I've written a lot about the bigger conventions and one of the best benefits, networking. It's not particularly complicated and yet so many of you still haven't figured it out.
Here's my point...all year long you should be spending a certain amount of time active in social media. I'm defining social media as everything you're doing on the Internet that involves you communicating with clients, other photographers and the manufacturers. It's primarily Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. I'm not suggesting how much time you should be spending in cyber space...you know when it's obsessive, but it's not just about what you write, but what you read from other photographers as well.
When you attend a great convention you have a chance to actually meet the people you "talk" with all year long on the Internet. It adds a new dimension to the conversations and builds stronger friendships.
Yesterday was opening day of PhotoPlus East and here are some of the highlights that made it so worth the trip.
The "fruits" of the day involved new projects for 2015, extensions of some current activities, even an outrageous new contest I'll be able to share with you in December, but this was only the first day of the show. I came back to my room at the end of the day exhausted, but totally charged for what the new year is going to bring.
At the same time, I picked up on a lot of great conversations between other photographers about ideas in marketing, blogging and even technique.
...and that's why you can't sit home on the couch when there's a major convention going on. No matter what your specialty, your degree of expertise or the challenges with your financial well-being, every convention is an opportunity to recharge your battery and bring at least one new idea home from your trip.
It might be too late for you to attend PPE, but on the horizon is Imaging USA, WPPI, Shutterfest and a host of regional and state conventions. As I've written before, you can either be on the sideline and watch the parade go by or you can participate and be right in it!
So, where am I going to catch up to many of you next?
Tomorrow is my Dad's 92nd birthday, so I can't think of anyone better to profile for Throwback Thursday.
So, Pop, you're hitting 92 tomorrow and I'm out of town, but we did do a pretty good job celebrating two weeks ago on Honor Flight in D. C. Here's the cool thing though:
I've said this a few times in other posts...
There aren't very many guys my age who still have their parents around, let alone enjoy hanging out with them. You've been my best buddy my entire life, but I can't figure out where the years went. All I know is that this is one kid who couldn't be prouder of his old man!
I guess it's true, time flies when you're having a good time.
Happy Birthday Pop!
"If you end up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your prieset, or some guy on TV telling you how to do your shit, then YOU DESERVE IT."
I don't usually quote Frank Zappa, but he hit on one of my pet peeves, people who can't make a move without checking with dozens of other people to get confirmation that what they're doing is right. Feedback is terrific, but most of the time you know in your gut whether you're going in the right direction or not. We all do it, some more often than others. It's all about insecurity and could so often be neutralized by doing more things to build your confidence.
I'm not saying don't listen to people you respect, just stop putting so much weight on what they tell you...this is your dream, not theirs. Listen to what everybody tells you and then boil it all down and put it through the "heart test". This is real simple...if it doesn't feel right in your heart, then put it on the back burner or modify it.
Take responsibility for your career. It's not an easy thing to do and I'm a perfect example. I worked for Polaroid, Hasselblad, PhotoAlley and Rangefinder/WPPI before finally getting the nerve to direct my own destiny. I always worked for other companies.
I was able to head out on my own for two primary reasons...first, it was time. I knew in my heart, regardless of the people who told me I was nuts, it was time to head out on my own. Second, I had a great partner to help me stay focused on my skills and remind me of those things I did really well and other areas where I needed outside support.
I reference my wife, Sheila a lot in my blog posts...she's my muse, often my inspiration and definitely a shoulder to cry on. She helps me strategize, think through new projects and puts her opinion in whenever it's appropriate. She knows the questions to ask in order to help me find my own answers.
This is all about building confidence and believing in yourself, but it doesn't happen overnight. Here are a few suggestions to help you speed up the process.
Hard to believe that I started this post with Frank Zappa and I'm going to finish with Steve Jobs - both great advice and all under the topic of my wife's favorite quote, "To thine own self be true!"
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Last week I did a post about head shots, primarily in reference to your Facebook page, but let's talk about a campaign to clean up your community! Seriously, take a look at the head shots of every business owner you can find within a fifty mile radius...horrible, right?
I lived in the Los Angeles area back in my Rangefinder/WPPI days and the only professionally done business head shots, with the exception of the actor portfolios, were realtors. Sadly, most of them were overdone glamour shots, but that's so LA!
Let's move the concept into your community and it all starts with your timing. The first quarter of the year is always slow - so why not launch a head shot special and literally position it as a "Community Clean Up" campaign?
I'm betting that right now you can easily find fifty people whose head shot is horrible and could use an updated image. Look at business owners, realtors, leaders in your community, teachers, managers, doctors, even the clergy. You're going to find very few who have a great head shot.
In searching the Internet, for examples of bad head shots, I ran across an article by an acting coach in Hollywood, Matt Newton. Remember, for actors, a decent headshot is often critical to getting an audition. Here's the link to his full article, which was directed towards aspiring actors. He listed seven categories for better headshots, starting with working with a professional photographer. Even though most of you are relatively seasoned professionals, Matt Newton's tips are a solid review and a great reminder.
Go for personality over glamour.
It’s all about the eyes.
Pay attention to framing, lighting, and background.
Natural light vs. studio.
Clothing and props.
Don’t go crazy with the makeup.
The first quarter is right around the corner and you've got more than enough time to put a head shot promotion in place and launch it right after new years. It's an easy to do campaign and it's got a great side benefit - you're going to get to know the key people in your community and even better, they're going to get to know you.
Sunday is my day to simply "go rogue". (I've definitely been watching too many episodes of Covert Affairs and Arrow!)
Well, this morning I'm going to sound like an old fart on a soapbox and lecture you on taking care of yourself. Yeah, this is the conversation one of your grandparents or parents might have had with you, but you didn't retain it!
This is just a short post, so stay with me. Here's the point, I'm older than most of you and you're just going to have to trust me when I remind you that your health is everything! Seriously, nothing else will matter if you don't take care of yourself and no matter how much success you're focused on financially, you won't be happy if you don't feel good enough to enjoy it.
A month or so ago Sheila and I started walking every morning and we're usually out for an hour, starting at 7:30. We got our bikes cleaned up and on alternate days, they come out of the garage. We started watching our diet as well.
There were two primary reasons...first we wanted to get back in shape and were tired of feeling tired. Second though, is the reason most of you will relate to...I sit at a computer all day. I don't get up enough and I keep reading articles about people getting blood clots from being too stationary for long periods of time. Sheila even found information that walking an hour every day can help counter long stretches of inactivity.
And here's another point...I have a lousy family history. Between both sides of my family there's a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, cancer, Alzheimer's and heart disease. I remember a great line from good buddy Joe Buissink once when he said, "You can hide from a lot of things, but not bad genes!"
So, on this gorgeous Sunday morning in south Florida, I want to plant a seed. Many of you are working the hardest you've ever worked in your life. You deserve happiness, achieving your goals but not at the risk of your health. Take some time throughout the day - get away from your computer and exercise, watch your calorie intake, drink at least 64 ounces of water every day and get enough sleep. Your body is like a bank account and everybody has a minimum amount of sleep you need each night. While it varies from person to person, you still need to make sure you don't overdraw your account!
Hey, I warned you that I was going rogue this morning and while it's a long way from photography, it's dead on in terms of one of the key ingredients to success in any business...staying healthy!
Between the twelve year chapter of my Hasselblad career and the seven years I was with Rangefinder/WPPI, that's almost twenty years of meeting some incredible people in our industry.
This week I had a great conversation with Jeremy Sutton, an artist from San Francisco. In every presentation at WPPI or things he was doing in his booth, he was always having fun. I don't remember ever seeing him without a smile on his face. I hung up the phone and immediately went to his website to catch up on what he's been doing. I found the image above in his gallery and the story behind it when he was teaching at Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.
"This painting depicts Flamenco dancers and musicians performing at the historic El Farol in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is based on a series of photographs I took with kind permission of the fabulous performers while I was in Santa Fe teaching Painting the Passion of Flamenco at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. The colors, composition and approach used in this painting were inspired by John Singer Sargent’s magnificent El Jaleo and John Nieto’s vibrant fauvist works."
You'll find a lot more stunning work on his website. It's well worth wandering through his galleries. Jeremy combines photography and art, but it wasn't his skill as an artist that sparked the idea for this post, but how much he loves what he's doing.
We hadn't spoken since before I left WPPI, coming up on six years in March. He asked what I was doing now and as I spoke, I realized how truly happy I am. For many years, I lived vicariously through so many of you as I watched you struggle, yet control your destiny. You took risks...you chased dreams...you built your brand. You weren't always smiling, but you were always focused on your goals, even when those goals might be changing, because of the economy or technology. I've been inspired by so many of you.
This Wednesday I'm headed to NYC for PhotoPlus Expo and the anticipation is almost overwhelming. I have all kinds of ideas running through my head for new projects next year. I have two days of meetings with companies and people I respect. I'm looking forward to catching up to friends and associates I haven't seen for months and wondering who's that one person I haven't seen in years who will turn up at the show.
I found a quote this morning by Artie Shaw, that so hit home and I want to share it with you, because it really is the way, with Sheila's help, I've learned to live my life...
"So, have fun. Get into your life and do what you enjoy and be the best at what you can be.
Maybe you won't be successful and rich by the world's standards,
but you will have the best life capable of having.
If you don't do that, you're cheating yourself."
Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend, loaded with smiles and memory-making moments with family and friends.
One of the biggest photographic trade shows in the country is coming up next Thursday. The show has been one of my favorites since my first one in 1987. One of the exciting things about the show has very little to do with the show's promoters, but with the exhibitors themselves. So many of the companies involved have outstanding programs going on right in their booth on the trade show floor.
Click on either banner above for more information!
Here's a prime example - check out Tamron in booth 1009...they've got some outstanding programs going on throughout the show, including a Clean and Check Service Clinic, a special show rebate offer and even a drawing to win a Tamron lens! Then, adding to your educational experience, in the booth they've scheduled some incredible programming each day with eight of the industry's finest photographic artists!
Seminars and Limited Edition Print Signings
DAVID AKOUBIAN - Grand Vistas - Large and Small...With One Lens
Thu 3:30pm — 4:00pm; Fri 11:30am — 12:00pm
David will talk about the versatility of Tamron’s 16-300 Di-II, the 18-200 Di-III and the 14-150 Di-III for Micro Four Thirds. He will show examples of how great the quality of the image can be while not having to worry about changing lenses. David will also talk about making wideangle to telephoto images, and even macro.
SEAN ARBABI - Creating Compelling Outdoor Images
Thu 12:15pm — 12:45pm; Fri 4:30pm — 5:00pm; Sat 1:45pm — 2:15pm
Print Signing Thu 12:45pm — 1:15pm; Sat 1:15pm — 2:45pm
As a pro the past 23 years, Sean has traveled the world capturing images for a mix of clientele; from Amazon to Timex, GEO Germany to Sunset Magazine, National Geographic to The Travel Channel. He will display a variety of work with explanations around his frame of mind, logistical difficulties with specific scenes, and how planned shoots and impromptu moments go hand in hand. He will also touch on exposure obstacles, how to manipulate light, as well as his approach to the dynamic composition. By the end of his lecture, you’ll have an idea of the challenges Sean faces as a commercial photographer, with added knowledge of how he does it!
DON MAMMOSER - Wildlife Photography, Get Closer with Don Mammoser
Thu 2:15pm — 2:45pm; Fri 2:30pm — 3:00pm; Sat 12:15pm — 12:45pm
Print Signing Thu 2:45pm — 3:15pm; Fri 3:00pm — 3:30pm
Join Professional photographer Don Mammoser as he tells a few wildlife photography stories. He'll take you with him on some of his world-wide journeys as he tried to get the shot. Learn a few useful wildlife photography techniques and get some helpful tips about how you too can get closer and still remain safe.
JAY P. MORGAN - Creating Fantasy Portraits
Thu 11:30am — 12:30pm; Fri 12:30pm — 1:00pm; Sat 1:00pm — 1:30pm
Print Signing Fri 1:00pm — 1:30pm
Take a look at the world of fantasy portraits with professional commercial photographer Jay P. Morgan, founder of the popular TheSlantedLens.com tutorial series. Jay will show you how the sets, lenses and process combine to make images that will inspire you and your subjects with a different perspective about who they are.
HERNAN RODRIGUEZ - The Comfort Zone! Create Natural, Real and Honest Portraits In Any Scenario
Thu, Fri & Sat at 10:15am — 10:45am
Print Signing Thu, Fri & Sat 10:45am — 11:15am
Put yourself in your subjects’ place. WHO are they, WHAT do they feel, and WHAT is the objective of the final portrait?
Following these guidelines may help you in creating success portraits. Follow Commercial Portrait Photographer Hernan Rodriguez in a personal journey in the thought process and practices that he uses in creating his unique and honest style of portraits. These standards are applied for both his celebrity and commercial portraiture, to photographing kids. A variety of lighting approaches to create both natural and comfortable portraits for all your sessions will be discussed. Sit back and enjoy this “Comfortable Journey.”
JONATHAN THORPE - Creating Composites Start to Finish
Thu 4:15pm — 4:45pm; Sat 3:00pm — 3:30pm
Learn how to plan, light, and edit a believable composite image with Jonathan Thorpe, a commercial photographer based just outside of Washington D.C. His blend of storytelling, humor, and cinematic lighting, helps set his photos apart from the rest.
ERIK VALIND - Shaping the Face with Lenses and Light
Thu 1:30pm — 2:00pm; Fri 1:45pm — 2:15pm
It’s easy to see the difference between an unflattering snap-shot and a carefully crafted portrait. But do you know what makes them so different? It’s the same subject in both photos right? Well the difference lies in the lenses and the light. In this talk Erik will show you how to best compose a variety of portraits using different lenses. Then you’ll learn how to flatter the face with beautifully sculpted light. More smiles and less snap-shots guaranteed! Added knowledge of how he does it!
CHARLEY VOORHIS - DSLR Video: The Ultimate Storytelling Medium
Fri 3:45pm — 4:15pm; Sat 11:30am — 12:00pm
Charley Voorhis describes his experience traveling to countries such as Burundi in Africa, Haiti and Vietnam to document obscure yet important happenings. Slung with his DSLRs and a collection of Tamron Lenses, he tells intimate stories that evoke compassion and inspiration. Learn his process and approach to efficient filmmaking.
A short time ago I mentioned a great little book I picked up, It Always Seems Impossible Until It's Done. It's well worth a daily read, just to feed your brain with some great motivational material. Click on the cover and you'll be linked to Amazon.
Yesterday I was talking with a photographer who made the comment, "I've just hit the wall and don't know what to do with my business!" Well, as luck would have it, this morning I'm sitting here trying to figure out what to write about and I found this incredibly relevant quote from Randy Pausch:
"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out;
the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.
Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough.
They're there to stop the other people."
Here's the point - we all hit a wall now and then. We all have to deal with adversity and sometimes it seems like, just when we get through a challenge in our business, something happens in our personal life or there's another wall to climb in the business. We never seem to get everything going in the right direction all at the same time.
Guess what? That's life and especially in the career field you've chosen. Just when you think you understand technology, something new is going to show up. Every day there's another paradigm shift and you've got to run a little faster to catch up, but here's the beauty of it all.
The more you learn, the more challenges you endure and the more brick walls you either climb over or just obliterate, the stronger artist you become. Every brick wall is nothing more than a test of your love for the craft. Each wall is simply another workshop in building your skills.
Next week I'll be headed to NYC for Photo Plus Expo and what makes me love the show so much is the networking with both new friends, old friends and associates. We'll have time to just talk about the business and out of this one trip will come dozens of new ideas... each one capable of getting over the next wall.
See you in NYC!
It's so hard to write about this topic and not make it sound like a rant, but here's the point. If you're following my blog the majority of you are aspiring professional or working professional photographers. Knowing that potential clients are friending you on Facebook then why wouldn't you have a decent head shot? Even worse, why would the header for your Facebook page not show one of your better images?
Aren't you tired of having a bad selfie represent what you do for a living, supposedly better than anybody else? Why wouldn't you want to strut a little and show what you're all about? Seriously, this is about packaging, yours!
I realize some of you have Facebook pages that started out as personal pages for family and friends, but over the last few years everything has changed. Everybody has access to us and unless you've done an outstanding job of controlling your page to friends only, there's a solid likelihood that potential clients are following you as well.
I grabbed a few random head shots from the Facebook pages of some of my favorite people in photography above, just to make a point. Your head shot, since you're in the business, should at least look professional. Then I grabbed a few of headers to share.
Here's the point...you're working so hard to build a reputation as a photographer and social media is a vital part of the equation. Don't treat your Facebook page like an afterthought. Use Facebook along with Google+, Pinterest and Twitter to help build and expand your brand.
Most important of all, remember that a picture is still worth a thousand words, maybe even more!
My apologies for the fold in the image, but it's a scan out of the 1997 Lands End Corporate Sales Catalog. Left to right, Chuck Gutierrez, Jim Morton, Bob Nunn, Bob Thompson, Skip Cohen, Peter Power, Mark Mather and Tony Corbell.
We had four pages in that catalog, starting with a double page spread and then two additional pages, as we all became poster kids for Lands End. This was also the start of my reputation as "Embroidery Boy". I put the logo on everything!
Our ad agency, Kalmar Ad Marketing, came up with a great campaign, "Hot Stuff". It was young, hip and featured a series of incredible images by some of the finest artists in photography at the time. We wanted to put the "Hot Stuff" logo on shirts for trade shows, but had a serious time constraint.
We sent the artwork to Lands End on a Monday, had the stitched proof by Wednesday morning, approved the order by the end of the day and had our shirts ahead of schedule, in time for whatever convention we were all working at the time. The service was incredible and I sent a letter thanking their president.
Lands End loved our story so much that a week later they had a photographer contact us to schedule a shoot at the next convention, which I think was WPPI. We had no idea what they were going to do or how they would feature us, but the exposure was remarkable. Not only was Hasselblad in a few million catalogs, but they tied in the logo on a picture of the shirt in a black and white newspaper campaign which ran nationally. They even tied us into the copy.
From that day forward, I've never used another company for corporate logos. Lands End has never let me down. While mistakes have occasionally happened, their sense of customer service and quality is outstanding. No arguments, immediate resolution and not once in all these years has a rep ever said to me, "I'll have to check with my supervisor." Each rep has the power to resolve problems and make decisions.
Just a fun sidebar story. My son was just a few years out of college and relatively new to the business world. He was working with a client in Boston who was considering logo-wear for the company's employees. In a casual conversation he asked Adam, "Know anything about Lands End corporate wear?" He handed my son the catalog and Adam replied, "Yeah, my Dad's company uses them all the time. Let me find the shirts he made up...Hey, there's my Dad!" It was the new catalog and he had never seen the spread.
So there are few points this morning that tie back to the story...
Happy Throwback Thursday everybody!
I get it...you're a solo act in a business that's just getting started. You don't have any administrative staff, but here and there your spouse might pitch in as a second shooter or help you put orders together at holiday time. Now let's go the other direction - you've been in business for years and have a couple of second shooters, somebody who puts albums together and chases orders with your lab, maybe even a manager running the operational side of your business.
Either way, there's no excuse for not recognizing all the people who help you run your business, reach more clients and keep your gray hairs to a minimum. You might not have a full time or even part time staff, but there are at least a dozen people in your life who are responsible for whatever sanity you have left.
There's a great little book called "A Carrot a Day" and it's all about recognizing performance. A quote by Dale Denton says it all:
"Nine tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody's hand and squeeze it...while there's still time!"
The authors went on to write, "Don't wait until it is too late to show your appreciation. Society of Human Resource Management statistics show that 79 percent of people leave their jobs due to lack of recognition. Don't let your good people get away simply because you didn't take the time to recognize their contributions."
Yesterday's post was about hosting an open house, even if you don't have a studio. Well, today I'm suggesting you thank your "staff", even if you don't have one.
Look for ways to thank that wedding planner, venue, florist or another photographer who referred a client to you. Remember the UPS guy...in fact, in my old Rangefinder Magazine days we used to invite the UPS guy to our holiday luncheon. We saw him every day and often he went out of his way to get our deliveries to us on time. He really was an unofficial member of the company.
This is just a short post this morning - the holidays are right around the corner and you've got a whole bunch of people who have helped you this year, including your contact at your lab, album and frame companies. Maybe there's an editor who gave you a little extra ink in the local paper or a photographer who bailed you out when you had equipment problems.
It's important to show your appreciation all year long and one great time to start is over the upcoming holidays. This is about showing appreciation and it can be as simple as just taking somebody out to lunch!
'People may not remember exactly what you did or
what you said, but they will always remember
how you made them feel."
Six weeks ago, working together with SproutingPhotographer.com, we launched a new podcast series, "Weekend Wisdom with Skip Cohen". While I'd love to take credit for some great content, the wisdom is thanks to Bryan Caporicci, founder of SproutingPhotographer together with each of my guests. It was his idea and each guest has brought a new dimension to the topic of how to build different aspects of your business.
What's making each of these podcasts unique is that we're focused on just one topic and then we're drilling down as far as we can go, trying hard to stay within thirty minutes. In this newest episode, released this past Saturday, Cindy Harter Sims was my guest and talked about her five year quest to becoming a full time professional photographer after a life time of being a music teacher.
Cindy does a great job taking us through the process, but there are four points that deserve to be highlighted...
On one of the forums recently a photographer requested the word "passion" be pulled from our vocabulary. He was simply tired of hearing it. I understand it's one of those words that's abused and we all hear too often. On the other hand, look at the images above one more time. Is there a better word that describes Cindy Harter Sims' feeling about imaging?
From engagements to weddings to babies and families, Cindy is passionate about being an artist. There simply isn't a better word!
Images copyright Cindy Harter Sims. All rights reserved.
Before I just start to rant, I want to remind everybody of the "rules" for Sunday Morning Reflections. There aren't any and I almost ALWAYS go off track. Well, this morning is no exception.
I subscribe to a weekly magazine called The Week and I love it. There's a regular feature called, "Only in America". This week's news item was about Atlanta school officials who made a five year old sign a "safety contract" pledging not to harm herself or others after she pointed a crayon at another kid and said, "pew, pew". The child later asked her mother, "What is suicide, Mommy?" and obviously the mother was furious.
Like many of you, I spend a great deal of time these days walking around shaking my head and simply not understanding when or how we got so off track.
A month or so ago I read about a high school kid getting sent home because somebody sneezed and she said, "Bless you!" She was sent to the principal's office for bringing religion into the class room.
The list goes on and on and it's absurd...I guess it's time to simply sound like the old fart I am.
Okay, there it is and I feel better...I love our country and I definitely classify myself as a patriotic American, but I don't understand how so many people got off track.
PS And if you're offended by my post this morning...be thankful I didn't go into my thoughts on capital punishment, but I'll give you a hint...I don't really care if they screwed up somebody's lethal injection. Execution isn't supposed to be a trip to the dentist.
One of the nicest compliments somebody gave me recently was simply to ask, "How do you come up with so many topics to write about?"
It's really pretty simple...As professional photographers you're regularly changing poses, lighting and composition. You add more variables by changing lenses, the exposure and depth of field. Well, it's not much different when I'm writing.
There are so many topics under the umbrella of marketing and business, but the best source is listening to all of you. I'm constantly reading comments and questions in the various forums. I spend a huge amount of time reading emails and physically talking to photographers as much as I can. In fact, it's one of the best reasons to attend a convention...talking with photographers about what's going on in their markets.
I know I wrote about the following in a post once...Years ago I was part of the marketing department at Polaroid, back in the days when it was a real manufacturing company! I was the manager for the Photo Specialty Dealers, the camera stores. I wrote a few pretty good marketing programs, but in all honesty, none of them were really my ideas. All I had to do was listen to our retailers and the sales reps in the field.
I'd constantly ask, "What would it take to double your Polaroid sales next year?" The flood gates would open and idea after idea was shared with me. Whether a sales rep, a camera store manager or the sales clerk behind the counter, they'd simply open up.
The ideas were endless. I'd hear comments about packaging, pricing, billing terms, advertising and even suggestions about bundling with other Polaroid accessories and other manufacturers. The answers were all out there, but so few people ever asked and nobody ever really listened.
So, here are a few thoughts about how you can implement the same kind of feedback for your market.
Here's the point...everybody I've asked about business this year, if they answer anything positive, they always add, "But I've never worked so hard in my life!" I've heard that same answer for the last 4-5 years. Business is out there, but you've got to pay attention to what's missing in your market. You've got to promote yourself, be involved in community projects and make sure people know who you are.
It's not easy, but if you truly listen and pay attention to what's hot and what's not, you just might find a few of the answers you've been searching for all year long.
Intro by Skip Cohen
I've been involved in the educational side of professional photography for most of my career, starting in 1987 when I joined Hasselblad. Over the years I've seen companies come and go in their commitment to education. Support to the photographic community with a lot of companies lacks consistency and often quality.
Breathing Color focused their energy on education and support right out of the blocks. They knew helping you become a better photographer would help the entire industry. I'm proud to have a relationship with Breathing Color, because not only have they stayed focused on their commitment to helping you raise the bar on the quality of your work, they've actually added vehicles to their support system.
The BC Forum is one of those incredible educational components.
"The BC Forum was developed so that all of our customers, partners, and friends from all over the world have a single place to communicate both with us and with one another about everything related to printmaking."
Together with the Breathing Color blog, FAQ section and BC Academy you've got four resources to get the help you need and have every question on printing technology answered as easily and quickly as possible.
Test the crew from Breathing Color for yourself. Click on the Forum banner or any of the other three resources and you'll be introduced to one of the most pro-active support teams in professional photography today!
Wandering through my archives, I ran across this shot of Tony Corbell. I think it was taken by Jim Morton and I think it was around 2004. It's one of my favorite shots of my good buddy, but there's more to this throwback image.
I'm not sure there's anybody who loves photography and this industry more than Tony. He's an educator, photographer, artist, writer and simply the industry's biggest cheerleader. It's rare he'll say "no" to anybody for anything unless his calendar is simply full.
He's passionate about technology, quality, lighting and everything else under the imaging umbrella. He loves to help photographers raise the bar on literally everything they do. Working with Tony for many years at Hasselblad and having him as a good friend for the last 26 years has, without question, enriched my life.
A few weeks ago Rich Harrington and I had Tony on Mind Your Own Business and although there are some audio problems on and off throughout this recording, listen to some of Tony's comments. It was a great webcast, even with the technical challenges.
Today's post is for all of you who are so wrapped up in things that haven't worked that you've forgotten to recognize all the things you're doing really well. In your own way, you've pretty much given up and might even be thinking about going back to your "day job". There's so much talent out there, but too many of you want to rush success and have this vision that it should always be smooth sailing.
"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games.
Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.
I've failed over and over an over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed."
Every now and then I talk to a photographer who's on the verge of a panic attack over business and the way things just haven't come together. It doesn't seem to matter whether they're new or seasoned veterans. All of them consider themselves professional photographers, but are frustrated over the challenges of running a business.
Every business venture has its ups and downs. The challenge is not becoming so obsessed with the cloudy days that you miss the ones when the sun comes out.
Read that quote again from Michael Jordan...there's really no such thing as failure. Or, better put, failure is just something that doesn't work. I know this is simplistic, but Sheila has taught me that setbacks are just speed bumps. It's important for you to NEVER let a slight back step trump your passion for the craft or for that matter, anything.
Right about now there's always one of you thinking, "That's easy for him to say." There's this silly perception out there that I've never had a failure...well, I've had failures and days when I thought I was one.
Early on in my career at Polaroid I was caught in two lay-offs. On one I had to give up what I thought was my corporate dream job in Personnel (HR today) and bump back into the hourly ranks. It was like starting over. Then, I left Hasselblad for PhotoAlley.com. It was going to be my shortcut to owning my own island, but went bankrupt when the owners couldn't get us in the black. I found myself standing in the unemployment line. I've got all kinds of stories over the years, both personal and business related, about things that didn't go as planned.
And I'm not alone. There isn't a single photographer on the speaking circuit today who hasn't felt the pain of defeat. Listen to the podcast with Sandy Puc on Sprouting Photographer. She couldn't have been more candid about her divorce and with it, the decline of her business. At the same time, she talked about getting remarried just a couple months ago, redefining the meaning of success, rebuilding her business and the importance of staying focused.
Here's my point...for many of you not getting the shot is interpreted as a failure. Michele Celentano's comment from a program for new photographers years ago still stands out in my mind:
"Twenty years ago I was sitting right where you are, wondering how long it would be until my work didn't suck!"
So, stop thinking you've failed, just because things aren't happening as fast as you hoped. Stop worrying about how much you still don't know. Stop thinking that everybody else is growing and you're not. Last but not least, stop using the word failure.
There is no such thing as a failure unless you fall down and don't bother to get up. Set your goals high, cherish your friendships and remember your network is your support group. Stay focused on building your skill set, so you're ready for any project/assignment that comes along.
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work!"
Please note: If you clicked on the Sandy Puc link and got the Doug Box podcast, my apologies. I grabbed the wrong link. Just hit refresh and you'll find Sandy's...although Doug's is terrific too and has some great marketing content.
I know I've written about this before, but I'm back to hit it one more time. In the last two weeks I've been on a few dozen sites and most of you are missing some great opportunities.. While you're welcome to argue with me, at least hear me out. Hopefully you'll realize you can be so much more effective.
First, your "About" page should be right after your gallery tab. Use your images to get a potential client interested in hiring you and then hit them with why you're a photographer. Many of you make it your last tab and some don't even bother with an "About" page.
Next, let's talk about your head shot...how about something that incorporates being a photographer for a living? Let's get rid of cheesy portraits that make you look like the employee of the month at the supermarket and go for something more environmental.
How about a few images of you working with clients, like a collage of three thumbnails? The first has you photographing a client. It's taken off your right shoulder and behind you enough to see your clients in the background...in or slightly out of focus. The next image is you working with a client looking at proofs or an album layout. The third can be a normal head shot, but get a camera in there with you. This is the most important head shot you've ever used and it deserves more than your high school yearbook!
Your head shot should help sell your services. You've got to remind people you're a photographer. Showing images of you working with clients will help plant that seed.
Next on the list, nobody cares about how you became a photographer, what awards you've won (unless it's the Pulitzer) or how many years you've been shooting. They want to know why you love being a photographer. They want to know your passionate side, not the story of your life. The challenge you have is showing you can be trusted.
Remember who your target is...women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories. Pay attention to your audience and use a few adjectives describing your love for photography. This is the time to be a romantic and share the passion you have for capturing memories, working with clients and helping them tell their story.
Keep it short. Your "About" page doesn't need to be a resume. So many of you are wasting one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on your site. You're sharing information your target audience doesn't care about. They don't want to know how you fell in love with photography when your grandfather got you your first camera! They want to know if you can be trusted to tell their story and if you see the world the way they do.
Make your "About" page an artist's statement and then sign it. Whether you use your signature or a facsimile doesn't matter. The point is it needs to be written in first person, 2-4 paragraphs tops and then personalized with your signature.
If you think about this, it's really pretty easy...just keep in mind you have two shots at getting clients to come through cyberspace and actually make contact via phone, email or even in person. It starts with showing great images and then letting them know why you love being a storyteller!
Sunday mornings are always perfect for going off track and stepping away from photography. The house is quiet. I’m always up early, Sheila is often still asleep and Molly the Wonder Dog is usually curled up at my feet. There are rarely emails to respond to and it becomes the perfect environment for me to just write about something that’s relevant, but more to life than photography.
Well, here’s the scene this morning…I’m in D.C. sharing a hotel room with my Dad. He’s going to be 92 in two weeks and we spent yesterday as part of Honor Flight, honoring his service in World War II. Together with a hundred or so of his “buddies” it was a day of tribute and a lot of emotional moments.
So, today’s Sunday Morning Reflections is going to be pretty personal. I continue to have an amazing career and it’s been filled with incredible people, events and moments I cherish, but nothing compares with just being a kid…Ralph Cohen’s kid!
I’m feeling incredibly proud of my Dad. There aren’t a whole lot of guys my age who still have their parents around, let alone enjoy being with them and being able to make the trip from Tampa to D.C.
Like so many veterans, Dad never really talked much about the war. I’d get a story or two over the years, always the funny stuff, but rarely anything poignant.
My favorite was the time they were looking for musicians and Dad volunteered. He was a trumpet player and anticipated some terrific light duty assignment like playing in a band. NOT – he wound up moving pianos for a week for a USO show!
Like so many guys his age he enlisted in 1942 ready to serve his country. He was headed towards being a pilot in the Army Air Corps when they discovered he had a perforated ear drum. Flying wasn’t in the cards, but the Army Air Corps still was. Off he went to radio school. His tour in the Asia/Pacific kept him in communications in the flight tower.
I picked up a new story this week when he was asked if he ever got to meet General MacArthur. "No, but I got close when I brought his plane in once."
No need to cover more of his background for this blog post, because the real story of these veterans comes in trying to describe the comradery between them.
This is a very special group of Americans, who are becoming even more elite as they age. There's a statement on Honor Flight's home page that says it all...
"According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day. Our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out."
The youngest a WWII veteran could be today is 88 and Honor Flight's sole purpose is to recognize their contribution to our country. As everyone on the trip talked and shared a story here and there, you could see this amazing bond developing.
They started their military journey at pretty much all the same age, most of them in their early twenties. They survived the war and now they're surviving life. They have families, grand children and great grand children. Many, like Dad, are without spouses, almost as if they’d gone full circle and are now alone, back to the beginning. But, not one would have traded the experience of WWII and their ability and the privilege of fighting for their country.
My military experience is non-existent. I was in the first round of the lottery during Viet Nam. My number was 297 and I was never called. I have a lot of friends who served and a few who we lost, but for me the military never played a direct role in my life. However, that doesn't change the impact of each memorial Honor Flight took us to or the pride you can't help but feel hanging out with this group of heroes. There’s a reason Tom Brokaw referred to Dad’s generation as the "Greatest Generation" and I had a front row seat being with them this weekend.
Yesterday’s experience was like being a kid at a super heroes convention. While the years may have taken a few inches off Dad’s height and he's a whole lot shorter than me today, nobody ever stood taller as he solemnly toured the WWII memorial with his peers...a group of giants.
Gear Box: Panasonic LUMIX GH3 with the LUMIX G 12-35mm zoom.
Whatever you do in life, aim at perfection. It will not be understood or even appreciated by most people. However, in the long run, the closer you come to achieving your own inner standards of perfection, and they'll be rising all the time, the better you'll be.
In your lifetime you will come reasonably close (two or three times) to perfection. I've come about twice where I can say that is as close to perfection as I can get. I consider myself an 80-percent loser, of which I am proud.
There's absolutely nothing I can add to top that...except take a minute and just think about what Artie Shaw just told us.
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.