One of the fun things about Facebook is the way we share images.
Turning back the clock to 2009, "Skip's Summer School" was the second major project I took on after starting my own company. The first was three weeks of doing portfolio reviews at Hallmark Institute, which was an incredible experience. However, that was a one-time project, and afterwards it was time to get things going with the core of my new business.
I wrote a little about it this past Sunday, but finding this video in my Facebook archives was a complete surprise. It was produced by Ron Dawson, an incredibly talented artist, and filmmaker. He was a presenter at that first Skip's Summer School, and this is a perfect example of what I love about Throwback Thursday.
While the video is posted on Facebook and certainly can be shared, I still called Ron to make sure he was okay with it. I haven't talked to him in years, and he gave me the okay through an IM and we'll hopefully catch up on the phone one day soon. Throwbacks bring back both memories and old friends.
The second component making this fun is sharing my message in the video. Nothing's changed in the importance of knowing when you're headed to burnout and the importance of recharging your batteries! After all, you do it for your gear before every event you photograph. You're never without the power you need to get the shot in your camera, but so often we forget about our hearts!
And then there's the third ingredient...memories. Molly the Wonder Dog loved chasing tennis balls and her reputation for catching them was legendary. She was only four years old when this video was made, and she chased them right up to the day before she died. That's over thirteen years of chasing, four chukits, and probably 30 cans of balls until a friend at a tennis club brought me a garbage bag full of balls that had lost their bounce!
"I love those random memories that make me smile, no matter what's going in my life right now."
Take the time today to wander through your archives and appreciate what you find when you look in the rearview mirror. While it's important to keep looking forward, there's nothing wrong with a smile and a look backwards now and then.
Image copyright Scott Kelby. All rights reserved.
It was almost three years ago when I was teaching a workshop, and nobody in the class knew who Mary Ellen Mark was. One of the most influential contemporary photographers of this century, who sadly passed away several years ago, and not one person knew anything about her. Well, that started "Why?" I've been on a quest ever since to help you get to know the movers and shakers in the industry - the artists who are helping set the standards for quality, creativity, and presentation.
Scott Kelby joins me for episode 115, and as I mention in my intro, you'd have to have been in solitary confinement for a whole lot of years not to know who he is. I gave you a little background in the podcast, but here's what I didn't go into enough:
He's one of the most diverse photographers in the industry. He's an accomplished author and publisher with sixty books to his name and two magazines. He's a talented musician, which I'm convinced is part of the ingredients that have helped him develop his sense of discipline to continually learn and practice. He's also a kick to hang out with, and there are so many of us whose lives are richer because of time, usually laughing, with Kelby!
If you want to see Scott Kelby in action, make it a point to get to either of the two Photoshop World shows in the next few months. Taking place in Orlando and Las Vegas, they're high-quality, strong content boutique conferences. They're each big enough for great networking and education, but small enough to truly meet and get to know other attendees, the instructors and some of the finest vendors/manufacturers in imaging.
Scott needs to be on your radar. He's always sharing great content, images and providing support to help you raise the bar on your photography! Just click on his logo to the right.
"Why?" is brought to you by...
Behind the scenes of many great projects, some remarkable companies believe in education and helping professional photographers grow as both artists and business owners. I'm proud to be working with the team at PhotoTexting.com, a new SCU partner.
PhotoTexting is giving thousands of photographers the ability to market in the continually growing mobile side of life! They're leading the way in helping photographers communicate with their clients through a great list of creative apps like Customer Appreciation, Mobile Business Cards, Referrals, and Brochures, just to name a few.
PhotoTexting.com is all about helping you take full advantage of the ever-changing communication landscape and creating the most effective ways to reach your clients and build a stronger business.
Check it out with a visit to their website. You can't afford to miss the opportunity to build stronger relationships with your clients. Isn't it time you found out what all the buzz is about?
In the news this morning is the announcement from Tamron USA about the 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III RXD lens wining a TIPA Award! Tamron's manufacturing some of the finest glass in imaging and as you review other "members in the family," you'll see the TIPA World Awards thumbnail on a number of different lenses. This is Tamron's eighth TIPA in just the last five years!
" Best Mirrorless Standard Zoom Lens "
"This fast mid-range zoom for Sony E-mount cameras has specialized glass elements that control aberrations and deliver excellent resolution throughout the entire focal length range. All the lens surface is treated with Tamron's proprietary BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) Coating that significantly reduces ghosting and flare. An all-new high-speed AF drive system with an RXD stepping drive delivers rapid, quiet focusing action. The lens features close focusing of 0.19 meters at the wide setting as well as moisture-resistant coating construction and fluorine coating, making it ideal for outdoor and nature photography."
Isn't it time you visited your local Tamron dealer and found out what all the buzz was about?
"If you don't sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice."
In theory, the slow season is officially over and with April, business for most photographers starts to ramp up. As I was looking for a quote to share this morning the one above stood out and ties directly back to a couple of threads I was reading in one of the forums as well as two personal conversations with friends over the last few days.
It's a short post this morning, so please stay with me!
All the answers, along with the tools to help you build a stronger business and make 2019 your best year to date, are out there. But if you don't take advantage of them and make a sacrifice to get them, then the road to success becomes more difficult and a piece of your dream, at least in terms of a better business, becomes the sacrifice.
I know there are times when life gets in the way, but when an aspiring pro writes about a conference or workshop, "I wish I could go, but just don't have the time right now," or "I just can't afford it," growth and an opportunity to thrive are on the path to the slaughterhouse!
And there's my point - Nothing beats hands-on education especially at a convention/conference. ShutterFest is the next one up this month, followed by state and regional conventions, workshops like JB Sallee's, Photoshop World, and ClickCon in August. Then there are online programs, blogs to read, YouTube videos to watch and the list goes on and on. And there's new educational material out there all the time, like Tim Kelly's Master Photo Techniques, just recently launched.
If you want to thrive in the year ahead, then you have to invest time and sometimes money. A great skill set isn't just about capturing great images and creating stunning photographs - it's also about marketing, building your brand and continually raising the bar on your reputation. It's about a strong network and staying on top of consumer trends and new ways to present images.
You've got to invest in your future. And, when it comes to money, there's ALWAYS a way to pay for a conference. All it takes is learning one new technique, adding one new friend to your network, or figuring out a new way to market your business and the trip pays for itself!
"If you don't build your dream someone else will hire you to build theirs!"
Come on you guys - you know how to hold focus on your camera. Isn't it time you held focus on your dreams?
In this morning's post about holding focus on your dreams, I mentioned several conferences, workshops and online programs to help you raise the bar on your skill set. Well, a couple of people tracked me down with questions, so I thought it would help to give you the direct links to each one I mentioned in the post, as well as a couple not mentioned. Click on any banner for more information about that specific conference, workshop or online opportunity.
Here's the point, you've got to take advantage of all the educational opportunities you can fit into your schedule; practice as much as possible; build your network, and often concentrate on skills outside your comfort zone.
"Get comfortable with being outside your comfort zone. It's the only way to grow."
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.
Images copyright Suzette Allen. All rights reserved.
One of the best things about our industry and the Internet is the way we share images today. Suzette Allen shared the light-painted image above yesterday on Facebook, and I loved it.
There's a fun part of the backstory, and it helps if you know a little about Ms "BT" (Bubble Trailer). Sheila and I were first introduced two years ago when we saw Bubble Trailer in images Suzette and her husband Jonny shared when visiting us in Florida after taking BT to Burning Man.
Since then, "BT" has become a leading personality in photographic education. It's no longer a mechanical object, but the co-star in the story of two passionate artists and educators! And, she's loaded with personality as well as gear and outdoor metal prints from Bay Photo!
Suzette and Jonny hit the road last week with a mini California tour but stay tuned, because there's lots more coming later in the year. You're going to hear a lot about the three of them. Even better, there are some fantastic educational opportunities coming up to help you raise the bar on your skill set!
Suzette posted last week:
Come to Bay Photo on April 4 and you are in the area (Santa Cruz, CA) from 3-5pm to enjoy some [safe] S'more and Smiles! Sorry- no campfires allowed! BUT get a selfie with Ms Bubble Trailer and check out her beautiful EXT Metal Photo gallery! First thirty people get some BT swag too!
And while it's got nothing whatsoever to do with the tour, BT or for that matter even photography...today is Jonny's birthday! So, Happy Birthday Buddy - wish we were there to help you celebrate!
Meanwhile, with the top image of BT at night in the woods, Suzette published how the image was created using the LUMIX G9 and the LUMIX G 7-14mm lens...
Light Painting with @BubbleTrailer in the redwoods! We just had to do this!! We waited until dusk to capture her tiny-ness next to that huge tree....we photographed this with a #LumixG9 on aMeFOTO tripod at IS0200 for 10 seconds on each exposure. (most were at F7.1 but a few at f4) Combined in Adobe Photoshop with masking, using 8-ish exposures, we were able to get all of the elements in pretty light. We just used our big flashlights and lit up each area of the image separately.
Gotta make a print of this... what [BayPhoto] product do you think? Maplewood print? metal? Acrylic? ideas??
"The 3 C's in life: Choice, Chance, Change. You must make the Choice, to take the Chance,
if you want anything in life to Change."
Typical of some Sunday mornings, I woke up and had no idea what to write about, but I knew I had to go off track a little from my usual. As I wandered through quotes on different topics the one above seemed to light up like a neon sign!
Tomorrow is my tenth anniversary of giving my notice to leave Rangefinder Magazine and WPPI. It was after the 2009 convention, and most of my friends and family thought I was nuts. After all, I had been part of the biggest convention in WPPI history, but very few people knew the whole story behind my decision to leave. Plus, the economy was horrible, and unemployment was at an all-time high - but it was still time to move on.
I had decided to stop living vicariously through many of you and see if I could walk the talk as an entrepreneur. My entire life I'd played it safe and always worked for other companies, but my internal clock was going off and screaming, "Go for it!" As it turns out, it's one of the best decisions I've ever made, and while I wish I had done it earlier in my life, the truth is I didn't have all the tools I needed.
So making the Choice to leave was easy, but actually taking a Chance was the tough part. That's where the importance of having a great partner came in, and Sheila was instrumental in helping me travel an entirely new path. But sometimes Change is the toughest component in those three "C"s" because change is constant.
Think about things you do in the way you run your business today versus a year or two ago. Consumer trends, technology, social media are all moving targets. Nothing is a constant and every day it seems like there's another paradigm shift. Just when we think we've found the perfect recipe for some aspect of success, something changes.
For example, that first summer of 2009, four months after leaving Rangefinder/WPPI, we launched Skip's Summer School with the talented team above. I thought we had the perfect program, with 350 people joining us in Las Vegas that summer. We stopped the program after 2013 when the market was flooded with educational opportunities both live and online. The SCU blog was founded that year as well and keeps changing with new podcasts, videos and better ways to share content. The business was changing and so was my focus.
And finally, here's my point. You can't grow in business today if you hate change. Our industry is changing continually. How we communicate and share images is a never-ending stream of expanded reach. We have to adapt to grow, and we're forced to make choices and take chances every day.
So as you dream about making a change in your life, but you're afraid to take that first step here are two of my favorite quotes, both from unknown authors.
"Stop calling it a dream. It's time to call it a plan!"
"Many people are afraid of the dark, but the real tragedy are those who are afraid of the light."
Wishing you a terrific Sunday, or Monday since many of you are on the other side of the world. Take a little time today to appreciate the potential for Change in front of you, while at the same time recognizing all the changes you see in your rearview mirror! Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people who mean the most to you. They're the ones who will be by your side as you make the Choices, to take the Chances that lead to the Changes that help you grow and thrive!
When I started this series, it was all about short easy things photographers could do immediately to build a stronger business. Over the last year, it's grown into a lot more and has included some long-range planning along with the "low-hanging fruit" originally in my plan.
Today's blue-plate special from the SCU Diner is a little of both. Remember, most of you are right-brain creative types. You pay attention to the operational side of your business when forced, but overall you'd love to be out capturing images all day and once a week turn everything over to an assistant to handle! Sound familiar?
Well, whether you're right brain dominant or left, today's special is all about asking for help. I used to think it was more of a guy thing, like jokes about asking for directions, but it's an issue with too many of you, and gender has nothing to do with asking for help.
Before I can share a lengthy list of places you can find help in photography, it's important to recognize asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. Here's a great example:
Years ago my father was doing his best to take care of my mother who was fighting Alzheimer's. He developed some severe anger issues, and his doctor suggested a support group. At first, he wasn't interested, but he and I turned it into a weekly event and the more we went, the more Dad opened up and shared his pain. The Caregiver Resource Center with the Friendship Centers here in Sarasota changed our lives. More importantly, Dad changed his style of dealing with some of his pain. Keeping things to yourself and not sharing your problems was a trademark of his generation, but the support group helped him understand he wasn't alone and it was okay to ask for help.
So, let's kill the myth right now that needing help and asking for it, is a sign of weakness. It's not, but instead an example of strength and the passion for growing your business and skill set!
Finding Help When You Need It
"Be strong enough to stand along,
smart enough to know when you need help,
and brave enough to ask for it."
Almost a year ago I shared a Fast Food Friday post about asking for help. While I covered a little of what I'm sharing today, no one post can cover everything. In my previous post on the topic I talked about the various associations and guilds you need to be a part of. I also covered a little about blogs and conventions, but we're at the end of the first quarter of the year, the "slow season." NOW is the time, if you need help, to ask for it or search out the answers before business for 2019 starts to ramp up.
Whether in person, via phone or email, there are so many of us here to help, but we can't help if we don't know what you're dealing with and what your needs are. The bottom line is we're an industry historically known for helping each other. We watch each other's backs, and while now and then a troll rears it's ugly head, overall, as sappy as it sounds, we're a family.
Stop thinking you're alone in the frustrations of being an artist and small business owner. Ask for help when you need it. And as for me, I can't help you much with your technique, but I'm sure available to help with business and marketing questions. Even better, if I don't know the answer, there's somebody in my network who does.
Image copyright Brian Malloy. All rights reserved.
I started this series to introduce you to some of the most talented artists in contemporary photography, and today's episode of "Why?" is unique. It's a little outside the way I usually share these posts.
Brian Malloy joins me today. We've been friends for a long time, first meeting many years ago at WPPI. I first saw his image above when it won top honors in an exhibition in St. Petersburg, Florida. Brian was the Camera USA 2017 National Award recipient for this image, and between 2017-2018 the image traveled the US hanging on museum and art gallery walls in 9 states. In 2017 the image was entered into PPA's International Photographic Competition and was selected to be part of PPA's General Collection and its esteemed Loan Collection - the best of the best.
Almost two years ago, a month or two after the St. Petersburg event, we recorded this episode, but it was too long, as Brian and I talked about exhibitions, his business and just about anything that seemed to come up. I suggested we re-record it, and then life got in the way. The original recording got moved to the back burner, and I forgot about it. Yesterday, going through some files, it pretty much screamed at me to clean it up and share it. Two hours later I had it edited down to being relevant and ready to post.
Based out of the Boston area, Brian's core specialty for many years has been wedding photography, but his passion for outside projects is legendary, especially when it comes to street photography and people. He shares some terrific insight into the importance of staying focused on your passion.
He also introduces us to John Free. I love John's YouTube rant in the short video below. You can find out more about John with a click to his website. And, check out his workshop schedule - he's got one coming up in NYC in April and another in Paris, scheduled for May.
To my good buddy Brian, you're always watching my back, and I sure do appreciate our friendship. Sorry this post was lost in the black hole of editing for so long. And, for all of you, check out more of Brian's work with a click on his award-winning image.
"Why?" is brought to you by...
Solid content and special projects like "Why?" don't happen without support from some great companies in the industry. A big thanks to a new SCU partner, PhotoTexting.com.
Communication is continually changing and PhotoTexting is giving thousands of photographers the ability to market in the mobile side of life! They're leading the way in helping photographers communicate with their clients through a great list of creative apps like Customer Appreciation, Mobile Business Cards, Referrals and Brochures, just to name a few.
Check it out with a visit to their website. You can't afford to miss the opportunity and upgrade how you can build stronger relationships with your clients. Isn't it time you found out what all the buzz is about?
It's Throwback Thursday, and there's a great lesson that goes with the backstory on the image above. (Note: Apologies for the quality of the images in this post - they're scans from the original book since the negatives for the originals are long since gone.)
It's 1998 and Don Blair, and I decided to do a book together; Don Blair's Guide to Lighting and Posing Body Parts. I've written a lot about the project in past posts. It remains one of the most important and special projects in my career. It wasn't just a great book to help photographers raise the bar on their portraits but a testimonial to a group of extraordinary friends, the Four Musketeers, Terry Deglau, Tony Corbell, Don Blair and me.
Don and I chose to shoot all the images for "Body Parts" in Las Vegas using local models. Since the book was going to be introduced at WPPI in 1999 at the opening night program, we wanted to be able to stage tips in our live program from the book using the same models.
Terry and Tony came out to Vegas for four days to help us shoot. Remember, this is all pre-digital using Polaroid proofs for our storyboards and shooting everything on Kodak Portra. Well, Terry had an idea for the author shot of the book bringing body parts from a scrap yard into the theme.
After three days of shooting everything for the book, he headed out to a junkyard outside of Vegas. He found the perfect scrap yard for the shoot but then had to explain it to the owner. It wasn't an easy sell until he mentioned one of the authors was a famous photographer. Well, the owner of the junkyard asked, "Oh yeah, who?"
When Terry mentioned Don Blair from Utah, the guy lit up like a Christmas tree. "He did my senior portrait from high school in 1982!" That was all it took. We had carte blanche to do anything we wanted. He opened the yard for us on a Sunday morning, and with Terry's direction, he moved cars around along with the crane in position for the background.
While the image we eventually used for the cover of the book was Bambi Cantrell's on the right, the "Junkyard Dogs" had a two-page spread in the book. Plus, we loved the images so much, we later used them for some fun publicity releases over the next few years.
And here's my point; nothing is more valuable than your reputation. Never compromise on the quality of your brand because it's your shadow. And depending on which way you're headed, it's often leading the way as well as being behind you!
Don never compromised on his love for the craft, respect for his subjects or his passion for the quest to capture the ultimate image. Someone once asked him, "What's the best photograph you've ever made?" he answered, "I don't know. I haven't made it yet!"
But my most favorite memorable comment from Don was at a class he was teaching. We had a photographer who thought he could make a point about Don always having beautiful models who asked, "So what do you do when the bride isn't beautiful?" Don looked him straight in the eyes and couldn't have been more direct, "There's no such thing!"
Terry Deglau and Tony Corbell in action during the making of "Body Parts."
Throwback Thursday is all about memories. While, these images take me back to one of those wonderful times in my life and a milestone with my first book, they mean so much more. They're a reminder that nothing beats great friendships! It's what I love most about our industry, and it's why I almost always share author Jodi Picoult's quote:
" This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect."
Use Throwback Thursday for your own trip down Memory Lane or as content on your blog. Throwback images are a perfect way to remind "Mom" how quickly time is flying by, the fast kids are growing, and the importance of a new family portrait!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
PS Time to call Terry and Tony!
Tamron's "Unofficial Field Guide" is back with its fourth season. This first episode takes the dynamic duo of Andre Costantini and Ken Hubbard into Alaska with incredible subjects and even more impressive glass! They're shooting with Tamron's 150-600mm lens. Just click on the banner below for more information.
Keep in mind that the image I shared above is a screenshot from the video and it's tack sharp. So, imagine what the original file must be like!
If you've never met Ken or Andre, make it a point to swing by the Tamron booth at the next convention you attend. Besides being great educators, writers, and photographers, they're also good people to have in your network. Their passion for the craft matches the quality of Tamron's lenses.
For me, knowing them like I do, ever since the first in the series several years ago, I find a lot to laugh about in each episode. It's like watching reruns of the "Odd Couple," and just like that series the two of them are the best of friends.
Are you headed to ShutterFest in April? Tamron will be exhibiting there, and more than likely, Ken, Andre or both will be the booth. Plus, take the time to check out Tamron's full family of lenses either at the show or visit a Tamron dealer. They're manufacturing some of the finest glass in the industry!
Over the years I've shared a few of Melody Beattie's more brilliant moments. I try and start each day with a little of her inspiration. This morning hit home and I want to share it with you.
Make Each Moment Count
"A picture isn't taken in a moment," stated the brochure for the Cottonwood, Colorado, hotel. "It's taken of a moment."
It took me a long time to learn that important truth. I spent years trying to get my life together and keep it together, as if it were a solid chunk that could be arranged in a certain place, then made to stay there. It took be a long time to learn about moments.
In many ways, our lives are like a movie reel, made up of individual frames and single moments each one leading into the next. It is a waste of energy to try and hold on to the moments of the past. By the time we begin reaching for them, they're gone. It is just as poor timing to try to jump into moments that have not arrived yet - the future.
Stay in the present moment, the frame you're in now. That's the only moment where happiness, joy and love can be found. And remember to make each moment count.
Wishing everybody a Tuesday filled with moments that help keep a smile on your face! Check out Melody Beattie if you're interested in more inspiration. (This piece came from Journey to the Heart.) You need to feed your head and soul each day, just like breakfast!
It might not feel like it weather-wise, but according to the calendar, we're into the first week of Spring. And, with the next few months comes the second biggest hit of seasonality in professional photography. I write just about the same post every year at this time. Sadly, too many of you will play the you-snooze-you-lose game and miss an opportunity to create a little excitement as well as revenue to kick off the new year.
Everyone thinks of the first quarter as the slow season, but it's only as slow as you want it to be. Wrapping up the first quarter, opportunities are everywhere for you to create strong brand awareness, partnerships, a sense of giving back in your community, and let's not forget revenue!
And there you have it - seven topics to help you make this Spring a record-breaker. But, nothing happens if you procrastinate through April, May, and June and the "should" on yourself as you look in the rearview mirror and say, "You know what I should have done?"
It's Marketing Monday and technically the last week of the "slow season" because business starts to ramp up in April. This is your last week to procrastinate about cleaning up those corners of your business you've ignored for too long.
As a kid, I remember being told I couldn't go out to play with friends until I cleaned up my room. Later as an adult, I remember one of my dive buddies being told by his wife he couldn't go on a scuba trip until he cleaned his home office! Somebody reminding us to clean something up seems to follow us throughout life! LOL
Well, this morning it's my turn, reminding you that it's time to clean up your website, blog, Customer Service issues, your gear or maybe it's outside your office or studio and time to make sure your reservations for an upcoming conference are all set.
The list goes on and on, but here are some things to think about before business picks up substantially and you're running too fast to do maintenance.
No one single post can include everything, but without any hesitation, ALL of you have something you've put off doing to make your business stronger in 2019. Don't let the year start out with a flat tire! In the same way, you'd check everything out on your car if you were making a long road trip, do the same with your business.
And, at the risk of doing a little shameless self-promoting - I'm speaking at ShutterFest April 23 and 24 doing two programs. The first is a double and is going to cover all the ideas above, and more - it's all about low-hanging fruit. Many of the ideas I'll be sharing will be things you can do almost immediately to build a stronger business. The second is all about fine-tuning your blog and making it an asset to your business instead of a liability in your growing list of responsibilities as a small business owner.
If you get stuck trying to figure something out, you know where to find me, and I'm happy to help. We're all too close to our own businesses and sometimes it just takes another set of eyes!
It's Sunday morning, and I'm going off-track from photography, but not too far away from something I've grown to love about our craft...the combination of cyberspace and friendships.
Here's the short backstory: In November 2014 I was putting together a spotlight profile about a Tamron Image Master, Kevin A. Gilligan. The SCU blog was less than a year old, and Kevin's story and images were all part of the relatively new partnership in social media with Tamron USA. Even when I know it's going to be okay, I ALWAYS call the artist before using their images. I called Kevin, and that was the start of a very special friendship I've grown to cherish.
Over the years we've spoken on the phone dozens of times, and covered a wide range of topics, many completely outside photography. With each call, the friendship grew a little more. Kevin was even willing to share a few guest blogs, and his DIY post about holding your own exhibition contained so much useful information I had to run it in three parts. I'm sharing the links below because it's Spring and many of you are thinking about doing your own exhibit. If you've ever thought about doing your own photography show, take the time to follow Kevin's suggestions.
So, over the last five years, the friendship just kept growing, but the two of us had never met face to face. His sister and brother-in-law live only a few miles from us part of the year, and the four of us have gotten out to dinner a few times...we were getting closer to meeting! Finally, a few weeks ago, while in LA Sheila and I got over to Kevin's house and hung out for the day with him and his family. We'd finally done it!
What got me thinking about the friendship this morning was a trip to the post office yesterday and a package from Kevin. In it was a metal print of the image above, one my favorites from his work and a thank you note. It was a complete surprise, but our home is like a gallery, and you already know from my previous posts how much I cherish the friendships in this industry.
Next month we'll be in St. Louis, teaching at ShutterFest. Then in August, I'll be teaching at ClickCon in Chicago. Different programs, different people, but all sharing a common denominator - meeting friends face to face who have only been together in cyberspace. It's one of the most important and beneficial reasons for attending every possible conference/convention you can find the time.
As I've written dozens of times in the past, the best part of this industry has NOTHING to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. So to my good buddy Kevin, thanks for being there so many times, on so many calls and finally in person!
Sometimes you meet a person and you just click - you're comfortable with them,
like you've known them your whole life, and you don't have to pretend to be anyone or anything!
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday and a day filled with time to nurture your friendships. Cherish that time together because it's what makes life so special. Always go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs. Even in cyberspace if you focus hard enough you can reinforce that special bond you share.
Happy Sunday everybody...or if you're on the other side of the world, Monday.
PS Interested in seeing more of Kevin's work? Just click on his image of Manhattan Beach Pier at Sunrise above.
Images copyright Joe Brady. All rights reserved.
I started this series to introduce you to the movers and shakers in photography. What better way than to share their favorite images and include each backstory? It's now been almost three years and 113 artists to date, with at least twenty more in the wings. The challenge is often working with everyone's travel schedule, especially this time of year with so many conventions and workshops.
Joe Brady is in the spotlight today. Joe and I have been trying to catch up to record this episode for months, but we finally found a time when we were both standing still long enough! Joe's a photographer, artist, educator, writer, video producer and passionate about every aspect of the industry. While he's best known for his landscape and portrait work, I'm not sure there's anything he can't photograph. His signature is the quality he puts into everything he does.
Joe needs to be on your radar, and the best way to stay in touch with what he's working on is to sign up for his free newsletter. It's always filled with great information and perfect for you to stay in touch with product and book reviews and new things going on in imaging.
Click on either of Joe's images in this episode of "Why?" to visit his website. And, track his workshop and tour schedule with a click on either thumbnail below.
Joe's "Why?" image above is the one he talked about in the podcast, but I wanted to share what he referred to as the same photo everyone always gets, which is below.
Follow Joe's Workshop and Tour Schedule...
Solid content and special projects like "Why?" don't happen without support from some great companies in the industry. A big thanks to a new SCU partner, PhotoTexting.com. Communication is continually changing and PhotoTexting is giving thousands of photographers the ability to market in the mobile side of life! Check it out with a visit to their website. You can't afford to miss the opportunity and upgrade how you communicate with your clients. Isn't it time you found out what all the buzz is about?
It's been just over a year since starting Fast Food Friday. Every time I think I'm out of things to write about something else comes along. While this might seem relatively minor to some of you, I'm floored by how bad many of you handle phone calls, both making them and receiving them.
Remember, this series is all about ideas to help you build a stronger brand and business, and under the umbrella of Customer Service is good old phone etiquette. That makes today's blue-plate special so crucial to contributing to your reputation. And, it takes so little to create a phone-style that's warm, inviting and encouraging to your clients.
I love searching for statistics on topics I write about, but when it comes to asking Google how many households have phone service the number is off the charts. If you look at my own home, there are five lines...my cell, Sheila's, my office landline, our home line, and my 800 text line. And, while I'm getting to be a dinosaur with two landlines, the cost is next to nothing, because it's part of my service for Internet and TV and I NEVER lose a call or message.
The Art of Talking on the Phone
The secret of success is to treat all customers like your world revolves around them.
How you handle yourself over the phone is at the top of the list of critical marketing tools. At a time when email and texting communications drive the world, a live call is still at the top of relationship building techniques in business!
There was a time when "Ma Bell" used to do classes for business clients on phone etiquette. I remember being sent to a workshop in my Customer Service days at Polaroid and thinking how stupid it was to suggest I didn't have the skill set to answer the phone. But it wasn't about answering the phone; it was how to use the phone as a customer service tool.
As I look back on it today, it was really about how to have a conversation - so, the same way you carry yourself with somebody face to face, is a foundation for how you communicate on the phone. This is just as much about Customer Service as it is verbal communication.
Recently I had a challenge with American Express regarding an offer for a benefit I thought I already had. It took me three transfers before I got the right department and an expert capable of answering my question. Plus, my call was answered offshore and only one of the four people I spoke with actually sounded sincere when empathizing with my complaint. By that time I got to the last person, I was so tired of being handed off, I was rude, and it really wasn't the fault of the rep, but the Amex system.
It's the "slow season" and the perfect time to take on a few projects to strengthen your business.
"The greatest technology in the world hasn't replaced the ultimate relationship building tool
between a customer and a business...the human touch!"
Looking for more great reminders on Customer Service overall, check out Shep Hyken's blog. He's always sharing ideas on how to exceed client expectations!
Looking at old photographs brings back memories and makes us feel nostalgic;
it is like a time machine bringing us to the time
and places where we can see and feel everything in details.
I know I shared the photo above as a Throwback Thursday image a couple of years ago, but having just come back from WPPI recently, it's appropriate to share again and here's why.
If you were at the 2019 WPPI awards program, it was one of the longest in their history. Too many awards, too many speakers and too much fluff. Sheila and I had an early flight the next morning and left after 2 1/2 hours, and they still had albums, videos and Arlene Evans presenting the Bill Hurter Memorial Award to go, which was the reason we attended in the first place.
As negative as all of that sounds, it's a good thing, because Arlene is back as WPPI Director and one of her strongest qualities is listening. Every organization goes through transitions, and you can count on next year's event being more concise, short and with greater impact.
Plus, the number of categories, and in turn awards presented this year, were considerably more than we had twelve years ago.
I know it's not the greatest scan in the world, but the album is too big for my flatbed. The image was a spread, and the gutter runs right through J.B. Sallee. Regardless, nothing takes away from the fun of the photograph.
Late in 2004, Maureen Neises from Graphi Studio had an idea - to do a day-in-the-life album of WPPI each year. This was the third in the series. Each book featured the work of four different photographers who were given the assignment to capture the WPPI story. Catherine Hall captured the images in this post. That's twelve years ago, and most of you should recognize a lot of the award winners from that year. Many of them are still competing, shooting and continuing on their quest to be the very best!
The other two images are about Arlene and her love for photography. Few people in this industry can match her enthusiasm and passion for the craft as well as support for professional photographers. The fact that she's back "driving the WPPI bus," is one of the best things to happen to the organization for a long time!
I was with WPPI/Rangefinder Magazine for seven years and these photographs, along with others in the Graphi album, take me right back to that convention. It was the awards program where Tony Corbell and I were the MCs, and Ron Dawson launched one of the industry's funniest spoof videos, "Disgruntled Joe," first shown that night.
In the photograph at the bottom Tony Corbell is presenting an award with Arlene to Christian LaLonde.
There are several great reasons to take the time once a week and look at old images. First, they take us back to moments and memories in our lives. Second, they remind us of the importance of what we do for a living - we help people magically stop time. And last but not least, it's the perfect marketing tool for your blog, and reminding "Mom" it's time for a new family portrait!
So, were you there and how many of the 2007 top award winners do you recognize?
Happy Throwback Thursday!
One of the biggest challenges for every photographer is pricing. Whether you're new and just starting out in business, or you're a seasoned veteran offering new services and products, maintaining a healthy profit margin is critical to not only survive, but thrive.
Last week I joined my co-host from Mind Your Business and Beyond Technique, Chamira Young to talk about some of the mistakes photographers make when setting their prices as well as a few solutions. There's a lot of good content in this new podcast and thanks to PhotoTexting.com we expanded the topic into what is the next big thing in marketing and relationship building.
Think about how your clients communicate today versus ten years ago, or for that matter just five! Technology is changing every day and along with the changes come some remarkable opportunities. Understanding how texting can help you grow your business, reach more clients and reinforce your client base with a stronger sense of customer service is so essential to your success.
PhotoTexting.com's Mobile Price Lists App helps you book clients faster. See how it works for yourself! Text "pricing" to 800-240-6909 to see a sample price list. You'll receive a text with a sample price list so you can experience what your client would experience if you were using the Mobile Price Lists app. NOTE: You won't be spammed, and you're not signing up for anything!
The Mobile Pricing App can include your pricing, specials and various options for prospective customers to book your business with one tap on their phone. And, you can customize your mobile presentation to be unique to your business and style.
The Mobile Pricing App is just one of a dozen or more apps to help you build a stronger business. Isn't time to check it out and learn what all the buzz is about?
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.