of yourself first. That brings me full circle to wishing you a terrific Sunday; time for those eleven-second hugs with people you care the most about and a day filled with smiles.
Happy Sunday and Happy Birthday Mom!
Although I shared this post almost three years ago, Calvin Hayes has a birthday today, and it's time to bring it out of the archives! As Calvin sits in his office admiring the "World Sushi Federation" Belt hanging on the wall, which he won fair and square, I want him to remember a little of the pain that followed. Besides laughing until my sides hurt, I couldn't eat sushi for month. Not only that, but my Dad was present for the whole thing and it's hard when you've been humiliated in front of one of your parents! LOL
So, Mr. Hayes - Happy Birthday! You share a pretty special seat of honor on Memory Lane, especially when it comes to moments defined as the most fun I could never do again! Over the years you've always been there to help with virtually any project that came along. You've always given back! There's no question, I miss the old days, but that's the fun of Throwback Thursday - it brings them all back.
And for those of you relatively new to the industry - the best thing about being a photographer has little to do with imaging, but the friendships you make that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Nothing beats a Throwback Thursday image that makes you laugh out loud! So, take the time today and look for those old images that make you laugh, smile and reflect back to the pure joy of being an artist and part of an amazing industry!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
To this day I don't know how it started, but it was in the 90's and AOL was pretty much the only forum photographers were active in. For some reason, in the Kodak Chatroom, Tony Corbell and I were challenged by Wendy Saunders and Calvin Hayes to see who could eat the most sushi. The trash talk went on for months.
That year, the PPA convention was in Orlando and that's where these extensive crimes against all creatures from the sea took place. Now, if you know Tony Corbell or me, you know neither of us ever do anything just halfway! So prior to the event, we prepared...
That night, Tony and I, just like the goofballs of professional wrestling, came into the restaurant carrying our championship belts over our heads in our Yukatas. There were probably a dozen people who joined us for dinner, but it was really Wendy, Calvin, Tony and I who ran up the tab.
I remember eating for what seemed like an eternity, when Tony turned to Wendy and asked, "Honestly, how much more can you eat?"
She looked him straight in the eye and said, "At least a couple more orders!"
I looked at Tony, he looked at me, we were both turning green... we threw in the towel! At that point we were coming up on 63 pieces each. We had to give up our belts and to this day, every time I see Calvin he reminds me that the belt is hanging in his office!
As with every Throwback Thursday post, there's always a point or two. First, get photographs from those special events that help create the memories in your life with friends/associates at each workshop and convention you attend. Second, print them...if these were just on a jump drive somewhere, I never would have found them. Third, there's an incredible value to the friends in your network and they're part of your life to help you make those memories, regardless of whether it's for work or play. Just appreciate them.
And yes, the final check did come to just under $2000, but Wendy and Calvin were both spokespeople for Hasselblad and most of the guests that night all had something to do with supporting our marketing efforts. So we rationalized and decided it was part of sponsorship. LOL
Just for the record, my Dad joined us that night and I remember heading back to the hotel and he looked at me and said, "Wow...business in your industry is a lot tougher today than it was for me. All I had to do was learn to play golf!"
"Consider This," is a series of short weekly posts with things for you to think about. My career is always surprising me with what seems like a never-ending collection of new experiences. So, I want to fill this new feature with ideas to help you learn from my mistakes so you can make new ones of your own!
by Skip Cohen
The lesson for me comes in the fifth grade with Rosemary T's autograph book. Back then girls had autograph books, and they'd pass them around for everybody in the class to sign. I decided that humor was a necessity, rather just sign my name. At the time Coke had a tagline of something like "Be refreshed have a Coke." Well, I took a spin-off and wrote, "Be refreshed have a shit."
Little did I know that the teacher, Mrs. Stevens would not only see and sign on the opposite page, but she was in a women's group with my mother. She handed the page to Mom later that day. The scene that followed just a few hours later was almost identical to the scene in Christmas Story where the kid gets his mouth washed out with soap.
My Dad sat me down that night and gave me a lecture about being careful what you put in print. While I never forgot the lesson, I haven't always been able to live by it. Over the years I've mellowed a little but there are still those times when I've simply lost it, and thanks to email it's easier than ever to respond and get instant fulfillment.
And that hits on the problem. So many of you get sucked into battles, especially on Facebook. As an administrator in three different forums, I'm amazed at not only the comments in reaction to other photographers but things people post about difficult clients. Would you want a client to read what you're writing and sharing?
So the next time you want to put up a post about the bride from hell you worked with, or you decide to shred another photographer for any reason in a public forum - remember this:
There are no erasers on the Internet!
Image copyright Craig La Mere. All rights reserved.
"Why?" started out as a way to introduce you to artists who need to be on your radar. However, over the last ten months it's morphed into a series of life lessons from some of the most respected photographers in the industry. There are now fifty-seven in all!
It's time to put Craig La Mere in the spotlight. He's not only a talented creative fashion artist, but an author and educator who clearly redefines fun with every client and class he teaches. Remember "fun?" It's one of those very special words we too often forget about in the day-in-day-out challenges of working.
Craig shares some valuable insight in this new episode. To see more of his images, follow his blog and teaching schedule, just click on his favorite photograph above - the one that started his career!
Craig will be teaching again this year at ShutterFest in April. If you're there and haven't met him, make it a point to introduce yourself. And, if you've never been to ShutterFest - what are you waiting for?
I've written before about considering myself one of the luckiest guys in the photographic industry. Why? Because I wake up every morning smiling. I love what I'm doing.
My "journey" hasn't always been smooth. I have moments of regret just like everybody else. But I wake up every morning eager to jump into the projects that make up my day. Nothing is easy and there are plenty of times when my network of great friends helps me through the challenges. I found a quote that fits those less than fun days:
"It's not a bad life, just a bad day!"
I so appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit so many of you have brought to your business and in turn the industry. There are a lot of us who love what we're doing - but there are just as many of you who are unhappy. You just haven't found that combination of life's activities to create an environment in which you can thrive.
I found this video on TEDTalks by Scott Dinsmore and loved his message. He died in 2015 in a freak accident while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with his wife Chelsea, but thanks to TEDTalks, his inspiration lives on.. Until just a few minutes ago I never knew Scott, but watch this video and listen to his message.
In the very beginning he shares three points we all need to follow - the first one hit me especially hard. You need to understand yourself and become a self-expert. "If you don't what you're looking for then you're never going to find it."
I know all of you have things to do and time is a precious commodity, but I wouldn't be sharing this video if I didn't find it helped me with my own perspective. Take the time to watch this video and then as I do at least once a week, wander over to the TED channel on YouTube. Just pick a topic of a interest in your life and enjoy the inspiration shared by each TED presentation!
Wishing all of you a wonderful Sunday and one filled with passion for the people and things you love to do! As always, give somebody you care about a long hug - at least eleven seconds. Trust me, they're therapeutic!
With WPPI wrapping up yesterday, those of you who were there are headed home today. While you're planning on the front end of any conference is important, the wrap up is even more critical! We all do the same thing - we go to a convention, get pumped up with new ideas, return home and then life gets in the way. All that enthusiasm and great ideas get put aside as we put out the fires that came up while we were gone. Next thing you know, they've been put in a shoe box and kicked under the bed!
Here are some ideas to implement right now, because just taking notes and getting excited about new ideas isn't enough to build your business. It's time to implement!
"The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing."
Your follow-up after a convention is just as important as all the planning you put in on the front-end. In fact, in terms of growing your business and your skill set, it's more important. You just invested several days of your time to become a better artist and business owner - don't let the enthusiasm disappear with the day in day out challenges of the business and your life!
Photo Credit: © magann
I'm sure I shared this image once before, but after a few minutes of searching and not easily finding it in past posts, I decided to share it anyway.
On the last night of the WPPI convention, every year is the Awards Reception. It's an evening jam-packed with recognition primarily for artists who have entered WPPI's print competition. The image above was most of the WPPI team in 2009 who, along with 150 or so incredible volunteers, made the convention happen that year at the MGM Grand.
Jerry Ghionis jumping in on the right, while not working directly for WPPI, was pretty much an ambassador and photo-bombed the shot - helping to set the trend long before it's time. LOL
Today is the last day of WPPI and tonight is the Awards Reception. It was a complete surprise to me last year when two good buddies, Bambi Cantrell and Tony Corbell presented me with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Nobody could be more proud of the privilege to have worked with the crew pictured above to build the convention and RF Magazine. That year attendance was around 15,000.
While a lot of people give me credit for building the show, it was never me, but a team that became a family. However, two people are missing in the group shot above. Marlene Gourlay always refused to attend the last night reception and Gennie Kiuchi, who stayed in Culver City to keep the office going. Today you'll find Gennie's name on the masthead of Rangefinder Magazine as the Production Manager...and she's one of the very best in publishing!
If you haven't gone off in search of a "Throwback Thursday" image for today, what's holding you back? While I always remind you to share throwback images on your blog as a way to remind clients of the important role photography plays in their lives - it's also a fun personal experience. I've got the biggest smile on my face right now as this group shot brings back a whole lot of wonderful memories.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
"Consider This," is a series of short weekly posts with things for you to think about. My career is always surprising me with what seems like a never-ending collection of new experiences. So, I want to fill this new feature with ideas to help you learn from my mistakes so you can make new ones of your own!
by Skip Cohen
I heard a great story years ago. It was presented as a business anecdote, and I'm betting most of you haven't heard it.
A little girl is watching her mother cook dinner, and she cuts off 2 inches of the roast beef before putting it in the pan. The daughter asks, "Mom, why do you cut off the end of the roast beef?" Her mother answered, "Because that's the way my mother taught me to cook it."
Curious and determined to get to the bottom of the technique, the little girl goes to her grandmother and asks the same question. The grandmother smiled and said, "Because that's the way my mother taught me."
The kid just wasn't going to give up and went to the great-grandmother and asked one more time, "Why do you cut off the end of the roast beef before it's cooked." The great grandmother sighed and held her hands about 9 inches apart, "Because I only had a pan this big!"
As pathetic an explanation as it might seem, we have all been caught in situations where we've done things without any serious understanding of why. We manage by the exception because something bad happened once and we're determined never to let it happen again.
That's the part of the fun of being married to Sheila, who came into my life so late. She'll regularly question why I do something a certain way. Time and time again, I don't have a good answer, which leads me to start thinking about how or why I'm doing a particular task.
But here's where I see so many of you making a mistake. On your websites, usually under a category like "Information" some of you have policy statements on cancellation penalties that would make an IRS auditor shake. Your wording is over the top and typically very harsh. Investigating further, just like the little girl with the roast beef question, I'm finding the answer goes back to having once been burned by a client. Or, the cancellation statement is there because you've heard what's almost an urban myth, and you have to protect yourself.
I'm not suggesting you shouldn't have a strong statement and policy about cancellations and deposits, but it doesn't belong on your website! Save it for the contract discussion and use your site to get people "in the door." Don't scare them away before they've met you. Your website, especially those first three tabs are the most valuable real estate you own - don't waste it because you got burned once and you're determined never to have it happen again.
Protect yourself, but don't forget about the trust you have to build with your clients. They have the same issues you do, and just like the urban myth syndrome, they've heard all those stories about photographers who never delivered!
Image copyright Sal Cincotta. All rights reserved.
"Why?" is all about the backstories of some of the most talented artists in imaging. Each artist is unique as are their images. With each favorite image we've shared we've learned a little more about a photographer who needs to be in your network.
Sal Cincotta is in the spotlight today, and as I mention in my intro, he may well be one of the most diverse photographers in business today. Too many of you only know him as the founder of Shutter Magazine and ShutterFest. Well, it's time to meet Sal Cincotta the photographer and artist.
Interested in seeing more of Sal's work, just click on the image above.
Even better subscribe to Shutter Magazine and enjoy another one of his visions turned into reality, creating the leading magazine in professional photography! The online subscription is FREE, but the printed publication is stunning, and you'll want to add it to your monthly dose of inspiration! And, check out ShutterFest and your chance to spend some time with Sal and a whole bunch of us who are part of the fastest growing hands-on, educational and fun conference in photography.
Registration is now open - See you April 18-20 in St. Louis!
"I" is the smallest word in the dictionary. Don't make it the biggest in your vocabulary.
It's a typical Sunday morning, and while today's post will be off track from business and marketing, it's not out of line with something we all go through at some point.
A few weeks ago Sheila asked me why we were going to WPPI. She loves the show, but having recently moved into a new house and having good friends coming for a visit right after the show, leaving meant ending our move-in momentum. We're two type A personalities and we've worked hard to unpack and complete a long list of challenges everybody faces when they move.
Every time she asked, my answer was, "I need to be there," or "I haven't missed a WPPI in thirty years," or "I have meetings scheduled." Notice a trend? There were way too many "I''s." The truth is, while I love the show and it represents a significant chapter in my life, she got me thinking about why I was going. The trip was being driven entirely by my ego.
It took me a week to wrestle with the concept of not going, but the truth is, my world isn't coming to an end because I'm missing WPPI. The meetings I had scheduled were moved to ShutterFest in April, where I'm teaching again this year. While I'll miss walking the show, this year's convention is going to be very different - the show has moved to the convention center, something we managed to avoid in all those years at WPPI/Rangefinder. Because of this, there is no central hotel "hosting" the show. Throw in a few other changes and it's going to be a different kind of WPPI this year, but that doesn't mean you can't get the most out of the trip.
Here are six tips to follow with EVERY convention/trade show you attend:
There it is - six solid tips to get the most out of WPPI. Make it a learning experience focusing on building your strengths in imaging technique and business. And, check out a few of the SCU partners who are all doing some cool things at the show this year:
So, while we're missing this year's WPPI show, we'll be there in spirit and wish all of you safe travels and plenty of time with friends and the opportunity to build your network!
And speaking of networks - the most important people in your network are your family and closest friends. Enjoy the day. Go for those long therapeutic hugs and let them know how much you appreciate them!
Happy Sunday everybody!
There's a lesson in every challenge we face as consumers, but Frontier has gone overboard in the list of things quickly moving them to become one of the most hated companies in America. Seriously, this is a company who would have a hard time selling pretzels and beer in a ballpark! The pretzels would be stale and you'd get your beer just as the game was ending and you were headed to the parking lot!
We moved on December 22. Here's the short version of the experience so far:
To date I've invested over twenty hours in hold time and talking with their reps. There are approximately ten people who have tried to help, two of them part of the executive team in CEO Daniel McCarthy's office. By the way, my frustration at one point was so high, I even made an attempt to speak with him directly. I couldn't get a call through to him, but I can't help but wonder if he really understands the ship of fools running the company.
The people on the front line couldn't be nicer. They promote the fact that they're an American company. I'm not talking to somebody on the other side of the world who doesn't understand my frustration. I love that, but even dealing with companies with overseas customer service, I typically have been able to resolve my problems.
So here's the point...
Last on the list, if you've got a choice in phone, Internet and television service don't use Frontier! While everybody you talk to will be professional and empathize with your problems they're the Fisher Price of phone companies. Our lives are too sophisticated to have to deal with a "my first phone company" experience!
And to "Lanette" in the corporate office, who's trying hard to resolve my issues, my post this morning isn't meant to show any disrespect for your hard work. You're the one shining star in this whole experience. You've worked hard to resolve every problem, but as I said to you earlier in the week - you don't get the support from the other departments. I shouldn't have to contact you whenever there's a problem. Every time you try and help you're flying without a net!
For me personally, Throwback Thursday is a classic way to catch a few memories about the photographic industry. However, for you, as a professional photographer, Throwback Thursday is the perfect marketing tool. Use old images to help your clients understand the importance of savoring special memories.
For example, a wedding photographer might pull out a few images from a wedding ten years ago showing changes in style or better yet, share an engagement shot together with a more recent image if you've stayed in touch with the client. A children's photographer has the easiest job of all - sharing images of kids growing up. Plus, all of these images give you some great content for your blog one day a week.
While the variety of images you can share is endless, remember who your target audience is. For most of you it's MOM! Women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories. That means you've got to remind Mom how quickly the kids are growing up and the importance of updated family portraiture.
In regards to this image today, I'm guessing on the year, but it's mid-nineties and it's the senior management team from Hasselblad in Sweden together with all of the presidents of the subsidiaries. While most of you will know very few people in the picture, there are still some great stories this image brings back.
Every year we did one meeting of all the subsidiaries and every now and then outside Sweden. This particular year was at Cheeca Lodge in the Florida Keys. The fun of this is thinking about the personalities in the image.
Lennart S. is standing next to me in the blue and white stripe shirt. Chuck Gutierrez, who was then National Sales Manager, was always at odds with Lennart. So, he never put him into spell check, just so he could hit "ignore" whenever Lennart's name came up in a document he was writing.
Staffan J. then worldwide president of Hasselblad is in the hammock. To this day he's the only person I've ever met who loved Big Mac's so much that he'd buy them and freeze them! Now, I like a good burger as much as the next guy, but freezing a Big Mac, lettuce and all, is just not right!
Eva, the one woman at the meeting spent three months with us getting to know the US operation. We were flying back from WPPI one year and it was Eva, Tony Corbell and me. Well, Tony lucked out, got the comp airline upgrade and was in first class, while Eva and I were in coach. About ten minutes into the flight something was bothering Eva. She leaned across the aisle and asked, "Isn't Tony and underling? Why is he in first class?"
I never thought about Tony as an underling, but technically he did work for me. I answered back, "Eva, there's an unwritten policy on upgrades with the airlines - whoever gets here first keeps the upgrade. Tony got up earlier than the rest of us!" She was quiet the rest of the trip.
Last on the list is Bengt - the last guy on the right. Bengt was Vice President of Marketing for Hasselblad and the fights we had at Board meetings became legendary. But here's something wonderful over all those years of fighting, we became the very best of friends. It's probably around 16 years since Bengt passed away fighting Cancer. I still miss the guy, but thanks to the Internet, every now and then I've caught up to his daughter. Nothing tops old friendships.
Happy Throwback Thursday! Take the time, even if you don't do a blog post, and just find a few old images for a trip down Memory Lane!
by Skip Cohen
I've probably written at least a half dozen posts about the importance of pricing and profitability. There's no quicker way to destroy a business than to not price your products and services the right way.
Pricing seems to be a major stumbling block for so many of you, regardless of how long you've been in business, but it's not your fault directly. For the most part you're passionate artists. If you believe the theory behind "right brain/left brain" then most of you are creative types focusing more on creativity than operations. That's so easily changed!
I had a lot of fun building the content for the second class in my Lynda.com series about starting a photography business. There's a lot of great information here, together with some terrific sources to help you strengthen your business. Here's the introduction video.
Pricing is critical to your survival and growth as a business owner. What good is working to perfect your skill set if you're unhappy over profitability? A photography business without revenue is just a hobby!
Click the link below the video above to find out more information about the rest of the series. Plus, the post below from the SCU archives is one of my favorites. You've got to pay attention to the real costs of doing business and price your products appropriately!
There's a lot of information here on the SCU site about pricing. Two of my favorites posts star good buddy Sal Cincotta and his video on pricing followed by my pal, Bryan Caporicci. Both posts will help you a lot in determining your pricing strategy. Just remember, if you don't price your products and services right, your business is doomed or to be more direct, you're going to be eating Mac n' Cheese every night for the rest of the year!
No blog or even a series of posts can give you everything you need to remember about pricing, but I wanted to hit on my perspective on the challenge for so many of you. It seems like there are several common themes when it comes to dealing with pricing...
There are definitely be more, but those seem to be the top three I see most often. So, let's break them down a little.
Lack of Confidence: The issue isn't whether or not your lack of confidence is real, but whether or not it's justified. If you really do lack the skill set, but you're serious about building a business, then you may have entered the market too early. This isn't a career path where you can fake it 'till you make it. One unhappy consumer, who realizes they bet on the wrong horse, has the ability to influence hundreds if not thousands of other people.
If your lack of confidence is deserved, because you don't have the skills yet, then you shouldn't be in business. Your reputation is your most important asset - don't screw it up. Take the time for more workshops. Read everything you can, related to what you're missing. Watch every video you can find and take advantage of online education. Practice non-stop and learn every aspect of your gear. Be a second shooter and learn the skills you need for confidence.
Now, if you lack confidence simply out of fear, start getting involved with your local photographer's group. Most communities have a group of professional photographers who meet monthly. Get involved in the various forums on Facebook and share your work. Utilize your network to help you build your confidence by working with other photographers and talking about your business.
Pricing and the Competition: Okay, it's true, low ball pricing might bring you some instant business in the short run, but eventually it will destroy what you're trying to build, not to mention, undermine the strength of the market. If you want to build a strong reputation, build it on the quality of your products, services and the experience people have working with you. Look for added value to the pricing equation, NOT discounting. Talk with your lab, album company and framer about new products. Read both of the posts I linked you to in the first paragraph.
AsTerry Clark said in a post about making yourself different:
“The best thing to do to survive and thrive is find what everyone else isn’t doing and do that thing.”
What did it really cost for you to get this far? When you start looking at key price points, don't forget everything you invested to get here:
•Your Gear •Computer •Printers •Supplies •Furniture •Software •Packaging •Charges from your vendors •Education •Insurance •Rent •Phone Service •Time •Utilities •Website •Internet •Car •Gas and Maintenance •Legal Counsel •Accountant •Dues/membership •Advertising •Marketing •Additional labor •Travel/Entertainment
As Bryan wrote in his guest post,
"Pricing is a topic that most photographers will cringe at the thought of. While it may not have the same appeal as the creative side of being a photographer, it is an inevitable and crucial part of running a photography business."
This is an amazing industry and you've got a huge responsibility to each potential client to capture and create the images and memories they're anticipating. Your goal is to become habit-forming and exceed their expectations, but you've also got a responsibility to yourself, the right to earn a respectable living. Don't short-change yourself. Don't let a lack of attention to your pricing strategy challenge your ability to keep building your dream!
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.