"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude!"
by Skip Cohen
I wandered by this billboard in my travels to and from IUSA over the last week. I didn't know a thing about the sponsor, but I liked the message, and it's so true. And I did wander to their website just now and hit a couple of uplifting videos.
But when it comes to uplifting, I'm not sure anything could be as uplifting as the IUSA convention. This isn't meant to be a long drawn-out post about attitude, But Zig Ziglar's quote above really says it all.
Nothing could demonstrate Ziglar's point better than the crowds at the show this week. Platypod had a booth, and we were busy, non-stop right up to the last minute. And most of the other exhibitors I spoke with had a nice flow of traffic as well.
In terms of the attendees, people were excited to be back out and in personal contact. Zoom meetings have been great to keep in touch, but it's not the same as being with live people. While masks came off in the restaurants, various dinners, the bar, etc., for the most part, everyone was respectful of the relevant health issues.
People were hungry to talk to the vendors, instructors, and each other. Plus, it seemed like a younger crowd than I'm used to seeing at PPA conventions, which was outstanding. It was a good mix of photographers just starting out combined with those more established, as well senior veterans.
When it came to a strong platform of education, PPA covered all the bases. The class selection was terrific, plus "Networking Avenue" on Sunday evening, gave attendees a chance to enjoy various demonstrations, and ask questions of the speakers in a more informal environment.
Last but not least, as an exhibiting vendor, because the show was smaller than past years, although PPA managed to give the show a big feel with 80-90 companies represented, attendees got time to talk to each company. It was definitely a time for network building.
The shot below was the Pixel Connection booth on the show's last day. They were mobbed every day with non-stop traffic.
So, circle the dates for 2023 in Nashville, January 22-24, at the Gaylord Opryland. And if we can get the covid issues into the rearview mirror a little more, it's going to be another outstanding show. Platypod chose its booth for next year, and by the end of the show, the 2023 trade show floor was on its way to looking pretty good!
It's Marketing Monday, and we're officially into the "slow season." But the slowness of the season is only in regards to consumer activity, NOT your business. This is the first post in a seasonal series I write every year. While some of the bullet points are repeats - the next two weeks are ideal to clean up and fine tune your business for the new year.
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, and sadly, we've slipped backward just a little. But even with a reduced need to hunker down and the less severe omicron variant, social media's power continues to grow. So your website and communication skills have never been more important than today!
That means your website, blog, Facebook presence and maintaining customer contact have never been more critical - or had more potential to create more sales/revenue. Your website and Facebook presence make up your storefront, and your blog should be the gateway via your heart to the products and services you offer.
I've shared dozens of posts about your website and blog in the past, so I'm just going to give you a limited check-off list. Read all the Fast Food Fridays I've shared if you want more detail. But this week, start cleaning up those side messes you've been procrastinating about.
We're in a "you snooze - you lose" scenario. But, there's an opportunity for you to be a leader in your community. And based on what I've been hearing from a lot of different photographers around the country, this year had the potential to be outstanding.
Most importantly, remember the renewed sense of family in this country. Now's the time to build on those relationships! We might be in the slow season, but Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and graduation are all around the corner. For example, there are few presents better suited for Grandma this year than a new family portrait.
Now is the time to start planning!
by Skip Cohen
In yesterday's Reflections post, I wrote about chasing your dreams. I appreciate the nice feedback, but it's Marketing Monday and time to take action. The good news is that this isn't rocket science. You know how to focus your camera, now it's time to focus on your business and long term, your career.
When I was a kid, there was no GPS. My Dad belonged to AAA, and before our once-a-year big vacation, he'd put in his order and get back a TripTik, a spiral-bound series of map pages showing the routing from the start of our trip to the finish. Each Page had the total mileage for that segment of the trip.
Today's travel is a whole lot different. AAA still offers the service. However, for most of us, we hit the computer, and Google combined with Trip Advisor, and Yelp gets us to our destination. Plus, we're accessing GPS in our cars and on our phones all along the way.
Well, now apply the same concept as the old TripTiks to your business for the year ahead. You know where you're starting from, but most of you haven't thought through where you want to go this year.
Sure, you want the business, with revenue and reasonable costs, to leave you a profit, but is your goal sustainable? Anybody can be a one-hit-wonder and make a few bucks, but you want every client not only coming back again but insisting their friends work with you as well.
So, just like my folks did when I was a kid - use this week to plan your "trip," at least through the first quarter of the year. Before you load up what you'll need, you first have to clean out the "trunk" of everything left from the last trip...2021.
I commented earlier about it not being rocket science...but it does take discipline. So, take time this week and just kick back and think about your dream for the year. I'm a big fan of visualization - what's your goal for 2022? Sales revenue is essential, but you also have to control your costs. So, it's not just incoming dollars, but what you're spending!
"A business without a path to profit isn't a business, it's a hobby"
And if you're stuck thinking things through, email me. I want to help you make 2022 your best year ever, but it won't happen if you don't focus on what you really want...your dream.
by Skip Cohen
Over the past year, I've shared multiple posts every week on marketing and business - virtually anything I hear about or have learned over the years that will help you even out the rough spots in your business. It's been a tough year, but the finish line is only eleven days away, and there's a clean slate for 2022.
But coming down to the wire - don't miss opportunities to set yourself up for a strong start into the new year.
People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did.
But they will never forget how you made them feel.
The key is when a customer walks away, thinking, 'Wow, I love doing business with them,
and I want to tell others about the experience."
Last but not least - this week is always a little insane wrapping up last-minute orders and client needs. But once everything is done - take the time between the holidays to simply kick back and chill. Sure, you still need to think about the business and your future, but you also need to recharge your battery!
That means you need to focus just on yourself a little. I'm not suggesting you ignore your family or friends - take the time to appreciate the road ahead!
You can't create images that tug at people's hearts if you're own heart isn't in it!
by Skip Cohen
I know the title for this post sounds trite and hokey, but I can't think of a better way to express my thoughts on the state of the industry right now. I get that I'll get criticized, but there isn't a comment anybody can make these days that makes everyone happy.
There are still many of you undecided about going to IUSA in January. The issue holding most of you back relates to information from the media about Covid, new variants, mask mandates, etc. I don't know about you, but Sheila and I don't know what to believe these days. So, we trust our doctor, have had both vaccines and our booster, and if we're going somewhere with a mask mandate, we simply put on our masks - no big deal, just a way of life today.
PPA has done an incredible job doing everything they can to help get our industry back on track. Next year is truly a healing and rebuilding year. The IUSA show, from a financial standpoint, has intentionally been designed to run at a loss. PPA has under-written part of the hotel cost for all of us; they've taken registration cost down to the minimum, and throughout the convention, they're doing everything they can to support the industry we all love dearly.
Here's my point - PPA can't do it alone! The responsibility for a great conference is shared by the hosting organization, the attendees, and the vendors! It's everyone, and that's where teamwork plays such a huge part. It's up to ALL of us to get this industry back on track, and while the host hotel is sold out, there are so many alternatives incredibly close by.
After almost two years of insanity, this is an opportunity to network, share new ideas, expand your skill set and recharge your battery to get your business and love for imaging back on track. So, if you're still on the fence...please plan on joining all of us. IUSA is already over 5000 pre-registered attendees, and this is destined to be one of those shows we're all going to look back on with pride at having been there!
See you at IUSA!
by Skip Cohen
We're down to the wire, but not too late for one more idea - building a Legacy Program for your clients and your own family! I've shared the concept a few times in posts this holiday season, but with Christmas and New Years right around the corner - it's time to hit it one more time.
Here's the concept: Look at the images in the photograph above. Now think about your own life a couple more generations from now. Those old black and whites above will be replaced with a few jump drives; images never downloaded from your phone, and a handful of Polaroids, Shutterfly prints, and maybe even albums. But who's going to be around to tell the backstories?
Building a Legacy Program is so easy - Seriously, it should be a no-brainer for all of you. Let's start with your own family. This holiday season, whenever your family is together, sit down with the more senior relatives and record the stories of their journey. You've all got cameras with video and even your phones.
Next, pull out those old albums and shoeboxes of photographs. Get the names of the people in all those shots and the events that brought them together. This doesn't have to be a major production of "Roots," just documenting the chapters of your life that brought everyone to today.
Now, take it one step further - if you've got kids in the house - assign them to be the family historians. If they're young, get the camera set up for them - and if they're older, give them some assignments. Stories like, "Sit down with Grandma and Grandpa and ask them how they met?" Anything relevant in capturing those beautiful backstories that will disappear when older members of your family pass on.
And for Clients...
Including a Legacy Program with family portraits is a perfect way to expand your business and especially goodwill. Imagine the power and pure joy of a family portrait and a recording of Grandma talking about her journey along with it. The possibilities are endless.
Every Thursday for years, I've been sharing a Throwback Thursday image as a blog post. While I've got hundreds of old photographs of my folks and grandparents - with at least 80% of them, I have no idea who's in the photograph. Plus, the only stories I can tell are about the pictures that I'm actually in, or maybe I was lucky enough to hear the backstory when I was younger.
My grandparents are long gone, my folks passed away over the last ten years, and there's nobody left in the family from their generations. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I hate that I never sat down with my Dad before he passed away to record his story.
I've written this so many times before - if we learned nothing else over the last year, ALL of us now know that life is simply too short. Unfortunately, we didn't appreciate the true meaning of freedom until the pandemic had us hunkered down. And if you lost family members through the pandemic, then you understand what I'm saying even more.
Don't let this holiday season go by without starting a program for your own family to capture legacy stories from the past. And for your clients - there's still time to get the word out today!
by Skip Cohen
This isn't a new topic for me to write about, but it's more relevant than ever TODAY!
With the world becoming a healthier place and IUSA in January, I want to plant a few seeds to get you thinking about how you can make the most of the trip! First, however, here's my big assumption - I'm hoping everyone recognizes the importance of the IUSA convention. It's not going to be a typical conference, but a celebration of the journey back to some level of normalcy! It's about helping you build a stronger skill set, networking, and getting back in touch with an industry you're an essential part of!
The bottom line? You need to be there, and PPA's done an outstanding job of reducing your costs to be a part of it, from the special hotel rate to the discounted registration of just $59 - they're out to help you make 2022 a year of not only healing your business but growing it! Anybody can survive - their goal is to help you thrive!
So, let's start planning your trip!
You've got a choice in how you want to kick off 2022 - you can either sit on the sidelines and watch the parade go by or you can be a part of it!
Hope to see you at IUSA!
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and today's post is as much a reminder for you as a consumer as it is for your business as a retailer and a product/service provider. So consider it a public service announcement!
Let's turn back the clock to this time last year. We were in the throws of the pandemic, and everything went upside down when it came to shipping. I remember a holiday gift we ordered for friends that took six weeks to get here through the USPS. Concerned, I wandered into my post office and was told by our local postmaster, "Sorry, nothing we can do - I've got gifts of my own I'm still waiting for!"
Then came the challenge of overseas shipments - often on their way, but with virtually no tracking information. Several times, I saw Platypod shipments look like they were still in NY when the same day, I'd get an email from the photographer overseas saying it had arrived.
So, here's the bottom line. As a consumer, shop early and ship early! Unless you're delivering locally or personally, as a business owner, encourage your clients to make their decisions now, so holiday gifts arrive on time.
Last week our fulfillment manager at Platypod sent out an email with the dates to the right for FedEx and USPS. It's up to you whether or not you believe them. Personally, I'd lean to adding a few days on, but follow the news - this is guaranteed to be a hot topic this season.
The challenge of shipping has already been in the news repeatedly. I caught this short piece in this week's copy of The Week. I know it might be hard to read, so click on it to enlarge in the SCU lightbox.
There's also a more in-depth article online at theSkimm.com about delays and price hikes through the USPS.
So, the expression, a good offense is the best defense is credited to George Washington!
“…offensive operations, often times, is the surest, if not the only means of defense.”
George Washington, 1799
The bottom line is to build a good solid offense. Don't get caught short with your clients or your personal shipments this year. Shop early, help your clients as much as possible and get their orders out ahead of whatever you'd consider the regular schedule.
It's going to be a great holiday season for photographic products, and with the renewed sense of family in this country, you've got the skillset and products to meet the needs of your target audience!
Happy soon-to-be here holidays!
by Skip Cohen
This will probably be the last post in The Road to Seasonality series. I've done my best to cover so many different things you can be doing to help make this year's holiday season one of your most successful. Sadly though, there are still too many of you caught in analysis paralysis, trying to figure out what to do next.
STOP OVERTHINKING! First, you're only one person - even if you have a staff to help support your business, it still comes down to you. Second, you're better off doing something and being only moderately successful rather than being complacent and going into the holiday season without any marketing plans. Last but not least - remember the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
I wrote a post a few weeks back with a similar theme, but let's take it a step further. Here's a check-off list to work from, and it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you maintain a presence with your target audience and do something!
Here's the bottom line - the future of your business is in your hands! I'm not suggesting it's easy, but nothing in life is effortless these days. Just remember that relationship building is your strongest marketing tool. You've got to be out there and shed the chains of analysis paralysis.
It's November 1 - so what are you doing today to help secure business over the next two months?
by Skip cohen
Last week, I had a conversation with a photographer that left me feeling like it was time to bring back the story about the hot dog vendor. There's a lot of fun history in this story.
My good buddy, Jim Morton, found it years ago. We were both at Hasselblad then, and in a tough economy, our parent company was suggesting cutbacks to save money on things that were MAKING money. So there was an anecdotal story in circulation by the advertising community in the early '90s. Jim showed it to me, and while it might be thirty years old, it's still so valid.
It's the perfect reminder to help everyone stay focused on the big picture, pun intended! So here's the short version:
A very successful hot dog vendor is hitting record sales. He's advertising, cross-promoting, staying open longer each day, and business is fantastic. His son comes home from college for the summer and says, "Dad, don't you know we're in a recession? You need to watch your spending and be ready for business to slow down."
The father, concerned, stays awake all that night worrying about what his son has said. The following day he pulls down a lot of his signs and puts the money he would have spent on advertising and promoting in the bank. He ceased all the creativity he was putting into marketing. By the end of the month, business is terrible, and all he can say to himself is, "Wow, it's a good thing I listened to my son. There really is a recession."
The conversation that prompted the return this story was with a talented artist who felt there was nothing left to do to try and grow his business. He's caught in "analysis paralysis," and instead of doing more, he's doing nothing. He's been beaten down by Covid and the pandemic. Everything he used to do in marketing no longer works. Yet, "It always worked in the past!" Sound a little familiar?
Here's my point - the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. That just doesn't work anymore - all the paradigms have shifted, and most things we thought were normal are gone. How you market yourself, reach your target audience, and what you need to offer have all changed.
There's a renewed sense of family in this country, and they're looking to capture memory-making moments. So relationship building with your clients has never been more critical. Being active in your community should be at the very top of your list too. And the products you offer need to be new, exciting and memorable.
Sadly, too many of you forget one of your most significant resources, your lab! All it takes is a phone call with the question, "What's new?" Covid didn't slow down creativity or technology, and today's labs can print on just about anything. At the same time, don't underestimate the power of a canvas print - which is still relatively new to most consumers.
We're into the fourth quarter, and opportunities are everywhere for increasing revenue this holiday season. But, most important of all, keep the renewed sense of family in your mind. Think about what we all missed the most while hunkering down - family and friends!
When things are slow, it's a scary time to think about spending more money on marketing. But, you have to spend money to make money. Covid has hurt everyone in so many ways, but it didn't take away your skills, creativity, or passion for the craft!
"A person who stops marketing to save money is a person who stops his clock to save time!"
And I've offered this before - if you're stuck and need a fresh pair of eyes and a sounding board - you know where to find me!
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and as we kick off the seasonality of the fourth quarter, I'm not sure how much more I can write about the goldmine sitting on your doorstep!
While the pandemic hurt us all in so many different ways, it brought with it a renewed sense of family. At the height of the pandemic, everyone was hunkered down, two words that I'd rarely used before Covid! Families protected themselves and especially their senior members. We all connected via the phone, Skype, Facetime, and Zoom, to name a few.
Early on, I remember posts from friends on Facebook with stories about bringing back family game night, stories about Facetime calls with grandparents who couldn't be physically visited, and family projects ranging from the kids joining in meal preparations to interior decorating. And when it came to family pets, thousands of people added a new furry critter to the family.
Put all the events of the last year and a half together, and there's a whole lot of business sitting on your front porch right now. From family portraiture to children and pets to capturing memories - we're cherishing time. And there it is - the magic word that defines your ability as an artist.
As a photographer and/or videographer, you're able to stop time and take those intangible memories and turn them into moments your clients can appreciate forever!
So, what are you doing to offer your target audience this holiday season? Each of the ideas below is perfect for a theme in a blog post too!
The list easily goes on and on in terms of your style and materials used in the items above. And while canvas prints are old to most of us - they're not necessarily old to your target audience, especially if you're a full-service photographer and include framing and helping each client with the final placement of the work in their home or office.
Most important of all, remember this quote by Seth Godin:
People rarely buy what they need; they buy buy what they want!
That means you have to plant the seeds for unique gift ideas this holiday season with your blog, Facebook posts, Instagram shots, Pinterest, etc. And with a renewed sense of family in the world, what grandma has missed most has been her kids!
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and I'm not sure there's a better specialty to talk about this time of year than family marketing.
One of the unique things the pandemic brought to us is a renewed sense of family. Combine the increased importance of family with this year's seasonality, and you've got a perfect ingredient to help build a more substantial business and brand awareness.
Obviously, you need the skillset, which goes deeper than just knowing when to click the shutter. You need to understand composition, lighting, and most importantly, you need to make working with you an experience. Beverly and Tim Walden have talked a lot about creating the experience in their workshops over the years. While the finished product is essential - it's about the subjects having fun working with you. It's about the relationship you build with the client. And remember, you're not selling a photograph but a new heirloom and a memory-maker for a unique family.
So, how are you going to reach your target audience? If you haven't checked out Marathon's Family Marketing program, now is the time. In fact, it couldn't be better to help you create awareness and increase your family portrait business...NOW!
Here's what I love about Marathon's program:
Don't let this year's holiday season pass you by because you missed the opportunity to plant those marketing seeds with your target audience. The fourth quarter isn't just a time for direct sales, but it also sets the stage for the "slow season," and help's you create sales right into the new year.
Click on any of the illustrations in today's post to link to Marathon's Family Marketing Program, or call (800) 228.0629 to reserve your marketing area today.
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!"
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.
"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!
by Skip Cohen
Last Monday, I shared a post reminding you that you're coming down to the wire to be planning your marketing activity for the seasonality of the fourth quarter. It was pretty general, but this week let's start to list some actions you should consider.
Blog Content: If you've got a blog, it's the perfect vehicle to plant the seeds of gift ideas in photography with your clients. Here are some topic ideas:
Direct Mail, alone and with partners: I'm a huge fan of relationship building with other vendors. While you can do a direct mail campaign alone, with two partners, like a florist and salon, you'll reduce your costs to 1/3 of what it would be if you flew solo. Now is the time to get out in the community and look for partners.
New products for gift ideas: CALL YOUR LAB! I mentioned this last week, but the pandemic hasn't slowed down technology. So all you have to do is call your lab and ask, "What's new?" Then kick back and listen. Somewhere in there, you'll hear about a product that will get you excited as something new and creative you want to offer.
Community Involvement: In the top 100 things guerrilla marketers need to be doing, base on Jay Conrad Levinson's list many years ago, is be involved in the community. People like buying products from companies they perceive as giving back. Now is the time for you to be raising your hand to be involved in activities in your area. And remember, this is about people getting to know you, and it doesn't always have to involve your camera. Even working at a Friday night football game, filling ketchup and mustard containers for the Booster Club, is a way for you to be involved.
No one post can cover everything, but each Marketing Monday, I'm going to be doing my best to share more ideas for you to consider. Most important of all, remember there's a renewed sense of family in the world. Who better to help capture and create those memory-making moments than you?
Images copyright Andrew Michaels. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
One aspect of the fun of a conference or convention is the people you meet. Today's post is a perfect example with a guest post from Andrew Michaels. We met briefly at ClickCon in Chicago last week, and after the convention, he sent me an email about a unique special project he worked on during the pandemic.
The main idea was to photograph a different train operator at each of the 194 CTA stations. I simply wanted to put a face to the L. I know a lot of people don't even think about it. After showing my friends, I would get texts "OMG I saw the operator at the front of the train!!" And from what the operators told me, it meant a lot to get that recognition...The message I was trying to send hit me harder than I intended. These people really are part of the community, and just like your barista you see every day, no reason you can't say hi and just smile to brighten their day. I got to know some of them, and they are truly amazing people.
There's that old line about "it takes a village." Well, take a second and think about the people in your "village" since the pandemic started. For Andrew, he wanted to recognize the team that kept Chicago's transit system operating - never missing a day of support for the community. And remember, they supported thousands of nurses and doctors who rely on the CTA to get to the people they care for!
I'm a big fan of special projects because they help you focus on essential concepts outside your business. In addition, they help bring out your creativity and spirit, which too often, lately, are buried under Covid's baggage. In other words, they help keep you grounded!
Andrew needs to be on your radar - visit his website and follow him on Instagram.
"Dedicated to the entire CTA organizaton for their consistent dedication keep Chicago moving forward."
by Andrew Michaels
In January 2020, I made a decision to commit full time to photography, spending January offering headshots and February learning squarespace to put the new portfolio online. In March 2020 COVID hit, so my plans came to a screeching halt.
With my studio-that-never-was on lock down, I needed a new creative outlet. I sifted through my phone notes and landed on an idea that I really liked: to photograph a CTA bus driver at every stop as they opened the door looking at the passengers outside. But with about 10,000 stops in Chicago, the “L” seemed like a better option, with 194 stops. In hindsight the “L” was even more near to my heart, given how many hours I’ve spent photographing classic shots like the Merchandise Mart and the Adams/Wabash overpass.
As I went about my work, kicking off each day with my morning coffee, I started to consider how the local barista becomes a friendly face in my morning routine. It occurred to me there's no reason the CTA staff shouldn't be embraced in the same way. It can make such a difference in someone's day to get a smile from a familiar face. I got excited thinking how a collage of 194 different operators could encourage the riders to connect with the workers. At the very least it would literally force Chicagoans to register the idea that these iconic trains don't drive themselves. It’s an obvious but often overlooked fact.
As I went about the project, I was amazed at how many times an operator - who I previously photographed, would appear days/weeks/months later at a different stop. It was serendipitous to see, even with such a sprawling organization, I might cross paths with these people over and over. In fact, the very first operator I photographed, Calvin, was spotted 3 times before I finished the project.
In rail transit, a “meet” is a situation in which a train traveling in one direction "meets" another traveling in the opposite direction. Growing up, I was pretty shy, so my family would encourage me to push outside my comfort zone, stressing the importance of meeting new people. “You never know who you’re going to meet…” implying at any moment, you can make friends with a stranger who may become the most important person in your life years later. On a micro level, this project proves that to be true.
I ended up leaving many of the duplicate people in the final collage to reinforce the lesson I was taught growing up, and during the project- treat every stranger you meet as if you will meet them again.
Sorry, but a blog post doesn't really do the collage above justice, but I know you'll get the idea! Check out “Familiar Faces” on instagram.com/statestreetphotostudio .The posts are more visible and the “Familiar Faces” highlight shows BTS/ video content as well.
by Skip Cohen
It would be so easy if there was just a button on your keyboard you could hit and have all your ideas in place for this coming holiday season. Well, there isn't, but that doesn't mean you can't come up with everything you need to give 2021 one of the strongest finishes you've ever had!
It's Marketing Monday and August 16 - just a month ahead of the start of fall seasonality and into the fourth quarter, the busiest time of the year for photographers. What are you doing right now to start planting seeds for ideas for your clients with imaging products?
This will be an ongoing weekly series because no single post could cover everything you should be considering. But here's an ideal place to start:
What are you offering this season that's unique or, at the very least, new to your target audience? Here are some things to consider:
Here's my point - September is two weeks away with kids going back to school (if they're not already), Labor Day, and Fall. October brings in Halloween, and by November, we're already into Black Friday specials from companies all over the world. That makes NOW the time to get your ducks in a row and have plans in place to capture the seasonality.
It doesn't matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going.
So, where is your business going for the rest of the year?
by Skip Cohen
As a kid, I know I'm not the only one who dreaded bringing home a report card every six weeks. While there were moments of brilliance when I applied myself, most of the time, there was something I had to explain. LOL Then, as a parent, the process returned, only now I could hear my folks saying, "You'll understand when you're a parent someday." Well, now fast forward to today, and the closest thing to a report card you get is feedback from a client now and then.
With ClickCon right around the corner, then WPPI, Photoshop World, PPE, and IUSA in January, if you're going to make the very most of the time you put into the events, let's look at your "report card."
Here's my point - your time and funding for attending conferences is limited, even if they're online. So take the time NOW and do your own report card. The goal is to walk through the door (or portal) for each event ready to get the most out of it.
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.