Image copyright Ralph Velasco. All rights reserved.
"Why?" is all about backstories, and as we approach our first fifty episodes in the series, one of my favorite qualities of the project has been the diversity of the artists. From macro to landscape to weddings, portraits, babies and critters we've had a guided tour of the world by some of the industry's most talented and respected artists.
The spotlight this morning is on travel photographer Ralph Velasco. The fun for me is his background as not only an accomplished artist, but an expert in relationship building with his subjects, often from different cultures. His URL says it all, "PhotoEnrichment.com." While photography is a huge part of each adventure, being on a trip with Ralph is just as much about understanding the cultural experience visiting the area.
In this new episode of "Why?" Ralph's story proves a point about people in general - humor, friendliness and photography are universal! Check out more of Ralph's work by visiting his website with a click on the image above. Then imagine being on a trip with him, and the experience of capturing your own backstories and the images to go with each one.
Note to self: Never plan a move to a new house three days before Christmas!
So, here’s the backstory…
We moved to Florida to be with my Mom and Dad in 2011. Mom was battling Alzheimer’s and Dad was 89. As I look back over the memories of the last few years, it couldn’t have been a better decision. Well, Mom passed away three years ago and Dad a year ago. We lived on the northeast side of Sarasota, six miles inland and half an hour from our favorite beach. It was time to move south.
We put our house on the market and started looking on the south side of Sarasota for a new address. We wanted to downsize a little and trade space under the roof for space closer to the sand.
We found a house we absolutely loved a couple of months ago and closed on December 12. Within 24 hours I had movers set up, along with a contractor for some renovation work and the most important of all – Frontier Communications for Internet, cable and phones. Much to our surprise we were ahead of schedule and moved up the movers to December 22. We were ahead of schedule, except for Internet service!
I had set it up for December 27 because originally we weren’t moving until the 29th. We were so excited to make the move, but I forgot we live in Florida.
Pay attention here – Florida is the only state where the communications companies refuse to allow expedited work orders this time of year. That means when you call and ask to move your installation date before Christmas, they laugh hysterically. When you insist on talking with a supervisor they put the Grinch on line who listens patiently and after ten minutes says, “You want what?”
The snowbirds have arrived in Sarasota. Like locusts they’ve swarmed south Florida leaving nothing but work-orders in their path!
Here’s why the long explanation this morning - Since starting SCU, I’ve only missed a handful of days for blog posts. Most often I’ve gone seven days a week with what I hope is always helpful content to help you raise the bar on your marketing, business and thanks to some incredible partners, even your photographic technique.
SCU has grown all thanks to so many of you, great friends and outstanding companies like Profoto, Photodex, Panasonic, Tamron, X-Rite Photo & Video, Marathon Press and Sprouting Photographer. It’s been an amazing year. Just when I want to post a big thanks and best wishes for a merry, happy and healthy holiday season, I’m without Internet service. I’m knee deep in boxes, packing material and a garage that looks like a scene from one of the hoarder reality series!
So, as I fight to get a decent signal for a personal hot spot between my cell phone and laptop, I want to wish all of you a wonderful holiday. It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs might be, this is a time when we all need more peace in our lives. Thank you all for the gift of support you’ve given me. I plan to be back on line by next Tuesday and hopefully even have two cars parked in the garage!
As I always write on Sunday morning reflections – make this a weekend to simply appreciate all those people who are special in your life. And, whenever you give them a hug – go for eleven seconds. I read an article a year ago that talked about hugs being therapeutic when they’re eleven seconds or longer. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!
And, while this might be incredibly sappy and border on unprofessional – I sure do love you guys!
Image copyright Tom Curley. All rights reserved.
When I started "Why?" I had no idea the fun I'd have in working with each artist, and today is a perfect example. For many years I've talked about the best thing about the photographic industry, and it has nothing to do with images directly. It's the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft.
My good pal Tom Curley is in the spotlight today. Tom and I met at least twenty years ago in previous "lives." Since that first meeting we've worked together on dozens of different projects, trade shows and conventions. Tom's key role in the industry today is the leadership for Panasonic's Luminary Team, a group of incredibly diverse and talented professional photographers.
While he's not a working professional photographer, I'll match his enthusiasm, passion and love for the craft against anybody in the industry! In fact, the image he's sharing on "Why?" today is a perfect example. Click on the image above to see more of Tom's work.
Panasonic's tagline is "Changing Photography," and it's thanks to Tom and the Luminary Team, my own passion for imaging is revitalized almost every day. I'm never without a camera and Panasonic's technology in every LUMIX camera keeps pushing me to expand the boundaires of my own creative envelope.
Images copyright Arthur Rainville. All rights reserved.
This is the forty-eighth episode of "Why?" since I started the series on April 22. Each artist has something different they wanted to share, and today's with good pal Arthur Rainville is no exception!
As only Arthur could do, with his creative energy running at full steam he asked if it was okay to share two of his favorite images. He promised he'd connect them. LOL
Well, Arthur's two images span fifty-one years of his career from a picture of Martin Luther King in 1965 to an image just captured two weeks ago! He never compromises on quality, not just in his images, but in his relationships with his students, friends, vendors, and associates.
So, while Arthur talks about slowing down a little these days, if you see his name on any conference or convention for a program, RUN don't walk to get a seat. He still holds the title for the best presentation I've ever seen, and that's over my entire career! Nobody can keep you glued to your seat like Arthur.
Check out more of Arthur's work with a click on either image to visit his website. And, to get to know him a little better, watch this short inspirational video thanks to Tamron USA. Just click on Tamron below. I posted it two weeks ago and like everything with Arthur's name on it - it's simply remarkable!
by Skip Cohen
I wrote a post on a similar topic several years ago, but I've meet so many artists online recently and I'm amazed at the different perceptions they have of their business. With the first quarter trade show and convention season just around the corner, I'll be meeting more in person and I know I'll continue to be surprised at the different levels of enthusiam with each artist I meet.
I found a terrific quote a few years ago that Martina Navratilova is given credit for:
"The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs.
The chicken is involved; the pig is committed!"
Running across that quote recently, it got me thinking about our industry, because we've got too many people who are involved, rather than committed. Photography is an art form, not just in the capture and creation of the final image, but in the relationship each artist has with their clients and the passion for the craft.
An involved photographer gets the job done, has a goal to at best be average and spends too much time looking at the revenue stream.
Committed photographers can't stop thinking about their images. While they're obviously concerned about revenue, they're more concerned about creating an experience for each client. They're looking for ways to give back to the community. Their hearts skip a beat when they download images from a portrait sitting, commercial shoot or an event. They spend more time listening to their clients than they do talking to them.
If you're a regular reader here at SCU you're more than likely committed, rather than just involved. However, odds are you know somebody who's on the fence between involvement and commitment. So here are eight questions to help you define the difference and maybe share to help them better define their goals.
Okay, there it is, my top eight, but there are so many more. Feel free to add to my list via the comment section below and I'll do an extension of this post with your additions.
Most important of all, being committed is about unstoppable passion! There's little else you can see yourself doing. While it's directed to the topic of relationships, I found a quote that really hits home and being a photographer is about a relationship with your craft.
We have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment,
unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.”
Images copyright Dixie Dixon. All rights reserved.
alJust a few weeks ago Dixie Dixon was featured in a new episode of "Why?" Dixie's "Why?" image was part of a shoot she was doing in Brazil. The trailer for her Lifestyle Photography Tutorial adds a little more about Dixie's philosophy and her never-ending quest to capture the ultimate image.
I've shared a number of Dixie's videos here on the SCU blog over the last few years. Her behind the scenes videos, which started as simply a fun way to document a project, evolved into one of her most popular products for many of her clients.
Think about the concept. The more I think about it, the stronger the idea of BTS videos becomes for virtually any client. As two other examples: Kirk Voclain has done them for years with high school senior sessions, and Suzette Allen has turned them into video holiday cards for clients.
Now Dixie's sharing something new, with 22 hours of education content to help you raise the bar on your skill set. As you watch the video, first pay attention to how well Dixie shares her story. Second, think about how bringing a stronger approach to lifestyle photography might just be the inspiration you need to extend your work in a stronger direction. Check out the video and then click on either of Dixie's images above to link to this new educational series.
Image copyright Suzette Allen. All rights reserved.
I started "Why?" for two basic reasons. First, I wanted to introduce you to artists you should know about. Second, I was hoping each featured photographer would share the backstories about their favorite image. Everyone has exceeded expectations and this new "Why?" brings still imaging and 4K video together for the first time in the series.
Suzette Allen is in the "Why?" spotlight and this is truly a backstory with a point. It's all about pushing the boundaries of your own creativity and sometimes working completely outside the box. Suzette says it all at the beginning of her story: "It's like breaking through into a whole new arena!"
You owe it to yourself and your clients to never stop learning and experimenting with your skill set. Listen to Suzette's story as she pushes the envelope of technology and gets to a completely new place to share her vision.
To see more of Suzette's work, check out her website with a click on the image above. Suzette is also an X-Rite Photo & Video Coloratti, always paying attention to color calibration and never compromising on the quality of an image. You'll find more about her on her Coloratti page - just click the link below.
I always go off track on Sunday mornings, but yesterday I just couldn't seem to get it together to finish this post. While this has little to do with photography, it has everything to do with life. There are so many artists who I've talked to over the last year who are dealing with the challenge of Alzheimer's somewhere in their family. So, at the risk of violating one of the supposedly sacred rules of blogging, I'm starting the week completely away from the primary SCU theme.
For the last two years, I've managed and written the blog for the Friendship Centers here in Sarasota. The Friendship Centers are a non-profit 501c3 providing support to the community through Health Services, the Caregiver Resource Center, the Senior Centers and an extensive list of events and activities. Their slogan "People Helping People" couldn't be more appropriate.
In November of 2011, my Dad and I attended our first support group meeting at the Caregiver Resource Center. It was for caregivers dealing with Alzheimer's, and the battle was raging for my mother. Our Thursday morning meetings became a weekly tradition, always finishing with lunch at a local favorite. We'd sit outside and always take a trip down Memory Lane, talking about fun memories of the past and his love for Mom. They were together sixty-six years.
Alzheimer's is a horrible disease that robs a family of a loved one, little by little. My Dad was determined to keep those precious moments of the past alive and make a few new memories as well. I remember him once saying, "No matter how bad this gets I'm going to keep squeezing every precious memory out the good moments that come along and hang to them."
Last week I shared a post on the Friendship Centers' blog with tips to help Caregiver's get through the holidays. If this helps just one of you to remember you're not alone, then this post served a purpose.
The holidays are an especially challenging time of year for caregivers. I remember times with my mother when my Dad wanted to go back to some of the holiday traditions, but he just couldn't find the path. Frustrated, because things had changed so much in his life with my mother's Alzheimer's, we had to create new "traditions" and ways to celebrate.
My wife Sheila and my mother had a special bond, because of the trust Sheila had established with Mom. She never argued with her, corrected or contradicted anything Mom said. Instead, she just worked to appreciate the moment. That's Sheila with Mom in the image above at dinner one night at holiday time. In a lucid moment, Mom had a mini-panic attack when she realized how much things were changing. Two minutes later, just because of the love Sheila shared, Mom was smiling and back on track enjoying the evening.
The seven tips below were recently published in the Caregiver Resource Center's newsletter, and are so crucial to helping caregivers through the holidays. There was just one more point I wanted to add: Remember you're not alone in your feelings, the anxiety of the holidays or in dealing with the challenge of stress. Most important of all, as a caregiver you've got to put yourself first, especially with your health. You can't help your loved one if you're not taking care of yourself.
Seven Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress for Caregivers
Put together a support network: Include family, friends, community agencies and service providers and get comfortable delegating.
Learn to say ”No:" ‘ No ’ as being self empowering to allow yourself and your care partner the ability to enjoy the holidays in a new way.
Don’t aim for perfection: Be flexible when you need to be and change your expectations to fit the current situation.
Maintain your health: Take care of yourself, take your medications and doctor appointments, exercise when you can and enjoy a moderate holiday menu.
Start your own traditions: Find an alternative way to ease your burdens; create new holiday traditions that respect your needs and your care partner’s needs.
Prepared for the unexpected: It’s the holidays and plans may change and probably will, so what to do?.... change it if you can and if you can’t, accept it and move on. There is so much we are no longer able to control.
Remember to breathe: Some deep breaths will help relieve stress and may help you to find the humor in some situations.
Image copyright Beverly Walden. All rights reserved.
It's probably 20+ years ago I met Beverly Walden for the first time. We were at the PPA National Convention, now called IUSA. Beverly won top honors in Kodak's Gallery Awards and my good buddy Terry Deglau wanted the award to be recognized with a little "horsepower," a Hasselblad camera. As the President of Hasselblad USA, I got the honor of making the presentation.
Over all these years, I've watched Beverly grow as an artist and somebody who constantly gives back to the industry. She's become one of the most talented artists in portraiture, always pushing herself in new directions and taking advantage of everything technology has to offer. One thing that's never changd - she NEVER compromises on the quality of her images or relationships with her clients, friends and vendors.
Last week I shared one her Tuesday Tidbits from Walden Coaching. As always, Beverly focuses on ideas to help you raise the bar, not just with your images, but in the efficiency and effectiveness of running your business!
Check out more of Beverly's work by visiting the Walden's Photography website with a click on the image above. And, if you need help in becoming a stronger entrpreneur and artist check out Walden Coaching. It's just a click away.
by Skip Cohen
If I had to pick the top ten highlights of my career to date, working with "Big Daddy" Blair on our first book together in 1998 would be at the top of the list. I've written a lot about both the book and Don in the past, but recently ran across these images by Bambi Cantrell.
The idea for the book came out of watching a presentation of Don's a few months after his beloved wife Donna had passed away. Somebody said, "This stuff needs to be in a book!" We needed something new to help Don focus beyond his sadness and "Body Parts" was it.
With help from Terry Deglau and Tony Corbell, we shot the entire book over three days in Las Vegas. We chose Vegas because we wanted to launch the book at WPPI the following March in a platform program. By using models from Vegas, we could use the same models in Don's presentation, giving us continuity between his WPPI program and the book.
There are a lot of great memories with these images, especially when I think about the process. This was all before digital technology! In the top image you can see the story boards we had on the wall. With each page of the book we'd post the Polaroid test shot once we were done. (For you newbies - Polaroids were the only way to "chimp" in those days.) Then I'd write up a draft of Don's tip to go with the image, and we'd move on to the next portrait tip.
Working together with Marathon Press, we just recently cranked things up again on printing the book. Printing technology has changed a lot since '98, and Marathon has never missed a beat. We're now able to print small batches of the book on demand. What a kick it is working with them and this book is only one example. If you're headed to IUSA come by booth 200 and check out Bella Art Prints and Albums. You're going to be very impressed with both the quality and the cost!
Well, it's holiday time, and here's the perfect stocking stuffer. It's the only book of its kind in portraiture. It's based on the concept of dealing with all the challenges Mother Nature throws your way - from hand-posing to bald heads to glasses to long necks, short and tall couples and those are just a few. We designed the book to go in your camera bag and each tip will help you create stronger portraits. In fact, for many years, the book was on the recommended reading list for PPA certificiation.
Meanwhile, nothing beats a trip down memory lane on Throwback Thursday. In this case there aren't enough words in a blog post to share the love I had for Don Blair or how much I still miss him. Essentially he was the big brother I never had. I feel so fortunate to be able to share the stories of our adventures together and say, "Yeah, he was my best buddy!"
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Image copyright Rob Knight. All rights reserved.
The fun of this series is all about the backstories behind the favorite images from some of photography's most respected artists. We look at thousands of photographs, but never hear the stories behind them.
Panasonic Luminary, Rob Knight is in the spotlight for this new episode. What I love most about this particular backstory, is the insight Rob shares on the relationship between the environment and creativity. Costa Rica, travel and education are a huge part of Rob's life, and this short sound-byte captures one of his primary goals - to create high impact travel workshops for every guest!
Just click on the image above to visit Rob's website, and check out the LUMIX Lounge to follow Rob and the other members of the Luminary team.
Sunday Morning Reflections are essentially a process. At the core is me simply enjoying the effort of writing something that might be helpful, but not just for you as a reader. Often the process takes me to a topic I need help with myself. It's often therapeutic.
This morning's "process" started with this quote:
"When everything seems to be going against you,
remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."
I wanted to find an appropriate image to go with the post. I started looking through Adobe's Fotolia for small planes. I found the shot of the two kids above. It reminded me of an annual themed promotion Vicki Taufer used to do for children's portraiture, "Little Aviators." It's also one of the more fun images I've seen from a stock house.
Finally, it's time to get to the meat of a Sunday Morning Reflections post. Right now, I have too much on my plate. What's cool about feeling overwhelmed is knowing I'm not alone. For most of you, you're in the heat of battle working on holiday orders and wrapping up the year. Throw in any personal challenges and the holiday season and we're all going against the wind.
As usual, one idea leads to another and I found myself thinking about things that go against us, but in the end, actually help soar a little higher.
Think about all the challenges over the last year in trying to build and maintain your business. Each one, regardless of how painful, has served a purpose. Each challenge from cash flow to fear of failure to lack of confidence all hold a place as building blocks, and have made you stronger. Each obstacle you've had to overcome has tested your passion for the craft, not just as an artist but as a member of the business community.
Out of the chaos and difficulties you've had to work through have come some incredible friendships. Look back over the last year and think about a couple of people who helped you through the storms. They were able to help you because we all share many of the same concerns, and common worries help to build some uncommon friendships.
So, the next time you're feeling like your problems are unique in your journey, remember you're not alone. There are thousands of people out there dealing with the same challenges you're facing. Getting to know those people is one of the greatest benefits of attending every convention you possible can, starting with the first convention of the season in San Antonio with IUSA! (Sheila and I will both be there and looking forward to catching up to many of you.)
The opportunity to share ideas with each other, including how we deal with everything that's thrown at us is what helps us soar a little higher.
Wishing you a day of time away from the business enjoying family and friends special to you. Take the time to relax and step away from December's chaos. You can't help everybody else, if you haven't helped yourself. As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and make a few new memories.
Note: My good buddy Brian Malloy gave me a bro-hug recently and started counting. It took me a second to realize what he was doing - going for that eleven seconds. In all honesty, I forgot about it and thought he was trying to pick my wallet! LOL Nothing beats great friendships.
Happy Sunday everybody!
The image above hangs in the hallway of our home and is one of my favorite prints. The print is of the Anasazi ruins by John Sexton. How it got here is also one of my favorite stories to share, and perfect for a Throwback Thursday this holiday season.
In 1999, after twelve years as president of Hasselblad USA I left the company to become President of an Internet community and photography retail site, PhotoAlley.com. With equity in the company, this was going to be my ticket to living on my own tropical island. However, when the Internet imploded in 2001, I was lucky to have enough for a small glass of tropical punch.
Before going out of business, PhotoAlley had incredible traffic. The concept was all based on building a community, anchored in photographic education, with an online camera store. The Internet was exploding and I wanted to do something new. I decided to do an online auction as a fund-raiser for charity. I called John Sexton, who was on our advisory board, and he was kind enough to donate the print above for the auction.
Sixteen years ago an online auction was a relatively new concept. The bids started climbing and in a very short amount time we were at $850! I was ecstatic this first auction would get that kind of response. It meant we had collectors in our audience who knew the value of a John Sexton print. That also said to me they knew the value if I let them steal it at $850. I put in my own bid under an alias name at $900. I was determined to get our bidder to at least $1000.
Well, here's a Throwback Thursday lesson going back to an expression everyone's grandparents have shared - "One in the hand is worth two in the bush!" My buyer walked away at the $900 bid, and I wound up buying the print myself for charity. When somebody in the company asked about how the auction went, the embarrassment alone was enough for me to never forget that lesson from my grandparents so many years earlier.
As I've learned over and over again on "Why?" the creativity and beauty of the images is what draws us in, but it's the backstories that keep us there! And, there are few things more fun to share than a backstory involving one of the world's most recognized artists.
Which brings me to a fun close on this Throwback Thursday. In looking for the Anasazi print above on John's website I came across the perfect holiday gift for so many of you, even if it's just a gift you're giving yourself!
On John's website he's offering a December holiday special print of "Trees in Snow." The discount is substantial, especially when you consider the value of a numbered limited edition print and the price going up as less copies become available. The description of the value/sale is:
"This 11x14" silver gelatin print is offered in a limited edition of 100 signed and numbered prints, plus ten Artist's Proofs. When the edition is sold out no further prints will be made for sale in any size. Though my open edition 11x14" prints have a retail price in galleries of $1,000, the special introductory price for this Darkroom Edition limited edition print is $800 – a 20% discount. After December 31, 2016 the retail for any remaining unsold prints will increase to $2,000, and will escalate as the edition sells.
If you're a collector or interested in helping somebody else get started with their collection, this is an outstanding opportunity. Just click on either of John's images in this post to connect to the Ventana Editions online store.
In the mean time, I'm wishing all of you the perfect Throwback Thursday. Take the time to find an old image or two and then cherish the backstory that goes with it. Even better, use the story on your blog to remind your target audience of the value of photography!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
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.