A few years ago, during the GoingPro Project, Scott Bourne and I started using Blog Talk Radio for our podcasts. For over a year I've done a new podcast, whether for GoingPro, my old blog or the SCU site, every ten days. Each one featuring another industry icon.
What's been amazing and simply fun to hear have been the stories of how different photographers got started, what advice they have for new photographers just starting out and comments they've made about various challenges in their careers. I'm far from being a strong interviewer or a great radio voice, but every interview has been from the heart and over and over again, the personality of each guest has made the show unique.
Yesterday BlogTalkRadio sent me an email that SCU's Building Your Network has become a featured program in the Photography category. Well, it couldn't have happened without some amazing guests and all our listeners. While I can't list all of our listeners, I can send out a big thanks to all my past guests...
For once the expression, I couldn't have done it without you, couldn't be more accurate! Thank you for your support and your willingness to share so many stories about your careers!
There are 36 podcasts in the archives of SCU's Podcast Center - each one with a little different focus on some aspect of being a professional photographer. We're all part of an amazing industry and the information shared by so many of my guests is a prime example of people believing in education and giving back.
June 12, 2013: We had so many great entries, we're now doing a second round. The deadline is July 1, 2013. Thanks for your support. To read the posts put up so far, mouse over the SCU Blog tab above and click on "Charity Fest".
by Skip Cohen
A few times over the years on other blogs I've done a series called Charity Fest. It's simply a collection of guest posts from other photographers on projects they're doing to give back to the community. There's no such thing as a project too small and each time I thought we'd covered everything, somebody would send me something nobody had thought of before.
Well, it's time to bring back Charity Fest and share your ideas with other photographers, but if you don't get them to me, I can't post them and share them with our industry. I know a lot of photographers just don't know how to get started - so it makes sense to find the stories out there and share them with everybody.
It's incredible when social media works the way you hope it will. Here's what happened three years ago - within just a few minutes after Tweeting the request asking for photographers who are involved, I received three emails. The first one was from Seshu in Connecticut, the second from Jen May and the third from Peter Garr, who not only told me about a project in L.A. but retweeted my original tweet. All three of the stories became part of Charity Fest that year and since then Seshu and I have had a lot of different discussions about other projects.
This year I'd like to take it one step further. In an effort to encourage you to take the time to share your stories of the thousands of different ways photographers are making a difference, we'll draw for two scholarships to this year's SCU Summer Session, August 11-14 in Chicago*.
So, send me your story, 2-400 words and a few images (5x7 75 dpi) to firstname.lastname@example.org. There's no guarantee that every story will make the blog, but every photographer submitting will be included in the chance to win one of the scholarships to Summer Session! Deadline for submissions is June 10.
Here's what I'm looking for, stories of projects you're involved with in your community; charities in which you're involved; non-profit events in which you used your photographic skill set or just good old blood, sweat and tears to make a difference. There's no event or activity too small.
There are so many of you who are making it a point to be involved in your community and projects you believe in - let's share those stories with other photographers and create our own photo industry charity RAVE!
*Registration for SCU, hotel, transportation and expenses are the responsibility of the recipient.
Photo Credit: © DOC RABE Media - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
I've run posts similar to this in the past, but with "Marketing Monday" moved to today because of the Memorial Day holiday, the topic ties in perfectly with Scott Bourne's post to help you find more customers.
Here's the challenge, if you don't get out and talk about your business, nobody else will. While there are all kinds of vehicles out there to help you, I'm just going to focus on some basics and a template you can use right in your own community with local publications, the Chamber of Commerce, etc.
Right out of the blocks, so many of you miss things that are newsworthy! I'm amazed at how many exciting things happen to a photographer every day, but nobody ever talks about them! Some events are more news worthy than others, but here's the real issue, the responsibility to spread the word about your business rests with entirely with you!
Start thinking about everything that happened in your business in the last few weeks. Some times the most routine events can be newsworthy with the right spin. Did you attend a workshop or convention? Did you hire a second shooter? Were you hired as a second shooter? Are you starting to diversify your business and now photographing pets, high school seniors etc.? Are you working with a new album company? (Check out Venice Album - they've got an amazing lineup of products, of which any one of their products lines would make a good story about your business!)
What are some of the new products your lab is now offering? Are you working with a new lab? Do you print your work yourself and are you now using new papers - or, maybe you ramped up and are about to buy a new large format printer? Are you involved in a new charity? Are you doing something with Thirst Relief, NILMDTS or local community charities? Did you just purchase new equipment that gives you greater versatility when shooting? Are you sponsoring any community event? Are you a volunteer for any programs in the school system? Got the picture?
The list can go on and on, but don't limit yourself to topics. There are no rules for the list, just everything you did over the last few weeks. Next, do the same list of things you're planning on doing in the near future.
Now, let's talk about what to do with those lists. Each topic has the potential to help you become a publicity machine, but you have to take the time to write it up or find somebody who will write it up for you. Let's assume you're going to the Summer Session of SCU in August. You're going to take classes to expand your skill set. You're going to meet other photographers. You're going to work with some of the finest photo-educators in the world. Opportunities for a press release will be everywhere.
Here's a template you can use...yup - you can plagiarize all you want - it's yours.
For Immediate Release
Your city, Today’s Date
Area Photographer Attends International Photographic Workshop
In (his/her) continued efforts to expand the broad selection of cutting edge photographic services, ________________recently attended Skip Cohen University in Chicago, a three day professional photographic workshop series.
“There’s never been a more exciting time to be a professional photographer or, to have images created by a professional. Technology is changing all the time and I want to make sure I’m offering my clients the very best!” said ____________________(your name).
_______________ is the founder of _________(your studio name) and is located here in ______________. The studio offers a full range of (commercial portrait,wedding,childrens, etc.) services. Or use: _________ plans on continuing as a freelance photographer…etc. You don't have to have an address for people - you just want to let them know you're in the community.
For more information contact: Your name, phone and email address
This is a template, only applying to the one event, but the elements of any press release are always going to be the same. 1) A headline and an opening paragraph that describes what the event is. 2) Personally, I like a quote that explains your position as it relates to your customers. 3) The third paragraph just describes your business, who and where you are. 4) Always close with a contact line so people know where to find you.
Always include a photograph of you at the event interacting with other attendees, a speaker or a vendor. The more people in the image, the more likely it will be published. In this case you'd want to get a shot with Joe McNally, Michele Celentano, Clay Blackmore or any of the other instructors. Maybe it's a shot of you interacting with one of the vendors, like Venice Album and then use the press release to talk about new products you're offering your clients.
Next, let's talk about what you're going to do with the press release:
You're going to print a hard copy and include it with a print of you at the event. You're also going to put the image and the press release on a disk.
Here's the hard part - it's not really hard, but people never do it. Develop a press list for your business with the actual names of the people you want to contact. People tend to think just sending things addressed to the editor are enough, but you need a real name on the front of the envelope.
Your press releases should go to anybody who publishes anything reaching your target audience. For example, the local newspaper, the Chamber of Commerce, if you're involved in organizations like Kiwanis, Rotary, Exchange Club, they all have newsletters, blogs that might reach your audience, your own blog, bridal magazines and even your home town paper if you've moved away, but still have roots in the community.
Last but not least, send everything in a priority Fedex, UPS or US Post Office envelope - it gives your information a level of importance and will help get through the noise.
My suggestion to start is to send out at least one release twice a month for the first three months and then back off to one a month, but just like a blog - you have to be consistent and continue the effort, even when nothing seems to be happening. You never know when an over-worked editor is going to be out of time and out of stories and have a gaping hole in his/her publication - that's when it just might be your lucky day!
There's too much to talk about and add it to this post, but take a look at PRWeb. Working with their marketing team, Vocus, you can get into some pretty sophisticated PR programs that you can maintain yourself, but you have to walk before you can run! Personally, I love starting with a series of releases similar to this template. You can also do a great job in making it look official on your blog and then use your Tweet stream and Facebook to help promote the message.
Here's the link to a series of releases we've done for SCU to help you get the idea more. All of these were through Vocus/PrWeb. Click on any of the summary paragraphs to see the full release along with the photographs.
Most important of all be patient - most of you will be starting from scratch and it takes time to build a following.
"The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it open!" Arnold Glasgow
Illustration Credit: © Rafal Olechowski - Fotolia.com
by Scott Bourne
Let's start with the basics. You can't find customers when you're playing video games or watching TV. Get off the couch. Nobody will hire you while you eat popcorn and watch Jerry Springer. Start knocking on doors right now - today - this instant.
Here are seven things you can today - now - to start getting more business.
1. Make a brochure or flier - on your own computer if you don't have the resources to get it done professionally, and place them under the door of every business in your zip code offering to make executive portraits or headshots. If you are faithful to put one under EVERY door, you'll have calls the next day in most cases.
2. Ask your local library if you can teach a free photography class there and announce it in your local newspaper. The public relations opportunity will get you in front of many people and establish you as the expert when it comes to photography.
3. Ask local doctor's offices if they'd be interested in a "leasing" program that keeps them in fresh artwork on their office walls, with free installation, maintenance and rotation. Then come up with a monthly lease fee that is roughly one fifth the price of your usual fine art prints. At the end of the year you'll have made more than double your usual fee and you'll still own the prints.
4. Have an open house of your studio or host a chamber of commerce mixer there. Letting people see your work is the number one way to get new business.
5. Personally telephone each and every one of your past clients and offer them a free print or sitting fee if they come in for new portraits. Also ask them for referrals.
6. Meet vendors who work in your space. If you are a wedding photographer, meet all the cake makers, limo drivers, dress makers, etc. If you photograph pets meet the people who run the local animal shelter, pet food stores and veterinarians. Ask them to do cross promotion with you.
7. Search Twitter and other social media sites for locals who are asking photography questions. Be helpful and answer without making a sales pitch. This will help establish your credibility as a professional and potentially yield you news prospects.
Selling your photography is about taking action - doing something - not just planning it, thinking about it, dreaming about it, etc. You have to do it to get paid. Good luck.
From Wikipedia about Memorial Day: Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.
I noticed posters all over Sarasota that today is Military Appreciation Day and it got me thinking. I love the fact that Sarasota, along with thousands of cities in the United States are recognizing our members of the military, as well as those who died during service.
When I was a kid, I never really understood the importance of the day. I'd have to march in the band in the parade and we'd finish at the park in town. At some point there would be some speeches and a few guys in uniform, who looked older than dirt would be honored. I had no idea what they had sacrificed, who they were or what they had fought for.
Today, it seems like there are so many more people who recognize the contribution being made by the men and women in our armed forces. But, I still feel like we could all do a better job all year long. For example, let's work on getting more photographers involved in programs like HeartsApart.org. How about local events where photographers are helping with family portraits for members of the military both before they're deployed and upon their return? What's going on in your own community?
Memorial Day isn’t about the politics of whether or not we should or shouldn’t be in the Middle East or anywhere else - this a weekend of solemn respect and pride, with a whole lot of grateful appreciation for those men and women who serve our country every day. And, I'd like to sneak in another group on this Memorial Day. Since we’re photographers and part of an amazing industry, it’s a time to thank all those photojournalists around the world who help us understand the risk and the effort made by these men and women.
So, to my son Brian in the military today, to my Dad who served in WWII, to all my friends who served in Viet Nam, to my brother-in-law Randy who always has on his Marine baseball hat, to Stacy Pearsall on the SCU faculty and twice awarded Combat Photographer of the Year and to every mother and father who have ever stood behind their military bound sons and daughters, thank you.
It seems like such a trite inadequate way to show appreciation, but we're here enjoying a quiet Memorial Day, along with millions of Americans who will also enjoy the day, thanks to what all of you have given our country.
Make it a great weekend. Don’t waste a minute of time…enjoy your family, your friends and think about what Memorial Day really means.
by Skip Cohen
There's something about Sunday mornings that's different from the other days of the week. I always have a little more time to think about what happened over the last few days and what things I'm going to work on over the next week.
This morning as I hit Twitter, I was at 13,999 and it got me thinking about all the new friends who have come into my life thanks to social media. And yes, I'm using the word "friends" as it's normally used. I use Twitter differently than most of you. I use it to get to know more people with the same love for photography that I have. Many times I've picked up the phone to actually call somebody who's given me some good feedback or has images I really like.
Twitter has become the door for so many people to walk through and then email, Facebook and eventually conventions and live programs become the icing on the cake. They're live events where we can actually meet face to face, talk about the industry we all love so much and add more blocks to the growing strength of each of our networks.
This week I met Jim Hilgedick. He'd made a comment that I really appreciated. He did it all in 140 characters, but I couldn't express myself in 140 back to him. In fact his tweet came on a particularly tough day and it meant so much to get some positive reinforcement. I picked up the phone and called him to say thanks, left a voicemail, he responded with a DM and I felt lucky to be getting to know another photographer.
Maybe that's why I love the summer program so much, because it brings so many of us together. We get a chance to know each other. On the SCU home page we wrote:
So at SCU we've decided to do something radical. We're going to go back to basics. To human handshakes, telephone calls, meetings that happen face-to-face in a room full of people who share a passion for photography...
I don't mean to be rambling this morning, but there's no way to directly express everything I'd like to write about.
We have one of those decorative pewter plates with an engraving on it of an old Spanish proverb:
Living well is the best revenge!
Well, this is my definition of living well: getting to know terrific people who share so many of the same passions. Working with people who want to raise the bar on the quality of so many different aspects of photography. Waking up smiling every morning wondering what new things I'm going to work on today.
Tomorrow is my birthday...today I'm going to hit 14,000 followers on Twitter...we just launched an industry first with a way for photographers to attend a great program and pay for the bulk of it later...Scott Stuart, a photographer, Summer School attendee and now friend is going to be in town next week and we'll grab lunch...my buddy Doug Box is here later this week...and Sheila and I are going for a walk on the beach in forty minutes...life is simply pretty damn good, in spite of the challenges.
Thanks doesn't begin to cover my appreciation for the support from so many of you, the great content being provided to this site from so many amazing faculty members, friends and partners and the fact that as I've said so many times in the past, I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the industry.
Wishing all of you a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and a Sunday filled with good friends and lots of smiles!
by Skip Cohen
Although I started at Polaroid many years earlier, I really look at my career in photography starting in 1987 when I joined Hasselblad. During the twenty-six years since then, I've had the honor of meeting and working with some of the finest photographers in the world.
Avedon made me lunch once in the flat above his studio. I've got Ansel Adams' car keys in my desk. Scavullo's dog tried to bite me numerous time. Gregory Heisler did my headshot which I'm still using. Arnold Newman could never remember my name. I once presented Mary Ellen Mark with the PMDA Photographer of the year award.
And, I have so many images on the walls of my home that somebody recently said it was like a gallery with prints from John Sexton, Phil Borges, David Michael Kennedy, Scott Bourne, Chris Rainier and the list goes on and on. There's a story behind every print, because that's what our industry is all about.
Put all those images together and it's my own tribute to imaging and representative of some incredible friendships...but none of them bring out a smile on my face like this one on the left!
It was taken by our good buddy Elena Hernandez in Dallas, who many of you have probably never heard of. She wrote one of my favorite guest posts a few years ago, that I republished last week. She's an amazing artist and the story on this image was simply part of a project she was doing at WPPI two years ago.
I'm always amazed when I hear photographers complain about not having any place great to shoot. This image was captured in the alcove of the Signature Hotel in Vegas and Elena spent at best ten minutes on the shot. She had a vision and new exactly what she wanted. In the alcove as you come into the hotel there were two mirrors, one on either side of the doorway. She knew what she wanted to capture.
The end result gave me a new portrait and brought my best buddy, Sheila my wife, into the moment. Sheila, like so many wives, hates having her picture taken, but this gave her a presence without feeling like she was the main subject. Added to the image's impact is the way it was printed - on metal by Roxanne Benton.
Elena is an artist and while she can shoot just about anything, she believes in being unique. Her portrait of Matthew Jordan Smith is another prime example.
Every subject walks away simply feeling special and if you've been to events sponsored by the Dallas PPA chapter, odds are you've met Elena and completely understand what I'm talking about. And that brings me to a sidebar point of today's post.
You've got to make something about your work special and different from what everybody else is shooting. There's a post I wrote earlier in the year that talks about it. You've got to make yourself different.
"Don't be an imitator - be an innovator. Design your life and live it your way, not someone else's way. Stand up, stand out and start living uniquely, creatively and awesomely! Ricardo Housham
by Skip Cohen
Those of you who know me personally understand how much I believe in continuous education to build your business. In talking with a lot of photographers over the last few months, I’ve heard so many stories about the challenges in the economy and the difficulty of deciding where best to invest both your time and money in educational programs.
SCU’s Summer Session started with Skip’s Summer School four years ago and as sappy as it sounds, it’s been life-changing for so many attendees. This program is definitely considered one of the very best investments you can make in your education as a professional photographer and that's coming from feedback from many of the attendees over the last few years.
This isn't just about helping you elevate your skill set, but building a community. Today on Facebook there's an amazing group called Skip's Summer School. It wasn't started by me, but one of the attendees two years ago, Brent Watkins. There are almost 300 photographers involved who literally work to help each other every day.
Save Me a Seat
We want to show you how much we believe in helping you “Thrive – not just survive!” We just set up a new billing option called “Save Me a Seat”…all it takes is a $100 deposit to reserve your seat and two payments - $150 charged to your credit card on August 1 and the balance of $350 due on October 1.
We believe so strongly that we can help you grow your business, we’re giving you time to implement some of the things you'll learn at SCU’s Summer Session and start to THRIVE before the last payment is even due.
Remember, no hands-on workshop will exceed twenty people, giving you maximum learning power and the experience of building your network and getting to know your instructors.
Illustration Credit: © Carsten Reisinger - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
As many of you make the decision to join us in August at SCU's Summer Session, I'm going to be looking for great videos and podcasts that highlight the personalities of our faculty members this year. This video from Ryan Schembri was done to promote a ninety minute program last March, but after you watch it think about this statement...
Imagine how much you'll learn working with Ryan in a class of only 20 people for an entire day!
We've got one goal for every SCU program - we want you to THRIVE as a photographer, not just survive!
See you in August in Chicago and if for whatever reason you can't join us, watch the video anyway, it's guaranteed to get you thinking about the power you have as a photographer and business owner.
This was sent to me this morning and I had missed it. There's a lot that's already been written about her comment, but far be it from me to let it slide!
I'm going to give Marissa Mayer the benefit of the doubt and just chalk this up to one of those things that people say simply without thinking. Sort of like Dan Quayle quotes from twenty years ago:
"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
"Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child."
On the other hand, I'd like to expand her logic and suggest that good CEO's are a dime a dozen since everybody has financial and management responsibility for their own household!
by Skip Cohen
Over the years at dozens of workshops, I've always done my own survey asking for a show of hands of how many photographers I have in the room from each specialty. Since most of the programs I've done have normally been to wedding and portrait photographers those have been the most number of hands. I'll then ask how many table top shooters are in the audience and typically no hands are raised.
My response is always the same, "Really, how many of you have had to do a cake shot at a wedding? It's the toughest shot and you do it at every wedding you photograph, yet NONE of you shoot tabletop!" There are at this point a lot of painful expressions as everyone thinks back to some of the previous images.
Seriously, it really is one of the toughest shots to get. Lighting is terrible, the cake is typically on a corner with little or no backdrop and every now and then a bride wants to see the engraving on the cake knife she's using that belonged to her grandmother. But, nobody shoots tabletop! LOL
This video from Bob Davis might be two years old and from his old educational series "I Can Light That", but it's loaded with great content to help you through the next time you're dealing with the cake shot from hell! Even with a few changes in technology, it's still got so much that's relevant to help you next time.
Looking for more help in lighting?Check out Bob's video training the WTF series.
by Skip Cohen
It's an old African proverb, but the more I read it, the more I'm in awe of how much these seven words really say. They sure seem to fit everything we learned over the last few years about business.
Think about it. The economy was horrible and you worked harder than you've probably ever worked in your life. If you didn't make some serious changes in the last two years, you at least are giving them serious thought. Changes in marketing, business, workflow and even your shooting style - nothing is sacred when you're worried about survival.
What's most exciting to me is the new energy focused on marketing. Years ago we used to laugh, because Don Blair would get a thousand people in a posing and lighting program with a few cute models and I'd get ten people in a marketing workshop and five of them were relatives! Okay, I'll admit his topic was more exciting, but my jokes were better! Today, every marketing, business and workflow program is packed and people are taking notes.
That's the way it'll be with Zach and Jody Gray's program in August at the Summer Session of SCU. In fact, that's the way every program will be, since even a hands on session, because the class is ONLY 20 people, brings out questions about marketing, business and promotion for each instructor. (Yes, it's a shameless plug for what used to be Skip's Summer School, but only because this program really is that good!)
In spite of the challenges and the number of photographers who may have stepped away from their businesses over the past two years, we're a stronger industry than we've been in a long time. As the economy continues to improve we'll see some of the friends we lost come back into the business, but with a stronger focus on diversity, creativity and marketing.
Scuba diving is a major passion of mine and I remember a dive when I first started, in horrible water. We had 6-8 foot swells and we were in a small boat - I was diving with my buddy, Bob Nunn. The captain looked at us and said, "If you guys can dive in this you can dive in anything!" I came off the boat green and my Bob left breakfast a half mile off the Florida coast, but it really did make us better divers. It also gave us something to laugh about
Well, as an industry we've survived a couple of tough years, bombarded with a bad economy and trying to keep up with technology, but the key word is survived. The proverb says so much that to keep talking about it becomes trite...the point is we've all learned to sail in rough water and as a result we're better sailors!
Give yourself a pat on the back - your passion for photography is alive and well and you've got more tools to make this an amazing year! As we keep saying at SCU - it's time for you to THRIVE, not just survive!
I love Sunday mornings, because it's a time to just kick back a little and think about the week that's just closed and the week ahead. For me, it's a time when I just start thinking about things I'd like to do that are different. This morning I'm thinking about how many photographers out there keep doing the same old thing and don't understand why they're business isn't getting more traffic.
Years ago, an old buddy used to remind everybody who attended his programs to save the last frame "on the roll" and just shoot completely different from everything else they'd done. Take the time to experiment. Even though we're back into the busy season, for many of you there are some pretty slow week days. So, during a momentary lull in business, why not think about mixing up the "formula"?
Time Magazine cover photographer, Gregory Heisler did my headshot a few years ago, which I wrote about in a very early blog. It wasn't your average lighting set up for a portrait, but then again, Gregory is anything but average!
He photographed wide open with a Hasselblad H1 with the 100mm f2.2 lens. A narrow vertical softbox, with just the modeling light on, was 6 inches from my face and the camera maybe 12-18 inches away. An assistant held in a black piece of card stock just to keep the flair off the lens.
For the most part, everyone has some down time here and there. It's the perfect time to experiment, but not just in the capture of your images. How about looking at doing things differently in manipulation and workflow? Maybe it's time to test a new design on a direct mail piece? How's your website - is it time to update the images with a stronger look?
Whatever changes you make, keep focused on the fun of it! If you let it become a chore, then you've lost perspective on what makes imaging so much fun! Remember, you're an artist, NOT a photographer. That gives you license to break the rules, just make sure you've learned them all before you break them!
From Scott Adams on Quoteland.com:
"If you’re going to create, create a lot. Creativity is not like playing the slot machines, where failure to win means you go home broke. With creativity, if you don’t win, you’re usually no worse off than if you hadn’t played."
Photo Credit: © shotsstudio - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
Every now and then I wander into YouTube to see what I can find. Virtually every time I'm blown away by business concepts, marketing ideas, motivational productions and just plain chuckle power. I found this video looking for motivational pieces last week and it stars some of the greatest actors in Hollywood, together with sports celebrities who are on everybody's hero list.
Some of my favorite quotes were:
"Limits like fears are often just an illusion."
"Don't be afraid to fail. You can't always win, but don't be afraid of making decisions."
"Skill is only developed by hours and hours of working on your craft."
I realize over a million people have already watched this, but I'm betting most of you have never seen it! I hope you find it as inspirational and fun to watch as I did!
by Skip Cohen
Several times over the years I've found great inspiration in books from WalktheTalk.com. Well, I was in the middle of cleaning one of the bookcases in my office last weekend and ran across this one, Leadership Lessons and I started thumbing through it.
With Summer Session for SCU coming up in August, I found myself looking back on the fun of past programs and the people I've met who have become great friends. In the process I started thinking about the stand-out programs for this year from so many leaders in the industry and it struck me how the definition of a leader is so diverse.
Photography is a combination of incredible technology and a creative art form. In the past most of us have considered the leaders to be those photographers who are creating excitement, new directions and new imaging applications. Reading this one little WalkTheTalk publication I found myself thinking about how much deeper the qualities of leadership really go.
"Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn't, do something else." Franklin D. Roosevelt
"Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago." Warren Buffet
"Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don't just stand there, make it happen." Lee Iacocca
All three quotes are from Leadership Lessons. All three are dead on target when you think about the people working to change our industry. For example, this year's SCU Summer Session faculty is Clay Blackmore, Bob Coates, JP Elario, Michele Celentano, Justin and Mary Marantz, Joe McNally, Suzette Allen, Roberto Valenzuela, Zach and Jody Gray, Dixie Dixon, Michael Corsentino, Ryan Schembri, Jen Rozenbaum and Bob and Dawn Davis. They are all exceptional photographers and people working to raise the bar in our industry, but I love the way they teach. They're going to work to help you plant that "tree to create the shade" Warren Buffet talked about.
One more quote from Leadership Lessons:
"Leadership is not magnetic personality - that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not "making friends and influencing people" - that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. " Peter Drucker
I hope you can join us in August - it's an amazing faculty and destined to be one of our very best programs yet! And, like Peter Drucker suggested - the team is going to help you raise your performance to a higher standard...
Illustration Credit: © freshidea - Fotolia.com
I can't believe it's almost June. Lately I feel like I'm trapped in an old Jimmy Stewart movie and the hands of the clock are just spinning. Now I have the challenge of explaining to too many of you who Jimmy Stewart was! LOL
The big questions on everybody's plate are always the same: How can I grow my business? What do I need to do differently this year? The list goes on and on.
So, while wandering in and out of cyberspace I found a site called Quoteland and after a little mining uncovered the following gem from Charles Chic Thompson. While he obviously added some humor to the concept, think about each of his ten points. More than likely you'll agree that he's dead on.
Top 10 Creative Rules of Thumb
1. The best way to get great ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.
2. Create ideas that are 15 minutes ahead of their time…not light years ahead.
3. Always look for a second right answer.
4. If at first you don’t succeed, take a break.
5. Write down your ideas before you forget them.
6. If everyone says you are wrong, you’re one step ahead. If everyone laughs at you, you’re two steps ahead.
7. The answer to your problem “pre-exists.” You need to ask the right question to reveal the answer.
8. When you ask a dumb question, you get a smart answer.
9. Never solve a problem from its original perspective.
10. Visualize your problem as solved before solving it.
Illustration Credit: © peshkova - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
Just like everybody, I go through stages of focusing on one particular aspect of the challenges of being in business. "Failure" the "F Word" is simply not an option, but it's come up a few times in posts over the last few weeks.
Failure is way over-rated and can only happen if you fall and don't bother to get up. Yeah, I really do believe it's that simplistic...because it's all in your mind or what you let other people put in your head. Success on the other hand is a whole lot harder to define.
I have no idea how "I Am" did as a movie, but the trailer about Tom Shadyac pretty much says it all, because by most of our definitions he had it all. He was definitely successful, but still wasn't happy.
We all define success differently, but a few of my favorite quotes seem to help on the topic...
David Brinkley: "A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him!"
Bill Cosby: "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone"
Woody Allen: "Eighty percent of success is showing up."
What prompted this short rampage on the success/failure theme was the increasing number of comments lately where I'm hearing photographers who are spending too much time focusing on the slowness of reaching "success". They're acting like they think they've failed!
Well, I live with a very special lady who absolutely refuses to let me even use the word, "failure". If something didn't work, then it simply didn't work, but nothing in life is a failure until you stop trying. So, the challenge today, in terms of your business is really very simple. Notice I'm saying "simple" - not EASY...it still takes work.
Try out the following exercise:
1) Shut off all cell phones, your computer and anything else in life that interrupts your thought process. That might mean locking the kids out of the house for a couple of hours.
2) Find your most favorite place in the house.
3) Whether you like wine, a cup of coffee, a soda, a beer or a martini makes no difference - get yourself something to drink and get a pad of paper - that's right - we're going to do this long hand.
4) Ready? Just start writing down ideas and brainstorm the challenge - write every idea down and no idea is a bad one. What ideas? Let's start with things you could do to get people to know about your skill set, business and passion for photography.
Example: You're a wedding photographer and business is down. What things could you be doing to raise awareness for you and your business?
Do more local advertising? Put together a direct mail campaign? Purchase a list of brides? Take the owner of the local bridal gown store to lunch? Do a Saturday bridal shoot at the store? Who's the biggest hair salon in town - they know everything that's happening especially in small communities. Look at your brochure or website - are the images the best they can be? Would you hire you, based on the information on your website?
How about a joint mailing with several other vendors in town, e.g. a limo company, a florist and a caterer?
5) My suggestion is to spend an hour doing this and then bring somebody else into the discussion, be it your spouse, associate or a friend who knows you well. We're all too close to our own business. I'm always amazed when a photographer shows me something about their work to critique and they're so surprised over my suggestions to make a change - it's because it's the easiest assignment on planet earth - to review somebody elses work/project when you have no direct involvement. So, don't underestimate the value of one of your friends, who's not in the business, to just come in and join you in the process of looking for new ways to attack the challenge.
Most important of all, let's ban the word "failure" from our vocabulary. Nothing is a failure, just a life lesson or an FGO (Friggin' Growth Opportunity) - sorry can't take credit for that last little gem!
Thomas Edison: "I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work."
Illustration Credit: © jojje11 - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
A few times over the years I've quoted this kitchen magnet statement in various posts:
"Life isn't about waiting for the storms to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain!"
It's time to quote another one. The truth is there's a lot of great information on refrigerator doors around the world and it's time I took a shot at capturing some of it. This is a call to action - send me a picture of your refrigerator door along with your favorite words of wisdom posted there. Whenever I get enough to publish, I'll make a blog post out of them! (Send them to email@example.com )
"For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination."
It's signed by "Souza"...and comes from a company called Quotable Magnets. I have no idea who Souza is, but a big thanks is in order!
On a small table stand I've got another one: "Life is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine". There's definitely a correlation between good wine, good friends and enjoying the journey!
by Skip Cohen
Over the years I've repeatedly seen photographers, as well as manufacturers, change their advertising because they were tired of a specific ad.
A great ad gets dropped because the manufacturer was tired of looking at it. What everyone forgets is how many times you have to hit a consumer before they remember your ad or your product. Often there are still thousands of people out there who haven't seen the message.
Years ago there was a professional photographer who changed her logo three times over three years because, "I'm tired of it!" Meanwhile, every time she was starting to build up brand identity and a little momentum, she pulled the plug and essentially started over. All because she was tired of the logo - but her fans weren't and neither were all those people who had never seen it before.
It's a great thought for those moments when you have a little down time this weekend - if you're thinking about creating a new look to your branding, seriously consider how much exposure you've given your brand to date. Maybe it's time to make a slight change in your approach to the market, but then again, if you're doing it only because you're tired of it - remember you're not your target audience.
Illustration Credit: © OutStyle - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
Over in the Webinar Center there's a terrific webinar thanks to Manfrotto with Adam Barker, From Capture to Cover. In this webinar, Adam shares a lot of ideas on how to land a cover shot.
Having been on the magazine side of this industry for many years I want to expand on some of Adam's ideas and give you another perspective.
A few months ago I was with a group of photographers who were talking about some of the cover shots on their favorite magazines. Somebody made the comment, "I could have done that!" Okay, it's true, there are very few covers that most of you couldn't have done, but the reality is you didn't! It's that plain and simple - somebody else made the effort.
Cover shots, at least for the professional photo magazines are rarely, if ever, planned in advance. Typically the images come from editorial pieces within the magazine. So the first step to getting a cover shot - make the effort to get yourself "out there".
Let's talk about what it takes to get your work published:
1) Patience - It starts with submitting your work to the editorial staff of the various magazines. You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket!
2) Networking - It obviously helps if you work to get your work and yourself known by the editors and manufacturers of the products you use. Just sending in some images and a story idea cold to a magazine isn't going to accomplish very much.
3) Be involved - You've got to get your work out there. Enter contests. Look for calls to action where a manufacturer might be looking for images. A subliminal call to action is any mfg introducing a new product. Images taken with that product or application are going to be in short supply initially. Do your own testing of the product and submit images to the manufacturer and magazines.
Here's a prime example. Scott Bourne and I go back about 15 years. He sent me images taken with the new Hasselblad X-pan when I was president of Hasselblad. The images were stunning, but we didn't have any use for them at the time. Studio Photography and Design was doing a story on the X-pan and looking for fresh images. I sent them Scott's work and they wound up doing a profile story on Scott and the X-pan, but the story gets better. One of their readers loved Scott's work and hired him for a five year project overseas!
4) Build relationships - It's not just about the editorial staff, but the manufacturers whose products you use. I know we'd all like to believe editorial is objective, but it's not all the time and having the support of a manufacturer, who is an advertiser, will sometimes be the link to finally getting your work published.
5) Never compromise - Every image you submit has to be spectacular. Never compromise on the quality of the images you submit.
6) Follow the editorial calendars - Every magazine has a published editorial calendar for the year. Make it a point to follow the themes of the calendar. For example, you'll never get published if you're submitting work that's all landscape when the theme for the month is children's portraiture! Your work needs to have relevance.
7) Format - most photographers forget to look at the format of the cover. Images used for cover shots can't just be beautiful, they have to fit the cover with the magazine title, tag lines and even where the address label is positioned. They also have to be verticals, at least most of the time. I'm always surprised at photographers who think an image would make a beautiful cover, but for example, forget the magazine title is going to run right through their image. If you want to practice with a few images yourself, mock up a cover of your favorite magazine and then drop in your photograph..
Here's a fun exercise to do. Look through the last issue of a magazine like Professional Photographer. Look at all the images in the magazine. I don't know about PPA, but I know at Rangefinder we used to take just about all the images in the magazine and mock them up as covers before making our final choice. If you want to see just how hard it is to pick a cover shot, go through the magazine and envision your favorites as covers. It's a daunting task.
8) Patience - no it's not a typo. It's first and last on the list for getting your work published. Getting yourself featured in editorial boils down to a combination of everything above, combined with a little luck and timing. You'll never get published if you don't participate in the process, but just like cooking a great steak, rush the process by cranking up the heat and you'll burn it; over season it and you'll ruin it and take it off the grill too early and it'll still be raw.
Take your time. Be goal oriented and don't lose sight of your ultimate prize, being published. Keep building your business and your brand. Things will come together, but it takes time.
Hard to believe that Benjamin Franklin had the idea a few hundred years ago:
"He that can have patience can have what he will."
But I love this quote from Buddhist thinker, author and educator, Daisaku Ikeda even more:
"With love and patience nothing is impossible!"
Illustration Credit: © asiln - Fotolia.com
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.