Years ago I picked up a great line about professional packaging:
"Points made to the eye are 78% more effective than the same points made to the ear!"
Now, let's apply that to some of the products on display here at ShutterFest, starting with PhotoFlashDrive.com.
The shot above was a grab shot and it's only one table on display. PhotoFlashDrive.com is all about presentation. They're giving you an opportunity to elevate everything you give your clients. Two of my most favorite products are the stunning upscale "Boudoir Box" and their wine boxes. Stay with me here because this is so important.
Years ago at Polaroid we did a series of focus groups on customer loyalty to various products. With hard goods we learned that the more accessories you could offer to a product line the more people loved the products. Well, PhotoFlashDrive.com has given you hundreds of products to enhance your final presentation to your client.
The Boudoir Box is a perfect example. Boudoir images are personal, but not to be shared with the world. They also represent very special memories. So, they gave it a stunning upscale look complete with lock and key, along with a flash drive and storage for some 4x5 prints.
Then comes the wine case and they had dozens of different styles to chose from. My favorite is on the right with two glasses, room for a ribbon-tied stack of prints, flash drive and of course a bottle of wine.
Now think about a client whose wedding or portrait session you did. They loved working with you and you'd love to work with them again. This is a no-brainer.
It's a high-impact product line with longevity. Here's why I used the word "longevity" - think about the client's response at getting some of their images this way along with a hand-written thank you note from you. Is there any friend they wouldn't tell about it?
PhotoFlashDrive.com also had individual wine boxes with the ability to print an image inside the box. Every product is a no-brainer.
Now, wander down the trade show floor at ShutterFest and check out Marathon's new Bella Art Albums and especially the oversized book in the middle of the table. And, ask about the MAP Getaway in July and come join us for a few days of intense help in building your business!
One of the things I love about ShutterFest is the relationship everyone has an opportunity to build with each exhibiting vendor. This isn't about selling you their products, but helping you understand how to best them use them and pave the way to make 2016 your best year yet!
We all know the joys of travel and the fun of waiting in lines at airport security, airline gates and baggage claim. It's simply no fun. However, there's something unique about walking into a great conference and the energy good old anticipation creates.
With all the conventions and conferences I've attended in my life, nothing compares with the excitement in the air at ShutterFest. I'm going to do my best over the next couple of days to share that energy.
It all starts with the location itself. Much to my wife's dismay, I dove out of bed at 6:00 am with an idea. I wanted to get a few shots of the hotel before the "storm". No shower...I didn't bother to even brush my teeth...just threw on a sweatshirt and a pair of shorts, grabbed my camera and headed to the trade show first to get the shot above.
Then it was over to the lobby and there were already early-birds grabbing coffee and deciding on their activities for the day. "Pride" might seem like a funny word to use in describing attendees, but I'm not sure there's a better one. First, remember, this isn't a conference or convention. It's a community and every member is proud to be a part of it. They're proud to be here; proud to be working on their skill set and proud to be with other artists sharing the same passion.
If a convention location has a heartbeat, then the pulse of activity is here in the lobby of the Union Station Hotel. This room is the hub to connect with new friends, old friends and in a few hours it'll be teeming with mini-classes and photographers shooting with their "rent-a-human" models.
Just an hour later I had some fun with the image below. ShutterFest energy was in the air as the creative "storm" approached.
I had one last image I wanted to grab - the lobby bar, probably the longest bar of any hotel I've ever been in. By noon the bar will be covered with artists working to fulfill all the images in their mind's eye.
So what makes ShutterFest different from other conventions? First, it's not a conference or convention, but an interactive community. Second, while it's grown every year, it's still small and personal. Third, this is about people interacting with each other. For vendors it's a unique way to show your products and services, because this is an event focused on education and interaction. It's about relationship building.
Lots more to come this week. Welcome to ShutterFest 2016!
PS I also love being here with a LUMIX FZ1000 - with its low-light capabilities and 25-400mm zoom, it's the perfect camera to capture the activities of ShutterFest!
Tomorrow morning we'll be headed to ShutterFest, and I'm not sure I have the ability to describe the pure joy of anticipation I'm feeling. In fact, I wandered into Fotolia, which I often use for illustrations with posts and typing in the word "anticipation" I had my choice of four hundred images of pregnant women. So, while my anticipation is almost as exciting as having a baby, the photos they offered just didn't fit.
However, a kid looking out from behind the curtains makes my point just fine. I've got that same look on my face right now as I go over my presentations one more time to see if I missed anything. I have props I've been putting away for a month to take with me. I've got my camera ready to go, extra batteries, my laser pointer which I never remember to use and a few books I want to give away as relevant door prizes.
But the real preview to my packing is all in my heart and all under the umbrella of "anticipation." ShutterFest has become my most favorite event of the year, and it's all about friendships. While I love to teach and know, I can help photographers better market themselves and run their business, going to this particular convention is a reunion.
Yesterday I caught up to Rebecca Nash, a new friend from last year's conference. Every year the ShutterFest team decorates the trade show hall with posters of the speakers and last year the portrait I provided wasn't very good. She grabbed a shot for me, and there I am.
Then I caught an image of good buddy Matt Meiers on Facebook. It's too scary a shot to share here, but I realized why he's become such a good friend...he's nuts! LOL. I know Joan and Stephen are probably already there, another friendship that came out of this conference. I'm hoping to catch up to Gary Altman again - my conversation with Gary, an ex-law enforcement guy, came out of one early morning at the first ShutterFest. Justin will be in from Colorado and a hug from Melissa will round out the reunion.
This is only a blog post, and I just don't have room to list all the people I'm excited about seeing, but they do all help me make a point - ShutterFest is about education, charging your creative battery and especially friendships! I've written this so many times before, but it deserves to be out there again, on this lazy Easter morning.
The best thing about the photographic industry has absolutely NOTHING to do with imaging, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft! It's those friendships that keep me going all year long, and I can't wait to catch up with old friends and make a few new ones!
If you follow my blog regularly here's a warning, I'm about to do an infomercial. I'm doing three programs at ShutterFest. The first two at 4:30 on Tuesday and Wednesday. I'm still waiting to hear the time on the third one, but it'll be some time Tuesday night. Both programs focus on easy to implement changes to increase revenue and build a stronger business for 2016. And yeah, I really do love helping you guys find ways to achieve greater success!
See you at ShutterFest! Whether you're headed to St. Louis or not - wishing you a wonderful Easter Sunday and whether you celebrate the day or not make it a special time with family and friends. As always go for the eleven-second hugs and put work on the back burner for the day. Everything will be waiting for you on Monday!
I've shared a lot of old family photographs for Throwback Thursday, especially since my Dad passed away last November, but this one puts an ear to ear smile on my face. If my folks were still alive, Dad would be hysterical over it being shared while Mom would be mortified. However, only for a short time, because that's the emotion she'd feel she should be showing. Deep down she'd be laughing with Dad.
My best guess is this was taken in the late 70's or early 80's. Not sure why, but when cleaning out their place, this was printed as a poster and mounted on foam core. Here's what all of this brings back and why you should be posting a Throwback image on your blog for you clients.
First, it's a reminder of my Dad's sense of humor. For example, he loved to write stuff that was funny. Every time there was a milestone anniversary or birthday of one of their friends, Mom would put Dad to the task of writing a poem. Consistently EVERY time she'd hear the first draft and make him clean it up. I can hear her saying, "Ralph, that's so dirty. You can't say that in a poem!"
Second, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I have Dad's genes, and I'm proud of it. Dad always had a joke, a one-liner to share for virtually any situation. He was always willing to go a little out on the limb for a chuckle.
Well, it's Throwback Thursday and time for you to remind your clients that printed images last. Had this been anything other than a print, I'd never have found it, and the memory would have been lost.
I've shared the image above before, but it's one more way for you to remind your clients of the importance of printing their images. You're welcome to use it or just create your own. And for those of you who will try and accuse me of being an alarmist - feel free to try. You'll be in good company, but then tell me what to easily do with 8-track tapes.
Happy Throwback Thursday everybody! Now, take ten minutes and share something from your stash with your readers! Make a point about memories, printed photographs and the magic only a professional photographer can bring into a family's life.
Every now and then there's a post that's simply fun to write and even better to share. This is one of those today. Here's the backstory:
At the 2016 WPPI Awards Program I was asked to present the inaugural Bill Hurter Award of Excellence. The award honored the person who achieved the highest four scoring entries in this year’s print, album and filmmaking competition. I opened my presentation with the following comments about Bill:
"Bill was the editor-in-chief of Rangefinder Magazine for fifteen years. He played an important role in the growth of WPPI, especially in developing the speaker platform each year and building print competition. Bill is considered by most to be one of the best editors our industry has ever seen, but he was also an incredible writer, photographer and especially a great friend to so many of us...
Most of you in this room, although you may not have known Bill, have in some way been touched by his incredible influence in photography. From photographers who nobody ever heard of to the icons of today, Bill always wanted to feature creativity and cutting edge images in every issue of Rangefinder Magazine and at every convention."
The award went to Australian photographer, Vicky Papas Vergara. Vicky wasn't able to be at WPPI this year, but she did accept via a short, almost realtime, video.
I know Bill was watching over us that night and couldn't have been more proud. Bill loved the convention and especially print competition. Each year when it was over we'd all go into the business equivalent of postpartum depression. As the convention grew, the opportunity to not think about the next year's show, and take some time off became less and less. We'd finally admit it was the most fun we didn't want to do for another year and then jump into planning for the next show.
On Monday night before this year's convention sixty of us got together for dinner just to toast and honor Bill. Story after story was told and always with the same common denominator, our love for Bill Hurter and one of the finest editors, artists and friends most of us have ever known.
Do I miss Bill? Damn right, but there's something remarkable that happens when you lose somebody with such a big personality. They never really leave you. Every day there's a little something that triggers a memory, a moment from the past, and in turn a smile.
You can't be a professional photographer today and not be influenced by something Bill did or somebody's career he touched.
A lot of people give me credit for building WPPI, but I had little to do with it. There was an amazing team behind the growth of WPPI and Rangefinder Magazine - Bill Hurter, George Varanakis and Arlene Evans. And, the four of us were backed by another team, the Rangefinder and WPPI staff. As sappy as it sounds we were a family, and over and over again we broke records for the convention, the magazine and print competition.
I caught up to Vicky Papas Vergara on an IM one day last week, just to thank her for her contribution to Bill's memory. She wrote:
I am so grateful to you all for making me feel like part of the Wppi family and to have received The Bill Hurter Award is something l will cherish forever! Thank you so much for presenting Bill's award, l watched it on Periscope, l can see how much you all loved Bill, l only wished l could have met him!
I asked her to send me the four images responsible for the award. Knowing Bill, each one would have been a potential cover for Rangefinder. Even better would have been the friendship that would have developed with Vicky, an artist who shared Bill's passion for quality and never-compromising on capturing/creating the ultimate image.
So, to WPPI, thank you for the opportunity to put Bill in the spotlight. To Vicky Papas Vergara, thank you for being a remarkable artist. To all of Bill's friends, thanks for being part of an amazing legacy.
And, to Mr. Bill - buddy, I miss you more than words can express. Thank you for all you taught me about photography, publishing and especially friendship.
Portrait images copyright Vicky Papas Vergara. All rights reserved.
Ever meet somebody for the first time and walked away feeling like you've known them for years? Meet Joe Switzer. We share a whole bunch of mutual friends, but we actually met and talked for the first time at WPPI's Awards Program just a couple of weeks ago.
Then, last week "Becker" posted his wedding video and he couldn't have been more ecstatic. This was no ordinary story Switzerfilm had to capture. It was the story of one of the most creative artists in photography, the Becker, and his incredible partner and beautiful bride, Ashley. I've known Becker for years and met Ashley for the first time last year when they dropped by ShutterFest. They're a pretty special couple.
Most of you are still-photographers transitioning into some level of filmmaking. While you're primarily being judged on how you tell the story, it takes a different skill set to do it in video versus an album. However, these days it's so important for you to have skills in both areas.
Check out Ashley and Becker's wedding video below and then watch one of my favorite videos from Shutter Magazine with Joe Switzer. It's the perfect foundation for you to think about your skill set and Joe's theme of five trends in video for 2016.
Joe and I both write for Shutter Magazine and we'll also both bein St. Louis next week teaching at ShutterFest. If you're attending ShutterFest, whether you're signed up for his class or not, make it a point to introduce yourself and start following his content all about video.
Subscribe to Shutter Magazine both online and in print - you'll never be disappointed. It's the fastest growing magazine in professional photography.
But don't let your education and enjoyment stop there. Check out Switzerfilm. Just click on the picture of Joe to the right. You'll see some stunning work and make it a point to meet "Kreature". Who else but Joe Switzer would have a mascot and a theme song to enhance the creative spirit of the entire Switzerfilm team?
As my buddy Dean Collins used to say - What a kick!
If you look back over your career, regardless of how long you've been a photographer, you'll find milestone moments when somebody came into your life who made a difference. Meet one of my very special milestones, Arthur Rainville. We met years ago when he was teaching in San Diego and was just out for the day in LaJolla watching guys hang glide off the cliffs at Torrey Pines. Little did I know at the time what an inspiration and a good friend he'd become.
Years later Arthur and I both spoke to a group of photographers in Boston. Arthur did a presentation on creativity, which to this day is one of the best presentations I've ever attended. What makes Arthur's style so unique is his ability to source everything he talks about from his heart. I know that might sound like a funny way to put it, but his sincerity and passion for the craft, as well as his willingness to help artists develop their vision, makes him truly unique.
In this new podcast, Arthur and I talk about the importance of connecting with your clients and establishing the right connection before you start clicking the shutter! Arthur shared a lot of wonderful insight in this new podcast, but nothing beats talking to Arthur in person. If you see Arthur on the schedule for any conference you're headed to, run don't walk to grab a seat. And, when it's over make it a point to introduce yourself. Nobody gives a warmer handshake than Arthur!
A BIG thanks to Arthur for joining me on this new episode and to SproutingPhotographer.com. Bryan Caporicci and Rob Nowell created Weekend Wisdom and helped to kick off a friendship that continues to grow. After only eight months Sprouting Photographer got Best of iTunes' podcasts in 2014. They've now grown to be one of the most listened to podcast in photography!
They recently launched Sprout Studio. I grabbed this shot of Justin, Rob and Sandra in the booth at WPPI. Sprout Studio has some pretty amazing software, designed to get you organized and help you spend time savoring life, instead of chasing the clock to get everything done!
Just click on the image to connect to Sprout Studio and check out their free trial.
Having just come back from WPPI I'm still amazed at photographers who have only been out there a short time thinking they can rush the process of becoming a professional. I heard somebody comment as they were watching my good friend Michele Celentano during a live demo say, "That's easy for her to say!"
Not one of today's icons started out iconic. They didn't just wake up one morning as if the Success Fairy wandered in during the night and sprinkled success dust over them and *poof* they'd made it to the top. And, if you talk to any of those people who we define as iconic they'll tell you how they're still practicing, learning and experimenting.
Don Blair at 74 was once asked, "What's the most incredible portrait you've ever done?" He immediately responded, "I don't know, I haven't made it yet!" Even then, considered one of the finest portrait artists in the industry, he was constantly experimenting in his search for the ultimate image.
Roberto Valenzuela finds time every week to mix it up and practice his skill set. Michele is working with high-speed sync with lighting, something she hasn't done much with in the past. Tony Corbell, never stops changing his game and trying out things he hasn't done before. In fact, Tony talks very openly about how he first got started, "I may not have been the best photographer in town, but I was determined to be the nicest."
Years ago Michele spoke at GoingPro Bootcamp, a program Scott Bourne and I did together. Her opening comments said it all, "Twenty years ago I was sitting right where you are now, wondering how long it would be before my work didn't suck!" She then proceeded to share some of the worst bridal images I've ever seen. I got her to send me a couple of them above.
So, for those of you trying to rush the process, here are some tips:
Stop thinking it's your gear that will make you a success. While great gear does open some new doors for you, it's understanding the skills you need that's more important. Vincent Laforet said at a Skip's Summer School program a few years ago, "When you don't have that long lens you wished you had, stop letting it hold you back. Just move in closer!"
There are no shortcuts to becoming a great artist. Practice every day. Ralph Romagueara, past president of PPA, compares being a photographer to musicians practicing their scales every day or a ball player warming up swinging two bats. You've got to practice constantly.
Jealousy is a waste of energy. This isn't just about photography; it's about business envy. A lot of you need to give it a rest and stop thinking everybody else's grass is greener.
"Envy come from people's ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts."
And, there's the biggest part of the problem. There are many of you who are so gifted, but you've spent too much time following the icons. Just for a second today look in the mirror and if you want to envy somebody, check out the face looking back at you. If you've got the passion for the craft and the desire to be a great artist, then give it the time it deserves and start believing in your own gifts. Stay focused on what's in your heart and, accept as an artist there's no such thing as an overnight success.
Most important of all, know there are a whole bunch of us out here rooting for you and believing in your goals and willing to help when you need the support.
It's a pretty typical Sunday morning. I woke up early; Sheila's still asleep and Molly is stretched out at my feet snoring like my grandfather used to sound during a cat nap. I woke up like I always do and came directly to my computer and started writing this, but I have no idea where I'm going. No roadmap, no topic in my head, not even a poignant thought, the result of a dream I had last night.
So maybe the topic this morning is this never-ending quest we all have to make sure every day has some purpose. What if the purpose of today is to have simply NO purpose? What if the only point I have to make is, it's okay to take a slug day?
If you don't know about slug days, it's something I learned from Sheila and her girlfriend, Beaner. For me, it started in Ohio. Beaner would come over for the weekend, and the two of them would just hang out for the day. They'd talk all day, but accomplish nothing beyond appreciating their long-time friendship.
I've never been a slug day kind of guy, raised on the philosophy that we should never waste time and that we need to be accountable for every waking minute. Well, here I am with nothing particular I want to do today except chill. I have plenty of work I could be doing, but it's all going to be there in the morning. So, I'm declaring it National Slug Day and inviting all of you to join in the festivities, which involve absolutely nothing.
Essentially it's like turning a Dr Seuss book into a real-time day:
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
It couldn't be a more simple point - I'm taking the day to be a slug. I'm going to chill, reflect and just kick back and appreciate how lucky I am to love what I do and be doing what I love, because nobody is more me-er than me! I need a day like this and maybe you do to.
Wishing everybody a day of peace, love and time to chill by yourself or with people you care about. Go for those eleven-second hugs with somebody special and remember, it's the first day of Spring. Just like those tulips that are starting to sprout, kick back and appreciate everything you have and stop worrying about what's missing - it'll all come together when you least expect it.
Note: A BIG thanks to my good buddy Bob Coates for calling me on two typos...I guess it was just one of those mornings! We all have them, but yes, I really am embarrassed.
I know, politics are at the top of the taboo list for blogging, but honestly, we got our first political telemarketing call this past week. I'm just not ready for all the bull____* headed our way over the next few months.
My first complaint is when are we going to have an election where we actually have to decide between great candidates rather than voting for who we think will screw up the country less? My second complaint is the money being wasted as each candidate slams the other in advertising campaigns. Seriously, how much better could America be if all that money was put into housing for the homeless, food for children living below the poverty level or better health services for our veterans?
And last on my list is dreading the telemarketing calls from America's celebrities. While it was exciting to hear from Barbara Streisand during the last election, she hasn't called or written to me since! I get she was just using me, but to never follow-up? I feel so cheap.
What's most ironic is these same politicians are the ones responsible for the privacy and spam laws designed to protect us from phonus interruptus, a serious disease causing one's concentration on Chicago PD to be repeatedly interrupted by the noise of a ringing phone.
I love America. I'm proud to be an American, but every presidential election is getting harder and harder to take. It's become the equivalent of knowing you have to get a root canal every four years, only this year the procedure is being done by a proctologist!*
*Note, this post has been modified for those more "sensitive" readers, who completely missed my point!
In marketing I've seen only one strategy that can't miss
and that is to market to your best customers first,
your best prospects second and the rest of the world last.
I ran across the quote above this morning, and it hit me how many of you keep chasing new databases before you've done anything with your existing customers. No matter how new or for that matter how long you've been in business, your previous clients are your best audience and in turn ambassadors.
Right off the bat, there's, at least, one of you rolling your eyes and saying, "But Skip, I'm a wedding photographer, and there's not a lot of repeat business!"
First, even in the wedding category, you couldn't be more wrong. The younger the bride, the more friends she has who will be getting married and looking for a photographer. Second, new couples start families, and there's a real advantage to keeping in touch long after the wedding. Third, most brides and grooms have siblings. This is a relationship built business, and if you keep in touch, there might just be another family member walking through your door in the future.
This is a very short post this morning with one plea - before you start spending money on acquiring new customer bases, "charity starts at home." Look at your data base and think about all the different ways you can keep in touch with past clients. I'm not saying to abandon the idea of looking for new prospects, just don't ignore the gold mine you're already sitting on thanks to your relationships with past clients!
My good buddy Scott Bourne published a story about my love for the industry and my recent Lifetime Achievement Award at WPPI on the Photofocus site yesterday. While there are no words to describe how much I appreciated his comments as well as Bambi Cantrell and Tony Corbell's at WPPI, just for the fun of it, I think it's time I corrected a few highlights.
Here's the background on Ansel's '77 Cadillac:
Virginia Adams, Ansel's widow donated the car to the Center for Creative Photography to raise money for their visiting scholar fund. Since Victor Hasselblad and Ansel were good friends, I bought it from the Center with Hasselblad's money and then we sold it to raise money for Photographers + Friends Uniteds against AIDS.
The car was on display twice at conventions, once in San Francisco and later in NYC at what's now PhotoPlus Expo. After the San Francisco show, Terry Deglau and I loaded it up with Hasselblad gear and plenty of Kodak film and took it to Yosemite. To this day I'm convinced I'm a better photographer because I sat in Ansel's seat with my tush right where his used to be. Photo osmosis?
Note: Sorry for the quality of the image on the left, but it's a grab shot of a picture on the wall of my office. That's Ansel's original rear license plate and Virginia turning the keys over to me.
Kayce Baker got this shot of me swimming with a turtle on a dive trip many years ago. While I'm being upstaged a little by the turtle, notice that not one hair is out of place!
However, I've been spotted more than a few times with my hair out of place, but Sheila's been the only witness. LOL
Stay tuned, because we're about to crank up a few of our legendary podcasts with a goal of helping more photographers focus on lots more than just their subjects!
Just for the fun of it, I recorded this short video for my online article in Shutter Magazine. The theme this month is seniors. After I did it I realized that look may not be far off!
Okay, so here's the bottom line to this morning's post...there really isn't one. Yeah, I do love this industry as much if not more than people think. While I so appreciate the recognition of WPPI's Lifetime Achievement Award, at times I feel like my career is just getting started. In fact, every day I realize the more I learn, the more I have to learn and discover.
A big thanks to everyone for your comments and support over the last few days. To paraphrase the Beatles, I get by with a whole lot of help from my friends!
"Many people will walk in & out of your life,
but only true friends leave footprints in your heart"
Okay, I admit it, I did my version of a Houdini disappearing act over the weekend and simply took the time off. It's not something that's easy for me to do and in six years of blogging, it represents a handful of days I've simply been inactive in social media. What did it to me was being exhausted. But, it was the kind of exhaustion you learn to cherish not fear or avoid.
Last week's WPPI convention for me personally was one of the best. From meetings with new potential sponsors of SCU to catching up with new and old friends to the wrap-up surprise of receiving WPPI's Lifetime Achievement Award, it was a remarkable week. In fact, I don't think I've ever had a week with a more jam-packed schedule.
I wanted to kick off this week with one big point - the quality of your network. There are two types of people in my network, associates who work together on a variety of projects and true friends. Both are important. However, it's pretty amazing when both groups come together. There's nothing that can't be accomplished.
Over the years, I've heard comments about how many friends people think I have. The truth is, I have lots of people who I've met, worked with and enjoy catching up to, but only a handful of very special true friends who have left those "footprints" in my heart.
When I was looking for a quote that fits today's post, Eleanor Roosevelt's above hit home the most. We all have people who walk in and out of our lives. Some stick around for the ride; others are just short term travelers on our journey. Others still, help us non-stop, looking for nothing in return. They're always by our side whether we know it or not.
But here's the thing about today's post. You have to take the time to let them in. You have to be willing to show your vulnerability and invest in the friendship. The word "network" is so abused and over-used, but it's the only one that fits in what I'm trying to say.
Pay attention to the key people in your network. Invest the time in developing new friendships and reinforcing the old ones. Don't just head off to a convention to collect business cards and meet people - take the time to get to know them. There's a big difference between a handshake and a hug! Go for relationships with hugs, but be selective. At the same time, respect those relationships with handshakes. Having a balance of both is what builds a strong network, and it's what makes attending a conference like WPPI or ShutterFest coming up so worth it!
Next stop - St. Louis! See you there.
Last night's Awards of Excellence program at WPPI and receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award was a complete surprise. It left me with what I consider an underwhelming response. Seriously, as I went to sleep I thought of everything in my heart, that never came out through my lips! A couple of lame stories about Tony Corbell and Bambi Cantrell, a thank you and then I became a deer in the headlights.
So, here's what I wish had come into my head...
In 1987, after seventeen years at Polaroid, I joined the professional side of the industry as President of Hasselblad USA. So, twenty-nine years ago is where my journey started and it continues to be amazing. I know it sounds sappy, but I love this industry. I love the artists I've met along the way, and while so many of you were thanking me last night, my thanks goes to all of you.
Tennyson wrote in Ulysses, "I am a part of all that I have met." Well, each of you has become a part of me. I've learned something from every person I've met and worked with. Many of you have inspired me to chase down new ideas, projects and even created the stimulus I needed to start my own company in 2009. Your entrepreneurial spirit sets a standard every day, reminding me never to slow down chasing my dreams.
I know it's called a "Lifetime Achievement" but I'm hardly ready to slow down. My thanks starts with WPPI and their recognition of my "trip" so far. Thank you Tony and Bambi for your kind words - nothing beats long time friendships. A big thanks to so many of you for your encouragement and friendship over the years. And, to those of you in the "inner-circle" of my network what a kick it is to share this non-stop journey.
Last on the list, but really first - Sheila, you continue to be my best buddy, my muse, coach, partner and often advisor. It's time to see what the next path brings into our life together. Sure do love ya.
Dear MGM and MLife:
I missed breakfast yesterday and thought it was great that you provided a mini-food court at the conference center during WPPI. It's a nice touch and a piece of banana bread and a small bottle of water was just what I needed. I went into sticker shock when the clerk said, "That will be $9.00." I told her that was absurd and she suggested I get a cup of coffee for $4.00 since the water was $5.00. Even Starbucks, although still absurd, at least does a 24 oz. bottle at $6.76!
I know we're in the desert. I know that water is tough to come by except to fill your pools. I get that you deliver the water in a stunning plastic bottle with a classic label...but what makes it worth $5.00?
I know it costs money to run a hotel like this. I know the conference center and ballroom were expensive to build. I even accepted $40 for two bowls of oatmeal and a cranberry juice on room service, but this is water! And, it's a small bottle of water!
Wanting to get the most out of my $5.00 investment I actually took the time to read the label, which lists sixteen different properties in the MLife family. It also lists an email address for premiumwaters.com. So, as I sit here this morning, I'm trying to understand where the premium is.
I'm hoping that with this bottle of water comes a chance to have my name engraved on a brick somewhere on the property in memory of a guest who gave so much to help maintain the MGM!
A Guest Saved from Dehydration Thanks to MLife
While attendance seemed a little sporadic for a first day kick off, there was no shortage of enthusiasm or support from the attendees or the exhibitors. In fact, I was blown away by the level of educational support at so many different companies. I had my LUMIX FZ1000 with me and grabbed a few shots of some of my favorites, some of them before the show opened.
Profoto USA was ready and focused on doing everything they can to raise the bar on education this year. They've got 22 different programs in their booth throughout the convention. In talking with Mark Rezzonico, President of Profoto USA, he put it all in perspective:
"We want to be the biggest educational force at the convention and help as many photographers as we can!"
There's also something to be said about this image on the left. It's the back wall of Profoto's booth and an incredible testimonial to how many of the industry's great artists are part of the Profoto team.
Panasonic's new look is simply awesome. If you haven't checked out LUMIX they've got the staff and the gear to share with you in booth 311.. Plus, a new speaker presented every hour. I'm excited to be doing a program today at 1:30. I'll be rolling through promotional ideas, one after another, to help you make 2016 the best year ever!
From demonstrations, to speakers to service support on your gear, Tamron never missed a beat. If you're at the show, check out the new SP lenses. Swing by booth 609. You won't be disappointed!
Notice that BIG album on display in the Marathon booth? Marathon's new Bella Art Albums are remarkable with a stunning choice of papers, covers and presentation style. They're in booth 1105 and you need to see the albums to really appreciate the quality and the statement they can make about your work.
A new exhibitor at WPPI this year, but with the ability to have an impact on thousands of photographers is Sprout Studio, booth 1129. Here's your chance to finally get the organization you need with software and a system designed by photographers for photographers! In fact, it's thanks to SproutingPhotographer.com that the Weekend Wisdom podcast airs every couple of weeks.
I know that all of you have limited time to attend all of the conventions/conferences each year, but from networking to education to new technology it's an important part of the ingredients you need to grow your business and skill set. If you're not at WPPI, then take the time to wander through this year's exhibitor list and visit the websites of the the companies who you feel have products and services to help you the most.
This is a terrific time of year to be checking out what everybody is doing. For most companies the excitement of what they're showing at a convention is shared online in their websites and blogs.
I shared this image once last year in a Throwback Thursday post, but being back at the Signature Hotel in Las Vegas this week, I had forgotten what a stroke of creative brilliance the artist had in her vision.
Elena Hernandez captured this portrait at WPPI in 2010. She was working on a project for Graphi and WPPI doing portraits of people in the industry. The image above is one of my favorites.
Elena's vision was to capture the essence of each subject in a portrait. This was six months before Sheila and I were married. Sheila was and is today a very big part of my life and Elena wanted to pull her into the shot. We later printed it on metal. With the exception of it missing Elena's signature, it's perfect. Because it's displayed with the simplicity of a flat table stand and no frame, it's an unusual piece of art in our home and guests always comment.
But here's where Elena defines the word "professional". I decided to grab a couple of shots of the lobby this morning. I really had forgotten how creative Elena's mind's eye was working that day.
The entryway where she set up the portrait is 24 feet across with mirrors at either end. It's the front of Tower One and there are people walking through constantly.
At either end are two mirrors. There's a chair on one side, where I was sitting. On the other side was the other mirror and the only things Elena moved were the chair slightly and the decorative plate on the table. Hard to believe the entry way hasn't changed in six years!
In order to bring in just a little more light, she had an assistant, our mutual friend Tamara Young, popping in just a little more light with a reflector.
Interested in seeing more of Elena's work? Check out her website for some stunning images. I also shared a post last year with several of her images from the same convention.
When it comes to photographs of ourselves, we all become consumers, no different than the profiles of many clients. In fact, we're tougher than most clients will ever be. It's a pretty amazing thing when an artist not only fulfills our expectations, but exceeds them.
It's even better when it's a good friend who creates a memory.
It's Sunday morning and far too early to normally be writing, but we're in Vegas for WPPI, and there are two obstacles to sleep that can't be avoided. First, is the time zone and I'm always a mess - the clock says it 6:00 A.M. but my body is screaming that it's 9:00 A.M. So, I've given up and here I am.
But it's the second reason that's a bigger issue - I LOVE being here. The anticipation of catching up to old friends is out of control and had me bounding out of bed regardless of it still being dark outside. I've written a lot over the years about networking and the role it should play in your business, but this is so much more.
Once you've been to the same conventions a few times over 3-5 years, you have enough people who you've met and hopefully stayed in contact with to make every trip a bigger and bigger kick to attend. As members of the same industry, we all share a similar level of passion, curiosity and need to stay connected.
And there's my point this morning. It's so important to stay connected, plugged into each other's lives. For me, I'm a one-man-band, with my office in my home. I spend the day working, talking on the phone, conversing through IMs and email. Nothing beats a face to face conversation together with a handshake or a hug. Nothing beats eye contact when talking about what's been going on for the last week, month or year.
So, if you're home this week and not at WPPI, I get that you can't make every conference...but, make it a point to put personal time into your network. Make it a point to attend as many conferences and workshops throughout the year as you can.
This isn't a convention, but a quick charge for your soul. It's about sharing time with good friends, old friends and new ones. Nothing beats time with a group of people who all share the same love for the craft and business! We're all looking for many of the same answers, and a good conference is where you'll often find them.
See you on show floor this week and if you're not here now, maybe ShutterFest at the end of the month.
PS If you're here at WPPI, I'm doing two mini-programs in Panasonic's booth this week, 1:30 on Tuesday and 11:30 on Wednesday, so, come on by. Sheila and I will also be walking the show all day tomorrow and you'll find us at Profoto, Marathon or Tamron's booth most of the time.
If you're headed to WPPI this weekend, the trade show is Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Profoto may just have set the record for the most number of leading artists booked to speak at a trade show booth. I remember walking by the booth last year and being blown away by the speaker schedule for that day. In fact, I grabbed a shot of the lineup at the time.
Well, check out Booth 301 this year. My apologies for the quality of the images. They were grab shots on the run with my phone. However, in all honesty they could be upside down and it wouldn't take away from the quality Profoto has put into this year's WPPI presentation.
In 2008 Ryan Schembri and I were co-hosts for the opening WPPI program, Young Guns. What a stellar cast of photographers this was. Early last week Ryan found this video and posted it on his Facebook page. It just wouldn't be right to pass it up today on the SCU blog.
Scott Sheppard did a terrific job with a whole series of interviews that year. However, the highlight for me from the Young Guns program is still thanks to Mike Larson. He set up the self-timer on his Canon and then tossed it thirty feet in the air timing it just right to fire when it was at max height of the crowd below. It still cracks me up when I think of the way my heart stopped every time, wondering if he'd make the catch!
A big thanks to Ryan for finding this old video - it's the perfect video to look back on one chapter from WPPI's past.