All year long I felt like I was trapped in an old movie and the hands of the clock were spinning. Time is our most valuable commodity, but this past year especially, there was NEVER enough of it. And here I am on the last day of 2014 doing my last post of the year.
All of you have become so important to me, Sheila and an industry I love dearly. If you've followed the SCU blog over the last year then you've had a chance to "meet" hundreds of other photographers, think about ideas to help you build a stronger business, watch a few videos of some great artists and listened to podcasts with some of the most dedicated educators/authors in photography today. It's all been one giant labor of love.
It's a simple point this morning....thank you for your support and your feedback. 2015 is already shaping up to be an amazing year with some new partners and projects, but right now this is about you guys.
Sheila and I want to wish all of you a happy, healthy and safe New Year. We wish you a year filled with peace, hope, accomplishments and most of all joy and love. Thank you for simply being who you are and sharing our passion for an amazing industry.
I've said it dozens of time in the past, the best part of the industry has nothing to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Thank you for your friendship.
Happy New Year!
I was reading some great quotes this morning when I ran across this one, which, at the risk of sounding like I'm preaching, is perfect for a blog post setting the stage for the new year:
"Anything you're rigid about, sooner or later,
the rug is going to get pulled out from under you."
Although I like to believe I'm a young thinker, technically, by many of your standards, I'm an old fart. Well, being an old fart is something I'm pretty proud of. It gives me an advantage many of you don't have. I've got an amazing collection of classic moments in this industry to learn from. Here are some examples that tie directly to Alan Arkin's quote.
So, here's my point this morning...every day there's another paradigm shift in technology, consumer trends, business and social media. I'm not suggesting you abandon your beliefs or support for anything, just keep an open mind and remember that survival is no longer about the most fit, but about the most creative and adaptable.
With New Year's right around the corner, Rich and I did a special "Mind Your Own Business" webcast last week. For an hour we just went back and forth with great ideas to help you raise the bar on your business for 2015. We shared one idea after another to help you with a few business related New Year's resolutions.
So, if you don't have enough on your resolution list already, here's an opportunity to include a few more. One thing I can promise though, if you listen to everything we talked about, you'll have a ton of things to do to build a stronger business and put a bigger smile on your face at this time next year!
As always, a big thanks to Rich Harrington and the Photofocus team!
I always thought it was a silly expression, especially since a good friend of ours has been the Sheriff in our home town for many years. In the magazine business though, it's another story, pun intended.
A lot of you have met Sal Cincotta. You've heard him speak at various conventions, attended his workshops and might have heard him speak at Skip's Summer School a couple years ago. Well, Sal had an idea, a dream. About a year and a half ago he launched Shutter Magazine. It's become the fastest growing online magazine in our industry and I couldn't be more proud to have written for every issue so far.
But here's where the "new sheriff" comes in. While most magazines still printing hard copies have been shrinking, Sal, Taylor and their team of dedicated professionals, built their readership online first and have grown every month since, now having around 90,000 subscribers. They're now launching Shutter Magazine as a printed publication. It's an incredible idea and there are only a handful of people who could pull it off.
The success of every business is about giving your clients the right choices. In our industry, we're the clients and I include myself in that mix. We all want to read stories that can help us raise the bar on our products, skill set, marketing efforts and business. Plus, I don't about you, but I still love to read a good magazine and Shutter Magazine is going to be offering you both, the interactive online experience and a hard copy to actually hold, read and enjoy.
Don't trust my opinion...subscribe and check it out for yourself. Like I said, there's a new sheriff in town!
Just click the banner for more information about the NEW Shutter Magazine!
Over the years there have been a half dozen or so blog posts by or about the work of a good friend, Bob Coates. His Successful-Photographer blog is loaded with helpful ideas for professional photographers to raise the bar on the quality of not only your work, but your business.
Yesterday, thanks to SproutingPhotographer.com, a new episode of Weekend Wisdom aired and it's about one of my favorite topics, print competition. Right off the bat, one of the things I love about the topic is that it represents where the friendship with Bob first started...he was a print judge for WPPI's 16x20 print competition. Print competition is near and dear to his love for the industry and today he's an affiliate international juror with PPA. In addition to WPPI, he’s judged images in national, state and local competitions as well as the International Loupe Awards.
As you'll hear both of us talk about in this podcast, participating in print competition, either directly or as an observer is one of the most educational events in professional photography today. It's an opportunity for you to learn so much about composition, exposure and presentation, thanks to the dozens of judges who participate in each competition.
Just click on the banner below to hear the podcast. Bob shares so many great tips to help you understand print competition and raise the bar on the presentation of your own images.
But there's one more point I wanted to make...after all, it's Sunday and I always do a Sunday Morning Reflections...it's the perfect topic and one I try and never take for granted...my friendships. Bob and I have been hanging out together for a lot of years at various conventions, trade shows and even during his vacation when he and his wife, Holly, head to Sarasota each year.
I found two great quotes that describe a couple of different aspects of my friendship with Bob...
"Respect those friends
who find time for you in their busy schedule.
But really love those friends who never see their schedule when you need them..."
and one more to enjoy as you think about your own friends.
"Friends are the family we choose for ourselves!"
Wishing everybody a wonderful in-between-the-holidays Sunday with family and friends. As always, enjoy the day and hug somebody special!
I know it's still December and everybody is in the holiday spirit, but if you're headed to any of the major conventions don't forget to make a hotel reservation. Last year for WPPI, I made my reservation late and I think we were in the one room at the MGM farthest away from the Convention Center! It's no fun when you've got a half hour walk just to get to the show.
Plus, you always want to be in the host hotel if possible. Fifty percent of the reason to even be at a convention is about networking. You miss out on too much if you're off property at another hotel.
Because I've been in the industry as long as I have, every year I get a dozen emails three weeks before any major convention from friends who can't find a room, hoping I've got some mystery stash of hotel accommodations. While there used to be a day when I often did, especially when Hasselblad was an exhibitor or I had responsibility for WPPI, those days are long gone. Don't wait until the last minute to get your hotel booked!
There are four shows listed below. This doesn't mean there are only four big shows kicking off the new year, just that these are the conventions I know best. Check with your state associations for other key regional conventions worth attending. You should attend every professional photographic event you can!
Click on any of the banners to find out more and if you're going, don't wait to book your hotel. Don't create a "You snooze. You Lose" scenario!
Photo Pro Expo - Covington, KY
Imaging USA - Nashville, TN
WPPI - Las Vegas
Note: WPPI is always in Vegas and has been at the MGM for years. However, if you're making a reservation and want to cut down on the daily hike to the show, you want to be in MGM's Signature in Tower 1.
Shutterfest - St. Louis
ShutterFest is sold out for 2015, but I wanted to list it here, because it's not just a convention, but a community. Sal Cincotta set out to build something amazing and he did! I've listed it here so you can be thinking about 2016! You should also get involved in the ShutterFest Facebook page so you can keep tabs on everything that's going on!
Yesterday was one of the few days in the last five years that I didn't post anything. I kept trying to write something poignant. I started off in search of an inspirational video to share, watching "Military Homecomings" on YouTube and couldn't keep a dry eye long enough to just type.
I wanted to wish everybody a wonderful holiday season, but I'd already done that the day before. Well, here we are on December 26 and the year is quickly coming to a close.
Sheila and I just got back in from our morning walk and along the way I started thinking about choices and the control we all have in our lives, even though at times it seems like we don't. Take it a step further and I started thinking about my own New Year's resolutions and all the things I have on my bucket list for 2015. Stay with me, it's a short post this morning, but there really is a point...
Heading into the New Year, let's all make some resolutions with some meat in them. Let's create some standards for our lives that really make a difference...
I didn't mean to go into what's starting to sound like a sermon, just wanted to plant a seed of an idea that I tripped over this morning. We all have so many choices and even when we make the wrong ones, we can alway choose a new path.
Sheila and I have a couple of framed pieces by Brian Andreas and this one just seems to fit this morning. While time is our most valuable commodity, we have so many choices in how to use it.
the day he figured out there was exactly enough time
for the important things in his life."
Wishing all of you a wonderful Friday and time to just enjoy friends and family as 2014 comest to a close.
WARNING! Sappy Alert...
Whether you just celebrated the last night of Chanukah yesterday or you're looking forward to Christmas Eve tonight and the day tomorrow, nothing changes my wishes to all of you for peace, hope, good health and a time filled with memory-making moments with those special people you love in your life. It's my favorite time of year and it's thanks to so many wonderful people who I'm fortunate to have in my life.
But, getting back to the lighter side of the holidays, you have to help me through a challenge, which is dealing with
those of us who think of ourselves as amateur poet laureates. I wrote this two years ago and bring it out of mothballs every year believing that somebody will recognize my talent and help me launch a reputation right up there with Robert Frost!
Well, here it is out of the archives and presented to my SCU audience for 2014...
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"
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.
Photo Credits: © irisphoto1 - Fotolia.com (candles) and © Maksim Pasko - Fotolia.com (ornaments)
A couple weeks ago in a strictly spontaneous moment, I spotted the family portrait of JB Salle, DeEtte and their kids. It was such a stunning portrait, I decided to share it in a blog post. As I was writing the post I started thinking how much fun it would be to share some of your family portraits, making it a point to remind everybody to stop procrastinating and get the job done.
My mother used to complain about "shoemaker's children needing shoes," because I was in the photography industry yet rarely had an up to date portrait of our family. I put out the request to all of you and here's the first group to respond. If you'd still like to share an image, just send it to email@example.com. No big file, just need 5x7 equivalent at 72 dpi and the url for your business.
A BIG thanks to the three of you who took the time to send me images and another thanks to those of you who are procrastinating and saying, "I really should send something in!" LOL
Allegra's Studio sent me three images, so I picked my favorite two. The winter scene is their 2014 holiday card the second image is from Mother's Day 2013. I love the fact that they don't miss an opportunity to update their family portrait.
Samantha at Jonathan Ivy Photography sent me the image below. It was a rushed image, but I love the sentiment behind it..."This was one of those when we only have a minute, but we need to document this stage of our lives..." If you've got children, it's especially important to document those family moments - look at the expressions on the kids faces. Nobody is going to care ten years from now if the family portrait was "rushed".
Michael Huang of Cukini Studio sent me these two and I love a little humor thrown in for the fun of it. He wrote, "For these photos, I dragged the family away on a 5 hours drive to Gary, Indiana for a little urban exploration. For this particular location, since I was bringing the kids, I played safe and got a permit from the city. Just did not feel like getting arrested for trespassing in front of my own kids! "
Bambi Cantrell is responsible for this family portrait of me and Sheila with my three grandsons in Boston this past September. She's a remarkable photographer and has a way of always capturing the best expressions.
I never miss an opportunity to share Bleu Cotton and Allison's holiday card. They've been making every holiday family portrait a classic and I think at this point, I've got at seven years of them saved. Nobody has more fun than this crew! While they capture pictures of the kids and themselves all year long, at holiday time they pull out all the stops.
Here's a blast from the past and one of the best spoof videos ever done, thanks to the talent of Ron Dawson and Joe Photo. Here's the scenario...
Joe Photo and Michele Celentano hosted WPPI's Awards Night for several years. Then, in 2007, I had an idea and decided we'd mix it up a little. I was president of Rangefinder/WPPI and thought it was a great idea for Tony Corbell and me to host the event. (By the way, we didn't do half as good as Joe and Michele did!)
Well, Ron Dawson, put together this spoof video, which was the first in the series. Joe is one of the most talented photographers in our industry, but his skill set pales in comparison to his role as "Disgruntled Joe".
We all know the expression goes, "you can never go back," but it sure is fun to take the walk down memory lane. Today is Joe's Birthday and it just seemed like the perfect time to pull this video out of storage!
Happy Birthday Joe and a big thanks to Ron Dawson!
This is going to be my last Marketing Monday post for 2014 and I can't think of a better topic than "UnMarketing"! The term is thanks to an outstanding author, Scott Stratten. Every one of you should pick up his book, UnMarketing.
Bryan Caporicci introduced me to the book earlier this year and it's outstanding reading. There's one paragraph on the back cover that says it all...
"If you're ready to stop marketing and start engaging, then welcome to UnMarketing. The landscape of business-customer relationships is changing, and UnMarketing gives you innovative ways out of the old, "Push and Pray" rut. Instead, draw the right customers to you through listening and engagement, enabling you to build trust and position yourself as their logical choice when they need you."
All year long, I've written about some aspect of marketing. In fact, there are dozens of posts all talking about the importance of building relationships. From "owning your own zipcode" and meeting all the businesses within a few miles of your location to the importance of engagement shoots, and everything in between. For example, an engagement shoot isn't about another revenue stream to expand your services, but building trust and establishing a relationship between you and your clients.
The importance of attending conventions is another aspect of building relationships. It's about expanding your network with other photographers and the staff at the vendors whose products and services you use the most. Over and over again, it's your relationships that are critical to building your business and brand. Even being involved in your community is another key to building a strong business and brings into play relationship building.
I did a podcast a few years ago with one of the industry's best family portrait photographers, Angela Carson. In the podcast Angela talked about her relationships with her clients. Close to 70% of her business each year is from past clients. She stays in contact with them all year long, paying attention to special events in their lives and essentially being an honorary member of their families.
All of things I've written about this year are important ingredients to building brand awareness, including publicity, advertising, promotions and your blog, just to name a few, but NOTHING tops Scott Stratten's message in UnMarketing. As he wrote in the introduction...
If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business!
Interested in learning more about Scott? Just click on the banner below and sit back and listen to a great conversation on SproutingPhotographer.com.
It's a typical Sunday morning and as usual, I'm the first one up and the house is incredibly quiet. It's the perfect time to get a little reflective and it's my Dad that got me going this morning.
He spent the afternoon here yesterday, stayed for dinner and as we were cleaning up the kitchen, he started talking about his old friends. Dad is 92. My Mother passed away a year and a half ago.
I'm not sure what even brought up the topic, but in summary, he's only got two other friends still living. One of them has lost the battle to severe dementia and is in a nursing home, so that really just leaves his friend, Mort. He wasn't expressing the fact with sadness though, but more of "wow" factor and marveling at the fact that he's still here.
We didn't really talk about it that much, but when I went to bed last night I was thinking about the element of time. It's the one thing we NEVER have enough of and yet it's our most wasted commodity. The younger we are the harder it is to imagine time ever running out and the older we are, the more we want to pack into every 24 hour period.
I found a quote by Einstein that so appropriately describes my Dad...
"Do not grow old, no matter how long you live.
Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born."
He's never lost his awe of the world, technology and the miracle of life. He doesn't understand his computer, but he loves being on it, especially when he's looking at pictures of his great grandchildren. Just like Einstein, he's still just as curious as he was when he was a kid!
The image to the right was taken two weeks ago by a very good friend, Bob Coates. I'm going to talk about it in a Luminary Corner post tomorrow morning, because of how it was captured and why. But right now, it's the perfect segue to the other other half of a "then and now" pair of images. The one above, with me about two years old with Dad, is obviously the "then".
Time, where did it go?
So, consider this a request to add to your New Year's resolutions... let's all stop wasting time. Let's make every minute count. All of you know how to focus your cameras...well, let's all focus on our lives and what's really important. Focus on the challenges you have building your skill set to be the very best. Focus on your relationships and spend your time with people who matter. Walk away from the negative people in your life - you don't have time to change them, but maybe if they're wasting their time instead of yours, they'll come back at some point.
For this Sunday morning, hug somebody important to you. Don't waste a minute of your day on things that just aren't important. And last on this list, remember that taking a break from thinking about your business and just dreaming through all the "what ifs" isn't wasting time. It's about recharging your battery and just might be the greatest utilization of time you can find!
Happy Sunday everybody - wishing you the same message my good buddy, Matthew Jordan Smith, shares at the end of everything he writes...
Always Dream Big!
This just might be the perfect thing to think about during down time over the holidays. We've all spent endless hours understanding back up procedures, but missed the most important one...
Back Up Your Hard Drive.
What do I mean by that?
Although your life may be cruising along smoothly,
I recommend that every once in a while you stop and envision a sudden shipwreck occurring.
Then think, re-think and remember what you would really want to hold on to if disaster should strike.
While it should happen all year long, this is the time of year when we think about our priorities and what/who is really important to us. It's the perfect time to back up your drive and prioritize what you'd bring in the life boat. It's a time to appreciate family, close friends, your health and how many times a day you have a smile on your face. I'm not talking about the kind of smile you have after a great dinner, but the kind that runs through your entire body and just makes you want to shout how happy you are to the world!
Wishing everybody a wonderful weekend, holidays filled with joy, peace and happiness and time to hug those people special in your life!
Over the last week or two, there's a lot that's been going on and so often I miss the moments. I know I've got a lot of photographers who I consider good friends and probably never did a blog post like this, but consider it one of my early New Year's resolutions. It's real simple - I just want to slow things down. Instead of always working, I want to stop now and then, look around me and pay attention to what's going on.
I know I'm not alone. There are a whole bunch of you who can identify with the challenges of stepping away from trying to build something every day. We need to be listening instead of talking, reading instead of writing, and looking instead of capturing.
Well, Bryan Caporicci of SproutingPhotographer.com and Texas photographer, JB Sallee have had an amazing week and I want to share two incredible accomplishments of two very good buddies!
For Bryan it was a stellar moment when Sprouting Photographer was recognized as...
The only photography podcast featured in “Best of iTunes 2014″ by Apple!
Click on the banner above to read Bryan's complete post about podcasting. There's some great information here and Bryan, as always, writes in a way that you can't help but learn something.
For me, the recognition is significant for two great reasons. First, Bryan's a knucklehead...that's an expression I picked up years ago and I only use it to describe some very good friends. You have to be a knucklehead these days to survive in business. You have to be creative, take risks and be ready to readjust your vision when things don't always go as planned.
Second, Bryan came to me a few months ago with an idea he and his partner in SproutingPhotographer.com, Rob Nowell, had called Weekend Wisdom. It's a podcast with me as the host and guests who focus exclusively on just one topic and then drill it down. We want to give listeners as much helpful information as we can, typically in just thirty minutes.
Weekend Wisdom took off and thanks to Bryan and Rob the series now has 8 episodes under it's belt with Don Komarechka, Sandy Puc, Doug Box, Cindy Harter Sims, Joe McNally, Tamara Lackey, Kristen Jensen and MJ Gottlieb and in 2015 we're going to increase the frequency from every other week.
Almost 1500 miles south of Bryan another "knucklehead", JB Sallee had his own banner week...and as sappy as it sounds, I felt like a proud Dad who's kid just hit the winning line drive in the championship game!
JB won the International Loupe Awards in the wedding category and is now in the running for the grand prize. In fact, he had seven images in the top fifty. I love the way he shared the images of all the artists featured in these fifty on his blog post. Just click the link below to read to see all the images.
Just like Bryan, JB and I have some great history. He was the first recipient of WPPI's Hy Sheanin Scholarship. I remember presenting him with the award about ten years ago. He and DeEtte weren't married yet and here we are today with me posting an incredible portrait of JB and his family.
Just take a look at three of his top images in the Loupe Awards below and you'll understand why I put him in the knucklehead category...he's constantly working to raise the bar on every image he captures. Every image is a "wow" print. He's always experimenting and pushing the edge of the envelope.
Years ago, another good buddy, Scott Bourne, spoke at one of my summer programs and the advice he gave every photographer in the audience was so important to remember...
"Capture each image as if it was the last photograph of yours that people will ever see!"
JB never compromises and is always working to exceed every client's expectations!
So to two good friends who this week raised the bar a little higher for our industry...thank you for your inspiration, your support and especially your friendship. I couldn't be more proud to consider you both friends and oh yeah...knuckleheads!
With most of my Throwback Thursday posts I try and relate it to people from the photographic community. However, this week's is all about family, printed images and great memories. All of which I couldn't share with you, if right off the bat, I hadn't found the original print. A quick trip through the scanner and here it is.
This is where a few of you are going to roll your eyes, but the truth is, just handing people a jump drive with their digital files is NOT going to guarantee that 50+ years later, like I'm doing right now, anybody is going to have the technology to even look at the images. Yeah, I know, somebody out there is going to tell me that's absurd...but if it is, then explain why I can't play my eight tracks any more...find me a car manufactured today with a cassette deck...tell me what to do with the box of floppy discs I found the other day and the list goes on and on.
If you're interested in ideas tied to providing prints to your clients check out the post I did a few weeks ago featuring an idea of Bryan Caporicci's and Michele Celentano's "I Believe". Bryan shared a great idea of how to use up those old floppy discs and Michele has given anybody who wants it, the rights to use her "I Believe" with clients.
Meanwhile, let's get back to my Throwback image and a quick run down Memory Lane...
Let's hit a few items in this picture. First of all, I found it in a box of old pictures already framed. Not sure when or why this one got saved, but it's me and my grandfather at the front door of our house in Ohio and I'm around eleven or twelve.
Pat Boone was the king, so pay attention to the white bucks. The suit was actually a light blue - I think a seersucker. Catch the cigar in my grandfather's hand. Back then, just like today, my mother might have had a cigarette in the house, but nobody was getting away with a cigar. So, I'm assuming my grandfather was outside chasing a smoke break.
He went through a box of cigars a week. Then, one day at around age 70, he went cold turkey and just quit. He put all his cigar money in a jar and had enough a year later to take my grandmother on vacation to Mexico. The image was captured on a 35mm Agfa viewfinder that my Uncle got for my Dad in Europe. It was our first real camera, with the best feature being the self-timer.
My Dad shot very little black and white film, because everything back then was slides. At family gatherings he'd set up the projector and we'd look at slide after slide after slide after slide...are you catching a little pain in that memory? Actually it was fun most of the time, but every dozen or so slides, one would jam in the projector - we'd stop, turn the lights on, fix it and start again.
Hasselblad's Ernst Wildi used to say, "The difference between an amateur and a professional is that amateurs show you ALL of their shots!" Well, Dad couldn't have fit the profile of an amateur more and you'd think he won the lottery if he got 37 or 38 images out of a 36 exposure roll!
Last factoids on the list, it was around this time we discovered I was blind as a bat and needed glasses. Hey, if you've never had 20/20 vision, then you have no idea what you're missing. In this case I was 20/300. The other fun memory this brings out is this was my parent's first real house - a great little three bedroom ranch on a quiet wonderful street where a whole bunch of us would grow up together.
We rode bikes without helmets, put baseball cards on clothes pins in the spokes to make them sound cool, played army or cowboys and indians without thinking about being politically correct, smoked a cigarette behind somebody's garage now and then, burned leaves in piles at the edge of the yard every fall and in the winter time, somebody's dad would drive us around the neighborhood towing a line of sleds all tied together as we'd slip and slide on the ice. Try doing any of these today and there's a good chance somebody is getting arrested!
All those memories out of just one 5x7 print!
"I don't have a New Year's resolution. You don't need that crap when you're perfect."
and for those of you who aren't as fine-tuned as Napoleon Dynamite...
Every year we all do the same thing - we start thinking about all the things we can do to make next year stronger and more successful. Many of you look at your earnings each year and often, not until you file your taxes, do you even know if this year was better than the last.
Then you make resolutions and you enter the new year with incredible intent to work even harder. The truth is many of you can't work any harder, but you can work smarter. So, Rich and I want to help you with a few shortcuts or better put, help you learn from some of the mistakes we've already made.
This is the last Mind Your Own Business of the year and we felt, between the two of us, you'd be better served if we just hit one thing after another to help you grow your business and your brand in 2015. We're going to cover as many different ideas as we can in the time we've got and leave it up to you to decide which ideas make great resolutions.
It's all happening on Thursday, December 18 at 4:00 pm EST.
See you there and be ready for us to add some ideas to your list of ways to make 2015 your best year yet!
Ever met somebody and within the first minute you knew you had a lot in common and the potential for a great friendship? Well, meet MJ Gottlieb, who in all honesty, I barely know. I "met" MJ and his partner, Gary Oneil, on Twitter. I started reading their tweets and following the links. Over and over again they'd take me to a source loaded with great advice on business and marketing.
Well, we did a few RT's of each other's tweets and I did a little research and was hoping I could talk MJ into doing a podcast. He didn't disappoint me. Not only was he willing to join me on Weekend Wisdom, but he couldn't have been more frank and honest about his own challenges in business and giving photographers some terrific examples of what not to do in establishing your business.
This new podcast is based on MJ's book, How to Ruin a Business Without Really Trying and it's a definite must have addition to your own library. Throughout the discussion, I used the table of contents from the book. Over and over again we hit on topics and mistakes I've done myself over the years.
The first paragraph in the book's description on Amazon describes not only the book, but MJ's attitude throughout this new episode of Weekend Wisdom.
"When life hands you lemons what do you do? Well complaining certainly doesn't help anything, and nobody really listens anyway. Truth is, most successful people have failed their way to the top. For every successful person that you see, what you don't see is the trail of bankruptcies, failed partnerships, and pricey mistakes that made them who they are today. So does that mean every entrepreneur has to go through the same horrors, heartaches and pain? Is there any way to avoid this?"
While I always thank Bryan Caporicci and Rob Nowell of SproutingPhotographer.com for creating Weekend Wisdom, with this new podcast, I've got to put out an extra thanks to MJ. He really didn't know me at all, but was willing to take a shot at helping us with some terrific new content and so relevant to photographers in business today!
It's another typical Sunday morning and I've got a specific goal today with a topic near and dear to all of us. Simply put, stop making excuses!
"Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses!"
George Washington Carver
I was at Polaroid for almost 17 years, Hasselblad for 12 and Rangefinder/WPPI for 7. All along the way I saw the same thing happen when projects didn't work out the way we expected. Whoever owned the majority of the project would proclaim, "...but we learned a lot!" At Polaroid, because everything was done by committee, you could rarely find anybody to even take responsibility. Everybody would point fingers at each other instead of taking the time to regroup, figure out what went wrong and then make it work. At least at Hasselblad and Rangefinder somebody took ownership.
"Come on Skip, what's your point?"
Stop making excuses and just pick a new path. I've heard photographers say, "If only I had..." then they branch out into "new gear", "the right lens", " a beautiful studio", "more money" and the list goes on and on. You've got to work with what you've got and for most of the great artists in our industry, creativity grows the less they have, because they're committed to finding solutions.
Vincent Laforet spoke at one of the Skip's Summer Schools three years ago and talked about not having any of the right gear when he started. "When I didn't have a long enough lens, I just moved in closer!" Even when he created "Reverie" six years ago with the, then new, Canon 5D Mark II, he talked about having none of the right editing gear and did it all with no post movie processing. It's worth watching if you've never seen it - "Reverie" was groundbreaking and a great example of Vincent's passion for creativity!
So, on this gorgeous Sunday morning, I'm suggesting you take a little time today and think about the amazing career path you've chosen. Give yourself a big pat for what you've accomplished with or without the "right gear". Think about all you've learned so far, instead of what you don't know yet.
You know how to focus your camera, now it's time to think about the focus on your marketing efforts, your skill set and your network. Passion requires no excuses and so often when something doesn't work out the way I want it to Sheila will hear me say, "You know what I should have done?"
Her response is always the same, "Don't should on yourself!"
"Shoemaker's children always need shoes!" It was my mother's favorite expression for years. Here I was, in the photographic industry and she never had enough pictures of her own kids and grandchildren. Well, this morning I got up and started my day with my usual Internet routine when I spotted this image on Facebook.
It's from JB and DeEtte Sallee, photographers in Texas and I simply loved it. In fact, JB did a guest post just a few weeks ago, but here's my point.
As photographers you spend all your time working on images of your clients. Maybe here and there, if you have kids, you've captured a few images, but how many of you have a truly outstanding image of your whole family? How many of you have put the same effort into your own family portraits that you've done for your best paying clients?
You're going to have some down time during the holidays and I'd love to know that this stunning family portrait from JB and DeEtte lit a fire under a few of you to get an updated family shot. Plus, it would really be fun to share them in a blog post or two. So, if you take on the challenge, send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I only need a 5x7 equivalent at 72dpi for a post and when I have a few in the pipeline, we'll share them with everybody. Don't forget to include the URL for your website as well.
In the mean time, thank you JB and DeEtte...there's a sidebar bit of fun for me on this shot - I met the two of you before you were even married and it's been a kick following the path you've taken together as "Mom and Dad" as well as incredible artists!
Okay, so it's a pretty broad title for a blog post, but here's what got me on the topic this morning:
"If you don't do it excellently, don't do it at all.
Because if it's not excellent, it won't be profitable or fun,
and if you're not in business for fun or profit,
what the hell are you doing there?"
This is a very short post this morning and only meant to get everyone thinking about the things things you do to compromise your dreams, your products and sometimes even the services you offer.
Dreams: There's no reason to ever let go of your dreams and that includes pressure from loved ones who just don't understand your passion as an artist. That doesn't mean you don't have to modify them here and there, but if you let them go under the umbrella that life is a compromise, then you're only going to replace your dreams with regret and growing resentment.
Products: There is no compromise for delivering anything that isn't "excellent", just like the quote above. There's a standard of excellence in photography and essentially it boils down to exceeding your client's mindset. You're living in the most competitive time in business history and every consumer needs to know they made the right choice. Think about how many photographers they had to choose from!
Profitability: Loving what you do, but eating macaroni and cheese every night eventually grows old. Going into the new year, look at your costs, ALL of them. Invest in marketing. Pay attention to consumer trends in your community and price your services appropriately. There's a ton of information out there to help you and even more educators who have focused on the topic.
Fun: Yup, I gave "fun" it's own paragraph. It's the most important word in business today and also the most forgotten. It's not a crime to have fun when you're working. We all have the same challenge - we get so caught up in the pressure of the day in day out business that we forget to have fun. Having fun is critical to your success as an artist and a business person...make it a priority.
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
Wishing everybody a fantastic weekend and a Friday loaded with fun, excellent images and clients who find working with you habit-forming.
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.