It's Halloween and my Dad would have been 94 today. I shared the sentimentality of the day in a Sunday Morning Reflections post yesterday, but this is Halloween and it's hard to get serious with memories like this one.
The year is 2012 and they did a Halloween dinner dance in my Mom and Dad's building. We got the entire family into the act. Dad, as Michelangelo's David was the hit of the night. All it took was a wig, an apron and Dad's sense of humor. In the end we won the award for best costumed family! Even Molly the Wonder Dog got into the act as a pumpkin!
And, Mom's Alzheimer's took a little break that night. That smile on her face couldn't have been more genuine. She never stopped laughing!
So, on this October 31, I'm wishing you Happy Halloween and a day of nothing but great memories as you look back on the "trick or treats" of the past!
It's another typical Sunday morning. Molly the Wonder Dog is asleep at my feet, but there was no hesitation as I sat down at the computer. I woke up knowing exactly what I wanted to write.
A year ago, actually tomorrow on Halloween, my Dad celebrated his 93rd birthday. We all had dinner together and then wandered out behind his building to watch the sunset. I remember giving him a hug goodnight as we left him and his caregiver, Joan, by the water. There was this look on his face and sparkle of satisfaction in his eyes. It was almost as if he was doing an inventory of his life. He had this smug little smile as if he knew something the rest of us didn't. Dad was back in the hospital the next day and would pass away a week and a half later.
So, here's where I'm going this morning - I mostly shot "neuro-chromes" on that birthday, with the one exception to the right. It's a selfie of all of us together before heading out to watch the sunset. However, I have a collection of images from so many different times over the years.
Which finally gets me to my point - there's so much, as professional photographers, so many of you take for granted. You provide the world with the ability to create tangible memories and go beyond neuro-chromes. Your work keeps us alive because you can't appreciate where you are in life without remembering where you've been.
I guess this morning's post is a combination of a beating and a "thanks!" The beating goes to those of you who take shortcuts and don't give clients the very best of your abilities. Stop being part of the "that's good enough" crowd and remember the power and importance of the magic you bring to so many lives. Stop thinking the bottom line of your business is more important than the potential value you create every time you click the shutter. And, remember, if you're in a rut and not happy with your work - then fix your skill set. You can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in them!
The "thanks" side of this post goes to every one of you who share the pride of being part of this amazing industry and never slow down. You hang in there waiting for the decisive moment and that twinkle, smile, tear or expression that makes you the best at preserving and protecting memories. You're the ones who never stop learning and push the edge of the creative envelope every day. You know and understand the responsibility you have to every client with each new frame of somebody's life you capture.
The image above is all thanks to one of my special buddies, Bob Coates, who two years ago captured a shot of Dad and me for an ad the Friendship Centers were putting together here in Sarasota. Bob and his wife Holly came to Sarasota on Vacation for a few weeks each year, and at some point, like great friends often do, they became family. Bob caught exactly what the Friendship Centers wanted for an upcoming ad, which was a testimonial by me, talking about how much Dad and I appreciated their support through the Senior Centers, the Caregiver Support Group, etc.
So, there you have it - a Sunday morning where I want to remind you of how important you are in so many lives, mine included. If you don't wake up every morning thankful of the career path you're on as a photographer, then step back and take some time off. No career field, with the exception of modern medicine, has given the world what you do when that camera is in your hands!
My relationship with my folks is alive and well, even if they're no longer a phone call away. It's all thanks to the photographs I have that keep the memories and stories so much alive. I miss them a lot, but looking back at the life they gave me, there are far more smiles than tears.
Wishing you all an outstanding Sunday and one filled with remarkable memories, whether captured on a chip, film or neuro-chrome. Stay on point with at least one eleven-second hug with somebody special in your life and remember the value of what you give the world with every click of the shutter.
Happy Sunday everybody!
I've shared a lot of throwback images from the infamous snowmobile trips to Yellowstone over the years. What started with just four of us, Duncan MacNab, Chris Kent, Bob Thompson and me, became a decade of annual trips each winter with a good number of leaders from the photographic industry.
There's that old line about "he who dies with the most toys wins!" Well, years ago we decided Duncan didn't need to die to win - he already owned the title. Here's a perfect example. In addition to all his other toys, he had a gas grill on runners that he towed behind his sled. On one trip, I think the one above; he towed the grill to Two Top. The Two Top Loop is one of the most famous snowmobile trails in America. It's 28 miles long with a spectacular view from the top. Plus, the snow blows across the trees forming snow/ice sculptures that look like something out of Hollywood.
But, just the view for our group wasn't enough. At the top, around 8,000-foot elevation, Duncan would fire up the grill for cheeseburgers. Even topped with a grilled onion if you wanted. Imagine being at the top of a snow covered mountain buried in the silence of winter and smelling burgers coming off the grill. Now and then another group would come snowmobiling by and do a double-take at twenty+ people at a barbecue!
One year it was so cold the Pepsi I was drinking turned to slush within minutes. The temperature was below ten degrees. You had to drink very carefully to avoid a repeat performance of the kid in Christmas Story with his tongue stuck to the flagpole.
Take some time looking at who's in this throwback image. You should find a whole bunch of familiar characters from the industry.
While the fun of Throwback Thursday is in the images we find, it's a great marketing tool. Use throwback images to remind your blog readers of the importance of photography and capturing those special memories. Plus, this is the perfect time of year to highlight holiday time and the opportunity to update the family portrait!
by Skip Cohen
I've written a few posts over the years about demographics and target marketing. As the year comes to a close and we hit the holiday seasonality, now is the time to pay attention to every aspect of the promotions you might be running now, as well as early next year.
The longer you've been active in social media and made purchases on line, the more likely you are to get specific offers from companies who found something to suggest you're a candidate for their products or services. When we get a relevant offer, like things from Trip Advisor on restaurants and events going on in the Sarasota/Tampa area, I love it, but when it's completely irrelevant, it becomes spam. In fact, my spam filter is loaded with irrelevant offers every day.
Plus, most of us discard more email than we open. Often the subject line alone is enough to trash whatever the pitch might be. We discard email left and right, often on our phones, before we even sit down in front of a computer.
The challenge for most of you is thinking through who your target audience is. In most cases you've done nothing to identify the demographics of your client. I know you're not doing massive email blasts to thousands of people, but even a small campaign to your community is important enough to be done right. Even better is staying out of everyone's spam filter.
Here are five easy points to help you think through the process of target marketing:
Most important of all – start thinking NOW about your promotional calendar for 2017. Wouldn't it be nice to not be reactionary all the time, but have a planned out series of activities and promotions? If you start thinking about next year now, you'll have the time to align yourself with the appropriate partners, advertising and publicity elements you need for success.
There’s no such thing as knowing too much about your target audience. In fact, there’s a great line I’ve used for years, thanks to Ed Foreman, a motivational speaker from Texas which I've shared before:
“If I can see the world through my client’s eyes, then I can sell my client what my client buys.”
You don’t want to just walk in their shoes, you need to see the world they way they do. You need to understand everything that's important to them, including the content you share on your blog.
It might seem early to be thinking about next year, but look how fast 2016 has flown by. Think about what kind of year you'd like 2017 to be, and then take the time to start thinking about the planning process.
And, if you're stuck and need some ideas or a little help, you know where to find me. Yes I'm serious!
Image copyright Doug Box. All rights reserved.
Ansel Adams once said,
When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.
When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
"Why?" is about photographs from some of the most respected artists in photography today, along with their words, the backstories behind their favorite images. Now at 39 artists featured in this special SCU segment, you'll find each contributor has had something different to talk about, but the common denominator is always the same - how much they love the craft!
Texas photographer and good buddy, Doug Box is in the spotlight. You'll find Doug's approach to the backstory very different from many of the previous images shared. As one of the industry's leading educators, he hit the "Why?" question pretty hard, because it's the first question he typically asks his students. He goes beyond why they're choosing to create an image a certain way and instead, works to understand why they're working hard to be a photographer.
There's an excellent podcast I did with Doug on Weekend Wisdom. It's all about partnership marketing and he shares some outstanding insight.
Doug is somebody who needs to be in your network. You'll find out more about Doug with a click on his image, and if you're walking the floors of a convention and you see him walk by, make it a point to introduce yourself. You couldn't ask to have a better person on your "team."
While this is way off base for a blog typically about the business and marketing side of photography, it's hardly off base for a Sunday Morning Reflections post. However, it makes a point that would be hard not to share on ANY day of the week.
I manage the blog for the Friendship Centers here in Sarasota and I shared the post below last Thursday. The video is only a minute long, but it left me with hours of wonderful memories. It's haunted me in a very positive way for the last few days.
There are so many of you who have family members dealing with the challenge of Alzheimer's. My mother fought the battle for seven years, and was the primary reason we moved to Sarasota five years ago this week. We lost Mom two years ago, but I still cherish those those special moments when Alzheimer's took a break and we got her back, sometimes only for a few minutes.
I miss her a lot, but when I look back, even when the tears start to flow, there's still a small smile on my face. This is one of my favorite pictures of my folks, taken just before Alzheimer's took hold. Both her and my Dad are never far from my thoughts. I can often feel her presence around me. She wanders in and out of my dreams, like a walk-on part from a Hollywood movie.
My mother and I were never that close from my teen years through early adulthood. Moving to Florida, it was the first time since high school that I was living just a few miles away. As a result, we saw Mom several times a week. As Alzheimer's stole more and more from us, with Sheila's help I learned to preserve those bright spots.
So, here's my point on this wonderful Sunday morning - life is simply too short and if you're dealing with Alzheimer's too painful as well. You've got to look for those special moments and embrace the hell out of them. I remember my Dad once saying about this last chapter with Mom, "We've been together over sixty years and I'm going to squeeze the juice out of every good moment that comes along!"
Wishing all of you a wonderful Sunday and a day filled with family, friends and those special loved ones who have helped define your life and who you are. Go for an eleven-second hug with at least one person today and, if you're fighting the Alzheimer's battle, remember you're not alone. Find those special moments and simply squeeze every "drop of juice" you can get!
by Skip Cohen
Wandering through YouTube this morning I typed in "Alzheimer's" and discovered this little gem. It truly defines the words "heart-melting".
My mother fought the battle with Alzheimer's for seven years, and in fact, it's because of Mom, my Dad and I started going to the Care Giver Support Group every Thursday. That's where the relationship with the Friendship Centers started.
We learned a lot in those sessions. Most important of all was being reminded we weren't alone with our frustrations and sadness. But in spite of all the sadness there were some very special moments over the years. It's those moments of sharing love with Mom that Sheila and I define today as priceless memories.
This video reminded of something we learned, that I still hang on to, learning to cherish those special moments when Alzheimer's took a break and Mom came shining through. We used to call it "the sun peeking through the clouds." And, just like the sun, how long we felt its warmth was always changing.
The picture to the right is Sheila with Mom on her birthday in 2013. The "sun came shining through" in a moment where Mom was worried about time simply passing too quickly as she looked at her birthday card.
Sheila had a unique relationship with my mother, because she never argued with whatever Mom said. If Mom commented on how green the sky was, Sheila just rolled with it and told her it matched her beautiful eyes. (They were brown by the way!) They'd both laugh and Mom would squeeze her hand. As a result of Sheila simply being a friend, Mom lit up every time Sheila came into the room.
Every battle with Alzheimer's is different for every family. I have no lofty advice, except to say, join a support group and learn to cherish those special moments of love, which just like this video become heart-melting.
More information on the Caregiver Resource Center is just a click away.
Images copyright Sherry Hagerman. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
Now and then an image comes along with a story so detailed and compelling it deserves to be shared. The images and the video in this post are by Sherry Hagerman of Allusion Photography. She's a perfect example of what I love most about our industry - the friendships.
I met Sherry when she came to the first Skip's Summer School in 2009. She attended every one after that, through 2013. She's a passionate artist with an unstoppable quest for pushing the limits of her creativity. From classes to online education to virtually anytime she can learn something new, she rarely if ever slows down. Over the years Sherry and her husband Jeremy have become great friends and the four of us are always squeezing in dinner together at a convention some place on the planet.
We caught up to Sherry this week here in Florida and spent a couple of days hanging out with her. Good friends have a habit of asking each other a simple question, "What's new?" Well, watch the video below, and you'll see how Sherry answered me.
It's not just the images from her "dark art" side that are remarkable but a few other aspects of this project I want to point out.
Oops - almost forgot the biggest reason to share these images and the behind the scenes video here - this entire process redefines the meaning of passion. I know it's a word, so many of you think is abused when we talk about artists we respect, but there isn't a better word. And, as you watch the video keep in mind the hours this crew spent working to create some amazing images!
Sheila and I couldn't be more proud to consider Sherry and Jeremy good friends. Like I said in the beginning, it's one of the best traits of being in this industry - the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft!
The year is 2008 and Eddie Tapp and Judy Host came for a visit when I was living in California. Judy captured this image of Eddie with Molly and later sent it to me. It was the perfect memory from a great visit.
While the last thing some people want is a kiss from a dog, every now and then Molly the Wonder Dog latches on to somebody special, and it was Eddie all the way. I loved the shot so much, I had a wall in my place back then, that just had Molly shots and this is one of my favorites.
Molly turned eleven this year on Labor Day, and just like watching your kids grow up, I can't figure out where the years went. She's still a diehard "tennis player." She's still chasing rabbits, both when she's outside and often in her sleep, and she still follows me everywhere.
On a trip to the vet recently I was told she's got the energy of a three year old, and I was asked what was the secret. So, for all you with pups, here it is...Lots of love, a sprint down the sidewalk every morning and no people food - with one exception. She loves a McDonald's cheeseburger - just plain, and gets one every couple of months. LOL
A few weeks ago I shared a "Why?" with Judy Host. It's a great little sound-byte. You'll also find one with an old favorite image of Eddie's. Hard to believe there's that much talent in one family!
Happy Throwback Thursday! Don't forget to use one of your own images in your blog today and remind your target audience of the importance of capturing memories!
My good buddy Scott Bourne wrote this post for me several years ago on my first blog. I shared it again, exactly three years ago today. With PPE kicking off this week it's a great topic and the timing couldn't be better to share this with you. Whether you're headed to PPE, IUSA in January, WPPI in February, ShutterFest in April or any local or state show, networking is a key reason to attend every possible conference.
by Scott Bourne
Building a strong network is critical to your growth and the success of your business. Unfortunately, over and over again I see so many photographers making the same mistakes at every trade show, convention or workshop. Here are five of the most common ones for you to hopefully take note and stay away from.
1. Be prepared. I mean really prepared. Bring business cards (yes I know it's basic but I admit that once or twice I forgot mine so you might too.) Make sure you're properly groomed. Bugs in your teeth won't win you many friends. Dress appropriately.
2. Don't interrupt. If someone you want to meet or network with is talking with someone else, you won't make a very good impression if you bulldog your way to the front of the line. Wait your turn.
3. Don't talk too much about yourself. Don't brag. Don't profile. Don't strut. Be humble. I know it's hard to be humble when you're as great as you are, but try. Listen to what other people think. Let them finish their thoughts. Ask follow up questions to show that you are interested and listening.
4. Don't be shy. If you want to network, you can't do it from the back of the room. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. Go for it.
5. Don't monopolize your new friends' time. Networking is simple. You introduce yourself. You listen to what your new friend has to say. You exchange cards. You figure out if there's anything you can do to help your new friend. You make an action plan to follow up with each other and you move on. Everyone at a networking event is looking for a chance to make new contacts. Let them. Take your turn and move along.
Networking can be very valuable. Skip and I have built entire businesses and careers around networking. Get off on the right foot and avoid these mistakes. You'll be better off for it.
Illustration Credit: © ova - Fotolia.com
Intro by Skip Cohen
A few months ago I launched a new series here at SCU, "Why?" and it took off. Now, almost forty artists later it just keeps growing. But this post isn't about an image that was captured by a respected artist, but the backstory of a company.
I'm on thin, but safe ice here, as I lift a post Matt Thompson shared on Facebook earlier today. It's a small part of the backstory behind one of the most respected companies in the industry, Songfreedom. While "Why?" is about images, Matt's story is about the most important aspect of our industry - the friendships. I want to share it in a post, because it deserves to be shared outside Facebook.
The companies so many of you have chosen to work with, didn't just appear in a puff of smoke or magic dust from the business fairy - they took hard work, persistence and a love for the craft. Meet my buddy Matt and his best buddy, Stephanie. They had an idea, and while you know how to hold focus on an image, they held it on their dream.
Matt shares a big part of the credit for SongFreedom's growth and success with Joe Switzer. If you haven't met Joe, make it a point the next time you're at a convention where he's teaching, especially ShutterFest.
And, to my good buddy Matt, you weren't the only one lucky in talking with Joe that day. Thanks to him - you came along and have had an impact on the work of so many of us in the industry! Plus, you're a kick to hang out with.
You've brought a level of fun to this industry. "Fun" is one of those words so often lost in the day in day out stress of business. We all know what you've been building, and continue to build, hasn't always been "fun", but you've always had this incredibly infectious smile and love for business.
Check out a podcast I did with Matt just a couple of months ago on a Photodex Spotlight Series. Just click on the banner to the right to hear the podcast.
Meanwhile here's what inspired this post, published by Matt earlier in the day.
by Matt Thompson
7 years ago Joe Switzer was talking about his problems with the music business when it came to his company, Switzerfilm. He said he thought there was a solution and that I was the guy to fix their problems. So we met for coffee.
7 years later, Songfreedom licenses music from every major label and publisher and countless independent artists. We have tens of thousands of amazing clients across over 150 countries. It's also allowed the opportunity to spin out other companies like U Management, managing some of the greatest artists anywhere.
Joe, thanks for the coffee that started 7 of the coolest years ever. We've both been so lucky that you saw the opportunity and recognized my awesomeness. ;) And a huge thank you to my wife, Stephanie Lynn Thompson, who put up with 80 hour work weeks and tons of travel so we can be where we are today! I couldn't have done it without you.
Image copyright Joe Farace. All rights reserved.
"Why?" is all about the favorite images of some of the most respected artists in professional imaging today. There's always a different backstory with every image, but there is a common denominator - the pure love for the craft by each artist.
This new "Why?" has Joe Farace in the spotlight along with a story and a reminder of the behind the scenes effort so many images take to capture. Rarely is any image the result of just a point and shoot moment!
Joe is definitely somebody who should be in your network and on your radar. You'll regularly find him at his main blog, Saving the World One Pixel at a Time. Plus, Joe, along with Mark Toal and Mary Farace have a terrific blog, Mirrorless Photo Tips. Mirrorless technology is changing the way so many photographers are capturing images today and shooting mirrorless brings with it a whole new set of creative tolls.
I woke up knowing exactly what I wanted to write about for Sunday Morning Reflections. I'm not as off-track as usual because it's a topic most of us deal with all the time, the rules of engagement. There have been a few blog posts written about the topic and even a guest post from my good pal, Joan Whitman Hoff that hit on certain aspects of what the rules should be.
I'm an administrator in three different forums on Facebook. I share the "job" in each with several different people. In one of the forums this past week a photographer decided it was his job to share a piece of the discussion with the client. The client wasn't his and he had to do a little work to even find her. This happened once before - a member of the forum chose to take something from a discussion and share it outside the group with the client. In both cases the photographers felt it was their responsibility to share issues taken out of context with clients who weren't theirs!
So, here's my point. For a group of artists who get incredibly upset when somebody uses one of your images without authorization (and you should), then why do some of you not respect the conversations that take place in a forum the same way? Why would you not treat other people with the same respect you demand yourself?
Being an Administrator is a tough enough job without feeling like you're on playground duty at an elementary school! Every week somebody reports a post they don't like because of the way the discussion has gone off track. Often they're right and it does need to be pulled, but why put us in the position in the first place?
So, here are some suggestions for the Rules of Engagement, once again. And, if you feel I've missed any, feel free to let me know and we'll add to the list!
What a kick it would be if everybody communicated like my buddy Levi Sim reminded us all once, "Act like your grandmother was watching you!"
And, on that note, it's time to wish all of you a terrific Sunday. It's a beautiful day in South Florida and I hope wherever you are it's the same. Regardless, it's a great day for a few eleven-second hugs with people you care about and time to appreciate everything you have. Watching the news this week, there was one horrible story after another about storm victims and their losses. There's so much we take for granted.
Happy Sunday everybody and thank you for your friendship, support and feedback. As sappy as it might sound, it's really an honor to share a Sunday morning with you.
When I moved back to Ohio in 2009 we bought a couple pieces of furniture at Levin Furniture. From the time we ordered to the day of delivery there were two more special store-wide promotions. Each time I'd pick up the phone and call the sales person who'd helped us. She'd refer the question to the store manager and we'd argue for a few minutes over the inequity of their system. Each time I'd challenge their policies, knowing full well, all I had to do was refuse delivery of our initial order, start over again and get the best price available for what we wanted. Eventually I was told they would "make an exception" and extend the benefits of the new promotion.
I got the first email promo above just before Labor Day and the second promo just ten days later. The first issue is their need to update their mailing list. I haven't lived in Ohio in almost three years, but second, why hit the promo button again in just ten days?
I've seen so many photographers who, whether real or perceived, believe they're stuck in the promotion riptide and can't sell any of their services without a special offer. Nothing is impossible to change. In fact, Henry Ford once said,
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”
Even bloggers, mostly wedding and portrait photographers, think they're stuck when they can't break the trend of showing images from weekend shoots of their clients. Posting images of clients becomes a popularity contest and I've heard comments about people who were actually hurt, because all of their images weren't shared on their photographer's blog.
So, let's come up with some ideas to help you break the promotional riptide you might be caught in...
There's nothing wrong with promoting your business, but you need to pay attention to your timing, the frequency and always make sure you never compromise on the quality of your work. Show only your very best and build a reputation based on customer service and uncompromising quality.
WARNING - SARCASM ALERT
Well, I knew this was coming. In fact, we all knew it - the official "Let's Abuse the Voter Hunting Season" is officially open. Unlike any other hunting season there are no bag limits!
It kicked off yesterday with a hey-voter-Donald-Trump-wants-you-to-know-you-can-vote-early telemarketing call, Then the celebrity kick-off just came a few minutes ago. Nothing beats a call from Pat Boone. How many of us even know who he is? Yes, our home has been targeted by some strategist burning the late night oil thinking about how to get us old farts in Florida to vote. Hmmm, but Pat Boone?
Yes, our phone lines, mailboxes and email boxes are ripe and ready for not only holiday catalogs, but millions of dollars wasted on political postcard propaganda that could be helping the homeless, fighting breast cancer, helping the hurricane victims, etc. Spending money that way would make so much sense - instead we've been selected to be buried in B.O.B.S. (Barrage of Bull Sh__).
But here's the fun of election time. I remember turning 50 and that first morning my AARP card arrived! Well, as you get older it gets better - To think I thought getting a parking space at the Bozeman Walmart was a big deal!
I guess I just need to learn to dream bigger. We live in exciting times. I wonder who the next call will be from?
They might just be grab shots, but there's a whole lot of significance to the story behind them. The year is 1996, and it's the PPA convention in Orlando. Back in those days what's become known as IUSA was always in the middle of the summer. You could typically pick the hottest place in the US, with the lowest hotel rates and that's where the convention would be held. IUSA has sure come a long way!
A few years earlier Hasselblad and Kodak teamed up and launched Speakers Corner. We put our booths on either side of the aisle, then bought the aisle, putting all the in-booth programming right between our two companies. That's Denis Reggie presenting in the top image, and "Big Daddy" Blair in the one below. A new program kicked off every hour, and the draw for both Hasselblad and Kodak was remarkable.
But besides a lot of great memories as I look back to what it took to schedule and coordinate our presence at any show, I'm laughing over the way the chairs were put together. We had "Kodak" and "Hasselblad" printed on each chair back. In fact, I surprised Terry Deglau from Kodak and had the director's chairs made up, but looking at these images everyone is sitting on the logos - they were put together wrong. The name should be on the outside, on the back of the chair. Even worse, while I'd like to find out who the bozo was who put them together wrong, I'm betting any money it was me! LOL
Hasselblad and Kodak were the first companies to work together this way, and it set the stage for some incredible programs over the years. It made so much sense to work together since we shared so many of the industry's icons along with a strong mutual focus on education.
So, it's Throwback Thursday - have you gone searching for your throwbacks to share? Remember, talking about the value of old images is a terrific marketing tool and a strong reminder to your blog readership that time never slows down!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
PS Let me know if any of you spot yourselves in the audience!
Image copyright Lee Varis. All rights reserved.
We all look at thousands of images each week, of which many we don't honestly notice. However, now and then there's an image that draws us in, but we never hear the backstory directly from the artist. I started "Why?" for two reasons: First, to introduce you to many of the most talented and respected artists in photography, and second, to learn the backstories behind some incredible images.
It's time for you to meet Lee Varis, although I suspect many of you have attended his workshops over the years. He's written several books, been published in most of the key photographic magazines and has been active at one time or another with just about every major imaging association. He has a phenomenal expertise as a result of 40+ years in photography and over 20 years in computer imaging.
Check out Lee's website by clicking on his image. You should also book mark his tutorials, and if he's teaching near you, run don't walk to get a seat. You'll find a calendar on his site with his upcoming schedule.
Lee's also a relatively new member of X-Rite's Coloratti Pro team, although his link isn't up on their site yet. Regardless, click on the logo below and meet some of the finest artists in the world, all connected by their respect and appreciation for color calibration, accurate viewing and printing, and of course, X-Rite Photo & Video.
Every month, since ShutterMagazine started, I've had an article about the components you need to build a successful business. With each article online there's always a video. I consistently like to find a way to make my point and at the same time have some fun with the concepts I'm writing about.
This is one of my favorite videos, recorded for the June 2014 issue. That little screen shot to the right should demonstrate the lengths I'm willing to go to when it comes to helping my readers understand an idea. LOL If you want to read the article, Shutter Magazine is free on line. My column starts on page 168, and here's the link.
Here's the summary version and why I wanted to write about this today:
I'm on hundreds of photographer's websites every week, many of them without any serious branding. So many times I'm looking at a site that's the equivalent of a patchwork quilt put together by somebody who's colorblind. Nothing matches! Put that together with difficult navigation, unnecessary policy statements and an abundance of mediocre images and it's simply not a fun experience for people to visit the website.
In the video I mention the golden arches - we know exactly what that logo represents and that it's McDonalds. Your competing for the same recognition, just in a smaller space. Your competitors are every company making noise to your target audience at the same time you're trying to reach them. That means your website, blog, social media "real estate," business cards, stationery, brochures and anything I missed, all have to have the same look and feel.
Continuity doesn't stop with the design of all these components, but continues with your tone and text. For example, I'm a big fan of first person about pages. Yet, so many of you talk about yourself in the third person and then will often switch to first person in the end. Stay with first person and write it like an artist's statement from your heart. Share your passion for the craft and working with people instead of describing yourself while having an out of body experience!
So, it's a really simple message today - take the time to review all the building blocks of your business, especially your site and blog. Remember, for any of you in the wedding and portrait side of the business, 98% of the purchase decisions are made by women. That means your site needs to have appeal to the female shopper.
If you want to subscribe to Shutter Magazine, it's become the leading publication in professional photography with over 90,000 in online readership. Plus, the monthly hard copy is stunning and typically runs over 200 pages. There's no other magazine you can say that about. Just click on the cover of the September issue to find out more.
And, if you want advice to always look sharp no matter what the situation, I'm thinking about setting up a business as a wardrobe stylist!
by Skip Cohen
I've written a lot over the years about the importance of community involvement. It's one of the very strongest ways for you to build your brand. We're into the Fall and a time of year when opportunities to be more involved in your community abound. There is no other time of year where there are so many activities for non-profits. Here's a chance to build your reputation, and get a little visibility for your efforts.
Remember how you feel as a consumer yourself? People like supporting companies they perceive as giving something back. You're looking for the community to be good to you - well, you have to be good to your community!
While some of the points I've made about marketing and expanding your reach into the community have been said over and over again, so many of you still aren't making the change. Stop procrastinating and start building a stronger brand!
Here's a short list of ideas to get you started:
1) Get involved with a local fund-raiser. Whether it involves your camera or not doesn't matter. You need to be involved, and your community needs to know you're out there and not just another retailer.
2) Look for local events around holiday time. For example, anybody doing portraits of couples at the Kiwanis, Rotary or Exchange Club holiday event this year?
3) Get to know the president of the PTA for any of the local schools. How about portraits instead of a bake sale to raise money this year? The schools are all back in session. There isn't a school in the country that has all the money and support it needs.
4) Every high school football team, band, yearbook and chorus are looking for new ways to raise money - you've got the gear and the know-how - so how about working with them to create a new idea for fund-raising beyond hot dog sales at Friday night games?
5) Visit your local Chamber of Commerce and find out what's going on in the community. For a start, most communities are getting read to start their United Way campaign. For next year, how about using your camera to create new ways to raise funds, and you can plant the seed with United Way now. Also, photograph some of the events and then get the images over to the Chamber of Commerce.
6) Sometimes it's not about raising money directly at all, but using your skill set as a photojournalist, documenting various events in the community and then providing the management of those events and the local paper with your images. Photograph charity walks, holiday parties and events that are public for the community. Remember, nobody can do it better than you!
7) Use your blog! Your blog is the perfect vehicle to remind your readers of special community events coming up. It puts you in a great position, helping the hosting organization publicize the event. It also gives you some great content. One event has the potential to give you three strong hits of content/exposure. First, there's letting your readers know it's coming up and linking them to the event page. Second, be at the event to photograph the participants, key people and the activities, giving everyone a chance to actually meet you. Third, follow up with a blog post after the event, which not only helps the organization but demonstrates a little of your skill set.
The big issue is about involvement and helping people remember who you are and what makes you different from so many other companies. I remember Tony Corbell once talking about things he did when first starting his business:
"I wasn't the best photographer in town, but I was determined to be the nicest! It was the best way I could separate myself from everybody else and build my business!"
Image copyright Judy Host. All rights reserved.
Thanks to so much great feedback, this is number 36 in the "Why?" series. We're sharing the stories behind the favorite images of some of the industry's most respected artists. Think about how many images we all see each day on line, in magazines, newspapers and television, but we never hear the stories behind them.
Judy Host joins me in this new "Why?" Judy is based out of Atlanta and although Rangefinder Magazine described her as one of "Today's Top Children's Photographers," there's nothing Judy can't shoot! Just click on the image above to connect to her website. And, while you're visiting her site, check out the images in her galleries and especially the landing page. I really like the way it comes up dark and each category lights up as you drag your mouse across the page.
A BIG thanks to Judy for joining me on "Why?" along with all the artists who have joined us so far. There are lots more coming and with each image you're getting to know another one of the industry's most creative photographers and we're all getting to hear the backstories!
Every now and then there's a Sunday morning when I start to write, and just don't seem to get anywhere. Just as there are days when many of you fight to jump start your "creative composition gene" capturing an image, when I start writing the thoughts I want to express don't always show up right away.
As I sat here staring at the pictures on the wall of my home office, I realized I hadn't read anything by Melody Beattie in a while. This might be a little heavy for some of you, but I've written a lot about the importance of feeding your mind, not just your body.
This is a time of year when my life seems to be made up of a lot of disjointed pieces, but unlike a puzzle where they only fit one way, each piece changes as it's turned and put next to another. Getting those pieces to fit is made more difficult by the stress some people like to bring into our lives. Well, nobody has the right to mess with your happiness.
Years ago a very good friend told me how at a point in his life he simply had to remove himself from family members who lived to be negative about him and his life. He chose to surround himself with positive people and shut out the trolls and the naysayers. The closest of his friends became his family.
I shared a quote last week that you might have missed. We were visiting good friends in Ohio who I've written about before - Hoss and Melissa. They've become incredibly important members of our family. They have a sign on their living room wall:
Here’s to the nights that turned into mornings with the friends that turned into family.
Wishing all of you precious time with good friends. A Sunday of peace and just plain happiness. Hopefully, the piece below from Melody Beattie will be as uplifting for you as it was for me this morning. If it is, pick up her book - there are 364 more days of thoughts to inspire you. Just click on the cover below to link to Amazon.
Go for those eleven-second hugs. If you're new to my blog, I read an article over a year ago about hugs lasting eleven seconds or longer become therapeutic. Just trust me and try it. And, thanks for being a part of the "connecting thread' in my life Melody talks about.
by Melody Beattie
Scattered pieces. Sometimes we look around, and that's what we see. Scattered pieces of ourselves, our lives, a project, a season of our lives. Where is the connecting thread, we wonder? How can we ever pull this together into something that makes sense, something with purpose, something with meaning?
There are pieces to every whole; yet each piece is complete. Don't worry about how they will come together. Work joyfully on the piece that's before you, the piece that's in your life today.
There are many pieces of you, many beautiful parts. The universe will help you bring all those parts alive. It will bring mirrors to you, people who will reflect those beautiful pieces back to you. Look in the mirror of our life. What pieces do you see reflected? Know it's you you're seeing. Then let that part of you come alive.
Pull in the parts of yourself, the many beautiful parts that have come alive. Beckon your warrior, your healer, your playful child. Bring together your professional self, your adult, the passionate part of you, the nurturing part. Let all the parts come together. Don't send any of them away. You need them all. Each is a beautiful piece of the soul, the life, the person you are.
Trust. Trust the process. Joy is yours, available for the asking and the desiring --even in the developmental stages. Even before the puzzle has been put together. The scattered pieces will come together - the scattered pieces of yourself, your project, your life. The connecting thread is love.
The picture will be beautiful. Wait and see.
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.