Sidebar: It only seems fair that I'd finish the year with Sunday Morning Reflections hitting the wrong button last night and posting a half-finished blog post. But since I always like to make a point on Sunday mornings, here's a good one - never work on writing something when you're tired - or at the very least take the time to review what you're doing before shutting down the computer.
We're on a mini-vacation with our son and daughter-in-law. Between Sheila and all of you I'm trained not to miss Sunday mornings and brought my laptop...so, after a great dinner last night, I decided to start laying out my post for this morning early. I knew the fun I wanted to write about and drafted something before bed, never realizing I'd posted it rather than just saved it! My apologies to those of you who might have had a "what-the-hell?" moment.
Moving right along, here's the memory-maker I wanted to write about...
I always close my Reflections posts wishing you a day of memory-making moments. But, great memories don't always have to be big productions. Sometimes they come out of simple, silly things that just happen in our lives.
The other night our son Brian was telling me about Arby's secret menu. I had heard about it once before, but I thought it was merely an urban myth and something foodies like me dream about. Well, lunchtime rolled around on Friday and even though we had a monster dinner with ribs already cooking "low and slow," off to Arby's he and I went.
We walked into Arby's in search of Meat Mountain. It's a ten dollar extravaganza in an artery clogging, never suggested by your cardiologist sandwich!
The biggest sandwich Arby’s has ever sold. Stacked ridiculously high with almost all the meats. Two chicken tenders, slices of roast turkey, pit-smoked ham, corned beef, 13-hour smoked brisket, USDA-choice Angus steak, roast beef, and pepper bacon. There’s also cheddar and swiss cheese somewhere in there. (From Arby's website)
Note: Last Sunday, after publishing this post, my buddy Christopher Becker commented on Facebook - "Meat doesn’t clog your arteries. Take the bread off that sucker and it’s a perfectly healthy meal." So whether it's healthy or not, it's fun to order and "fun" is one of those too often lost experiences in our everyday lives! If you love fast food here's a sandwich to put on your bucket list.
But half the fun of anticipating the culinary delight is the expression on whoever's working the counter when you order it. "Bridget" had never heard of it, but Brian was a pro, as she looked through the menu thinking we were describing other big sandwiches rather than a legitmate item. It was one of those proud Dad moments when he said with authority, "Keep scrolling down - It's on the third page."
And that brings me full circle to a reminder about memory-makers.
While some events in our lives are genuinely life-changing, some of our favorites involve stepping away from life's routines. Before deciding to check out the secret menu we discussed all the practical reasons we shouldn't do it. From the timing that close to dinner to healthy eating - we chose to bypass all logic and like Nike's slogan, "Just do it." Going to Arby's for lunch wasn't earth-shaking - but laughing over a sandwich, and now being a member of a very exclusive club, complete with our own fist-bump handshake is!
Gas to drive to Arby's: Three dollars
Time to get there: Fifteen minutes
Meat Mountain Sandwich:Ten dollars
Spending an OMG moment with your son...Priceless
Wishing all of you a day of memory-makers and those special moments in life when laughter with somebody important in your life becomes a priority. Remember that memories come in small packages too, and don't miss those moments being practical. Now and then throw logic to the wind. Remember my mantra which I've shared numerous times before:
I do it because I can.
I can because I want to.
I want to because you said I couldn't!
It's the last Sunday of 2018...go for those eleven-second hugs I always talk about and pack the day full of smiles, so you start out the new year with a stash of chuckles to look back on.
Happy Sunday and Happy New Year!
In January of 2013, with a lot of help from my good buddy Scott Bourne, we launched Skip Cohen University. Over the last six years we've shared thousands of posts, videos, sound bites and podcasts about business, marketing, technique, events, and the list goes on and on.
When it comes to helping you build a stronger business, Fast Food Friday has become a personal favorite. Started last February, and coming up to year end, it seems like a fun and helpful idea to publish a complete review of everything on the SCU Diner's menu to date. If you think about it, it's mostly a FREE e-book to help you pick those areas where you need the most help.
Besides, it's December, and we're all used to watching repeats as our favorite television or streaming shows close a season and prepare us for the new one next year. Only with Fast Food Friday, there is no grand finale or a loaded with suspense cliff-hanger. In fact, how much of a cliff-hanger you want is up to you and finishing 2018 as you embark on a new year next week.
For SCU, we've got new projects and programs coming your way thanks to companies like Panasonic, Marathon Press, Tamron USA, ProfotoUS, PhotoShelter, ProPhotographerJourney.com and some great technique pieces from the SLR Lounge! And, adding to the fun is working with Chamira Young on new content ideas and a new podcast. We're co-hosts on two podcasts, Mind Your Own Business for Photofocus.com and Beyond Technique sponsored by PhotoShelter.
We're going to continue the fun in 2019. Remember "FUN?" It's one of those words too often lost under the stress of business today. Three letters that need to be part of your day, EVERY DAY, from the time you wake up to when you shut off the lights at night.
So, have fun with the forty "blue-plate" specials below. Click on any of the specials that best match your appetite, and Happy New Year from the SCU Diner!
Fast Food Fridays are brought to you by:
We're down to the wire on a list of special offers in photography. I don't want to waste time or space with a lot of text, so everything below is linked to the appropriate program and manufacturer. There are some terrific deals out there right now, but it's a narrow window, and the opportunities are closing fast.
From Profoto Ending December 31
Profoto's promotion on the incredible A1 ends on December 31, 2018. Just click on the banner below to link to the product and find out what all the buzz is about!
From Marathon Press Ending on December 31
Every professional photographer is looking for ways to increase their profitability and Marathon Press is always there with great promotions. Their Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO) offer on holiday cards ends on December 31. Here's your chance to cut your costs per card literally in half! And, even if you no longer need cards, check out their various products and programs, so you don't miss out next year!
From Tamron USA:
You've got two different promotions worth checking out. Their holiday savings program ends on January 5, and includes other lenses beyond what's shown below. And, registration for their VIP club, which is pretty remarkable. You've got until January 15 to register.
From the SLR Lounge
Photography is one of those skill sets where you can never slow down on your education. No matter how much you feel you know and understand about the craft, there will always be more to learn. With that education comes a need for a continuous supply of creativity as technology keeps pushing the envelope and giving you more tools and concepts to help you capture outstanding images! Just click on the banner below and check out SLR Lounge Premium. It's an annual membership fee providing outstanding content to help you stay on track to becoming the very best...all year long!
From Panasonic on LUMIX Cameras
,Just about every Mirrorless Monday a member of the LUMIX team has shared a great image and insight into their passion for photography. Right now Panasonic has some outstanding offers on a variety of LUMIX cameras and it's well worth the time to take a scroll through their online store. Just click on the banner below.
It's not really down to the wire, because PhotoShelter has this program ongoing but concerning timing, it's the perfect solution for so many of you. Just because we're headed into the slow season, doesn't mean it should be quiet for you.
NOW is the time to clean up your website and raise the bar on your presentation to your target audience. PhotoShelter makes it so easy and with downtime coming up for many of you, it's time to stop procrastinating and clean up your website and galleries!
If you try and figure out how old photography is on the Internet, you'll find a lot of different opinions. For me, I'm going with 1822 by a French Inventor, which puts us at 196 years old. The only reason I'm sharing this is that I keep writing about photographers having the most number of creative tools in the ____ year history of photography.
Well, it's time to add another one, that can help bring your skill set to a whole new level, Profoto's Phone App (Beta) for the B10. Watch the short video above, then check out the five categories of creative support the App provides.
It all starts with "smart remote control," and through the five benefits Profoto describes on their website, this App gives artists a new level of control.
Profoto never slows down in the quality of their products, support for the professional photographic community or their focus on education!
To find out more about the App, click on any of the screenshots in this post. And, finding out about the B10 is only a click away. Plus, the promotion on Profoto's A1 ends on December 31, 2018. Check out the full line of equipment with a visit to your local Profoto retailer. Just click on the banner below to find the one nearest you.
By Chamira Young
Sometimes increasing the shadows in an image can be a good thing. There's a concept I learned years ago in school called "chiaroscuro" in which you use the light, shadows, and overall contrast in an art piece in order to make it more dramatic. It's one of my favorite concepts and absolutely applies to photography.
In today's image, I'm essentially going to do just that: increase the contrast and shadows in order to make it more visually interesting. There are always more than one way to do this, but I'll demonstrate a simple, straightforward way to achieve this using Skylum's Luminar.
Let's take a look at our starting image. It was taken just off of shores of Lake Huron here in Michigan:
The first thing I did was straighten and crop the image by going to Tools > Free Transform, and then Tools > Crop. After that, I selected the "Vivid" preset. For my personal workflow, I find selecting an appropriate preset is still a fun way to start editing my landscape photos. It gave the image an immediate pop.
From there, I made some quick adjustments to utilizing the concept of chiaroscuro. I lowered the "Shadows" slider to -47, which actually enhanced the shadows in the image. The overall affect was more of a 3D feel, and it was definitely an improvement. Then, I selected the "Sunrays" option from the list of filters to add a gentle glowing effect, which added further contrast to the image.
Finally, I added a few final touches: I used the "HSL" filter to independently boost the saturation of the yellows and greens in the image. I also bumped up the Clarity slider to enhance the crispness of the leaves and branches.
Let's take a look at our finished image:
Luminar 3 - Now Available for Pre-Order
It's the Biggest "No Brainer" Decision in Photography
Put in the special discount code of "SKIPCOHEN" and receive an additional $10 off. That means you can pre-order Luminar 3 for $49 USD and upgrade from the previous version for $39 USD.
Please Note: For every purchase made between now and December 31, 2018, through the SCU link on the right, SCU will be donating $5 to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
It's remarkable how much solid content Pye Jirsa has packed into this new video from the SLR Lounge, and I know there's a lot more coming in the new year ahead. This is online education at its best and I couldn't be more proud to be sharing it here on the SCU blog.
The best part of this industry, as I've written so many times before, has nothing to do with photography but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Over the last few years, Pye Jirsa has been involved in a long list of SCU posts, including a recent episode of "Why?" which has become one our most listened to episodes.
Pye is part of the team of Lin and Jirsa, and together with Chris Lin, they started the SLR Lounge, one of the industry's leading educational resources for photographers. Everything they share in the SLR Lounge is rooted in real imaging challenges. They've developed an outstanding ongoing educational program that's useful, informative and incredibly fun.
Remember "fun?" It's one of those words too often lost in business today. "Fun" gets buried underneath the baggage and stress of running a business. There are too many of you who think you don't have the time to experiment with your skill set and just have fun, even though it's one of the most significant ways to grow as an artist.
In describing this new series...
"We have been in this zone of creating professional training systems for SLR Lounge Premium, but we wanted to take it back to what originally started our love for this industry and we thought YouTube would be the perfect platform for a series we like to call Back to the Basics.”
There's so much great content packed into the short video above. And, with each segment the SLR Lounge is sharing the specs on the final image, after Pye takes you through his thought process.
This is the first episode in their new series, and it's a kick. In fact, it's perfect to share and enjoy during the downtime between the holidays and into the typical slow time of the first quarter.
But for me, the "fun," there's that word again, is watching Pye in action. Great educators aren't just good at teaching; they're never afraid to show their passion for the craft and their thirst to capture the ultimate image, in both new ways and back to the basics.
The SLR Lounge needs to be on your radar. Just click on any image above to link to the blog post for "Nighttime Portraits With ONLY a Phone Flashlight." And, while you're there, check out the SLR Lounge's Premium Program. Regardless of your specialty in photography, it doesn't get any better than the information being shared by Pye and Chris in the SLR Lounge.
This is one of those Sundays when it's so hard to write Reflections, but not for lack of material. The challenge is NOT turning this into a rant about Congress, as the government shuts down. When our taxes are due in April, I want to let the IRS know in a most apologetic way, that Sheila and I don't agree on the budget. As a result, our tax payment will be late as we continue to discuss the challenges.
Keeping in mind my level of sarcasm this morning, I need to go someplace different and special. Well, there's only one place to go this time of year, and that means I have to warn you I'm about to get sappy.
Whether you celebrated Hanukah earlier in the month or you're looking forward to Christmas Eve tomorrow, I've always been the leader in holiday spirit. It's my favorite time of year, and my appreciation is nonstop. But it all goes well beyond loving this industry and what photographers give the world every day.
This is also a time when Sheila's going to join me in today's post. We've been a couple for eleven years and married for over eight, and we're grateful for all your support, feedback and inspiration. It's been a fantastic year, and it really couldn't have happened without you.
December is always a time when all of us focus on the importance of family, friends and the love in our hearts, instead of the craziness of the world around us. And, it's not exclusive to just the United States! So, in a crazy world of chaos, our wish to all of you is for peace, hope, good health and a time filled with memory-making moments with those people you love most in your life.
I also want to wrap up today's post by keeping it light. I wrote the poem below in 2012 and have modified it almost each December. I'm putting you in an awkward position, dealing with me thinking of myself as an amateur poet laureate. I 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 or at the very least a junior Dr. Seuss!
Here it is out of the archives but updated just a little:
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.
Emails from Vanelli, Bourne and Tom Curley,
Coates, Varanakis, Sammon and Hurley.
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 other friends 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, each 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.
And as always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with those people most special in your life. With each hug think about how lucky we all our to simply have each other. It's a time to appreciate our own little piece of the world around us.
Back in February, I had a fun idea to launch the SCU Diner. The concept was based mostly on fast food, which most of us have a love/hate relationship with. It serves a purpose, and there are few things better than a great sub sandwich when you're on the run.
So, we started sharing fast business ideas, and just like fast food, they're meant to fill a need. They help you remember things you need to stay focused on when you don't have a camera in your hands!
We've shared forty different "blue-plate specials" over the last few months, and it's time for one more before Christmas and New Years!
With a new year right around the corner, you're down to the wire for 2018. You've essentially got ten days left to tie up loose ends on business and set things up for a cleaner slate in January. But December isn't just about closing the books on the year.
Today's Fast Food Special is a reminder of things you might want to do beyond just wrapping up business.
December: Wrapping Up More Than Just Gifts
It's not directly about wrapping up business but it does deserve top billing:
There's no question that December is one of those months that's incredibly busy and then slows down so you can let out a sigh and kick back a little. It's a great month to finish looking at this past year and be a little reflective. Pat yourself on the back for another year in business and start to think about your goals for the new year!
Fast Food Friday is brought to you by:
Normally I'd share this post on Mirrorless Monday, but it's holiday time and with next Monday being Christmas Eve, there's too much good content here to not share it today. In fact, I can't think of a better topic for a blog post going into the last week of the year than to share this video about the Friendship Centers.
Here's the scenario:
I've been actively working with the Friendship Centers here in Sarasota for the last seven years as a blogger, volunteer and now a Board member. Their tagline says it all, "To promote health, dignity, and quality of life throughout the journey of aging."
There were nearly 33,000 visits to the Senior Centers in 2017; 273,900 meals to hungry elders served, 16,000 patient visits to the medical and dental clinics and the list goes on and on in at least six more areas providing community support. And, just as important as the service they provide, they run a multi-million dollar business with 92% of funding going back to program services!
On December 13 the Friendship Centers held their annual Venice, Florida holiday party, Venice Lights of Friendship, with approximately 150 people in attendance. It's a fund-raising dinner, and the video below was shown for the first time that night.
This is where Mirrorless Monday takes over even though it's Thursday! The backstory here also ties into one of my favorite things about this industry - the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft.
The video was captured with a LUMIX GH5 by a talented local videographer, Don Gangnagel who I met for the first time at the Venice event. He shot the video interviews with the LUMIX Leica DC Nocticron 42.5mm lens and the B-roll with the LUMIX G X Vario 12-35 mm and G X Vario 35-100mm lenses.
Don's company is G3 New Media, and he's no stranger to creating award-winning films. G3 New Media is a collaboration of marketing media professionals created by Don Gangnagel, an Emmy-Award winning professional filmmaker who has worked on five continents. With twenty years of experience creating online content, his passions are video production and podcasting.
After the event, I caught up to Don with a great phone call this week. We started talking about the process he went through to tell the story, and I learned a lot about one his most important keys to success. It's his philosophy about the way he goes through the interview process when doing a documentary piece like this.
“I don’t even call them interviews…they’re just conversations. It's critical to show interest in your subject and make them feel safe. When that happens, you start to build trust....and everything is about the storyline. One of the biggest mistakes I see videographers make is not spending enough time listening to their subject. You've got to understand their point of view.
So often film producers working on a piece like this walk in with a list of questions they want to ask. Well, if you focus too much on the questions rather than just having a conversation, you miss these wonderful little nuances, gems of wisdom, that people share and help tell more of the story. The most amazing things people give you won’t come out the first time around, but come out along the way. So, if you’re worried about your next question you’ll miss some of the best material.
It’s not an interview, but a conversation person to person and you need just to listen – your next question isn’t on the page in front of you, but in response to something your subject has said."
Knowing that many of you are also interested in Don's technique and lens choice he talked about the Leica lens:
This is my FAVORITE interview lens. One of the challenges on this piece was that we had to conduct all nine interviews in two locations and didn't have the ability to visit each person at home. So we setup a portable green screen to film all the interviews. As a one-person production crew, I had to trust that the GH5/Leica combo would capture all the beautiful details of their facial expressions when I couldn't monitor what the camera was capturing. Part of that conversational interview style is always being mentally focused on the subject. If you keep looking away to check the shot every few minutes, you will distract the subject as well as yourself and you will break the momentum of the conversation. This requires a lot of trust in the camera. I love the way this combo captures facial details and provides a nice clean image to be able to remove the green screen during editing.
Regarding this three-minute clip about the Friendship Centers, Don admitted he interviewed more people than he normally would include. There were nine people interviewed and close to four hours of interview time to edit down to just three minutes. But, for me that's one of the things I appreciate most about his skill set as a storyteller - he's boiled down all those interviews into one solid high-impact piece that tells a story about the Friendship Centers.
While I know most of you aren't from the south Florida area, the Friendship Centers help thousands of people in the area every year and never stray from their vision to "continue servicing an ever-growing senior population with the highest quality of programs and service and remain the leader in the industry."
The Friendship Centers need everyone's help all year long. If you've got an interest in finding out how you can help or would like to donate, just click on the Friendship Centers' logo below.
One of the things I've always loved about working with the Profoto Team is their attention to detail when it comes to every one of their products. They're not just manufacturing some of the finest lighting gear in the world, but helping photographers understand how to make the right choices in what they use.
This morning I took a scroll through their website and stumbled onto this little gem about how to choose the right umbrella. So often I've seen photographers buy gear without thinking through the application they're using it for. Well, Profoto makes it so easy for you, starting with a short guide to make sure what you're buying is going to meet your needs.
I grabbed a screenshot from their first stop on the "umbrella tour," deciding on the shape. Next came deciding on the fabric, followed by the size. There are so many of you who don't understand the full range of creativity an umbrella can add to various images.
There's a lot of great content in this section, including videos, inspirational stories, and segments taking you "behind the scenes," as various artists demonstrate how they're using Profoto products, especially umbrellas.
But don't take my word for how good the information is, click on any of the images in this post and visit the section for yourself. There's even a section to help you accessorize your choice with umbrellas, giving you more diversity and the ability to turn your umbrella into a softbox!
While you're on the Profoto site, check out the lineup of "family members" in their Off-Camera Flash System. And, there's a great promotional offer going on right now, until December 31, 2018 on Profoto's On-Camera Flash System with the A1!
All images copyright Bleu Cotton Photography
Over the last ten years, I've repeatedly shared Bleu and Alison Cotton's holiday card. Every year I get their card, laugh and think, "There's no way they'll top this one next year!" Well, a new year rolls around and *poof* they do it again.
Most of you are professional photographers, and while it's too late to do much for this year, it's perfect to think about your 2019 card. No professional photographer should ever be sending out a store-bought holiday card!
Create your own card using one of your images for the front, or put your creativity into staging a photograph like Bleu, Alison and Fisher do every year. Then, include a message that extends your wishes for the holidays with a tie-in to your URL, address, phone number - anything to link people back to what you do as an artist.
Just to add to the fun, the return address on this year's card was from the Marx Brothers! So, to one of my favorite families in photography, Happy Holidays and thanks for never slowing down on the creativity from year to year. And, to Fisher - thanks for feeding your parents all these creative ideas - I know they'd be boring without you! LOL
Here are a few below I've saved over the years and in fact, featured in previous blog posts.
It's Mirrorless Monday, but it's also holiday time, and at the risk of sounding like an infomercial, here are two LUMIX cameras you should know about. With fixed zooms and minimal weight, both under two pounds, they're my favorite cameras to travel with. Plus, you'll find the FZ300 under $400 and the FZ1000 under $500 this time of year...and both with Panasonic's promotional warranty extension to three years, good on purchases through 3/31/2019.
Since most of you are working professional photographers, I don't have the level of expertise the LUMIX Ambassadors have to explain why they're shooting LUMIX for their professional work, especially with the LUMIX GH5 and Lumix G9.
However, I'm well-qualified to share my favorite cameras to travel with. Plus, on many occasions, especially if we're on the road, my wife has wanted to grab a camera, and she's got the passion and the eye, but not the technical background to think through the best way to capture an image.
What I love most about the entire LUMIX line is how compact and light they are. Then comes their ability to shoot in low light situations at times when I would never have anticipated being able to handhold the camera for the exposure. Last on the list, but really first in priority is the quality of my images. I know a few of you will roll your eyes at the idea of shooting in "IA" mode (Intelligent Auto), but it's incredibly accurate.
Check out this very short video with LUMIX Ambassador, Suzette Allen taking you through how IA mode works on LUMIX cameras.
Most of you know I don't make a living as a professional photographer, but that doesn't mean I don't share your passion. Plus, after hanging out with many of you for so many years, I know more than I let on. The difference is it would take my good buddy Tony Corbell five minutes to light a portrait, and I'd be at it all day!
Click on either of my two favorite members of the LUMIX family below and then scroll through the specifications. They're both outstanding choices as an additional camera to your working gear, or perfect to help another family member capture great images this holiday season.
Every Sunday I go off track from the business of photography. I write whatever's on my mind and I'm always surprised when what seems like a boring topic that could put a rock to sleep seems to hit home with so many of you. Well, today's one of those mornings, because it's been a pretty fantastic run of just feeling great about life and being happy.
Being "happy" and content with your life isn't something that happens on its own. Happiness runs in waves, but as I've gotten older, I'm finally realizing the timing between waves is up to me.
Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like.
So here I sit this morning pounding away on the computer with this stupid smile on my face, just because I'm happy. That doesn't mean everything is perfect in my life, only that I've learned to appreciate all the good stuff and moved the bad stuff outside!
Over the years as Sheila and I battled the naysayers in our lives, we started to think of our home as a castle with a moat around it. And, when the sadness and stress from somebody ugly got inside, we'd accuse each other of leaving the drawbridge down for too long. There's a great comment I read once about dealing with challenges in life - "grow through what you go through." Well, that's exactly what we learned to do.
As I write today's post, I hardly have a perfect life. However, I do have a perfect way of appreciating it. The "Negators" can't make it in if I don't let them. The door is always open when they learn to behave with love instead of anger and fear.
I'm just going to start to wrap this up with a terrific quote that covers it all:
Life is too short to wake up with regrets.
So love the people who treat you right.Forget about those who don't.
Believe everything happens for a reason.
If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.
Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.
The year is rapidly coming to a close, and December is always the perfect time of year to be grateful for the smiles in your life. Just like a squirrel putting acorns away for the winter, cherish the people you care about most and build a stash of memories you can draw from when your happiness is challenged by the baggage people and events leave on your doorstep. Appreciate the now - this very moment in time when, with a smile on your face, you feel like you could take on the world.
I get that it sounds sappy and hokey, but it works. Your life is never going to be perfect, but that doesn't mean it's not a great life and filled with incredible opportunities that can make you smile both inside and out.
Make it a great Sunday. Go for those eleven-second hugs I've written about for years and make it a day filled with memories that will become daily vitamins when times are tough. And, from me this beautiful Sunday morning, thank you for your support, your inspiration and your contribution to the smile on my face right now!
Not because everything is perfect.
But, because you choose to focus on the perfect moments.
*Note on the quote: From GoodHousekeeping.com thanks to Google. Author unknown
Since February the SCU Diner has served up thirty-nine new blue-plate specials. The project started because there are too many of you who ignore the operational side of your business. You need a quick reminder now and then about operational components outside your gear. It's not because you don't care, but that you're artists, and more focused on capturing and creating the ultimate image than worrying about the business.
So, we started a series of relatively short tips to help you build a better biz, reach more clients and build lasting relationships rather than just purchases.
I've written about playing offense many times in the past, and since this is an active month for wrapping up the football season, it's a great way to look at the new year. Playing offense is always easier than fighting to build your livelihood as a photographer on defense. Even in business, we'd all rather carry the ball than chase it!
Today's special is a list of seven key things to think about in the year ahead. And, while you're hopefully buried in holiday orders right now, there's no excuse not to be ready to kick the year off right in January.
Building a Stronger Business
1) Marketing: Many of you already have ideas for 2019, but you haven't turned those mind's eye visions into reality. You should plan at least one consumer promotion a quarter. Start to think about things you could be doing to create some excitement for your business in the form of consumer/client-based promotions.
2) Conferences: What programs or workshops are you going to attend next year? Not every conference requires you to hit the road for a week of hotels, air travel, etc. Should you be at one of the big convention/trade shows? The year kicks off with IUSA in Atlanta, WPPI in Vegas, ShutterFest in St. Louis, Photoshop World in Orlando and Las Vegas, ClickCon in Chicago and PPE in NYC in the Fall. These are all big conferences - but don't forget a lot going on closer to home you should know about. Check on the dates for your own state or regional conference.
3) Credit Line: Establish a credit line with a leasing company - even if you're not buying anything right now! Here's where you can utilize somebody else's assets without depleting yours! You need the credit line in your back pocket so when you do need new gear; you're ready to obtain it without hitting the panic button because you don't have the funding. Your camera is your lifeline along with lenses, lights, printers, and your computer! Most of you are always flying without a net - having the ability to obtain gear on a lease will give you a little extra security when you need it most without tying up cash flow.
4) Insurance: Fifty percent of the wedding and event photographers in this country list themselves as part-time. That means many of you are playing Russian roulette with your home insurance policies, which generally don't cover equipment used for business purposes. Check with your insurance agent and make sure your gear is covered under your policy. Also, do you have indemnification insurance? Are you covered if you shoot a wedding and you lose the images before they're downloaded? PPA's insurance policy covering you in this area is outstanding.
5) Backup: Everyone talks about backing up their images and backup gear, but what about you? I wrote about it a few years ago - when I battled it out with the gallbladder from hell. I lost two solid weeks in my own business and had never thought about backup. Fortunately my good buddy, Scott Bourne stepped in to help.
There's a great line I read about safe driving on a billboard once: "Accidents only happen to other people. So, all you other people, watch out!" You need a person or two you trust to know the critical aspects of your business just in case you're caught in a bind.
6) Diversity in your skill set: What's your specialty? Are you a one trick pony or do you have a couple of other tricks up your sleeve? If business disappeared in the specialty you're strongest in, what's your game plan to still have a company?
7) Your Network: If you got a call to shoot the biggest wedding of the year and needed help, who's on your list to call? The same would go for all you commercial photographers - if you had a job more significant than anything you've ever done how would you do it?
I started this Fast Food Friday post talking about offense versus defense. It's also called being proactive rather than reactive. In a successful business you've got to cover both, but then Murphy jumps in with Murphy's Law, "If anything can go wrong it will!" Well, I'm a big fan of Murphy's second law - "Murphy was an optimist!"
Fast Food Fridays are brought to you by:
I'm not sure when Photographers Ignite got started, but I do know for several years it was one of my most favorite events at WPPI. Kevin Kubota made it all happen, and the concept couldn't be easier to understand.
Each speaker had five minutes to make their presentation with 20 slides that automatically advanced every 15 seconds. The speaker had no control over their slides except in the initial creation before submitting their program.
Think about the concept of having to be so concise that you had to cover all your key points in just five minutes! There were some stellar presentations, and this one from my buddy Scott Bourne was one of the best.
Well, it's Throwback Thursday and this video from seven years ago is a classic and the perfect reminder of so many different ideas to help you build a stronger better business. And, looking back there are some fun things to point out:
Scott continues to share a lot of wisdom to help you build a stronger business and raise the bar on your skill set. The best way to keep track of what he's doing is to follow him on Facebook. As the President of Skylum Software and a spokesman for Olympus, he's sharing outstanding content every day!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Note: After I wrote this the other day I realized I was confusing the issue with two points. Of course everyone is frustrated with the challenge of trying to talk to a real person at Facebook. However, the real issue for me is whether or not I'm alone in being bothered by the number of people who have passed away who still have FB pages. I'm not trying to launch a campaign, just curious.
Is anybody else frustrated with the challenge of trying to talk to a real person at Facebook? So far it seems impossible. Here's the latest challenge and I know not everyone is going to agree with me.
And the list goes on with other friends like Bill Hurter and Arnold Crane, to name a couple more.
Look, I get the sentimental attachment to people we've loved and lost. There are a few times when I've even posted something on their old page. It's almost therapeutic to remind them how much they're missed. But, overall, as Facebook is in the news lately talking about how they're working hard to clean up the challenge with fake people/profiles, it seems like they could do a better job with people who are no longer living.
I hate the fact that my father's account, along with other friends who have passed away, is just sitting out there vulnerable and waiting for somebody to take it over.
I'm obviously a fan of Facebook, and there are more good things it's done for all of us as opposed to bad. However, their customer service model is a perfect example of what NOT to do in your own business. Respond quickly to customers; give them solutions to help address their concerns and remember, silence is not part of your skill set.
By Chamira Young
Despite the fact that winters in Michigan are considered gray and devoid of color, I firmly believe there are still interesting photos to be made. In today's featured photo for our Luminar Corner, it's a winter photo of the St. John's Marsh preserve area, located about 45 minutes northeast of Detroit. I used to live all of 2.5 minutes away from it, and it was one of my favorite places to hike through and explore.
It was a walk down memory lane finding this image on my hard drive. Let's have some fun with it and see what we can do. Here's the original image:
I recall the day being so cold I was in a rush to take the image: hence it's crookedness. First I straightened out the image by using the Free Transform Tool.
From there, I played it by eye. I applied the "Impressive" Preset from the Travel Category, which gave it some immediate pop. I left the Exposure the same, but decided to turn down the Highlights just a little. Then, I turned up the Shadows, which brought out the contrast in the golden marsh grass. I raised the Clarity, and raised the Vibrance ever so slightly.
Finally, from the blue "Add Filters" button in the upper right corner, I selected the HSL filter, which allows you to control the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance (Brightness) of the individual colors in your image. I turned up the Aqua and Blue settings to bring out the blue hues of the sky a bit.
Below is the final image. It definitely has fresh life breathed into it. Have you tried Luminar yet?
Luminar 3 - Now Available for Pre-Order
It's the Biggest "No Brainer" Decision in Photography
Put in the special discount code of "SKIPCOHEN" and receive an additional $10 off. That means you can pre-order Luminar 3 for $49 USD and upgrade from the previous version for $39 USD.
Please Note: For every purchase made between now and December 31, 2018, through the SCU link on the right, SCU will be donating $5 to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
Six years ago I did a two-day program on marketing and business for Creative Live. I’ve often referred to it as “the most fun I don’t ever want to do again!” The amount of work and the number of slides to teach marketing as an online program bordered on overwhelming. Remember, it’s not the same as being able to step away from your slides and explain lighting, work with a model and demonstrate a point with the results.
Still, it was a fantastic experience, but the best part of the event had little to do with marketing and business, but the friendships that came out of my live audience. Three great friendships came out of that event, Sherry Hagerman, Carlos Zamora, and Jared Burns. Yesterday Jared posted this on Facebook referring to it as celebrating Independence Day.
“Five years ago I was working in corporate America for a lesser known aerospace company who was very proud of their work/life balance values. During my time, several members of management stated I was one of the best employees to ever fill that role with specific remarks about dependability, organization, and innovation. Six months in, my wife was hit as a pedestrian by a drunk driver.
Notifying my superiors, I left work 1 hour early to take care of my family. It broke my perfect 6-month attendance record and management told me I was not eligible for a raise as a result. That moment revealed their true values when it came to work/life balance.
A year into my employment, we had agreed on a review to talk about my future path and development in the company. Management refused repeatedly to meet for the review. At that point, it was clear I needed to make my own way.”
Jared gave his notice and left on December 9, 2014, to start a full-time career in photography. There are a couple of points that come to mind this morning, all thanks to his post:
Last year I caught up to Jared and Beth for lunch at WPPI. It was a kick to meet her finally. A few minutes later Sherry Hagerman came by and joined us. It was one of those moments that to anyone else would seem like four people having a rushed slice of pizza on the run at a convention. But for me, it was unique and memory-making because it was part of what I love most about our industry.
Here's my last point, and I've said it a few hundred times over the years. The best thing about this industry has NOTHING to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Jared and I crossed paths in Seattle at Creative Live and as hokey as it might sound, nobody could be prouder of what he's accomplished as an artist. Even better are the friendships we share and wondering what the future holds for all of us!
All images copyright Brad Mangin Photography
Sports photographer, Brad Mangin was our guest for this eleventh podcast in the Beyond Technique series. Without question, PhotoShelter is home to some of the most talented and diverse artists in photography. We all know the expression, time flies when you're having fun. Well, each podcast seems to go by in a flash as each guest shares so much insight into their careers and the challenges of being in business today.
Just like the artists who have joined us on Beyond Technique, PhotoShelter never compromises on the tools they provide for outstanding presentations. Living in an Internet world, each photographer we've interviewed has stressed how much they depend on their website and how the team at PhotoShelter has never let them down.
Brad Mangin was a kick to interview because he was so candid about his love for sports, the importance of the relationships he built over the years and even a few of the frustrations of dealing with the publication world today.
What I enjoyed the most, besides getting to know Brad, was wandering through his portfolio. Although baseball is obviously one of his greatest passions, there's nothing he can't photograph. And, if you take the time to wander through his portfolio, it's like taking a walk through a sports Hall of Fame and following the history of so many iconic moments.
I pulled a few of my favorites, but they represent the tip of the iceberg in a lifetime career of one of the finest sports photographers in our industry. Every image of Brad's captures the emotion and action of each game.
Interested in seeing more of Brad's work? Click on any of his photographs in this post to visit his website, blog and store. You won't be disappointed in any of the images he shares. And, follow him on Instagram as he regularly shares great images!
A big thanks to Brad for joining us. And, a big thanks to PhotoShelter for the services and products they offer each client, and their incredible focus on customer service.
When I grow up, I want to be Ben Grunow! It's that simple - he's traveled and captured some stunning landscape images, and he just sent me an IM that he's headed to Patagonia next month. Another place in the world on my bucket list, and I'm betting a lot of you have many of the same places on your list that I've got on mine.
Ben was in Iceland when he captured the image above with a LUMIX G9 and the Leica 8-18mm lens. I shared a few of Ben's images of the Northern Lights from this same trip to Iceland in an earlier post. With the photograph above he wrote:
...We had not planned to see this site. Earlier in the day we had longed to follow a road out to the receding glacier. We basically had gone as far as our smaller SUV rental car could take in the rivers. We made a wise decisions and decided to stay and camp to assure we made it to the airport the following morning with only minor river crossings on the way back.
Knowing we only had a hour before sunset, and being down in the flood plane from the melting glaciers we had to get higher and see if we could find some better ground. This was just before sundown as the last light hit the top glacier and moss covered volcanic peaks.
He added one short comment about post processing:
I combined two images that had been shot as auto bracketed exposures...I picked a dark and neutral image and hand blended them in photo shop - real quick post processing! (5 min)
For more information on Ben's gear choice for capturing the image above, click on either of the product thumbnails above. And, click on any of his images to see more of us work on Instagram and follow him on Facebook! You'll never be disappointed in the photographs and information he shares. And check out the entire LUMIX Ambassador team. They're one of the most diverse groups in photography.
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.