Intro by Skip Cohen
My long-standing friendship with good buddy Scott Bourne goes back a lot of years and was founded on the respect I have for his business sense. There are a lot of things I do today, thanks to Scott's help, direction, and influence.
Today's post is perfect for this time of year as 2019 seasonality starts to take hold. It's one of the longest and most in-depth posts he's shared since helping me start SCU, and it's loaded with things to think about, especially the importance of being grateful for the career path you've chosen. I first published it in 2013, but there's no expiration date on wisdom and appreciation!
"Recognizing that the real reward of being lucky enough to be a professional photographer is the joy of knowing that you are protecting memories for others and those memories will last lifetimes."
I love that sentence from one of his last paragraphs - we're all part of a fantastic industry, and your clients deserve nothing but the best. If your heart isn't in it, then take a break and figure out what's missing.
You can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it.
by Scott Bourne
Zig Ziglar always used to say:
“Sales is not something you do TO someone. It’s something you do FOR someone.”
Zig honestly believed in his heart, that when we as salespeople (and if you’re a professional photographer - don’t kid yourself, you are (or need to be) a salesperson) were doing important work, folks sometimes needed a little push to get to yes. He knew in the end they’d be happy with what they bought.
I have studied that man’s thinking for 35 years and today I want to write a post about the thankful salesperson. It’s my homage to Zig. It’s also my second - to - the last post here at SCU and I want it to be a good one.
Now you may be wondering - “How the heck does being thankful connect to sales?” It’s a good question and my goal today is to answer it.
You see I believe if your heart is in the right place, i.e. you put your prospects’ needs ahead of your own and you sincerely believe in what you are selling, you can and should be thankful for the opportunity. Come on - how many people get to do a job where they are really helping people? It’s a great honor to be a high priest of memory protection. So with a hat tip to John Paul Caponigro (who turned me on to some of these quotes) here are some ways to be inspired enough to be a thankful salesperson.
Albert Schweitzer said:
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
For me, this has happened many times. And for some reason, when it DOES happen, it’s related to photography. I remember selling one of my first weddings. For some strange reason the bride’s mother really liked me. She said they moved their daughter’s wedding date so they could save up to hire ME to shoot the wedding. That spark in her - that happiness that she was going to have someone she believed in shoot her wedding left me very excited. My flame was indeed lit and I think I did a pretty darn good job at that wedding.
Shakti Gawain said:
“Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally ‘count our blessings,’ give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.”
I hear many photographers lament the fact that they don’t have the best gear or that they wish they had the money for an assistant or a better studio or whatever. Gawain’s quote served as a reminder to me that some of us go through life missing out on the best stuff because we think we need something else. Yet the best “stuff” is only the “best” if it helps us achieve some human connection. When you make a portrait of someone and they place it on their mantle, for generations to come to see and enjoy, NOBODY is going to wonder whether you had the best camera that was available that day or what version of Photoshop you used or whether or not the equipment van you drive is the latest model. All they will note is the fine expression on their loved one and the memories THEY have of that subject. That’s plenty of motivation for me to be thankful for what I have and not worry about what I don’t.
None other than Albert Einstein said:
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
I can’t tell you how much this resonates with me. I’ve been around the world with my camera. I’ve been toe-to-toe with Arctic Wolves, Coastal Brown Bears, Moose and Great American Bald Eagles. I’ve been mere inches from a wolf pup, a mountain lion cub and baby black bear. I’ve met and photographed famous rock stars, movie stars, politicians, race car drivers, beauty queens and plenty of spectacular regular “Joes.” And if you’d have asked me as a boy if I thought I’d have that kind of life, I would have said “Hell no.” I am the least among you yet I’ve been allowed to have all these experiences because of my camera. What a miracle. If you’re looking for miracles - take this approach to selling. It works.
Oprah Winfrey said:
“What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.”
I’m not proud of every decision I’ve made. I didn’t always have it “good.” My parents beat me, (I probably deserved it,) I made lots of bad decisions as a young man, I’ve suffered serious health problems, I’ve crashed every kind of motorcycle and race car you can think of, and there’s been plenty of bad. Oprah’s quote reminded me that through it all, you have to take it all in - the good and the bad - to be a great story teller. You have to learn to be grateful for night to understand the beauty of daylight. When you can do that, your photography will absolutely, positively improve. Her quote led me to translate what she’s saying from a photographer’s point of view. Light illuminates - shadows define. Focus on the good things you can do with your photography and I am certain that you will find happiness and the business success that goes with it.
Denis Waitley said:
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.”
Believe it or not, I have come to learn that photography, practiced at its highest levels, is a very spiritual pursuit. I am not talking about religion. I am talking about spirituality. There is a difference. Recognizing that the real reward of being lucky enough to be a professional photographer is the joy of knowing that you are protecting memories for others and those memories will last lifetimes. That transcends owning the coolest camera or the coolest anything. It’s a payday that the tax man can’t touch. It’s more valuable than money. But here’s the rub. If you are truly happy. I mean really, truly happy, then what ends up happening is that your sales skills increase. People want to do business with you more than ever. The money flows, not because you sought it. But because you did not. Master sales people are happy at their core. They are happy because they know the thing they are selling improves people’s lives. That knowledge is power and that power leads back to more happiness and more success. It’s a perfect circle. I hope you can find it.
I hope this lesson reaches some of you. I am grateful just to have the opportunity to share it with you because it has powerfully impacted my life.
Go out there and be thankful that you get to do this job. That you get to use your cameras to protect memories.
As always Skip and I are rooting for you.
Intro by Skip Cohen
This is a perfect reminder for Marketing Monday and where your focus should be!
Scott Bourne shared this post several years ago, and I brought it back in 2016, but recently after reading a few absurd discussions in some of the Facebook forums, it's the right time to share it again! Too many of you are wasting time arguing and having pointless discussions with your peers, rather than building relationships with your clients.
If you divide your activities into thirds - then one part should be building your skill set. Another is building relationships with your clients, and the last is everything else. Obviously, that's simplified, but my issue is how much time, so many of you waste working on things that don't matter rather than putting the energy into building a stronger business.
Your greatest marketing tool is relationship building, and I've tagged Scott Stratten's book more than once in previous posts. His tagline for his book Unmarketing says it all. Stop marketing. Start engaging.
by Scott Bourne
If you want to sell photography (or anything else) you should spend more time caring about what your customers care about and less about everything else.
Your customers don't care what your Klout score is, which of your lenses is the sharpest or which brand you shoot with. Your customers care about having photographs that make them (and their families) look good. That's it. That's all.
The online camera forums are full of discussions about photography but, not the people who buy photography. Want to stand out? Want to get ahead of your peers, including those with nicer gear and more experience than you? Simply start caring about your customers. Put all your focus (pun intended) on them and their needs. This is NOT about you. This IS about them. The sooner you realize that - the sooner you'll start to thrive as a professional photographer.
Let the nerds in the photo forums duke it out about which lens is sharper. You go out and make your customers happy by paying attention to their needs and making them look their best. You'll win every time.
Intro by Skip Cohen
This is the second time over the last few years I've wanted to share this post out of the SCU archives on pricing. Why? Because nobody addresses the challenge as good as my buddy Scott Bourne. In this post, he's hitting on far more than just the usual things to consider when you're pricing your work as a wedding and portrait photographer.
Plus, it's tax season, and in less than a month you're all going to hopefully meet with your accountant. Sadly most of you won't know whether you even made money in 2018 until after that meeting. Then you'll swear to do a better job in 2019, but within thirty days be back to your old habits.
Remember, you've got to pay attention to ALL of your costs. There are so many of you who forget to consider all the different things you've done to set up your business and then keep it going! There's also a podcast about pricing I just did with a lot of help from Chamira Young on ProPhotographerJourney.com that just aired last week.
The sad thing about pricing is that so many of you think it's rocket science. Well, it's NOT, but it does take the same dedication as NASA landing an astronaut on the moon. You didn't become a photographer to be a philanthropist, but to build a business.
Here's my point - We're in the last month of what many of you view as the slow season. Before business starts to ramp up, review your pricing! There's nothing that will undermine your success more than lousy pricing! You're working hard to build your skill set and your brand, but a photography business without revenue to support your continued passion for the craft is just a hobby!
By Scott Bourne
Pricing photography is the second hardest thing you will ever do as a professional photographer. (Finding the right clients is the first hardest.) It’s very easy to make mistakes when pricing and once they’re made, it’s hard to recover from them. So start out right.
One disclaimer: Not every pricing method works for every photographer. Much depends on the current state of the market and the genre (i.e., wedding, commercial, fine art, food, etc.) I’ll try to stick to some universal ideas in this post.
Start at the Beginning
You can’t effectively price your work until you understand what it is you’re selling.
You are not selling square inches of paper for the cost of printing them. For some reason, the first element that seems to enter some photographers’ minds when making a pricing decision is the size of the print. This “brick wall” has cost many photographers money. The most important thing to keep in mind is the value of your work, not the size of the print. You build this value by evaluating ALL the factors that go into making a salable image.
So what are you selling? How about your creativity and unique ability to capture something others do not see? Anyone can buy a camera, but can they capture the image exactly the way you do? How about the time you have invested in training for the moment when you captured the image? That time needs to be taken into consideration. Your mechanic, doctor, accountant, and lawyer all get paid for the time they spend doing the work. Shouldn’t you be paid too? You also have to consider the level of your present technical ability. The casual amateur should not be able to get the most out of the same equipment as an experienced professional.
And, speaking of equipment, you must also take into consideration the value of your gear. So, as you are deciding how to price your work, make sure you take into account and charge for your logistical skills, experience, time and your ability to translate your client’s desires into a visual statement. Know what you’re selling before you try to sell it. This will help you avoid many mistakes later.
In order to price something well, you must know the economics. Here are some key things to keep in mind:
B) Profit margin
C) The market you are serving
Calculating your overhead requires that you consider all the costs associated with being a professional photographer. These includes:
A) Equipment depreciation
E) Legal fees
F) Accounting fees
G) Payroll fees
O) Office supplies
Q) Professional dues
Calculating your profit may be a bit easier. You consider your cost of doing business by allowing for a percentage of your overhead to be applied to the cost of each job. From there, mark up your price to include a standard profit margin. This can be based on any number you want but a good starting point is to double the cost of your product (100 percent profit margin).
Selling or Licensing Images
Now you also need to adjust this figure based on the market type you are serving. Is the image being used in a small or large market? Will thousands of people see it or just a few? What is the perceived value to the client? How does the client plan to use your image? Who is your competition and what choices does your client have besides you for this type of image? Are there 50 photographers in the mix or only two or three? Consider these factors to calculate your fee.
When you sell or license an image, it is likely you will have to negotiate the price with a savvy photo buyer. Knowing how to negotiate can save you time, money and help you close profitable deals. Remember that negotiating is just problem solving. Both parties have something they need to accomplish and the negotiation makes it happen.
You must not take ANY of the issues that arise during a negotiation personally. The buyer is supposed to try to get the best deal that he or she can. That’s their job. Your job is the same.
The essential steps in the negotiating process are: establish rapport, gather information, do research, ask questions, and let the buyer do most of the talking. In any negotiation, the person who listens most is likely to gain more. In any negotiation, it’s always very important that you do more listening than talking. Otherwise, you will miss important clues, both physical and verbal, that will help you resolve the deal.
Before quoting a price, you must try to educate the client and build the value of the image you are selling. Make sure that the client understands the effort, time and expense you invested to make this image. If the image is truly one-of-a-kind or was made at personal risk, those factors translate directly into the value of what you have for sale.
Try to encourage the client to place an opening bid. If the buyer is the first one to name a price, I believe you will be rewarded with a higher fee. A good way to open the negotiation process is to ask a question like, “What’s the most you would be willing to pay to use my image or purchase my print?” If you are forced to begin the negotiation process by offering a figure, an alternative is to begin with a number that is twice your standard price plus 10 percent. Once this figure is given, you can work down from there.
But remember that if you give a number first, you run the risk of quoting a price that is much lower than the buyer was willing to pay, and you’ll never know what figure they were willing to pay. So, let your clients do the talking. Then, you should listen, take notes, and preferably wait for them to tell you what they can afford.
If the client has pricing objections, be sure to return to the rapport building and value enhancement stages outlined above. Usually, a price objection really means that there is another piece of information you have not uncovered. It is likely that there is something else you have not offered that the client really wants or needs. This is why it’s crucial to listen more than you talk and ask plenty of questions to uncover hidden needs.
Once you have taken all the necessary steps, be sure to ask for the order. A surprising number of photographic sales don’t happen simply because the seller has forgotten to ask for the sale.
(NOTE: Negotiating with magazines is not possible unless you are a famous photographer with images that are in great demand. When you approach magazines, understand that you will only get paid their standard rates.)
Intro by Skip Cohen
Welcome back to a new "Insight," a series of content-rich posts to help you build a stronger business and in today's post, protect your images. Working together with PhotoShelter we want to make 2019 your best year ever and as I've written in the past, thrive, not just survive.
There's an incredible amount of outstanding content in PhotoShelter's archives, all directed to helping become a successful artist. I ran across this article by Allen Murabayashi, and he's writing about an issue critical to all of you - copyright!
PhotoShelter has a reputation for helping you create the very best presentation of your work, but also help you run a stronger business. You've got to protect your photographs. So often I'm surprised how many photographers have so little understanding of copyright. Check out the post below and start protecting your images - you've worked too hard to develop the skill set to capture and create them. Don't they deserve to be protected?
5 Common Copyright Misconceptions Held by Photographers
by Allen Murabayashi
The most recent version of the Copyright Law of the United States (December 2016) weighs in at a whopping 354 pages. And while there are areas of ambiguity, the basics and benefits of copyright registration for photographers are well-documented. Unfortunately, well-documented doesn’t mean well-understood, so we asked attorney (and former photo rep) Leslie Burns to weigh in on a number of common copyright misconceptions that still persist, and why you should register your copyright.
Disclaimer: The information herein does not constitute legal advice. As always, consult with a lawyer for your particular circumstance!
1. If I publish a photo without registering my copyright first, I can’t sue for damages.
U.S. Copyright Law has two forms of damages: 1) actual, and 2) statutory.
The moment you take a photo, (unless you are an employee or signed a terrible work-for-hire deal) you own the copyright and have some protection. But without registration, you are only eligible for actual damages which means the “market value” of the image’s license, plus the defendant’s profits directly connected to the infringement, if any. If someone uses your image on their Instagram account, the actual damages might be so low as to make it impractical to sue.
The main benefit of registering your images is the ability to sue for statutory damages. If a person or organization willfully infringes your photo, you can sue for up to $150,000 per infringement image. Non-willful has a maximum of $30,000. You might get attorneys’ fees, too.
“Publication in copyright law,” says Burns, “is not what most people think. Online use may or may not be published—if you offer the work for others to license or use or if you provide it to a client for its use, then it is published; but if you just display the work online (or in a gallery) it probably is not published.” If it is published, then you have up to 3 calendar months to register the copyright and it is as if you registered it on the date you first published the work, so any infringement after that can get the statutory damages. If you wait, then only infringements that start after you register the copyright can get the statutory damages and attorneys’ fees. For unpublished work, only infringements that start after registration can get statutory damages and attorneys’ fees.
Click to read more...
Start your 14 Day Free trial of Photoshelter plus 20% off a Standard or Pro Account for a year.
Use the coupon code PhotoFocus20
Intro by Skip Cohen
Since launching in 2016, we've shared thousands of posts here on the SCU blog, with information on virtually every type of idea to help you build a stronger business. Well, as we get more into 2019, we're going to be sharing more technique posts to help you not only develop a stronger and more successful business but raise the bar on your skill set.
I love this post we're sharing today, thanks to Suzette Allen. While it might seem like a lesson in outdoor landscape photography, learning to work with slow shutter speeds is a skill applicable to so many different images you capture, including photographing a wedding and children playing, to name a couple.
Roday is "Mirrorless Monday," and Suzette is out with with a LUMIX G9 and two different lenses. More information about each one is linked in the thumbnails below.
Suzette has several different blogs, all filled with great content on technique, new ideas and often providing inspiration and insight into her passion for the craft, people and life. She's just a click away. Then, follow her and the entire US LUMIX Ambassador team. They're regularly speaking at LUMIX retailers and conventions around the country. In fact, she'll be with me and several of the other LUMIX Ambassadors at WPPI in the Panasonic booth #934 February 27-29. They're one of the most diverse and creative teams in photography, and should all be on your radar. You'll be surprised at how much great content they share.
by Suzette Allen
There’s something magical about the silky softness of a waterfall, shot with a slow shutter speed! While it’s very easy to do once you know how and have the right equipment, it seems just like pure magic before you master it! In this blog, you will learn how to capture water flow with a silky soft look, whether it be a grand waterfall like Havasu or a babbling brook down the road from you.
One thing that is necessary is a tripod, or at the very least, set your camera on a rock or log or something very stationary. Camera movement will destroy this effect in a fraction of a hot second!
In the examples here I’m using a Mirrorless Micro 4/3 camera- the Lumix G9 and either the 7-14mm lens above or the 8-18mm lens. I have my camera on a MeFoto Backpacker tripod which is light and easy to hike with, so it was my companion for the 57 miles we hiked in 7 days in the Grand Canyon on this trip!
Note: There were times I used it as a walking stick as well, when we walked the Narrows in freezing cold water in Zion National Park too! But next time I won’t do that—I’ll tell you why (and show images) in a different blog!.
Anyway, the trick to getting a soft silky water look is shooting in manual mode and using a slow shutter speed. Typically, you are shooting in the daytime, and hopefully in shade (or you will NEED neutral density filters), and you want to shoot with the shutter speed at 1/8 of a second or slower if possible. It was relatively soft light, but at ISO 200, which is the lowest my camera goes, and the aperture at F22, the highest f-s top it offers, the slowest I could go was in the range of 1/5 to 1/8 of a second. Otherwise my image was overexposed.
It usually requires a bit of experimenting with a DSLR because you cannot see the effect or the exposure through the view finder and you need to shoot and adjust and re-shoot and adjust a few times until you get the right combination. Even if you use a meter, there is some experimentation or at least bracketing.
What I love about the Mirrorless Lumix is the EVF, or Electronic View Finder, which shows you exactly what your exposure looks like AND the effect of a slow shutter speed! [Be sure to turn on the Constant Preview feature to see that]. My camera is ON Constant Preview all the time and I literally cannot live without it.
The other benefit is the Zebras feature, which shows any part of the image that is overexposed with little black zebra stripes, alerting you to the overexposure BEFORE you take the shot! Take a look at this short video taken of Havasu Falls, where I show how I can confidently get a great exposure without any blown-out pixels (or needing to bracket or use a meter).
This feature is also turned on ALL the time on my camera and is an invaluable tool for getting great exposures all the time.
Turning on Constant Preview on the Lumix G9
Menu>Custom Wrench>Monitor&Display>Page4, bottom item: Constant Preview
turn to ON
Setting the Zebras on the Lumix G9
Menu>Custom Wrench>Monitor&Display>Page5, almost bottom item: Zebras
Choose SET and then choose [Zebra2 100%] and then turn it ON. Hit the center Set button on the camera back to be sure it is turned ON.
A few notes about this technique.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Over the years I've heard so many ugly stories from photographers about lost images. In the "old days" it was lost rolls of film, often the photographer's fault, but when breaking the news to the client, it was always blamed on a mistake at the lab! LOL Then there are those gut-wrenching moments when your computer crashes and you weren't backing things up the way you should have been. Today, it's a lot tougher to shift the blame to anybody beyond the face in the mirror!
I've written a lot over the years about having backup gear and a backup for yourself should a family emergency, or health issues prevent you from an assignment, but we've never talked about the best ways to back up your images and data on your computer.
Thanks to a good buddy of so many of us, Dave Doeppel, offered to share a guest post. And, while some of it is a little over my head, I have a deep appreciation and respect for the process. But I'm not the one whose entire business is built on a foundation of client images and thousands of photographs!
It's not that complicated a process, but sadly too many of you treat it as if it's something you'll take care of tomorrow. Well, "mañana" isn't a skill set. Sure it would be great if there was a button you could push and you'd be protected, but to Dave's point at the end of his post - whatever you do, make it automated. If you need to rely on doing something manually to get files backed up, chances are it won’t happen. Protect yourself and never lose your data.
Dave needs to be on your radar. Just a click on his headshot, and you're there!
I talk about this a lot. At least once a week I hear a horror story about a photographer who has lost critical images. Then I discover they have no backups, or they thought they had backups but couldn’t find the missing files. I will only add that as a photographer, you do have one possibility for losing files that probably cannot be avoided, complete destruction of your camera with the cards still in the slot. Beyond that there are so many ways of protecting your images.
First off, and this is been a sore point for the latest mirrorless options, Dual Card Slots. Barring internal camera malfunction, this gives you an immediate secondary backup of your shoot. That at least gives you two copies of your images. It’s just the beginning.
Those images need to go somewhere. Where? That’s the question. Here is where many photographer’s and other creatives start having problems. Obviously the images need to be transferred to a local hard drive. There are many many options here. RAID, NAS, DAS, Simple external drives, SSD etc. Many think that if they store images on a RAID or other system they are backed up because a RAID has redundancy built in. There are different flavors of RAID and some will survive a hard drive failure and some (i.e. RAID 0) will not. You also have a single point of failure in the drive enclosure itself. If you lose a RAID enclosure, you lose access to the data until it is either repaired or replaced. You cannot take those drives and access them in any other system. So no you are not backed up just because you are using a RAID.
Your images are also just one singular piece of what should be included in your backup strategy. Your operating system, applications and any other data you have should also be backed up. So what is a good strategy for backing up your systems? Dropbox? Smugmug? Google Drive? Backblaze? These all can work to some degree but let’s go back to the basics here.
A solid backup strategy is something called a 3-2-1. 3 copies of all your data, 2 copies are local and on different media if possible, 1 copy offsite either in the cloud or another physical location. There are many ways to accomplish this. Another factor of backups is that backup media is rotated in and out. In the IT world we call this Grandfather-Father-Son. It is a common rotation scheme for backup media, in which there are three or more backup cycles, such as daily, weekly and monthly. The daily backups are rotated on a daily basis using a First In First Out system. The weekly backups are similarly rotated on a weekly basis, and the monthly backup on a monthly basis. In addition, quarterly, half-yearly, and/or annual backups could also be separately retained. Often some of these backups are removed from the site for safekeeping and disaster recovery purposes.
There is a huge difference in using a Synchronization/Collaboration service like Dropbox or Google Drive when you compare it to running an actual backup program. Both Mac and Microsoft do have some built in backup functionality, Apple has Time Machine and Microsoft has File History. Both create running backups with versioning. Not quite the same as a GFS backup scheme but not terrible. There are many options for backup software. On the Mac side I prefer to use Chronosync. For PC’s Acronis is one of the top backup software providers.
So now you have 2 copies running locally, your primary working data and a backup. That just leaves offsite. If you have decent unmetered internet bandwidth a cloud backup is great. Something like Backblaze. If not then your best option is just to add in additional hard drives to your backup scheme and store them offsite. Some will use a relative's home or a safe deposit box.
The last thing I will add is whatever you do, make it automated. If you need to rely on doing something manually to get files backed up, chances are it won’t happen. Protect yourself and never lose your data. Whether it is images for a client or your own precious family photos, backup your files today!!!!!
About Dave Doeppel - Dave is an award-winning Professional Photographer who specializes in Pinup and Boudoir. Back in the 70s, he developed an unwavering passion for photography as he was rolling and developing 35mm film. He hasn’t looked back ever since.
Throughout his creative career, Dave has helped countless fellow photographers hone their craft. He has also served as a speaker at numerous National Photo Conferences, including but not limited to WPPI, Shutterfest and Imaging U.S.A. Today, Dave is on a mission to educate emerging photographers on the ins and outs of the art of photography and the technology they need to be successful.
Where's Dave? Upcoming Events
Images copyright Chad Pennington. All rights reserved.
Chad Pennington and I met online many years ago when he reached out to me with a comment about something on Facebook. While I love an IM conversation on Facebook, I often just pick up the phone and call. Well, that kicked off a great friendship. From there we've bumped into each other at various conventions over the years; stayed in touch through IMs on Facebook and grabbed a few phone calls here and there.
But more than anything today, this is one of those spotlight posts that's a testimonial to what I love most about this industry and social media - it helps us stay in touch.
It started a couple days ago when going through birthday notifications on Facebook; I wished Chad a Happy Birthday. It was early, and I never expected him to respond right away, but he was right there in the IM box. He thanked me, and that kicked off a "catch-up" conversation.
He's in Nigeria this week, and curious about what he's working on, I asked him to send a couple of images from his trip. He immediately dropped these two stunning images into the IM thread mentioning these were from his visit three months ago. (Click on either image to visit Chad's website to see more of his work.)
I haven't lost touch with Chad, but I had lost touch with his work. It's easily been five years or more that our friendship took off, but I hadn't been looking at his galleries. I've often written that 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.
Well, Chad loves the craft! That quest for the ultimate image runs through his veins every time a camera is in his hands, and I'm so grateful that social media gives us the ability to stay connected.
When I think back to the early days, when I first came into the professional side of this industry at Hasselblad in '87, the only way we'd share images was either in person or through the mail. The Internet changed the way we share photographs, share friendships and share our passion for the craft!
So to Chad - thanks for following through and sending me the specs on both images as well. Thanks for a great friendship, and thanks for always being true to quality in everything you do. I'm sure proud to consider you a buddy - safe travels!
Note: Chad's shooting with a Canon 5D Mark III.
His model for both images is Folowosele Tomi from Lagos, Nigeria.
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.
I've written a lot about networking over the years and my good buddy, Scott Bourne has shared a lot of thoughts too. Parts of this post he first shared in 2013, but as this year comes to a close and so many of you plan which conventions you're going to be attending in 2019, the timing to remind you about the basics, couldn't be more relevant.
I know some of our points might seem almost childish, in the category of your mother, when you were a kid, reminding you to say "please" and "thank you." But, we live in a world of email and texts, and it's surprising how many of you have forgotten the art of conversation, the importance of a firm handshake and eye contact when you're talking to somebody. Scott hits on seven basics to help you launch each new friendship and "invitation" into your network in the right direction.
"Sometimes, idealistic people are put off with the whole business of networking
as something tainted by flattery and the pursuit of selfish advantage.
But virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven.
To succeed in this world you have to be known to people."
I want to add three more tips to Scott's conversation starters below because networking is at the very top of the list to why you should attend every possible convention!
Remember, successful networking is about your number one best marketing tool - building relationships!
by Scott Bourne
With the annual trade show and convention season almost upon us, it's never too early to start thinking about how you'll get the most out of each event. Here are some networking conversation starters and tips to get you going.
And remember as always, Skip and I are rooting for you.
Over the years I've shared a lot of great content thanks to my good buddy, Scott Bourne. In fact, his advice below was shared in a post a year ago and several years earlier as well. And, while things might have changed a little on a point or two, like Instagram being a potential player, etc. nothing has changed in the potential for you to build a better business.
I know how often all of you get caught up in the stress of building a stronger presence, and miss many of the easiest things you could be doing. In this terrific post from the SCU archives, Scott's sharing ten easy to afford marketing ideas to help you establish a stronger brand and business. I'm adding two more to the list as well.
The common denominator with all of these tips is the low or non-existent cost, but that doesn't mean they can happen by themselves. You've got to make the effort, and this is definitely a you-snooze-you-lose scenario.
And, if you're stuck and need help you know where to find us!
by Scott Bourne
Today I just have a quick hit list for those of you who have a small budget and need something to jumpstart your photo business.
1. Ask your local municipal government if you can use an old or abandoned building as a make shift art gallery and organize a display of your work and the work of other aspiring pros in the area.
2. Offer to do a free "how-to" make a portrait session for your local Chamber of Commerce or service organization such as Rotary.
3. Barter your products and services to help launch your business and get other local vendors familiar with what you do.
4. Offer to provide free framed prints to local children's clothing stores if you do kid's portraits - offer to provide free framed prints to local pet stores if you do pet photography - you get the idea.
5. Offer a print or portrait session or _____ as a prize for a charity auction.
6. Set up a Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook business page as well as a business Twitter account, etc.
7. Make "how-to" photography videos and post them on YouTube. (YouTube is being treated as much like a search engine as it is a place to see video.)
8. Make yourself indispensable to thought leaders in your segment of the photo industry.
9. Start a podcast.
10. Issue press releases every time you do something significant and hand deliver these to your local media.
Sorry to use this quote again, but it's my favorite quote about photography!
"This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect."
In October of 2011, we moved to Sarasota. The primary reason was to help my folks. My Dad was 89 and taking care of my mother who was a few years into her battle with Alzheimer's. Since graduation from high school I'd always lived in another part of the country, and while we talked regularly and saw each other several times a year, I was never "next door."
Moving to Florida was one of the best things I've ever done. It gave me and my folks quality time, and even with Mom's Alzheimer's, there were plenty of special moments. It's a horrible disease that, like a burglar in the night, robs you of your loved ones. But, Dad used to say, "I'm going to squeeze every drop of joy out of whatever's left," and he stayed focused on every moment when the disease would take a break and Mom's personality came shining through.
Today, Halloween would be Dad's 96th birthday. When I was a kid the poor guy never had a decent birthday, always interrupted by trick or treaters, including me headed out in search of trick or treat candy. It was ironic, since back then he was in the wholesale candy and tobacco business. I had access to an entire warehouse of candy, but nothing was sweeter than what I got in my bag every Halloween.
Just to say I miss the guy would be a colossal understatement. The incredible memories along with knowing he and Mom are watching over us keep them in our hearts all the time.
Over the last years of his life, I talked Dad into writing two blog posts for me. I paid him a dollar for each of them, agreeing to write off the allowance he still owed me from when I was 12! LOL One of the posts I shared on Father's Day and the other I pulled out of the archives this morning.
Dad was part of the greatest generation, and there's a lot of wisdom in what he wrote below. As much as business has changed with social media, the power of the Internet making the world smaller and technology giving us the ability to reach thousands of people - the basics of good business and how we treat each other NEVER changes.
Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday Pop!
by Ralph Cohen
I have been happily retired for many years, and unemployed for almost twenty. I am not a plagiarist, but I must quote my father who spent the last months of his life writing advice to his children:
“Conduct your business in an upright manner and remember, the most important thing in one’s life is to be honest with one’s self. Maintain the high standard and dignity that your business requires. Do not go into deals hastily and be visible in your business as much of the time as is possible. If you take time to play, do it away from your business, because your livelihood needs all the attention you can give to it.”
Early on, I concluded that the best testimonials came from my many friendly competitors. We didn’t really compete with each other, in the true sense. True, we were in the same field of endeavor, but we all knew we were there to help each other. Happily, the “tough competition” fell by the wayside.
I remember giving Skip driving lessons and I told him, “Watch the left front fender…..the rest will take care of itself!” I’ve found this is really true of everything in life.
An old axiom says, “If you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.” That is all part of reputation-building. I found that, sadly, in the field of real estate, truth is hard to come by for many. In our case, it was a major building block in the reputation which we enjoyed, and helped us to thwart the competition.
Goodwill is all of the above, plus a lot of caring for your clients as well as your competitors. If life is a give-and-take situation, giving is the more important of the two. The taking will come with time and be far more appreciative. Just remember – you heard it here!
Ralph Cohen, Founder and 1/2 the Creators of Skip Cohen!
Intro by Skip Cohen
While the Internet has made the world a significantly smaller place, one of the most fun aspects is when you catch up to a cyber-buddy in real time - live! There's still no better way to build relationships than face to face. That's one more great reason to attend every convention you can squeeze into your schedule and expand the "social" in social media.
Last week at PhotoPlus Expo in NYC I caught up to Fred Windholz. While we may have met sometime over the years, I really know him from social media, especially Facebook. With everything I post, Fred is always one of the first to check it out. So, when bumping into each other at the show, I knew exactly who he was.
Fred's got a great background in lighting and in an IM conversation I asked him if he wanted to share some of that expertise. I suggested three of the best tips he's ever received, and here he is this morning!
I know for some of you this post might seem a little basic, but so often, especially when you're busy, a quick refresher of a few basics might be just what you need for a quick charge. Your clients trust you to capture the very best images. Learning to see the light and understand how it impacts each photograph may well be the most critical skill in building a strong brand.
Fred should be on your radar - click on any image to link to his Facebook page, and keep track of what he's up to.
Stay tuned because I'm hoping I can talk Fred into sharing more!
by Fred Windholz
Like so many things in life right now there seems to be an either/or way of thinking. In the photography business we tend to think of one brand over another or one style of photography over another. One area I see that in is with lighting… “Natural light vs. Flash”.
As a past wedding photographer (recently slowed that genre down) for me light was light…which means I would use whatever light was best for any given situation…whether daylight, window light, light bulbs, LED or flash. The key was learning how to see light and take advantage of that light, regardless of the source.
When I teach a lighting class I start with four principles to think about - Direction, Distance, Size and Power. These hold true whether using daylight or flash.
Direction: We’ve all been told that direct front lighting is the least flattering light…not that it can’t be used at times, but that it will render “flat” light. By giving some direction to the light it begins to add shape and dimension to your subject. But what’s the best direction you might ask? I’m not going to get into that for this article because that could be a class all by itself…any direction is better than no direction (generally).
Size & Distance: I put these together because they usually go hand in hand. Here’s the key, size and distance relative to your subject, will render a softer or harsher light. That is why on a cloudy day the shadows are softer as the clouds act as a large light source and bringing the light source closer to your subject. The direct sun is large relative to the earth but it is small relative to your subject.
Power: So what does power do? Well, first it can affect your exposure for one (ie. f stop, ISO and/or shutter), which can affect your overall look. But let’s think of the sun…it is very powerful. Direct sun (small light source, far away) creates strong shadows. Bring in the clouds as we discussed earlier and because of the powerof the sun it can penetrate through those clouds to give a nice soft light. This becomes more relative when using flash or studio lights. A small hot shoe flash will render less power than a strong studio light. So if I want to use a large soft box I would want a light with more power to maximize and fill the soft box to have enough power to reach my subject. If I were using a flash outdoors to compete with the sun I would want one with more power. On the other side if I just needed a little light a less powerful flash would suffice.
So whatever the light source you use, if you begin to think about these four factors it will help you see light differently and just may begin to improve your images. For me this is something I learned along the way and has stuck with me ever since.
Experiment, play around and find what works best for you!
Image copyright Paul Mango. All rights reserved.
It's Mirrorless Monday, and LUMIX Ambassador, Paul Mango is in the spotlight. Paul's an accomplished photographer and I loved this image because it was so different from the usual shots I've seen of mountain ranges and landscapes. In addition, he captured the photograph with one of my favorite LUMIX cameras, the GX85.
The GX85 is compact and because it's a camera body, you've got the ability to use interchangeable lenses. The photograph was captured at Grand Lake, outside Rocky Mountain National Park. It was dusk and Paul used the GX85 with the LUMIX G Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm, F4.0-6.3 lens.
Click on either thumbnail below for more information. And check out the GX85 Overview video - it's a little over a minute, but packed with information about the features of this amazing little camera!
Follow Paul along with the rest of the LUMIX Ambassadors. He's part of one of the most diverse and creative teams in photography. Keep track of what they're working on, along with their adventures. This is a remarkable group of artists and they need to be on your radar.
Image copyright Mark Toal. All rights reserved.
It's Monday and "Mirrorless Mark" is back hitting a couple of favorite points about photography and working with LUMIX cameras.
Right out of the blocks I love the fact he shot in black and white, setting the camera to Monochrome D mode. So many of us have our roots in black & white. I love the richness of the tonal range in the image above. Second, comes Mark's point about traveling light. The G9 body only weighs 1.5 pounds, and with the lens Mark chose he was just over two pounds. That's light enough to literally NEVER be without a camera.
The last point I love about Mark's guest post is he shot everything on auto, making a point about the reliability of Panasonic's technology to make sure you never miss a moment. He could have chosen a dozen different ways to capture the image but went with simplicity in a moment of limited time.
Check out more of Mark's images together with his blogs by clicking on the image above. You'll never be disappointed in the content he regularly shares. And check out the LUMIX Ambassador team. This is one of the most diverse groups in photography.
Click on the G9 body or the 12mm F1.4 LEICA SUMMILUX high-performance wide angle lens for more information.
by Mark Toal
It’s been hot, and smoky from forest fires for weeks in the Northwest. When I can’t sleep because of the heat I’ll get up in the middle of the night and read or watch YouTube. YouTube videos seem to have reduced photography to a battle of sensor size, lens quality, ISO, anything but the image itself!
No matter what camera you use there is somebody to tell you you can’t take good photos unless you use something other than what you have. Hardly any of these people show you images they have taken.
The beauty of Micro Four Thirds cameras is the small size that allows you to always have a camera with you. I was reminded of this again when I decided to stop by the Portland waterfront on the way to my son’s house. I was carrying my Lumix G9 with the Leica 12mm lens. I had set the camera to shoot in the Monochrome D mode.
As I walked up to the railing of the walkway over the river a young man rode up on his bike, took off his shirt and pants and jumped into the river. As he climbed the railing I turned on the G9 and took three quick photos with everything on the camera set to auto.
Maybe the image would have better if I had used a larger camera and lens, but I more than likely wouldn’t have been carrying it especially on a 90-degree day.
I've added a new step to my morning routine, EVERY morning. I make sure I'm never too busy to take a scroll through my Facebook "Home" page and catch up on what everyone has been sharing. Last night Ed Heaton shared the image below from Grand Teton, and I loved it so much I wanted to share it as an SCU guest post this morning. Ed is no stranger to SCU, and I've shared a few of his images over the years.
What I loved about this one was the stunning image combined with the point he made about arriving on the scene early. Ed and his son are award-winning landscape artists, but it occurred to me that "arriving early" needs to be every artist's mantra. For Ed and Zach it was about securing a good spot without the crowds, but for many of you, especially wedding photographers, it's about being prepared and just possibly capturing those first special emotion-filled moments of a couple before they officially start their life together.
Click on Ed's shot of Grand Teton below to see more of his work and Zach's. And, check out his workshop schedule. Whether a workshop or private instruction, Ed Heaton Photography offers some of the finest educational support in photography.
by Ed Heaton
One might say “there’s no need to get there early, we have plenty of time before the sun rises”. Well, anyone that knows Zach and I will tell you that we always arrive early to capture slightly different images and to secure a good spot. I’ve done this since I’ve been teaching workshops and I will continue doing it because I do not like fighting for a good spot in line 😊
Here we were first to arrive which allowed us to capture the stars over the Grand Teton with the full moon lighting the scene. Not long after we got our shots, people and headlights started showing up polluting the scene. I’m not complaining about other photographers per say, the problem I have is the lack of courtesy and common sense.
Don’t walk in front of other photographers and don’t keep shining your light around the whole scene (someone certainly could have the shutter open). It’s just a fact of life these days and I’ve learned to deal with it but that doesn’t mean I like it!
- Singh-Ray Filters - OP/TECH USA - Really Right Stuff - HoodmanUSA - X-Rite Photo & Video - Asolo
Images copyright Ben Grunow. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Five years ago I was introduced to Panasonic's LUMIX line of cameras, and life just hasn't been the same since.
I'm never without a decent camera and have been delighted with so many of the images I've captured. Panasonic revitalized my love for photography. My passion has never diminished, but I was shooting less and less. LUMIX changed all that, but along with the equipment and incredible technology came the LUMIX Ambassadors.
Obviously, all working with LUMIX gear, they're one of the most diverse teams in photography today. Ben Grunow is one of the Ambassadors, and I caught up to him recently on an IM on Facebook after his return from Iceland. His images were stunning, and these are all "right out of the can."
Ben's shooting with the GH5s and the LUMIX G LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT 8-18mm, F2.8-4.0 lens. 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.
by Ben Grunow
I had an unforgettable trip to Iceland recently, and I figured I’d like to share these images completely unedited straight out of the Lumix GH5s using the 8-18 mm lens. On my way back from a month long trip in Switzerland, I only had four nights to capture the beauty of the Northern Lights.
I traveled all over Iceland. The weather looked terrible just about everywhere on the island but using weather maps and common sense I was able to see the Aurora every night.
These particular images are from one night, captured with the GH5s. They looked so good on edit it in the camera; I wanted to share them clean, exactly as they came out of the camera. The GH5s did such an outstanding job; it’s important for everyone to understand what LUMIX technology is capable of capturing.
These images are shot at ISO 3200 to 6400, with shutter speeds ranging from five to fifteen seconds. The light painting was with my headlamp.
It’s so hard to explain the stunning, breathtaking beauty of the Northern Lights as they dance above in the nighttime sky. But, this is where the power of imaging plays an important role, especially if you've never experienced this incredible natural phenomenon.
For years I've talked about the best thing about this industry - the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. And, thanks to social media those friendships that get started continue to grow, even when we don't see each other that often.
Meet Fran Ruchalski, a photographer who I first met at an evening program in Jacksonville in 2012. The evening program I was doing at a local library had to shut down early when a tropical storm flooded the area all around us, and we needed to evacuate before everyone's cars floated away.
Fast forward six years and he and I have stayed in touch through Facebook. He left Florida in 2014 and today is in Logansport, Indiana, but the Internet keeps making the world a smaller place. A couple of weeks ago Fran posted some fun news about a recent award.
That hits one more fun aspect of social media - being able to share news with each other. Fran's shooting for the Pharos-Tribune and recently won first place in the HSPA contest for sports action photography. So, being one of Fran's fans I made the request to see the image and permission to share it in a post.
I know most of you aren't sports photographers, but what a kick to share an image that's completely out of the norm from what most of you shoot. A big congrats to Fran - sure is a kick to be following your career! You can check out more about Fran with a visit to his Facebook page.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Last Friday I announced a new menu in the SCU diner, and a different "cuisine" with more extensive "entrees" to help you build a stronger business. Fast Food Friday has received a lot of nice feedback, but it was time to start serving more sophisticated recipes.
Well, little did I know that my co-host on "Mind Your Business" and "Beyond Technique," Chamira Young not only loved the concept of an open house, but has her own recipe for success going to back to her move to Port Huron, MI a few years back.
As a new photographer in the area it was important to meet the community and at the same time have them get to know her. Part of the success of the event included a short video clip which she turned into a promotional piece on her website. Check out her guest post below and then think about your own needs in the community.
Remember, success in any business, especially photography, is about relationship building and establishing trust. Hosting an open house, even when you don't have a "house" is one ingredient so many of you need to either kick off brand awareness in a new community or jumpstart an established business that needs to stand out more!
By Chamira Young
Little did I know the decision to throw an Open House would revolutionize my struggling photography business. It's a big part of how I built my client list from virtually nothing after moving to a new town and having to essentially start my business from scratch.
Was an Open House outside of my comfort zone? Yes. But was it worth it? Absolutely. A classy Open House event is a great way to build credibility, momentum within your community, and a solid contact list for you to keep in touch with in the future.
At my event, I not only had a handful of folks sign up for headshots beforehand (which required them to register with their email address, phone number, make payment, etc), but the people who stopped by just to check things out also had to sign in with their basic info.
I was ecstatic over how many of these "freebie" folks later signed up for a full photo session once they met me and had a chance to see me working in action at the event. That's why it's so important to greet every single person at your Open House. They need to get to know you and it's the first step to establishing trust and building relationships.
Below is a short video, just over a minute. I created it after the event, which served as a great marketing tool for social media, future events, and even on my About Page on my website. Don't forget, if you're doing any kind marketing video keep it short.
I underestimated the impact this video would have on social media, especially with folks who were not able to attend but watched the video to get the "experience" of the Open House. Not only did I get comments ranging from "Amazing!" to "Congratulations!", I received emails and phone calls from folks who wanted to schedule a shoot because they got to see me work with clients through the video.
Another surprise came in the form of a steady stream of questions from fellow photographers asking how I put it all together, which led me to create a podcast episode going into detail about it.
While it takes some time and effort to throw an Open House together, it's definitely worth it!
Fast Food Fridays are brought to you by:
Click on the banner above to visit the Excire website. Take Excire Search Pro for Lightroom Classic CC for your own FREE 15 day test drive. And follow us on Facebook for the latest information on this exciting software and time-saver.
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's almost August and while technically it's still summer - all of you should be thinking about the Fall and getting ready for the fourth quarter's seasonality. I stumbled across this archived post from my good buddy Scott Bourne, and it's a topic and idea that just has no expiration date!
It takes me back to packaging studies in my Polaroid days. For example, we found that different colors created different impressions. Black and gold or black and silver were interpreted as higher quality and value than other color combinations. Certain combinations of pastels also created feelings of high value and had a stronger appeal to women than men. Today, aspects of that same logic apply to your website, blog, mailing pieces and brochures.
Competition is fierce, and you've got to make yourself stand out. Think about this example - You can buy the same Polo shirt at Macy's or Nordstroms, yet the attitude of the staff at Nordstroms is entirely different, along with the store layout, inventory and many of their policies. Now is the perfect time to take a long look at your business and decide - do you want to be Macy's or Nordstroms?
by Scott Bourne
One of the craziest, but most powerful things you can do to market your photography is take your existing marketing plan and pull it inside out. What do I mean by that? Simple. Take something that you've been doing with mixed results and put a new twist on it. Look at other industries OUTSIDE of photography. How does the car business handle that problem? What would a bakery do to solve that issue? How would a shoe store approach it? What do fast food chains do to make that work?
I love studying other business models. I love taking a little bit of this and a little bit of that from other verticals and throwing it into my photography mix.
Maybe it works - maybe it needs to be refined - maybe it fails. But if you are at least trying something new, you have a shot at improving. If you're always doing the same old thing and failing, well you know where that will take you - NOWHERE.
Try pulling things inside out and looking OUTSIDE the small world of photography. When I bought my first really nice car, I noticed that EVERYONE at the dealership, people who were lot boys and people who were upper management, despite their age and mine, called me sir. "Right away sir." Yes sir Mr. Bourne." "Great to see you at the dealership sir, how can we serve you today?"
Over the top? Nope. Not a bit. I was in my 30s and I started applying the lesson I learned there every time I dealt with a client. And they noticed. It wasn't the last thing I learned by studying high-end retail. I bought my first expensive watch in my 30s. Again, very polite, intelligent people. But this time there was a twist. They delivered the watch in the fanciest box and packaging I'd ever seen. Every time I opened the box the watch came in, I was a kid getting a Christmas gift. You see where I'm going with this right?
Study what other businesses do. Not just what other photo businesses do. Jump verticals. Change things up. Look at all the options and then innovate.
Skip and I are rooting for you.
The real fun of social media comes with those moments where the true "social" side comes into play. Meet two new friends, Julie and Todd Nichols from Boise, Idaho. Todd and I have exchanged a couple of Facebook IMs over the years, starting with a couple of WPPI questions shortly after I left the company. Earlier this month we caught up with each other on Facebook, which morphed into my favorite mode of communication, picking up the phone and calling them.
After wandering through their galleries, I loved a lot of their wedding images and put in a request for a guest post, and here we are! Julie pulled something together and it's the perfect topic. At a time when so many artists are struggling with business, Todd and Julie continue to build significant brand awareness and a strong client base. Why? Because they not only deliver but exceed expectations and have made themselves habit-forming!
Their clients feel special, as if they were Todd and Julie's only customers. In the guest post below, Julie's shared the not-so-secret ingredient of their success, but spend two minutes on the phone with either of them, and you'll understand the other elements - passion, pride, attitude and above all an energy in their spirit that's nonstop - they LOVE this stuff!
To see more of their work and get to know them, click on any of the three images with this post. And a BIG thanks to Julie for taking the time to join us on SCU with a guest post.
by Julie Nichols
How the client feels about themselves when they interact with us is as important as the product we deliver.
Photography is not a rational business, it’s an emotional business. It won't come as a surprise then that so much of a successful photography business has nothing to do with the actual technical aspect of taking a picture. I'm not discounting the value of knowing our camera and how to compose and use light to enhance our subject. Yes, those things are important, but it’s just as much about how our clients feel about themselves when they interact with us.
While creating beautiful imagery is what may first attract our potential client to us, it's everything that follows that grows our business. When a client reaches out to us it's a BIG deal, every time. We listen carefully to what they want, are afraid of, or what's causing them anxiety. Then we respond confidently as an expert empathetic problem solver. Our client wants to feel they can trust us to handle their situation, family, event, whatever it is...and they will pay more for "white glove" customer service, peace of mind and how we make them feel.
Here’s an example: We met a bride at a bridal show who followed up with us to set up a consult. She didn't show much enthusiasm or emotion when she visited us at the show. When she, her mother and sister showed up for the consult it was the same vibe - little enthusiasm or emotion. I wasn't feeling very optimistic about this person being our type of client.
As we proceeded to find out more about what was important for her, her mother and sister jumped in and mentioned her Grandmother who had recently passed away. The client then told us, with tears in her eyes, about a special piece of jewelry she wanted to include in her shoot that had been given to her by her Grandmother. When we responded with, "Oh my gosh, yes! Of course, Grandmother's are special - we would love to capture that for you!"
Her whole attitude changed. She felt understood and affirmed. She and her mother ended up booking our top collection and walking out hugging us, wiping tears away. It was about how we made them feel. Sure, they loved our imagery but the close for the sale happened when they saw WE understood how important the memory of their grandmother was in their images.
When we deliver top quality imagery in a manner that lets our clients know we adore them all the way through the process, we have done our job well and have a happy customer. This shows in the word-of-mouth referrals and our repeat clients.
Relationship building and trust are simple ingredients to incorporate into your business. It costs you nothing, but has a fabulous return on investment.
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.