Remember the word "fun?" It's one of those very special, easily understood words that are too often lost in business today. "Fun," often disappears under the baggage of business and the stress of responsibilities and commitments. We forget to make the time for fun.
A month ago I was introduced to Luminar 2018, and it's added a new dimension of fun to my images. Two weeks ago I shared the first post in Luminar Corner, a new SCU feature. Chamira Young and I are taking turns every other Wednesday having fun with Skylum's Luminar 2018. Each week we're sharing a different tool or combination of filters and then using the before and after slide bar.
I pulled today's image from my archives going back to Szalay's farm stand in Akron two years ago. It was about this same time of year and loaded with pumpkins and the typical fall collection of squashes, dried corn, and a harvest theme. The original image was shot in 2016 with one of my favorite cameras to travel with, the LUMIX FZ300. It was shot at f3.2 @ 1/160 ISO 100.
I combined two of Luminar's tools. First, I used the "Tonal Compressor" preset. While it's easily adjustable, I left it at 100%. It recovers highlights and opens the shadows and adds a hair of contrast, saturation and clarity. Second, I love the "Structure" filter which I pushed just a little. The definition of what it does, right from the drop-down box in Luminar 2018 is:
"Enhances clarity and micro-contrast in surface areas between edges detected in an image improving perceived detail and making photos stand out."
I know everybody has their own opinion on stuff like this. For me, it was fun giving a flat, boring image a little more personality and a stronger illustrative look. It's what I was going for, and it's an especially good way to demo what this amazing software is capable of doing!
It's a NO-Brainer!
Put in the special discount code of "SKIPCOHEN" and receive an additional $10 off. That means you can buy Luminar 2018 for $49 USD and upgrade from the previous version for $39 USD. The code also applies to the purchase of Aurora HDR 2019.
Please Note: For every purchase made between now and November 30, 2018, through the SCU link on the left, SCU will be donating $5 to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
Sorry to use this quote again, but it's my favorite quote about photography!
"This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect."
In October of 2011, we moved to Sarasota. The primary reason was to help my folks. My Dad was 89 and taking care of my mother who was a few years into her battle with Alzheimer's. Since graduation from high school I'd always lived in another part of the country, and while we talked regularly and saw each other several times a year, I was never "next door."
Moving to Florida was one of the best things I've ever done. It gave me and my folks quality time, and even with Mom's Alzheimer's, there were plenty of special moments. It's a horrible disease that, like a burglar in the night, robs you of your loved ones. But, Dad used to say, "I'm going to squeeze every drop of joy out of whatever's left," and he stayed focused on every moment when the disease would take a break and Mom's personality came shining through.
Today, Halloween would be Dad's 96th birthday. When I was a kid the poor guy never had a decent birthday, always interrupted by trick or treaters, including me headed out in search of trick or treat candy. It was ironic, since back then he was in the wholesale candy and tobacco business. I had access to an entire warehouse of candy, but nothing was sweeter than what I got in my bag every Halloween.
Just to say I miss the guy would be a colossal understatement. The incredible memories along with knowing he and Mom are watching over us keep them in our hearts all the time.
Over the last years of his life, I talked Dad into writing two blog posts for me. I paid him a dollar for each of them, agreeing to write off the allowance he still owed me from when I was 12! LOL One of the posts I shared on Father's Day and the other I pulled out of the archives this morning.
Dad was part of the greatest generation, and there's a lot of wisdom in what he wrote below. As much as business has changed with social media, the power of the Internet making the world smaller and technology giving us the ability to reach thousands of people - the basics of good business and how we treat each other NEVER changes.
Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday Pop!
by Ralph Cohen
I have been happily retired for many years, and unemployed for almost twenty. I am not a plagiarist, but I must quote my father who spent the last months of his life writing advice to his children:
“Conduct your business in an upright manner and remember, the most important thing in one’s life is to be honest with one’s self. Maintain the high standard and dignity that your business requires. Do not go into deals hastily and be visible in your business as much of the time as is possible. If you take time to play, do it away from your business, because your livelihood needs all the attention you can give to it.”
Early on, I concluded that the best testimonials came from my many friendly competitors. We didn’t really compete with each other, in the true sense. True, we were in the same field of endeavor, but we all knew we were there to help each other. Happily, the “tough competition” fell by the wayside.
I remember giving Skip driving lessons and I told him, “Watch the left front fender…..the rest will take care of itself!” I’ve found this is really true of everything in life.
An old axiom says, “If you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.” That is all part of reputation-building. I found that, sadly, in the field of real estate, truth is hard to come by for many. In our case, it was a major building block in the reputation which we enjoyed, and helped us to thwart the competition.
Goodwill is all of the above, plus a lot of caring for your clients as well as your competitors. If life is a give-and-take situation, giving is the more important of the two. The taking will come with time and be far more appreciative. Just remember – you heard it here!
Ralph Cohen, Founder and 1/2 the Creators of Skip Cohen!
Intro by Skip Cohen
While the Internet has made the world a significantly smaller place, one of the most fun aspects is when you catch up to a cyber-buddy in real time - live! There's still no better way to build relationships than face to face. That's one more great reason to attend every convention you can squeeze into your schedule and expand the "social" in social media.
Last week at PhotoPlus Expo in NYC I caught up to Fred Windholz. While we may have met sometime over the years, I really know him from social media, especially Facebook. With everything I post, Fred is always one of the first to check it out. So, when bumping into each other at the show, I knew exactly who he was.
Fred's got a great background in lighting and in an IM conversation I asked him if he wanted to share some of that expertise. I suggested three of the best tips he's ever received, and here he is this morning!
I know for some of you this post might seem a little basic, but so often, especially when you're busy, a quick refresher of a few basics might be just what you need for a quick charge. Your clients trust you to capture the very best images. Learning to see the light and understand how it impacts each photograph may well be the most critical skill in building a strong brand.
Fred should be on your radar - click on any image to link to his Facebook page, and keep track of what he's up to.
Stay tuned because I'm hoping I can talk Fred into sharing more!
by Fred Windholz
Like so many things in life right now there seems to be an either/or way of thinking. In the photography business we tend to think of one brand over another or one style of photography over another. One area I see that in is with lighting… “Natural light vs. Flash”.
As a past wedding photographer (recently slowed that genre down) for me light was light…which means I would use whatever light was best for any given situation…whether daylight, window light, light bulbs, LED or flash. The key was learning how to see light and take advantage of that light, regardless of the source.
When I teach a lighting class I start with four principles to think about - Direction, Distance, Size and Power. These hold true whether using daylight or flash.
Direction: We’ve all been told that direct front lighting is the least flattering light…not that it can’t be used at times, but that it will render “flat” light. By giving some direction to the light it begins to add shape and dimension to your subject. But what’s the best direction you might ask? I’m not going to get into that for this article because that could be a class all by itself…any direction is better than no direction (generally).
Size & Distance: I put these together because they usually go hand in hand. Here’s the key, size and distance relative to your subject, will render a softer or harsher light. That is why on a cloudy day the shadows are softer as the clouds act as a large light source and bringing the light source closer to your subject. The direct sun is large relative to the earth but it is small relative to your subject.
Power: So what does power do? Well, first it can affect your exposure for one (ie. f stop, ISO and/or shutter), which can affect your overall look. But let’s think of the sun…it is very powerful. Direct sun (small light source, far away) creates strong shadows. Bring in the clouds as we discussed earlier and because of the powerof the sun it can penetrate through those clouds to give a nice soft light. This becomes more relative when using flash or studio lights. A small hot shoe flash will render less power than a strong studio light. So if I want to use a large soft box I would want a light with more power to maximize and fill the soft box to have enough power to reach my subject. If I were using a flash outdoors to compete with the sun I would want one with more power. On the other side if I just needed a little light a less powerful flash would suffice.
So whatever the light source you use, if you begin to think about these four factors it will help you see light differently and just may begin to improve your images. For me this is something I learned along the way and has stuck with me ever since.
Experiment, play around and find what works best for you!
Image copyright Shiv Verma. All rights reserved.
It's Mirrorless Monday and the perfect time to spotlight an image captured by my good buddy and LUMIX Ambassador, Shiv Verma. I caught up to Shiv last week at the PPE convention in NYC and getting time to talk was the perfect reminder of one of the most important benefits of attending every convention you can work into your schedule - keeping in touch with people in your network.
Shiv's image today, The Watchman, was captured in Zion National Park in Utah. Captured with the LUMIX G9 and the 12-60mm Leica lens it was shot at f8 at 1/30 at ISO 200. Shiv captured it in high-resolution mode with Benro grad filters creating a 300 dpi image that is approximately 3' x 2' and "could be enlarged 10X with no issues."
Shiv's no stranger to SCU and we shared one of his favorite images in an episode of "Why?" last year. Check out the LUMIX G9, winner of the 2018 Lucie Technical Award for Best Small Format Camera System, with a click on the camera above along with the LUMIX G Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm lens.
Find out more about Shiv with a click on today's spotlight photo. Then follow him, along with the rest of the LUMIX Ambassadors. They're one of the most diverse and creative teams in photography. Keep tabs on their adventures. You'll never be disappointed.
If you follow me on a regular basis, you noticed I posted very little on the SCU blog last week. That's because I was at PhotoPlus Expo in NYC, and it was quite a show. Although somewhat scaled down and a little smaller than past years, it still had a good feel. It was especially good to take advantage of one of the most important reasons all of you should attend as many conventions/conferences as possible - networking.
This isn't just about building your network, but touching base with people already on your "team." A good network is only as strong as the time you put into its care and feeding! During the week I caught up to old friends and new ones. I often asked, "So, what's new?" or "How's business this year?" The answers were all over the place.
I was surprised by the number of people with a common theme. There are so many of you frustrated because your business isn't growing as fast as you'd hoped, and you haven't hit your stride yet. Chasing dreams is exhausting, especially when you don't realize how much progress you really might be making.
It's the perfect topic for Marketing Monday - sharing a few key things I've learned in my almost-an-old-fart life's experiences:
1) Everything always works out for the better! It sounds trite, but I've seen it happen over and over again. Just when you think it's the darkest day of your life, the sun comes out. Just trust this concept! The key is not to give up, and I'm reminded of a quote by Ross Perot:
"Most people give up just as they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line.
They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown."
2) A watched pot never boils! Okay, I threw that in for my grandmother's sake. In today's terms, it merely means stop looking so hard. You're looking for success and recognition, and it'll all come in time. Just keep working at expanding your skill set and never compromise on quality.
3) You're judged by the company you keep! There she is again, Grandma Alice, who used that expression all the time. In today's terms, it means hanging out with people who can help you grow. I've worked with and for a few people over the years who loved to be intimidating. They managed by being bullies, but I learned the most from those managers who encouraged me to challenge their decisions. The same goes for my friends, who challenge me every day.
If you're a tennis player, you know your game gets better when you play with somebody better than you. Photography and business are the same way - surround yourself with people who are trying new things, have confidence and are willing to give you advice, even when it contradicts what you're about to do.
4) A stitch in time saves nine! One more from my grandmother and I'll let her rest. She used to scream at me because of the holes in my socks as a kid. Since she was the only one in the family who sewed, her efforts often involved "rebuilding" a sock rather than just fixing a hole. Yeah, this is when you realize I'm an old guy, because today you just throw them out and buy a new pair, but here's how that applies to business.
When you run into a problem, address it at the time, don't procrastinate, especially with customer service issues. Not calling a client back who's upset comes up most often. When a customer doesn't hear back from you, things immediately start getting out of proportion. You don't always need to have an immediate answer, just let them know you're listening. Often all it takes is three short sentences, "I understand you're unhappy. Well the buck stops here. How can I help?"
5) Never believe your own press releases. It's the ego bus, and there areafew too many people on it lately. Remember, you pass the same people on the way down that you passed on the way up!
6) Anything is possible! All it takes is hard work and a great support team. Look at some of the things you're doing right now. You're probably involved in projects or techniques today you never believed you could do just a few years ago.
We're part of a fantastic industry with incredible photographers, terrific manufacturers/vendors, and many genuinely approachable icons, but you've got to talk to them to get their feedback. You've got to share your ideas to develop new ones and most important of all, you've got to be patient and don't slow down!
"If you want to be successful in a particular field of endeavor, I think perseverance is one of the key qualities.
It's very important that you find something you care about, that you have a deep passion for,
because you're going to have to devote a lot of your life to it. "
Wishing everybody a terrific Monday and the start of a new week!
By Chamira Young
After hearing all the buzz about Skylum's Luminar 2018, I couldn't help but become at least a bit curious. For an editing software to become so popular so quickly, I knew there had to be a reason. And when Skip suggested we start this "Luminar Corner" to have some fun testing it out, I nearly jumped at the chance. While I pay the bills doing mostly portrait photography and have an editing workflow I'm quite comfortable with, I believe it's important to periodically experiment with new software and re-evaluate your workflow. You might discover something you like better!
Today's image: Because this was my first time dipping my toe into the waters of Luminar, I chose a simple flower photo to enhance. The irony is I couldn't keep a plant alive to save my life, and yet this image is one of my favorites. I also couldn't tell you what kind of flower it is, because I simply have no idea. I still love it though!
Getting started with Luminar 2018 was very easy in that the presets give you an easy avenue to start experimenting and having some fun right away. While it was a toss up between the "Image Enhancer" preset and the "Vivid" preset, I ultimately choose the "Vivid" preset and made some custom adjustments, all by eye. I lowered the Shadow slider a bit, thus increasing the appearance of shadows, and also raised the Contrast slider by about 16 points. And tempting as they were, I chose to leave the Saturation and Vibrance sliders alone, because I didn't want to overdo the image. My goal was to make it pop a bit while still being tasteful.
While I thought the original image was lovely enough, I was quite pleased with the quick boost I was able to give it in, all in about 2.5 minutes. Oftentimes, especially with nature, it can be tough to capture an image the way you saw it. Being able to easily restore those visual qualities in the editing phase is awesome.
Let's take one more look at the finished product. I may very well print that on a canvas and put it on my wall! To check out the complete Skylum lineup and learn what all the buzz is about, just click on the banner below my flower image.
It's a NO-BRAINER! Put in the special discount code of "SKIPCOHEN" and receive an additional $10 off. That means you can buy Luminar 2018 for $49 USD and upgrade from the previous version for $39 USD. The code also applies to the purchase of Aurora HDR 2019.
Please Note: For every purchase made between now and November 30, 2018, through the SCU link on the right, SCU will be donating $5 to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
Images copyright Jeremy Horner. All rights reserved.
This is our tenth podcast in the Beyond Technique series and what a kick it's been working with PhotoShelter and these artists. Each artist has shared so much insight into their journey along with their passion for imaging and people.
Jeremy Horner joins Chamira Young and me on podcast number ten. We caught up to him while he was visiting his parents in the UK. Jeremy is all about people and different cultures. I picked a few of my favorite images from his galleries, but it wasn't easy! You'll see what I mean if you click on any of his photographs in this post.
It became very obvious early in the conversation that a big part of Jeremy's success is about relationship building. It's a topic we talked a lot about, and it's so important in capturing great images, especially when you're outside your element in other countries.
A BIG thanks to Jeremy for making time for the Beyond Technique podcast. You'll notice when you look at his galleries he spends a great deal of his time traveling all over the world. And, thanks to the team at PhotoShelter for the services and products they offer each client, and their incredible focus on customer service. Jeremy's a big fan of what PhotoShelter has done to keep his presentation always looking its very best.
Over the years I've written several posts about playing offense when it comes to building your business. I'm a big fan of playing offense versus defense. Right now, even if you haven't done very much planning, you've still got time for some great marketing plays before the end of the year, especially if your skill set is in portraiture.
1) Halloween and the Fall: From Halloween shots to pumpkin patches and fall themes there are endless opportunities for you to get people thinking about portraiture. It's also an ideal time to launch portrait type activities in your community. And, don't forget homecoming dances at the high school! It's only October 22, and while you're cutting it close to do much for Halloween, with some good partners, you can still have an impact. Even something as simple as a class for all the parents in your neighborhood, helping them capture better photographs of their kids on Halloween, has the potential to develop more goodwill and brand awareness for your business.
2) Thanksgiving: There isn't a mother on the planet who doesn't want new portraits of her family. Even more important there isn't a grandmother who doesn't complain about not having up to date images of her grandchildren! So, when was the last time you did a Thanksgiving promotion? When was the last time you planted a seed to get people thinking about how old their family portraits are?
Once again, education jumps in, whether it's a mini-workshop for your community or content for your blog, help your target audience with ideas on better picture-taking. There are things you do every day you take for granted that "Mom" doesn't know about - from storytelling to posing and lighting, you can set the stage to be the photo guru in the neighborhood!
3) Those BIG December Days: Christmas and Chanukah are terrific times to plant the seed for gift ideas, but don't shotgun the entire market. Think about your client base and everybody you already photographed during this past year or more. Go back to previous clients and get them thinking about reprints, additional albums and new images to bring the family up to date. You've got to be the one to plant the seed, and there's nothing better than the idea of a big framed canvas print as this year's special holiday gift. It might be an old idea to you, but not to most consumers.
4) Holiday Events: Remember all the different organizations in your community. Who's photographing the Rotary or Exchange Club holiday parties this year? What special events are sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce? How can your skill set enhance these events?
5) PTA: Parent Teacher Associations are active in virtually every school system from elementary through high school. Start getting involved, and as the school year ramps up, be active in the PTA to help strengthen your brand.
6) In the Classroom: It's the perfect time of year to arrange a visit to the school to help students capture better images. I'm not talking about the camera clubs, but every kid who has a cell phone. Again, think back to your expertise. For most of you if you had to shoot an entire wedding on a cell phone you'd get the job done - so, share that expertise with kids in the classroom. This is one of those perfect applications for building goodwill, and with kids the right age, 10-14, you've got an intelligent audience with a passion for sharing photographs.
7) Call Your Lab: Technology NEVER stands still, and every day new products are coming into our industry. Last August I shared a post about a 30x60 print I have hanging on the wall OUTSIDE our home. It's Bay Photo's Performance EXT Metal Prints, and it's still stunning, having now been out in the sun, rainstorms and day in day out extremes of Florida weather. Visit your lab's website and check out all the new products to help you create more excitement with gift ideas this time of year.
And, take a look at Bella Art Prints from Marathon. They're stunning with great pricing.Check out this post featuring one of Bobbi Lane's favorite images. On a special project for Panasonic earlier this year we did an oversized Bella Art Album that was beautiful with each LUMIX Ambassador having a double page spread of images.
8) Start 2019 Out Right: How about a head shot campaign in your community? Seriously, look at all the retailers around you, and they range from restaurants to realtors. This is the perfect time to remind them it's time for a new headshot and get the year off to the right start! Have some fun and do it as a "Clean Up the Community" campaign and bring a little humor into the market. Let's get rid of bad headshots!
Creating awareness for concepts like these, especially if you've never done them before takes time. You might not score a hat trick the first time on the ice, but just being out there puts you ahead of most of your competitors. Remember to get a few photographs of you working with clients for your own press releases. Build your stash of images of you being involved in projects like these so you can create awareness in the community with more press releases and blog content in the future.
Don't forget to look for partners! This is consumer bundling at its best, and you've got limo companies, florists, venues and even other photographers to help you absorb the costs and create the excitement! And, everybody is after more business and success this time of year!
It's Sunday morning, and as I struggle to find a relevant topic outside of photography, I'm also fighting off a rant. Maybe that's my topic today - we each need to allow ourselves the luxury of a rant now and then. The online definition of "rant" is speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way. Synonyms include shout, bluster, yell and bellow.
Well, it's October, and we're coming up on Election Day. Our mailbox is starting to load up on political postcards; the ads on television with candidates slamming each other have started, and my favorite, the robodialed pre-recorded bullish** from the candidates has begun. They often start out sounding like a public service message reminding us of our civic duty to vote, but they always finish the same way, with a plug for the Democrats or the Republicans.
When it comes to the broadcast world, Sheila and I have become uninformed citizens, pre-recording our favorite shows so we can fast forward through the commercials along with the news. We've got David Muir and World News Tonight down to eleven minutes. We bypass every story having anything to do with Washington - not because we're not interested, but because we have no idea what to believe anymore.
Millions of dollars every day are spent on the political battles supporting candidates who want to convince us they're here to help make our lives easier. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of kids not getting enough to eat, the homeless crisis is an issue in virtually every community, care for our veterans isn't what it should be, and we don't do enough to support the elderly. And, that's just a start - the list goes on and on.
Think about it for just a second - how many of the challenges that pull at our heartstrings could we change if instead of spending money on phone calls and expensive mailers we put the money into helping people? Just here in Florida alone, how many school lunches could we buy if we fed kids with the money being spent on the obnoxious television battle between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis for governor?
And there it is, the peak of my rant...but picture me screaming a little! How do we stop the madness?
For Sheila and I, we're involved in our favorite local non-profits we believe in. We can't make the world a better place, only our little piece of it. But, if everybody did something in their little corner of the world - all those pieces together would make one incredible patchwork quilt of community support, enhancing the fabric of America.
So, like the monkey in the hear-no-evil trio, I'm shutting down! Right or wrong, I'll do my best to support things I can change and stop wasting time listening to the political banter that hits us in epidemic proportions this time of year. Except, ever notice how these days it goes on ALL year long...but that's another rant!
Wishing all of you a rant-less day and a time of peace with family and friends who you support with your love and compassion. Make it a day to appreciate everything in your life and if you're not involved in a community nonprofit, find a cause you believe in. There's very little more rewarding than working on something you know makes a difference in people's lives.
And, go for those eleven-second hugs I always write about, especially if you're frustrated like we are. You'll find one long hug has an amazing calming quality. It'll help you focus on what's most important in your life, which most often is the "huggee" you're holding on the other side of that long hug!
As always, Fast Food Fridays, especially with our new "menu" is meant to give you ideas to help you build a stronger business. I've been sharing these since February, and each "blue plate" special has offered help on a different aspect of your business.
Thanks to Excire, we expanded the menu in the SCU diner offering bigger entrees. Posts with more details also mean they take longer to enjoy but we're stepping away from fast food with concepts to help you increase reach and sales.
Today's special is a little different because we're serving up a plate about advertising. So many times over the years I've heard stories about wasted money and poor results.
Most often the problem is the business invested too much in just one type of advertising without looking at all the other things they should have been doing. The result is almost always too much money spent on one vehicle and no coordination through a few other channels for reach.
Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck With Advertising
Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.
Over the years I've heard so many photographers talk about advertising as if it was some strange new food they tried and didn't like. Look, my Dad hated lima beans, but that doesn't mean he gave up eating!
The same logic applies to virtually ALL publications regardless of whether they're an Internet or printed media. I know a lot of you, especially those of you who are wedding photographers, get hit for advertising in upscale local printed magazines. For today's special, when I use the word "publication" it covers everything from websites to printed magazines and newspapers.
"We advertised once, but..." The whole statement is absurd. If you only ran an ad in a particular publication once you wasted your money, no matter how good a rate you had. Why? Just about every authority I've ever read has talked about a minimum of running an ad three times. Think about how much noise there is in our lives. You have to build awareness and consumer recall isn't going to happen with just a one time run.
Poor Results: You need to find out why your ad didn't pull well. Was it confusing? Was there too much copy? Did you hit the consumer with something exciting or could it have put a rock to sleep? Did your ad match the demographics of the web publication? Was there a sense of urgency for your target audience to respond?
Location, Location, Location: You've heard the expression as it relates to commercial real estate, but advertising in a publication is no different. Where was your ad in the publication? With magazines, a lot of companies believe the forward third of the book is more prime than anywhere else. On a website that changes, but the concept is still the same - maximum visibility. Obviously, with a magazine, the inside and back covers are strong, but there are some other great locations...for example, opposite the Table of Contents or dead center of the magazine, if there's a tip-in subscription card or some other piece of literature.
Fractional vs. Full Page: A full-page ad will always drive your ego, but will it drive traffic to your business? I'm a huge fan of fractional ads but used in multiples on sequential pages. I learned this lesson from the master himself, Bruce Landau, who the industry sadly lost many years ago. When Bruce was the VP at Bogen he almost always ran multiple third-page ads, typically three in a row on the right-hand page. It was very effective and gave him as much, if not more bang for the buck than many of the big companies running full and double-page spreads.
Leveraging Editorial: Many of you get approached all the time by reps offering a great rate in local publications. They'll cut what seems like a great deal, but you can make it even better. Let them know you're interested in advertising, but you'd also like some editorial support. There are so many opportunities - a profile story about your business, a story about a particular application you specialize in or an article about a community fund-raiser you're involved with. Editorial in any publication has room to be less objective, as long as there's something newsworthy in the story.
Don't forget about links to enhance your online presence. A publication offering additional exposure with links in solid relevant editorial can drive traffic to your site, just like a good magazine article can drive traffic to your front door. Again, make it part of the negotiating process.
Ask to see the demographics: You need to know who the readership is before you spend your money. For example, if you were a cosmetic company launching a new nail polish would you advertise in "Guns and Ammo"? Anybody who says "yes," lock up for the day and go home. For the rest of you, pay attention to the readership of the publication. We know that women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories. If that's where your expertise lies, then you want to be advertising in publications that reach women. The same applies to children and family photographers, fine art photographers, etc. Every specialty has its own audience with a few that overlap.
Advertising is just one part of the marketing equation. A print or online ad with a particular company followed by inactivity in any other area will never accomplish as much as it could.
Don't forget all the other components as shown on the right. Print and Internet advertising are only two of the areas targeting consumers.
This is where your blog comes in along with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Social media plays a huge role today in helping you expand your reach.
And, don't forget the look and feel of your website, community involvement, and publicity in your community. Direct mail, if done right, is another strong component. The point is, you can never slow down on building your brand and for any campaign, you need 3-6 of the elements in the illustration above to be effective.
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I've written dozens of posts and magazine articles over the years about getting the most out of every conference or convention you attend. Time is your most valuable commodity, and there's so much going on at a good trade show.
Next week many of us will be in New York for PhotoPlus Expo and while the platform speakers and classes are a necessity, make sure you pay attention to what your favorite companies are doing in their booth right on the trade show floor.
Tamron USA is a perfect example. They'll be offering a "Clean & Check," bonus rebates and are giving away an SP 70-200/2.8 G2 lens. But, my favorite activity in their booth is always the number of programs they have going on each day.
Check out the live demos with some of the most respected artists in professional photography. Six times each day there's another program, but don't just go to watch or listen to the demo. Take the time before or after to introduce yourself.
Get to know the speakers and the staff at Tamron USA. Their tech team is second to none and will be there to help you with questions and ideas to raise the bar on the quality of your images. They need to be in your network, and each one has a pretty amazing talent for education and hands-on demonstrating.
You'll find the Tamron team just two booths from the front entrance of the trade show in booth 819. And, while you're there check out all the members of the Tamron family of outstanding lenses. They're manufacturing some of the finest glass in imaging today.
For example, check out the new SP 70-200mm F/2.8 lens they're giving away at the show. Just click on the banner below and then scroll through their website for the rest of their line. Then, at the show, check out those focal lengths on your wishlist, not currently in your camera bag!
See you in NYC!
Just trust me on this and grab a morning or afternoon coffee and sit back for a chuckle break.
I shared this video put together by Ben Aaron five years ago but it's such a classic, and the epitome of spirit and humor in a group of senior citizens in New Jersey. There's even a short story about how I wound up using it.
Ben Aaron is no stranger to the media in the NY/Nj area. "Benjamin "Ben" Aron Colonomos is a New York City-based media personality formerly for NBCUniversal's LXTV and WNBC's New York Live, and for the nationally syndicated Crazy Talk television series." I've never met Aaron, but did talk to him on the phone.
I've been active with the Friendship Centers here in Sarasota and for several years published their blog. Looking for fun senior content one morning five years ago I stumbled across this video. I loved it and even though it was posted on Ben's YouTube channel, I called him directly to make sure it was okay to use with a blog post for the Friendship Centers.
Today I'm active on the Board of the Friendship Centers and the enthusiasm of the people I've met and worked with for so many years amazes me. From 250,000 meals on wheels delivered in past years to thousands of people who have been helped through Health Services, adult day care and a never-ending stream of special programs, the organization has played a huge role in the area.
Sharing this video is also a great way to remind you to get involved in your community. People like supporting companies they perceive as giving back. So, use your blog to remind your target audience that you're more than just an artist - you're an active member of the community!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
A few weeks ago I was introduced to Luminar 2018 and it's had a significant impact on my images, but let's set the stage. I do not profess to be a professional photographer. However, having hung out most of my career with some of the finest photographers in the world, I know more than I let on. My passion is helping you with the business and marketing side of imaging but I'll match my love for the craft with anybody when it comes to enjoying life with a camera in my hands and having fun. Remember "fun?" It's one of those words too often lost today in the stress of running a business.
Using Skylum's Luminar 2018 I'm back to having more fun with my images. But I refuse to become a filter junkie, and most of the photos I've been sharing I'm only using one or two of their presets, most often for better clarity.
We're launching "Luminar Corner" this week as Skylum becomes a new partner with SCU. Every Wednesday Chamira Young and I are going to share one new image using a different Luminar tool.
Today's Image: I'm featuring two Luminar tools - first I love the slider bar that allows you to see the before and after on every image. I used two filters on the original image, the "clarity" preset and the "structure" filter. I liked the result, and when I shared the image in one of the Facebook forums I got the following response:
I'm afraid you went a bit too far on the sharpening, look at the grain in the clouds. If you would have pushed your aperture to about 11 and put the camera on a tripod, you could have gotten a cleaner image.
Here's my point...first the image was in my archives from two years ago, captured with a LUMIX FZ300 during a walk on the beach after a storm. I was pulled it into Luminar and found a look I liked. The grain and exaggerated sharpness were part of the way I wanted it to look. I know what I could have done to make it stronger at the point of capture, but this image was the look I was going for, and I'm reminded of my favorite quote from Dean Collins:
"Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!"
To check out the complete Skylum lineup and learn what all the buzz is about, just click on the banner below.
It's a NO-BRAINER! Put in the special discount code of "SKIPCOHEN" and receive an additional $10 off. That means you can buy Luminar 2018 for $49 USD and upgrade from the previous version for $39 USD. The code also applies to the purchase of Aurora HDR 2019.
Please Note: For every purchase made between now and November 30, 2018, through the SCU link on the right, SCU will be donating $5 to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
Everything changed the day he figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in his life.
Note: I'm not sure what's gotten me on this reoccurring theme of "time" lately - maybe it's because the year is coming to a close. There are so many photographers who I've talked to lately who seem to be caught in "analysis paralysis" and panic about what to do for a strong finish, as well as start the new year.
In 2008 Sheila and I were wandering around Laguna Niguel in California and walked into one of the shops on the main drag. I loved this print by Brian Andreas, and over the years we added two more. But the fun of this one goes to what's become my philosophy on life, and it's on my mind this morning.
We all spend so much time chasing time. We stress over the little stuff. We respond to interruptions all day long by people and things that don't matter. We often chase them like the never-ending growth of weeds in a garden.
Many of you spend time in Facebook forums arguing meaningless points, most of the time with people you don't know. Over and again I see a troll throw out the bait and you take it and run with it. Then, I'm guessing at the end of the day you're aggravated you didn't get as much done as you had hoped - all because you stressed over what some jackass said that you didn't agree with.
Well, that same jackass is hiding behind the anonymity of his or her computer screen, and loving every minute of the battle. They're more than likely quite pleased with themselves, and your loss of control just fed their egos!
And that brings me to a quote by an unknown author. I shared it yesterday morning on Twitter.
"Don't worry about those who talk behind your back. They're behind you for a reason!"
Here's the solution - so many of you need to grow a thicker skin. Stop letting people steal your time and attention. And yes, I'm guilty too. It's hard to walk away from a fight when you know the other person is so wrong, but as my buddy, Levi Sim has said, and I've quoted him dozens of times - "Act as if your grandmother is watching!"
We're headed into the true seasonality of the fourth quarter, and you need to focus on your marketing, creativity and skill set. There's plenty of time to still make 2018 a spectacular year, but only if you focus on what really matters.
All of you understand depth of field in your camera - so, it's time to work on the depth of field in your life - stop trying to be everything to everybody. Narrow your depth of field to what's most important in your life and business, and then enjoy the results in the spectacular image you're going to capture!
Image copyright Paul Mango. All rights reserved.
It's Mirrorless Monday, and LUMIX Ambassador, Paul Mango is in the spotlight. Paul's an accomplished photographer and I loved this image because it was so different from the usual shots I've seen of mountain ranges and landscapes. In addition, he captured the photograph with one of my favorite LUMIX cameras, the GX85.
The GX85 is compact and because it's a camera body, you've got the ability to use interchangeable lenses. The photograph was captured at Grand Lake, outside Rocky Mountain National Park. It was dusk and Paul used the GX85 with the LUMIX G Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm, F4.0-6.3 lens.
Click on either thumbnail below for more information. And check out the GX85 Overview video - it's a little over a minute, but packed with information about the features of this amazing little camera!
Follow Paul along with the rest of the LUMIX Ambassadors. He's part of one of the most diverse and creative teams in photography. Keep track of what they're working on, along with their adventures. This is a remarkable group of artists and they need to be on your radar.
Images copyright Pye Jirsa. All rights reserved.
We started the "Why?" series to introduce you to some of the most respected artists and educators in professional photography but with each new episode the dynamics keep expanding. Mark Toal, one of our past guests on "Why?" compared the challenge of picking one of his favorite images to being asked, "Which of your children do you love more?" It's an impossible task.
Pye Jirsa shares two of his favorites in this new episode, and right from the beginning, he comments on the images not being his "most dramatic, epic or impressive", but at the very top of the charts because of the reaction from his clients. And, that's what makes the "Why?" series, so special and fun to share.
Great images aren't just about technique but the reaction from the client. Being a professional photographer is about building relationships, not just capturing memories. With these images from Pye's favorite list, he not only captured a memory, but he also created one.
Based out of Southern California, Pye is part of the award-winning team of Lin and Jirsa. He's no stranger to SCU and over the past two years, thanks to Profoto, we've shared at least ten different posts and videos featuring Pye as one of the industry's finest educators. Even with this short podcast, you'll pick up more tips on lighting.
Looking for outstanding educational content? Check out the SLR Lounge with a click on either of Pye's images in this post. And, take the time to look at the Lin and Jirsa galleries featuring dozens of beautiful photographs. Their galleries are a blueprint demonstrating one of the most important aspects of building a successful business as a professional photographer - they know how to tell each story!
Pye captured the images with Profoto's Off-Camera Flash System. Just click on the banner below to visit Profoto's website, and then get yourself into a Profoto dealer or rental house, and take the finest gear in lighting today for your own test drive!
It's a beautiful Sunday morning in south Florida and one of those days where the humidity has finally dropped, the smell of devastation from the red tide is gone, and there isn't a cloud in the sky. It's one of those days you'd love to be able to bottle and share around the world where storms, fires, and earthquakes have left a painful path of destruction. In other words, for so many of us not affected by all the natural disasters in the news lately, I just feel lucky and appreciate the life Sheila, and I have.
I'm not sure what got me thinking about aging this morning but to survive it truly is an art form. It takes guts to enjoy the process. The truth is, except for my body creaking for ten minutes when I get up each morning I don't feel any older, and according to my wife and friends, there are some pretty funny times when I'm low on the maturity I should have for an "old fart."
A few years back, we were out for dinner with a couple who were our age but acted ten years older. Everything they talked about was aging-related - from what they don't eat anymore to their interests. So, I'm sitting here this morning thinking about what's kept us feeling younger...
"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."
And there you have it - the secret starts with your attitude. I can't change the fact that I'm growing older and nothing is going to stop the clock. I love our life, and even with its imperfections and challenges, it's the only one we've got. I remember saying to my Dad once, "You never told me as I got older I'd be waking up twice a night to use the bathroom!" He smiled, winked at me and said, "At least you wake up!"
Wishing everybody a day filled with smiles, time with friends and family and especially time to appreciate the life you've got and the potential to take any path on any journey you want! Go for those eleven-second hugs I always write about. If you're tuning in late as a new reader, I read an article several years ago in AARP Magazine that said hugs lasting eleven-seconds or longer are therapeutic. Try it, and you'll see what they meant!
Most important of all learn to cherish time - it's the one commodity that once spent you can never get back. You don't have to focus on every second, just don't waste it worrying about what's going to happen tomorrow!
Note: The sunrise image was captured with a LUMIX FZ1000 in IA mode, f3.0 @ 1/200 ISO 125 I'm using Luminar2018 a lot and love the results, especially with a couple of their presets. I used the "clarity booster" which brings out a little more detail in the sky without over-saturated the color. I just wanted to share the way it actually looked. #WhereLumixGoes #MadeWithLuminar
We launched the Fast Food Friday series to give you quick ideas on fine-tuning your business. I called it Fast Food Friday because everybody understands the concept of a no-brainer decision to grab something at McDonalds, Arby's or my new favorite, Chick-fil-A. They're fast, easy and it doesn't take a whole lot of brain power to figure out what you're having for lunch.
A few weeks ago, thanks to Excire, we expanded the menu in the SCU diner offering full entrees, posts with more details and content to help you build a stronger business. Today's special is a perfect example.
With the Photo Plus Expo show coming up in two weeks in NYC, now's the time for you to make sure you plan your trip BEFORE you get there. Plus, IUSA, WPPI, and ShutterFest all come along during the first few months of the new year.
Time is your most valuable commodity. If you plan each trip you'll not only spend your money wiser, but you'll come home energized, better prepared to take on the challenges of being a photographer and business owner.
Getting Maximum Bang for Your Buck at EVERY Convention
It's essential for you to attend as many conventions/conferences each year as possible, but you might be surprised at why I believe that so strongly.
So, let's get specific and come up with things to think about and do while you're at the next convention:
The one thing I find most frustrating with attendees at a big convention is they just haven't planned their trip. They got their tickets and made it to the show and then completely fall apart. Plan each convention experience so that you're not wasting time and even more important, your money!
Fast Food Friday's are brought to you by:
Need help better utilizing your time? Click on the banner above to visit the Excire website. Take Excire Search Pro for Lightroom Classic CC for your own FREE 15 day test drive. And follow us on Facebook for the latest information on this exciting software and time-saver.
Check out the special promotion launched on September 26 at Photokina - "Search" is just $49 and "Search Pro" is $99.
The impact of searching through old albums for throwback photographs often comes in what you can learn from the images themselves. And, the fun begins in what you find.
It's October and my Dad's birthday is coming up. On Halloween this year it would have been his 96th birthday. While he passed away almost three years ago, nothing takes away from the love I'll always have for him or the fun of looking through an old album.
The portrait above I'm guessing was taken around 1935 or 1936 putting him at thirteen or fourteen. But there are a few things in the process to appreciate. First, the hand-coloring by the photographer. Thanks to Luminar 2018, I was able to match the image almost exactly to the original print after scanning it. I love the slight touch of pink on his face, while the rest of the image was completely untouched. Second, check out the feel the photographer added with the narrow depth of field. And finally, comes the decision to give the backdrop a little color making it almost tropical - which is pretty funny considering the portrait would have been done in Cleveland!
But I didn't stop there in my search for a few fun old photographs. Going through another album, I found this one from Patrick Henry Junior High School. My guess is that Dad's about 16 here, but here's another piece of the fun of Throwback Thursday. The caption says it's Chorus Club. While I knew Dad was in the band, I had no idea until this morning that he sang in the chorus!
And, over there on the far right is Pop!
One last thing that's fun for me. Dad had an almost full head of hair right up to the day he passed away. Years ago Joe Buissink shared a line about health challenges, "You can't hide from bad genes!" Well, you can't hide from good ones either. Although supposedly keeping your hair runs on the mother's side of the family tree, apparently I was lucky enough to get Dad's genes when it comes to hair!
I've written so much about Throwback Thursday being a great marketing tool to remind your clients of how fast the kids are growing up, the family's changing and the magic of stopping time and capturing memories. But, sometimes searching for throwback images is all about your heart and putting a smile on your face that lasts all day long.
So, whether for your blog content or just for your own enjoyment, take the time once a week to look through those old photographs. It's a great way to remember the contribution photography makes to the world every day and how great it is to be a part of this amazing industry.
And as sappy as all of that sounds, it's exactly why I wake up every day and dive out of bed with a smile on my face!
I've shared a lot of these short Tamron introductory videos over the years, and they're especially effective at taking you through the features of each product. This one is interesting because the soundtrack is pure music without any narrative. But, Tamron has told the story of the New Generation SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens with great images, all through the eyes of Bastian Werner.
Dispersed through the music, each feature of the new lens is hit with a simple single text slide, hitting hard on the durability of this new lens. In fact, on Tamron's website, they describe the moisture-resistant construction with wide-ranging features such as Fluorine Coating newly developed to enhance durability and make it possible to shoot under any type of shooting circumstances.
Check out more of Bastian Werner's work with a click on either image I pulled from the video. His work is very diverse, primarily specializing in commercial and editorial clients with a list that's essentially the Who's Who of agencies and client brands.
And check out the new 15-30mm lens with a visit to your Tamron dealer.
If you're headed to PPE in New York later this month, you'll find Tamron in booth 819, just two booths from the front entrance to the show. There's always a lot going on in the Tamron booth, so make it one of your first stops at the show and check out some of the finest glass in photography today!
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.