I was a little concerned over wandering into the political arena Saturday with my post about the petition to the President. However, Vicki Zoller wrote a remarkable comment that deserves to be shared and passed on...and yes, I did contact her to ask for permission. Her response to my asking was just as poignant!
"I don't see this issue as 'off topic' at all Skip. Everyday I have the ability to just go about my merry way taking photos, building business, teaching others, volunteering for NILMDTS, enjoying my home and family . . . and I do all that without worrying about being attacked from some outside enemy. And the only way we all live so freely and relaxed is because of our military.
We ask them to walk away from all their comforts and into war zones. If we are going to ask them to do that the LEAST we could do is take care of them when they come home.
I think most of us (at least those of us that are paying attention and have some respect for the military) are completely fed up and disgusted by the VA issue.
Seriously, ANYONE who enjoys the benefits of living in a country where bombs are not going off all the time, where fear of having your door kicked in by the 'military' and having your family hauled away, where peaceful (and often times non-peaceful) protest is not only tolerated but welcomed should be ASHAMED of a government agency that would treat it's protectors so poorly."
When I asked her if it was okay to share her comments she emailed back to me...
"Yes, please do . . . It truly is how I feel Skip. I have family and friends that have served and they deserve much more then they have been given. It's a funny thing, we have all this privilege because we have this amazing military but part of being able to live so free is to also be allowed to take it for granted. You can only take things for granted when things are going really well, right? No body in the Sudan is taking food, clothing, shelter, public safety, freedom of speech, etc. for granted are they??? Or in Afghanistan? Iraq?
The reminder comes to NOT take the freedom for granted but people get complacent in the soft comforts of American life. Even the poorest of the poor have it pretty good, they too are protected by that military. They might be poor but they aren't being enslaved or having their children sold in human trafficking.
People need to wake up but I am afraid of what it might take to make that wake up happen . . ."
Four years ago today, on our back porch in Ohio, Sheila and I got married by Chaplain Karen from Akron Children's Hospital with God and Molly the Wonder Dog as our witnesses. It was 7:30 in the morning and one of those perfect summer days. It was just the two of us and a Flip Video on a monopod. Then, we both went to work!
We laugh about it now, but this was strictly about us and we wanted the privacy of what we were both feeling. We'd been together for two and a half years prior and it was simply something we wanted to do.
Well, here we are four years later and what an incredible experience it continues to be. We've helped each other through some rough times, but also enjoyed a lot of smooth sailing. We have amazing friends and Sheila took to the photo industry like a duck to water. Her business background has been invaluable in helping me build SCU. We're truly a team and that includes all of our hobbies, including cooking together when we miraculously prepare dinner for friends without tripping over each other in the kitchen.
I've written a lot about things I've learned from Sheila and about how important it is to have the support of positive people in your life. It's a critical component of growing as an artist, writer and business owner. You'll never succeed doing it all alone and that's why it's so critical to have people in your life who support your dreams. Sheila leads the way with her encouragement and support in my life.
So, Happy Anniversary to my bride. Can't wait to see what memories the next year brings. Sure do love ya!
Note: For those of you who feel I've once again crossed the line into personal moments on a business/marketing blog...sorry, but without Sheila there wouldn't be a blog...besides, it's my blog. LOL
I really do my best to stay away from political issues, especially when it's an American challenge and many of my readers are outside the US. There's been a lot written about staying on point with blog topics and not going off course with personal issues. Sorry for the side trip today, but this issue aggravates me to no end! I can't help but feel there's an opportunity for us to help make a small difference.
We all have to deal with so many "oxygen thieves" in government today. In this case, it's the VA and our military veterans simply aren't getting the support they deserve. Every night there seems to be one more story on the news about the delays for medical benefits and the backlog of veterans waiting for help.
I received an email this morning from a good friend and it links to a petition started by talk show host, Montel Williams. Normally I'd just hit the delete button and move on, but having made a few trips to the VA with my Dad I kept reading.
Click to link to the petition.
The petition is asking the President to:
I know I'm breaking the rules, but it's a serious issue and so long overdue in solving the problem. Thanks for letting me veer off course this morning.
It's just a short post for a Friday morning and the start of the weekend, but the topic is so on target. I was looking through "Life's Little Instruction Book, Volume II" and I found this piece of advice...
916. Learn the rules. Then break some.
Don Blair, who most of you never knew, but have hopefully heard of, used to tell people all the time, "You have to know the rules before you can break them!" His favorite "rules" were about lighting and posing. He respected the rules because they represented the greatest collection of tools he had to create flattering images of his subjects. The rules were all about his ability to exceed expectations...EVERY time. Remember, there was no Photoshop for Don...he couldn't liquify twenty pounds with a click on a computer, but had to rely on his skill as an artist.
I apologize for the quality of the scans, but these are from an old copy of "Body Parts" a book Don and I wrote together. There's enough here to help you understand my point. Every image on these two pages is exactly the way they looked...right out of the can. Every image was created by Don in the camera!
Now, think about your own work. Take the time to learn lighting, posing, exposure and composition. Learn everything you can do with your skill set before post-processing. It'll not only save you time, but you'll elevate your work as an artist and be on your way to becoming habit-forming to your clients.
And...when you need to break the rules, for whatever reason, you'll have the incredible satisfaction of understanding them and elevating your work to becoming one of the great portrait artists. Every artist can break the rules, the key is to know them first!
There's a lot of information here on the SCU site about pricing. Two of my favorites posts star good buddy Sal Cincotta and his video on pricing followed by my pal, Bryan Caporicci. Both posts will help you a lot in determining your pricing strategy. Just remember, if you don't price your products and services right, your business is doomed or to be more direct, you're going to be eating Mac n' Cheese every night for the rest of the year!
No blog or even a series of posts can give you everything you need to remember about pricing, but I wanted to hit on my perspective on the challenge for so many of you. It seems like there are several common themes when it comes to dealing with pricing...
There are definitely be more, but those seem to be the top three I see most often. So, let's break them down a little.
Lack of Confidence: The issue isn't whether or not your lack of confidence is real, but whether or not it's justified. If you really do lack the skill set, but you're serious about building a business, then you may have entered the market too early. This isn't a career path where you can fake it 'till you make it. One unhappy consumer, who realizes they bet on the wrong horse, has the ability to influence hundreds if not thousands of other people.
If your lack of confidence is deserved, because you don't have the skills yet, then you shouldn't be in business. Your reputation is your most important asset - don't screw it up. Take the time for more workshops. Read everything you can, related to what you're missing. Watch every video you can find and take advantage of online education. Practice non-stop and learn every aspect of your gear. Be a second shooter and learn the skills you need for confidence.
Now, if you lack confidence simply out of fear, start getting involved with your local photographer's group. Most communities have a group of professional photographers who meet monthly. Get involved in the various forums on Facebook and share your work. Utilize your network to help you build your confidence by working with other photographers and talking about your business.
Pricing and the Competition: Okay, it's true, low ball pricing might bring you some instant business in the short run, but eventually it will destroy what you're trying to build, not to mention, undermine the strength of the market. If you want to build a strong reputation, build it on the quality of your products, services and the experience people have working with you. Look for added value to the pricing equation, NOT discounting. Talk with your lab, album company and framer about new products. Read both of the posts I linked you to in the first paragraph.
As Terry Clark said in a post about making yourself different:
“The best thing to do to survive and thrive is find what everyone else isn’t doing and do that thing.”
What did it really cost for you to get this far? When you start looking at key price points, don't forget everything you invested to get here:
•Your Gear •Computer •Printers •Supplies •Furniture •Software •Packaging •Charges from your vendors •Education •Insurance •Rent •Phone Service •Time •Utilities •Website •Internet •Car •Gas and Maintenance •Legal Counsel •Accountant •Dues/membership •Advertising •Marketing •Additional labor •Travel/Entertainment
As Bryan wrote in his guest post,
"Pricing is a topic that most photographers will cringe at the thought of. While it may not have the same appeal as the creative side of being a photographer, it is an inevitable and crucial part of running a photography business."
This is an amazing industry and you've got a huge responsibility to each potential client to capture and create the images and memories they're anticipating. Your goal is to become habit-forming and exceed their expectations, but you've also got a responsibility to yourself, the right to earn a respectable living. Don't short-change yourself. Don't let a lack of attention to your pricing strategy challenge your ability to keep building your dream!
Illlustration Credit: © tashatuvango - Fotolia.com
Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.
Frederick B Wilcox
It's a typical Sunday morning and one of those days Sheila and I refer to as a "slug day". We're just going to hang out and accomplish pretty much nothing, which if you knew how Type-A we both were, is in itself an accomplishment. We're just taking the time to relax and enjoy each other with no real focus.
Well, that got me thinking, because my initial reaction was we had to have something we needed to do today. Like the Kevin Bacon game, that led me to think about the week ahead, which took me to a new project I want to get started on and in turn thinking about the risk of failure involved and *poof* I remembered a quote about progress and risks. I went off searching until I found it.
It's a short post this morning, but no less important than the long ones...you've got to take risks to grow your business, your skill set and your friendships/network. There are times when you've got to take a shot at something and win or lose, know that you're doing what you need to do.
The cool thing about our industry and being an artist is risks come in all shapes and sizes. I've seen photographers hang on to natural light like a security blanket because they don't understand working with studio lighting. I've met photographers who are afraid to talk to people who they think of as industry icons, because they're just "little guys". I've worked with a couple of people who will some day be great artists, but they can't get over the fear of talking to their first customer. It's all about
The best thing about our dreams are that they all have the potential for reality, but you've got to take your foot off first base. You don't have to let it go forever, just appreciate and respect that you had a solid hit and now it's time to move on to the next challenge.
My buddy Scott Bourne, before he retired, used to end his posts with a line about "Skip and I are both rooting for you!" Well, I'm more than just rooting for you, everybody knows how to contact me - I'm here to help!
Make it a great Sunday - do something you want to do, even if it's just joining Sheila and me in a "slug day". As always, hug somebody you care about and let them know they're important to you!
This week the photographic industry lost one of its greats, Tommy Woods. He passed away on June 18.
Most of you never heard his name, but if you're in the retail and sales side of photography anywhere in the NY/NJ area, then he was as well known as Tiger Woods is to golf. He wasn't a photographer, an artist or for that matter, one of the tech weenies who could argue about MTF curves on the quality of a Hasselblad lens. He was just a great salesman...Dad and friend. He loved his wife, his family and took his friendships very seriously.
I joined Hasselblad as president in '87. I came out of Polaroid and wanted call reports, itemized accounts of how the salesmen spent their day. I was shocked that Hasselblad had a salesman who had so little knowledge of photography. Well, Tommy probably taught me one of my most important lesson as a manager. I remember him saying to me once, "You want reports or orders?" Throw in a few good expletives and it's an exact quote, because Tommy did things his way, but he always delivered. He had the respect of every retailer in NYC!
Jim Ritter, who's been with Canon for many years wrote,
"Our VP told me one time how he hated Tommy at the time, because he would be sitting there for an hour or two waiting for his appointment at B&H. Tommy would walk in, be immediately escorted in and walk out five minutes later with a massive order just waiting for him. He was a legend."
Tommy retired from the industry many years ago. I completely lost touch with him along with so many of the Hasselblad team at the time. With his passing, we all connected through emails this week and started sharing memories. That's the beauty of the Internet.
This is one of those posts I'm really writing just for my own benefit, but there is one small lesson you can take from Tommy...he lived by the words, "To thine own self be true." He was never phony with anybody. He couldn't have been more honest in his approach to sales, friendships and loyalty. His priority was always his family first, friends second and then came business.
Peter Power, part of the Hasselblad team from the old days, sent flowers on behalf of all of us. He really said it best:
From all his old friends at Hasselblad whom he worked with for almost 50 yrs. He was loved and cherished by us all and has left behind so many wonderful memories, He will never be forgotten.
Photo Credit: Jim Morton
Sadly we live in a litigious world with too many people ready to pounce the minute they think there's an injustice in the air. So, before you go to the next event, there’s one item so many photographers forget about, a model release.
John Harrington, in More Best Business Practices for Photographers, an incredible resource book all of you should have in your library, dedicated a section to model releases and includes two samples, one for an adult, another for a minor. Don’t get caught short without a stack of model releases in your bag. Learn to know when you need one and when you don’t, but always opt on the side of caution. Better to have a signed release and not need it, than not have one at all.
I’ll wrap it up with a quick true horror story from our industry.
One of the best known professional photographers in the world sold an image of a bride and groom to a mass merchant for use in their picture frame line. It was nothing more than a decorative element to their packaging. The photographer was paid $750. There was a signed model release and the photographer absolutely thought she had the rights to use the image.
The client, being a young hope-to-be-successful attorney some day, saw the image from his wedding while walking through the store and sadly, saw it as a remarkable opportunity. He sued the photographer for using the image without authorization. He played off of a number of different issues...
He never signed the release, the mother of the bride did. As a budding attorney he claimed the use of the image in a mass merchant store like Target, Kmart, BigLots etc. damaged his ability to be taken seriously as an attorney.
In the end the photographer’s insurance company, thanks to PPA insurance, handled the claim and if I remember right, this bonehead wound up with a six-digit settlement!
At this point, just like me when I first heard the story, you’re rolling your eyes and shaking your head. It’s absurd that somebody could do that, but there are two points to remember:
Always have a model release or equivalent on images you’re going to publish and always have the right insurance coverage, but that’s another story and another post!
An add-on after several comments...
P.S. At the time this all happened, approximately ten years ago, the market was different. Facebook, posting, Twitter were all pretty non-existent. The model release was signed by the client, the mother of the bride. Today, without question, nobody would move ahead and sell an image for a picture frame without notifying the client, in most cases even if you had a model release. My comment using the expression "bonehead" was based on the approach of the "victim" when he saw potential dollar signs. It doesn't matter if you agree with my opinion of the whole thing or not - the issue is don't shoot without a model release...and, make sure you've got the right kind of coverage for your insurance.
Photo Credit: © Jerry Sliwowski - Fotolia.com
On Monday, we've got a new podcast with commercial and lifestyle photographer Erik Valind. Earlier this week you may have watched the behind the scenes Yamaha video of his shoot with Josh Groban.
I get excited about every new podcast I do, especially when it's somebody I admire and have heard of, but don't personally know. This industry is really relatively small and we share so many of the same friends, work with the same vendors and have spoken at many of the same conferences.
In Erik's case one vendor we've both had a great time working with is the crew at Tamron USA. It's a remarkable group of people and they're creating some impressive products and great glass.
On my search to find out more about Erik, I ran across his new book on Amazon, Portrait Photography - From Snapshots to Great Shots. Well, while I know I probably could have weaseled a freebie, I wanted it ASAP and just ordered a copy. I've got an amazing library of books by so many different photographers, many of them personal friends. Now the challenge will be to catch up to Erik on a future trip to Florida, (he grew up here) and that's when I'll get him to sign it.
Just reading the Amazon sampler I've already found a wealth of solid tips to improving my own portrait work. Just click on the book cover and you can check it out for yourself.
In the mean time, tune into the SCU podcasts on Monday for what promises to be a terrific podcast with Erik and a discussion on some of the key things he's done to make sure his images and business style are always top shelf!
It's just a short post this morning....
I tweeted this quote by Robert H. Schuller one day last week...
"If you listen to your fears, you will die never knowing what a great person you might have been."
Every day I talk to photographers. I read what people post in dozens of forums. I attend every convention I can find the time for and belong to a couple of different photographic groups in the Sarasota/Tampa area. Over and over again I'm finding people with so much potential, who are simply afraid to step outside their comfort zone and share their work.
This isn't a post that's meant to be a criticism, but an encouragement to share your voice.
So many photographers have said to me over the years, "You don't know me, I'm just a little guy..." Well, guess what, we're an industry of thousands of creative artists and even more "little guys". Too many of you think because you're not well known yet, you don't have anything to share. The fun of this blog is being able to share that talent and insight so many of you have.
If you wander through the guest posts on this blog you'll see a lot of photographers who are anything but well known. You'll also see posts by some very recognizable artists. The cool thing is the common denominator, everyone's passion for the craft!
Don't let fear get in the way of sharing your work and ideas. This industry needs each and every one of you and we all have the ability to help each other grow.
Photo Credit: © Arman Zhenikeyev - Fotolia.com
It's probably my most favorite quote and it's from one of my best friends who passed away far too early, Dean Collins. There isn't a day that goes by that something doesn't come up that makes me think of him. He died at 51 in 2005 after a lengthy battle with cancer. When he passed away the industry lost one of its finest artists, educators and presenters. Nobody could light up an audience or literally a room or subject like Dean!
The first time I heard Dean use that quote was in reference to somebody criticizing a series of images he was sharing in a program. His point was, it doesn't matter what any of us think about each others work, it's the client who passes judgement.
What got me thinking about Dean and that quote, which I've probably used a dozen times this year, was a battle over an image in one of the forums. Here's the scenario that happens dozens of times every day...
Somebody puts an image up in one of the forums and starts to get a little criticism, some times positive, some times negative. Things typically start out well, but immediately spiral out of control when somebody comes along who wants to play troll and starts to slam the skill set of the artist. Next thing you know everybody jumps in and the discussion/thread becomes a miserable hateful/hurtful mess. I've even seen discussion go so far out of control that politics, racial and even sexual slurs become part of the process.
I'm an administrator on two different Facebook forums and every forum could use some help in getting more photographers to simply "play nice".
When you're being critiqued, take all the suggestions, listen to what people are saying. Take what seems to make sense and what doesn't and boil them down into what you can learn from other artists. In the end, do what your heart is telling you and what you believe.
The Internet is an amazing tool that twenty years ago none of us had. It's made the world smaller and it's making all of us better business people and artists. Let's stop screwing things up by giving trolls more credibility than they deserve and just not react.
Remember the most important person in the equation of any image is the subject or the client. Why?
Because beauty is in the eye of the checkbook holder!
Photo Credit: © enterlinedesign - Fotolia.com
Those of you who know me personally understand my never-ending quest for new ways to help you raise the bar on your education. As an artist and a business person you can NEVER slow down in expanding your skill set. Here's a three day program you won't want to miss, the Success Summit!
Your hosts are recognized educators in their own right, Lori Nordstrom and Jeffrey Shaw and the lineup for this event is spectacular. Plus, the concept will give you Q&A time with each of fifteen different industry spokespeople/educators. It's a 100% FREE event giving you an opportunity to pick and choose topics where you need the most help. You can choose to attend all fifteen workshops or just the ones you need the most.
Circle the date and join us June 24-26. You won't be disappointed and you just might pick up a few new ideas to help you raise the bar on business for the future!
I woke up to a barrage of sales ads from dozens of companies in my email. From Amazon to iTunes to sporting goods companies and even Bed Bath & Beyond, since I'm a Dad, they obviously think I'm going to spend the day chasing down their bargains.
It was the perfect opportunity to use and abuse my delete button. I chose not to open a single one of these obnoxious attempts for marketing managers to take one more shot at the American public.
I decided to chase down the origin of Father's Day and even Wikipedia didn't say much. Their most helpful sentence was, "Father's Day was created to complement Mother's Day, a celebration that honors mothers and motherhood."
So, I went off in search of the origin of Mother's Day, which, while it has some solid substance, didn't say much more. However, it was started by Anne Jarvis in the early 1900's. She promoted the day to honor the continuation of her mother's work in working with injured soldiers in the Civil War, which had evolved into a focus on public health issues. It was never intended to be buried in commercialism.
So, now that I've added a little useless information to your morning, if nothing else you're more informed. For me Father's Day is simply a day when I'm going to do more of what I should be doing all year long. It's a day for me as a son, to remind Pop, how important he is to me...how grateful I am for all the things he tried to teach me as a kid, recognizing that every lesson didn't always sink in, but I understand them all now. It's amazing how much smarter our parents get as we get older. LOL
Today is a day when I'm off the hook on my own domestic responsibilities and can enjoy my appreciation for my family. When I was twelve and people would ask me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" my answer was always the same, "A Dad!" I got my wish. As a result my life is richer, even with some of the challenges here and there.
So, to my own Dad, who we're getting out to lunch with today, Happy Father's Day Pop, I sure do love ya. I've got the perfect Father's Day present, but have to wait until you've heard about it to share with my readers. It's worthy of a future blog post later this week.
To my children, thank you for making my life richer and to all of my friends, associates and readers who are also dads, Happy Father's Day.
As I say every Sunday, make it a day to remember. Hug your family, appreciate them and remember, without them Father's Day would be like Valentine's Day when you're single!
Somewhere in my life somebody got me The Book of Awesome. It's a 400 page collection of so many of the things we take for granted. One of them got me thinking about professional photographers...
"Moving up a shoe size when you're a kid."
The author, Neil Pasricha wrote,
"...First the gal at the store has to find one (Foot-Measuring Machine) under a chair somewhere, then she brings it over and squats in front of you, then she places your heel in it, twiddles some dials up, takes a breath, looks up, and announce your shoe size. "Seven" AWESOME"
Okay, before I lose you, here's the connection...so many of you spend too much time thinking about the "small" in small business owner. You've limited your vision along with your dreams. You've forgotten that you've got unlimited potential to grow. You're not negative about growing your business just incredibly conservative. In some cases it's because of baggage you've carried around your entire life. With some of you, it's people around you who you've allowed to limit your dreams. Others, it's just a matter of building more confidence.
I was in a store recently looking at Oakley Sunglasses. Years ago, in my Hassselblad days I spent a half hour on the phone with the founder of Oakley talking about photography. He was a big camera collector and at the time had an interest in Ansel Adams' camera gear which we were selling for charity. During the conversation he told me how the company got started.
Oakley was named after his dog "Oakley". At the time he was making visors for motorcycle helmets in his garage! He had plenty of dreams, but I doubt he realized he'd some day be one of the most respected companies in the world.
So, as you're shooting this weekend or just relaxing with family and friends, think about your business. Don't limit your business by what you see happening now, but where you'd like it to be a few years down the road. Focus, pun intended, on your skill set, networking, social media, marketing. Attend every workshop you can. Read other blogs. Wander into YouTube and search for any photographer or for that matter, business owner you admire.
Get ready to grow a "shoe size" and when you do, just kick back and scream, "Awesome"!
And as my good buddy Matthew Jordan Smith says all the time, "Always Dream Big"! (Check out his new book project - Future American Presidents - Matthew can walk the talk. He always dreams big.)
When Michael Novo sent me his draft for a guest post about watermarking your images, I knew it would spark a little controversy. I knew there would be some serious discussion. At this point, I probably won't publish any more of the comments. I don't think there's much more to be said, but I want to respond to the entire controversy in one post this morning...
"...I am incredulous that you published that post by Michael Novo about the concept of publishing unwatermarked photos that are too crappy to be stolen...Maybe others agree that we should all produce crappy photographs, get paid up front, and then not worry about them getting stolen?
I don't watermark my pictures for fear of them getting stolen. I watermark them for marketing purposes. I want my photos shared and shared and shared, and I want people to see my watermark. It's a completely unfair comparison to bring in Jerry Ghionis, as Jerry does not really have the need to market the way that we do. His name is known. His work is known. His style is known. We exist pretty anonymously among the prospective clients scouring over The Knot, Wedding Wire, doing google searches, or visiting bridal shows to determine whom to hire as their wedding photographer. We need to be known. Our work needs to be seen. And a watermark takes out pictures from being shot by "Anonymous" to being shot by "Ron McKinney Studios." And personally, I need that."
Here's the challenge we all share. The Internet has changed the way we do business today. It's changed the way we communicate and share images. Each of us has the reach today that just a few years ago only magazines and publications had. That means you've got to do everything you can to present only your best work, advertise, promote and build your brand, but a brand which as Peter Adams wrote is so much more than just your style:
It is incredibly naive to think that a brand is just a "style". Branding is the whole kit and caboodle.
" Brand is the "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's product distinct from those of other sellers." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand) My logo, my business name, my imagery all make up constituent parts of my brand.
The true challenge we share is artists stealing other artists work. I love what people like Corey Ann and Photo Stealers are doing, but the real responsibility rests with each of us. We've all got to watch each other's backs and that appears to be what's happening. Stolen images result in so much more than that knot you get in your stomach being victimized, it's the impact it has on potential clients, when the photographer they've hired can't produce the results.
I've written and said this numerous times before...With the exception of modern medicine no one career field has given society more than the photographic industry. That carries a huge responsibility to deliver your very best work, exceed client expectations and set a standard for outstanding customer service.
The other day somebody made the comment to me, "That's easy for you to say, you're Skip Cohen!"
It might seem off topic a little, but in all honesty, we're all dealing with a long list of misconceptions about each other. Yeah, I'm Skip and I've been in this industry my entire life...and yes, I definitely love it. I've also had my share of disappointments.
So, what got me on this topic this morning? It's a quote from a book called, Life's Little Instruction Book, Vollume II.
"Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something."
It's a simple point to remember, we all share disappointments, accomplishments and passion for different things. Everyone, including me, has had to deal with mistakes, difficult times and bad decisions. None of us are truly alone unless we choose to be. That's where your network comes in and becomes so important to helping you grow.
For me, I continue to have an great career, not because of anything I've done, but because of the incredible people who have become friends and associates. These are people who inspire me, push me and help me stay focused. So, the next time you start to say to yourself, "Oh, it's easy for them, look how successful they are," think again - nobody in this industry ever started out at the top!
In a couple of posts over the last few years I've mentioned motivational/spiritual author, Melody Beattie. My wife got me into reading her every morning several years ago. While not everything she writes is always relevant to my life or business, every now and then there's a gem that's so worth sharing.
This morning's was called, "Panic" and here's a sliver of what Melody wrote...
"Don't panic! If a swimmer was crossing a great lake, then suddenly focused too heavily on the distance remaining, he might start to flounder and go under - not because he couldn't swim, but because he became overwhelmed by panic.
Panic, not the task is the enemy.
Many of us have moments when we feel crowded and overwhelmed. We have times when we feel like we cannot possibly accomplish all that needs to be done..."
A few thousand posts ago, my good buddy, Scott Bourne wrote a post about being a new photographer. I'm paraphrasing, but essentially he said, "Stop worrying about what you have yet to learn and focus on how much you've already accomplished."
Whether you're new or a seasoned veteran I'm convinced that everything happens in its own time and as long as you don't procrastinate, everything always gets done. Years ago I worked for a manager at Polaroid who was constantly dumping big projects with short deadlines on my desk and I remember going into a complete panic attack over how I would ever get it done.
In the process of dealing with the stress I was creating myself, I found myself unable to focus on the tasks. I was completely overwhelmed and like Melody's swimmer, was headed to becoming drowning victim. A good buddy, gave me some advice, the same my grandmother had once given me, "Just take it one step at a time!"
So, here's why this is such a great topic for Marketing Monday...you've got so many plans you've been kicking around and many of you, instead of just digging in and getting started are waiting for the Marketing Fairy to come and magically get them going for you. Well, I'm as close as you're ever going to get to the Marketing Fairy, (there's a scary thought), but here's what you need to do.
Last on the list, stop the panic attacks. Panic isn't a constructive process and instead of worrying about how much you have yet to do or accomplish, be proud of yourself for how far you've come!
"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."
Photo Credit: © EduardSV - Fotolia.com
I won't deny for a second that Matthew Jordan Smith has been a great friend for a lot of years. So, while this might sound like an infomercial for his book, Future American Presidents, it's also one of the coolest ideas I've heard about in a long time.
Matthew's been working for close to three years on Future American Presidents, his book idea of capturing the presidential aspirations of many of America's kids. After a very successful Kickstarter campaign he photographed kids in all fifty states. Past president Jimmy Carter and Disney star, Zendaya are both involved in the introduction for the book. It's due out this fall and destined to be a classic.
Now, here's the idea I think is so brilliant and you've only got until June 30 to make it a reality...
You've not only got an opportunity to buy the book for your kids, but you can customize the cover with an image of your child or grandchild. This is about inspiration, and although your kids might not be featured in the book through Matthew's camera, it's your chance to reinforce the dream they can be anything they set their mind to.
I know for Sheila and I we're about to do books for our grand children. It's motivational. It's unique and it's that one holiday gift this year they'd never think of. Think about a kid opening a present and seeing their own picture on the cover of a book like this!
I said it already, the idea is brilliant and it supports an amazing project while at the same time helping to inspire thousands of kids everywhere in the US. Just click on the link below for more information on a remarkable project from one of American's finest photographers.
It's a beautiful Saturday and we're headed home after some terrific time with family and friends. One of the fun things about traveling is the abundance of material to blog about. In this case it's the bathroom reading material in somebody else's home. I found a paperback called "Life's Little Instruction Book - Volume II".
I found two wonderful tips that deserve a moment of extended exposure outside the pages of the book and our friend's bathroom!
"When there is a hill to climb, don't think that waiting will make it smaller."
How many times have we all faced a challenge and instead of just taking it on, we wait. As we wait the issue we're dealing with becomes bigger and creates more stress in our lives. Typically with photographers the challenge being avoided is dealing with a difficult client. Rather than just deal with the issues, they wait and procrastinate. All they had to do was just address the issue up front with a call to the customer and say,
"I understand you're unhappy. How can I help?"
And here's one more that's so relevant....
"Think twice before deciding not to charge for your work.
People often don't value what they don't pay for."
"FREE" doesn't build value to your work. In fact, too often it can undermine your entire pricing strategy as consumers think you must have been over-charging to begin with if you can suddenly offer something for FREE.
That's it for this Saturday - wishing everybody a wonderful weekend filled with family, friends and great memories and here's one more priceless tip:
"When opportunity knocks, invite it to stay for dinner!"
Illustration Credit: © mihaela19750405 - Fotolia.com
As we head into the weekend this is just a short post to get you thinking about an opportunity most of you overlook every day! This is about networking and using your network to find partners for various projects, contests and events.
I've written a lot about wedding photographers working together with florists, salons, bridal shops, travel agents, tux shops, caterers, etc. in targeting clients, but what about other photographers? Isn't time you stopped acting like a leper when it comes to working with other photographers on various projects?
Your best programs/promotions will often be the result of a collaboration with other artists. Here's your chance to be creative and enlist the help of another artist or two. For example, put together a summer photo contest with two other photographers.
Bruce Berg has written a lot about the Lane County Children's Contest each winter. It brings together three competing studios and has been going on for over thirty years. Check out Bruce's previous post and then work to develop your own summer program.
If nothing else, put together a postcard mailer with two other photographers and promote all three of your work. Here's an opportunity to raise awareness on a platform of "When was the last time you had a new family portrait done?" The three of you could split the production costs, purchase a list of your target audience and share the expense of the mailing itself. Direct mail continues to be strong if done right, but you don't have to carry the burden of the expense by yourself. Two partners in a project like this means you're paying 1/3 of what it would cost as a solo act.
Working together with other partners helps reduce your costs and increase your exposure and this is just one example. Plus, partners become ambassadors for each other. Lower cost, greater reach? What's not to like?
Illustration Credit: © maigi - 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.