Dad, Me and Big Blad
by Skip Cohen
In the news today is the press release below in which Hasselblad announced the discontinuation of the V System and one of my all time favorites, the 503CW.
Over the twelve years I was president of Hasselblad USA, we created some incredible memories in marketing, business and just making sure we had fun. It was a work-hard-play-hard mentality. It was an amazing team of talented and passionate people, working with some of the finest photographers in the world.
One of those memories comes from the image on the left, when Big Blad became a trademark at so many different shows. Running approximately 14 feet high it was definitely a conversation piece, but I wonder if the announcement to continue to support accessories for the V System applies to Big Blad - the electric inflator is sounding a little sluggish, but just like Hasselblad's reputation, it's still working!
Here's a prime example of the importance of networks and the great relationships that come out of this industry, a topic I've written about many times. Virtually all of my closest friends, like the Degrees of Separation Kevin Bacon game, can all be traced back to some point in time while I was with Hasselblad.
R.I.P. 503CW - You captured some of the world's most amazing images!
The decision, which comes into immediate effect, brings to an end over a half century of evolution of the company's original camera line.
Dr. Larry Hansen, Hasselblad Chairman and CEO said: "Everything has its place in time. The veteran 503CW combined with an extensive V System range of interchangeable lenses and accessories, was for seventeen years the camera of choice for discerning professionals and aspirational amateur photographers.
But there has been a substantial decline in demand for this camera over the past five years or so and the time has now come for us to reluctantly consign the V System to history. In so doing we would like to thank all fans and customers for both their loyalty and their enthusiasm for our legacy Hasselblad V System."
He added: "Now of course the focus on medium format capture is on our H System - the world's most advanced camera system. The latest generation cameras represent medium format capture engineering at its most exemplary and are well-placed to secure and underpin the company's unrivaled reputation for providing highest image quality and craftsmanship. Additionally we are focusing on new products for advanced enthusiasts."
Hasselblad has confirmed that the last 503CW has rolled off the production line but the company will continue to provide V System accessories while stocks last. V System support will also still be available through current channels.
by Skip Cohen
Over the last few years I've had several guest posts and written a few of my own about involvement in charitable events. As recently as last week, we launched a new video in "Giving Back" tying in PPA Charities' cause, Operation Smile.
Obviously some non-profit events have been much bigger than others, but the point is, somebody went ahead and did something, instead of just talking about it. We need more photographers to be involved in their communities, in charitable events and to help make a difference.
By my calculations, (and trust me, these numbers will rarely match what you hear quoted from PPA or PMA) there are over a half million professional photographers in the United States, when you combine both part time and full time involvement. While that's not a very big industry, imagine the impact we could have if EVERYBODY made it a point to give something back. Now add in all the manufacturers, associations and conferences. The impact would be huge!
As professional photographers, each of you has the power to help change a small part of the world, to make it a better place, simply with your skill set in imaging. There's an opportunity at conferences you attend as well. For example, at IUSA every year you'll see Bert Behnke in the PPA Charities booth, which he founded, along with a little help from a few friends many years ago.
I've heard so many great stories of other photographers doing things in their communities from teaching photography to doing free portraits in a local nursing home. (I'm looking for guest posts on charitable events and projects you're involved in. Send them to me at email@example.com. I'm happy to help you edit the information. Trye to keep it at 200-400 words; give me a link to the event or charity and 1-2 images.)
Here's the point today: You can sit on the sidelines and watch the world go by or you can be directly involved. As a photographer you're looking for your community to be good to you. Well, you need to be good to your community!
Whatever you give will come back to you ten times over down the line...but nothing happens until you take that first step to be involved.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Muhammad Ali
It became an overnight classic and one of the funniest series in the industry, all produced by my good buddy Ron Dawson of Dare Dreamer Media back when he was Cinematic Studios. Here's the scenario...
For a few years in a row, at the WPPI Awards program,Joe Photo and Michele Celentano were the co-hosts, until one year I decided it was time for a short change. Well, that opened the door for Ron to step in and what he did with the opportunity was pure genius!
If you need a laugh, it's well worth the next few minutes to get to know some great buddies. It was a lead in for the 2008 Convention and while a lot of things have changed over the years, nothing changes the bond so many of us share thanks to Ron bringing it all together.
The Trailer That Launched the Next Round and the Series
Looking for the full three episode series, check out the link!
Here's why discounting can be a bad marketing decision for professional photographers. It lessens the value of everything else you offer. Read on to see what I mean.
I recently bought a new house. I went shopping for a dining room table at a well-known furniture store in my town. I found a table I really liked, but I wanted to make sure there wasn't something better available so I looked around for a day or two. I decided my original table was the best choice so on the next day, I went to purchase the table and four chairs. I found out the furniture store had a sale going on and the table I liked was discounted 80%!!! Wow! That's a big discount. Unfortunately for me, because of the steep discount, they sold out of the table and it was no longer available. I am stuck still looking for a dining room table. But I am looking somewhere else and here's why.
If the furniture store can discount that table 80%, it leads me to believe that they could do that with all their furniture - meaning their markup is huge. Because of that huge discount, I also now no longer believe the quality of the furniture they sell is up to my standards. If the stuff can be had that inexpensively, it's probably not going to stand the test of time. These are my perceptions.
Whether I am actually right about all these perceptions means nothing. This is how I feel and as the customer, right or wrong, I've made a decision to move on.
This story does apply to your photography business as well. If you normally sell a 30x40" canvas print for $800 but are willing to discount it to $200, then you've established (in your prospect's mind) that it's really only WORTH $200. You'll have a very hard time convincing them - or anyone they talk to - that your work is really worth $800 ever - or in the first place.
When you give price discounts you almost always devalue your product in your client's mind. It's better to throw in extras or bonus prints. If you do that, you can hold the value in your original pricing.
Next time someone asks for a price discount on that wedding album or sitting fee or 30x40" canvas say something like this…
"Oh I'm sorry I just can't discount the price, but if you buy today I can throw in two free _______________ and fill in the blank with something that has a value of about 5% of your original product.
This makes the customer feel like they are getting a deal without devaluing your work.
Now - anyone out there got a lead on a nice dining room table?
I rarely publish videos with my posts, and definitely not normally with me in them. However this short interview goes back to a conference in 2008 and hits hard on the fact that so little has changed! Just listen to the first two minutes and see if it makes sense.
by Skip Cohen
I've done a lot of programs on marketing and building a photographic business in a tough economy. There's so much you can do to neutralize the challenges and still keep your business on track. One of the key topics of just about every program relates to the Big Three: Brides, Babies and Pets.
To start, I accept that my relationship with my dog is over the top, but here's what so many photographers forget. Most pet owners are a little nuts about their dogs or cats. In fact, so much so, there are an estimated 170 million households with pets, making pet photography number three in reasons why people hire a professional photographer!
In a survey done by Kodak years ago and I don't believe it's changed one bit, the top three was brides, babies and pets, in that order. What makes the Big Three exciting is they're all related and can create a perfectly natural transition for diversity in your business. Brides have babies and families have pets. The connections between all three couldn't be more natural to help photographers bring diversity into their business.
Years ago, Vicki Taufer, who I talk about in the video above, launched what's become the gold standard of community pet events. She offered a free sitting and one 5x7 of your pet if you brought in a donation for the Peoria Animal Shelter. Vicki and her staff wound up doing over 120 sessions that day, leaving 40 people on the wait-list. It became a classic. Her original purpose was simply to get people to know who she was and see her studio. Today, in addition to her children's business, she's become one of the best known pet photographers in the area.
In addition, her promotion became one of the standards for partnerships with other vendors, community involvement and publicity. I know of at least a half dozen other photographers who took Vicki's concept and used it as a model to develop their own program, each time customizing the original concept and making it even stronger.
I'm a huge fan of diversity in your business model, especially in this economy. While there are some who feel it's more important to specialize and stay with one category, e.g. weddings, children, family, seniors etc. I'm a believer it's critical to never say "Sorry, I don't do that kind of photography" to a client. I believe you need to be skilled enough to take on just about every request that comes through your door!
And for those of you rolling your eyes and screaming right now because that's not what you want to do, then don't! But, at least build a relationship with a couple of photographers outside your area of expertise, so you can refer a client to somebody good, rather than just saying, "Sorry, we don't do that kind of photography!"
Think about the transition though. If you did a great job on the wedding and the client loved your images and working with you, then why wouldn't you want to be there when the first baby was born? And as the family grows, why wouldn't you want to be there for family reunions, holiday portraits and even their commercial needs, depending on what kind of business the family is in.
Brides have babies, babies grow up and become seniors and through the entire cycle there are endless opportunities for professional photography. Along the way there are opportunities for maternity, weddings, day in the life kid's portraiture and pets, just to name a few.
Just my two cents on diversity. It sure seems to make sense!
by Skip Cohen
With every program since I started my new company four years ago, I've never "shotgunned" the market looking for sponsors or partners. I've always been very selective, wanting to support my readers and attendees at programs like Skip's Summer School and now SCU's Summer Session with great products and the support I know would come from good solid partners.
Meet a relatively new partner who we met at WPPI, Venice Album. My wife, Sheila, fell in love with several of their albums and both of us spent a lot of time with some of the staff. Since then they've come on board as SCU's partner in the album category and thanks to Skype, the world has become a much smaller place! I've spent time with their marketing team, customer service staff and US sales team and I couldn't more proud to have a partner with quality products to set you apart from the competition.
Venice Album might be relatively new to the US market, but after forty-five years in business, they're not new to the needs of wedding and portrait photographers to have quality craftsmanship and great service. They've put together two different programs, giving you a chance to take them out for a "test drive".
First, use "SCU70" at checkout and receive a 70% discount* on a sample studio set. You need great samples to capture business and nothing works better than showing a finished album with fine craftsmanship to make your point with a possible client.
Second, they're so confident that you'll like what you see, they've added a second level discount on your first order. Use SCU50 at checkout and you'll save 50%*.
Venice Album is giving you two different ways to "test drive" their performance with a great discount on a sample studio set and then helping add profit to your bottom line with a huge savings on your first order.
Right after WPPI I published a post about the trade show. Even then we were impressed with everything Venice Album had shown us. And if you're still skeptical, take a trip to their partner page and watch the video from their factory. There's something special about the pride in workmanship that comes out in this short film.
Special SCU Summer Session Attendee Bonus
Here's one more special offer exclusive for this year's SCU Summer Session attendees. When you register for this year's Summer Session, you'll receive a short form to set up your Venice Album account. The minute you're fully registered you'll receive a $200 credit* on your Venice Album account. This gives attendees an exclusive benefit and a substantial savings and it's good until the end of the year.
Remember one of SCU's primary goals - we want you to THRIVE, not just survive as a professional photographer.
* Please note: These special offers cannot be combined. The $200 credit on your account can only be used towards future purchases and does not have a cash-in value. All programs are applicable to Venice Album's entire product line. Both the 70% sample set discount and 50% first order discount are good until August 31. The SCU Summer Session attendee program is good through the end of the year and is under exclusive control and ownership by Venice Album.
by Skip Cohen
When I asked Aurora Daley Olmstead if she'd do a guest post about her experiences with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep several years ago, I had no idea the significance of my request. Typical of most photographers, Aurora got busy and it was at least three weeks before she was able to find the time to send me something. Even when I first read her guest post, while it obviously touched me, I still failed to recognize the true impact. But read what the baby's mother posted as a comment to Aurora's blog just a day or so later:
Thank you so very much for the beautiful blog. My tears are pouring reading it and reliving the most precious moments in our lives! I also want to take a moment to thank all the photographers from the NILMDTS who volunteer their time to help families like ours walking through the darkest moments of their lives.
I also want to let you know how much we cherish the pictures you took. I carry Dora’s picture in my wallet everyday. It reminds me not only of her beautiful face, but all the wonderful people she brought to us, including her aunt Aurora. I know my little girl is just as happy as we are now to see her little brother grow everyday, and to see more people like you bringing light to other people’s lives.
Love and kisses to your little princesses!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
The ability of the baby's mother to open her heart and publicly comment on the meaning of Aurora's work and NILMDTS as an organization represents the rarest of feedback and affirmation of what everyone hopes to accomplish as photographers. There could be no greater "thank you" than to receive a comment like this from a subject, a client who has now become part of Aurora's life as a professional photographer.
I've said it at the end of virtually every workshop, class or program where I've ever spoken and in dozens of blog posts. "With the exception of modern medicine, no career field has given society more than professional photography! "
Everyone dreams about capturing the ultimate image - that one shot nobody else could get that becomes your signature. Sometimes the ultimate image is really a moment in time when you're given an opportunity to use your skill set or as Weihau put it..."help families like ours walking through the darkest moments of their lives."
Aurora said it best in one of her comments on the blog, "...my life and my heart are fuller for having given what I can to these families - it always fills my heart to know I’ve been able to help them even in some small way!"
by Skip Cohen
We're finally into the start of the "busy season" and whether biz was good or bad for you in 2012, you've got a fresh start right now. The economy has been a challenge for everybody. Sadly, a lot of photographers pulled back on their advertising and promoting. They're following the profile of the hot dog vendor.
I can't fault anyone for being worried about business, but too often being ultra conservative becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The bottom line is, now is the time to look at every aspect of your business, especially your website. Your website is your calling card - it's the one vehicle that virtually everybody interested in hiring you is going to look at.
Don't kick off this new season without really putting yourself out there. Think about it - if so many of your counterparts are pulling back then isn't this the perfect opportunity for you to make your work really stand out? You've got a chance to be in the spotlight all by yourself!
Just watch this short video with Trey Ratcliff, Jim Garner, Kevin Winzeler and Sancy Puc. It's four of the industry's finest photographers talking about the passion for their work and the importance of how their work is presented..
So, before you blame the challenges in your business on the economy or the Uncle Harry's of the world, are you happy with your website? Is it time for a face lift and a new look for your business? The best time to launch a new brand or look, is when your competition is slowing down and their marketing efforts lacking. Maybe it's time to go back to square one and analyze your site, your images and the message you're sending to your clients when they "walk through your door". Are people talking about what they saw on your website, or did it look like everybody elses?
Illustration Credit: © senoldo - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
There are certain people who come into our lives with such big personalities that after a very short period we don't remember a time when they weren't around. Meet my buddy Jake, my next door neighbor who passed away last year.
For whatever reason, I took the dog out this morning and glanced towards his house next door and simply miss the guy. I had to run his wife to the airport on Friday. Even though he's been gone a few months, it's doesn't change the feeling of loss.
I call this Sunday Morning Reflections, simply because I tend to stray so far away from the topics of marketing, photography and business. I wrote a blog about Jake on the old Photo Resource Hub site, then moved it over here a short time ago, but what I never moved, was Jake's favorite joke. I’m told it’s an old one, but I’d never heard it before.
When we first moved in, Jake came over with a bottle of wine and the best home made fudge on planet earth. He introduced himself, welcomed us to the neighborhood and told us,
“We make love almost every day.” Being in his 70’s, even though it was TMI, he knew I’d taken the bait when he added,
“Almost on Monday, almost on Tuesday, almost on Wednesday, almost on Thursday…”
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday and the hope that you all have a Jake in your life! Our lives are richer because he was in ours.
by Skip Cohen
Most of you aren't old enough to remember Nancy Regan's "Just Say No" campaign, but running across some old articles the other day I started thinking about the simplicity of that statement and on this gorgeous Saturday morning it just seems like a fun way to go with a weekend post!
Here are some of my favorites for photographers - feel free to comment with your own...
Just say no to thinking, "I'll fix it in the computer later!"
Just say no to companies who make promises to deliver on time and then don't come through.
Just say no to lowering your pricing before you've exhausted every idea you have available to add value!
From an old post from Cliff Mautner: "In order to combat the apprehension of my wedding clients, I felt the need to add a bit of value to their collection in lieu of reducing my pricing – which I was dead set against. An added hour here, a flexible payment plan there, and things fell into place nicely."
Just say no to putting off that mailing you need to do to all your previous brides who are now starting families.
Just say no to those "trolls" in your life who drain energy instead of creating it!
Just say no to giving up the fight to be creative in attacking the market and developing a program of diversification in your business.
Just say no to negative people in your life. They don't have to love your dreams, just respect them!
Okay, who wants to add a few more?
I've spent more time on this post than probably anything I've ever written. The challenge is I simply don't know where to start let alone what to really say. My heart goes out to the families and my prayers are with so many people.
But there's a sidebar to this, because Boston was always my town. My first apartment was on Hereford and Newbury St. in a basement - just me and a few thousand bugs. I worked for Polaroid for 17 1/2 years and spent most of the time in the greater Boston area.
I have two kids, grandchildren and friends all around Boston. In fact, I called my daughter to check in on everybody the minute I heard the news. Everybody was fine, but as I watched the special with Diane Sawyer I realized it was time to either delete this post or publish it.
This week's tragedy in Boston would have been a tragedy no matter where it occurred, but when it's your "hometown" it hits even harder. I watched the story as it was unfolding and like so many of you sat in silent shock.
Since then, every image I've seen has taken me deep into the tragedy as if I was actually there. I know we all felt the same way last year with the shooting in Connecticut. Everybody remembers every minute of every day when 9/11 happened. It's imaging that brings the tragedy right into our hearts. It's that ability to capture memories, even when they're horrific that makes me so proud to be in this industry.
Years ago I was at the ICP luncheon held at the UN when Monte Zucker was given one of the Photographer of the Year awards, representing WPPI. There were at least four photographers being honored and two of them had documented 9/11. Monte was truly humbled by the recognition and said,
"I'm so honored to be in such incredible company and so proud to be a photographer, but there's a huge difference with the kind of work I do. You see, you guys photograph the way the world really is, but I get to photograph it the way it should be."
I don't remember what else he said, but there was a tear in his eye at the time and it was all because of his incredible pride. That's the legacy that Monte left us. As professional photographers, whether you're a journalist or not, you've got a huge responsibility to never compromise on the quality of each image, to never stop building on your skill set and to capture memories, both good and horrible to simply share with the world.
Didn't mean to get on the soapbox...just don't know how to explain how the word "pride" comes into the picture with so many other feelings of sadness. I feel proud of the work being done every day by photographers, videographers and people involved in imaging all over the world, especially this week in Boston...and that's what makes this industry so amazing.
I always keep it short on Sundays and today I'm barely even going to write. We all have favorite quotes, but what's interesting is how many quotes are so relevant to the challenges we each have in our lives. Even though we're all individuals, we all deal with so many of the same lessons in life, some more intense than others.
Mark Twain seems like a great one to kick things off:
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
From Zig Ziglar: "Remember failure is an event, not a person!"
From Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA: "Only those who are asleep make no mistakes."
From motivational author, Wayne Dyer: "When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way."
From Gandhi: "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
And one of my very most favorites credited to Vivian Greene, although I have it as anonymous on a kitchen magnet:
"Life's not about waiting for the storms to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain."
Make it a great Sunday everybody and as always, get off the computer and go hug somebody!
Photo by Carey Schumacher
"I'm an optimist. I've always believed the future is going to be better than the past. And I also believe I have a role in that. The great thing about human beings, myself in particular, is that I can change. I can do better. If you can get up every day, stay optimistic, and believe the future is better than the past, those few things get you through a lot of tough times. Jeffrey Immelt
It's one of my new favorite quotes I read recently, because I've often been criticized about being overly optimistic. This past year was one of the toughest I can ever recall and that optimism, along with the support of some very special people, helped keep me focused and really did get me "through a lot of tough times".
I don't know anybody who's afraid of working hard, but the tough part is patience and recognizing when you need to take a break. I love this industry and every day I'm seeing photographers beat the economy, but they're also working harder than ever to find new targets and projects.
For me, the latest issue is recognizing my own need to take a break and walk away from the computer and phone for a few hours, maybe the whole day. Several times this week I had a few serious mistakes in posts and tweets. I never saw them, even though I had read them over several times. One was actually missing the rest of a sentence, but Brian Malloy, a photographer in Boston, was watching my back, caught it and sent me an IM. Here's a great example of having terrific people in your network. They take the time to keep an eye on what you're doing!
So, here's my point this morning: Every now and then something comes along that lights the passion of things you love to do so much, you become completely consumed. You're so totally focused that there's a very thin line between your obsession and that of a crack addict!
I don't think I've ever had more fun, worked harder or worked with more talented people in our industry to make SCU a reality and I'm completely hooked. Somebody asked one of our team recently, "So how many years have you been working on this?" Well, the answer is, eleven weeks and two days as of this morning.
The August Summer Session, just one component of SCU, is going to be our best program yet. As sappy as it sounds, it will be a life-changer for a lot of people. The content on the site keeps growing, thanks to an amazing group of contributors. The partners all believe in education and helping photographers raise the bar on their quality and their skill set and we're adding new material and features every day.
"My name is Skip Cohen and I'm a photoholic!" I've worked on this almost all day every day since we started and there's a point where everyone needs to take a break...You've got to recognize what they meant when they coined the expression, "Rome wasn't built in a day!" I do a great job of telling you guys to recognize when it's time to step away from the business for a day and just take a break, but God forbid I should consider the idea myself.
So, to those of you who are constantly giving me feedback and new suggestions...thank you! To Brian and others who have caught my mistakes and given me a shout-out to help me look smarter than I really am - thank you! And to some really good friends who suggested I just step away for the day...I'm headed to the beach!
Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend!
At the other extreme, in images we think of as fine art, if you make the image stunning, they require no information to simply enjoy. This is an iris from SCU faculty member Bob Coates and his fine art collection.
by Scott Bourne
In the dim recesses of my mind there’s the memory of a Joan Collins made-for-TV movie that was every bit as bad as the proper noun promises. I’m judging the whole thing by the one scene I saw: it began with a classic establishing shot of the Eiffel Tower and then, helpfully, a caption faded in.
Yeah. I know.
Still — and here I’m gamely searching for something nice to say — it leaves absolutely no doubt as to where we are. In travel and tourist photography, that’s often pretty important.
Mind you, I’m not saying that Ansel Adams’ classic photos of Half Dome would have been better if he’d managed to frame it so that a “Welcome To Yellowstone…Please Dispose Of Litter Thoughtfully” trash barrel had been in the foreground somewhere. Heaven forbid.
But sometimes, it’s completely appropriate. It’s information that the viewer wants to have, whether it’s conveyed as explicitly as a street sign or as subtly as the type of bus in the background. Choose a slightly more thoughtful angle, and it’s no longer “a photo of two women having coffee at any coffee shop anywhere in the world” but “…in London, somewhere in Soho.”
This post from my buddy Scott, got me thinking about one of the most ignored challenges in print competition regarding information, the title. Over the years I've seen so many images that might have scored just a little better had the photographer taken time to work on the title of the image and given people more information.
Here's the challenge that's missed. A great title helps to lead the judges down the right path before they even see the image. It enhances the image just as much as those adjustments you made in the camera or the computer to give it more impact. There it is, the magic word - "impact". That's the most important quality of every image you enter in competition and without impact it's just another print. It's the equivalent of that can of soda left out over night. It's got color, flavor just no fizz.
So, the next time you enter any images in competition, think about the title. Spend a little time and use a few words to create a title to really make that print truly special. Give the judges a sneak peek into the passion you have as an artist instead of just calling it "Paris".
by Skip Cohen
I was listening to the radio in the car this morning and I almost had to pull off the road, I was laughing so hard.
Apparently people hit the panic button yesterday when the text, tweet, whatever went out that Cher died! I love this...no, the text, tweet was "Thatcher died" Then the DJ was talking about the fact that so many young people didn't know who Margaret Thatcher was.
I've got no response to any of this except to reflect back and remember being at a college party when I was 20 and meeting somebody, who when I asked, "Where do you go to school?" He said, "Iona College". I should be embarrassed, but it's almost as bad as Cher dying...
I thought he said "I own a college." Having grown up in Ohio, I had never heard of Iona. I couldn't believe this kid, who couldn't have been much older than I was at the time, actually owned his own school! I was so impressed!
So, as much as I'm laughing and want to make fun of today's youth and anybody who thought Cher died yesterday, I have to accept that part of the world is no more smarter than I was then. As my grandmother used to say, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones".
Just for the fun of it feel free to give me any stories from your own embarrassing chapters and we'll do another blog post. Who's willing to step out here with me?
by Skip Cohen
Here's why I originally posted this on the Photo Resource Hub site immediately after Super Bowl.
It's one of the finest commercial presentations I've ever seen of still images. Seriously, watch this and pay attention to the quality of the work. Each image ties in with the story and each photographer included has to be incredibly proud. It doesn't matter that it's a commercial for Dodge trucks - this is about outstanding photography and great storytelling.
Even if you've seen it before, watch it one more time and just look at the images and then think about this statement:
With the exception of modern medicine, no career field has given society more than professional photography. It doesn't matter which side of the camera your career path has taken you, if you're involved in the photographic industry then you've got to be proud of your contribution!
By Scott Bourne
1. The first thing you need to do if you want to get paid for your photography is identify the right audience. NOTHING else matters. Nothing. If you get this wrong and EVERYTHING else right you WILL fail. So spend time getting this right. Here's why.
If you’ve judged your audience correctly and you’re giving them the products they really want to consume, they’ll be back - again and again and again!
2. Every marketing decision you make (branding, advertising, public relations, social networking, etc should be tied to one simple goal.
3. You have to have the right message for the right audience. People are busy and distracted and there's lots of noise to overcome. Make sure the marketing decisions you make match your intentions. How?
Understand the circle of engagement.
3. Fair Exchange
Let's break these down.
Your audience will discover you if you make sure your marketing efforts are aimed at the right time, place and prospect. If you sell high-end brides wedding photography but you advertise your services in Motel 6 lobbies, you will not be discovered.
Today's marketing needs to recognize that consumers have very little downtime. When they do have downtime they go mobile. If you're not pursuing mobile you won't be discovered.
Marketing photography is a balancing act. You have to tend to business, craft, science, etc. and still make sure that you convey feelings. Emotional connections result in a connection to marketing expression. You can accomplish this very simply by being yourself. by being intimate, by being connected, by being authentic. Being true to your own heart - in short - being your own brand.
Your clients will pay ANY price, any price at all if you've followed the aforementioned advice and you make it clear to them you're price is fair. This requires education and information. You can't just demand a lot of money. You have to justify the VALUE. People pay more attention to value than price and when they make the decision to buy, they do so because they think they are being treated fairly.
Traditional marketing tended to be nothing but broadcasting one to many. Customers were merely passive recipients of an opportunity to be sold. Now consumers demand to be involved in everything - even marketing. This is accomplished with community. Community is built around common interests (niches) and an opportunity for the consumer to respond to the marketer.
The opportunity to interact with marketers happens in the social arena. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc. are places where the communities form. Photographers have to be there too or they will be overlooked.
If you've followed along so far, you know that all these things make sense. Now how to wrap this up into an action plan.
You have to be willing to accept as fact, some truths that you may not know or agree with yet, but to succeed you have to open your mind. Keep in mind everything that has already been said and now flavor it with the following facts…I call them The Seven Rules of Successful Photo Marketing.
1. You are not your photography
2. People do not buy what you do they buy why you do it
3. If you don't offer a USP (Unique Selling Point) you are just a commodity and that's the very last thing you want to be in the photo business
4. Try to make sure you share the same beliefs, feelings and desires that your clients do
5. Put your clients' needs ahead of your own - really - this is just mandatory if you want to succeed
6. Don't be bashful - despite your inclination to avoid tooting your own horn, when you hit a home run, let the world know
7. Show the work show the work show the work show the work show the work
With this basic plan and your agreement to adhere to the Circle of Engagement and the Seven Rules of Successful Photo Marketing, you have a better chance at thriving than 95% of your competitors. Now go do something about it.
Illustration Credit: © kentoh - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
Okay gang, we're down the wire and the first quarter is officially over! The slow season, whether it really was or not doesn't matter. We're in the month of April and the positive side of seasonality for most photographic specialties has started.
No matter who you are or how good or bad your business has been, we all share a common theme - the potential for it to get better is alive and well. It's literally standing right in front of you!
Loose ends are all those projects you've procrastinated about and they range from mending fences with your adversaries to cleaning up the back room of your studio. Relax, I'm not suggesting you need to clean it all up today, but what a kick to put all your loose ends down in a list and then start checking them off one at a time.
Remember, half the battle is beating procrastination and we all do it. We put things off waiting for the shoemaker's elves to come in the middle of the night and clean up the mess. Sadly the only elves who show up are the Keebler Cookie guys and they only add to your belt line!
I found a great quote from Orison Swett Marden (spiritual leader from the 1800's)
"A lobster, when left high and dry among the rocks, does not have sense enough to work his way back to the sea, but waits for the sea to come to him. If it does not come, he remains where he is and dies, although the slightest effort would enable him to reach the waves, which are perhaps within a yard of him. The world is full of human lobsters; people stranded on the rocks of indecision and procrastination, who, instead of putting forth their own energies, are waiting for some grand billow of good fortune to set them afloat."
Okay, get out the pad of paper and make that list...I did mine a few minutes before writing this post and while I've made no progress, it's at least a start!
I am however craving a bag of Keebler Cookies and a lobster...go figure.
Photo Credit: © Nomad_Soul - Fotolia.com
I found this post in my buddy Scott's archives and just loved the simplicity of it all. You've read on so many different blogs, in books and heard people on the stage talk about being confident. Well, it's all under the same umbrella. You've got to demonstrate you're comfortable with the process of interacting with your clients, talking with them during the session and making it a point to, as Scott says, empower them. The greatest portrait photographers have a very specific way they communicate with they're subjects. They are engaging and the end result are natural smiles and that amazing twinkle they get in their eyes...and it's more than just catchlight!
In his video about photographing Vanessa Williams and her daughter, our good pal, Matthew Jordan Smith talks about the importance of attitude during a portrait session. Watch the video and you'll hear Matthew talk about the importance of making your subjects feel good and how you can achieve beautiful and natural expressions by setting the tone right from the start.
You have the power to set the stage with every portrait you capture.
by Scott Bourne
This isn’t going to be a post about what camera, lens, aperture or shutter speed you should use to get a great portrait. Instead, it’s going to be about you.
You see, if you’re a serious portrait photographer – your job is to make the subject look good. NOTE: It is NOT the subject’s job to look good. It’s YOUR job to MAKE them look good. And yes, you can improve your chances with the right gear, lighting, background, poses, etc.
But there’s another thing you should think about, but likely do not.
Not only is it the job of the photographer to make the subject look good, it is the photographer’s job to make the subject more powerful. You are supposed to empower your subject. The job of the photographer is to awaken possibility in other people.
Now what is all this about? It’s simple. Photography changes lives. My sister and her daughter wanted a portrait. But my sister has not been at all happy with how she looks in photographs. In fact, she gets emotionally stressed about being photographed the way some people get stressed when flying. Why is she stressed? She has some self-esteem issues. And I can help with that. That’s what I mean when I say you can empower the subject. Just think about it. If you can make someone who thinks they photograph poorly look good, you will make them feel good. If they feel good about themselves. . . they feel empowered. What a gift.
Now here’s the trick for how to accomplish that – how to empower your subject.
It’s really very simple. You are just a mirror. If your subject seems stressed, it’s probably because you are stressed. If your subject is in a sour mood, it’s probably because you are in a sour mood. In other words, you reflect on your subject. If your subject isn’t getting into the session and you aren’t getting the results you seek – you need to ask yourself this question: Who are you that your subject is not happy?
It was a standard line in the old Monty Python series. Now it's time to apply it to some aspect of your day.
by Skip Cohen
Years ago, a good buddy of mine used to finish each program he spoke at with a reminder to save the last frame on every roll of film and just do something completely different. While film is very definitely not dead for photographers like Elizabeth Etienne, Jonathan Canlas, Elizabeth Messina and Jose Villa, just to name a few, my point this morning has nothing to do with the media on which you capture the image. It's about forcing yourself to change and to experiment.
Most studios are closed on Mondays. That makes it the perfect time to think about the week ahead, your next shoot and doing something different on that last "frame" - only I'm talking about everything from your marketing efforts to your regular routine.
How about setting up lunch with your favorite wedding planner later in the week? Better yet, how about setting up lunch with somebody you've never had lunch with that might be involved in some aspect of your business? Or, if you're focused on fine art, how about making it a point to get to that gallery you've wanted to see, maybe talk to the owner or manager?
What about just getting a cup of coffee and spending half an hour on a site like Workbook.com and seeing what the trends are? Maybe it's a good day to sketch out your next marketing campaign. How about getting together with two other photographers and just talking about the business?
I'm suggesting that next Monday, April 8, you do something you've never done before or do something you've been procrastinating about. It's "What if Monday?" Take an aggressive step into doing something to change your business, or re-enforce a friendship or focus on a new project. The point is to just take that first step.
For me, I'm stepping away from the photographic industry completely and I'm working on setting up a meeting with the key staff members at the Sarasota Friendship Centers. I do a podcast with them and want to see if I can help them develop a stronger marketing plan and a move into social media. Who knows, maybe I'll get some ideas to help build stronger business plans for photographers. The point is, I want to step outside photo for a couple of hours.
Whether "What if Monday?" has anything directly to do with your business or not makes no difference - use the time to energize and start a trend of doing something different on that last "frame of film". It's always hardest to get started on doing something new...
"The first step is always the hardest, but it's the only way to reach the second step." Susan Gale.
Or, from my stash of favorite Zig Ziglar quotes,
"If you wait for all the lights to turn green, you'll never get started on your journey."
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.