by Skip Cohen
It's my last post and I'm struck with the need to say something outrageously poignant. I'm struggling because everything I want to say seems so trite, having a "been there done that" feeling. So, I'm going to take a little help from author, Melody Beattie. She's written a number of inspirational books that hooked my wife years ago. Well, Sheila got me into the concept of looking for a little daily inspiration outside the industry.
Here's a taste of what Melody wrote for December 31 and it really hit home:
"Wait, and expect good things - for yourself and your loved ones. When you wonder what is coming tell yourself the best is coming, the very best life and love have to offer...See the best in your mind; envision what it will look like, what it will feel like..."
So, here's my New Year's wish for each of you - nothing but good things in the year ahead. A year filled with accomplishments from little steps to the big ones. Stay focused on being part of an amazing industry, filled with people willing to help you achieve your goals. Stay focused on your goal to simply be the best artist, photographer, friend and spouse you can be.
We're all part of an industry focused on helping people capture memories and as my good buddy Scott has said, "We're the high priests of memory protection!" It carries a big responsibility, but what a privilege! And, if you're having trouble focusing on how important your craft really is, just watch my most favorite video of all time from Kodak years ago!
Even if you've seen it before, watch it one more time now! It's guaranteed to inspire you.
Happy New Year everybody! Thank you for your support, your feedback and your inspiration.
My best advice to young photographers is to shoot what you love. It sounds tried and true, I know, and certainly this is not new or earth shattering advice. But it remains, for me, an absolute mandate. You have to find an emotional, imaginative release in the midst of the pressure and hectic nature attending the running of a photographic business.
You have to make decisions, at least sometimes, based on survival, strategies for branding, and the advancement of your photographic enterprise. This may involve shooting jobs that are worthwhile on many levels, but don't necessarily speak to your soul as a shooter. Too much of this can slow the creative heartbeat of any photographer.
So, in the midst of all the business of making a photo career work, you have to carve out time for your own photographic endeavors, and find that which you feel to be so beautiful that you can't help but shoot it. These types of assignments, be they from a magazine, another type of client, or a self assignment, will keep you alive photographically, and remind you, always, of why you wanted to do this in the first place.
Regardless of your photographic expertise you need to follow Joe and pay attention to his images, posts, workshops and the inspiration he provides to an industry so often caught in the perfect storm between technology and the challenges of the economy. Check out his website.Follow him on Twitter.
And, definitely follow his blog. In fact the introduction of "Meet Joe" says it all:
"The thoughts, notions, and ideas here come from thirty years in the field as a shooter. Twenty plus on the road for National Geographic. LIFE staffer. Sports Illustrated contractor. 54 countries. 50 states. Read on, and welcome to my blog."
Images copyright Joe McNally. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
As my good buddy Scott hits the path to retirement, I can't let him just wander off into the sunset like the hero in some old western. For me it's been an incredible journey. There are few people in this industry that I've learned more from and SCU exists because Scott helped me build so much of the concept.
The blog side of SCU started with my first blog, Skip's Photo Network and Scott doing a guest post now and then. Later he joined us for a short presentation at the first Skip's Summer School. He had 25,000 followers on Twitter - today it's 150,000! Then we launched GoingPro, our blog, podcast series and book, published by Random House. The blog and our following grew and along the way I enjoyed the benefit of getting to know Scott, respect his expertise and cherish the friendship. He's watched my back, bailed me out of stupid mistakes in social media and had the patience of a saint more times than I can count.
We all have lots of friends, but Scott's grown to be that one special buddy who's always there as a sounding board. He's been a solid partner in sharing ideas and developing new ways to help photographers build a stronger business model. It's with mixed emotions that I cheer him on to retirement...I'll miss his involvement in photography, like so many of you who know him and have worked with him. At the same time, I couldn't be happier for him and the new path he's about to embark on.
And to my good buddy, Scott...thanks for an amazing series of projects, lessons in business, marketing and even photography now and then. Nobody has been a better, more loyal friend and it's been a true adventure!
"A true friend freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues as a friend unchangeably." William Penn
by Scott Bourne
It’s Monday and at SCU that means Marketing Monday - i.e., the time when I get to opine about marketing and photography. But today is my last such opportunity to do so. My time here at SCU is coming to an end. This will be my last Marketing Monday blog post. I have loved helping my friend Skip Cohen get this fantastic resource off the ground. Despite rumors to the contrary, I have no ownership stake in SCU. I have merely served as Dean of Marketing, spoken at a few conferences and written some blog posts. I’ve worked on marketing FOR Skip and it has been my high honor to do so. Few men have contributed as much to our industry as Skip Cohen. He is quite literally a giant in the photo business, and in my eyes, that will never change.
Skip and I have shared a lot of road. While my road is coming to an end, his continues, and there’s something we both know well. That road…It constantly winds uphill. At every turn, just when you think it levels out, it continues to climb. It never gets easy.
As old guys, we’ve seen every exit, every turn-off, every dark alley, every single brick on the road and once in a great while, we’ve been lucky enough to even visit the winner’s circle. But win, lose or draw, both Skip and I have shared the knowledge that only hard work leads to greatness. It’s something we all have to face. And both Skip and I have learned to embrace it.
From your perspective, I guess the bad news is that even fellows like us who’ve had the privilege of sitting on top of the mountain know the hard work never, ever ends. But it’s not something to be sad about. You just have to accept it and move forward.
Way back, when it all started for me, decades ago, I had the silly notion that some day it would get easier. I thought that once you had practiced, and trained, and studied, and got your hands on the best gear and made some money that you’d be able to relax. Well sorry to tell you I was wrong.
I’ve been working 60-80 hours a week all my life. Long after I was a “success,” I spent seven days a week at the studio. For 14 years I didn’t even take Christmas off. And that’s the information I want to share with you as I take my leave of SCU. As I sit here at the end of my road waiting for you, rooting for you, hoping you won’t take some of those nasty turns that I did, I know that no matter what — you will have to pledge yourself to hard work…and lots of it.
As Skip continues SCU and I move into retirement, the one constant thing for those who remain is hard work. Hard work is always the best place to start if you’re struggling. Hard work is always the thing that lets you feel like you’ve accomplished something, even if you can’t see the results right now. Hard work builds character. Hard work creates a feeling of investment that propels you forward, and helps you find the strength to edit just one more photo before you go to bed. Hard work lets you make just one more sales call, shoot one more wedding, design one more album, print one last print. That extra inch, foot, yard or mile is always the result of YOUR hard work. And believe it or not it’s very satisfying when it’s done with a pure heart and purpose.
As photographers, we have a sacred job. We are all high priests of memory protection. Those of us who wear that mantle with sincerity of purpose don’t end up minding the hard work. Because the gift we give our clients is quite literally the most valuable of gifts. We save tiny moments of time for them. We preserve and protect those moments. It’s worth some hard work isn’t it?
I wish like Hell that I had some super secret to share with you as we say so-long to one another. But I don’t. All I can guarantee you is that if you work hard, and then work harder, and then work harder still, some day you’ll look up and there it will be. The end of the road. You’ll have paid your dues. You’ll get to see what I see now - which is a life full of precious memories, protected, kept and shared.
I’ve taken inspiration from the greatest football coach of all time. Vince Lombardi who once said, “I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victorious.” I feel that way now and understand what he was saying better than ever. Hopefully this post will help you understand it too.
It’s been a very great privilege and honor to have this platform to share with all of you, and I want to thank those of you who took time to let me know that my work here helped you in some small way. I can’t think of anything that means as much to me as those moments where I was able to make even the smallest difference for you.
While I won’t be posting here after today, there is still one last thing for me to do in relation to SCU and I’m very much looking forward to it. I am going to speak at my last photo conference - ever. And there’s nobody I’d rather do that with than Skip.
At SCU Thrive 2014, I’ll join my good, dear friend Skip to teach people how to thrive in their photography business. We’re going to be in Las Vegas on March 2, 2014. I hope you’ll come join Skip and I there. I am looking forward to saying goodbye to some of you in person.
Oh and one more thing - if you attend the conference, expect to put in some hard work.
What advice would I give photographers just starting out?
Passion can make or break a beginning photographer. We all think of passion as this driving force that will elevate us to success. And in many ways, it can. However, blind passion in your creativity is not enough to place you ahead of your competition.
Education for photographers is the strongest investment we can make in our careers. Many photographers start with the initial desire to profit from their photography. But it’s true passion through education that keeps you committed to stay afloat and stay above the rising waters.
Our industry is constantly evolving, and if we are not flexible with that evolution, we will break. This means learning new techniques for shooting and lighting, developing communication skills for clients, adapting to an ever-changing market, branding your studio in unique ways, amplifying your marketing voice, pricing your products and services for a thriving business, and more...
This is true passion - admitting to yourself that there are always more ways to learn, more ways to develop, and more ways to grow.
Based out of Austin, Texas visit Dustin's site to see more of his work. Follow him on Twitter too. He's got a lot of great information he shares on a regular basis.
Images copyright Dustin Meyer. All right reserved.
by Skip Cohen
Normally I have something in the pipeline ready to go. At the very least, I've got something in my head I want to write about, but this morning it's all off the cuff. I'm sitting here amazed at how small the world has really become. Here's what got me thinking about it...
Facebook Wedding Photographers, which I co-administrate with Chris Fawkes from Australia is coming up on 14,000 members. I'm "talking" with him right now. Then, as I was writing to Chris earlier, good pal, Simon King from the UK, who recently did a guest post, came up on the screen with a question about a project he's working on. Answering Simon, I noticed an email from Fran Boloni, a photographer in Paris, who two days ago I asked to consider writing a short guest post about a terrific video he did over the holidays. Then there's the ongoing post from Faye Yerbury in Scotland. It's a discussion about her husband, Trevor, one of the most talented artists in photography, and his challenges with Facebook and a troll.
There are messages, posts and emails from all over the US from friends and associates - some are holiday greetings, others just about questions and ideas. It was Rick Ferro's birthday this week and I'm reminded that he's right here in Florida, even though up in Jacksonville and it's time we caught up to each other. The same goes for a holiday wish from Michael Corsentino in Orlando. Michele Celentano and I are talking about a program in Sarasota in January and the list goes on and on.
So, here's the point of my rambling this morning...every day, thanks to social media we've each got the power to make the world a little smaller. Every one of us has the power to raise the bar, not just on the quality of our images, but our relationships. We have the ability to challenge each other to push the edges of the envelope of creativity with the most extensive arsenal of tools in the history of photography.
It's been an amazing year, but it will pale in comparison to what 2014 has in store for us. As I've said before, you can stand on the sidelines and watch the parade go by, or thanks to social media, along with workshops, conventions and trade shows, you can participate and be right in it!
What a kick our industry has become! Thanks for being a part of it. Wishing all of you a wonderful in-between-the-holidays Sunday.
Illustration Credit: © chones - Fotolia.com
"What advice would I give new photographers just starting out? Photographers always ask me what I would do differently if I could start over. Here are the top 5 things I wish I hadn't done:
# 1. FAIL TO PLAN It's said that when you fail to plan, you plan to fail! So true. Make a plan and stick to it.
#2. BE TOO EAGER FOR A STUDIO SPACE So many photographers go through this whole idea of "I'll finally be 'for real' when I get a retail location!" Instead, really look at the value of what you have to offer right now! Find your value and then learn to communicate it to your client.
#3. HIRE EMPLOYEES WITH NO JOB DESCRIPTIONS This was a biggie for me. When I opened up my first studio in 2000, I jumped in big. I bought a large building and I also went digital that year. It was a huge time of crash and burn for me. I was up all night working and was just dying for help!! So, I started hiring people, and basically the only thing that I said was, "Help!!". I've always heard "Hire the personality and train the task", and I totally believe in that! However, you have to KNOW what you NEED and have job descriptions put together before you can train someone.
#4. GIVE AWAY THE FARM We've all been guilty of this. Establish what you need your session average to be, based on what you need to profit for the month/year. Set your prices so that you will reach those goals. In the beginning, make your prices known and allow for a discounted period if you absolutely must while you "portfolio build", but don't give it away for nothing. Don't hand all of your images over on a cd. Don't de-value what you are giving them - which is memories and moments built not just in the images, but in the experience itself.
#5. THINK LIKE AN ARTIST INSTEAD OF A BUSINESS PERSON I know this sounds like blasphemy to many of you. I think it's great to be an artist, and even for that to be your first love. But when the time comes to run your business and run it profitably, you have to start thinking like a business person. This is SO hard - for 99% of photographers out there! (you're not alone) We love what we do so much that we just think it's all going to fall into place! But being a business person, and each and everyone of you are a business owner, you've got to start thinking like a business owner. Putting systems in place, planning and scheduling, managing workflow and knowing your numbers are going to change your business and your life dramatically.
When our faculty was asked for what advice they'd give new photographers, little did we know that Lori would take the time to put together a full seminar. Seriously, if you don't agree, go back and read her five points again. She's given every new photographer, and for that matter seasoned professionals, the five basics to building your business.
Hear more about what Lori would do if she was starting over, plus the top ten things that have made her studio one of the most profitable studios in the country! Keep tabs on what she's doing by following her studio page.
Images copyright Lori Nordstrom. All rights reserved.
What advice do I have for photographers just starting out? Photography is both an art and a science. You must study, practice and master the fundamentals of exposure, lighting, posing & composition to the point where they become second nature. Your equipment & skill sets need to become a mere extension of your vision. Only then will you be able to instinctively and consistently create art during those fleeting moments of great photographic opportunity that you are presented with.
After thirty years as a professional photographer, Michael has clearly defined a niche that sets his work apart from so many other artists. This is all about classic portraiture that bridges his passion for fine art and portrait/wedding photography. You need to follow Michael's work on his website and Facebook page.
Images copyright Michael ONeill. All rights reserved.
I started working on my presentations for ShutterFest in April yesterday. I've got plenty of time, but decided to start building some of my background slides now. As I started wandering through the sites of the artists I respect the most, I noticed a common denominator. It wasn't earth-shaking, but it was interesting to see. As I surfed the Internet, QUALITY was always number one.
It's the one common denominator on every site of every photographer or company any of us consider iconic. I know it's not a revolutionary concept, but we've all gotten so caught up in social media, blogging and creating buzz, too often we forget, a well-exposed, composed and presented image is still King!
All the marketing genius in the world isn't going to substitute for the quality of your photographs. And while lots of hype and discounting might seem to get more business in the door initially, it won't get you a second time buyer. People won't come back to you if your work or service was "underwhelming".
So, the next time you put images up on your website, think quality. Think about what you're about to post. Is it really your very best work? Is it representative of a philosophy that suggests you never compromise the final image? Does it really show the skill set you want to present?
Then think about the way you run your business, the way you market yourself and the level of customer service you provide - quality is the key to success on every level. You've got a choice to make - do you want to be Nordstroms or the Blue Light Special at Kmart?
I found two quotes that seem appropriate to the topic:
"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives." William A Foster
"When you're out of quality you're out of business." Anonymous
Illustration Credit: © kbuntu - Fotolia.com
"In the world we live in today, where everyone owns a camera, it may be easy to succumb to the idea that there’s no value in our occupation. Don’t fall prey to this way of thinking.
Photographers are every bit as valuable as they’ve ever been; we as a community simply have to believe that and demand it, too. Simply because everyone has access to a camera doesn’t mean they know how to use it. I could rent a crane, but that doesn’t mean I can operate it. It’s our job not only to be consummate professionals, but also educators. We have to be able to articulate to clients why we’re a good investment, and we have to believe in what we’re selling—our creative talents, technical skills and professionalism."
I first heard about Stacy from my buddy Scott Bourne who heard her speak at the Maui Photo Festival. The next year, based on his suggestion, she was a keynote at Skip's Summer School in Las Vegas.
Yes, she's received some of the highest honors as a combat photojournalis, but what's even more impressive is the way Stacy walks the talk. She never stops giving back. She'll never be too busy to help another photographer or for that matter another human being in need. I couldn't be more proud to have Stacy involved with SCU.
She needs to be on your radar! She's got two books out and here's the link to her site. Make sure you check out what's going on in her own special project, the Charleston Center for Photography!
Images copyright Stacy Pearsall. All rights reserved.
It's just a short post this morning, but with a big message...
Regardless of your religious beliefs it's Christmas day...it's a national holiday and nothing is really open, making it the perfect day to just kick back and spend time with family and friends. I found an old quote by Calvin Coolidge that says it all:
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
Sheila and I want to wish all of you a wonderful Christmas day - a day filled with peace, love and appreciation for this amazing world we live in.
What advice would I give a photographer just starting out today?
I think the most important thing you can do in business and in life is to constantly choose happiness. Life will give you breathtaking highs and then bring you back to your knees in humility. The only choice we sometimes have is how we react to the chaos of it all.
I have traveled the world and have seen children who do not have shoes, proper clothing or even food to eat and yet they radiate love and happiness because they make the choice to do so.
Happiness is not a state of mind. It is a conscious choice and one of the few things we can control. Happiness takes work and sacrifice so no matter where you are in your career take a moment, ponder your blessings and then share a smile with someone you love.
Chose happiness and it will serve you the rest of your life.
Sandy is definitely somebody who should be on your radar. As one of the industry's leading children and family photographers and educators, you can stay on top of what she's working on through her website, her tour schedule, Facebook and Twitter.
Images copyright Sandy Puc'. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
The problem with those of us who think of ourselves as amateur poet laureates is, when we write something we believe borders on true brilliance, LOL, we simply beat it to death! So, it's out of the archives and this year presented to my new SCU audience.
It also comes with the same wish year after year - Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season filled with love, compassion and appreciation. Sheila and I feel so fortunate to know so many of you and have your support.
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
I’d unplugged my computer and even the mouse.
My blogs for year-end were all ready to go
There was no reason to work, the Internet was slow.
For reasons unknown as if it made sense
my email needed cleaning and I got “off the fence.”
For over a year I’d saved every note
the ones I received and the ones that I wrote.
So I started deleting each email and letter.
The more I deleted the more I felt better.
2012 Email from Curley, Heisler and Bourne
Taufer, Kubota, Malloy and Dorne.
And then went the drafts I’d written, but never sent
from those days when writing just helped me vent.
When all of a sudden I jumped up like LeBron,
My joke files from Vedros and Steinhardt were gone.
Gone were the best jokes from PG to X rated,
the ones that I loved and the ones that I hated.
My email had been full with great moments and smiles,
but my computer was slowing down with the over-stuffed files.
I wiped off my tears and even my nose
the files, like Saint Nick, up the chimney they rose.
My collection of jokes was gone and deleted.
I felt so alone, so sad and defeated.
When all of a sudden I jumped up with a grin
My backup drive was never plugged in.
I’d only deleted the stuff on one drive!
My tasteless jokes, every one did survive!
And I heard a voice, I thought from the sky
Was it Santa, his reindeer who had just flown by?
I realized the words were from Sheila, my wife,
"Shut off the computer you fool - get a life.
It’s Christmas and you’re screaming gave me a fright!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night"
Illustration Credit: © samkar - Fotolia.com
"Advice to new photographers? ….find your center…
Let’s face it…you’re a creative! But creatives can often find themselves with ‘starving artist’ syndrome. Somewhere in the middle, the balance thing becomes your quest – discovering your ‘artistic heart-light’ while also finding a path to fame and fortune. Pleasing clients and pleasing self is the delicate dance all artists face. In the end… “do what you love and the money will follow” can become your life with savvy business skills and a professional ‘personal’ style of imagery to back it all up….Live, Love, Laugh…you were put on this earth to leave a tender trail."
One of the very best presentation I've ever attended was with Arthur Rainville talking about creativity and nourishing your creative spirit at a program in Boston many years ago. I was hoping he'd give you the kind of advice he did above. Arthur is a kick to follow and it all starts with his Facebook page.
Images copyright Arthur Rainville. All rights reserved.
by Scott Bourne
Zig Ziglar always used to say:
“Sales is not something you do TO someone. It’s something you do FOR someone.”
Zig honestly believed in his heart, that when we as salespeople (and if you’re a professional photographer - don’t kid yourself, you are (or need to be) a salesperson) were doing important work, folks sometimes needed a little push to get to yes. He knew in the end they’d be happy with what they bought.
I have studied that man’s thinking for 35 years and today I want to write a post about the thankful salesperson. It’s my homage to Zig. It’s also my second - to - the last post here at SCU and I want it to be a good one.
Now you may be wondering - “How the heck does being thankful connect to sales?” It’s a good question and my goal today is to answer it.
You see I believe if your heart is in the right place, i.e. you put your prospects’ needs ahead of your own and you sincerely believe in what you are selling, you can and should be thankful for the opportunity. Come on - how many people get to do a job where they are really helping people? It’s a great honor to be a high priest of memory protection. So with a hat tip to John Paul Caponigro (who turned me on to some of these quotes) here are some ways to be inspired enough to be a thankful salesperson.
Albert Schweitzer said:
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
For me, this has happened many times. And for some reason, when it DOES happen, it’s related to photography. I remember selling one of my first weddings. For some strange reason the bride’s mother really liked me. She said they moved their daughter’s wedding date so they could save up to hire ME to shoot the wedding. That spark in her - that happiness that she was going to have someone she believed in shoot her wedding left me very excited. My flame was indeed lit and I think I did a pretty darn good job at that wedding.
Shakti Gawain said:
“Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally ‘count our blessings,’ give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.”
I hear many photographers lament the fact that they don’t have the best gear or that they wish they had the money for an assistant or a better studio or whatever. Gawain’s quote served as a reminder to me that some of us go through life missing out on the best stuff because we think we need something else. Yet the best “stuff” is only the “best” if it helps us achieve some human connection. When you make a portrait of someone and they place it on their mantle, for generations to come to see and enjoy, NOBODY is going to wonder whether you had the best camera that was available that day or what version of Photoshop you used or whether or not the equipment van you drive is the latest model. All they will note is the fine expression on their loved one and the memories THEY have of that subject. That’s plenty of motivation for me to be thankful for what I have and not worry about what I don’t.
None other than Albert Einstein said:
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
I can’t tell you how much this resonates with me. I’ve been around the world with my camera. I’ve been toe-to-toe with Arctic Wolves, Coastal Brown Bears, Moose and Great American Bald Eagles. I’ve been mere inches from a wolf pup, a mountain lion cub and baby black bear. I’ve met and photographed famous rock stars, movie stars, politicians, race car drivers, beauty queens and plenty of spectacular regular “Joes.” And if you’d have asked me as a boy if I thought I’d have that kind of life, I would have said “Hell no.” I am the least among you yet I’ve been allowed to have all these experiences because of my camera. What a miracle. If you’re looking for miracles - take this approach to selling. It works.
Oprah Winfrey said:
“What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.”
I’m not proud of every decision I’ve made. I didn’t always have it “good.” My parents beat me, (I probably deserved it,) I made lots of bad decisions as a young man, I’ve suffered serious health problems, I’ve crashed every kind of motorcycle and race car you can think of, and there’s been plenty of bad. Oprah’s quote reminded me that through it all, you have to take it all in - the good and the bad - to be a great story teller. You have to learn to be grateful for night to understand the beauty of daylight. When you can do that, your photography will absolutely, positively improve. Her quote led me to translate what she’s saying from a photographer’s point of view. Light illuminates - shadows define. Focus on the good things you can do with your photography and I am certain that you will find happiness and the business success that goes with it.
Denis Waitley said:
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.”
Believe it or not, I have come to learn that photography, practiced at its highest levels, is a very spiritual pursuit. I am not talking about religion. I am talking about spirituality. There is a difference. Recognizing that the real reward of being lucky enough to be a professional photographer is the joy of knowing that you are protecting memories for others and those memories will last lifetimes. That transcends owning the coolest camera or the coolest anything. It’s a payday that the tax man can’t touch. It’s more valuable than money. But here’s the rub. If you are truly happy. I mean really, truly happy, then what ends up happening is that your sales skills increase. People want to do business with you more than ever. The money flows, not because you sought it. But because you did not. Master sales people are happy at their core. They are happy because they know the thing they are selling improves people’s lives. That knowledge is power and that power leads back to more happiness and more success. It’s a perfect circle. I hope you can find it.
I hope this lesson reaches some of you. I am grateful just to have the opportunity to share it with you because it has powerfully impacted my life.
Go out there and be thankful that you get to do this job. That you get to use your cameras to protect memories.
As always Skip and I are rooting for you.
You need to believe it is possible to succeed, and then be able to convince others that you can too. Freelancing is not for everyone, but it is not impossible. It requires a particular configuration of skills, and being good at making images is only one small part. In addition you need to have good skills in logistics, marketing, business, and dealing with people, all at the same time.
Marketing is indeed a challenging part of freelancing. Keeping a business going is a never-ending effort. Doing a little here and a little there won't cut it. You need to research the clients you want to target and then go after them with a plan. I spend a great deal of time developing clients and making sure I keep them through marketing.
My current efforts target designers who can give me corporate work. I tailor my presentation according to their needs. I find out their needs by researching them on the web or through professional publications. Getting and keeping clients can take as much of your time as taking pictures and doing assignments, but it is a part of the equation that you cannot ignore. Work will only come your way if you make it happen. It is my experience that making personal contact is useful if you can do a good job of selling yourself one on one. This is how I've built a business that is both regional, national and international in scope.
If you are looking for editorial clients, it is easy to figure out who to target because the names of those who can hire you are right in the masthead of every publication.
Many of us don't start out with much confidence, but we need to project it nonetheless. Of course, I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I made sure to learn from them and spent a lot of time honing my business skills as well as my photography skills.
Figure out where you want to go, then take the first step toward that goal. Then take the next, and the next one after that. Repeat until you're on your way.
Seth definitely needs to be on your list of artists you follow, starting with his website! His workshop schedule is one of the most diverse in the industry and lists his D-65 (Lightroom Workflow) schedule, Creative Workshops Schedule and speaking engagements. And if you're looking for a destination workshop unlike any other - just click on the banner below and check out programs Seth does together with another SCU Faculty member, John Paul Caponigro. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter too!
by Skip Cohen
I'm not sure if it's my aging brain cells or simply how much I've written over the last few years, but one of the challenges is trying to remember what I've written about before.
For example, there are a lot of amazing ideas in this world plastered all over refrigerators with kitchen magnet wisdom. Last night we were finishing dinner, cleaning up the kitchen and I decided to use one of my favorites about "happiness being a journey, not a destination." Why? Because Sheila and I simply had a terrific day...one of those perfect days with absolutely nothing special except spending time together. This magnet is one of my favorites and it's a thought I love to share.
Just now I went to check to see if I'd posted it on this blog before and I did, last May. So, I had a decision to make...write something original or share it again. The latter won out! It's too good not to share again and especially to remind you that you're in charge of your own happiness..
"For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination."
What surprised me is that I found another favorite in the house, printed on a small piece of canvas, from the same author, "Souza".
"Dance as though no one is watching you, love as through you have never been hurt before, sing as though no one can hear you, live as though heaven is on earth."
Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend and a Sunday filled with memory-making moments with family and friends. Don't waste time and just enjoy the journey. Thank you for your support and being such a special part of my life and to "Souza" - thanks for the smile you've obviously put in so many hearts.
Photo Credit: © rzocky2803 - Fotolia.com
"My advice to photographers first starting out is to never stop shooting. The more you can practice, the better. Only - don't just shoot. Observe your images and how your settings effect the results. Learn WHY you shoot a certain way, or even more importantly why an image you took didn't work. We don't learn from our success. That just reinforces what we already know. We have a great amount to learn from our failures."
Looking for more of Jen's work and special projects she's working on? Check out her website and follow her Facebook group - she's always sharing great insight and information. You'll never be disappointed.
images copyright Jen Rozenbaum. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
A few years ago Barbara Yasuhara made a comment about the influence her mother had on helping her build confidence in her photography career. I know I've written about this before, but I was reading some old posts and her comment really hit home.
Think about those people who have been instrumental in helping you focus - and yes, I'm using the play on words intentionally. More important than learning how to focus your camera is how you've focused your career. There's no skill set really required to focus your camera, whether on auto focus or manual. The image is either sharp or it isn't! The skill is in what you're focusing on, your composition, how much depth of field, etc.
Our careers are no different than looking through the viewfinder...are you going for a narrow depth of field and focusing on a particular skill set or dimension of photography or are you shooting with a wide depth of field and working on anything and everything? Who are the people in your life who have helped you be more selective in your focus, given you the confidence and been there to watch your back?
It's the perfect time this morning and the time of year to just think about those few people who helped you the most - not with financial support, equipment or advice, but in developing your confidence. Isn't it a great time to just pick up the phone, call them and say thanks? And, if they're somebody who's sadly passed away and are no longer here, you can still make that "call" - they'll hear you!
Illustration Credit: © madpixblue - Fotolia.com
"What advice would I give photographers just starting out? Having the guts to build a business around your unique perspective and strengths, may be the most challenging task for an up and coming professional creative.
The temptation to look at others and emulate may make sense as you're learning the craft, but when it comes to putting your signature brand out for the world to see, copying others is the riskiest thing you could do. You don't want to be "like" anyone except yourself. What's funny, is YOU is your only real shot at originality. The great news is most people are too scared to take a chance on themselves. Get over that hurdle and you've got a shot.
The daily habit of cultivating your you-nique style is the hardest and most rewarding work we do creatively. It's also our best shot at truly making a mark. Be you at any cost."
You need to be following Dane and catch everything he's working on. Best place to start is his website. And, if you're at any workshop or convention where's he's speaking, run, don't walk to grab a seat.
Images copyright Dane Sanders. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
In 1987 I took over as president of Hasselblad USA. It was an incredible job and opened the door to the world of professional photography. One of the first projects on my plate was a new advertising campaign. I inherited a concept everyone had pretty much signed off on.
The program was to drop all the photographic magazines and go after the serious hobbyist by advertising in National Geographic, Time Magazine's top zip code edition and the Father's Day issue of the Sunday New York Times Magazine. It was incredible and it sent my ego to a new height, as I got credit for bringing Hasselblad's advertising to three of the most impressive publications in the world.
There we were in Time, National Geographic and the NY Times, but we only had enough money in our budget to run once in each of them! When the money was gone, if sales didn't come in, we were dead! Even more damaging was when we pulled all our advertising from the photographic magazines for the new campaign, the magazines all pulled their editorial support. Plus, this campaign was directed to consumers and "Uncle Harry" only represented 25% of Hasselblad's business. We were no longer reaching our primary target. The ad campaign was in short a very expensive, ego-driven disaster!
A year later with a new plan of attack on the market I was interviewed by one of the trade magazines. Every question about our new marketing plans I answered. We were reaching out to photographic schools, doing more dealer training, creating new promotional programs. The interview was published and there were multiple head shots of me with members of our senior staff. I loved the article until I realized something...
It was nothing more than an ego trip and I was broadcasting every move we wanted to make in our business to our competitors. I couldn't have helped them more if I'd invited them to our planning meetings!
Okay, here comes the segue to real life as a photographer... Don't let your ego run your business. I'm not saying don't have an ego, but when you make decisions with your ego instead of your head you'll be buried in a sequence of bad events.
Think about how you run your marketing efforts now. Start with your home page and your "about me" section. Is it being driven by ego or customer service? It's more important for you to share why you're a photographer and open your heart, NOT all the awards you might have won! Awards are great and you earned them, but your client is looking for images that come from the heart and needs help making the decision if you can be trusted.
How about your charitable efforts in the community? Don't be afraid to be an unsung hero. It's okay to be behind the scenes and not be the chair person running every event. It's okay to give and expect absolutely nothing in return. The first time I heard Napoleon Hill's expression, "Whatever you give will come back to you" was in a presentation from a young photographer twenty years ago, Clay Blackmore. He talked about the importance of just being able to help people and he's lived by that code his entire career.
Most important of all, when you get involved in any of the online forums, discussions at the various conventions or just conversations with friends are you able to check your ego at the door? Or, do you stay on a subject, fighting to drive home your point? This might be the hardest lesson of all to learn, not just in business but in relationships as well - and yes, I'm speaking from personal experience. It's hard to recognize there may be another path when you're so convinced your viewpoint is the only direction to take. Don't be a "right fighter"!
The last thing I meant to do this morning was sound like I was preaching, but those Hasselblad experiences were some of the most important life/business lessons I've ever experienced. You don't have to bury your ego, just keep it in check.
Illustration Credit: © andrewgenn - Fotolia.com
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.