I've done a few rants over the years, always trying to turn them into lessons to help you grow your business. My goal has always been to help photographers raise the bar on the quality of more than just their images. Well, this one has little to do with much of anything about business.
I just read recently that using "LOL" is now out of style and has been replaced by "haha". From an article in the Wall Street Journal:
The cool kids at Facebook Inc. are telling e-laughers everywhere that “haha” and emoji are in, and “lol” is out....“Haha” was the most popular choice, with more than half of all laughs, while emojis accounted for a third. It seems “lol” -- the popular acronym for laugh out loud -- is no longer hip. Only 1.9 percent of users are “lol”-ing, meaning the expression could soon be going the way of once popular phrases such as “rotfl” (rolling on the floor laughing) and “lmao” (laughing my a** off).
Look, I get it. I'm older than many of you. Obviously I have expressions that I'm comfortable with, but it took me hundreds of hours wandering through cyberspace to get used to LOL and now I'm no longer hip. Well, to the rocket scientists in the back room at Facebook I'm sending you one giant raspberry. I refuse to give up my LOL along with WTF, LMAO and KMA.
The truth is we're an industry of acronyms. We've got ISO, LED, CCD, AE, AF, AF-L, DSLR, DPI and HDR, just to name a few. Then we've got PPA, ASMP, WPPI, APA, PMA, CES and again the list goes on and on. Plus, they all think they're BFD's.
So, I'm sticking with what I like. "LOL" is one key stroke shorter than "HAHA", making it 25% more efficient. And, since time is our most valuable commodity, I'm saving time in writing and space in my posts and tweets.
Next thing you know somebody's going to tell me that Kodachrome is no longer available! LOL
Charles and Jennifer Maring have shared some terrific posts here on the SCU site. Their "how-to" lighting videos for Profoto have been terrific examples featuring everything from a single light to multiples. Then came their work with the new B2 off-camera flash system. They've been featured on podcasts as a couple. Charles recently did a mini-podcast on shooting weddings with the GH4 combined with Profoto's new off-camera flash system. They may well be one of the most diverse couples and artists in the industry, especially when it comes to "Together in Style" that touches on everything from recipes to decorating tips to photography.
Here's my point and why I'm sharing this as a blog post. On their YouTube page with the video for "Our Reel Life" it says:
Charles and Jennifer Maring are always on the go. In this web series episode 2, "Remodeled", the two are trying to balance work and life. Go behind the scenes while they remodel rooms in their home, photograph weddings and portrait sessions, and find a way to make time for their Together In Style lifestyle blog.
The issue is the challenge of balance, and we know the cameras aren't always running when the tensions are at their peak! But we all share the same challenges. All of us wear multiple hats as business owners, spouses, parents, and friends, and that's only the beginning. So often our plates are so full we lose sight of the most important goal in our lives, to simply be happy.
In all honesty, to me it's not really about balance because balance in itself is virtually impossible to achieve. However, being able to prioritize is a talent well worth working towards. Building a strong network and learning to delegate when you need help is another important factor.
If you've spent any time with Charles and Jennifer then you know they work hard to keep their priorities in line. They make it a point to find time for themselves as a couple, along with their business.
A few weeks ago I shared a post about "Success" - For me, it's not about the material things in life, but about waking up smiling every morning and looking forward to the next new challenge. By my definition, even if they weren't one of the most respected couples in photography today, the Marings would still be a rousing success!
"The real secret of success is enthusiasm."
"Wine to me is passion.
It's family and friends.
It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit."
After taking the last week off, today's Sunday Morning Reflection is as much a "test drive" to get back into the swing of things as my effort to make a point.
Knowing we were going to be on vacation, I had done a little work in advance. Each day I got up at the crack of dawn and by mid-morning had most of my normal work completed. I wanted to be able to spend the rest of the day with family and friends. It was an incredible week.
One bonus I never counted on was the impact of pure joy in spending time in the vineyards of Northeast Ohio with good friends. This is the cue for you California wine snobs to laugh. However, we found a couple of terrific vineyards. There's little in life that beats a gorgeous day, a decent bottle of wine and a cheese plate at a vineyard with good friends.
There's nothing earth-shaking in my point this morning. This is just a reminder for something we all know, but so often fail to recognize. We're all working hard, and most of us get so wrapped up in the day to day stress of business we forget what's really important.
So, take the time to smell the roses or better yet, taste the wine. Take the time to appreciate everything you have and stop worrying about what you think you still need. Even better, for those of you who are relatively new to photography, don't worry about how much you have yet to learn and appreciate how much you know right now.
Wishing everybody a wonderful Sunday and time for a glass of wine and an opportunity to remind your friends and family just how much they enrich your life. Always go for the eleven-second hugs - the longer, the better.
The image above is just under two years old. It was taken while doing a short hike not far from Michele Celentano's home. That's me, Michele, Sheila, Michele's husband Paul and the pups. It's hardly a "Throwback Thursday" image, but it's sure going to help me make a point so many of you forget.
I get that you're professional photographers and your livelihood is based on having a camera in your hands. You're involved in some aspect of shooting for clients every day of the week. The challenge is remembering to shoot for yourself. Not every image has to be perfectly posed, composed or exposed. You just need to capture those moments in your life that make memories.
For Sheila and me, Michele and Paul are pretty special friends. We don't see them often enough, but that doesn't change what a kick it is to look at this image and remember different aspects of the trip.
The image was captured with a LUMIX GH3 on a rock just in front of us and using the self-timer. It's just a grab shot and while it won't win any awards,, it's framed and on the wall in our kitchen at home, with images of other priceless moments with friends.
It's a simple point this morning - always have a camera with you, but far more important is remembering to use it! Capture those special moments in your life, because years from now every image will bring back another memory and remind you why being a photographer is the greatest job in the world!
Intro by Skip Cohen
In this new episode of Weekend Wisdom, Peter Hurley shares some outstanding insight into the art of the headshot. Great headshots are just as much about building relationships as they are technique. Headshots can also be an outstanding revenue stream for your business. Regardless of your specialty, building a reputation for capturing great headshots can become a strong component of a successful photographic business.
Even more important is your own headshot as a professional photographer. If your own headshot isn't any more than a bad selfie, what message does that send to your potential clients?
Peter is a remarkable artist and educator. Just click on any headshot above to visit his website. You'll also find more links to his websites on the Sprouting Photographer website when you click on the green banner.
A big thanks to Bryan Caporicci and Rob Nowell of SproutingPhotographer for all their support in these podcasts as well as the professional photographic industry.
"Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.
The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse,
and you may get your coat soiled or torn?
What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice?
Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Over the years, I've written some posts about failing. The truth is, there's no such thing as long as you learn something from your actions. The challenge is remembering that now and then you need to do something a little different.
Ever wander into another photographer's studio and see duct tape on the floor showing where the lights need to be for a portrait session? There's a photographer whose work always looks the same, and while it might be consistent, it sure lacks creativity.
You've got to mix it up now and then and take a risk. Years ago Tony Corbell used to suggest photographers save the last frame on the roll and shoot in a way that was totally different from everything else you had photographed. Well, today, that "roll" is endless. You've got an opportunity to experiment with every click of the shutter.
But, let's take the concept beyond your photographic technique and talk about participation in your community and the photographic industry. Take time the time to get involved with new events and community service. Attend different conventions. Meet other photographers and talk with the speakers at every convention or workshop you attend.
Photography is a career field loaded with seasoned veterans who haven't forgotten their roots. Look at the speakers for any upcoming convention you're going to attend. You'll find a group of people all willing to help you expand your skill set, but they can't help you if you're afraid to talk to them!
Emerson's quote hit home this morning because it's all about taking risks. It's time for many of you to step outside your comfort zone more often. That's when your growth as an artist will really take off.
Good friends are like stars,
You don't always see them, but you know they're always there.
It's a very different setting for this morning's Sunday morning post.
We're back in my home town of Painesville, Ohio and being that it's September, yesterday's trip to Szalay's farm stand in Akron pointed out something we just don't see much of in Florida - a distinct change in seasons. There were pumpkins everywhere, along with a three acre corn maze, dried corn stalks, Indian corn, hot cider and scene after scene to remind us we weren't in the tropical environment of Florida's gulf coast. But while all of that was fun, along with playing with a Lumix FZ1000, the best part of the day was taking the time for family and great friends.
Everybody hopefully has at least one special friend or couple who are more like family, than just friends. Well, meet Melissa and "Hoss". We always stay at their house when we're back in Ohio and it's as comfortable as being in our own home.
Here's my point: Nothing beats great friendships, but you don't get to truly appreciate them if you're always too busy to take the time to reconnect. I've written a lot about time being our most precious commodity. Well, the more you use it right, the more precious it becomes. It's a beautiful Sunday here and a family cook-out is on the agenda for later in the day.
Everybody hopefully has a series of different things that can recharge your battery. Sheila and I have a few of them and one is time with great friends and reenforcing a friendship that goes back easily 20+ years. We've chuckled over old stories and we've laughed untiI it hurts. But, if I told anybody what we were laughing about it simply wouldn't make sense.
Szalay's isn't the only thing we don't have in Florida..we don't have Melissa and Hoss!
It's one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
As always, spend time with friends and family today. Cherish those moments from the past just as much as the new memories you make today. And, as always, hug somebody you love for eleven seconds! Wishing everybody a terrific weekend!
Okay, I'm warning you this has nothing to do with imaging directly. However, it did take a couple of genius creative people to come up with the idea and the way they've put it together is wonderful. In addition, while it has nothing to with photography, it has everything to do with life.
Every day during the week I post content for the Friendship Centers here in Sarasota at BeAwareBetterCare.com. I was "fishing" in YouTube and looking for some content about aging when I stumbled on this gem. Seriously, just trust me and take the time to watch it. You won't be disappointed!
It's all thanks to the crew at CBC Radio Wire Tap and they described it as: People of all ages offer words of wisdom to their younger counterparts in this WireTap farewell video, from CBC Radio One.
I think it's time somebody takes on the same approach from younger photographers to older veterans!
For an upcoming episode of Weekend Wisdom my guest was Peter Hurley. He shared some pretty interesting ideas into what it takes to get a great headshot. Wandering through his site I found this short video hitting the highlights of his Headshot Intensive Workshop.
I'm amazed at how many photographers view doing a headshot with all the enthusiasm of a root canal! Even their own headshots on their websites show the pain. Seriously, if you're expecting people to hire you as their photographer, even if it's for a family portrait, don't they deserve to see more of you than a bad selfie?
Peter's got seven workshops coming up in the NY area in October, November and December. Just click the link above to visit his workshop schedule.
He's also got an outstanding book out and well worth a trip to Amazon. It's loaded with ideas to help you turn your headshot business into more than just a casual request now and then.
The Weekend Wisdom podcast with Peter will air on Saturday, September 19. Peter shared a lot of valuable insight into the art of a great headshot. So much of the "secret" is taking the time to get to know your client. There is no cookie cutter formula, if you truly work to build a relationship with each portrait.
If you'd like to see more of Peter's work, check out his website. Click on any of his headshots above to visit his site.
In the old days there was no "art" to selling prints. Before digital, there was no other way to look at your images. It was a relatively easy sell for professional photographers. Today, selling prints is an art and it's not an easy task. But, done right, it can be an incredibly strong part of your business. It all starts with your mindset.
In this new Weekend Wisdom podcast, my good pal, Michele Celentano talks about how she sells prints and it starts with educating her client. Without question prints are a long way from being dead. As Michele mentions, it's really gone full circle and now it's a novelty.
Several years ago Michele wrote "I Believe" which she and I talk about in this podcast.
Just to set the stage before you listen to the podcast with one of the industry's finest educators, read what she wrote. She has this as a printed piece to give to her clients and she's also given you permission to use it any time you want.
I believe in photography - but more than that I believe in photographs. Printed photographs are tangible. We can hold on to them, pass them around, frame them and hang them on a wall. We can make albums to be treasured and looked through by children for years to come.
We can’t touch a file and the truth is we don’t know the longevity of a file or if we will even be able to find it someday. A digital file is a bit of a mystery - if it’s lost, where did it go. If a drive is damaged what happens to the files? How many people truly back up all their images?
What happened to disc cameras, eight track tapes, Walkman's and other technology we thought would last forever? What will our children be looking at in 20 or 30 years? Photographs are special - files are not!
I believe in printing my work professionally. I believe my work is more than a screen saver. Years of studying and perfecting my craft comes down to more than sending files via the internet.
The photographs I create for my clients are not only precious to my clients but they are precious to me. It is my work, a lifetime of work that deserves to be printed.
Photographs are passed on to children and grandchildren. Can you imagine a floppy disk, a DVD or a flash drive sitting in a frame representing your family portraits?
Like many photographers I have struggled with bending to the needs or wants of a clientele that is looking for files. But this is what I discovered over the last year - It makes me uncomfortable in the center of my gut to hand over digital files no matter the price. Clients have told me that the DVD is still sitting on a desk and they should have had me make the prints in the first place because they never have time to get to it.
I wonder about those files that were sold.... How were they printed? Did the client crop it too tight? Is the color correct? Did they attempt to alter the image? It troubles me because I put so much of myself into my work. And, I have to wonder... am I really acting as a professional and serving my client the best way I know how to by simply selling intangible files that may never be printed?
For some, it’s easy.... take some photos, edit them, burn them on a disk or flash-drive and make a few bucks. I don’t and can’t operate that way - I care too much about my work, my clients and future generations that might have no photographs because I wanted to make fast and easy money selling files.
I’m taking a stand! I am a photographer! I am without a doubt passionate about creating photographs - real pictures - printed on professional papers - and made into beautiful albums. I want your children, their children, my children and future grandchildren looking at and holding onto photographs not the latest greatest gadget.
It has taken deep soul searching, a lot of thought and time to define the value of my work. I am taking a stand against selling files and taking a strong stand for printing my photographs.
If being a business owner and photographer today means the current market will force me to sell files not photographs and to compromise my work and my values - well then, I’m out.
But, that won’t happen! I know it won’t because I know there are people and clients who value my work, understand and respect the value I have placed on my work and actually want photographs.
I am Michele Celentano , a professional photographer - I believe in and value photography and the images we leave for our children. My work and your portraits will be professionally printed to my standards, they will be available to frame and look at in albums...
The portraits I create for you will not become a part of your screen saver slide show. I have worked too hard and taken too much pride in my work for that to happen. I will not take the risk that in 20 years we will be a generation of lost photographs.
There I stand!
Images copyright Michele Celentano. All rights reserved.
I started this series at ShutterFest last April and then let it morph into a few blog posts. Well, it's time to hit number six on this list, "Publicity". There's so much to this topic, and it's so critical to building your business and your brand.
"What good is working so hard if nobody knows who you are?"
Sadly, a lot of you think publicity just randomly happens. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. While there are obviously things that make it into the news on their own, they're at the extremes and usually catastrophic in nature.
Announcements and events related to your business need to be shared manually - there is no auto or "P" mode! For example, ever pick up the local paper or visit your community website online and see a story about one of your competitors? That story or photograph is in the news because they worked to get it there. The days of journalists driving around the community looking for things to write about died with Jimmy Olson and Superman!
The biggest challenge is always the same - looking for things that are newsworthy. Most of the time I hear photographers say, "There's nothing here to write about!" The truth is, there's always something to write about, and the odds are good that at some point, if you're patient, a local publication will pick up the story.
In this month's issue of Shutter Magazine I've shared a whole list of things you need to do to become a publicity machine and even several templates you're welcome to plagiarize. My article has far more content than I have room to share in a blog post. Since the online version of Shutter Magazine is FREE, just click the link below to sign up and read the full story, starting on page 134.
With every article online there's a video supporting the theme. The video above was my way to make the point about publicity, and it's so true. If you don't make a little noise on your own, then you might as well join me in a corn field in Nebraska! Think of it as me doing my version of "Where's Waldo"! Trust me, I'm back there somewhere.
Oh, and while you're enjoying the online edition, check out the opportunity to get it in hard copy each month. It's a stunning magazine loaded with great content to help you raise the bar on the quality of every aspect of your business as a professional photographer. Plus, with an "Elite+" subscription, check out the savings from a long list of incredible vendors!
It's the first morning in years when I slept in. What a concept - actually sleeping until you wanted to get up versus needing to wake up and work. I'm in pre-trip stress mode as I try and get a little ahead of things before we hit the road again.
Sunday Morning Reflections are always about something other than photography, and as I was sitting here thinking about what was on my mind, I realized how happy I am. While I miss a few family members who turned out to be judgmental phonies, I simply love my life. Thinking about my journey over the last eight years led me to a couple of great quotes by two well-respected writers.
About all you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for you.
Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won't like you at all.
Rita Mae Brown
I urge you to please notice when you are happy,
and exclaim or murmur or think at some point,
"If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."
So take it from one happy old fart: Just be the best you can be and stop worrying about what anybody else thinks. There are only two people who matter in your life - you and the face looking back at you in the mirror. Let yourself appreciate everything you've done to be where you are today, even the mistakes.
Each mistake you've made in your life has been just as important as the decisions you made that were right. Everything you've done has been a building block helping you to grow and become a better person, artist and business owner.
So, enjoy today. Cherish those special people closest to you and just stay focused on being who you are. Shakespeare's line of, "To thine own self be true," couldn't be more important or accurate. Hug the people you love and for that one special person, make it the full eleven seconds!
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday and a day filled with happiness and as Kurt Vonnegut put it, "If that isn't nice then I don't know what is!"
The purpose of Throwback Thursday couldn't be more simplistic - it's about the fun of looking at old images and recognizing their power to be mini time machines, transporting us to another place. Well, that's the more sophisticated way to put it. The truth is, old images are a kick to look at; think about the stories they represent and then, keep that in perspective with your clients.
This one is from 2004. In all honesty, I have no idea what dive trip we were on, except that it was somewhere in the Caribbean and taken by my good pal, Kayce Baker. I wound up calling it "Skip's Turtle" which is hardly accurate since this guy let a few of us swim with him. However, an encounter with turtles, dolphins, eels or any big sociable critter in the ocean is one of those very special things that keeps you diving.
Every Throwback image always brings out stories. This one, in particular, got me thinking about friends I haven't seen in a long time, which prompted me to share a few great stories with Sheila about the dive trips we used to do. At one point, we probably had twenty divers on the "call list" any time when a trip was being put together. In fact, in the early 2000's we did a lot of diving with the Aggressor Fleet. As a result, they treated us like a retail dive shop, not just with the discounts, but often with control of the schedule and itinerary for the trip.
Tim Walden, in a recent podcast, talked about the value of an image, in this case, a fine art portrait. He and Beverly don't sell fine art prints; they sell family heirlooms destined to be handed down to future generations. If you haven't listened to the podcast, just click on the link below. It's a pretty remarkable approach to establishing a higher value for your work.
While "Skip's Turtle" is hardly a family heirloom, it still helps make the point. Take a few minutes this morning and go through that box of old images. Then, share the story on your blog for your clients to read. It's great content and the perfect reminder of the magic you bring to their lives along with the power of every image.
Like most of you, I'm taking Labor Day off, but not without wishing everybody a terrific Monday holiday.
Looking back at Labor Day as a kid, it was always a family day, usually grill-centric. Remember, I'm one of those old guys who grew up around an inexpensive charcoal grill with a rotating cooking surface that rusted out every other season. It wasn't until I was at least a senior in high school my Dad got one of the first "hard-wired" gas grills and the flashback leads to one of my favorite stories.
We had family over for the traditional Labor Day barbecue. Some time around November we had the first big snow and I remember Dad trying to figure out why there was no snow in a 10-12 foot circle around the grill. It was just a big circle of green grass. It turns out he hadn't shut the thing off since Labor Day! Obviously the cost of gas back then was minimal - if you did that today you'd need to take out a second mortgage to pay the bill.
And on that note, wishing everybody a terrific Labor Day or just a great Monday, if you're outside the US and it's not a holiday for you. It's a great day for time with family and that last hurrah before the seasons really change. Thanks for being a part of SCU - See you tomorrow!
It's not my usual scenario for Sunday Morning Reflections. Normally I like going off track while enjoying the solitude of our house in the early hours. However, this morning I'm at Dragon Con, and while it's quiet right now, it won't be for long.
The last two days of the convention got me thinking about our industry. Every year for the last 27 years, gaming, fantasy and sci-fi enthusiasts have gotten together for a series of workshops, presentations, panel discussions, a parade and a trade show. It's spread out over at least five hotels in downtown Atlanta, and my guess is they broke 70,000 attendees this year.
This is only a short post with a very simple concept. We're all passionate about the craft, but only a percentage of you participate in the industry. I can't imagine our industry ever gaining the popularity of a Dragon Con, but I can envision a convention where everybody gets involved. Where people come to share with each other and learn about everything new technology is bringing to the party, and where a community supports each other all year long.
This isn't meant to be an infomercial for ShutterFest, but right now it's the closest to starting what Dragon Con must have looked like 27 years ago. Here's my point: Even ShutterFest needs the full support of the community to survive and more importantly grow.
I've said this before, but it fits so well this morning...
You can choose to be in the parade and be involved, or sit on the sidelines and just watch it all go by. Photography is an amazing career field and even more incredible as an art form. It deserves everything we can do to help it keep growing - but that means you have to put the same passion into the industry as you do each click of the shutter.
Every hotel has a jam-packed lobby of enthusiasts with a good percentage in full costume. These aren't just ordinary costumes but visions people have often spent a year making themselves.