by Skip Cohen
J. B. Sallee is no stranger to SCU. We've shared so many of his guest posts, an episode of "Why?' and different programs he's been involved with since starting this blog eight years ago. He's one of the most diverse portrait artists in your industry, and his track record, especially in WPPI Print Competition, is becoming legendary.
But the fun of a podcast series like this is about what's ahead for the future more than things the guest has done in the past. Even through the pandemic, JB's not slowing down and talks about how he's maintaining relationships with his clients and building a foundation for a successful new year.
I met JB at the very start of his career, presenting him with the Hy Sheanin Scholarship at WPPI many years ago. Over the years, he's not only grown his skill set as an artist but as an educator. Right now, he's focused on a brilliant post-pandemic workshop with his Campfire series, essentially an overnight summer camp for adults focused on raising the bar on the quality of your images while still maintaining physical distancing and safety.
We covered a lot of ground in this podcast...
The Beyond Technique podcast is thanks to Platypod.
You'll find a never-ending stream of great content on the Platypod blog, all with images being shared by talented artists from around the world. Platypod is your tripod's best sidekick and can take your creativity places that tripods just can't go.
Plus, while supplies last, they're doing an inventory blowout of their Multi-Accessory kit at 50% off and Free with the purchase of their mainline of primary products. Click on any of the thumbnails below for more information.
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by Skip Cohen
Sometimes the fun of a Throwback Thursday image isn't just the photograph's subject but everything else.
Heading off on my weekly search through old pictures, I found this one of me around age six. Here's the trip this one image took me on:
And there you have it - the pure fun of a look in the rearview mirror and a moment of connecting with the past. In all honesty, I miss the simplicity of it all.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Customer Service - Going the Extra Mile
"The professional takes that extra step - they follow up, even when they don't have to!"
by Skip Cohen
I'm a huge fan of Shep Hyken's and his focus on Customer Service. Shep's a Hall of Fame Speaker, NY Times Best Selling Author, and a Customer Service and Experience Expert. He walks the talk with his regular closing line of "Always be amazing." The short version of our friendship is, I shared a quote of his on Twitter. He responded; I called him, and he took the call. Since then, we've been on each other's podcasts, and even caught breakfast together in St. Louis two years ago.
I have so much respect for his expertise in Customer Service. Chamira Youngs and I recently had him on as a guest on the Platypod sponsored podcast Beyond Technique.
As I was thinking about 2021 and my realistic optimism for the new year, I started thinking about the role excellent service can play in the months ahead. It's simple - your success is about going the extra step and staying in touch with your clients, even when you don't have to.
As we all work to get out of the pandemic, now is the perfect time to keep in touch with your clients and your audience. It's about giving back, being helpful, and growing your strongest marketing tool, relationship building!
Excellent Customer Service isn't just about solving problems. It's about being proactive and creating top-of-mind-awareness with your audience - so whenever they think about photography, your name is right on top.
There are over 800 videos on Shep TV on YouTube. Here's the link, and it's jam-packed with content to help you rebuild your business in the new year. I wanted to share the short video below because it's so perfect for what your mindset should be right now!
Hunkering down is about your health, not about your business, skill set, relationship building, or CUSTOMER SERVICE! Start being proactive with your audience, especially your past clients.
by Skip Cohen
It's almost twelve years ago I made the decision to step away from Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI. It was 2009 and we were in a recession, and both friends and family thought I was nuts. I was giving up a great job and heading off into the unknown.
This is also about the time I picked up my mantra:
I do it because I can.
I can because I want to.
I want to because you said I couldn't.
Skip's Summer School started that first summer, and while it became incredibly labor-intensive after the 2013 session, it was a great run. However, during those summer programs and consulting for a number of different companies, my network grew, and so did my understanding of the challenges each photographer faced in establishing their business.
On January 19, 2013, eight years ago today, I launched Skip Cohen University. It's hard to believe how much it's grown since then, or the diversity in topics and the number of other photographers who shared guest posts and images along the way. I remember one great discussion with Scott Bourne as we talked about what to name the blog.
I wanted to call it something lofty, like "The Photo Resource Hub," but Scott gave me an incredible lesson in branding. He felt since my career on the industry's professional side had always focused on some aspect education, whatever I was about to build needed my name on it.
He had an idea, "Just trust me on this and let me put out a tweet before you launch." I trusted him completely, and that first tweet was "Skip Cohen is back!" We later linked it to the early posts on SkipCohenUniversity.com. But along the way, there were some funny responses, like, "What do you mean he's back - I just talked to him yesterday." And speaking at a publishing conference in Orlando, Scott Kelby walked into the room and said, "Oh, I heard you were back," and Guy Kawaski, also speaking at the same event, wanted to know where I'd been.
Scott Bourne stayed right on top of everything I was doing and helped me build the foundation for SCU. He also taught me to ask for help when I needed it. There were so many times when I thought I understood the programming and could just cut and paste my way through some of the architectural changes. Each time I pulled a DIY, he'd yell at me after he fixed what I screwed up and simply say, "Will you please call me next time before you touch anything?"
So, it's eight years since this blog started. Now, thousands of posts later, I'm here to thank so many of you who shared your feedback and gave me one idea after another to keep it going from my own posts to guest posts, to YouTube videos, podcasts, and companies who believed in me. What a wild ride it continues to be.
I know it sounds pretty sappy, but this industry really has become a family. A huge thanks entirely from my heart to my readers, supporters, and friends. To paraphrase the Beatles, "I get by with a LOT of help from my friends."
by Skip Cohen
We're all dealing with the same challenge, downtime with minimal things to do, but maximum energy and often creativity. So, wandering through cyberspace, I caught a post from one half of one of my favorite couples in imaging. If you know Bobbi Lane and Lee Varis, then it's hard to imagine what they'd be doing in life that wasn't related to something in photography or the arts.
Bobbi posted the image above with this caption:
Best of 2020 FLOWERS! I had a wonderful year photographing flowers in my house (got me out of the rut), in the yard and on location. I shot everything on the Fujifilm XT 4 using three lenses: 80mm f/2.8 macro, 50 mm f/1.0, and the 16-55mm f/2.8.
While all the images she shared were beautiful, I loved this one the most. But it wasn't just the image, but her "Best of 2020" approach. Bobbi isn't known for a lot of still life, but she's also not known to compromise on turning her visions into reality. (I found out after this post was published - She started out her career in large format product photography!)
There's a great line about growth only happening outside your comfort zone. While I doubt Bobbi had any thoughts about stepping into close-up work with flowers, it's great to see one of her projects that burned up the clock a little during downtime.
Remember, "hunkering down" is about your health, not about your business, skill set, or creativity!
Passion is energy.
Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
One year ago yesterday, the first case of the Coronavirus was diagnosed, and the government assured us it was all under control. There was nothing to worry about. Well, they were obviously wrong. It was hardly under control, but over the last year, we've all learned a lot about what is within our control. As artists, you've got control over your creativity, and even with the pandemic, there are plenty of opportunities to capture and create stunning images.
Nick Irwin is this month's featured Tamron Chef, and his specialty of landscape is perfect for safety during the pandemic. And while doses of the vaccine have started and there's more optimism going into this new year, things aren't going to change overnight. That keeps the power of developing your creativity in your hands, and being outdoors is one of the safest venues to be in now.
Nick shares a lot of great insight on his passion for the outdoors during this new podcast. He's also a relationship builder with a serious focus on the people he's met along his short journey in imaging so far. The minute he starts talking about photography, you can't help but catch his love for time with a camera in his hands.
Chef Nick's recipe is a click away, which we shared last week. And for more information about Tamron's 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III RDX lens, click on the banner at the bottom of today's post. Follow Nick on his Instagram page, where he's regularly sharing great images from Michigan and as the ease of travel comes back into our lives, you'll see more from all over the country!
Are you looking for new gear? Check out Tamron's "New Year, New Gear" savings program. For all the information and the products included, click on the banner to the right.
With each podcast post from the Tamron Kitchen since the pandemic started, I've shared the same kind of comment. It's so important to stay focused on your passion for the craft and your dreams as an artist. For the first time in history, we're all dealing with so many of the same challenges. There are so many levels of freedom we've taken for granted in the past. However, the pandemic has given us something remarkable, TIME. Use the downtime to build your skillset, expand your creativity outside your comfort zone and become a more diverse artist.
Remember, "hunkering down" is about your health, not about your business, skill set, or your creativity!
Check out Tamron's programs for rebates, online education, and even some terrific contests to share your work. The Tamron team isn't slowing down and continues to support the imaging community the best they can. There are programs taking place all over the country, and especially in Cyberspace!
by Skip Cohen
One of the most fun aspects of this industry are the friendships made over the years. And with cyberspace and social media, we all have friends who we've never met in person from other parts of the world.
Meet Simon King, a photographer from the UK. We met A few years back on Facebook, and he wrote a couple of great guest posts for the SCU blog. Here's one that's so relevant now about giving back.
I caught up to Simon over the weekend in an IM, and as we caught up on life and the challenges of the pandemic, he mentioned he's got an image in the Travel Photographer of the Year awards. Please check it out, and if you feel inclined, send a vote his way.
It would be a kick to have one of our own guest writers recognized. It's #115:
“Boys from the Drago Contrada playing the Palio game before the main event that evening. Taken during Il Palio Di Siena, Tuscany, Italy.”
Here's the link.
by Skip Cohen
LUMIX Ambassador Paul Mango is in the spotlight for this "Mirrorless Monday" post, and he's using one of my favorite cameras, the GX85. It's pocket-size but with a BIG "heart" and a long list of features/benefits. Paul shared these images on Facebook over the weekend, but it's not just the photographs I appreciated.
We're all still dealing with the pandemic and the challenges of physical distancing and safety. I love that through the entire pandemic; he hasn't slowed down on capturing images. Just something as simple as a photowalk with a purpose keeps him active in his passion for the craft, and allows him to stay in touch with other artists.
With these images, he wrote: Great Jersey City Street art photo walk today with a NJ-based photography group. Today I carried the GX85 and switched between the 12-60mm Lumix and a 7.5mm Rokinon fisheye as I love the barrel effect it creates with street art.
The GX85 comes with a kit lens that I've enjoyed as well - perfect for street photography - the 12-32mm lens. Click on the thumbnails below for more information about the GX85 and one of Paul's favorite lenses, the 12-60mm.
You'll find more information about Paul with the rest of the LUMIX Ambassadors on the team page on Panasonic's website. This group is one of the most diverse and creative teams in photo. All the ambassadors should be on your radar. And, follow Paul on both his Facebook page and on Instagram.
And don't miss out on great images being shared from LUMIX artists all over the world on the LUMIX Photographers Facebook page. There's new content being shared by over 11,000 members regularly!
Images copyright Paul Mango. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
It's a quiet Sunday and cold day in Florida. And while I know "cold" is a relative term, for us living here, it becomes "bone-chillin!" at sixty! LOL The funniest thing is I pull out my flannel shirts, and they just don't go with shorts and flip-flops. Fortunately the fashion police gave up on me long ago.
So, it's cold, we're not doing our walk until the sun is back out, and I had some time on my hands. I pulled an old album of my grandmother's. There was a loose picture of my mother at around twelve with a camera in her hands. I shared it many years ago in a Throwback Thursday post.
Well, it's the perfect photo to share this morning as a reminder to enjoy the downtime and do something with the potential to make you smile, and your heart soar. So, while it's not Throwback Thursday, here's the fun of this image.
First, it's fun to see my mother with a camera in her hands because photography became my career path. Second, my mother couldn't take a picture without cutting off somebody's head. My Dad would buy her one point and shoot after another because every camera he bought she claimed was "defective." I think she finally settled on an Olympus Stylus.
Last but not least, photography was incredibly important to my Mom. She had pictures all over the house of her family and cherished anything we sent. She used to complain about more up to date photographs of her grandchildren, even when I might have sent her some just a few weeks earlier.
As her Alzheimer's took more and more control, the one thing she loved doing the most and never missed a name was going through old albums. And the older the photograph, the more she remembered as the Alzheimer's hadn't yet deleted those "old files."
Today, take the time to find a few old images and simply appreciate the incredible industry you're a part of. We help people capture photos and turn memories into tangible moments that can be shared and savored over and over again. And especially now, when we're still dealing with the pandemic - those old memories and trips in the "way-back machine" are even more special.
Happy Sunday, everybody. Stay safe, healthy, and appreciate knowing that someday we'll look back on these times and realize how strong they helped make us.
by Skip Cohen
Note: I don't usually post on a Friday evening. At the same time, if you know me, then you know when I want to share something, especially if I think it'll help you with your business, I'm going to get it published. So, it was one of those days and I kept trying to get this finished and finally gave up until after dinner. Wishing everybody a great weekend!
As a small business owner, whether you're just getting started, rebuilding your business, or just trying to do a quick high-impact jumpstart, there's so much you can be doing right now. But it's a you-snooze-you-lose scenario if you choose to be complacent and kick back waiting for your ship to come in!
The pandemic has added more than its fair share of challenges, but it's also created some incredible opportunities to help you stand out and be a leader. None of this is rocket science, but it does take time, a love for whatever business you're in, and a certain amount of good old-fashioned aggressiveness.
Last week I shared tips for your website, blog, and partnerships. Today, let's hit relationship builders. It's your greatest marketing tool and as Scott Stratten wrote years ago in "UnMarketing" - Stop Marketing, Start Engaging!
So, let's hit on some dependable relationship builders, all perfect to use during the pandemic.
This is the first time in history; every business worldwide has most of the same challenges. The pandemic has had an impact on EVERYBODY. But again, here's an opportunity for you to be a leader in your community and demonstrate why you're everyone's best choice for the services and products you provide.
Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence
and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.
by Skip Cohen
Sometimes the fun of Throwback Thursday goes well beyond the photograph itself and includes a few backstories. Let's start with the portrait above.
Sometime around the mid-90s, Kodak launched their DreamMaker ad campaign featuring noted professional photographers staring in their own fantasy portrait. That's well-respected photographer Lisa Evans above. The campaign was for Kodak's VPH films, and the ads ran in just about every photographic magazine. In addition to Lisa's, one of my favorites was Al Gilbert's on the right.
Before sharing Lisa's fantasy portrait, I called her. What a kick it was to catch up on the back story. She sent me an email and wrote:
Thanks for taking me down memory lane. Being invited by Kodak to be a part of their Dream Maker campaign was a real treat. As I mentioned I got to choose the photographer I wanted to create my Dream portrait. After my first choice. Annie Lebovitz was unavailable, I chose Mario Casilli who did a wonderful job. Known for his incredible portraits of the stars that dawned most of the TV Guide covers for so many years, and of course as head photographer at Playboy Magazine, he had the skills needed to help create a Mermaid.
Kodak gave me one of the most memorable experiences of my lifetime. From working with the costume designer to fit my mermaid tail and hand made shell bra, the makeup artist and even getting hair extensions and hair styling. A team of five people flew from NY from Kodak and the ad agency to watch the making of the mermaid in what used to be the old Pasadena Library, which Mario Casilli had converted into his incredible photography studio. To top it all off after the shoot, Mario Casilli himself drove me to the airport in his Rolls Royce.
The Mermaid image was on the back cover of The Professional Photography Magazine, Rangefinder Magazine and more.
But that's only the first chapter of the backstory.
Last fall, I wrote about the industry losing one of its biggest and best supporters, Kodak's Terry Deglau. At his memorial service in Pittsburgh, I caught up to Bill Burbank. Bill and his team were responsible for putting together so many of the Kodak ads and programs back in those days.
A couple of weeks ago, he sent me a phone shot of Lisa's DreamMaker portrait with a comment, "Look what I found!" That led to me calling Lisa, her email back to me, and the two images above. And while they're her phone shots of the experience and won't win in print comp, they're perfect for capturing the fun of the story.
As I've written a few dozen times in the past, the best thing about this industry has little to do with photography but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft! And, as it turns out, Bill's brother lives just a few blocks away from us. Bill's no longer in the photography industry, but that doesn't take away from the fun of getting together whenever he hits Florida for a visit!
Happy Throwback Thursday and a BIG thanks to both Bill and Lisa - what a kick to turn back the clock.
Throwback Update: My buddy Glen Clark posted the image below with his comments on my Facebook post, then did a great version of his own Throwback on FB. These are the first truly clean copies I've seen that show just how beautiful the campaign was. That's the legendary Jay Stock as Buffalo Bill, and Glen also had an original of the Lisa Evans ad. THANKS Buddy!
by Skip Cohen
Just for an intro to "Nick's Picks," I pulled one of my favorites from his work - have some fun and check out more of his images with a click on the button below.
Nick Vedros has been a good buddy for a lot of years. We go back to my early Hasselblad days in the late 80s. He's one of the most diverse artists in imaging. But as one of the industry's finest commercial photographers (actually, there's nothing the guy can't shoot!), he's also a perpetual student of the Internet. Over the years, he's sent me some pretty awesome videos and stories.
With the pandemic and being hunkered down, he's been sharing some fascinating videos over the last few weeks. While they're not directly related to photography, each one is remarkable to watch. So grab a coffee, or make some popcorn if it's later in the day and enjoy.
I love all four of the picks, but the visual graphic below is the one I find the most interesting - the topic is good, but it's the technology behind the animation of the data I find most striking. And having eaten at every one of the fast-food chains listed since 1971, I'm betting my arteries can tell the same story!
As you watch the Juilliard piece, it's the ultimate Zoom performance - then hit the sky with BMW and wrap up today's entertainment with Tesla robotics. They're all amazing to watch not only because of their topic, but the way each story is told.
Happy Hump Day!
Great Visual Graphic of the Biggest Fast Food Chains in the World 1971 - 2019
by Skip Cohen
It's 2021, and what a kick to launch a new season of Tamron Recipes with a chef whose specialty is outdoors and pandemic-perfect. We started this series in 2019 when words like "hunkering down" were pretty removed from our vocabulary.
While the pandemic changed everything in our lives, it hasn't dampened any of our chefs' enthusiasm. Many of them have used the challenge of downtime to expand their skill set and mix up the "cuisines" they're best known for.
Michigan based artist Nick Irwin joins us on this first Tamron Recipes for the new year. He's a part-time fine art and landscape photographer with a full-time love for the craft. His website and Instagram page especially present one outstanding image after another. It made it hard for us to pick a favorite for this first part of his series!
After the first few chefs in the series in 2019, I started sharing a quote that seemed to describe each featured artist best. For most of them, like Nick, the quotes have been based on my first introduction to them through both their images and a phone call or two. One phone call with Nick, and it couldn't be easier to find a quote that describes his love for photography and the outdoors!
Passion is energy.
Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
About Chef Nick and This Image: When I first spoke with Nick about his love for photography, the energy of that passion came through loud and clear! It's obvious how much photography, the outdoors, and Michigan are part of his life. What's impressive is how short a time he's been working with "real" camera gear. His love for imaging starting through photographs he was posting using his phone. People liked what he was sharing, and somebody suggested it was time he got a real camera.
Scott Bourne once wrote about photography being the great equalizer. To paraphrase, It doesn't matter what your background is, your financial status, what you look like, etc. - the quality of each photograph is how you're judged.
About the image above: This was last July. I went to shoot the comet Neowise as I did the night before at a different lighthouse. I did not expect the Northern Lights to show up. I was actually done shooting the comet which was in the north sky and walked to the other side of the lighthouse for milky way shots towards the south. Then I saw the green glow in the sky. Off I went back up the opposite dune and took several shots, even helped a couple other photographers with their settings.
Little Sable Point Light in Michigan is one of my favorite places to do night photography because the sky is dark and it’s only an hour away. This photo was published by National Geographic with another one of mine this past August.
Take the time to visit Nick's Instagram page. You'd never know he was relatively new to the industry when you scroll through the images he's shared.
The most challenging adjustment many of us have had to make due to the pandemic is not being in physical proximity with our peers and the various vendors/manufacturers who support our love for imaging. While many companies have reduced their activities to a minimal presence, Tamron isn't slowing down. Online and off, in small programs around the country, they support imaging artists as best they can. Check out their listing of local events, all within the appropriate safety and physical distancing guidelines.
And, if you currently own any Tamron lenses, don't miss out on the benefits of the Tamron V.I.P. Club. Check out the short video below, highlighting just one of the advantages of being a member, but you only have a few more days to get your lenses registered!
The lens Nick used for the image above was the 28-75mm F2.8 zoom. Specifically designed for Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras, click on the thumbnail to the right for more information.
I feel like I've written this same thing just about every month for almost a year - Remember, hunkering down is about your health, NOT about growing as an artist and expanding your skill set. There's very little that grows in your comfort zone, which makes the downtime we're all experiencing perfect for raising the bar on the quality of your images.
Stay active in social media and spend time with your camera in your hands every day, capturing images for your most important client...YOU!
by Skip Cohen
Last week I started a new series for 2021, "Building Blocks for the New Year." I'm going to keep it going this week. While the posts did okay, looking at the response, they didn't exactly set the world on fire. I keep thinking about that old line, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink!" Well, it's insulting to compare even the most stubborn of you to the equine community - so I went digging for a better expression:
What we want for others doesn't work, unless they want it for themselves.
And there's my point - I've spent my entire adult life, or at least the time I was supposed to act like an adult, in the photography industry. With each post, I'm sharing things I've learned along the way and trying to help you avoid the same mistakes I made so that you can make new ones of your own.
The wisdom I'm sharing isn't because I'm any kind of brainiac, but because I have scars collected over years of experience. And the ideas I share are thanks to so many incredible people along the way who helped me. The list is too long to share, but they know who they are, and several of them are no longer with us, like Dean Collins, Terry Deglau, Bill Hurter, Don Blair, and Monte Zucker. They left us an incredible legacy and put the responsibility to maintain it in all of our hands.
So, please take the time to check out last week's posts, all linked below, and let's work together to get this industry back on track. I can't help you with your technical skills, but I sure can help you get the word out to your audience that you're back with a vengeance! What good does it do to create the finest images of your life, if nobody knows who you are?
The demand for great photography and video hasn't disappeared - it's just buried under the challenges of the pandemic. The vaccine will help us beat it on the health front, but it's up to us to get things back on track when it comes to your business.
Last week's series really started on Sunday. All five clickable links are below, and tomorrow I'll start hitting other great tools you've got at your fingertips to rebuild and jumpstart your business!
It's never too late to be what you might have been.
by Skip Cohen
It's a new year, and more and more, I've come to realize the control we all share in pushing things back to a level of normalcy. The need to capture memories and the potential demand by consumers for the "magic," only a professional photographer can provide hasn't changed. Sure, it's been buried under a lot of stress, frustration, and fear through the pandemic, but it's still out there.
Just recently, Charles and Jennifer Maring shared this stunning family portrait on their Facebook page. While it was taken last fall, it was done during one of the pandemic's most restrictive phases. But it was still captured and created while maintaining physical distancing and exercising the necessary health precautions.
It might be too cold today in various parts of the country for a family portrait like this now, but that doesn't limit your ability as a portrait artist. Your creativity gives you the potential to create something just as stunning - the challenge is that it's up to you to plant the seeds of ideas with your target audience. This is where your blog, a personal letter to your clients, or a direct mail piece can help.
It's still going to be a while before the vaccine really makes a difference, but you don't have to wait! Hunkering down is about your health - NOT about your business.
Charles and Jennifer captured this image with the LUMIX S1R, LUMIX 70-200mm f/4 lens and a Profoto B10 (off camera for fill light). The exposure triad was: 1/80 @ f/8 ISO 100 in Manual.
Panasonic technology is "changing photography," and giving artists some of the most creative tools in the history of imaging. Click on either thumbnail below for more information about two of the Maring's most favorite tools!
by Skip Cohen
I got up this morning, knowing exactly what I wanted to write about for Sunday Reflections. The challenge is how to sound like an encouraging post and not a rant. So, it's a read-at-your-own-risk kind of blog this morning.
I'm frustrated with so many people who haven't hit the reset button yet. While just the flip of a calendar page doesn't suddenly change anything, each of us has the power to change the recipe for 2021. I won't deny for a second that I'm tired of being hunkered down and even more tired of using those words. But as frustrated as I am, I realized over the holidays, I have so many choices.
You wanna fly, you got to give the shit up that weighs you down.
I know it isn't easy. I'm just as frustrated as anyone else over the challenges in our lives these days. And just when things seem to be headed in the right direction, somebody out there seems to screw it up.
It's hard not to sound like a rant, but it's a new year. The vaccine is slowly taking hold, and the need for people to capture memories hasn't disappeared. They're all still out there, scarred a little from the last year, but there's a clean slate for a start, with a greater sense of family. And while there is no button to push, each of us has a restart button buried in our hearts under all of last year's pain.
On the business side, I kicked off the year with four "Building Blocks for a New Year" posts last week to help you focus on those areas everyone complains most about. Then I did something completely different, and Throwback Thursday was a video...it'll never win an Oscar, but it was fun to do and just might morph into something new in the year ahead. None of this is earth-shaking, but we're all in this together...and while this is a lousy time historically to be quoting Hilary Clinton, "It takes a village!"
And here's my point - as powerless as we've been over the events in the world, including the pandemic in our neighborhoods, all of us still control our own destiny. We don't have to do it alone, and we don't have to knock it out of the park each time we're at bat - just don't give up our time at-bat. It's called batting practice for a reason.
I'm not here to change the world, and neither are you - but we are to help each other and do our own little clean up in our own environments, starting with what's in our heads.
The sun gives us warmth, life and new days.
It makes us think of new beginnings, of happy horizons,
and bright shit that sends butterflies fluttering and precious little bunnies frolicking.
It gives some us great f**king tans and other red-hot kisses of scorched flesh.
(Hey, it can't all be good, can it?)
Think about the ways you can wake up, feel the sun shining
and shine your own rays all over the place to bring yourself and others a shit-ton of happiness.
Wishing everybody a day with, as hokey as it sounds, a little sunshine. Relax and appreciate the power you have to start tomorrow and make life a bit better. Don't worry about biz today, because it'll all be there in the morning. Most important of all, let those people most special in your life know you love them! Oh yeah...and that love starts with you guys - I'm here to help you rebuild your business if you need me.
Great things in business are never done by one person.
They are done by a team of people.
by Skip Cohen
Over the last few years, I've written about partnerships and the advantages of not doing everything by yourself. Partnerships expand your reach, save you money, expand awareness and increase revenue. Yet, so many of you sit there and whine about how tough it is right now and don't do anything because cash flow is a mess. I get it, but I'm not going to let you fold when you're holding some great cards!
There''s one more challenge in our lives that makes the timing for a partnership such an advantage. With the pandemic, every business is dealing with the same frustrations! Business has disappeared, but you can pool your resources and establish stronger brand awareness in your community by working together.
Let's look at the kinds of opportunities first:
Now, for those of you who are rolling your eyes and thinking there's nobody to partner with because your specialty is so limited, here's a list to work from, and I'm sure there are plenty I've missed, because these are all in the portrait/social categories.
It's time to stop thinking you've got to do everything by yourself. Business has changed dramatically, but along with the frustrations, there are some unique opportunities for creative leadership. You don't need to jumpstart your business alone - think about the strategic alliances in your community to rebuild together!
Coming together is a beginning,
staying together is progress,
and working together is success!
by Skip Cohen
No matter where you live, there's ALWAYS something to write about. Again, your blog is about what's in your heart, while your website is about what you sell. The two work together to help you establish brand awareness by being helpful and informative. I've already shared tips on ways to make your blog more effective, including a sampling of ideas about photography.
Let's take it a step further - no, let's take it twenty steps further:
There are twenty ideas for blog posts and combined with yesterday's eleven photography tips, you've got a solid foundation to start building content so you can have some consistency with your blog. Remember, these give you content to share during those weeks that have are quiet. You've still got images to share with things like "365 Projects," client shoots and challenges, and events happening more real-time throughout the week.
Many years ago, I shared content from an article, "How to Write a (Better) Photography Blog Post." Andy Bondurant listed six areas every new and veteran blogger should focus on. The article is no longer active, but here's what I shared that was most helpful:
Ed Foreman is a marketing and life-coach guru who spoke at a Polaroid meeting I attended 30+ years ago. He shared a concept I've never forgotten, and shared many times in posts and workshops:
If I can see the world through my client's eyes,
then I can sell my client what my client buys.
It's not about putting yourself in their shoes, but about understanding what's important to your audience. What are they worried about? What are their goals? What's most important in their lives?
A blog done well, gives you the ability to demonstrate how much you care and your ability to be helpful. It's a nonstop relationship builder with your readers!
by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday and like the old Monty Python series, "And now for something completely different."
My good buddy Glen Clark was packing up to move from California to the Carolinas. In the process of cleaning out his garage, one great piece of memorabilia after another appeared, which he collected and shipped to me. Well, I couldn't just write about these priceless artifacts...I went for the video below.
Besides the fun of the friendships we've all made in this industry, there are so many events and spoecial moments we've all shared - including all our business cards over the years. Glen's were priceless, but if you want to see the largest industry-wide collection, catch Tony Corbell's, which are all stored in one big binder!
I have a whole footlocker of items collected over the years. While you can never go back, the fun of Throwback Thursday is dedicating a little time to that look in the rearview mirror beyond photographs. From trade shows, conventions, new product launches, and promotions, all of us have our own stash of priceless memorabilia that just can't be thrown away.
So, Glen couldn't throw it away, but he could ship all this stuff to me, and now I'm trying to figure out where to put it! LOL
And to my buddy Glen - thanks, pal - I'm looking forward to the pandemic being over and getting time with you guys to laugh about everything that was in this shipment! And now that you're moved in - don't be surprised if I start sending you stuff from my stash.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
by Skip Cohen
It's the slow season - made even more frustrating because of the pandemic. But "slow" is only about revenue and clients coming through the front door! There's no reason it should be slow for you. I'm continuing my quest to give you ideas to build a more substantial business in 2020. Everybody, at the very least, needs a jumpstart.
Today and tomorrow's focus - YOUR BLOG!
Your website is about what you sell.
Your blog is about what's in your heart!
Put on your seatbelt - It's about to be a fast ride as I do a brain-dump and share ideas to help you build a better blog - including topics.
"But Skip, there's nothing worth writing about!"
And for those of you who insist there's nothing worth blogging about in your community or your life - here's a sampling of ideas with another BIG batch coming tomorrow:
Become the Imaging Expert: As a photographer, you do things every day you take for granted. Let's help Mom, Dad, and the kids become better artists. They're not going to open up down the street and compete with you. So, whether they use a real camera or a cell phone - let's help them raise the bar on their images.
Here's the fun and advantage of the ideas above - each one allows you to share some of your images as examples of the right and wrong way to capture their memories. You're establishing yourself as the expert in imaging.
And to take it a step further, some of you have the skills and ability to hold physical classes and photowalks to help your audience capture better memories. As their skills grow and you become more established as the expert in your community, you're opening the door for more advanced techniques. And at the same time you're developing top-of-mind awareness when they need a professional photographer.
Coming up tomorrow - more blog topics for your stash! Combined with things going on in your life and the community around you, I'm going to make sure you don't run out of topics for 2021!
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.