It's only a typical Sunday morning in that I had no idea what I wanted to write about. I started scrolling through my Facebook home page. About ten minutes into checking out what people had shared I struck gold finding Jeff Schewe's post about the Epson produced video below featuring Paul, and John Paul Caponigro called "Two Generations."
I'm a big fan of both artists but have only met JP over the years. JP is no stranger here at SCU, from his episode of "Why?" to links to his workshops and even his 2011 TEDx presentation. He's an accomplished artist. Both JP and Paul need to be on your radar.
However, for me, the power of the video wasn't just about their passion as artists, but the bond and respect between father and son. The title "Two Generations" is so appropriate - not only as father and son but as silver-based and digital technologies. They've both made it a goal to never compromise on the quality of their images, their relationship, or their love for the craft.
Just trust me and take the time to watch and listen to the video!
I suppose the video and their relationship is hitting me a little harder this time of year because Father's Day is next weekend, and I find myself thinking about my Dad.
My Dad was a businessman. As a kid, he had a wholesale candy and tobacco business. His company sold everything from ribbon candy for fundraisers to schools and non-profits to the candy counter at local stores and vending machines in northeast Ohio. He had a warehouse full of candy, which I had access to and is probably the reason I never got into candy that much, because I had all I ever wanted.
I've always regretted that Dad and I didn't share the same focus on a career path, like Paul and JP. He left the candy and tobacco business when I was in my teens, and went into commercial and industrial real estate until he semi-retired in his early 70's. Seeing JP, together with his Dad in the video, sparked memories for so many moments, my Dad and I enjoyed.
While we didn't share the same career field we shared the same passion for life. Even in our focus together on my Mom's Alzheimer's, we found time to create a few memories and even a photo-op or two. A few years back the Senior Friendship Centers used a photograph my good buddy Bob Coates helped us with. They ran us in a full-page ad in the local paper and magazines. And, that brings me full circle to my point this morning:
The video Paul and JP did together, with Epson's help, is a gift to all of us. But, there's a much bigger point than being about photography and printing. It's about an incredible bond between father and son. It brought so many great memories of my own to the surface - like the richness of heavy cream rising to the top.
My Dad passed away almost four years ago at 93, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him. But thanks to photography and printing, I've got so many memories I can hold in my hands. We can't stop time or turn back the clock, but each photograph and video gives us the ability to time travel, and that's the magic of this industry.
Wishing everybody an incredible day ahead and time to appreciate your parents, whether they're still by your side or not. Take the time to look in your rearview mirror and cherish those moments that helped make you who you are. Sadly, I have no relationship with my own kids today, but that doesn't change the smiles and memories of the past before life got unnecessarily complicated.
As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, especially with your folks. We can't stop time, and they won't be around forever - don't miss the opportunity that's there for you right now.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
oby Skip Cohen
Now and then a workshop comes along that so many of you need to attend for two reasons: First, the quality and experience of the instructors and second, the content and what you'll learn.
It's one of those rare opportunities that if you knew about it well in advance, it would be on your bucket list!
September 12-15, 2019
"Shooting Stars" is going to be off-the-charts in terms of everything we all look for in programs like quality, value, content, and fun. Remember, "fun?" It's one of those words so often lost in business and education today. And education becomes fun when you're learning life and business changing techniques to raise the bar on the quality of your images.
While I only know Russ Harrington by reputation and his work, I've been hanging out with Tony Corbell a good portion of my adult life...or at least that time I was expected to act like an adult! LOL There's a reason why he's typically considered the "King" of lighting - it's his understanding of light; his experience and his style of teaching. It's about helping you see the world through his eyes and learning to not only see the light but control it...at any time of the day or night!
Two of Photography's Very Best
I grabbed this from their recent press release...
Russ Harrington is the go-to guy for musicians and celebrities who want to make an impact. He's photographed some of the most recognizable faces in the music industry, producing over 700 album covers for stars like Reba McEntire, Loretta Lynn, Alan Jackson, and many more. Now he's ready to share what he's learned with you.
Tony Corbell is one of the most sought-after educators in the photographic world. He's the author of three popular photo books and is featured in more than 25 books and is recognized as the expert on photographic lighting. Who else can say they have photographed three U.S. presidents and over 140 world leaders?
Great Content: The program is taking place at Tony's new studio in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and nothing beats the quality of a workshop when it's on the instructor's home turf! Russ and Tony will share their collective knowledge about location lighting, lighting tools, and lighting techniques. They'll offer plenty of hands-on shooting possibilities with musicians for models in a unique and inspiring setting.
This musician and artist-centered workshop will include the true visual use of light, location, and the proper use of each in numerous situations as well as the psychology of working with recognizable faces and celebrities. And that's just the beginning, Tony and Russ will discuss working as a team with assistants, hair and makeup folks and the many ways in which you can make your clients never want to work with any other photographers again.
This is a "you snooze, you lose" opportunity. So, if you're thinking about being there, don't wait too long to register. This one is going to fill up fast and attendance is limited. Click here for more information!
I started Fast Food Friday with one singular goal - to get all you "right-brain creatives" thinking about what you might be missing in building your business. Most of the Friday "blue plate specials" have been short easy to implement ideas to help you fine-tune your business.
They're meant to hopefully spark an idea or two on things you should be doing better. But today's post is out of the SCU archives, and I try and share it every couple of years because it's one of the best guest posts ever written about closing the sale.
It's from my good buddy Scott Bourne who helped me start SCU, co-authored GoingPro, still one of the very best books about getting started in photography and who's been an inspiration to thousands of us! And while this post was last shared in 2017, you'll find Scott's current work and wisdom on his new site, Picture Methods.
Think about this - What good is working hard to create the very best images of your life, if you can't lose the sale? It's not rocket science, but it does take practice learning to listen to your clients, read their reactions, and then present ideas/products they want to buy.
You're part of a fantastic industry that can be incredibly rewarding financially as well as emotionally, and Scott's sharing advice so many of you need. Learn to close the sale and start building a more significant customer base and stronger revenue stream.
"Without customers you don't have a business, you have a hobby!"
Don Peppers and Martha Rogers
You Can't Make Money if You Can't Close the Sale
by Scott Bourne
My mentor in sales was Zig Ziglar. He had a motto: "ABC" i.e., "Always Be Closing." It's a known fact that the NUMBER one reason people don't get paid, hired, etc., is they either don't know how to close, forget to close or are afraid to close.
Don't let the word "close" scare you. At it's most basic form it just means to ask someone "Will you hire me." Common sense right? But you'd be surprised to learn how many people make sales presentations that do NOT contain a close. It's a losing proposition.
Remember that good sales skills are as important as a good camera. Sales is not a dirty word. It's how you feed your family. Zig used to say "Nothing happens until somebody sells something." So don't be afraid. Persuading people to do what they already want to do is not sleazy. It's just good business.
While I can't teach you everything I know about closing the deal in a blog post, I can and will give you some starter ideas that might make this easier for you. The following suggestions assume the following:
The Assumptive Close
This is a basic technique where you proceed as if you have the business. "So Mrs. Jones shall I put you down for our Gold package?" The assumptive close is the first one you should learn because it can (and often should) be combined with other sales techniques. It asks the basic question that implies or assumes the prospect wants to hire you and it very often is all you need to get hired.
The Calendar Close
This is another basic technique used to book an appointment. If you are "two-step" selling, meaning you first sell the appointment and THEN the job, you need to know this one.
Have a diary or a calendar in your hand and ask, "Mrs. Jones would next Wednesday at one or Thursday at two be a good time to meet with my staff to solidify the details?" Show the book to the prospect. Draw their attention to a specific date and time. Keep them engaged. This works.
The Minor Points Close
This is less aggressive than the assumptive close, but will be a good build up to the finale. Start by asking questions like these: "Mrs. Jones of our packages, which appeals to you most; the Gold or the Silver?" or "Do you have a venue picked for the wedding? Good we're very familiar with that church and can make sure your daughter looks her best there because it's got great lighting."
Minor points are a way of walking the prospect toward yes. Which is of course where we want them to go.
The Shame Close
This is a delicate close that needs to be practiced, but used well, can be ultra effective. This close requires set up. Using weddings again as an example, you might ask: "Mrs. Jones who is your florist? They are great, but a little on the expensive side. How about your caterer? Again great but not the cheapest. Wouldn't it be a shame to invest all that money in a great cake and a great florist, but have substandard photography to remember the event by?"
This sounds cheesy, but it is important and it works. After all, most of the time, when I was shooting weddings the bride was spending more on the flowers and the catering than they wanted to spend on photography. The flowers end up in the dumpster outside the hotel and catering - well we all know that ends up in the toilet sooner or later. But the photos? They are the lifetime keepsake. We have to build value and this is a great way to do it.
The Hassle Free Close
There are lots of photographers looking for business. If you can make YOUR company just a little bit easier to deal with than the next person, you might just get the business. Hence the hassle free close. There are some setup items with this close too. Make sure you accept EVERY reasonable form of payment. Make sure your business hours are convenient for your prospects - not for you. Make sure you are easy to find and easy to follow up with. But then, move in with the final step: "Mrs. Jones we've talked about the services we offer, you've agreed that you like our work. We've met with your lovely daughter and we fell in love with her. All that's left is to sign the contract and book the date. I've prepared the document here, all you need to do is sign here and arrange payment and we're all set."
Making this seem like the natural thing to do, i.e. hire a photographer is part of the hassle free close. And you might note that some or all of these could be combined with the first close I mentioned, the Assumptive Close.
Some of you are reading this and it makes you uncomfortable. To you I say hire someone to do this for you or prepare to starve. Sales are important. Without a sale there is no business; no need for a camera or a studio or anything else. You have to have the tools necessary to do the sales part of the business if you want to succeed. And these closes are simple tools. No different than a flash diffuser or a reflector. They are all intended to make the final result a positive one.
Don't be ashamed to be a great sales person. If your heart is in the right place you need to know one last thing. Sales isn't something that you do TO someone - it's something that you do FOR someone.
Now go get the business. Skip and I are rooting for you.
Remember, objections are buying signals and when you start dealing with objections you are already starting the closing process, so be glad if you get an objection. It means the prospect is paying attention and is interested.
Illustration Credit: © Dmitry
Intro by Skip Cohen
Last Sunday I shared a post of Kevin Kuster's, and since then I've been hooked on following whatever he's sharing. He's in Uganda and posts on Facebook each day.
I'm so proud to consider him a buddy, even though that's based on only one phone conversation and a few emails. But, some people cross our paths on this journey we're all on, and you know right from the start they're in your life for a reason. I don't know if we're honestly "cut from the same cloth," or I just hope we are, because I so appreciate the way he looks at life.
We met through ClickCon, and strictly online, but you can be sure when Kevin gives his keynote presentation at the conference on Monday morning, August 5, I'll be in the front row! As I've written so many times in the past, the best thing about our industry has NOTHING to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft!
And to Kevin, thanks for sharing!
We must all try and choose courage over comfort. In life we all experience uncomfortable positions.
It’s how we respond to that discomfort that defines our character.
by Kevin Kuster
Day 8 at the water well.
I woke up late today. I sprinted to the well because I could tell it was the BEST sunrise yet. I missed it. Old legs, weak back does not a sprinter make.
I sometimes miss “it” in life. Some people are afraid of the unknown. I’ve learned to try and embrace it. What we don’t know we must learn to try and understand. An education is never a burden to carry.
When some of the very small children in Uganda see me for the first time, a white person, they cry and are afraid of me. Not because of who I am but, because of the way that I look. For some, I am the first white person they have ever seen. I have been told they’re scared because they believe I may be a ghost.
Whenever this happens I step away, smile bend myself down to their perspective and try and make myself look non-threatening and small. When this happens many of the locals burst into laughter. It’s a moment I have not yet learned to adequately process.
I appreciate all the joy and laughter from the locals but I am also keenly aware that the young one is afraid of my skin and that makes me contemplative.
It’s hard for people to revel who they are. Everyone wants to erase any flaws they see and be accepted. When we start erasing one flaw we need to keep erasing more and more. One of my flaws I struggle with is I REALY don’t like tension between me and another. I especially feel very bad when I mistakenly make the small children cry on these @wattsoflove trips. Thankfully it doesn’t happen a lot.
We must all try and choose courage over comfort. In life we all experience uncomfortable positions.
It’s how we respond to that discomfort that defines our character.
Again, no one came today while I was at the water well. I could only stay for a few minutes. This is the best perspective I could find for today.Thankfully every passer by both young, old, male and female, smiled and waved to me and said, “Ibutu Aber!” Good morning in Lango.
A smile and a wave in any country and culture always reveals the heart.
In 2009 I resigned as president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI to head out and start my own business. One of my first projects was getting Skip's Summer School off the ground. The program went for the next five summers until it just became too labor intensive, but in 2011 at the Mirage in Las Vegas 350+ people showed up for the mini-boutique conference.
Instructors/speakers that year included Vincent Laforet, Scott Bourne, Tony Corbell, Jerry Ghionis, Michele Celentano, Matthew Jordan Smith, Bambi Cantrell, Bob Davis, Doug Gordon, Jules and Joy Bianchi, Roberto Valenzuela, Bobbi Lane, Kevin Kubota, Tamara Lackey, Clay Blackmore and yours truly. It was a program loaded with content, and many of the photographers who attended those early programs have stayed in touch over the years.
In searching for an image for Throwback Thursday, I came across Amber Fox's post which included the shot above together with a full explanation of the activities from that program. Just click on the image to link to her blog post from 2011.
Just a suggestion for those of you who'd like to share throwbacks or anything else from somebody else's blog or website - ALWAYS ask! I probably didn't need to ask, since Amber had originally shared it in public, but it's still a great habit to get into. It shows respect for the originator too. Plus, it was fun to catch up to her in a text or two and get her permission as opposed to just sharing it.
I look back on those summer programs with a great deal of respect and appreciation for so many people who helped make them memorable. Getting this program off the ground, I remember the static a few of my speakers got from the staff at one of the major annual conventions. They were told that being involved with my program would jeopardize their future to speak at the other convention! Sound familiar to some of the present day politics going on right now?
Well, Skip's Summer School kicked off with me being told it would never make it, along with several other projects I've worked on over the years. This is why the quote below became my mantra, and is so important:
"I do it because I can; I can because I want to; I want to because you said I couldn't!"
Wishing everybody a Throwback Thursday loaded with as many memories and smiles as Amber's post gives me!
by Skip Cohen
I don't know about you, but being involved in photography my entire adult life, our home is like a gallery. We have dozens of photographs from great friends, and some of the very best artists in imaging, all collected over a lifetime in this industry. In addition to the framed prints on display, there are dozens in storage, hopefully, dry and packed correctly in my garage. We simply ran out of wall space.
At least that was the case until I saw Bay Photo's Performance EXT metal prints. It was ten months ago I shared a post about the the print above, displayed outside by our pool. Remember, I live in Florida, and we're out by the pool all year long. I even boosted the wifi so I could take my laptop outside to work.
Well, the print is just as stunning today as it was the day I hung it. There's no visible sign of any change in color, scratching, fading, etc. In fact. It's been bumped a couple of times by friends coming in through the back door of the pool cage.
Here's my point:
Interest in finding out more? Just click on with image in today's post.
Note: Click on either image to view in the SCU Lightbox.
Images copyright Joel Grimes. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
It's "Wednesdays with Westcott," and I love how much content Joel Grimes packs into this video. He's creating two completely different portraits, each with substantial drama, and along the way sharing each step in his lighting to create the final image.
Here's a thought - if Joel can pack this much helpful "how-to" information into one video, what will his classes be like at the upcoming ClickCon show in Chicago in August? If you haven't checked out the faculty at this new conference wander over to the website. There are 50+ outstanding instructors to choose from over the 2-3 day event.
And, not only will Joel be teaching there, but several of Westcott's Top Pros - Jen Rozenbaum, Jerry Ghionis, Clay Blackmore, Peter Hurley, Lindsay Adler, and Will Cadena are all involved. And, the team from Westcott will also be in attendance on the trade show floor. Use "ccskip" to save $50, and we're also sharing our ClickCon affiliate commission with each attendee, and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Click for more info.
Joel never compromises on the quality of an image, and he takes you through each step as he adjusts his lighting and exposure to bring the most drama to the finished portrait. And, just like Joel, Westcott never slows down on building relationships with their audience. They believe in education and helping you raise the bar on the quality of your photographs and videos.
Image copyright Lisa Langell. All rights reserved.
Last month we shared a podcast packed full with great insight and a series of images by Tamron "Chef," Lisa Langell. The Tamron Recipe series always receives a great response, and today, Lisa's back with one of her recipes for success - how to photograph hummingbirds. The fun of working with Lisa is her attention to detail, combined with her willingness to share just about everything she's learned over the years to help more photographers fine-tune their skill set.
This new guest post is loaded with good solid information, especially Lisa's observations on the importance of "re-imagining nature photography" for today's contemporary clients and the interiors of their homes.
Lisa's hummingbird images are all captured with Tamron's 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD lens. Just like Lisa's approach to photography, Tamron never slows down in manufacturing some of the very best optics in imaging. And, they're just as focused on helping photographers improve their skill set to help capture the very best photographs.
To find out more about this outstanding lens, click on the thumbnail to the left. The 70-210 lens is also included in Tamron's Spring Rebate program through July 6, 2019 with a $200 instant savings at authorized Tamron dealers.
Check out more of Lisa's work and her workshop schedule with a visit to her website. Just click on the banner below. While her August workshops are already sold out, with some classes, she maintains a waitlist. Make sure you sign up for her FREE newsletter, so you're always up to date on her workshops, trips, and latest information to help you become a better artist.
by Lisa Langell
Creating wildlife and nature photography that works well into the interior designs of homes, offices and more is a true passion of mine. Echoing back to my years long ago of working as a floral designer with other interior decorators to transform the indoors, I learned a great deal about people’s palates, tastes, design techniques, and decorating trends.
Making wildlife photography something people want to hang in trendy, well-decorated and designed homes requires transforming how we perceive what constitutes “nature photography.” We must go beyond the “rules” and restrictions long-associated with “classic” magazine and calendar-style photography. It requires re-imagining how we photograph, process, print and display our work so that it is on-trend with the decorative and artistic look of today’s indoor environments.
The high-key style hummingbird photography I do is just one example of re-imagining nature photography for today’s interiors. Here is how it is done.
Recipe for Hummingbird High Key Setups
1 hummingbird feeder (which inevitably attracts bees and wasps, detested by hummingbirds)
3-4 speedlite flashes positioned about 18-24 inches from the bird, set to Manual, at 1/16th to 1/32nd power.
Zoom and aperture settings variable to achieve the light and look you need, depending on the placement of the flashes.
1 white backdrop about 24-36 inches behind the bird
1 flash positioned to illuminate white backdrop set to no higher than 1/8 power
1 camera on a tripod - Set camera to the following settings (slight adjustments made as needed):
1 Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD lens
1 remote trigger (I do not recommend the type that requires line-of-sight communication)
1 or more stunningly gorgeous hummingbirds
See the setup:
Ethics of Flash Photography and Hummingbirds
The ethics of using flash photography with animals and birds is something which I have spent considerable time researching before I comfortably employed these techniques with hummingbirds. I am highly conscientious of being a good steward of our natural world and wanted to understand any impact this method of photography may have on birds before engaging in this type of photography.
Of the current information I located on the web, there are diverse opinions, but a lack of peer-reviewed, published scientific studies available on this topic. Virtually none of the articles I located involve birds and flash photography; however studies that looked at fish and reptiles indicated daytime use of flash photography resulted in little or no negative impact.
It is important to note that though hummingbirds were not included in the study, the intensity of light used in the studies below appears greater than that which hummingbird photography requires. A lengthy meta-search of research abstracts resulted in these two articles which most closely aligned with my interests:
Huang, B., Lubarsky, K., Teng, T., & Blumstein, D.T. (2015). Take only pictures, leave only…fear? The
effects of photography on the West Indian anole Anolis cristatellus. Current Zoology 57(1), 77-82.
De Brauwer, M., Gordon, L.M., Shalders, T.C., Saunders, Archer, M., Harvey, E.S., … Mcllwain, J. (2019).
Behavioural and pathomorphological impacts of flash photography on benthic fishes. Scientific
Reports, 9 (Article 748). Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-37356-2
I also reviewed the work of Dr. Graham Martin (Professor Emeritus, University of Birmingham and a leading Ornithologist focused on avian vision and sensory science) and Dr. Jack Pettigrew, (Professor Emeritus and Director of the Vision, Touch and Hearing Research Center at the University of Queensland in Australia. Both are leading researchers who have expressed possible concern for flashing nocturnal creatures such as owls, but I have been unable to locate any research or commentary which suggests low-power flashes are detrimental during daylight hours.
Lastly, I have my own observations:
The hummingbirds that come in to feed do not appear disturbed by the flashes. In fact, they return frequently throughout the day to feed at the setups. On very few occasions I have observed a mild “startle” response at a flash, but the bird goes back to feeding in less than a second and subsequently makes continued return trips to the feeders without further startling behavior. One final note, I do not employ high-speed repeated flashing when shooting (e.g., 3-4+ flashes per second). Though the technology is capable of doing so, I choose not to.
Just outside Taos, New Mexico is the Rio Grande Gorge, and it's quite the sight to see, especially standing at the very top in a good wind!
My camera of choice on our recent trip was the G9 matched up with the 14-140mm lens. It's incredible how fast and accurate the focus is, and the 14-140 range gave me everything I needed 90% of the time.
Most of you know my first love is the business and marketing side of our industry, but that doesn't mean I'm not passionate about having a camera in my hands.
The image at the right was at 14mm and picks up the expanse of the gorge as a group of river rafters make their way downstream. I later grabbed a shot at almost full extension.
The image below was at 126mm and then enlarged 200%, to show the detail. In the image to the right, it's the middle boat!
I'm a minimalist when it comes to post-processing beyond cropping and an occasional tweak using Luminar's clarity booster on the image to the right.
The G9 is remarkable! I grabbed the screenshot from the Panasonic site about the key features. As LUMIX Ambassador, Jim Schmelzer talked about recently in his "Why?" podcast, the more the camera can handle the technical issues, the more time he has to be creative with his clients.
Well, no camera can do it all, but the G9 comes pretty damn close!
Click on either thumbnail for more information.
It's Marketing Monday and the perfect time to share some thoughts about effective promotion and advertising. To start, you've got to be able to walk the talk!
We had a great day out and about around Taos, New Mexico a few weeks ago. The "Solar Ice Cream Bus" was parked by the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which is pretty remarkable to see. It was hot, mid-day and we were both up for an ice cream. There were a lot of people in the area, but the bus was closed. However, the way it was parked, right at the entrance to the parking area would suggest they were interested in business.
As I was writing this post I decided to check out their website...NOT - it's a dead link that times out. However, the Facebook page was active and from the comments, it's a good thing they weren't open for business.
So, in keeping with the theme of Marketing Monday - there are a few classic lessons to learn:
I'm reminded of a comment I made years ago in a live Google chat at PPE in New York. The topic was in reference to photographers who take bad images and become filter junkies in an effort to turn them into art. My comment, actually borrowed from another photographer many years ago, said it all, "You can't buff a turd!"
"If you look at what you have in life, you'll always have more.
If you look at what you don't have in life, you'll never have enough."
If you're new to following this blog, then be warned, I go way off-track from marketing, business, and technique on Sunday mornings. I never know what I'm going to write about until I sit down at the computer.
Well, it's a typical Sunday morning. I'm up early and the house in incredibly quiet, allowing me to do an inventory of my thoughts and see where it all goes. A relatively new friend, Kevin Kuster is responsible for this morning's motivation. He shared the image and comments below on Facebook.
Perspective is everything in life. We finally heard from United that our bags are in Uganda but, they will now not get to us for another two days.
Last night we changed into borrowed clothes, rationed some toiletries and scrounged items from the rest of our Watts of Love and U4Uganda team members.
This morning as I rose to meet the sun, I saw several people pumping water from this community well. The water tanks they had to carry home were back breaking heavy. Most carried several of these tanks on rudimentary bikes. Some in each weathered and calloused hands. A few carried them on their head. Many traveled for miles and miles.
Me, I was immediately aware that when I walked back to the mission center I would twist a knob and magically, cold water for a shower would come out. I would then twist a plastic cap off a bottled water and pour purified drinking water out to brush my teeth. Finally, I would hear clean boiling water in a kettle for my morning coffee.
I have on borrowed clothes. My bags are lost. Some of my camera equipment was confiscated and I am very jet lagged. Regardless, I am keenly aware of how grateful I am sitting at “my spot” in Uganda watching the sun paint the Alenga sky.
Proper perspective brings gratitude. Gratitude births joy. Joy lights the world. #wolUganda2019 #u4u #wol
And there it is - the whole point of today's post - the importance of keeping things in perspective.
It's almost twelve years since Sheila came into my life, nothing romantic, just a great friendship. We spent the day together at a high school reunion, hanging out in our home town. We went to old neighborhoods, past places we each used to hang out, and even got into the high school with a group of old friends. During our travels around town, we talked about everything in our lives since high school, taking turns in ten-year increments. It was Sheila's turn to start when we got to '97 - '07.
In five years she lost two brothers in a car accident; one in a road rage incident thirty days later, her father died, and a year or so later she buried her mother! Then it was my turn, and my moment of sharing was going to be about being unhappy in my marriage and having an Internet business I was involved with (PhotoAlley.com) go under. I was merely quiet - I had nothing worthy to talk about. It was a pivotal moment for me and brought things into perspective with an "ah-ha" philosophy that's never left me, and is a part of the way I look at life today.
A few weeks ago, I "met" Kevin for the first time through Facebook, followed by a phone call and a visit to his website. I knew nothing about him or Watts of Love. I shared one of his images in a spotlight post, and we've talked about ClickCon, where we're both teaching in August and will finally be able to have a beer together and grow the friendship in real time.
His post a couple of days ago and his perspective on life along with what's important, has had a profound impact on me this morning because, like so many of you, I lose perspective so often. Molehills become mountains as I chase life's weeds instead of kicking back and appreciating what I have. Instead of being grateful for everything and everyone in my life and recognizing how blessed I am, I focus on things that don't matter. It's the equivalent of over-using the sharpening tool on an image!
I've got my health, a partner who I love and who loves me and a career/industry I love dearly. And on those days when things don't go as planned, there's nothing that compares to stuff so many people in the rest of the world are dealing with.
Wishing everybody a day where you can appreciate the joy in your life and not focus on the things you don't have. Make it a day to keep things in perspective and enjoy everything and everyone who makes you smile, including those people most special in your life. You know how to hold focus on your camera - so do the same thing on your life - hold focus on the things that matter!
As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and savor every minute that flies by, because they never come around again.
And to Kevin...thanks buddy...you really added to making the rest of today perfect, no matter what happens.
From Arby's, McDonald's, Burger King to Wendy's, Subway and Chick-fil-A, and more, fast food is part of our lives. They represent a quick bite and a no-brainer when you're hungry and don't have time to put effort into a full meal.
Well, the "SCU Diner" has been serving up fast easy ideas to help you build a stronger business and make 2019 one of your best years as a photographer. There are so many different challenges to being a small business owner, and this series has grown to be a list of reminders of areas to fine-tune.
Most of them have been relatively specific and related to your website, blog, policies, pricing, customer service, and communication. And, these are just a few of the topics we've covered in fifty-eight previous posts.
Today's "blue-plate special," if we keep playing off of the fast food analogy, is more of a dessert item - so think of it as the giant slice of banana cream pie in that glass case in just about every diner in the United States!
Take time to celebrate!
Along with many of you, I'm on LinkedIn. I don't put a lot of effort into it, just enjoy keeping track of a lot of old and new friends and seeing what everybody is up to. Because LinkedIn tracks everything in your profile, whenever an important date comes up, it's broadcasted to your followers.
This week I started getting "Congratulations" messages from people who follow me. In all honesty, I had no idea why anything came up beyond my birthday. This morning I went into LinkedIn to see what they had me listed as celebrating. I had completely forgotten it's ten years since I started my own company!
I incorporated MEI ten years ago and what a trip it's been. I hesitated about going out on my own for a lot of years prior. When I finally did decide it was time I still had a lot of concerns. I've told the story about Sheila's comment many times. She asked, "What are you afraid of?" My answer was without any hesitation, "Failing!"
Well, I've learned there's no such thing as failure if you learn from your mistakes. I've learned to delegate, to trust my gut and listen to my heart. I've learned the meaning of great friendships, thanks to some extraordinary people in my life. Most important of all, I've redefined my definition of success - it's about waking up smiling every morning and being excited about an industry that's continually changing! And maybe most important of all is learning to celebrate.
This week I'm celebrating ten years of running my own business; learning from so many of you and understanding we all have the power to do and be anything we want. It's not just the significant milestones we should all celebrate, but the mini-events in business and our lives.
And here's my point - take the time to appreciate those "Holy crap - I did it" moments. Maybe it's a client who just told you they love your work or a convention where you connected with some new friends. There are moments in all our lives we miss. They get buried beneath the day in day out stress or the baggage from past events and relationships.
Like I wrote at the start of today's post, it's more of a dessert from the SCU Diner than a main course, but it's something each of you has earned. Take the time to celebrate. Take the time to look back at your life a year or two ago and think about how much you've grown!
"The more you celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate."
Now and then a conference comes along that hits all the right buttons - the ability to help you recharge mid-season; programs with both hands-on and lecture style, and best of all an extensive list of top speakers and exhibitors.
Welcome to ClickCon!
ClickCon is August 5-7, and it's the first time in many years anything this big has taken place in one of my favorite cities, Chicago. It's a star-studded lineup of outstanding speakers/educators representing many of the best of the best in education, not to mention their individual specialties.
I'm honored to have been asked to speak this year, and having been set up as an affiliate I get a 10% commission on everybody who registers through my portal. But, let's take it one step further. I'm giving up my commission and splitting it between each person who registers, and Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. And even better, it'll be cash right there at the convention. I'm teaching four different classes and I'll have the list of everyone who's registered thought my link.
So, there are two ways you can save and help NILMDTS...
The lineup of speakers and events for this new conference is pretty amazing along with the list of vendors who are supporting it. And, I'm doing "Midnight Madness" on the second night of the conference. I promise it'll be fast-paced, fun and loaded with some great surprises...and even a few new jokes! LOL
See you in Chicago!
PS And just in case you haven't seen the trailer video, it's less than a minute long, but it'll give you a good idea of what's going to be happening. This conference has incredible potential to help you raise the bar on your skill set; network and give you more ideas for a strong fourth quarter of business, and then some!
Image copyright Jim Schmelzer. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
"Why?" is all about the movers and shakers in professional photography. And, the best way to get to know each one is through one of their favorite images. Jim Schmelzer joins me on this new episode and what a kick it was to catch up to him.
Jim and I have known each other for a whole lot of years, going back to my early Hasselblad days. We'd see each other at virtually every major conference/convention in professional photography.
But the common denominator that's the most fun for both of us right now is being involved with Panasonic's LUMIX family of cameras. Jim is a LUMIX Ambassador and captured the image above with the new LUMIX full-frame S1 and the 24-105 F4 L-Mount Lens.
Jim's main passion is portraiture, but there's nothing he can't photograph. He's a talented instructor, and over the years, most often we'd catch up when he was doing a demo in the Westcott booth. Check out his educational website with a visit to James Schmelzer Workshops.
The "Why?" series is brought to you by...
Communication is ever-changing, and your ability to expand your reach, promote your business and in turn, increase revenue is more powerful than at any other time in history. A considerable part of that continually changing world is in mobile technology and the world of texting.
Here's an example of how I'm using one of PhotoTexting's apps for my own business. Text the word "speaker" to 888-981-6118, and you'll get a response back from me with a link to my mobile page. (And, be assured I'm not saving your number to use for anything other than to demo my brochure and speaker page here.)
I use this app as a company brochure. And, there's an added benefit - when I'm teaching, attendees get the notes from my presentation without worrying about taking their own. It allows them to kick back and listen without worrying about writing down a link or specific tip on building a stronger business.)
Check out everything PHOTOTexting has to offer. There are so many different applications and ways for you to build stronger brand awareness, increase sales, and expand your reach.
It's Throwback Thursday and wandering through all the photos sent to me through my Facebook page over the years, I ran across these two gems and chose to share the outtake first! Here's the back story:
In 2009, after leaving Rangefinder/WPPI, I moved to Akron, Ohio, and Sheila and I moved in together. With her help and encouragement, the first Skip's Summer School took place that summer in Las Vegas. But a few months later I wanted to do something more local and we launched the Akron Photo Series, bringing some of the very best educators in photography to northeast Ohio.
In 2011 Jerry and Melissa Ghionis joined us for an evening program followed by an all-day hands-on program at Sylvart Photography Studio in Barberton, OH. Brent and Teri Ann Watkins own Sylvart and over the years have become great friends. After the all-day program, we wanted to get a group shot...hmmm...either Brent needed to be faster or set the self-timer longer!
But here's the point I always make with Throwback images...they bring back memories. I remember everything that happened that day as if it was yesterday. Brent and Teri were terrific hosts and they helped make the day a success.
I also remember something Jerry said that I wish more photographers would follow up on. The issue is photographers who take hands-on classes and then shoot over the instructor's shoulder and then claim the images as their own.
I'm paraphrasing a whole lot, but you'll get the idea...
"If you need to take a picture when I'm shooting, then capture the whole scene, so you remember what I'm teaching you and how the image has been set up. It's not your work if you grab my shot. It also challenges your integrity when a whole group of photographers has the same shot - not theirs, but the instructor's in whatever workshop they were taking."
Jerry and Melissa stayed at our home for a few days that week, and that's another memory that's hard to top. We've all gotten so busy; we never get quality time anymore. We pass each other at various conventions and meetings, but too often there's no real quality to the moment.
And that hits my last point - take the time when you're at any convention to network with old friends and new ones. Find the time for quality - you know how to do it with your images. So, why not do it with your conversations? Nothing beats great friendships, but they need to be nurtured!
Chicago's ClickCon conference is coming up in August, and I'm excited to be teaching four different classes, along with Jerry and Melissa as well. You can be sure Sheila and I are going to find the time to catch up to them!
And, if you haven't registered yet, just click on the banner below! Use "ccskip" to save $50!
Images copyright Jen Rozenbaum. All rights reserved.
It's Wednesdays With Westcott, and Jen Rozenbaum is back with some excellent posing and lighting tips to help you raise the bar on the quality of your images and how you work with clients. Recognized as one of the leading educators in boudoir photography, Jen never slows down in her focus to help photographers capture and create better images.
And, there's another special common denominator with several of our past artists featured in this series:
Jen's teaching at ClickCon in Chicago August 5-7 together with Joel Grimes, Peter Hurley, and Jerry Ghionis, all featured in past Westscott posts. And, Westcott is also an exhibitor, giving you a chance to check out some of the very best lighting gear in photography.
If you've never heard Jen teach live, or haven't met her in person, put catching up to her on your bucket list. She's a phenomenal artist, and friend to so many of us in the industry. If you've watched this video, and appreciate all the great insight she shared, imagine what it's like when she's teaching in a regular program with minimal time restrictions.
Get to know Jen even better listening to this podcast of "Mind Your Own" business, which we did with her last year. Jen holds back nothing in her zest for life and love for her family, friends and the industry.
She's also an innovator. Check out her signature Westcott two-light kit with a click on the gear to the left.
Westcott is always working on ways to help you stay inspired - you'll find a lot of additional inspiration on their educational site with one more click on their banner below.
Images copyright Ben Kraushaar. All rights reserved.
Click on any image to view in the SCU Lightbox
I love this series from Tamron because they pack a lot of good content into each short video, and they always highlight just one lens. And, with this one, in particular, I love the coverage professional photographer Ben Kraushaar shares with his images of fly-fishing in Wyoming.
A few years back, our son got me into fly-fishing. I've spent hours standing in streams in Montana and Georgia, and although the nibbles have been plenty, the actual catches just the opposite. It's an amazing sport, but one that requires patience and an appreciation for simply being outdoors. But I've never been disappointed at any time fishing - it's Zen-like, incredibly peaceful, and if I could stop thinking I need to set the hook I'd find myself more successful. Like any sport it takes practice, but for me, success is in the appreciation for building my skill set.
Ben Kraushaar's tagline on his site says it all - "Benjamin Kraushaar is a scientist, photographer and storyteller of all things outdoors!" His website is just a click away. And, on this excursion, he's wearing his photographer, and storyteller hat with Tamron's 35mm F1.8 lens. He shares some great insight in this short video.
Tamron never slows down in their quest to help photographers raise the bar on the quality of their work and their images. They're manufacturing some of the finest optics in imaging!
Tamron's Spring Savings rebate program is going on right now through July 6. Stop into your Tamron dealer and check out one of the most extensive lens lines in photography!
Yesterday was Mirrorless Monday, but Memorial Day got top-billing. However, keeping in the tradition of going mirrorless I was in and out of the house all day long with one "visitor" after another.
Two years ago we put in a butterfly garden, and it's been a source of nonstop tranquility from the very beginning. While we're still work in progress understanding the plants they like, and their behavior, nothing beats a holiday weekend with minimal plans and a new camera.
Usually, the "kids" show up in the morning and afternoon, but this weekend they seemed to come and go all the time. Out came the G9 with my favorite go-to lens. As a kid we'd chase them with a butterfly net to get a closer look, now it's strictly the camera!
"Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid.
They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices."
President Harry S. Truman
It's Memorial Day and trying to write this morning is a lot like a Sunday Morning Reflections post when I don't know what to write about. But, it's not so much that I don't know what to write about as much as I'm trying hard to come up with something different that I haven't written before. I want to express the respect I have for the members of our military, especially those who have given their lives for us.
The meaning of Memorial Day seems to get a little more lost each year under the banner of being the unofficial start of summer, so I've got to bring back the Wikipedia explanation for the day:
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans — established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.
But the holiday has grown to represent a time to also express our respect for our active members of the military today as well. Several times over the last few years, I've shared stories about projects Stacy Pearsall is working on, and today is the perfect time to remind you about her Veteran's Portrait Project. This year she's going to make it to ALL fifty states finally!
I first met Stacy in 2010 at the second Skip's Summer School in Las Vegas. As she took us through her story, there wasn't a dry eye in the room, but over the years, her story has become so much deeper than that first presentation.
She joined me and Chamira Young on a podcast last year, talking about photography, the Veterans Portrait Project, and shared a lot of great insight. Her project always deserves top billing, but she's also a accomplished artist, writer and educator as she discussed the role photography has played in her life; the importance of special projects, storytelling and the benefits of helping others.
And that brings me full circle, right back to the importance of Memorial Day...it's a time to make sure we never forget the sacrifices made by the men and women in our military, both in the past and into the future. It's a time to thank those who have served, are serving, and especially those who gave their lives to serve.
Wishing everyone a Memorial Day filled with peace that so many have given their lives for and deserve our respect and appreciation.
It's Sunday morning, and as always I'm off topic from business and marketing, but certainly not far away from a concept we all can identify with - it's the mystique behind a sunset. It happens every day - the sun comes up, and the sun goes down, yet we always notice the change in colors, that sweet light photographers like to chase and that split second when day transitions into night.
We hit the drum circle at Nokomis Beach last night, and in all honesty, there wasn't anything astounding about the sunset - no clouds in the sky or vibrant mix of colors, but that changed nothing in the beauty of the moment. Offshore, a few hundred yards out three boats lined up to watch the sun drop out of site. As a good buddy of mine has said regarding scuba trips and night dives, "It's amazing how crowded the ocean becomes at night!"
"It's almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream."
Well, along with the three boats above a few hundred people lined the beach to watch the sun drop, take a last minute dip in the ocean and appreciate the beauty of the moment as if it was the Fountain of Youth that Ponce de León was searching for in 1513 in what's now Florida! And then it hit me...
As trite as this might sound, it really is the Fountain of Youth. Sure the ocean adds the water to the "fountain," but it's our ability to still be in awe of a sunset, no matter where we are or how old we are that creates that youthful sense of energy.
As I watched the sun drop, I was feeling recharged and looking forward to whatever was coming next. I found myself appreciating life just a little more, and there was a little extra spring in my step as I walked away from the beach. No different than recharging our phones these days, the sunset and standing with all those people on the beach had given me a quick charge to finish off the day.
And then the sun was simply gone, but not the feeling of euphoria and appreciating another day, or for that matter being grateful for my life, Sheila, good friends or the eager anticipation to do it all over again the next day!
Wishing all of you an incredible day ahead, and if you're in the US, an outstanding holiday weekend. And wherever you are, I hope you can take the time to watch the sun go down and appreciate the beauty of the way each day ends with the potential and hope that tomorrow is always better. Take the time for those eleven-second hugs with the people who help make your sunsets and sunrises extra special.
I'm having a blast with the new LUMIX G9 and the 14-140mm lens. The shot of the three boats was enlarged 200%. I had the camera in IA mode: shot at f5.6 @ 1/320 ISO1250 at full extension, 140mm.