by Skip Cohen
Now and then, one of the national magazines runs a story about a Hollywood celebrity from years back with the headline of "Where are they now?" Well, this isn't about Hollywood, but it is about a photo-industry "celebrity" and a manager, so many of us loved working with for a whole lot of years.
Turn the clock back to Photodex days and WPPI in the early 2000s. One of the most consistent exhibitors was Photodex. They were the leader in slide show software and incredible supporters of artist's copyright, especially when it came to licensing music. Just to put it in perspective, they set the standard for so many of the techniques you use today when putting together slide shows.
The marketing manager responsible for so much of their presence was Amanda Sahliyeh, today Amanda Eddy. If you were at any of the Skip's Summer School programs, Amanda was always there. She's continually been a great supporter of the industry and especially education.
So, where's Amanda now? I could be off a year or so, but she left Photodex a couple of years before they closed their doors. However, she stayed focused on her passion as an artist and opened a jewelry store in Austin, TX.
In August, on Facebook, she posted:
Big news I can hardly believe! We just won Coolest Small Jewelry Store in America by INSTORE magazine. Thankful and so humbled by this honor! Just click on her storefront above to link to the article.
Second only to being in the store itslef, she's got a lot of fun jewelry on her website. Her niche is great-looking everyday jewelry, and with the holiday season approaching, wander over and check it out. I just bought Sheila a couple of pairs, and she loves them. So, from every day to fine jewelry, have some fun, and check out what Amanda's been up to with a click on her logo to the right.
Oh, and the "Thank You" note from Amanda above was almost as much fun as ordering Sheila the earrings. Amanda saw the order come through and put in her hand-written note. As I've written so many times, the best thing about our industry has NOTHING to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft!
by Skip Cohen
There are parts of this post I've hit numerous times in other posts, but that doesn't make my point any less relevant!
The clock is ticking, and the remarkable seasonality of the fourth quarter is almost here. Yet, so many of you are still acting like a deer in the headlights, and not taking action. It's never too late to start establishing yourself as the expert in imaging in your community!
With or without Covid - it's not who YOU know, but WHO knows you! So here's a list to help you keep your name out there in the spotlight. Your goal is top-of-mind awareness, so your name comes up first, anytime somebody is thinking about photography.
Here's my point - I'm hearing great stories, from photographers around the country whose businesses are strong and even a couple who told me they're tracking to their biggest year ever! So, stop standing at the airport waiting for your ship to come in!
Don't miss so many solid opportunities to get your business back on track this holiday season. And if you're stuck trying to figure out what to do next - you know where to fine me!
by Skip Cohen
Anybody can take pictures of food and beverages. I see images all the time, especially from event photographers, but the challenge isn't in clicking the shutter; it's understanding lighting and how to make the food "craveable!" It's all about knowing how to cross the line into the feeling of fine art by utilizing all the skills of great lighting and composition. Meet AaronVan, a true artist in the world of food and beverages.
At a time when the pandemic has restricted so many different specialties within imaging, food photography has never been in greater demand. Think about all the restaurants that, before the pandemic, never needed photographs of their favorite dishes. Needing to offer carryout service and outdoor dining, opportunities abound to meet the needs of a whole new target audience - restaurant owners.
I met Aaron on a phone call with a Platypod project. Then, we expanded the conversation in this podcast. He's great to talk to, and the passion for his work comes out loud and clear right from the start. From a college course in photography as a freshman, he developed a long list of skills over the years. And a twenty-year career in advertising, gave him an outstanding understand of relationship building, which we talk about during the podcast.
I've written in the past, "You can't create images that tug at people's hearts if your own heart isn't in it!" Well, on Aaron's about-page, he wrote:
It has been an amazing journey of growth, love and passion, and food! Every shoot is a chance to push my skill and work with other passionate artists and producers. There is nothing quite like walking into a shoot, throwing on some music, setting up the lights and preparing to tell another craveable story of food for my clients.
Whether food photography is in your future or not, AaronVan needs to be on your radar. Why? Because no matter what you usually photograph, sooner or later, you're going to need to raise the bar on your skills in closeup and lighting. Watch the short video he created below, and you'll understand so much more about what it takes to make your food and beverage images craveable.
You'll also find his class on food photography at Kelby One a terrific investment in expanding your skillset.
Missed any of the past "Beyond Technique" podcasts? They're all just a click away at Photofocus.com and included conversations with some of the most respected artists and educators in imaging today.
The "Beyond Technique" podcast is thanks to Platypod!
Platypod's presence in social media never slows down. Check out the Platypod blog for a never-ending stream of great content and wander over to their Facebook page, and check out Instagram too.
Sign up for the FREE newsletter every month too. Chamira Young is the Editor/Publisher, and every issue shares stories featuring at least three artists and how they're using Platypod.
And recently, Platypod's added two new cost-saving bundles for close-up photography, featuring the new LumeCube RGB Panel Pro! Plus there's FREE shipping in the U.S. on all orders over $100.
It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else!
by Skip Cohen
As ALWAYS, I'm way off the daily topic of business and marketing, and I've got to warn you, it's a sappy morning. I slept really well last night, and my dreams came and went like guests on an old Jerry Lewis telethon. But there was a common theme of pre-Covid life - you know, like the way things used to be.
In between the different dreamscapes, I was half awake and thinking about our industry and the business we're in. That led me to thoughts of artists who believe they've lost the ability to achieve their dreams while at the same time others who seem to be thriving.
My career path in imaging is a part of who I am. Like so many of you, and certainly my closest industry friends, we joke about it, but we really do eat, drink, and sleep photography. And here's my point...
Don't give up on your dreams! I absolutely believe we're going to get things back on track, and while there's no guarantee on the timing, I see things improving already. For me, I've shut off the news; I keep in touch with like-minded friends; I get enough sleep (never under-estimate the power of enough "shut-eye"), and I follow as many photographers as I can on social media.
Remember, if you don't like the path you're on, then change it! Nothing is cast in concrete in this business, and so often, an inspirational dream can carry you in a completely different direction from where you started. You don't have to change the world - just your tiny piece of it. And if we all work on our "tiny piece," think about how things will change.
What's my dream? I'm not slowing down in working to stay on track. Nothing has changed in the consumer's need to capture memories. The pandemic didn't take away my skillset, and it's not holding me back from growing and learning more about those things I love to do, the people I love to be with, and my future.
So, you've got nothing to lose if you just hold focus. You know how to hold focus with your camera - now it's time to do it with your heart.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead and time to kick back and dream a little. The fun of daydreaming is that you're awake and can go anywhere when you're relaxed. And when it comes to the people you love the most, share your dreams. Let them be a part of whatever it is you want to build...don't forget those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and make it a day to remember!
Happy Sunday...or Monday, if you're on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
This could well be my favorite video that Ken has done for Tamron over the years, and what better time to share it than on a Tamron Tuesday?
First, is the video itself. Just trust me on this and grab a cup of coffee and kick back and spend four minutes of your day as Ken wanders along the east coast of New England photographing lighthouses. I don't know if it's the music, the birds, the sound of the ocean, or just Ken's love for what he's doing, but it's incredibly soothing to watch.
Second, it's not a hard sales pitch - in fact, it couldn't be more soft-sell. And regardless of whether or not you shoot with Tamron, it's got a little educational twist and will leave you wishing you were hanging out along the Maine coast.
Third, special projects are a key to keeping your sanity, especially these days. None of us know what to believe in the world, and stepping away from your direct business and just being out with your camera is the perfect way to get your head back in the game. Special projects stimulate creativity and help you focus your priorities.
Ken's shooting with Tamron's 24-70mm lens. If you'd like more information, just click on the thumbnail to the right. And if you're thinking about some gear, Tamron's got a great program going on right now.
Tamron's making some of the finest glass in imaging, but don't take my word for it. Visit your Tamron dealer. And to my buddy, Ken Hubbard, nicely done and team from Tamron - nicely done!
If you want to catch more fish, use more hooks!
by Skip Cohen
This is the seventh post in this series, each one written in the hopes of helping you take action to capture more sales in the upcoming holiday season. The reality is there isn't any single key to success. But there is a winning combination of publicity, products, and promotion.
There's only so much content you can put in a blog post. So, today, it's just getting you to think about building awareness. What good is working so hard to create the best images of your life if nobody knows who you are? Too many of you think of publicity as awareness outside your control. So, let's kill the myth - thanks to social media and communication technology - EVERY business can control and contribute to their own awareness.
The definition of publicity from Google is:
In marketing, publicity is the public visibility or awareness for any product, service, or organization. It may also refer to the movement of information from its source to the general public, often via the media.
Stop waiting for that knock at your door from a reporter who wants to do a feature profile story about you and your business. Those opportunities will come, but you have to build your own awareness first!
The bottom line is simple: "use more hooks!"
But sometimes they don't have wings
and are called friends!
by Skip Cohen
I rarely write about people outside the industry, but this week we lost an extraordinary friend. Only a handful of you knew Frank Fleisher, but hopefully, many of you are lucky enough to have someone like Frank in your life.
Ever had a friend who you didn't know that long, but you can't remember a time when they weren't in your life? Frank and I met just six years ago when we were both asked to be on the Board of the Senior Friendship Centers here in Sarasota. The friendship was instant, and as we sat together at a lunch meeting with Erin McLeod, CEO for SFC, I remember her declaring right there, we were never going to be allowed to sit next to each other at any board meeting.
Over the years, the friendship grew, and Frank and his wife Barbara became one of our favorite couples to get out to dinner with. And when they left town each summer for their cottage in Maine, we'd go through withdrawal, counting the days until they were back!
My favorite picture of Frank is a grab-shot from my phone on the right. Frank and I were both trying to lose weight. So we had a little side-bet over a month or two, and whoever lost bought the next dinner for the four of us. Well, in the middle of the challenge, there was a Board meeting, and Frank decided to try and tip the scale in his favor - he came over to me with a full plate of blonde brownies and pumpkin roll!
When the pandemic hit, we went months without seeing them. They stayed in Maine longer than just the summer, but within two weeks after they were back, we reunited for dinner at one of our favorite places.
We hadn't had our vaccines yet, but we knew we'd all been careful and safe. So, we didn't hug, did fist bumps, and maintained social distancing throughout dinner. But for dessert, we decided to do what we usually did and ordered one dessert and four forks.
As we sat there, all sharing one order of flourless chocolate cake, I started laughing. I pointed out how we'd all been so careful social distancing through dinner but underestimated the power of chocolate - we were all huddled together eating off the same plate!
That was our last dinner together last Spring. Frank was diagnosed with a type of leukemia, fought a hard battle, and passed away this past Thursday.
Look, life is simply too short, and while Sheila and I will miss Frank immensely, he's a part of us. His incredible heart, style, giving nature, and smiling face have contributed so much to the quality of our lives, and all in such a short time.
Frank always liked to pick on me because I rarely wear long pants. After all, I live in Florida, and a nice shirt and shorts work virtually everywhere. So he used to tell me to put on big boy pants.
Well, Frank, I'm putting on my big boy pants today and doing my best to cherish the memories and our time as friends and fight off the sadness. You were like a brother and almost got me to like Scotch! You will be so missed. We love ya, buddy!
As Erin McLeod shared in an email....
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
by Skip Cohen
I created this series to help you start thinking about things you need to consider to make this one of your best holiday seasons to date. This is the sixth in the series, and all it requires you to do is genuinely listen to your clients and change the way you respond!
While I'd like to take credit for the foundation of today's post, it's thanks to my good buddy, Doug Box. I first heard him talk about this concept with his bakery demonstration years ago. So while I've written about it before, most of you need the reminder with the holiday season coming up!
Paraphrased from Doug's presentation: Pretend you're a baker, and somebody calls and asks you, "How much are your cakes?" For most of us, we'd ask a series of qualifiers: How many people do you want it to serve? Sheet cake, layer cake, or ice cream cake? What flavors would you like? Anything to be written on the top? Any allergies we need to know about? When do you need it? Will it need to be delivered? And the list goes on and on.
Why, when none of us own a bakery, do we know what we'd need to ask, but as artists, most of you ask almost nothing? For example, a potential client calls and asks, "How much are your 8x10s?" and most of you would answer with a price. That's it - nothing more to clarify what the customer needed, and no effort made to upsell with ideas of other products you offer, package pricing, cross-promotions with other vendors, holiday specials etc.
Holiday seasonality is right around the corner. While the pandemic has created so many complex challenges in business today, it's also brought with it a renewed sense of family. With that new focus on family there's an increased demand for portraiture and creating/capturing new memories. Just ask yourself, what's Grandma missed the most over the last year? Her family!
Take a minute and think about everything you have to offer a client. From holiday cards to prints to capturing memory-making events - when you're contacted, don't just answer their question. Instead, take things one step further and give them something to think about that ties back to your skillset and everything you have the potential to offer.
Another good buddy, Tony Corbell, has used Disney as an example over the years. If you ask a Disney staff member when is the Electric Light Parade, they'll answer you, but then include, "And you know where there's a great place to watch it?" They'll then give you a suggestion on where to be in the park to enjoy it the most. They never just answer your question.
The bottom line is simple - we've been experiencing it with every fast food order we've ever made..."You want fries with that?"
by Skip Cohen
Somewhere around 2011, one of the finest photographers in the industry, Bambi Cantrell, spent the day with my folks. It was essentially a day-in-the-life shoot and all happening right at the start of my mother's eight-year fight with Alzheimer's.
Out of that battle, Dad and I got involved with the Caregiver Support Group, part of the Senior Friendship Centers' support for the community. As Alzheimer's slowly robbed my Dad of the love of his life, his anger grew. Finally, it was suggested we join a support group, and while Dad at first hated the idea, he learned so much over the next year.
For my Dad's generation, you didn't share your feelings outside your family when they were sad, angry, or frustrated. You simply didn't do your "dirty laundry" in public. Sound familiar? But the other members of the group helped him understand he wasn't alone in his feelings, especially his sadness.
So, Dad and I would go to the weekly support group meetings and then go out to lunch together. It was pretty much the only time he'd leave my mother's side. As he said to me once when I was trying to get him to do a boys' night out, "Your mother has taken care of me every day for all these years. Now it's my turn to take care of her!"
I was recently at the Friendship Centers and grabbed one of their brochures - with Mom and Dad on the cover. I know how proud they'd both be knowing they were involved in helping spread the word about the contribution this very special non-profit makes to the community.
So, it's Throwback Thursday - whether you share it on your blog or just enjoy a look in the rearview mirror for yourself - take the time to savor a few great memories.
by Skip Cohen
Will Cadena joined us on this episode of "Mind Your Own Business." As I anticipated, he couldn't have been more open about his journey as a professional photographer and business owner. He shares a lot of great information, especially about continuing education and relationship-building with his clients. Just click on the banner above to listen to the podcast.
Until I was on his website looking for images for today's post, I had no idea he'd done work for an organization I'm proud to have written about over the years, HeartsApart.org. It's so important for all of you, as artists in your community to find ways to give back. So I pulled the short video below to not only share his skills as a storyteller and cinematographer but introduce you to one of my favorite non-profits.
From weddings to commercial work, to Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and corporate events, Will Cadena's work is all about people. He's a relationship-builder who never slows down. In fact, I've introduced him a couple of times as proof that hyperactive kids grow up and have careers! That energy level is his signature, and it's directly tied to his passion for the craft, education, and helping photographers raise the bar on the quality of their work.
Click on any image below to link to his website and check out his mentoring program. He's a firm believer in education, and if you see him on the agenda at any upcoming conference - run, don't walk to grab a seat!
A BIG thanks to Will for joining us on the podcast and to Photofocus.com for sharing the podcast and being one of the very best and most extensive resources for imaging artists!
Images copyright Will Cadena. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
Although this podcast got great reviews on Photofocus.com and iTunes, I've been behind getting caught up here on the SCU Blog. So, over this next week, if you haven't heard the podcasts already, you'll meet some of the most talented and respected artists in professional photography.
Meet a great friend to so many of us in photography, Kristen Jensen. In this podcast, she shares so much great insight into her journey - from a Ford model to actress to moving behind the camera and more.
We first met when we were both working with Panasonic, Kristen as an Ambassador, and me in support of their social media building. And while we're not directly involved as much these days, that doesn't change the love we share for imaging, especially marketing/branding.
"Everybody becomes a celebrity when they take charge of their brand."
I wanted to share her promotional video from her website. It's all about branding, and is the perfect sidekick to the podcast above.
As I've written so many times before, the fun of this industry has little to do with imaging but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Sheila and I have caught up to Kristen and Tom each time they've been in the area.
A BIG thanks to Kristen for joining Chamira and me on the podcast. Click on any of the images below to see more of Kristen's work, as well as gain a better understanding of branding. She's one of the most diverse artists in imaging.
And one more BIG thanks to Photofocus.com and their support of the Mind Your Own Business podcast. It all started with Rich Harrington having an idea, Sheila giving us a suggestion for what to call it, and in 2014 we kicked off the first podcast in the series and haven't missed a month since!
by Skip Cohen
It's Labor Day, and I pretty much share the same post every year...starting with the history of "Labour Day," thanks to Wikipedia:
(Labor Day in the United States) is an annual holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. For most countries, Labour Day is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers' Day, which occurs on 1 May. For other countries, Labour Day is celebrated on a different date, often one with special significance for the labour movement in that country. Labour Day is a public holiday in many countries.
So, if you're in the US, I just want to wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday. For us, it's a day to just kick back, mumble a lot about how fast the summer went by and then throw something on the grill. And if I really dig back through the memory banks, school started tomorrow, always the day after Labor Day.
Enjoy the holiday everybody - and unplug yourself from worrying about work - it'll all still be there tomorrow!
Gratitude make sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday, and if you follow me regularly, then you know there's no chance you're about to read anything about marketing or business. This is my day to let my head and heart go any place I want, and rarely does what I write have anything to do with work directly.
Last week Sheila and I were reading Melody Beattie; she talked about a "gratitude box." Well, we decided to take this beautifully carved box we have and fill it with messages about things we're grateful for. Well, that got me thinking about my life these days, the mess in the world around us; and the smile I wake up with every morning. And while they don't always seem to go together, I started thinking about the tradition of going around the table at Thanksgiving and talking about the things that make us thankful.
Now, go one step further - why do so many people only do it at Thanksgiving? No matter how bizarre you may think your life is - there's ALWAYS something to be grateful about. From big things to little - there's so much we take for granted. I'll admit, aging has an impact on my view of life. But, with age does come a certain level of wisdom, simply out of the experiences we've had for what works and what doesn't.
The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.
Frank Lloyd Wright
So, go back up top and read Melody Beattie's quote one more time. Take a look in your rearview mirror, then look where you are right now, finish with looking forward and cherish where you're headed. And if the path you've chosen isn't feeling right, look at why and then change it. Nothing we do or choose has to be forever.
And when it comes to what I'm grateful for - it starts with Sheila and the pups, our family, my health our friends and comes full circle to all of you in an industry I stumbled into so many years ago. What an incredible ride it continues to be!
Wishing everybody a holiday weekend (if you're in the US) filled with gratitude that outshines your frustrations and challenges. You know how to work with selective focus on your camera - well, now is a great time to view the problems in your life outside depth of field and let your optimism and appreciation genes go crazy!
Happy Labor Day Weekend!
by Skip Cohen
The year is 2010, and we were living in Akron, Ohio. I had a lecture series I put together called the Akron Photo Series. Each month a different photographer would come to the area, and we'd host an evening workshop. The proceeds all went to Akron Children's Hospital. While I got a lot of great feedback from photographers in the area, the real benefit for us was getting quality time with friends from the industry.
Clay Blackmore was one of the artists who joined us in the series that year. In wandering through my archives looking for a few throwbacks to share today, I found these. They represent some of my most favorite images of Sheila and me, and while Clay shot in both color and B&W - I still love the black and whites the most.
But there's a sidebar backstory - as much as I love the fact that Clay definitely captured our spirit as a couple - what I cherish the most is a portrait created by a good buddy. Clay started working with Monte Zucker right around the same time I started at Hasselblad. We've worked together on dozens of different projects over the years, shared lots of meals, and I can't count the number of times we've been together and laughed over life in the photo industry.
As the seasonality of the fourth quarter approaches, use your blog and presence in social media to remind your readers it's time for a new family portrait. There's a renewed sense of family in the world, and what "Grandma" misses the most is her family. Of course, that means the perfect gifts this holiday season all relate to imaging, but you've got to start planting those seeds of ideas now!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
A goal is just a dream with a deadline!
by Skip Cohen
The one thing we can never change is time. We can't slow it down. We can't speed it up. We never have enough of it - but right now, when it comes to preparing for the seasonality of the fourth quarter of 2021 - you DO have the time.
Most of us fly by the seat of our pants. We're reactionary and respond accordingly to whatever good ideas and, too often, bad ones come our way. Then when an idea doesn't produce the results we hoped for, we withdraw until we regain the confidence to try again.
Okay, enough of the philosophical side of trying to run a business at a time when the world is upside down! Let's go straight to the "brass tacks" of whatever it's going to take to make you smile about your business at the end of the year! I'm assuming everybody wants to regain a firmer footing in their business during the next few months - so, there's the goal and that dream with a deadline. Start with thinking through what you want to offer to your clients.
Here's my point - last year's holiday season was one of the toughest ever. We were all dealing with the unknown and the challenges created by the pandemic. And while we're still faced with so many challenges, there's never been a greater sense of family.
As a photographer, videographer, and artist you've got the skillset to offer your clients great ideas tying in your skills with their families and friends. It all starts with you, and while I hate the expression, "you snooze you lose."
And if you're stuck for ideas, you know where to find me and I'm serious, I'm happy to try and help.
You can't be the kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it.
You have to go down the chute!
by Skip Cohen
Tina Fey's quote isn't new to SCU - I've probably used it as an intro to at least two posts previously. However, it seems incredibly timely for today's Marketing Monday post. Over the last two weeks, I've shared three previous posts on ideas to help you ramp up for the upcoming holiday season.
Well, there are still too many of you sitting on the sidelines watching the parade go by instead of being in it! So, here are a few things I know about this year's seasonality.
The $100 billion pet industry is poised to nearly triple to $275 billion by 2030, creating potential tailwinds for pet-friendly stocks...The pandemic has upended the lives of humans, but for pets, it's been a bonanza: Their owners have been home all day, showering them with attention and treats...Morgan Stanley's housing strategists estimate that the growth trend of US pet ownership more than tripled during the pandemic.
Years ago, I worked for a company whose owner loved to ponder every significant decision. In the end, he pondered himself and the company right out of so many great opportunities. There's no such thing as a "sure thing" these days - so that means you have to take risks. But the great thing about imaging and business is that nothing has to be forever. Take risks, stop pondering at the top of the waterslide. Stop overthinking what you're going to do next.
Like the Nike tagline...Just do it!
by Skip Cohen
I woke up this morning knowing exactly the topic I wanted to hit, but not how to get there! The topic was the joy and frustration of aging. Not from a health perspective, but patience in dealing with an ever-changing world. At a time when so many of my counterparts have retired, or worse, withdrawn, I'm having the time of my life.
That's not to suggest that life is smooth sailing and every day is sunshine and happiness. It never is, but there are these stellar snapshots of life in between those moments of stress over business, health, and the world. Well, trying to express what I wanted this morning, I turned to one of my favorite books, "Age doesn't matter unless you're a cheese."
I found two quotes that I loved, which seemed to reflect where my head is this morning:
"They say stress is a killer. But I think no stress is equally deadly, especially as you get older. If your days just seem to slip by without some anxieties and pulse-quickening occurrences, you may not be really living."
"Never retire! Do what you do and keep doing it. But don't do it on Friday. Take Friday off. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday do fishing, do sexual activities, watch Fred Astaire movies. Then from Monday to Thursday, do what you've been doing all your life, unless it's lifting bags of potatoes off the back of a truck. I mean, after eight-five that's hard to do. My point is: Live fully and don't retreat."
There you have it - I'm betting most of us feel like our lives have never been more stressful. Between health, business, politics, and the Taliban, the world is a mess. We can't hide, but we don't have to give in to it either. That's where Mel Brooks takes over.
All we can do is manage our little piece of the world. Those smiles you see on my face, and Sheila's come from within. They come from an incredible appreciation for that old line about "life not being a dress rehearsal." And while there are days when we have to dig deeper than others to laugh, we've built a tiny piece of the world that's just ours. So we talk a lot about how we got here, how we wound up together, how two pups keep us laughing and how much we simply appreciate our life.
Are there days when we can't seem to pull ourselves out of the abyss? Of course, but somehow we always find a way to rise above it. That statement about it takes a village couldn't be more appropriate. So, take good care of your village and do your best to give back as much as you need to take.
Wishing everybody a day where you appreciate everything in your life, even the most challenging moments. Never think a problem is without solutions...and when in doubt, laugh...take Mel Brooks' advice - Live fully and don't retreat! Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I always write about with the people you love the most, or maybe it's somebody relatively new, who you're growing to appreciate.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
The title is a modified quote from "Life's Little Instruction Book Volume II", and it's one of my favorites. Unfortunately, with all the insanity in the world, there are too many artists who are letting the weeds take over their dreams.
While part of this post is from the SCU archives - it's time to bring the topic up to date and deal with today's challenges. I'm not minimizing anything you're dealing with, but having been in this industry my entire life, I've learned that whatever you're frustrated with today, somebody out there found a solution yesterday!
Weed 1: It's time to shut off the negative information in your life. I've written before about the importance of listening to your heart, but we're surrounded by negativity these days, and it's hard not to let it into your head. For Sheila and I, we've stopped watching the news. It's frustrating not to know who to believe, so we follow a couple of online news sources, listen to our family doctors and follow people we trust.
And the next time you're sharing an image in an online forum and a troll out there decides to shred your work, remember my buddy Dean Collins' line, "Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!"
Weed 2: Stop thinking you're alone in your frustrations as a photographer and small business owner. Here's where getting involved in a local guild or PPA chapter is going to help. You need to be involved in the local network, not just know about it. Join whatever/whoever is in your community and start getting to know other photographers, as well as them getting to know you.
Get involved in the local business groups, both live and online. Host your own networking luncheon and invite people who target the same audience you're after. Start thinking how you can pool your resources.
Weed 3: Stop thinking you can't afford to promote your business! I just wrote a post earlier this week about partnerships. If there's a holiday promotion you want to get off the ground and you're worried about the ROI, then work together with at least two other partners. Sharing the costs is only one benefit. There's also the ability to expand your reach into the community and increase the value of what each partner is offering.
Weed 4: Take some time to think through your definition of success. Most of you are halfway there, but since you've only defined success in monetary terms, you have no idea how much you've accomplished just by being happy. And while I know just being happy doesn't put food on the table - stop thinking the pandemic got in the way of your climb up the ladder. You haven't lost your skillset, your creativity, or your passion for the craft!
Weed 5: Get out from behind your computer...often! I get that we've all been forced to be slaves to the Internet - after all, it's safe and provides an ability to communicate without any health risks. We're all experts in Zoom, Facetime, and Skype these days, but that doesn't mean you can't still meet with a client and maintain physical distancing. And nothing should hold you back from owning your zip code! It's time to get out and pound the pavement, meet other business owners in your community, and talk about ways you can work together. Your business will be built on relationships, and you won't get to know the people who can help you the most if you're at the computer all day.
Weed 6: Stop worrying about having the right gear. Do the best you can with what you've got. If there is something you desperately need to help raise the bar on your images, but you can't afford it, then find a good rental house. Years ago, Vincent Laforet spoke at Skip's Summer School. He was very open about the minimal gear he had when he first started and asked the audience, "You know what you do when you don't have a lens long enough?" "You move in closer!"
Weed 7: Don't be afraid to ask for help! One of the things I loved about the recent ClickCon conference was how attendees worked together and shared ideas about the solutions to their challenges. There are so many resources available to help you grow and rebuild your business. And don't forget a call to your lab - all you have to do is call and ask, "What's new?"
Weed 8: Stop talking and listen. There's that old saying about having two ears and only one mouth, so you've got to listen twice as much as you talk. All the answers are out there, if you just listen!
You've got so much to be proud of, but take it one day at a time, keep procrastination to a minimum and keep working to build a stronger skill set. And if you're stuck - you know where to fine me. Some times you just need another set of ears or eyes on the challenge!
Wishing everybody a terrific weekend. Get control of those weeds!
"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
by Skip Cohen
I'm so tired of hearing how much the pandemic took away from business. I don't want you to think I'm minimizing the pain of the challenge, but Covid didn't take away your creativity, or your skillset. It also created great opportunities to demonstrate a leadership role in your community by working together with other businesses to generate some promotional excitement this holiday season.
Here's a shortlist of potential partners for five different specialties in the portrait/social category:
And this is only a partial list. For example, years ago, while doing a Hasselblad University program in the Cleveland area, a portrait photographer told me how a landscaper approached him to do a landscaped scene behind his studio for family portraiture, complete with a small pond and walkover bridge. It was like a mini Hollywood set, and at no cost to the photographer if he'd just promote the landscaper's business. Why? Because the landscaper knew, for this artist, there was a high correlation between the families he photographed and homeownership!
In terms of designing an effective promotion, you can do anything from cross-promote each other's products and services to planning a mailing together to an open house, gallery-like event to introduce the community to your businesses.
Last but not least - think about partnerships like this - each member of the group becomes an ambassador for each partner's business. Working together reduces costs and increases cash flow. But if you do it all alone - 100% of the cost is on your shoulders and wallet!
“Teamwork: Simply stated, it is less me and more we.”
You don't have to be a solo act. Stop thinking you've got to do everything alone!
by Skip Cohen
Most of us have seen the artwork done by StoryPeople in various shops and galleries over the years. For Sheila and me, we've always found their messages mostly related to us personally or about love and relationships.
Well, I'm on their email list, and I get a new one every few days. But the minute I thought about the message in this week's artwork, my mind went immediately to business.
Right now, most of you are doing everything you can to get your business back on track. You're fighting to rebuild, be creative, and figure out how to best enjoy the upcoming holiday seasonality.
It doesn't matter whether you believe in angels, and you don't need one drop of spirituality to appreciate the message. Here's my point:
It's your imagination and creativity that will carry you through this year's holiday season and, in turn, sales. Coming out of the pandemic, even though we're struggling with politics and fighting to not get sucked back into a second wave - the world really is in the palm of your hand.
There's a new sense of family and just for a second, think about what everybody, especially "Grandma," has missed most - her kids! So, when it comes to the challenge of what to get Grandma this year, I'm not sure there's a better gift than a new family portrait. And if you're not a portrait artist, think about wall art. We've all spent more time at home with limited travel, looking at the same artwork on our walls. It's time to redecorate, and you've got the skillset to meet the needs of your clients.
But nothing happens without your imagination and creativity! Use your blog to plant the seeds of ideas. Talk to the vendors in your network, especially your lab, about unique products. The reality is - angel or not; your community is in the palm of your hand!
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.