"You can't helping getting older, but you don't have to get old!"
It's Sunday morning, and I rolled out of bed knowing exactly what I wanted to write about:
What does it mean to "grow up?"
We spent a good part of yesterday at the beach, and I'm paying for it in aches and pains this morning. I played in the waves for over an hour. The waves were big enough for the lifeguard to put out the yellow caution flag, and like a little kid, I body-surfed one after another, each time trying to ride them all the way in until I scraped the sand and rocks at the shoreline.
Sheila took a shot at joining me, but the waves knocked her over. My height gave me a big advantage, so I stayed in the water. She did the next best thing and put her beach chair at the water's edge. With her feet in the water, she laughed through my entire performance as an old fart relived his childhood one wave at a time.
Well, this morning I woke up and immediately grabbed the Tramadol, fully knowing why I was in so much pain, but it wasn't enough to change the smile on my face. You'd think Alfred E Neuman and Peter Pan were both in my gene pool.
Here's my point this morning: Who said we have to act our age?
A few years ago Sheila and I were out with good friends, and another couple joined us for dinner. The new couple, who were our age, did nothing but complain about their aches and pains, talk about the medication they were on and pretty much whined about getting older through the entire evening. Listening to them they could have easily been twenty years our senior.
Growing up is a mindset, and for me, part of the process might even be genetic. My Dad lived to 93, and while he obviously slowed down, it wasn't until his body started to fail him at 92! He loved life, and whatever he could still do, he did, including double onion rings at Burger 1 on Wednesdays.
So, this morning's post is a tribute to all of you who still embarrass your kids with your behavior; who push the edge of the envelope in your passion for life, friendships and experiences and most of all who laugh loud and smile at the most inappropriate times.
My good buddy Terry Clark put his love for life into a quote that's his philosophy about life and business...
Smile big, laugh hard, and make people happy!
Wishing everybody a wonderful Sunday, and a day filled with love, laughter and the pure joy of being alive, no matter how old you are! Take the time to laugh, go for those eleven-second hugs and cherish the people around you who help to make your life special!
Happy Sunday everybody!
"You don't stop laughing when you grow old. You grow old when you stop laughing!
George Bernard Shaw
Intro by Skip Cohen
I ran across this post in the SCU archives from my good buddy Scott Bourne. It may have been written in the past, but it couldn't be more relevant RIGHT NOW!
When I read it I started thinking about the challenges with some of the vendors in my own community. We had a contractor whose work was outstanding, but he was never on time. With another vendor, found through HomeAdvisor.com for gutter cleaning, he never showed up as scheduled. Then there are restaurants who don't live up to expectations and the list goes on and on.
Five years ago I wrote my first review on Trip Advisor. Today I have almost 80,000 reads about restaurants, hotels and various locations around the area as well as when we've been traveling. Whatever our experience, I share it on TripAdvisor. And, there are other forums like Yelp, Home Advisor and Angie's List, along with smaller more local forums all over Facebook.
Here's my point: We're a word-of-mouth industry and all it takes is one upset customer to influence hundreds, if not thousands of others. So, the next time you make a promise to a client, even it's something as small as returning a phone call - be on time. Follow through and deliver on your promises and make great service part of your brand!
Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you,
they insist that their friends do business with you.
by Scott Bourne
If you pay any attention to media (social and other) you will note that the world is full of unhappy customers. Does this mean that people have all of a sudden become bad at their jobs? Does this mean companies don't care about their customers? I don't know. But I do know one certain way to make sure YOUR customers aren't mad at you. Always deliver. Period. No excuses. Just deliver.
WHAT you deliver has mostly to do with a customer service discipline called expectation management. Under promise and over deliver. That's what Disney does. They say the parks open at 9:00 AM, but in fact the gates open at 8:50 AM. When Disney says you can expect a 20 minute wait to experience one of their rides, they usually mean 15 minutes.
The secret here is that they under promise and over deliver. They manage their customers' expectations by telling them they will get XX and instead they get two times XX. This leads to happy customers.
Note that doing this doesn't require you to be quick, speedy, fast, etc. It requires you to know what your product delivery schedules are, then under promise the delivery date and time. You'll look like a hero when you come in ahead of schedule. Everyone will think you are fast. But you really just set yourself up to deliver.
And a photographer who gets the reputation of delivering consistently, on time, with a good product, will get all the free marketing in their community they can muster.
Always deliver. Try to do it with flair. Try to do it with the customers' needs in mind. But no matter what DELIVER. That is the recipe for a great marketing strategy that will get your customers singing your praises so you don't have to.
Back in March I shared an image of Kenny Kim's I ran across from WPPI 2008. The program was called "Young Guns" and it was a panel discussion featuring eleven of the movers and shakers in the industry at the time. Ryan Schembri and I were the moderators and it was simply a kick to do.
Recently I ran across another Day-in-the-Life of WPPI album from Graphistudio - the 2008 book. Photographers for that year were Brook and Alisha Todd, Terrell Lloyd, Garrett Nudd and Kenny Kim. I'll share more images from the other artists in a future Throwback Thursday post, but for today, it's Kenny Kim in the spotlight with "Young Guns."
There's a great line by Alfred, Lord Tennyson I've shared before,
"I am a part of all that I have met..."
Everybody who comes into our lives, even with the smallest impact, becomes a part of us. Well, "Young Guns" and a trip down memory lane to that evening program clearly became a milestone moment in my life. Like Tennyson's quote, they became a part of my life. Even today, I never know when I'm going to bump into one of them at a conference or convention, and it's ALWAYS great to catch up.
Throwback Thursday is about memories and storytelling. It's a terrific subject for your blog and a great way to remind "Mom" of the importance of capturing memories. And, if you decide you don't want to do it for blog content then at least take a few minutes for yourself and enjoy the memories.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
PS So who do you recognize?
All images by Kenny Kim
It's just a quick thought to kick off the week. Between print competition at most of the major shows and comments over posted images in the Facebook photography forums, I'm always amazed at those people who take it too seriously. Whether your print did well in competition or people like an image you posted isn't the issue.
Print competition and sharing images is a valuable step in your learning process.
Entering print competition is a learning experience. It teaches you discipline and helps you refine your operational skill set in the same way a commercial client would have you shooting a job on "spec". You have to follow the rules. Examining the work you enter and deciding on composition, cropping, manipulation and even the name of the print come into play. Is it good enough to demonstrate your very best work?
The same thing applies to images you post in the various forums. I'll be the first to admit I'd have a hard time staying calm over the rudeness some people display when they comment. They hide behind the anonymity of their computer screens, but that doesn't change the potential validity of some of their comments.
But a group of judges who didn't find your submissions as wonderful as you did means nothing about you as a person or even as a photographer. The same applies to people who critique your images online. Take their comments as solid suggestions. Implement them when you agree and ignore them if you honestly don't, but don't let them crush your ego or your dreams.
The bottom line to how good an image is, still goes back to my favorite timeless one-liner from my old buddy Dean Collins over 20 years ago:
"Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!"
Image copyright Shiv Verma. All rights reserved.
We see hundreds of images every day, but rarely hear the stories behind them. Often an artist has a photograph with a story that blends together technique and relevance, resulting in a much more unique message.
Shiv Verma is in the spotlight with a great image and back story. Shiv is a photographer, author, educator and regularly involved in various aspects of new imaging technology. He believes in being involved in the industry and is often a speaker and competition judge at various conferences/workshops in photography.
"After a lot of debate I decided to title this image “Refugees Welcome”. In the past 6 months the topic of refugees has been dominant in the news. With Canada as one of the countries that has openly welcomed refugees, I felt this image represented the statement appropriately. The concrete totems can be viewed as either emerging or going into the St. Lawrence river in Northern Quebec."
As a member of the Lumix Luminary team, Shiv is an obvious fan of Panasonic's mirrorless technology. Refugees Welcome was captured with the new Lumix GH5. As stated by Panasonic, the camera's "splash/dustproof construction is thanks to weather sealing on every joint, dial, and button." Shiv shares in this backstory the challenge of shooting in the rain, but in the end, he got the shot!
To see more of Shiv's work and follow his speaking and teaching schedule, just click on his image above.
"A Sunday well spent brings a week of content."
Up until a few minutes ago I had no idea what to write about for Sunday Morning Reflections. In fact, I even considered not writing. Howeveer, it's become a wonderful habit and not writing and going a little off-track from photography would make the rest of the day feel a off-balance.
What better short topic than to just talk about Sunday? For many of you Sunday is hardly a break, especially if you're a wedding photographer whose Sunday comes a day late, but my thoughts this morning still apply.
When I was a kid NOTHING happened on Sunday. Stores weren't open, not even gas stations. There were no ATMs, so you always made sure on Saturday you had cash for the weekend. It was simply a family day. For me in the summer that meant a barbecue at my grandmother's, usually with a few relatives who'd come out to the "country" from Cleveland for a visit.
I grew up in Painesville, Ohio, thirty miles east of Cleveland. Since most of my relatives lived in the "big city," driving thirty miles was a big deal, yet they always showed up just as my Dad would light the grill! Those special visits created a lot of great memories.
But the best memories are about family time and they're still within reach today, even with everything in the retail world being open. You don't have to get sucked into the list of things you need to get done, and work is perfectly fine waiting one day for you.
Sundays are special for me and I rarely let anything get in the way. In fact, we've got a boat rented for the afternoon. Our son and daughter-in-law are visiting and we're headed out for a little fishing and touring the inland waterway, just floating along the shoreline - no timetable, nothing planned except to relax on the water and appreciate time with each other.
So, as Sheila calls it, just take a slug day. Enjoy everything around you. Stop and smell the roses, appreciate the life you have and don't let anyone or anything stand in your way. Sundays are a time to recharge your battery and tonight just before you go to bed here's another appropriate quote:
"This is your Sunday evening reminder that you can handle whatever the week throws at you!"
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday. Fill it with whatever makes you relax and smile. Take the time, as my mother used to say to count your blessings. No matter how tough last week might have been, make today the one you own and enjoy the peace you deserve.
And always hit those eleven second hugs!
The year is 2009 and the biggest convention in the history of WPPI. Not only did we utilize virtually every available square foot of the MGM Convention Center and adjoining Marquee Ballroom, but we also took over the Garden Arena one evening. Thanks to Nikon's support we celebrated imaging in style with John Popper and Blues Traveler.
That's part of the WPPI team on the far right with George, Shauna, Abby and me after the concert. This image takes me back to so many different aspects of the convention, which is exactly what Throwback Thursday is supposed to do.
I didn't know it at the time, but this would be my last WPPI as president of the association and Rangefinder Publishing. A month after the convention I decided it was time to move on and start my own company. As I look at this image and think about all the stories and work that went into WPPI each year I can't help but wonder...
"How the hell did we do it?"
Demographics: the statistical data of a population, especially those showing average age, income, education, etc.
I've written a number of posts about the importance of knowing your demographics, but there are still so many of you who just don't get it!
For many of you "demographics" is a twenty dollar word, but it's only because you've ignored the obvious question. You've failed to ask yourself, "Who's my target audience?" This is a marketing snippet, not a full blown market analysis. There's only so much you can do in a blog post. However, I want to give you some short easy to remember ideas to help you raise the bar on your business.
I've probably referenced this fifty times in posts over the last few years. But you're still missing the point:
Think about how this applies to the look and feel of your website; what topics you write about on your blog and what images you show in your galleries. So many of you have masculine looking sites, when you need to soften the approach and be more appealing to your target audience, women, and in most cases "Mom!"
So many of you dream about having a client base in those wealthy suburbs around you. However, just because the revenue is there, doesn't mean the audience is ready to automatically raise the bar on how much they spend with you. A wealthier community will also mean a better educated audience. You're still going to have to develop marketing plans that support an investment in your work as an artist.
Why worry about age? Well, if you're a children's photographer and you're opening in Bay Harbor Island, just outside Miami where the average age is probably close to 80, you're not going to find your target audience very easily.
I learned a valuable lesson on this one in my Hasselblad days. At the time, Popular Photography Magazine had the largest circulation in the US. I wanted to get our ads out in front of lots of people and felt that even though it was a hobbyist magazine, it still had great potential. It definitely had reach, but in the end I felt like we heard from every high school kid in America who hoped to some day own a Hasselblad - they had the enthusiasm, but not the finances and as a result created absolutely NO sales.
Knowing how much is being spent on weddings, food, flowers etc. can absolutely help you understand where your pricing needs to be as well as defining different partners for direct mail campaigns.
You're working so hard to build a business and your brand. Doesn't it make sense to at least make sure you're hitting the right target?
Choose your customers. Choose your future.
It's Sunday morning, and with Reflections I'm not as off-track as usual. I don't know what made me want to write about the topic, but if you're an Administrator on any Facebook forum, then you know the only "art" to the job is not being completely absorbed by the task itself. Whether I'm about to list objective challenges or my pet peeves remains to be seen.
The truth is, being an "Admin" is pretty much a thankless responsibility. You're a combination of a playground/crossing guard and referee with a required skill in diplomacy. And, for the hours you might put into the task, it's all done out of your love and respect for the topic of the forum; a friend who asked you to help or the pure enjoyment of fulfilling the needs to be a masochist!
If you've never thought about the "staff" who maintain the forums you love to be active in, here are a few of the challenges, based on my experiences with Facebook Wedding Photographers, Advanced Wedding Photographers and GoingPro.
In spite of the challenges and sounding like a real curmudgeon this morning, I love it and so appreciate those friends who share the same passion. Underneath all the frustration, rolling my eyes a half dozen times each day and wishing I had the home addresses of a few trolls - the art of being an administrator is about the passion for the craft. We're Admins because we love the topic and for most forums, hope we can help the members elevate their skill set related to the topic of the forum, or life in general.
So, the bottom line is pretty simple - play nice in those forums you're a part of and go easy on those Admins! They've got the same dreams you do, except they're often working some long hours to help build and maintain a place for you to express yourself.
On that note, make it a terrific Sunday. Spend time with those people special in your life and don't forget those eleven-second therapeutic hugs. And, if you're an Administrator in any forum on Facebook, thank you! Without your support, so many people would be without a place to share their ideas, dreams, and passion for life...food...pets...photography...skydiving...travel...flowers...wildlife...sports...being left-handed...politics...and the list goes on and on.
Happy Sunday everybody!
I started to write an email to a good friend that's been down in the dumps over business issues lately and decided to turn it into a blog post because I realized we all have the same challenges. In fact, now and then I simply have a day filled with frustration. Because I'm older than many of you I know like any storm, what I'm feeling at the time will pass.
It's not a bad life, just a bad day!
Owning your own business is filled with ups and downs. In my case, I worked for other companies my entire life until eight years ago when I decided to stop living vicariously through all of you. I wanted to see if I could walk the talk. Just like so many of you I have days that are terrific, but then there's a day now and then when nothing seems to go right. It's perfectly natural, but too many of you give up too early.
Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success.
They quit on the one yard line.
They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown.
This is a short post - being in business for yourself is a roller coaster ride. Unreasonable customers, slow payments, impossible requests and even a little abuse here and there are all dips in the ride. However, nothing compares to those moments of success like a client who says thanks, people who call because they love your work or just a day when life is good and you feel appreciated.
On those days when the world seems to be crashing in on you, before you decide to give up, consider a change in your journey. There are a lot of different paths to take when it comes to achieving your dreams.
Don't be afraid to share your frustration with a close friend - that's what the core of your network is for. Most important of all, and I learned this in a caregivers support group when we were dealing with my mother's Alzheimer's, remember you're not alone in what you're feeling!
Being an artist and business owner are opposite when it comes to the skills you need for both. Take the time to walk away from the business for a little while, if you're having a bad day - then, kick back and think about how you got here in the first place. You're not alone in feeling frustrated or having a little self-doubt. We all go through it!
Before you give up, think about the reason you held on so long.
Sorry about the quality of the scan - it's from an album page and the best I could do with the tools I've got, but that doesn't change how much fun this image is! It's also a terrific reminder of the contribution made to the industry by these ten women. How many do you recognize?
I've shared a few images over the years from an incredibly fun project WPPI did with Graphi Studio. Graphi came to us with an idea to do a day-in-the-life book for each convention. Each year, together, we picked four photographers to document the WPPI show. The image above was captured by Jim Garner. The other three artists with work featured in the album that year were Catherine Hall, Victor Sizemore, and Calvin Hayes.
I don't remember the program title, but obviously it was a panel discussion with the "first" ladies of photography. The wisdom shared that evening by this group of ten remarkable artists made it one of the best programs of the convention.
We didn't realize we were making memories, we were just having fun!
This is the perfect example of how Throwback images take us on a time machine journey, almost as if it was yesterday. The WPPI Show was still being held at Bally's then and just looking at this image takes me back to the challenges we had as the show kept growing. What a kick!
As I write every Thursday, share your Throwbacks on your blog. As photographers it's the perfect way to remind your target audience that time never stands still. There are new memories to capture every day and "Mom" knows how quickly the kids are growing and her family is changing!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life.
Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in now.
Now and then there's a quote that just hits home. In my case it's the way I used to live my life, always waiting for something to happen instead of going after the moment. After reading the quote above several times, and thinking about my life, I started thinking about so many of you who I've met, followed and watched as you've begun to fulfill your dreams.
It's one of my shortest posts this morning with the hopes that I make one simple point. I hate to use a cliché, but life isn't a dress rehearsal. So many of you, while you work hard, you don't feel you're a success yet. It's as if you go to the door each morning to see if UPS or Fedex left a box of "success" on your doorstep. If you're happy about what you're doing, you're already there - you just don't know it.
Take the time to listen to this life-changing podcast I did several years ago with Sandy Puc. She defined success, and so many people have commented about the impact it had on them.
Meanwhile, stop waiting for something to happen in your life. If you want to change some aspect of it, do it now. We all procrastinate on something - just don't make it your happiness!
Procrastination is opportunity's assassin!
Four years ago I ran a similar post, although I don't think my title was as eloquent!
The truth is you can't be in business today without a website. While most of you have a site, you've let it go like a garden that started out beautiful and today is loaded with weeds. Everyone has their own opinion on what makes an effective website, but here are the only things that matter: When people find your website, do they stay and look around or, are they gone in a flash, moving on to one of your competitors?
Here are some good tips to help raise the bar on the quality of your website:
1. Is your site working? Pay attention to your site and check in at least twice a day to make sure it’s loading fast and working the way it should. Enlist the help of a few friends or employees, if your business is big enough, and make sure you check a couple of different pages each time you go on line. Regarding the most popular browser at present, it's Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox. You should always check your site on at least two browsers.
2. How are your galleries? Technology today will allow you to display a lot of images without lengthy load times, but don’t compromise quality for quantity! If you don’t have enough outstanding images for your site and then put up an “under construction” sign and spend the next few days creating outstanding examples of your best work. Every image should be a "wow" image - meaning it's so good you'd only have to show that one image to get hired.
Here are some tips to consider on your galleries:
3. Testimonials: Unless you were just written up in a major magazine or even the local newspaper don't waste space on your site with testimonials. It's like checking references. There's no such thing as a bad reference! Personally, they're not believable, unless it's from a publication or a noted member of the community.
4. Policy Statements: I keep visiting sites where photographers list all the major components of their policies, including copyright issues, deposits, cancellation penalties, etc. Save all of that for your contract discussion. Some of you have written policy statements that could have been authored by an IRS agent, and there's a good chance they'll scare people away.
5. Diversification: Don't create galleries of different specialties if you don't have any depth in experience or images to show. I was on a site recently where the photographer listed landscape, but only had two images to show. And, keep your galleries related to your core specialty.
6. Pricing: There's always a big discussion on pricing. My personal feeling is photographers should NOT put prices on their site, but instead say, "Packages starting at __________". This gives you a starting point. There's a lot of information out there on pricing including my own Lynda.com class. Just click on the image to the right for more information - it's not rocket science, but it is important for you to understand all your costs and your target audience.
7. Packages: Price your work in packages. In fact, one of the very best opinions on pricing comes from good buddy Sal Cincotta. His video about pricing is on the site and worth the time to listen to what he has to say.
8. Contact Information: Give people every possible way to contact you. I understand if you work out of your home and don't want to list an address, but there's no excuse for not giving people a phone number and an email address. Make yourself accessible!
9. Your Head Shot: On your about page, include a shot or two of you working with clients. One might be a shot of you with a camera in your hand, the other talking with clients or in the process of capturing their portrait. Don't waste the space on a cheesy head shot of you.
10. Remember the difference between your website and your blog. Your website is all about what you sell. Your blog is about what's in your heart. Keep them separate and work to make your site habit-forming. The greatest thing for a photographer is to have people talking about your images and sharing the link to your site.
There are ten tried and true tips to make your website stronger, but check it every day to make sure it's working correctly and pay attention to the quality of your galleries.
Remember, quality ALWAYS trumps quantity in the eyes of most consumers looking at your work! And sorry, but I don't buy into the idea that most clients don't know good work from bad, so why bother to spend the time to show only your best work!
It's an education process and up to you to help them see the difference!
The toughest challenge in life is to be yourself
in a world where everyone is trying to make you "someone else"...
Dare to be yourself!
I write on Sundays because I love starting one day a week sharing something other than photography, business or marketing. Most of the time my topic is about something in my life I hope you can learn from. It's about sharing my mistakes so you can make new ones of your own. Even if it's a topic you might not learn from, I hope you'll realize you're not alone in what you're feeling.
I found the quote above, and it just hit me hard. For years I just wasn't happy with so many different aspects of my life, from the personal side to business, I lived behind a mask, hiding a lot of important things I was feeling. When I left Rangefinder/WPPI so many of you thought I was nuts. Leaving a marriage of thirty-seven years also brought a series of challenges eventually resulting in something I never thought would be relevant to my life, "estrangement."
Don't judge my story by the chapter you walked in on!
And there you have it - the foundation of this morning's post.
You've got to be yourself. You've got to follow those paths that challenge your skills, your passion and fulfill your dreams. Whether it's a change in your career path or your relationships, so many people want to take sides. It's interesting that going through a divorce, family members took sides, and not one of them ever spoke to me about why I was making the choices I did. On the change in my business, they did the same, never considering the new path I'd chosen was exactly the one I was supposed to be on!
It's been almost ten years since I started on this journey and along the way, some amazing people have come into my life including my wife, Sheila. The business I began in 2009 keeps growing and challenging me. Technology, communication, social media are always changing, and I've never been this satisfied with my life. My definition of success is revised almost daily and simplified - because it's all about the smile on my face when I roll out of bed in the morning.
And that leads me to one more quote that's so relevant to so many of us:
This is my life...my story...my book.
I will no longer let anyone else write it;
nor will I apologize for the edits I make.
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday filled with moments bringing you one step closer to living your dream. And whatever that dream is, you don't owe anybody an explanation or apology. Make it a day of peace, love and time with those friends and family most important to you. And ALWAYS hit those eleven-second hugs.
Happy Sunday everybody and thank you for being a part of my life.
"This is what I like about photographs. They're proof that once,
even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect.
I've been in the photographic industry my entire adult life, or at least the time I was supposed to be acting like an adult! During that time there have been thousands of new products and applications, especially in the last fifteen years.
Every year technology has delivered new products and techniques giving photographers the most number of creative tools in the 190 year history of photography. Over and over again we've seen products and applications that are evolutionary, revolutionary and often both.
It's time to introduce you to the Illuminati Light & Color Meter! Invented by Michael Okincha, the Illuminati is a wireless, smartphone-connected exposure and color meter designed for the pro, the novice and the video, cinema and broadcast world.
The technology going into Illuminati is both evolutionary and revolutionary. With an initial MSRP anticipated around $300, the meter was shown at both WPPI and the NAB shows this past February and April respectively. April's kickstarter campaign was a powerful success, exceeding the initial goal. The first shipments are anticipated to start in the August/September time frame.
I wanted to share two videos in this post from two very special people in imaging. Check out the video featuring a long time buddy of so many of us, Tony Corbell. Then, it's time for you to meet the inventor himself, Michael Okinchka in the video below and get a more in-depth understanding of the full capabilities of Illuminati.
The revolution is here, and it's time for you to be a part of it! Illuminati needs to be on your radar.
Just click on the banner to the right to stay on top of the latest announcements so you don't miss the opportunity to raise the bar on the quality of your images!
Image copyright Terry Clark. All rights reserved.
"Why?" is all about some of today's most talented artists and the backstories about their images. Terry Clark joins me with more than just a story about an important image in his career. When I emailed him about being a part of this series and sharing one of his most favorite images, he wrote back:
Favorite photos are like friends. Some come in and out of your life quickly, serving their purpose and poof, they’re gone. Others tend to linger a bit longer. Teaching us a lesson or two then slowly fade. The best ones are forever. Lifetime friends. These are the ones that last. They hit all the right chords and play the sweetest music. They’re also the most difficult to identify because often their strength is in their longevity. They may or may not be part of a specific body of work. In fact, because these are the images that hold their place so long, it’s possible they’re not even part of what you currently photograph. Yet, there they are, holding their place in your heart.
I first met Terry in his studio in Pittsburgh seven years ago. As part of a photo industry fund-raiser for one of the non-profits, I had donated a few hours of my time for marketing support. Terry was the high bidder. I was living in Akron, Ohio at the time and Pittsburgh was a pretty easy drive. So, Molly the Wonder Dog and I headed to spend a day with Terry.
Terry's the perfect example of what I love most about our industry, the friends who come into our lives out of a mutual love for photography. That first visit set the stage for a terrific friendship. And, while we might not see each other very often, when we catch up on the phone it's as if the last thing we talked about ended with a comma - the conversation and the comfort of a great friendship just take over.
Click on the image to visit Terry's website and see more of his work. You might also enjoy a post from a few years back that Terry and I sort of did together.
The bottom line to everything we should be doing as business owners can can be summed up in my favorite quote from Terry:
Smile big, laugh hard, and make people happy!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Four years ago, my good buddy, Scott Bourne shared the guest post below. It couldn't be more relevant for so many of you whether you're just starting out in your career, relaunching an established business or wondering why after so many years business is slow.
Take a second and ask yourself one question, "Do I stand out in the crowd?" Another good friend, Terry Clark once told me:
"The best thing to do to survive and thrive is find what everyone else isn’t doing and do that thing.”
You've got to be unique. We're a word-of-mouth industry, and you want working with you to be an experience and habit-forming! If you're doing the same thing everybody else is doing, then you become a price-driven commodity rather than an artist.
Take the time to listen to this archived podcast with Tim Walden. Tim and Beverly Walden NEVER compromise on the quality of an image or the relationship with every client. A sitting with the Waldens isn't about a portrait session but an experience to create a family heirloom!
Scott couldn't be more on point with the most important key components to building your brand. You've got one goal with every client - to exceed expectations.
by Scott Bourne
I've written lots and lots and lots about selling photography. The other day someone asked me, to forget the books and long blog posts and seminars I've taught and sum up the key to successful photography marketing in three words or less. I am proud to say I was able to do it in two.
Unique and Value
Those are the two words I want you to concentrate on when you're trying to build your photography business. These are the ONLY things that matter when it comes to marketing. Not your logo, or which award you've won, or which association you join, but whether or not your photography company is unique and offers real value. Ask yourself... Is what you do unique? Is it something that people want and need? Is your photography truly valuable?
If you answer "No" to either question then you are going to have an extremely difficult time surviving, let alone thriving in the photography business.
Because at the end of the day, if you aren't unique you are a commodity. And if you're a commodity, then you will get your butt beaten working long hours for VERY little money. If your products aren't valuable, then no matter what price you charge, you'll always struggle. A car with no engine is not a good deal for the average person. The average person can't build an engine, install it and drive away. So no matter how low the price, the car with no engine has no value. You have to find ways to bring value to your clients. If you do that, then price isn't an issue.
And price is what this post is really about. You see, if you are unique, you can charge a higher price - but only if somebody wants the unique thing you have. If you are NOT unique, then you will always be competing on price. If you are on the other hand, valuable, but not unique, nobody will see the value.
This is an ethereal concept but try to dig into it. Make a list of how you are truly different from your competitors. Then make a list of how you bring value to your customers. What's your USP (unique selling point?) What's your value proposition? (How does your product match up with the needs, beliefs, feelings and desires of your prospects.)
When you can answer these questions, you can move forward and thrive.
Over the last few years, I've written 2000+ posts, done a few hundred podcasts both short and long and spoken at a few dozen conventions and workshops. However, very little compares with the enjoyment of writing Sunday Morning Reflections, and as I sat down a few minutes ago to write, I realized why.
In a number of those posts, podcasts, and workshops the topic has been special projects and their importance to every artist. Special projects are the fuel to keep your creativity alive. Special projects allow you to stray from the day-in-day-out challenges of running a business and do whatever you want. You become the client and fulfilling the vision in your mind's eye becomes the motivation.
Well, at some point in my life my career morphed into that of a writer. My primary focus is helping you build a stronger business, but on Sunday mornings, I just free-fall never knowing for sure where I'm going to land. Just like many of you create a special project where you step outside the rules of composition and exposure, I do the same with whatever I'm writing.
This morning's post is dedicated to my good friend Taka and the benefit of the Internet. Taka lives in Japan. We first met when he was the V.P. of Asukabook and primarily a client coming to WPPI each year. We'd always get out to dinner together at least once. There has always been this bond of friendship, even though we never caught up to each other more than 1-2 times a year.
Today with me being in my own business and living in Florida and Taka being retired, thanks to the Internet our friendship is stronger than ever. We email back and forth. We've Skyped a few times, and a few years ago on Sunday mornings, I was helping his son practice English. I'd wander around the house with my iPad, and we'd go back and forth on the names of things I pointed to.
Why talk about Taka this morning? The first thing I do every day is check email, and there was a short message from Taka about something he's sending me. His email got me thinking about the important role the Internet has played in our friendship, and then morphed into my bucket list and my hopes to get us to Japan in 2018.
Taka was on my mind earlier in the week when I discovered a treasure of images in my old Shutterfly galleries, all going back to the start of digital and a $299 point and shoot digital that came on every trip, including several to Japan.
There are several points of focus this morning. It's a "Sunday brunch" and you can pick whatever makes the most sense to your situation.
And that winds up one of my more bizarre Sunday Morning Reflections' posts. It's a brunch buffet, but no buffet comes with a stronger wish for a terrific day, holiday weekend if you're in the US and time with those people most special in your life! Always hit the eleven-second hugs and if you need some time off away from the business then take it!
Happy Sunday everybody - thanks for being here!
I ran into a situation this week I've never experienced. It was so totally absurd it deserves to be in the spotlight. What better way to share it than with a Sarcastic Saturday post?
I was following up on something for a company I work closely with and needed to contact somebody I've never met on a business issue. The area code was 202, Washington D.C. It was a weekday and I figured I'd try and catch him early before the usual challenges of business took over. I called at 8:00 am EST and left a polite message. At 9:30 am EST before my day got crazy I tried one more time, assuming like all of us in business, his day was going to get crazy too.
Well, I got a call back from him, screaming multiple F-bombs because I woke him up at 5:00 and again at 6:30 am. Turns out he's based on the west coast. So, my checking the location for his area code accomplished nothing. Later in the day I got an email from him in response to one I sent him:
To be clear it was a 5am and 6:30am call. Even by east coast standards, 8am is early for a call. I have no issue telling someone to f***off after calling me not once, but twice before the break of dawn.
So, in celebration of the first Sarcastic Saturday post in a long time, here's my point...
Wishing everybody a terrific start of the weekend. And, if you're plagued by calls you don't want, at times you don't want them, then shut off your phone!
Note: The "vintage" cell phone image really has little to do with the post. I just loved the concept! LOL
ClickCon was AMAZING!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry last week. Great speakers, a busy trade show and 1300 attendees loaded with a passion to learn and grow. Put the show on your radar so you know the dates for 2020 when they're announced!
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.