When I started to think about Throwback Thursday this morning I was briefly distracted by one of those throwback videos from Facebook. Today is evidently 9 years since I joined Facebook. While some of these little reminders can really be heartfelt, this one caught me off guard. Look, I get it, they're computer generated and there's no human heart involved in any of them, but every now and then they hit a nerve.
Well this morning just made me chuckle. As the computer generated anniversary card played Facebook seems to forget one of the highlights of my nine years - throwing me out because they decided my name wasn't really "Skip." While my license shows my legal name, Steven, I had no legal documents showing "Skip." I actually sent them book reviews from Amazon, descriptions of workshops where I had spoken and eventually my birth announcement in a post to Mark Zuckerberg. But, because it's rare to find a live body, they still kept up the challenge!
But here's where the fun of this industry came into play, my friends stepped in. Nothing beats the value of your network when you need an "army" of support!
Scott Bourne put out a tweet along with a few dozen other people confirming my name to Facebook. Then Brent Watkins hit the topic with what's become my most favorite Facebook memory, his "Free Skip" campaign.
Going back only two years hardly qualifies as a Throwback Thursday contribution, so I decided to make this a double-header. There are boxes, envelopes and file folders all over our house, and you never know when an old photograph is going to show up.
I ran across this stellar print last weekend and have no idea why my folks wanted it as an 8x10. When I showed it to Sheila, I said, "Being dressed like this, it's amazing I grew up being able to dress myself!" Now, remember some of the reasons I fell in love with the lady are her humor, sarcasm, and wit. Her response was simply, "You still can't!"
I'm guessing I'm around ten in this image. Notice the fire hydrant behind me. Five years later, technically not old enough to drive, I backed my Dad's brand new Oldsmobile into it. I was moving it to shoot some hoops in the driveway while trying to impress the college coed next door. I hid under my bed the rest of the day!
And that brings me full circle to the fun of Throwback Thursday - the memories old photographs bring back and the smiles they put on our faces. My dad only shot Ektachrome, so I have no idea why he'd want a print unless they were thinking of putting me up for adoption! LOL, I scanned it in color because that pale faded orange tone is so representative for the period!
Wishing everybody a terrific Throwback Thursday and one loaded with memories that make you smile. Don't forget to use your throwbacks to remind your clients of the importance of capturing those memories - the kids are changing every day and growing up so fast!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
When I first shared this video four years ago it was at four million views. Today it's coming up on eight million. Still, I'm betting many of you haven't seen it. In just over a minute it brings together one famous personality after another, reminding us:
"If you haven't failed, you haven't lived."
The same thing seems to happen every year as we go into the fourth quarter, photographers get reflective. Business often picks up to an unreasonable pace, and at the same time things are good, they're not always in the direction you hoped for when you started. I love the way this video puts it all in perspective and reminds us to simply never give up!
The last frame says: "Life = Risk" and it reminds me of the challenges we all take every day as business owners. I've quoted this old proverb before:
"Smooth seas don't make skilled sailors!"
Between technology, the economy, consumer trends and each of our own personal fears, we're all sailing through the perfect storm every day. It's time for us all to soar!
Intro by Skip Cohen
This post by good buddy Scott Bourne is from the SCU archives, but couldn't be more appropriate this time of year!
We're coming up to the fourth quarter, the one time of year when seasonality clearly plays a role in consumer purchasing, especially with photography. Scott's tips couldn't be more in line with things so many of you need to do to make buying easier for your clients.
One thing to add to Scott's list is the diversity of the products you offer. Don't forget about slide presentations, canvas prints, images printed on other materials and various album sizes. One call to your lab asking the question, "What's new?" should give you a much larger list of products to consider than what you might normally offer.
by Scott Bourne
I am often amazed that many professional photographers don't understand this simple truth. If you make it hard for someone to do business with you, they will visit your competition.
It's not enough to have a great camera - a great studio - a great portfolio. You also need a great business model. And that business model better be customer-friendly or your business will be short-lived.
Here are a few steps you can take to make it easy for people to do business with you.
1. Be easy to find and easy to reach. Plaster your phone number, studio address (if you have one), website address, and your email address all over everything that you print, share, distribute or publish. If the customer can't reach you, they won't do business with you.
2. Have business hours that meet your customer's needs, not your own. I consulted with a new studio in Seattle several years ago. The family that ran it told me they wouldn't open on Saturdays because that was their day to have fun as a family. What? Saturday is the busiest day in most wedding and portrait studios. Your clients aren't professional photographers. They have other jobs and those jobs typically force them to work 9-5, Monday through Friday. That means you need to be open for them evenings and weekends. Yes that is hard. Which is why we call it a JOB!
3. Be sure your terms of service are customer friendly. Don't force your clients to sign 15-page contracts. That will scare them away. You should be able to get the basics down to one page or less.
4. We live in a digital age so get used to the fact that digital products are going to be important to your clients. The old days of hanging on to the files to force customers into a print sale are going away. And there's no reason to fear this change. Just charge more money to cover the cost of the print sales you might have made when you release the digital files. It's the money we care about not the format of the sale. Guy Kawasaku and I were talking about this recently. He made several good points speaking strictly from a consumer's point of view. He has a family. His wife and children have their portraits made. He wants the digital files. He's willing to pay for them, but the photographer says, "That's not my business model." To which Guy replies, "That's not my buying model." If your business model doesn't match your client's buying model then you are on your way out of business.
5. Have samples to show prospects. Remember that just because YOU know what that frame looks like, doesn't mean your client does. Take advantage of the samples offered by your lab and album company, and make sure you have something to show your clients. You can't sell what you can't show. Conversely, you always sell what you show.
6. Accept all forms of payment. Worried about bounced checks? Do some due diligence. Ask for photo ID, only accept checks with the correct name and address on them. If it's a large check, excuse yourself while the client looks at samples and call the bank to verify the check. Accept money orders from major companies, then familiarize yourself with their samples so you know what to look for in case of a fraudulent instrument. Again, excuse yourself and call Western Union or the Post Office with the Money Order number and ask if it is good. Accept cash, and get one of those pens that verifies US currency if you live in the USA. Accept credit cards.
7. Offer guarantees. Zig Ziglar taught me that fear is the number one reason people don't go forward with a purchase. So help eliminate fear by offering guarantees. Most of your vendors will offer guarantees on the products they sell, so pass them on to your clients. Guarantee your prints. Since the incremental cost is so small to remake a print, it's worth the occasional make good to keep customers happy. (During 15 years of operating a retail studio I offered lifetime guarantees on my prints and never ever, even once, had to replace a print for a client.)
I could easily go on here, but I think you get the point. As I've shared in other posts on this site, when it comes to marketing, you are not important; your customer is. It's THEIR comfort and safety that matters, not yours. If you make THEM happy, then you'll end up happy. Make it easy for people to do business with you. It's simple. It's a choice. Make it.
This is one of those blog posts that's hard for me to categorize because there are so many elements I'm hoping you'll think about. It's about relationship building, pursuing your dreams, building your skill set and redefining various aspects of your business. It's also about friendships, and Brad Walsh is a prime example.
Brad and I first met when I was doing "Skip's Summer School." His full-time job was with Ernst & Young, but he had that dream, so many of you have of one day being a full-time artist. We've kept in touch through Facebook, and a few months ago he went full-time as a photographer. On Thursday he shared a post about some of his images being featured as part of the office decor for his old employer.
I had a meeting yesterday with the powers that be...and selected the 6 pieces that will adorn the walls...EY has provided me with this opportunity and has given me the chance to share my work...It will be an incredible feeling to walk through the building and see MY ART hanging on the walls...I am able to leave a legacy with the firm after working there for 12 1/2 years. I am so thankful and appreciative to the people that provided this opportunity to me.
Here are the points that made me want to share this small part of Brad's story:
Believe in your dreams. They were given to you for a reason.
Last on the list is about friendships. I haven't spent a lot of time with Brad, but there's respect for what he's doing and the dream he's chasing. For years I've said the best thing about this industry has nothing to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Well, as hokey as it sounds, I couldn't be more proud of what Brad's accomplishing. It's going to be a kick to watch his business and style change and grow in the years ahead.
So, to Brad, nicely done buddy, and to all of you chasing your dreams, whether you're just starting or a seasoned veteran:
You're never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream!
I do it because I can. I can because I want to. I want to because you said I couldn't.
It's the perfect topic for a Sunday Morning Reflections post. It's also timely with a post I'm sharing tomorrow about good buddy, Brad Walsh. I'm not sure what got me thinking about how many of you are chasing your dreams, and how many give up too early.
At one time or another most of us have felt the pressure from friends, family or just our inner voice challenging a dream. Too often people give up, just when that dream is coming into focus. I chose the word "focus" intentionally because there is no auto-focus when it comes to your dreams. There's no button to push that suddenly gives you the sharpness right where you want it most. We're all in manual mode and focus is a daily ritual.
This is a short post this morning, but I hope, not without substance. Learn to listen to your heart. It doesn't matter how unrealistic your dream might seem. It's your dream and as hokey as it sounds, Walt Disney said it best,
All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.
If dreams were easy to chase we'd never need them. Everybody would have the life they wanted - complete satisfaction with no effort probably followed by an apathy about life! Dreams are meant to be complex, labor intensive and rewarding, which makes them worth it.
Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than your comfort zone.
So, on this beautiful sunny morning from South Florida, I'm wishing everybody a day filled with the time to appreciate some aspect of the journey you're on, chasing your dreams. Achieving a dream comes in hundreds of small steps, which so often we miss. Take the time today to appreciate how far you've come. Think back a couple of years and give yourself a big pat on the back for how much you've accomplished. Then, go for an eleven-second hug with somebody who's been with you on the journey!
Wishing you a day filled with peace, smiles and lots of love from the people most important to you.
Happy Sunday everybody!
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
We're part of a career choice requiring a never-ending quest for education. From technique and your photographic skills to marketing and running your business, there's so much from which to choose. Sadly not every workshop, conference, and program are worth your time or investment.
Well, here's an opportunity that keeps on giving you the educational support you need. If you've followed Sue Bryce over the years then you know she can teach, and more importantly inspire. Nobody can teach you creativity, but a great educator can help you find that sweet spot to better develop those visions you have in your mind's eye. Sue recently surrounded herself with seven of the finest artists and educators in photography at the Portrait Masters Conference.
It's an incredible lineup, and although the conference is over, she's made the videos available as part of membership in Sue Bryce Education. Just click on any of the icons below for more information.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Jenn Bruno Smith is back with a terrific guest post and topic - your workflow.
I'm always surprised how many artists get in trouble because they lack organizational skills, and fail to do anything about it. I get it, you're artists and "right-brainers" - creativity and passion are your strong suits, not your operational skills. However, here's the sad part - you continue to run amuck, when there are so many ways for you to change the pattern of chaos you've created.
Jenn and I met thanks to AIBP (Association of International Boudoir Photographers) and our mutual friend Erin Zahradka. Jenn's core business is boudoir photography. Click on the image she shared with her post to visit her website. She's also got a wonderfully diverse skill set and love for children and family photography (LaBella Vita Photography).
A big thanks to Jenn for sharing some solid tips to help us all get more organized. In fact, reading her post gave me a few ideas to consider in my own business!
by Jenn Bruno Smith
As creatives I think we can all agree: organization is not our first language. But having a productive workflow is essential to running a business—so how do you find balance?
Ultimately, your productivity affects not only your business, but the quality of your customer service. Nobody writes glowing reviews about a business when it was a month late on delivery. And they sure as hell don’t recommend those businesses to their friends. A golden rule of customer service is you need to deliver when you say you’re going to deliver. Ready to make the leap? Here’s how you can get from stacks of chaos on your desk to becoming a workflow master.
1. Find What Works For You
Taking time to see what’s going wrong is the first step in making it right. What’s limiting you from providing your customers with the best possible experience? Once you’ve taken time to write these things down, set some boundaries!
For me, this means giving myself 1-2 weeks between the shoot and the in-person ordering appointment. For you this might look like scheduling more time to edit photos, or scheduling more time in between individual client sessions. Be intentional about noting where you’re struggling with workflow, make a timeline, and KEEP IT ON YOUR DESK! Also, clear off your desk. Nobody has time for that mess.
2. Use a Client Relationship Management Platform
Also known as a CRM, Client Relationship Management software will have your clients feeling like gold regardless of where your schedule (or your mind) is. Whether you opt for something like Dubsado, or a different system to get organized, having this in place will seriously change the way you work. It has changed my life- for the better!
3. Don’t Overextend Yourself
Believe me, I know how hard it is to rein yourself in when you’re an entrepreneur. We all hate to turn away clients. But there has to be a point where you stop and evaluate whether the work you’re taking on is building or breaking your workflow. Is your work and client experience suffering because of how much you’re taking on? When potential clients reach out, make sure you take that extra minute to evaluate whether having their business will be an asset to your business, in the long run.
4. Be Predictable
Creatively you should always be looking for fresh and new ways to evolve your business, but when it comes to management, predictable is what customers are looking for. If you aren’t well organized then your clients aren’t going to feel comfortable giving you their business. It’s important for them to know how and when you’re going to meet their needs. Set up a schedule and boundaries for how you’re going to make sure products are delivered on time—every time.
When it comes down to it, finding a successful workflow will not only save you time, but it will also allow you to build a stronger customer experience. Make the investment in your business, yourself, and your customers by taking the time to plan out your work. Ultimately, it will save you a whole lot of stress.
Every now and then there's a moment in my life that leaves me shaking my head over my own stupidity, but as the world continues to become a smaller place, here's a lesson in time zones that's worth sharing.
I'm a big fan of Profoto. Yes, they're an SCU partner, but I've worked with a lot of their team for a whole bunch of years. I genuinely like the company, the people and the quality of their products. So, when they asked me to help spread the word on a live streaming event today, I jumped on the opportunity to help.
I posted the link on Twitter and all over Facebook yesterday and then this morning, but there's a difference between CET and CST! CET was the time zone. As I shared the event, I only thought CST, thinking we were tuning into live-streaming half an hour ago. NOT! The live streaming event took place at 3:30 AM EST.
Sorry for the confusion and sending so many of you to a live event that had passed. But here's the scoop in real time right now - The A1 is pretty remarkable and has the potential to change the way many of you shoot, having a lot more longevity than my ability to think through the time zones! LOL
The trailer for the new Profoto A1 featuring good buddy Sal Cincotta is below. I also wanted to share the "First Look" video from Adorama TV featuring another great friend, Vanessa Joy.
Check it out further with a click on the A1 above. Profoto never slows down in working to raise the bar on the quality of your skill set and the images you capture!
Oh, if only it were that easy! Just a push of a button and your new business as a full-time photographer would just take off. Well, there is no start button, but if you do your homework your road to success will be a lot smoother!
Lately, it seems like once a week somebody puts out a tweet or Facebook post they're about to make the move to being a full-time photographer. Along with that statement is often a collection of comments related to anxiety and fear. However, when a photographer gets to the point of giving up their day job, it usually means the passion for the craft has taken over.
I've been in this industry my entire adult life, and I've seen so many great passionate photographers make the same mistakes. There's nothing wrong with pursuing your dream of being a full-time artist, but when you jump in, and you're not prepared, that's when the pain starts.
So, let's start with talking about your fear. If you've developed a solid skill set, that's the first thing you need on your side. Remember, any moron can get their first client. The key is getting the second, third and fourth ones, and then getting that first one to come back. Photography isn't a career path where you can fake it 'til you make it!
Getting out on your own is supposed to create a little fear - if it didn't then everybody would be doing it. It took me most of my life to finally get out on my own, and I was terrified when leaving a terrific job as President of WPPI and Rangefinder Magazine over eight years ago.
What was I afraid of? Failure! This is the part where my wife, Sheila, played such an important role and it's something everybody needs when you make a change like this - a great support network, whether it's just one person or a whole bunch of friends and family.
Let's hit a few things you can do to help pave the way to building a strong foundation for building your business.
Start with direct mail - a personal letter to all of your past clients. Unless you've been a complete bozo, your past clients are your best ambassadors. Then send a similar message to all vendors in your community associated with your specialty - it's pretty much anybody who might need photographic support from a headshot to product images.
Next on the list is your blog...your website is about what you sell, your blog is about what's in your heart. The two play together, and it's great to share the topic of exciting things you want to be able to share with the community. Don't express your fears - only the excitement of new products/services you're going to offer (call your lab, album company, and framer). You don't need to show your fears - this isn't about lack of confidence, but your excitement to have so much community support that you have to go full-time.
What are you doing to make yourself different from everybody else? Look for things that aren't being done in your community and then make that part of what you offer. Get involved in your community! People like buying products and services from companies they perceive as giving back. You want the community to be good to you, so you better make damn sure you're good to your community.
Do a complete website makeover! Many of you do boudoir and glamour shots, but you never look at your own website or Facebook page and consider the need for a "makeover." Start with your "About" section, and it should be in the first person and only 3-4 paragraphs about why you love being a photographer/artist. This is about writing an artist's statement - nobody cares what you shoot with, how many awards you've won or how you got started - this is about sharing your heart.
CLEAN UP THOSE GALLERIES! If it's not a "wow" print, then dump it. Always ask, "If this was the only image I could show, would I get hired?" If the answer is "No" then don't put it up on your site.
Pound the pavement - identify every business owner within a couple of square miles of your location and walk in and introduce yourself. You don't have to sell anything, just let them know your skill set as an artist and photographer in the community and your availability to help with any of their photographic needs.
Start a networking luncheon - get everyone together once a month who has anything to do with your target audience. You're looking for an inexpensive place for lunch, hopefully with a private room. For boudoir: if you're full-time, you will invite managers from a spa or two, salon, florist, women's clothing, etc. Weddings are more obvious with florists, bakers, venues, salons, tux shops, travel agents, limo companies, wedding planners, caterers, etc. Imagine the network you'd start to build if you were seated in between a florist and a caterer. Pets and Children would have the same kind of logical "partners."
Don't forget to include a few photographers in your networking luncheon - you can't shoot every job that comes your way! Look to build relationships with people whose skill sets compliment yours.
Put your phone number on your website! Give people a way to contact you along with your email address - do NOT go with just a template contact form. You want to respond to each request with incredible speed! A fast response time is going to help separate you from most of your competitors.
Start building relationships with potential partners to cross-promote. For example, a spa, a makeup artist, and a photographer might be perfect to share the cost of a postcard mailing along with an email blast to women who fit the demographics for a boudoir session. Wedding photographers could easily partner with a florist and a caterer. You don't need any more than 2-3 partners in any promotion.
Share the cost of promoting each other's business, but don't stop there. Cross-promote with special offers on each other's products and services. This is about relationship building and what makes it so compelling is that each partner becomes an ambassador for the other companies.
It's okay to be nervous about stepping things up, especially if you're about to give up your day job - but there are a whole bunch of ideas here to help you make those first steps more successful! The more I look at the list so far; the more appropriate these points are not just for starting a new business but relaunching one that's stalled.
Most important of all stay focused on your dream and don't let the "Negators" in your life get to you. They're only jealous of your passion!
Good luck - you know where to find me if I can help.
Don't let anyone say you can't do it!
I'm back to a typical Sunday morning, but having a hard time thinking through how to explain what I want to share. I don't want this to be another blog post about living through a hurricane. Unlike so many people who lost everything starting with Harvey and continuing through Irma, we were lucky, but there is a common denominator, the fear that comes with having little or no control over your destiny.
Being in a danger zone, like the path of a hurricane, changes your focus. No pun intended, but it is an accurate analogy. It's the life equivalent of taking your camera off auto-focus and shooting manually. Suddenly you have to decide where to focus. You not only change your priorities but realize how wrong your focus might have been.
But, there were a few highlights that got us through the crisis:
"Change your priorities and you change your life."
I found the quote above when I was trying to find a way to make my point this morning. There's nothing earthshaking in what I learned over the last week, but I am surprised how much I found out about our material life. All the "stuff" in our life just doesn't matter.
As we sat in the darkness last Sunday night, listening to Irma's roar the only thing that mattered was our health and supporting each other. I found myself far more spiritual than I would have thought, repeatedly having short conversations with God, not only asking for help getting through it all but repeated thanks when it was over.
So, here's the Sunday morning scenario - Sheila's got her gospel station playing. It's a weekly ritual that goes back to the music she listened to as a kid on Sundays. Molly is asleep at my feet having already been out, brushed and fed. I'm finishing this post and couldn't be more content with whatever today brings. No plans at all - just a quiet, peaceful non-event Sunday.
Dancing with Irma this past week has readjusted my priorities - nothing matters without Sheila, great friends, and our health. Sadly it's taken me 700 words to say that - but then it wouldn't be a blog post! LOL
Wishing everybody a Sunday filled with your top priorities, eleven-second hugs, peace and simply being content. Take the time to write down the six most important things in your life. If you could only take these things in the lifeboat - what would they be?
Happy Sunday everybody!
Now and then a book comes along I want everybody to have on their shelf, written by an author I want each one of you to meet. Well, at least in cyberspace I can almost make that happen - it's time to meet Art Wolfe.
We all have our favorite industry icons/heroes and Art's one of mine. In fact, we recorded an episode of "Why?" together last year.
He's got a new book due out in late October and it's destined to be one of the more special holiday gift purchases of the year. Think about it for just a second - we're buried in email and digital communications.
We capture our news and often reading material on a computer, Kindle or facsimile - but Earth is My Witness will be a stunning hardbound book filled with remarkable images capable of transporting each of us to Art's side as he travels the globe. Images you can touch and stare at, almost as if you're looking down the lens barrel in Art's hand!
"Uniquely conceived and undeniably breathtaking, Earth Is My Witness contains a wealth of recent photographs as well as some of the most striking images from throughout Art Wolfe’s widely celebrated career."
I don't usually write about book releases, and I have no stake in this. But like many of you who have met Art, I'm just proud to have worked with him over the years and excited about the release of his new book! Click the cover above to visit Art's website for ordering information and then stay tuned - anticipated delivery at the end of October.
P.S. Happy Birthday Art! (Kind of fun putting out this post on the guy's birthday.)
Images copyright Art Wolfe. All rights reserved.
This is anything but a typical Sunday Morning Reflections post, but stay with me, what I’m learning through this process is well worth sharing.
We’re hunkered down in Sarasota, and over the next twenty-four hours, Irma is going to have her way with us. It’s only a little over a week ago that our hearts were going out to Texas. I shared a post with five organizations you could donate to if you wanted to help, never imagining I’d be in a similar boat today.
Here’s the abbreviated backstory…
We live south of Sarasota, just a couple houses from the inland waterway and a mile from the beach. As Irma moved north, our neighborhood had a voluntary evacuation order. We decided to stay. At 2:00 pm on Friday it became mandatory.
Now the question was where to go. Earlier in the week I had gassed both cars, made sure we had cash, canned goods, and water, and had the flashlights all ready, even back up power for cell phones and my laptop.
We could drive north, check into a shelter or move inland to our old house, which fortunately is up for sale, but unoccupied. It was in a safer zone with no evacuation order because it’s inland. We chose the house, also giving us the opportunity to get home as quickly as possible after Irma’s exit.
I know we made a logical decision and in fact, nobody in our old neighborhood left, but as the winds howl and we wait until tonight when Irma officially moves into the “hood” there’s a feeling I’ve never felt before…it’s called fear.
I’ve been nervous before with the butterflies I get before speaking at a convention or for many of you, that first wedding or event you’re about to shoot. You take a few breaths, and it passes, but this is different. But the butterflies have turned into flying gargoyles, and I found myself laughing at an expression our friend Holly used once, “Don’t make me bring out the flying monkeys!”
This is pure unadulterated fear of the unknown. It’s sweaty palms, a little bit of a shake in my hands and voice, a dryness in my mouth that feels like I’ve been eating sand all night. Lack of sleep has me looking more like Yoda than my old self. I find myself second-guessing which room is the best safe room in the house; when should we go into it; how will we know when it’s all clear. I think about how nice a hotel room almost anywhere in Georgia would feel right now.
I’m also thinking about how much Sheila means to me, and how much I love our life and oh yeah, want to keep it. And that’s where the ah-ha moment comes in. We’re here, and we’re together. While it’s not the very safest place on the planet, there’s no danger of the storm surge and while being in a Marriott in Atlanta would be safe and secure – we’ve never done anything the easy way.
Irma’s helping me understand my priorities, test my convictions and appreciate the safety we do have versus what so many others are facing in Key West, Miami and other parts of the world.
She’s also helped me appreciate the incredible network of friends and associates who have helped me this week. Prayers, good wishes and even some sound advice for dealing with our first hurricane.
So, on this anything but typical Sunday, I wish all of you safety, peace and an appreciation for everything in your life that makes you smile. Sheila’s getting hugs lasting a lot longer than eleven seconds – so don’t feel limited on the time you put into reminding those people most important to you how much you care.
Happy Sunday everybody – stay safe!
PS Irma is a taunting mistress. I’m never without my FZ300 and at sunset last night, literally the calm before the storm, the sunset was incredible, from all angles.
"I'm going to be joined by seven master portrait photographers including
Peter Hurley, Lindsay Adler, Joel Grimes, Michele Celentano, Susan Stripling, and Kelly Brown
with a closing keynote presented by
legendary portrait photographer Joyce Tenneson."
Every now and then there's an educational opportunity all of you should know about! Sue Bryce Education has put together an outstanding program and it's all live streaming starting on Sunday, September 10.
All of the information you need is available with a click on any of the industry icons above!
Over the last two years, I'm not sure how many times I've shared posts that included something about the power of slide shows. A presentation bringing together still images, video, and great music is an outstanding way for you to demonstrate your skill set, together with the passion you have for your clients.
While I know passion is probably the most over used word in our industry, it's the one that best fits how so many of you feel about your business and the career path you chose long ago. You can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it.
Well, a great slide show gives you a chance to show your target audience just how much heart you put into every click of the shutter! And now, working together with the Photodex team we want to recognize the best self-promotional video we can find!
We'll be sharing the winning video just about everywhere, including a full press release. Plus, there's a better than good chance we'll share a few of the entries along the way. And, to make it worth the effort the winner is about to put in, there's a prize package worth close to $2000!
I know many of you think of slideshows as old technology, but it's anything but! A well done self-promotional video is the best way to introduce each potential client to who you are, especially on your website or blog. Plus, with today's hybrid technology and Photodex you can easily pull together still images, video and great music!
Just click on either of the two banners above for more information and the contest rules.
I know this is more of a Sunday Morning Reflections topic, but living in Southwest Florida, there's a lot more on my mind this morning.
Last week, along with the rest of the world, we watched the news in horror of the damage created by "Harvey." I found myself wishing I lived closer to Texas to be able to do something besides donate to support groups I shared in a blog post.
My buddy Mike Fulton posted the image on the right on his Facebook page. He was standing in front of his mother's house after bringing food and beer to neighbors who were helping to keep an eye on the neighborhood. Over and again, his story has been repeated as the community around him has all pitched in, working together to rebuild.
Well, this morning I find myself identifying with Mike and other friends even more. We live in south Florida, just two houses from the inland waterway and less than a mile from the open ocean. "Irma" has laid claim to Florida and is headed our way.
We're getting a firsthand experience as Sheila, and I go through our what if scenarios. What I've discovered in the process, even though the storm hasn't arrived yet, is an incredible awareness for more of what friends in Texas went through before "Harvey's" arrival. Take a second, regardless of where you live and ask yourself,
"If there was a chance I was about to lose everything material in my life, what would I try and save?"
As we took our daily walk around the neighborhood this morning, we noticed a few houses with storm shutters. Not very many, but I feel like one of the two little pigs - the ones who built their houses out of sticks and straw. Yeah, hindsight is always 20/20.
We've done all the things you're supposed to do to prepare. From canned goods to cases of water, plenty of batteries, candles, and fully charged phones - we're ready, but for what? If we have to evacuate, we've got our list. But there's a secondary list that ranges from making sure I grab the box of old photographs to Sheila wanting the movers to come in and just load up a truck!
But here's something interesting that happens - after you prepare, make your list and have your exit plan, there's one last step in the process - you simply pray. Regardless of what your religious affiliation might be, you find yourself saying these little one liner prayers that always start out, "Please God..."
In the end, like so many friends in Texas have already learned - the final most important prayer is for the safety of the people you love. Nothing you physically own matters. Family heirlooms, furniture, old photographs, even camera gear - they all finish behind your family and friends.
So, as we brace ourselves and wait for "Irma" to pound on our door, my thoughts and prayers still go out to friends in Texas along with so many friends and neighbors here in south Florida.
"Keep praying, but be grateful that God's answers are wiser than your prayers."
Image copyright Ian Plant. All rights reserved.
If there's one thing the "Why?" series doesn't lack it's variety. Remember, I started this to introduce you to the movers and shakers in imaging, but each artist has brought so much more to the table!
Ian Plant is in the "Why?" spotlight today with a phenomenal image captured with Tamron's SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD lens. He's a testimonial to the fun of cyberspace. Ian and I have never met face to face, but thanks to my relationship with Tamron USA, we've got a great "cyber-friendship" going. Plus, we've all been introduced to his images. As a Tamron Image Master many of his images are featured with Tamron's product information.
Ian's diversity in photography is only over-shadowed by his love for the craft. From people to critters, big and small, and on to stunning landscapes, even volcanoes, I'm not sure there's any subject missing from his portfolio!
Here's another point to capturing an image like this...the stare from the lion is pure terror and redefines the meaning of an intense and serious stare. I had some fun finding two of my favorite actors, Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Hopkins with similar expressions!
To see more of Ian's work, click on the image above before the lion takes your hand!
It's Labor Day and I'm taking the rest of the day off, but I always like to start this post with a reminder of what the holiday represents. Over the years, for most of us, it's become one more great excuse to fire up the grill, bring out the hot dogs and beer and toast the end of the summer.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the holiday is “a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” Labor Day is a “yearly national tribute” to the “contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.”
Wandering around YouTube I found this short video from History.com:
Here's my challenge: Labor Day is a North American holiday celebrated in the US and Canada, but I have readers, mostly photographers from all over the world. So, wishing everybody a Happy Labor Day isn't appropriate.
And, if you're outside Texas, but still looking for ways you can help, I shared this post the other day. Click on the banner below to link to any of the five different non-profits.
Sunday Morning Reflections started as a weekly post where I allowed myself, with a lot of encouragement from some readers, to go completely off track. Well, this morning I woke up obsessed about time. It was 6:05 am on the clock, and as I lied in bed I found myself trying to figure out where time keeps disappearing to.
One thing I've noticed as I get older, time disappears faster and faster. All of those trite sayings about how you never have enough time, etc. couldn't be more true. It's a cruel reality when you finally accept the sand in that hour glass is running out and mañana is really today!
Time is free, but it's priceless.
You can't own it, but you can use it.
You can't keep it, but you can spend it.
Once you've lost it, you can never get it back.
You'll never be able to stop time, but as artists you do have the ability to freeze special moments and create tangible memories for yourself and clients. In a way, time is what photography is all about. For example, in response to this week's new "Why?" with Kay Eskridge, Pat Fleischman wrote:
"I look at our group of silliness in our beach portraits every day! Always wall worthy, the glance reminds me of great times...recorded in print. Our faces look older now & the reflections in the mirror aren't as kind as the 15 years that has past! But, Kay's "magic" gives us just that, years of beautiful reflections that bring us back to our younger years..."
And there you have it, photography found a way to sneak into a Reflections post. Stop wasting time procrastinating on things you want to do. Put your fears of change in the back seat and let your dreams ride shotgun! And stop watering dead plants - give yourself permission to move on from the challenges in life you can't change.
Wishing all of you a day filled with passion, peace and all the things that make you smile from the inside out. Passion is the gatekeeper of the quality of your life. As you go for those eleven-second hugs with people most special to you, think about how important time is...not the past, but each moment you want to savor in the future. You'll never stop time, but you can slow it down enough to not miss a moment.
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.