Every week the SCU diner has served up one more specialty to help you build a stronger business model. To date we've shared 36 different ideas/concepts, all in an easy to "digest" format, to help you think through how to fine-tune your business.
I called it Fast Food because you're artists. The time you spend on ideas to run a better business are often on the back-burner.
There are very few of you who want to get involved in the operational side of the business. It's not that you don't respect what you need to do to build a successful business, just that your heart is more focused on the creative side of life. You'd much rather discover a better way to light a portrait than put together a direct mail piece....and the list goes on and on.
Well, we're down to the wire with just a few weeks to go for 2018. Hopefully, you're busy with holiday orders, but that doesn't mean you can ignore things you need to do in the future.
Today's "blue plate special" is on the lite side of the menu in terms of anything you need to implement. It's about four ingredients in your business future - dreams, products/services, profitability, and fun. It's fast food and just requires you to think a little about your business and the future.
Building a Foundation for Success
"If you don't do it excellently, don't do it at all.
Because if it's not excellent, it won't be profitable or fun,
and if you're not in business for fun or profit,
what the hell are you doing there?"
This is a very short specialty today. It's meant to get you thinking about a few of the things you do to compromise your dreams, your products and sometimes even the services you offer.
Dreams: There's no reason ever to let go of your dreams, and that includes pressure from loved ones who don't understand your passion as an artist. That doesn't mean you don't have to modify them here and there, but if you let them slip under the umbrella that life is a compromise, then you're only going to replace your dreams with regret and sooner or later, growing resentment.
Products: There is no room for compromise delivering anything that isn't "excellent," just like the quote above. There's a standard of excellence in photography, and mostly it boils down to exceeding your client's mindset. You're living in the most competitive time in business history, and every consumer needs to know they made the right choice. Think about how many photographers they had to choose from!
Every product and service you offer has the same goal - exceed client expectations and make yourself habit-forming!
Profitability: Loving what you do, but eating macaroni and cheese every night eventually grows old. Going into the new year, look at your costs, ALL of them. Invest in marketing. Pay attention to consumer trends in your community and price your services appropriately. There's a ton of information out there to help you and even more educators who have focused on the topic.
Earlier this year SCU diner offered a Friday special on pricing, which included a terrific video from Sal Cincotta. If you missed it, it's just a click away!
Fun: I gave "fun" it's own paragraph. It's the most important word in business today and also the most forgotten. It's not a crime to have fun when you're working. We all have the same challenge - we get so caught up in the pressure of the day in day out business we forget to have fun. Having fun is critical to your success as an artist and a business person...make it a priority.
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
Fast Food Fridays are brought to you by:
Excire's ability to help you with Search and SearchPro is just a click away on the banner above.
If you're not familiar with the product, check out the video below featuring Suzette Allen as she put Excire to the test searching for various images.
You'll also find a wealth of information to help you raise the bar on the quality of your work with a visit to Suzette's blogs and YouTube channel. She's always sharing outstanding information as one of the industry's leading educators.
The year is '94 and we're in NYC at Javits for what later would become PPE. This was the Hasselblad sales force working the show together with the some of the staff, Tony Corbell, Chuck Gutierrez, Don Snyder, Rudy Guttosch, Carl Claesson and Jim Morton. For a relatively short time Staffen Junel was world wide CEO based out of Sweden.
The Hasselblad University programs were becoming legendary with one tour after another of great workshops. Tony joined the team as Dean of Hasselblad Univeristy and was instrumental in putting together some outstanding programs.
Throwback Thursday is the perfect time to wander down Memory Lane. Take the time to look through those old photographs you've got stashed away - they bring back so many memories and are a reminder of the incredible importance we provide as an industry!
If you're looking for a unique holiday gift this season, check out the sale on this print from John Sexton.
"This 5x7" handcrafted silver gelatin image is being offered for one week only at the very special discounted price of $150 – a significant saving from the gallery retail price of my prints. Unlike my other prints, this 5x7" print – printed by me on 11x14" silver gelatin photographic paper – will be delivered UNmounted, and without an overmat. Please know that this special discounted price is good only for orders placed prior to midnight Friday, November 30, 2018. After that date the price will increase to $300."
Launched last week on "Black and White Friday," there are just 48 hours left for this offer.
Whether you're a collector looking to own a unique piece from one of photography's
best known artists, or searching for a great gift idea for someone special, John's work is remarkable. His photographs are in collections and galleries all over the world. And, he's no stranger to SCU, helping us launch "Why?" with the very first episode in 2016.
Click on the print to the right for more information about John and this stunning print.
A few years back I started a series of blog posts I called "Nick's Pics." Like so many different projects with good intentions, things got busy. While Nick and I have never lost touch in our close to thirty-year friendship, sharing his favorite picks from cyberspace slipped through the cracks.
Nick Vedros is all about creativity. You never know what he's going to find on the Internet that will get your wheels turning. What I love most about so much of what he shares, is they're constant reminders of the world outside our door that's firmly rooted in imaging. It's so easy to have day after day go by with the only thing you think about being your own business.
Well, Nick is back in the SCU stream, and sent me this short video yesterday, and I loved his choice for a morning dose of creativity. Here's a lesson in concept, design, photography, and artists who loved the creative process involved in album covers.
It's part of the Earworm series on YouTube. Shared on the Vox channel, they've done an incredible job telling the backstory behind the great jazz albums of the '50s and '60s, starting with the image on the right. It doesn't matter whether or not you're a jazz lover, this is about one aspect of the history of great design elements.
As you watch and listen to the story, think about your own work.
What if you took a few of your favorite images and like the way the Earworm team has told the story, you told yours? What if you took several images and shared the skills involved in capturing and creating the photograph? What if you talked about the artists you've been influenced by? What if you shared how and why an image was cropped to tell your story, and at the same time demonstrated your skillset in capturing great photographs?
And, even if you hate my idea of applying some of the storytelling techniques used in this video to your own work, just appreciate the design elements and how each album was created with a particular look that became the signature look described by Vox/Earworm on YouTube as:
Blue Note captured the refined sophistication of jazz during the early 60s,
giving it its signature look in the process.
Nick is a perpetual student of imaging, art and design. He's no stranger to SCU sharing a number of great posts over the years and joining me for an episode of "Why?" in 2017.
Take the time to watch the video whether you're a jazz fan or not...What a kick!
There's always so much great content packed into these short videos produced by Profoto. No matter what your specialty, they're always sharing information to help you raise the bar on your skill set, and the quality of your images.
Watch the short video above as UK fashion and beauty photographer Tina Eisen takes you through six setups for creative portraits using the new Profoto A1. She shares a lot of great insight, and the blog post includes even more information with lighting diagrams for each setup.
This video is part of an exclusive article in Profoto's "Inspiration" series and it's all FREE. All you need to do is register and you'll not only get access to some of the very best content in professional photography but their newsletter as well. This post was particularly informative sharing more information about each setup, including lighting diagrams. Just click on the shot of Tina below.
Now and then a product shot comes along that's just fun to share. I loved this image of Tina from the post. Two things hit me - first, Oscar May clearly captured the essence of the artist posing with her gear. Second, is how Profoto with their extensive family of light-shaping tools and the portability of their On-Camera and Off-Camera Flash Systems have changed the way photographers capture images...anywhere and at any time of day!
There's a terrific promotion going on with the A1 right now through the end of the year. And, check out why the A1 is so remarkable with a click on the banner below.
In the 190+ year history of photography, photographers have never had more creative tools to work with than today. Many of them are all thanks to Profoto! Isn't it time you found out what all the buzz was about?
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's Monday and "Mirrorless Mark" is back with a great little share about post-processing. Everyone has a different thought on the degree of post-processing images need beyond composition and slight exposure adjustments.
From my perspective, there are three basic types of images that go through post-processing. First, it's a good photograph, but the conditions weren't perfect, and the artist wants to share a more realistic image of what was captured. Second, comes the artist who wants to create art and shares an image that's very different from what we expect. Third, is reserved for the "filter junkies" who often have a terrible image but think if they hit it harder with multiple filters it's going to become something worthy of their skill set - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
The image Mark is sharing today is right in that first category. It was captured with a LUMIX G9 and the Leica 100-400mm lens. He's taken a gray, foggy day and in post-processing is sharing an image more in line with his "vision" and what he saw.
We've been working a lot with Skylum's Luminar 2018, and we're having some fun with a donation back to NILMDTS for each sale through the SCU link until the end of this month. However, I have to admit, it's hard not to fall into both the second and third categories. I love taking an ordinary image and turning it into something that pushes the edge of the envelope regarding my creativity. However, post-processing, especially image manipulation, is hardly my area of expertise and I'll often realize I've pushed my "vision" too far.
But, here's a fun perspective on our industry: Long before the words "digital" and "imaging" were put together, Dean Collins used to say, "Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!" So, it didn't matter what anybody thought of his images, as long as the client was happy!
Mark shares plenty of great images along with solid ideas on his blogs. Just click on his photo above to link to his website. You'll never be disappointed in the content he shares. And check out the LUMIX Ambassador team. This is one of the most diverse groups in photography, and they're always sharing great content to help you raise the bar on your skillset.
by Mark Toal
Once in a while I still get asked if one of my images has been post processed? The answer is always “YES”. I spent twenty years of my life working in photo labs post processing film and digital files. Almost every negative and file was post processed either by a human operator or machine.
I set my camera to shoot RAW and JPG files. I use the JPG file when I want to quickly transfer a file from my camera to my iPhone, process it in Snapseed and upload to Facebook or Instagram. The RAW file is the one that I work with in Lightroom or Photoshop on my iMac. The RAW files tend to have less contrast and saturation than the JPG file allowing me to create the image I want.
I see photography as a way to interpret what I’m seeing in the world. A good example is this photo of a colorful duck. I shot it on a gray, foggy day here in Portland, but I could imagine what the colors would look like on a brighter day, so I processed it to fit my vision.
I'm not sure how Sunday Morning Reflections got started, but it's been a couple of years at this point. It's ironic that it's become one of my most read posts.
I know I started it because I wanted to write about what I was feeling outside the business of photography. Going off track has become as much for me as it is for you. Often a Reflections post is a blueprint for how I'm about to spend my Sunday.
This morning I had a hard time trying to decide what I wanted to write about when it occurred to me that it's been a long time since I shared Melody Beattie's wisdom. She's an incredibly talented writer, and just like most of you who need that first cup of coffee in the morning, I need something inspirational to get me going.
A few days ago she shared this short piece of wisdom:
Let Yourself Play by Melody Beattie
How long has it been since you played? How long has it been since you played at your life, had fun with it?
Our imaginations are so delightful when we're young. Watch a child sit in the middle of the floor and build castles with blocks. Watch a child play - any object can be anything, and anything can be fun. Life can pound that out of us if we let it.
Breathe life back into your imagination. Come back to life. Let yourself see dragons in clouds and leprechauns in trees and velvet in a rose. Imagine what it would be like to grab a handful of cloud. Then touch the tree. And put the rose to you cheek.
Let your imagination come alive.
Play the game of "What If?"
What if anything could be anything?
What if life could be fun?
Sheila and I just came back from our morning walk, and along the way, we decided there was absolutely nothing either of us had on the agenda today. We're just going to kick back, enjoy a day that's wholly stress-free and play. We're going to follow Melody Beattie's lead and take the time to smell the roses!
Wishing all of you a day where you can put the business aside. Make whatever's in your heart a priority and take the time to recharge your battery! As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, and if you're tuning into this blog late, I read an article in AARP Magazine several years ago that talked about the value of hugs lasting at least eleven-seconds.
And, if you're returning today in traffic wrapping up Thanksgiving weekend...take your time and deal with the traffic from a point of low stress because there's nothing you can do to make the cars in front of you or TSA move any faster! Safe travels!
Happy Sunday everybody!
It's the Friday after Thanksgiving, and if you're an American, you're probably enjoying leftovers from yesterday's holiday dinner. So, having fun with Fast Food Friday, I ran across this post in the SCU archives from four years ago, and it's perfect for today.
While most of the time Fast Food Friday posts are short, the "new menu," thanks to Excire has a lot of bigger entrees. It's still fun to think of it as this week's "blue plate special" in the SCU marketing diner, but it takes a little longer to consume.
Looking for new blog content? If you have a blog and said "No," you're lying! Everyone is looking for content, especially about topics to draw in readership. Well, here it is - as today's "Chef" I'm giving you one of my favorite recipes, and it's going to expand your audience, and get your community more involved.
A well-done blog is one of the best marketing tools you've got. The only thing that will render it useless is if you don't know what you're doing with a camera in your hands! As with everything I write about - you've got to have the skill set.
Your website is about what you sell, your products and your services. Your blog is about what's in your heart. An excellent blog gives you the opportunity to go off track a little and be involved in your community. There are very few things with this strong a potential to help you build brand awareness. This is all about working to establish yourself as the photography expert in your community. It's a soft-sell approach, without getting in anybody's face.
There's a bonus with today's Fast Food Friday Special...listen to the minute and a half "First Byte" that gives you a taste of what's coming and why it's so important!
Blog Content That Pulls in Your Community
Hit play to hear about today's special...
The whole idea with today's post is to build terrific content using businesses in your community. So many photographers complain about not having enough material and needing things to write about. Why not start featuring all your favorite places, starting with retail establishments?
Here's a great example - everybody has a few favorite restaurants, pizza places, etc. Start with a visit to one of your favorites and shoot an environmental portrait (wide angle) of one of the staff in the restaurant. Maybe it's the chef in the kitchen or the host/hostess, a waiter or waitress or the manager. The point is, you're going to pick somebody who's added something to your life in your community, even it's inches to your waistline!
Next, do a short write up: 50-150 words is plenty. Talk about one of your favorite dishes and include a link to the restaurant's website or if they don't have a website, give their address. This is about recognizing one of the places in your community and why you like to go there. It's about sharing your experiences.
Having trouble understanding environmental portraiture? It was one of the legendary Don Blair's favorites. He'd shoot with Hasselblad's 30mm fisheye and pull in as much of the subject's environment as he could. Here are a few examples I pulled off of Google when typing in "Environmental Portraits." Click on any image, and you can find out more about the artist and how the image was used.
Now, let's pull the concept together with a marketing plan.
Each time a new community profile post runs, print out a hard copy and put it into an inexpensive acrylic free-standing frame. I went online and Googled "Acrylic Frames" for the example at the right. This one is an 8x10, but depending on what you print, a 5x7 might work as well.
At the top of the image add the following text, "Community Profiles - As Seen On ______________'s Blog (_____________.com)". Drop it off as a thank you to your subject for their time to pose and contributing to your content.
Here's one of the best benefits of community profile posts - They help establish your expertise as a photographer along with being an enthusiastic member of the community. Every establishment loves a little publicity, and you're giving them a chance at more exposure, as well as showing your appreciation for whatever role they've played in your life. Each subject is going to become one of your ambassadors. Don't under-estimate how excited they're going to be about being featured on your blog when you drop off that acrylic stand.
Here are a few more tips to help you make this more effective...
This is about giving back to your community using your skill set. You're looking for the community to be good to you. So, you better make sure you're good to your community!
Fast Food Fridays are brought to you by:
Excire's Black Friday Special
Excire's exclusive Black Friday special is just a click away with an unprecedented special offer of just $55 for Search Pro and $33 for Search. Just click for more information!
Check out the 38-second video below and you'll understand why, if you're using Lightroom Classic CC, Excire is about to make searching for images a whole lot faster and easier!
We're all taking the day off at SCU today and enjoying Thanksgiving...no posts, minimal tweets and only this short message to wish all of you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
If all of us were sitting around the same gigantic table and shared what we give thanks for, I'd be thanking all of you for the passion you bring to an industry I love dearly. It's your support and feedback that makes photography so much fun.
"Fun," as I've written before, is one of those very special words that's too often lost in business today. It gets buried underneath the stress of work, balancing the different hats we wear and the lack of time to get everything done that we want to do.
So, along with wishes for a great Thanksgiving I'm adding the hope that you have time to enjoy the people most important in your life and have a day of love, peace, family, friendship and lots of smiles.
By Chamira Young
One of the things I love about our Luminar Corner series is that it gives me an excuse to have fun and experiment with my images. Don't get me wrong, I love running a photography business and all, but sometimes it's fun to get creative without the pressure of having a client or deadline breathing down my neck. Introducing the art of experimentation is a great way to actually grow as an artist and stay refreshed.
Skylum's Luminar in particular makes this really fun and easy. Having spent countless hours in other image editing software programs, I'm continually amazed at how quickly Luminar allows you to explore with various styles in literally minutes.
In today's post, I want to share a feature that is as powerful as it is easy.
Enter the "Sunrays" Filter: Powerful and Intelligent
Let's take a look at today's original mage. Honestly, I can't remember where I captured it, or even when. All I can say is It was some years ago. While attractive, it could use a creative boost.
After opening the image in Luminar, I quickly applied the "Marco Polo" preset from the Travel category. That took literally about 30 seconds. Then, I did something I've never done before: I clicked the bright blue "Add Filters" button in the upper-right hand corner. From the impressive list of filters that appeared in the drop-down menu, I chose the "Sunrays" filter. (As an aside, I love that when you hover your mouse over each filter, a short description pops up. Very handy.)
Once you select a particular filter, its controls will appear within your Filters panel on the right side of your workspace.
A Five Minute Process with Dramatic Results
From there, it was simply a matter of adjusting various sliders within the Sunrays filter area. Just play it by eye. Clicking the "Place Sun Center" button literally allows you to click and drag where you want the sun to be. As you do so, Luminar intelligently adjusts the appearance of the sun and its rays based on where you place it. It doesn't just mindlessly place a glare on your photo.
It also allows you to control the strength of the sun and rays individually. As you can see, I definitely went for a dramatic feel because, hey, like I said earlier, I'm experimenting and having some fun.
Let's take a look at the final image. The process took all of about five minutes!
It's the Biggest "No Brainer" Decision in Photography
Put in the special discount code of "SKIPCOHEN" and receive an additional $10 off. That means you can buy Luminar 2018 for $49 USD and upgrade from the previous version for $39 USD. The code also applies to the purchase of Aurora HDR 2019.
Please Note: For every purchase made between now and November 30, 2018, through the SCU link on the right, SCU will be donating $5 to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
I've shared a lot of Tamron's demo videos but missed this one from a short time ago.
I'm sharing it for two reasons. First, their approach to a demo piece of the 70-210 mm F/4 Di VC USD lens is actually soothing. Sure, it's a demo and an infomercial, but I enjoyed watching Alexander Ahrenhold in action while at the same time they're showing you what makes this lens so terrific. Second, and this is the big reason - think about how you'd tell your story.
What if, just like the way they showed each feature of the lens, you were sharing another component of your business. So many of you get uncomfortable in front of the camera versus always being behind it. So, follow Tamron's video like you would a storyboard and talk about diversity in your skill set, your technique in capturing great memories, the quality of your work, timely delivery of photographs, exceeding expectations, customer service, and trust.
Use images of you working with clients, original albums and prints put together with text slides that talk about each point. Put the whole thing to music, keeping it at two minutes or less, and *poof* you've got a fantastic marketing piece.
But there's one more thing I love about this video, and you've got to have the same foundation in yours - Tamron walks the talk! They're making some of the finest optics in photography, and from their educational efforts with the Tech Team on the road to their service department supporting all their users, they keep raising the bar on quality. They're working hard to help you become the very best artist you can be.
Some great offers are going on right now as part of Tamron's Black Friday - Cyber Monday special offers, click on the banner below. And, check out their events schedule with a click on the thumbnail to the left. The Tamron team is on the road with great programs/events right through to the middle of December.
If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve.
Do what you love, and don't stop until you get what you love.
Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don't compromise, and don't waste time.
Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.
It's that time of year when, even though you're busy and into the seasonality of the fourth quarter, you're still able to find those isolated moments when you think about the future. It doesn't matter if you're day-dreaming and thinking a few months or a few years ahead. There's a new year coming up and as hokey as it sounds, it's guaranteed to be filled with wonder!
So often many of us share the same challenge - we set our goals too low, making them too achievable. I remember a line from years back that went, "If you shoot for the stars you'll at least get to the top of the trees, but shoot for the top of the trees and you won't get off the ground!"
You're never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.
C. S. Lewis
Goal setting is so important, and there are far more prolific writers than me who have shared their wisdom on the subject, but here's the short and sweet way I look at goals. You need a destination whenever you're going somewhere. That destination can always change along the way, but you still need to know the direction in which you're about to travel and then savor each part of the journey.
Follow your dreams. They know the way!
Image copyright Mark Toal. All rights reserved.
"Mirrorless Mark" is back for Mirrorless Monday and sharing an image completely different from what he has typically featured in past posts. That's a big part of the the fun of Mark's photographs.
Back in the film days, I remember another good buddy, Tony Corbell, talking about how he always left a few frames on each roll to do something different at the end of every shoot. To this day, even though it's digital, he still encourages photographers to leave a little time to mix things up and experiment - with their gear, lighting, composition, and exposure.
So, there are two things I appreciate in Mark's image today. First, shooting with the fisheye and doing something out of the ordinary has resulted in a terrific image. Second, is his choice to capture the image in the richness of black and white. He chose to shoot in Monochrome D and then adjusted his exposure.
You'll find more of Mark's images along with his blogs by clicking on the image above. You'll never be disappointed in the content he shares. And check out the LUMIX Ambassador team. This is one of the most diverse groups in photography.
For more information about the LUMIX G9 or the LUMIX GF Fisheye, just click on either thumbnail below.
by Mark Toal
Every time I go out to take photos I do my best to shoot in a way that I haven’t seen the object or scene before. I’ve always been bored with my own photographs. The minute they were printed or posted on Instagram I can’t help wondering why I took it and how it could have been better.
Trying to find a new perspective is even more difficult when you’re photographing somebody else’s art work in the case of a car show where I captured this image.
Working on the photograph above I challenged myself to change things up. I tried to come up with something different by using an 8mm fisheye lens on my Panasonic Lumix GX9. The 8mm is not a circular fisheye. It fills the frame but distorts the image. I also changed the Photo Style in the camera to Monochrome D and reduced the exposure by 2/3 of a stop using exposure compensation.
One of the nicest compliments I've heard a few times over the years is, "How do you come up with so many topics to write about?"
It's really easy. My best source is listening to all of you. I'm continually reading comments and questions in the various forums. I spend a considerable amount of time reading emails and physically talking to photographers as much as I can. It's also one of the best reasons to attend a convention - talking with photographers and vendors about what's going on in the industry.
I know I wrote about this at least once in the past...I was part of the marketing department at Polaroid, back in the days when it was a real manufacturing company. I was the manager for the Photo Specialty Dealers; the camera stores represented $125 million of Polaroid's business. I put together a few pretty good marketing programs, but in all honesty, none of them were my ideas.
All I had to do was listen to our retailers and the sales reps in the field. I'd ask, "What would it take to double your Polaroid sales next year?" The floodgates would open and idea after idea was shared with me. Whether a sales rep, a camera store manager or the sales clerk behind the counter, they'd open up.
The ideas were endless. I'd hear comments about packaging, pricing, billing terms, advertising and even suggestions about bundling with other Polaroid accessories and other manufacturers. The answers were all out there, but so few people ever asked and almost nobody ever listened.
Well, it's Marketing Monday and reminding you to use your ears and eyes more is a perfect topic this time of year. Here are some great resources for you:
Here's the point...everybody I ask about how business has been each year, if they answer anything positive, they always add, "But I've never worked so hard in my life!" I've heard that same answer for the last ten years. Business is out there, but you've got to pay attention to what's missing in your market. You've got to promote yourself, be involved in community projects and make sure people know who you are.
It's not easy, but if you genuinely listen and pay attention to what's hot and what's not, you just might find a few of the answers you've been searching for.
It's 6:35 am on a Sunday morning, and the house is dark and quiet. It's even too early for Molly to come over wagging her tail for that first scratch of the day behind the ears. Remember, I always go off-track on Sunday mornings. So, I sat down a minute ago with no idea of what I was going to write about, and then it hit me. I want to write about, what I never write about.
Sheila and I have pretty much stopped watching the news. We record World News Tonight and then fast forward through the commercials and the politics. It doesn't matter whether you're a Democrat, Republican or "Waiting," none of us will ever know the truth except the amount of time the politicians waste arguing instead of helping. Yes, I'm a member of the "Waiting" party, like many of you, waiting for Congress to grow up.
Oops, I'm starting to rant, and that honestly isn't my intention...especially when I want to write about Thanksgiving, but trust me, there's a link to what we hear in the news.
Like so many of you, I'm devastated by the tragedy in the world. At first, I used to think it's always been this bad, but because of social media, we just hear about it faster. But, the world is changing more quickly than we want it to and Mother Nature is especially on a rampage.
Think about the disasters in the news just recently. The fires in California are still raging, but we've never seen entire towns wiped out before with hundreds of people still missing. The hurricane leveled Mexico Beach leaving more people homeless. So many of us have watched the news, but the natural disasters always seemed to take place on the other side of the world. Now they're hitting right here and affecting communities we know and have even been to.
Mother Nature may have the reach to impact more people and create these horrible stories but it's what man is doing that gives me the most nightmares. From the temple shooting in Pittsburgh to the Church shooting months earlier to the security guard who was killed while holding down a suspected shooter and the children who were killed getting off the school bus - the world has run amuck!
And here we are, safe and sound with Thanksgiving four days away. I know many of you go around the table and share what you're thankful for in your life. Well, how about if this year we're all thankful for our ability to help change the world? How about if we're all grateful, not for what we have, but for what we can do to help slow down the ugliness?
I won't deny I'm thankful for my health, Sheila and my life but Thanksgiving has to go deeper than that. Let's be thankful for our ability to help people who have nothing left to be thankful for, except their health. Let's be grateful for the fact that we can reach out and help somebody else on the planet. Let's put a little pressure on our fellow man to live life differently and just be a bit more helpful to each other.
It's hypocritical that I write about this stuff when in my own family we no longer talk to each other. Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday and a time for memory-making but the pain and everyone's inability to forgive or even take the first step back to being what we once were, is buried under tons of baggage too complicated to dig through. We're all at fault, and I know we're not unique, but it is sad to see the ugliness in my own family is just a microcosm of the world stage.
So, when you go around the table this year at Thanksgiving, first give thanks that you have a table to sit around, both physically and figuratively. Then give thanks for your ability to help change your little corner of the world. Think about it, if everyone would help make their community a better place, all those small communities add up.
Wishing everyone a beautiful Sunday with plenty of time to think about your corner of the world. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with those people you care the most about. Give "love" top billing today and most important of all, be thankful for all those people in your life who together help make a difference.
And for me, a big thanks to all of you. I appreciate your support far more than a blog post can ever show. Your feedback is so important and together we're all helping to make a difference in an industry near and dear to each of us.
Image copyright Kim Ackerman. All rights reserved.
I started this series to introduce you to the movers and shakers in contemporary photography. I completely underestimated how much insight each artist would share about life, their careers, marketing, and often technique. It's been an incredible experience, and with each new episode, there's something different being shared, not to mention some outstanding photographs.
Kim Ackerman joins me in this new episode. She's best known for her creativity in the world of boudoir, fashion, and glamour but she’s also an educator and talented motivator and mentor. Photographing professionally for the last seventeen years, it's only been the last few that she's been teaching. Her passion for the craft is infectious, and it comes out in every workshop she teaches.
Part of her "secret" is that she doesn’t just capture stunning images, but is directly involved in designing many of her own looks for concept shoots including gowns and headpieces. Being involved in every shoot is part of the story she and I talked about.
I love her backstory and how she's made a concept shoot a regular part of her relationship with her daughter. And, there's a bonus in this new "Why?" as I hit Kim with her feelings about the importance of exceeding client expectations.
To see more of Kim's work click on the image above. And, check out her blog! She regularly shares some great information about her upcoming workshops, speaking engagements, and retreats.
The concept of Fast Food Friday started as quick things to think about to help fine-tune your business as a professional photographer. I started playing off of our love for fast food. We all understand the concept of quick lunch at a place like McDonald's, Arby's, etc. although my personal favorite for quality is Chick-fil-A.
The ideas that have been shared keep growing, and the blue plate specials have become more complex, often "tasting" like a full course meal at Ruth's Chris. But the concept is still the same - ideas to help you make this year and 2019 more successful.
Today's special is hardly fast food. Each one is a meal by itself. I hope you'll read the post as if it was fast food and there was little more to think about. Then, come back and go through each of the five questions below. If your goal is to continue to grow your business and make 2019 your best year yet, the time to start thinking about it is NOW!
Most important of all, there are no right or wrong answers to the questions. You've got to understand your business and your audience and most important of all, procrastination should NOT be part of your skill set.
Five Questions Leading Up to the New Year
"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."
Every year business gets a little tougher, and too often many of you get frustrated that things aren't coming together as quickly as you had hoped. You're losing patience and even considering giving up! Often your frustration is the result of not thinking through the business side of being a pro. So, let's get you focused on building a solid foundation and keep you out of Ross Perot's definition of "most people."
What's your goal for each of the next three years? Let's start with this year and write them down. Most of you started your business, but never really thought about what you wanted it to look like. Many of you are trying to hit too broad a target with clients in weddings, family, children, seniors, boudoir, etc. You've got to build each business element one step at a time and make sure you have the skill set to meet the demands of each group.
Who is your target audience? Based on a Kodak survey done many years ago, women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories. I don't believe it's changed one point since then. Does your website have a feminine appeal? Are you hitting the right points in your marketing to appeal to Mom? Is the content you share on your blog interesting to her?
Do you have the skill set? Okay, this is the toughest...you know when you look at an image if it genuinely represents professional talent or could anybody's Uncle Harry have gotten the same shot? Look at your galleries and then dump those images that aren't spectacular. At every conference, you should be taking classes on new techniques and expanding your skill set, because growth starts outside your comfort zone.
Are you signed up for every convention and workshop you can hit in the next year? The benefit isn't just in what you'll learn in classes or walking the trade show floor - it's in the networking. Nothing can help you more than spending time with other photographers and building a network of associates who are dealing with the same challenges. Don't forget to add all the vendors whose products and services you use. You should know some of the staff at every company you work with.
When you look at this past year to date, if you're a little disappointed, is the problem in revenue or what you're shooting? So often I've met photographers who hate what they're shooting because it's so far from the passion and glamour of what they wanted to spend their time doing initially. The challenge is to build your revenue stream with whatever is going to pay the bills - but here's the best part of being an artist. Special projects can help you stay focused on the passion and give you a way to vent a little of that frustration when you're shooting subjects you're not crazy about. It's an easy question to think about - what do you love to photograph most and how can you build a special project around it to keep your heart and soul where it should be in the coming year?
"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer."
Whatever pays the bills can often feel like the "depth of winter", but that's why I love that quote. It's that "invincible summer" we all have inside us that gets us through the challenges. You've got to keep your passion for the craft alive and when you feel like you're about to crash and burn, that's the time to step away from the business and often special projects can help you stay focused on what's most important to feed your creative genes.
Fast Food Fridays are brought to you by:
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It's Throwback Thursday and for the second week in a row, I've got my old buddy Bob Nunn to thank for some great material. Wandering through his album of throwback photographs these two were duplicates and now represent classic memories in my own stash.
I joined Hasselblad USA in 1987. NASA had been flying with Hasselblads since '62 and with the majority of flights somebody from the company was involved. I believe Hasselblad cameras were on every flight for over 40 years.
Astronaut Charles Conrad captured the image above in November 1969. It's astronaut Alan Bean holding a soil sample from the moon's surface and it's the 49th anniversary of that image this week!
However, depending on what publication you research, there's also a description that suggests the image is Neil Amstrong with Buzz Aldrin reflected in the visor of his helmet. And, if somebody knows for sure, feel free to let me know.
One of the best advertising campaigns about Hasselblad was in the mid-80's with a tagline of, "Fifteen years ago NASA left twelve cameras on the moon. We bet they still work!" It was the perfect testimonial to Hasselblad's legendary quality.
I love the simplicity of this portrait of Wally Schirra holding his Hasselblad. He was the first to take a Hasselblad camera into space, an off-the-shelf 500C that he bought at a local Houston camera dealer.
As much as I love this history of Hasselblad in space, my own brush with greatness came one day in the office. Chuck Gutierrez was on the phone and as usual, I wandered into his office without knocking to ask him something. He quickly turned and went "Sshhh!" He was patched into the space shuttle through NASA and was taking one of the astronauts through the steps to clear a jammed lens!
I write the same close to just about every Throwback Thursday post - take the time once a week to wander through your old photographs. You'll find every image brings back memories you've often forgotten about. Then, use some of those images and share them in blog posts for your readers.
Women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories. For most of you that means "Mom." So, use throwback images to remind her how fast the kids are growing and the importance of updating the family portrait and creating new memories. Plus, it's holiday season and now is the perfect time to plant the seed for holiday gift ideas featuring photographs!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
I love the work Profoto puts into each one of their videos, but it's not just about the style of each demo. It's the way each one introduces us to another photographer. Obviously, in this piece, lifestyle and wedding photographer, Jana Williams, is working outside the average pressure of a wedding. At the same time, a video like this gives you a chance to understand the mind's eye vision of the artist better.
"My clients hire me because I add an editorial feeling to their wedding images."
As you watch this video think about how you'd tell your story, and all in just two minutes. Every client is looking for something different from their photographer. Jana talks about her work having an editorial style, which is how she likes to capture and create. But, click on either image I captured in this post to visit Jana's galleries, and you'll see some beautiful work and understand, while her passion is more to the lifestyle side, her skill set and choice of gear allows her to pretty much capture whatever her clients need.
But there's one more aspect of this video I wanted to share, and it's the location where she's shooting. Jana's based in the Los Angeles area and right now, the area is being destroyed by the fires. And, while the backdrop of the rolling hills where this video was filmed might not have been directly affected by the fires, for sure Jana's images over the years have captured many of the areas most beautiful locations, now destroyed.
So many of us have written and talked about the responsibility each photographer has to never compromise on the quality of an image, but it's not just about the subjects who you photograph. It's also about the surroundings and the timeless beauty of the locations where you photograph.
There's a lot you can learn by watching other photographers working, even in a short video. Profoto never slows down in developing more tools to help photographers raise the bar on the quality of their images and in their focus on education as well.
Find out what all the buzz is about with a visit to your Profoto retailer or rental house. Just click on the banner below for more information. Then, take their Off-Camera Flash System out for your own test drive. You'll never be disappointed with the results.
Three weeks ago were in New Jersey and there's very little that beats one of the gorgeous 75 degree days on the ocean. We were out with friends on their boat on Barnegat Bay, and the clouds just kept rolling by. I was traveling light when it came to camera gear, but that's the fun of virtually EVERY LUMIX camera. Had one of my favorite cameras with me, a LUMIX GX85 with the 12-32mm kit lens. Nothing fancy - but perfect to travel with!
Click on either thumbnail of the GX85 or 12-32mm lens for more information.
I wasn't out to capture a masterpiece, just looking for a few good examples of clouds to share one of Skylum's newest features in Luminar 2018, the new Sky Enhancer. The image above is with the Sky Enhancer at 100% and the comparison, before and after screenshot is below.
Remember, the fun of Luminar Corner is being able to demonstrate so many of the creative tools Skylum has created. Obviously I could enhance the image further with an infinite combination of filters, but I wanted to share the Sky Enhancer by itself.
But here's the beauty of Luminar's presets - you can adjust the level you want. So, just to share here on Luminar Corner, I took it to 50%, and the image is below. A little less clarity and saturation, but again it's all personal taste. It's what you like or more important what appeals to your clients.
As Dean Collins loved to say, "Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!"
It's the Biggest "No Brainer" Decision in Photography
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry this past August.
The dates have been announced for 2020 at the Palmer House in Chicago. August 11-14!
What a kick!
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.