I'm still fascinated by the pure power of social media and its ability to make the world a smaller place. However, with just a little extra effort you can push it to a level that's incredibly rewarding.
Most of you are active in Facebook. A huge percentage also use Twitter Google+. What's missing for many of you is taking that extra step and actually making direct contact with a "friend" from any of these three social media giants. Here are just a few examples of what I'm talking about.
Here's one last example, Cindy Harter Sims attended several SCU programs and was willing to do a guest post on her journey from music teacher to having her own studio on Main St. Then we followed up with a podcast. Her guest post and downloaded podcast have gone over the 5000 mark combined.
So, here's my point to this short post today. Don't let your social media world be one-dimensional. Pick up the phone and make a call now and then. Ask for help from a friend you've only met on line. Set up time to actually meet in person at the various conventions.
This is an amazing industry, filled with thousands of talented artists, but it's not just about the art of photography. Don't forget about the art of conversation. It will make your life and career so much richer.
Illustration Credit: © -Dragun- - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
I know if all of us were sitting around one giant Thanksgiving dinner table today and we went around and shared what we were most thankful for I'd have a lot to say. At the top of the list, along with the support and love of my wife, Sheila, I'd have to thank all of you for your support. SCU started just over ten months ago and it continues to grow. With your help and feedback we're going to keep adding new features and focus on helping you THRIVE, not just survive.
Knowing many of the challenges everybody is facing these days and with the year coming to a close it seems appropriate to share five of my favorite quotes. There are some incredible people in the world who have done an amazing job of giving us things to think about and five of them are right here:
We must have a theme, a goal, a purpose in our lives. If you don’t know where you’re aiming, you don’t have a goal. My goal is to live my life in such a way that when I die, someone can say, she cared.
Mary Kay Ash
Only those who are asleep make no mistakes.
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA
When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way.
The only thing that stands between a person and what they want in life is the will to try it and the faith to believe it possible.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
No matter how tough a year you've had, no matter what challenges in life have been thrown at you throughout this past year, if you're sitting at your computer reading this blog, you have a lot to be thankful for!
Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with memory-making moments and the love of family and friends. Make it a great day...and stay away from the computer until tomorrow!
Photo Credit: © Magdalena Kucova - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
I've written a lot about the value of photographs over the years. What I wonder about is how many photographers really take advantage of their personal work to tell a story for their own clients.
For example, my good buddy Scott Bourne has talked a lot about his passion for photographing animals. He's been especially direct in regards to his feelings about "speaking for the animals." The image above is a classic example. As painful as it is to see, Scott helped share a piece of the tragedy of an oil-covered pelican during the BP oil spill. Over and over again, Scott's introduced us to the personalities of the animal kingdom. It's a part of who he is as an artist.
One of the most important ingredients in working with new clients is building trust. They need to get to know you and you need to know them. While a lot of photographers have a hard time getting started in a conversation, here's an easy icebreaker: Have a display of your own family images along with a few of your own personal favorites.
Every corner of your studio or office doesn't have to have images of past clients. Put a little of your own personality into the mix. And, if you don't have a studio or office and meet with clients at their venue, a coffee shop or restaurant, then have a few pages of your own images in one of your presentation albums. Doesn't it make sense to be able to say, "Let me show you what I'm talking about with some images I put together of my own family?" It has a certain ring of credibility and it suddenly puts you in a position of sharing something about yourself, even showing a little vulnerability.
I have a favorite wall in the guest room at my home - it's "Relatives Row" as my grandparents share a wall with Sheila's...here's where you see what a melting pot America really is as my grandfather, who came over from Poland in the early 1900's, shares a space on the wall with Kitty Gentry, Sheila's full blooded Cherokee great-grandmother. Even the furniture in the room ties to family history. The roll top desk belonged to one grandfather, the chair to another and the antique typewriter to an uncle. It's all about roots.
As I was standing in Michele Celentano's office a few months ago there were family portraits of her family everywhere. There were multiple portraits of her daughter, Anna, at different ages and in different frames and mattes. Michele images are a testimonial to what she believes in, the importance and power of a print! (If you've never read it, here's an sidebar opportunity for a terrific selling tool to clients. Read Michele's post, "I Believe..." on the value of a print!)
There's a great quote by Tennyson, "I am a part of all that I have met!" We're all a part of our past, from people who touched our lives an hour ago to past generations no longer with us. We stay connected and often grounded thanks to everyone who makes up who we are.
In 2010, a wedding photographer, Dawn Shields from Missouri, won Album of the Year at WPPI, shown in the video above. It wasn't a wedding album, but a documentary piece she did about her grandfather who spent most of his life in prison, in Alcatraz.
The bottom line is simple, bring a little of yourself into your studio and your business. Don't be afraid to share a little of your past with your clients. It shows your human side and the love you have for imaging and the craft. It also helps to demonstrate the value of the service you provide, capturing memories and being the ultimate storyteller!
by Skip Cohen
In a way this is one more reminder to get your holiday cards done while you've still got time. However, that wasn't my intent. When I did the post last week to get you thinking about holiday cards I didn't realize I'd missed one in the sequence.
Going through a box of cards from last year this morning, I ran across Bleu Cotton and Alison Pierce's holiday card from 2012. It's another classic and might even help a few of you with ideas about your own card this season.
Just remember - you need a great image on the front and your studio information on the back. There are no better marketing tools than your own holiday card this time of year!
by Skip Cohen
In this Marketing Monday post, Scott Bourne shares fifteen basic advertising appeals, but there's a secondary message I want to add.
So often in talking to photographers I've heard the comment, "We tried advertising once and it really didn't do much for us!" First, advertising one time anywhere is a complete waste of money. You need to have your ad out there at least three times and in the same basic position of the magazine, newspaper, website - wherever you're placing your material.
Second, ads don't work for a wide variety of reasons. It could be your ad was confusing or lacked enough information. Maybe the vehicle you chose to advertise in didn't really hit your target. Timing is critical along with building a sense of urgency for consumers to act on your ad. Maybe your competitors did a better job of reaching the target audience.
Third, just advertising isn't enough. You have to weave a web around your target audience using print advertising, an Internet presence, a good website, direct mail, publicity, a great blog, community involvement - everything that helps build a stronger brand.
by Scott Bourne
Hat tip to "Mass Advertising As Social Forecast”
Marketing is a great big bag of tricks and one of them is advertising. Most of you don't do much advertising. That should and will change for those of you who want to thrive rather than survive. When crafting your advertising message remember there are just 15 basic advertising appeals. 99.99% of all advertising ever created works off of this set of 15 appeals. So study them. Remember they can be used as either positive or negative reinforcement to make a point. Think about how you could use these appeals to reach your photography clients.
by Skip Cohen
I tweeted a quote yesterday from T. S. Eliot:
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."
It's Sunday morning, a great time to just ponder so many questions about life. Take a minute and just think about that quote. We're an industry of artists and we all have our heroes. I'm not talking about the icons that pack a room at a convention with a standing room only crowd, but our personal favorites. People who have come into our life, motivated us, helped spark an idea and supported us when we fell, helping us to get up and start all over again.
In 2009 I made a decision that a lot of people suggested was a "risk going too far". I gave up a great job as President of WPPI and Rangefinder Magazine and decided to start my own company. I remember having serious second thoughts and my best friend, now my wife Sheila, said to me, "What are you afraid of?" My answer couldn't have come out quicker, "I'm afraid of failing!"
I hate it when I repeat myself in various posts, because I've written about this before, but here's the point. There's no such thing as a sure thing in any business. We all have our hopes and aspirations and if you're lucky enough you've got a good buddy or two in your life to help you through the fog of business, the economy and technology. Like a lighthouse for a sailor, they're beacons that help us stay focused on our passion and protect us from the negativity around us. They help us dream.
This is a business of risk and if you hold back on your potential you'll be looking back the rest of your life wondering what you might have accomplished. That means you have to give your best every day - no compromises on the quest to achieve your goals.
"Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it!
Illustration Credit: © iQoncept - Fotolia.com
by Skip Cohen
It's November 23 and the end of the year is just 38 days away. You're down to the wire wrapping up what's been a challenging year for everybody. In fact, anybody that tells you they had a great year and "it was so easy" is lying to you. However, a lot of photographers are saying "It was a good year, but I never worked so hard in my life!"
Well, with less than six weeks to go, here's a different way to look at the year...
I've written a lot about "Walk the Talk" books. They're these short motivational books you typically see in the business section at a bookstore. Sometimes they're even by the register. They may be small, but they pack a powerful punch. I was just looking at Finish Strong and found a great quote:
"To finish first you must first finish!"
Here's the point on this wonderful Saturday morning. No matter what you didn't accomplish this past year, the fact is you're still in the game. The ending of the year is only a fiscal measurement, not a rolling average of your growing passion, skill set, ideas, customers or promotions.
Every day you've grown a little more as an artist and if you've been up nights worrying about the choices you've made, you still have your passion. Nobody can steal that unless you give it to them.
You can't do anymore than your best! As trite as that sounds, appreciate what you've learned and how far you've come instead of worrying about how much you still have to learn!
Have a great weekend! As my good buddy Scott always writes..."Remember we're rooting for you!"
Illustration Credit © lznogood - Fotolia.com
Bleu Cotton and Allison Pierce have created their own collectible series year after year. Rather than show their own work they've chosen to feature their family in each card!
by Skip Cohen
Okay everybody, it's my annual last call to get your holiday cards done. I write almost the same post every year at this time. Still, there are some of you who just don't get it. You'll procrastinate and miss the window and as the window closes for another year you'll promise yourself not to miss the opportunity in 2014!
Here's the point -There are very few promotional elements for your business easier to do than a holiday card. It's one of your images on the front with a short holiday message on the inside, but it's the back of the card that's really significant! On the back, centered at the bottom just like a Hallmark card, is your name or your studio name, with your URL and all your contact information.
Check out the two examples below from another in the Bleu and Allison series of holiday wishes! An outstanding image on the front and information about them on the back - don't forget the message inside as well. The inside message gives you a chance to personalize your cards with something hand-written.
Next, is putting together your data base for the mailing:
Now, here's the tricky part...you've got to mail them! (Sorry, it's Sarcasm Friday!) Seriously, this little project won't do any good, if like so many photographers out there, me included, you procrastinate through the key time benchmarks and miss the opportunity! So, your goal is to have your cards stamped and in the mail in the next 2-3 weeks.
For those of you who buy a box of Hallmark cards at CVS a week before Christmas, Molly the Wonder Dog and I will hunt you down and you won't get a decent night's sleep until Spring!
by Skip Cohen
In the DWF Newsletter a couple of years ago there was a link to a discussion about the word "rockstar". It went on for over a year and just recently it came up again in one of the forums I follow. How long this silly discussion will go on is irrelevant. What is important is the topic itself. What I just don't get it is why so many people get hung up on a word. I especially don't understand the cyber space venom that gets people's blood boiling in the discussions.
Are there people who misuse the word? Of course there are, but we've always had that challenge. How many times have you ordered something in a restaurant because somebody told you it was amazing, only to be disappointed? Or, how about a movie the critics loved, but you were underwhelmed? It concerns me more there are people calling themselves "professional" photographers who are anything but professional. Why doesn't that provoke the same kind of response?
With the energy those people who want to argue over the misuse of the word "rockstar", they could accomplish so much more promoting education in technique and marketing to elevate the word "professional" instead.
For me personally, "rockstar" is a word of respect and I use it all the time. Joe McNally is a "rockstar" and the reference is related to a great photographer, who's got something to say, concepts we can learn from, is entertaining when he presents and like a "rockstar" he packs the house!
But the use of the word "rockstar" is a cultural thing, not exclusive to photography. In every profession there are rockstars. My wife, Sheila, worked at Akron Children's Hospital and there were a number of people who were rockstars, because they were the best in their specialty and the word is used in admiration.
In photography we've lost a lot of "rockstars" over the last decade...Dean Collins, Don Blair, Monte Zucker, Henry Froelich, Richard Avedon, Eddie Adams, Arnold Newman and Herb Ritts, just to name a few. All of them were rockstars in their own right, we just didn't use the word then. They left behind a legacy of concepts and standards we all aspire to achieve, which in a way makes many of you "aspiring rockstars".
For me, it's just a word used appropriately sometimes and at other times it's not. Regardless that doesn't change my opinion that arguing about the word itself is as relevant as the old battle between wedding photojournalists and traditional wedding photographers. Better yet, how relevant is the ongoing battle between Canon and Nikon owners, when you've got products like Panasonic's LUMIX GH3 and GX7?
And if you honestly want to argue with me, check out the expansion of the gear landscape over the last year with new products from Panasonic, Fujifilm, Sony and Samsung. We've all got a front row seat to a paradigm shift!
by Skip Cohen
A while back my good buddy Terry Clark talked about one of the keys to success, "Find out what all your competitors are doing, then do something different!" Or, another way, look for what's not being done in your market and then do it. It's a concept that's easily understood, but so few photographers really step up to the plate and work to make themselves different, especially in terms of their presentations to clients.
One area that's so often overlooked is the final presentation to the client, especially in the world of albums. You've all got a lot to choose from when it comes to albums, but for me, there's nothing that beats some of the Venice Album products. While they've been in business for close to fifty years, they've only been on this "side of the pond" for a short time, but that doesn't take away from the "wow" factor with some of their products.
I'm just using these random product shots above as examples, which were all shown recently at PPE in New York. The first one is "Amalfi" and it's leather and lucite, allowing the first image in the book to become part of the cover presentation. The second one above is a customized album box, but here's another way to use it.
Imagine the power of showing a bride an album with one of her favorite images on the box that matched the album cover, but then also having another box made up that could be filled with individual matted prints, each one signed by some of the guests at the wedding. It's not a new concept, but it's certainly a new presentation with the album and box being a matched set.
You've got to make your work look different from your competitors, but at the same time, you've got to plant the seeds for new ideas with the client. Those photographers who I consider successful in the wedding arena, have multiple books showing a variety of presentations. At the same time, they demonstrate diversity in their own work in the contents of each book. Remember too, a wedding album is a critical component to part of your "demonstration" to the client. (Check out Scott Bourne's Marketing Monday post yesterday.) The albums you show clients don't always have to be an exact duplicate of an actual wedding. They can be a collection of some of your favorite images and techniques - shown in different books and used to show your diversity.
Just remember one critical point...every bride wants her story to be unique and that includes the presentation. Yes, she's seen other albums and typically has a general idea of the look of her album, but she needs to be reminded by you, as the artist...
"This isn't about a book of pictures. This is about one of the most important days in your life and the wedding album is the only thing that truly lasts. The food will be gone. The band will pack up at the end of the evening. The flowers will die and you'll never wear your wedding gown again, but your album tells your story and captures so many important memories. It's the first family heirloom of a brand new family!"
by Scott Bourne
I am sure most of you are reading this and thinking, “What could my state fair have to do with selling more photography?” Hang on and you’ll find out.
Many years ago, back when I was living in Minneapolis, I went to the Minnesota State Fair. This is one of the biggest, best-known, best-attended state fairs in the country. Minnesotans know how to throw a great fair. And like most state fairs, there are lots of concessions and even a “home improvement” pavilion.
The year I went I just happened to have purchased a home so I thought that I’d mosey on over to the “home improvement” pavilion after looking at the pigs, cows, horses and other various farm animals for several hours.
I was no more than 20 minutes into my tour when I stopped by a young man demonstrating a ladder. But this wasn’t just any old ladder. This was the Little Giant Ladder - 11-19 ft. Telescoping Multi-Purpose Aluminum Ladder!
There were three or four of them set up on the booth. The salesman had quite a patter. He was talking about all the ways you can use a ladder, and he wasn’t just talking - he was demonstrating. And the demonstration is the key thing to think about in this blog post.
Demonstration overcomes some of the primary reasons people don’t buy. Lack of trust, cynicism, etc. And lack of trust and cynicism are really just symptoms of not wanting to look or feel stupid.
Back to the ladder…
The young man demonstrating the ladder had done it lots of times because he was a natural. He had no script. He didn’t refer to notes. But he had a steady, on-going, friendly and informative patter than never stopped. While talking he always demonstrated what he was talking about. He showed all of us there how the ladder could be used as a saw horse, a 19-foot extension ladder, a step-ladder, etc. In fact, he said it was 24 ladders in one. Then he hit the home run. He claimed it was the sturdiest, safest ladder on the planet and to prove that point he scanned the crowd for the biggest guy he could find. And yes boys and girls, that would have been me. He asks me to “step right up” to the ladder and asks me if I own a ladder. I replied that I did not. Wasn’t sure I even needed a ladder. He scoffed, “Everyone needs a ladder, especially one this sturdy.” He said he’d give me $10 if I’d just stand on the ladder. I thought no problem - easy $10. I got on, and he asked me to climb up two or three rungs and handed me 10 bucks. But then he did something that astonished me. He jumped on the other side. Then he started BOUNCING! This got my attention for sure. But the ladder didn’t give an inch. He encouraged me to go all the way to the top. When I hesitated, he said he’d throw in another $10 so up I went. And so did he.
I should mention this guy was easily 6’3” and about 250 pounds. At the time I was 6’1” and also 250 pounds. Even though we exceeded the ladder’s rating, it didn’t flex, or move.
When the 100 or so people in the audience saw this they started interrupting him and asking how much the ladder cost. He kept demonstrating. He made the ladder into about a dozen different configurations and finally even I was ready to buy a ladder (that I had absolutely no need for - at least I didn’t think I needed a ladder.)
When the words “state fair special only $300” popped out of his mouth I expected the crowd to attack him. After all I’d seen a ladder at the hardware store the week before for $17. But that was an ordinary ladder. THIS was the Little Giant and no ordinary ladder for sure.
By the time his demonstration ended, about 30 minutes after I happened upon him, he had sold more than 25 of the ladders and yes I bought one. (But I got $20 off because I was the test subject!) I carried that ladder around the country through two moves, and found out it was very useful.
Now to tie this all to photography.
What happened to me was what Zig Ziglar would often describe as “running into a salesperson.” I can hear Zig’s voice in my head. “There are order takers and then there are salespeople. A salesperson is the one who can make you want to buy something you didn’t even know you needed!” And that’s what happened.
How can you apply this? When someone approaches you about licensing your photos or hiring you to shoot a wedding or buying one of your prints, you have a choice. You can be a passive order taker, waiting for them to tell you what they are willing to buy. Or you can be a salesperson and DEMONSTRATE all of your products. While you don’t have anything as dramatic as bouncing on a ladder to offer, you do have the chance to pull out your portfolio; show a wedding album, stage a wall portrait over the buyer’s couch; show a slideshow, etc.
The more products (albums, frames, etc.) you can DEMONSTRATE to your prospects, the more you will sell. The longer you can demonstrate to your prospects before they get bored, the more you will sell.
This requires you to take on the skills possessed by the ladder salesman I met at the Minnesota State Fair. You have to become a story teller. You have to know your product like the back of your hand. You have to be able to show how your product can improve lives. You have to show the benefits (not the features) of the products you sell. Remember back in the ladder story how I said the the salesman really zeroed in on me to demonstrate how safe the ladder was? That is when he had me and most of the audience. Because he was demonstrating a benefit not a feature. The ladder is made of aircraft strength aluminum. That is a feature. The benefit is that it is sturdy and safe.
If you can learn to think like that and talk like that you will need wheelbarrows for your money.
Demonstrate, demonstrate some more and then ask for the order. If the client says no or has an objection, the first thing - the very first thing you should do is re-demonstrate. It’s the most powerful thing you can do to capture your prospect’s attention and to help them get to yes.
Give it a try. As always, Skip and I are rooting for you.
by Skip Cohen
At the risk of sounding like I'm older than dirt, I might as well confess, I miss the kind of Sundays we had when I was a kid. NOTHING was open! No banks, no supermarkets, no Target, Macy's or malls. Even gas stations were closed.
For those of you in the younger crowd who might think it's incredibly inconvenient, it forced us all to take a break. My Dad didn't do anything except hang out with the family and at least in the summer time, we wound up at my grandmother's for a barbecue. Relatives from Cleveland would make the long pilgrimage (all of 27 miles) out to visit, and always show up for dinner just as the burgers were coming off the grill.
For most people a quiet relaxing Sunday had nothing to do with religious beliefs, it was simply a day of rest, because you had no other choices. Nothing was open and in fact, of the three TV stations, on at least one of them, nothing was on until after 8:00 am!
So, let's start a trend - just a small one and get everybody we know to return to family values on Sundays. We're just going to enjoy our family, read a book, leave the TV off until noon - forget about whatever it is we absolutely had to get done today. We're just going to kick back and chill - smile more than we frown and make it a great day!
It's almost impossible to do, since I'm already here “working” and writing my blog, determined not to miss a day, but it can be done and we can all get off this trend of being obsessed with our own self-importance. Don't just make today another Sunday - make it a great one! Enjoy your family and remember all the work you need to do will still be there tomorrow morning.
I know my blog this morning isn’t original – I’ve written about the same topic at least a couple times in the past, but it’s a message everyone needs to be reminded about. You've earned the rest and the break - so make the most of it and at the end of day I hope everybody can look themselves in the mirror and simply say, "Wow, I didn't do a damn thing today!"
For many of you just doing nothing today, but enjoying your family and friends, will be an amazing experience!
Photo Credit: © zanarinilara - Fotolia.com
“Never answer anonymous letters.” Yogi Berra
by Skip Cohen
So, what makes the quote funny is there was no way to answer anonymous letters at the time. There was no Internet. Yogi Berra was the master of disconnect when it came to some classic statements. There are some very funny quotes credited to this baseball legend, but this quote got me thinking about a challenge we all deal with today, trolls!
The hardest thing for any of us to deal with is somebody not liking something we did, said or wrote. Actually, it's not even the not liking part, it's the fact that we never get a chance to explain...or for that matter even apologize. They jump on us with all the finesse of a storm-trooper and at that point you have to make a decision to engage or just let it roll off your back.
My suggestion along with hundreds of experts on the subject of Internet communication is to NEVER engage. It's simply a waste of energy, time and it's not typically constructive.
Last January I was at a conference where Guy Kawasaki spoke and he talked about everybody always having at least one negative critic in the crowd. What was so entertaining about the topic was Guy's approach:
"I do not engage trolls, but every now and then there's one that I like to take on, just to stay in shape!"
Scott Bourne has also commented and it's in his top ten list of tips for building strength in social media:
"Ignore your audience when they are complaining due to their false belief that they are ENTITLED to something from you other than the free gift you give them of your time. Also ignore trolls. No good can ever, ever, ever come of responding to them."
So here's the point and it's a great one for a Saturday post. You can't do any more than your best. Regardless of what you post and share there will always be people who exhibit troll-like behavior and your best approach is simply to leave them alone. They tend to hide behind the anonymity of their computer screens forgetting my good buddy, Levi Sim's favorite suggestion for how we should all behave:
"Act as if your grandmother is watching you!"
Happy Saturday everybody - make it a great weekend and thanks for your support here at SCU!
Photo Credit: Google Pics - Academy of Achievement - http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/ber0int-6
by Skip Cohen
Okay, so somebody help me out here...I got an indignant email from a person I didn't "friend" a little while back on Facebook. They were "disappointed" because I didn't allow them in my Facebook "family". I didn't because they had no head shot; we had no friends in common and there was nothing that suggested they were even a photographer. I wasn't being rude, just practical. I'm at 5000 and never started a fan page - so people get added as other people fade away.
We've got the same challenge with Facebook Wedding Photographers. It's a great forum for professional and aspiring wedding photographers. It was started by Chris Fawkes from Australia a couple of years ago, who asked me to help him by being a co-administrator. We changed it to a closed group roughly eight months ago and grown from 3000 to almost 12,000 members, but it's not without its share of challenges.
One of the biggest challenges comes with people wanting to join the forum, but their Facebook page tells us absolutely nothing about their involvement in photography. We're doing our best to keep the forum strong with photographers sharing images and questions that are professional, but every now and then there's one bonehead who just doesn't get it.
If you're a photographer, then why wouldn't you at least have a head shot in your profile? And, with that head shot, if you're new to Facebook and looking for other photographers, why wouldn't you have a camera in your hands or at least be creative and put something relevant in your about section.
I'm not picking on anybody who just has a great head shot or a picture of your kids etc. The issue is about not putting the right information in your profile and then expecting people to be mind-readers. Even worse is not having any information and then being upset when a group doesn't let you in or somebody doesn't friend you. This definitely falls under my "life is too short" philosophy. Seriously, save feeling hurt, indignant and upset for the really great crisis moments in life!
From freelance writer Robert Brault I found a great quote that fits so well:
"Life is short, God's way of encouraging a bit of focus."
Okay, so while many of us whine about what's happening with consumer trends in imaging and wishing more people would use a "real camera", nothing changes the fact that we're all taking more and more images on our phones. Knowing that's the case, why not make them the best images they can be?
If you're not up to date on Camera Awesome, check out this short video posted just a few months ago. Now it's available for Androids!
Here's the link to today's hottest announcement and it's from SmugMug - all about Camera Awesome - just click below!
“We need to thank all of our troops, and particularly those for whom we can never express enough gratitude for they have given their lives so that all of us may be free and that our democracy can be a shining light for the rest of the world.” Virgil Goode
by Skip Cohen
Every year I write up the same kind of post, but this year I want to be a little different...
From a personal side I'm proud of my Dad serving in WWII and our son, Brian, who's made the army his career choice and is currently a Major. Next come all my friends who served in Vietnam, along with contemporary photography friends and artists like Stacy Pearsall. Then there there are hundreds of members of the armed forces who I see in every airport and I love the respect they get today.
There are organizations like HeartsApart.Org, Fisher House, JHP and Degage Ministries who created the video my buddy, Nick Vedros, sent me below. Too long to list, there are hundreds of other non-profit support groups spread out over each of your communities. They all need help and they all need volunteers. But you can't be involved if you're just watching from the sidelines. Life isn't a spectator sport.
We owe our veterans so much - none of them should ever have to live the life that Jim Wolf has faced in the video below. While I know there are almost eight million people who have watched this video already, it's worth it if you haven't seen it yet. For me it's not the transformation, but the hug at the end of the short film that gives it the impact.
by Skip Cohen
Okay, I admit it, I'm about to steal a line from one of those cheap impulse-buy books they have at every airport bookstore in the country. They were trying to get $20 for one of those stick figure "Life is Good" books....well, life is good, but not if you're moronic enough to buy a book with all the lines your grandmother already told you years ago!
But obviously it was good enough to give me an idea for a blog post.
"Sometimes doing nothing is the right thing!"
Here's the context I'm using it in at the moment. I'm always talking about how photography is a career choice where you never stop learning, but that's true for any business. However, some times you need to just kick back and let the dust settle before you start something new. You just need a break.
So, that's the recipe for me this weekend - I'm simply doing nothing but ponder the meaning of life. I'm going to just relax, enjoy time with my honey and think about everything that's going on in this amazing industry. We never stop learning - about ourselves, our business and our friends.
Wishing all of you a terrific weekend. Hug your spouse, kids, friends...the produce guy at the market if he looks like he needs it! LOL Just make it a great weekend and as good buddy, Matthew Jordan Smith always says, "Dream Big".
Photo Credit: © ASK-Fotografie - Fotolia.com
On Facebook Wedding Photographers a photographer recently posted some outstanding pet pictures. At first it seemed totally off the mark. After all, it's a forum for wedding shooters. But, it's really not off the mark when the purpose of the forum is to help photographers build a stronger business model.
I've written a lot about diversity over the years and a wedding photographer who also photographs pets is right at the heart of the topic. The hierarchy of why people hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories goes brides, babies and pets. That's it, the Top Three based on a survey Kodak did years ago and I don't believe it's ever changed. In addition, while I've never seen any data on the subject beyond these three, my guess is that children, seniors, family and boudoir are the logical next categories in that order.
So, if you did a great job on the wedding and the client loved working with you, why wouldn't you want to be there when the first child is born? Brides start families and families get pets and a good wedding photographer is right there at the very beginning of the cycle.
There are plenty of people who don't agree with me and feel that being a specialist is the only way to build your business. It's a great way to build your business, but times have changed. In the tough economy we've had over the last few years you've got to build your skill set so you rarely, if ever, say no to a client.
Diversity is a big key to survival and growth in today's market, but there's no room for mediocrity in your skill set. If you decide to diversify then you've got make sure your work is top shelf. There is no room for compromise on the quality of your images, especially when you step outside your primary comfort zone.
And, if you really hate photographing anything but weddings, then at least build a small network of photographers you respect for referrals. Work together to refer business back and forth between each other. Do everything you can so you can always offer a client an alternative other than,
"Sorry, I don't photograph babies, pets, kids, seniors, families, boudoir"....
Photo Credits in order of appearance: © salagatoxic - Fotolia.com, © DoraZett - Fotolia.com, © Denis Aglichev - Fotolia.com
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
by Skip Cohen
Okay gang, it's a topic I've written about over and over again through the years...giving back. While it's something you should be doing all year long, the last quarter, with the seasonality of the holidays, tends to get more people thinking about charitable causes.
Here's the bottom line: In Jay Conrad Levinson's top 100 things guerrilla marketers need to do is give back to their community. Why? Because people like buying products and services from companies they perceive as giving something back. You're looking for your community to be good to you, so you need to be good to your community.
The best thing about giving back is that it can be virtually anything. There's no such thing as a project too small. Over the years we've had photographers talk about helping kids at the local high school with newsletters and yearbooks; volunteer work at the local hospital; using photography to help families with loved ones in the military who are about to be deployed; editorial coverage for non-profits who are doing walkathons and community fund-raisers. The list is endless.
Then there are some wonderful organizations who can help you with a direction, each one being very photo-centric. NILMDTS, F.I.L.M., HeartsApart.Org, The Fisher House Program, PPA Charities, the Josephine Henrick Project and Thirst Relief. Each organizations has hundreds of photographers involved. They're all listed with links to their sites in SCU's Giving Back section.
You've got a chance to give back to your community right now, but it won't happen if you procrastinate and three months "should" on yourself with a thought like, "You know what I should have done?"
We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give!
Sir Winston Churchill
Illustration Credit: © IGORS PETROVS - Fotolia.com
by Scott Bourne
The primary reason I go to photo conferences (unless I am a speaker) is to network. Networking will help propel your photo career in ways you may not suspect or recognize, but it can be a very big part of both the business and creative side of being a photographer.
Steve Jobs said in an interview for "Business Week:"
“Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.”
The "ad hoc meeting" is the key in that quote. It perfectly describes the typical networking encounter. When two or more photographers get together and organically share their struggles, hopes, dreams, desires, problems, solutions, connections, etc., they can learn from each other.
Your experience can benefit those around you and their experience can benefit you. It’s a two-way street.
Here are a few tips to make the most of it.
1. Listen more than you talk. Let the other person(s) you are with share first and most often.
2. Don’t just be a taker. If you get a good tip, be sure you give two in return.
3. Be supportive and be careful not to brag.
4. Ask open-ended questions.
5. Be a resource for others first - then plenty of help will come your way when it’s time.
6. If you are networking know why. Have goals. Be specific. Ask specific questions.
7. Refer jobs to people you meet when networking if those jobs/clients don’t suit you. And when people give you referrals follow-through immediately with the prospect as a sign of respect.
8. Stay in touch with your networking partners after the event to keep the conversation going.
9. Don’t substitute social media for face-to-face networking. As powerful as social media is, there’s no substitute for a real handshake.
10. Network as often as you can. You never know when it will pay off.
I enjoy networking. It’s also happened to be responsible for much of my early business in the photo world. Networking literally brought me some of the biggest photo jobs of my life so don’t take it lightly.
Now go network. And remember Skip and I are rooting for you.
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.