Images copyright Corey McDonald. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
There's so much you can learn simply by taking a scroll through the notifications that come up on your Facebook page. It's time to meet Corey McDonald. The image above pulled me into the photographs he shared, but the other two were just as remarkable.
I know it was a long time ago, but I was a band nerd, playing the French horn for many years. Back then, nobody did senior portraits the way they do today - everybody got the same shot - guys in jacket and tie, girls in a v-neck black shroud. There was simply no personality shared in any portrait. I would have killed for a portrait like this of me.
And here's my point: you have so much power with every portrait you capture. Boudoir photographers often talk about the power of increased self-esteem a portrait session can create. Senior photographers talk about how they feel knowing they've captured the essence of their subject, especially when they've done a sitting involving their personal interests, usually cars, motorcycles, sports, and animals.
Today's post is about the power of a remarkable portrait of a kid in the band! But it's also about Corey's goal to give each kid his very best. Remember, for a lot of seniors; it's their first interaction with a professional photographer. Do it right and build the relationship, and you'll have a kid like this as a client for the rest of his life!
And to Corey, who I cold-called for permission to share these images posted in Gary Box's Facebook Forum - nicely done. Thanks for allowing me to share three portraits that deserve to be seen by more people. You can check out more of Corey's work with a visit to his website. It's just a click away.
Intro by Skip Cohen
If you're not following Seth Resnick on Facebook, he's only a click away. He's sharing a lot of outstanding content covering everything from technique to calibration to his "why" when he clicks the shutter. It's simply great stuff.
What I loved about this post was its simplicity. The image is stunning, but it's Seth's honesty and ability to laugh at himself that made it perfect for a Friday share. In his post the following day, after another self-inflicted challenge, he wrote:
BEING ABLE TO LAUGH AT YOURSELF. In a world where we strive for perfection, sometimes letting go and simply laughing at your own mistakes is the best way to move forward.
And here's my point - I'm not sure when the world became so serious, but we're all wound a little tight these days. As a result, we miss those moments when we should kick back, laugh a little, and hit the reset button.
Wishing everybody a terrific weekend ahead. Take the time to laugh.
by Seth Resnick
Yesterday we got up before the sunrise and headed to the beach. Nina a young US ranked dancer was practicing and she put on quite a show. While the images came out very nice, there were of course a few issues.
The biggest issue was that my camera equipment came from my air-conditioned house to a humid extremely hot beach. As the sun started to rise my lenses were all so fogged that I couldn’t see through them. It took almost twenty minutes for the lenses to warm up enough to shoot.
One might think that with 40 years of experience I would have avoided this issue but …….Lucky for me Nina never runs out of moves or energy and the light was still beautiful. The lesson here is that even with all the experience etc. Sh** still happens.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Over the last few weeks I've shared a number of Seth Resnick's posts. He always manages to get me thinking about something related to imaging, and today's guest post is a perfect example. Posted last week, he talked about Dall-E. Over a million people signed up, just to try it out.
A big thanks to Seth for allowing me to share his thoughts here on the SCU blog. If you don't already follow him on Facebook, he needs to be on your radar. And if you'd like to share your thoughts about this specific post, scroll down his FB page to August 4 and comment.
by Seth Resnick
Yesterday Dall-E became available and there were over 1,000,000 people who signed up to try it. I was not one of them. So for those who don’t yet know, Dall-E is an AI application that can ingest both language and text and create a single image from the stream. I am a big fan of technology and the technology behind this is incredible.
That said it also raises a stream of questions including the very concept of removing the very experience of photographing. The idea of creating an image by writing a text stream is indeed fascinating but at the same time quite scary.
There are an incredible amount of questions and problems I foresee with this type of software that go way beyond the issues of social media. What will happen with violence, racial, sexual or gender issues? Is this the final death to stock images? In fact is this a death to assignment photography? AI is programmed by humans so how this reacts will be in part based on the programming.
It also immediately raises a giant question. Who would own the copyright? One could easily argue that it would be the artist but one could easily argue that it would always be the software company.
While I always welcome new technology, I look at the image chosen today and would never want to give up the experience of being in this sacred place and experiencing this first hand.
by Skip Cohen
As I've written so many times before, the fun of this industry is in the friendships. Well, meet Erik Cooper. Erik and I met when I was wearing my Platypod hat. He was a new member of PPA, and at the time, there was a new-member benefit to receive a Platypod.
What started as a purely customer service phone conversation has grown into a great friendship, multiple calls, and finally catching up to each other LIVE at ClickCon last year. Erik is a fashion and portrait photographer, although I doubt there's anything he can't photograph. He's based in Colorado Springs. We're a perfect example of how Facebook is sometimes the mortar that holds so many friendships together, especially during a time of limited conventions and travel - combine social media with a phone and it's easy to stay in touch.
Meanwhile, today's post isn't about Erik but the importance of understanding great lighting. Whenever I hear an artist say, "I'm a natural light specialist," right from the start, I know they're afraid of studio lighting. They've never taken the time to learn lighting and expand their skill set. The truth is, all of us love natural light, and that's what understanding studio lighting is all about - creating stunning photographs with whatever light source you have!
But there's another point to today's post - a reminder of the power of a black and white image, especially in portrait work. Bringing a few black and white images into your portfolio/galleries also shows diversity in your skill set. Learn to see in B&W. It's about your thought process from the beginning and learning to see the highlights and shadows in your mind as you create and capture the portrait.
And for on-location wedding and event photographers, B&W also gives you more creativity in tough situations. For example, one of the early books I co-authored was with Bambi Cantrell. In the book she talked about shooting B&W when you're photographing in "the First Church of Uglyville!" We even did a stunning bridal portrait in the restroom at a hotel. It was shot in B&W, and was stunning, hiding the ugly deep pink tile walls!
A big thanks to Erik for sharing these images with me, and if you'd like to see more of his work, his Instagram page is just a click away.
...but the hardest of all may just be understanding your own work. Photography is a language.
Do you speak it fluently?
by Skip Cohen
Seth Resnick is back with what may well be one of my most favorite of his posts. To take it a step further, it's a post I wish was mandatory for every artist to read. The issue isn't whether you agree or disagree with him, just the importance of understanding your "Why?" Obviously, there are times when just clicking the shutter has no deeper meaning than contributing to your revenue stream...but I can't help but feel there's always an underlying explanation for why so many of us love this industry.
I've met so many artists in my career and the ones most successful, to Seth's point, speak fluent photography. They don't have to have a camera in their hands to shoot "neurochromes" and still see something most of us might miss. Their images tell a story, capture a memory, and often have a much deeper meaning than just what is shared in print. And it carries further into who we are and why - Seth got me thinking about my writing as well as each time I click the shutter.
Seth is sharing a lot of great concepts on his facebook page. He needs to be on your radar!
by Seth Resnick
Photography isn’t easy. Learning software applications like Photoshop and Lightroom are hard, and understanding all the buttons on the cameras can be confusing to say the least, but the hardest of all may just be understanding your own work. Photography is a language. Do you speak it fluently?
I find that by writing down my thoughts I am better equipped to speak and write the language of photography. Like any language that is studied practice and time certainly help. In developing your skills about photography as a language it is critical to overcome the concept of what your work is about rather than what it is of.
When I first started writing about what my photography was really about I thought it was about entering personal space. I interchanged the word breaking personal space and entering personal space and thought they were the same. In fact a good friend and student Jed Best suggested that I have a show called Breaking and Entering. I thought that was quite clever. For several years my description of my own work started with breaking personal space. After all I started as a journalist and much of my work was about people and to capture them in a personal manner I was either very close or used a long lens to isolate emotion.
The more I started to write and as my work progressed I was bothered by the statement and one day while photographing a rock and writing about it I came to understand that it was really about an energy connection with my subjects or rather my subjects energy connection with me. The more I wrote the more I understood and writing led to my own discovery of Clairsentience which really put my understanding of the language in perspective.
Certain people are born with a mystical sixth sense that allows them to pick up on information about the past, present, and future. We typically call it ESP but for me it is an awareness of additional senses. While we all have five basic senses that help us observe the physical world around us it doesn’t end with just five. There are a variety of ways that people can experience ESP. For me one of the most fascinating is clairsentience, which is the ability to literally feel and acknowledge energy.
This week several things happened that weren’t coincidence. I looked at Leslie and said her son was thinking about her. She looked at her phone and her son just texted her. Three sand hill cranes that have been coming to my house suddenly flew in and they came right up to me as if they were telling me something. A dragonfly then landed on me. I showed Leslie the dragonfly and he stayed on my hand. I thought about him flying away and sure enough he did. No big deal but then I called him back and the dragonfly kept coming back to my hand for over an hour. At the same time there was no wind but the chimes in my back yard started to ring. There were bluejays and cardinals and all of these things were things that my mom loved.
Life comes down to energy and as I continue to write I continue to increase my knowledge about the language of photography.
Many photographers never figure it out and think it isn’t important. I hear so many photographers say that their work isn’t about anything they just like taking pictures. Well maybe, but learning what my images are about has helped me immensely.
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and while this might seem a little off the topic, from my perspective, it's right on target. Anybody can market well enough to get their first client - the challenge is getting that client to keep coming back, as well as telling all their friends to check you out.
That boils down to creating images that leave people in awe of your skills. Sure, it's about creating an experience and being fun to work with - but in the end, you have to create images beyond expectations.
I've recently shared a few of Seth Resnick's posts from Facebook because he's writing outstanding content. He's posting information to make you a better artist, regardless of your specialty. I loved this post because it hits one aspect of adding POWER to an image.
I've written a lot about your galleries as past Marketing Monday posts. Every image in your gallery should be a "Wow" photograph. It needs to be so powerful that you'd only need to show that one image to get hired, or have a picture editor want to look at more of your work.
When was the last time you cleaned up your galleries? Is there work there that anybody's Uncle Harry could shoot? Are you sharing too many images and not showing your very best?
Seth needs to be on your radar. He's regularly sharing great information covering a wide variety of topics on his Facebook page. And he's only a click away.
by Seth Resnick
The silhouette from yesterday reminded me of the concept of balancing technical knowledge and aesthetics. There are photographers like the great “god” Jay Maisel who could care less about a lot of technicals and there are photographers who are so technical that they place the technical merits over the aesthetics.
The answer for me is almost like a right brain, left brain combination or rather meshing together both aesthetics and technicals.
All of this comes to mind as I think back to the days of Shadowland and the beginning of Lightroom. I remember some of the lead engineers thinking how to process a raw file and looking at all files as if they were the same only caring about technicals. Along comes my dear friend Greg Gorman and the engineers are blown away that the blacks in some of his images have no detail. They question whether this is correct and Greg explains how he intentionally slammed the blacks. For all the rules it is critical to understand that the first rule is that there are no rules that are always 100%.
Crushing blacks is the process of taking relatively dark areas typically shadow areas and making them even darker by increasing contrast in those areas. It removes any areas of light within those dark areas.
For photographers who grew up with darkrooms we talked about toes and shoulders where the highlights block off to white and the shadows block off to black on a given tonality curve so to speak. The toe would be the bottom part of any curve and the shoulder the top part. I remember discussing with the engineers what we were going to call curves in Lightroom. When we raised Toe, and Shoulder we got "huh" because while some of the engineers knew a ton about programing and pixels they weren’t necessarily photographers.
In fact one camera manufacturer automatically did this intentionally in their processor because it minimized seeing noise in the shadows.
I remember when I worked at the Syracuse Newspapers that we would have to fight like mad with the executive editors when we shot a silhouette because the art department was instructed to airbrush and open up shadows. The idea being quite literally that silhouettes don’t exist because shadows need detail.
Anyhow, my point is silhouettes can make very powerful images and the crushed blacks do not need to be opened up……..
Image copyright by Jim Graham. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
Sometimes being out for a "scroll" in cyberspace leads to some truly fun discoveries. "Fun" is one of those words too often lost in business today. It's buried underneath the barrage of stress from dozens of things we all worry about. Yet, we're all responsible for finding the balance between productivity, success, and fun without stress dragging us down.
Meet Jim Graham, who many of you probably know already. He posted the image above on July 4 on his Facebook page with the comment:
"I’ve often thought this is one of my best images. Done on Nantucket probably 13 years ago."
Within minutes of seeing this image I called Jim. We spent the next hour sharing stories about artists we both know and this crazy industry we love dearly. In the process I asked for permission to share this image on Throwback Thursday, but with a unique purpose in mind. And Jim offered to share a little of the backstory below.
"At Rest" - Made 16 November 2009
I’d been traveling to Nantucket since 1974. In this case I’d gone on island for the first time during the fall. It was a very opportune choice as instead of green there was color everywhere. I’d gone out to Madaket in hopes of catching a sunset. As the season was really over, most of the boats had been hauled in. I was left with only a few in the water leading me to a minimalistic approach thinking pure composition and color.
I was also reminded of the Nantucket painter Robert Stark, Jr. Many times he painted his nautical scenes with dark blue skies and a red unfurled sail. The image that presented itself was the opposite in every way.
Revisiting work over the years offers so many opportunities. New applications have added editing advantages that simply weren’t there when the original image was made. You simply don’t know what you’ll discover. Additionally, as I print my work, both printers, inks, and papers have evolved. All allow both the image and my creative instincts to continually evolve.
Nikon D3X, Nikkor 70-200mm
1/160 @ F/2.8 200 ISO
Printed in 3 sizes, in editions of 25 on Moab Somerset Museum Rag
Here's my point. I share an image with a backstory every Thursday. In part, it's because searching for old photographs reminds me of the value of what we do as an industry. The memories that old images bring back recharge my battery, put a smile on my face, and lift my spirit a little higher.
But the other reason behind sharing old photographs is to remind you to head out on your own safari to hunt for old images, with two benefits. First, share them as a marketing tool to remind clients it's time for a new family portrait or headshot. Second, talking with Jim reminded me of the common denominator we all share - a passion for creativity and capturing memories.
Trust me on this one - take thirty minutes and go back to a file of images you captured at least ten years ago - the older, the better. Find an image you love or one that completely missed the mark - it doesn't matter. Now, think about the way you photograph today. Think about the technology you're using now versus what you had back then. Savor the backstories those images bring out - and simply appreciate the career path you chose when you decided to be a photographer.
Remember the tagline for Oldsmobile years back? "It's not your father's Oldsmobile!" Well, your eyes, heart, and skill set today aren't the same either, but you can't appreciate the journey until you realize how far you've come.
“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.
It’s to enjoy each step along the way.”
For most of us we've become so obsessed with building a business, and getting to that place on the floor, that we missed the beauty of each step in the process!
P.S. And to Jim - thanks for you help on this post. As I've written dozens of times - the best thing about this industry isn't really about photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft!
Intro by Skip Cohen
The real benefit of Facebook often has nothing whatsoever to do with being social but raising the bar on the quality of your craft. After all, the common denominator most of us share is our love for imaging.
Wandering through my notifications on FB just now, I ran into this post by Seth Resnick. I've admired his work for many years, and the image he shared drew me to the post. To his point - I'm amazed at how many artists don't calibrate their monitors. Yet, they view, share and print thousands of images.
One ingredient to calling yourself a professional photographer is the quality of your images. Not only do you deserve the best, but let's think about your clients. They deserve the best you can create.
There's no need to introduce this post further because Seth says it all. So put Seth on your radar; follow him on Facebook and check out his website, especially his upcoming workshops! They'll change your life and raise the bar on the quality of your work!
by Seth Resnick
Last night we went out to dinner before going to see Elvis. Leslie and I went to get a bite to eat and the restaurant had at least 25 television screens. On each screen is a Lion Fish from a live feed and Leslie notices that the color is different on every screen and asks me which one is correct? I start laughing and said likely none of them and go on to explain the concept of profiling a monitor and what that means. Ironically I had just gotten off the phone with Eric Meola who had purchased a new Mac with the M1 chip and had a tough go of profiling his NEC/Sharp Monitors.
As a photographer you spend your life producing images and processing them but unless you have a calibrated monitor, color becomes a crap shoot. It amazes me how many clients and photographers are making critical judgements about color and are doing so on non profiled or color deceptive monitors. In general, most screens are too bright, and have whatever default color the monitor happens to ship with.
Ambient light, the colors of the walls all have an influence on how we perceive color.
The bottom line to ensure the colors you see on screen are the same colors from your file, you simply need to calibrate and profile your monitor. Personally I use an i1 Display Pro which is a puck like device or spectrophotometer. I profile once a month and by doing so I am able to create a color guarantee. This helps ensure that when I print, the print can easily represent what I see on my screen and when I send a file to anyone, if they too have a profiled monitor, the image on my screen will match the look they get on their screen.
Of course the reality is that many clients and many photographers do not have profiled monitors and the reality is every screen will portray the image differently much like we experienced in the restaurant seeing the same Lion Fish on 25 different screens, each one different.
"There are no traffic jams along the extra mile."
Intro by Skip Cohen
Nine years ago this week, Amanda from Photodex shared the blog post below. Well, it's perfect for this time of year, as well as this time in business history. To say most of the last few years were tough on business owners would be a colossal understatement.
Photodex, who closed their doors a few years ago, was on fire back then! Thousands of photographers were not only using their products but benefitting from outstanding support and advice on how to keep building a successful business and their brand awareness.
This post features statements from five different wedding photographers, each sharing an essential tip for success. And while it's wedding-centric, the tips by these five artists apply to just about every business! So, whatever your specialty, if nothing else, pay attention to the bold tips leading into each quote.
Remember that today with social media, one customer has the ability to influence thousands of other potential clients for your business. At the start of last year, the analysts estimated almost 300 million people were on the Internet in the United States. In fact, how many of us even know somebody who's not Internet active?
The key to building your brand is in great service, which includes EVERYTHING from the quality of your work, to the way you build a relationship with each subject. It includes keeping your promises, responding quickly to communications, and being more than just another vendor in the community.
And in terms of Amanda from Photodex, who's been a great friend to so many of us - she always walks the talk. I catch up to her every now and then, because I love her online store, and she was so terrific to work with for so many years. Check out this post from last year about her award-winning jewelry business in Austin, TX!
Courtesy of Amanda and Photodex
We're right in the heat of wedding season! So, we reached out to a handful of seasoned pros and asked them to share what they do to go the extra mile and really ‘wow’ their wedding clients. Read their advice below!
1. Be More Than Just Photographers
One of the ways we wow our wedding couples is to just do all the little things better, not just be photographers. We show them that we really want their day to be the best ever. That means being there for them when things don’t go as planned. Maybe the groom could use a hand with cuff links or his tie. Maybe the cake table doesn’t have dishes and forks when it’s time to cut. Maybe the bouquets could use water when they are placed at the wedding party table. Maybe we nudge the DJ to get things going when we sense the guests are getting bored. It’s all the little things that add up. The better the wedding, the better our pictures will look. As photographers, we’ve seen lots of weddings, we know when it’s time to step in and give a hand. – Stacey Chance, Discovery Bay Studios Wedding Photography
2. Under Promise and Over Deliver
Brides are extremely excited about the work and anxious for everything. The worse thing you can do is promise something and not deliver on time. For example, we like to post a sneak peek on Facebook shortly after the wedding but when the bride’s asks about it, we always say it should be a few weeks after the event. Usually, it’s a few days! That’s the same for delivery of the proof set, products, you name it! It’s not a matter of lying or making up things – be realistic about all of the things that could go wrong with your business (or god forbid your personal life) and take that into account before making promises! – Steven Somfalvi, Artage Pictures
3. Surprise Them
Similar to under promising and over delivering, always have some surprises ready for your client. It definitely enhances their experience with your studio and it reconfirms that they are important to you. It can be a free print, product upgrade – really anything. We advertise in a national magazine and they send us a box of them to hand out. Every bride who comes through the door gets one and they just love it! – Steven Somfalvi, Artage Pictures
4. Create Excitement at the Reception
We produce same-day slideshows at every wedding. It’s a total surprise to the couple. The bride, groom and their guests are totally floored and I’ve booked weddings of bridal party members because of them. I use ProShow Producer to output to MP4 on to a flash drive and loop it on an LCD flat screen TV at the reception. Joe Pulcinella Photography
5. Be Passionate
My secret to wowing the bride and groom and the complete wedding party is being passionate about the wedding day. To me, a wedding day is the most important day in a couple’s life, just after giving birth to their child. I want the experience to be memorable. Quality of photography is very important to bring to the wedding, but your personality is the secret to making the day more memorable. I never demand anything from the wedding. I work with what I got and I make the magic happen. Ego and attitude should never be part of a wedding photographer’s personality. – David Zumaya, Weddings at California
by Skip Cohen
One of the fun things about having spent so many years in this industry is the friendships that have come out of everyone's love for the craft combined with their creativity. Glen Clark has been a long-time buddy going back to the early 90s when we were first met on a project to help Kodak. I've written a lot about metal prints, especially outdoors for home decor and restaurants.
Thanks to Glen, here's another application, expanding your potential for creativity and even additional revenue! His list of suggestions in the last paragraph is just the beginning.
Guest Post by Glen Clark
I was just sharing an idea for displaying MetalPrints with a photographer friend, and it occurred to me that you might also find this interesting (if I haven't already shared this with you?). It's a bit of a story, so please bear with me.
When Robin and I moved into our home here in South Carolina, we discovered a large metal circuit breaker box in an alcove between the kitchen and the master bedroom (see photo). Naturally, Robin thought it was ugly and wanted to cover it up.
Rather than having her disguise the box with decor items or a wall hanging, it occurred to me this might be an excellent place to display a large MetalPrint. So, I found a suitable image of a doorway in an Irish castle we had visited. I measured the metal circuit breaker panel/box. Then I ordered a 38 "x 18 "Metal Print to cover the box (I think most homes and businesses have a similar ugly panel somewhere). I ordered a Float Mount hanger on the back side of the MetalPrint to raise it off the surface, making it easier to hold onto when it was necessary to remove the print (i.e., to flip a circuit breaker).
Then Robin and I went shopping to find suitable magnets and adhesive tape, which we located at our local Lowe's. When the MetalPrint arrived, I attached the magnets, and the print has been covering the panel/box for the past year and a half, and it looks fantastic. This has even become a conversation piece with my visiting photographer friends.
I'm mentioning this because I thought some of your followers might have a similar opportunity in their homes, offices, basements, garages, patios or wherever they have their studio, man-cave/workshop, she-shed, etc. For example, I could see people using metal prints to decorate gym lockers, home appliances, office file cabinets, furniture, etc. The list could go on and on.
Intro by Skip Cohen
I've shared this post in the past but seeing how we're all into summer repeats of our favorite shows; it seems appropriate to share it again. I first shared this post by my good buddy Scott Bourne in 2013, but here's the fun thing about tips to help you build a more substantial brand/business - they NEVER go out of date.
Everyone is always talking about the "key to success." The truth is, there is no one single key with one exception - your heart has to be committed. If you're not totally committed, you'll be at the airport the day your ship comes in!
Whether you're just getting started or jump-starting a business that stalled over the last few years, look at Scott's list below. He's sharing seven outstanding pieces of advice!
If Scott isn't already on your radar, his website is just a click away. And check out the new iPhone Photo Show with Jefferson Graham and Scott Bourne. Click on the thumbnail to the right.
by Scott Bourne
(While these mistakes also encompass other areas of the professional photography business, at their core, they are marketing mistakes. See if you are making any of these mistakes and what you can do to correct them.)
1. Don't think about selling your image to the masses. Think about selling to people who live in your own zip code. Trying to start out like you're Ansel Adams with big gallery sales all across the country isn't going to happen. Just own your own zip code and don't worry about your images going viral.
2. Don't spend money on a studio, lights, camera gear, backgrounds, etc. until you actually have a customer. You can rent all the stuff you need to do a shoot. In fact, the big shots mostly rent everything when they are shooting big jobs. Why should you aim to be any different?
3. Don't focus on launching until you can sell. Focus on sales. Spend your time selling. Learn everything you can about the sales process. Read every sales book you can get your hands on. Expect to spend way, way more time selling than shooting. If you're doing it the other way around you're going to end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
4. Don't worry about a business plan if you don't have a superb portfolio. Develop a killer portfolio before you worry about building a business plan. Make sure you have honed your craft. Make sure you know what you are doing. Don't worry about the big plan. Worry about being a great photographer with a great portfolio where every single image rocks your world.
5. Don't think you can run a photo business just because you are a great photographer. You need to be good at all the things that go with running a business, or get help doing those things. You need to have good bookkeeping, inventory control, accounting, legal, marketing, branding and sales on board before you even think about entering photography as a business.
6. Don't run your business with a negative mind. Too many photographers spend their time and money trying to build a wall around their photo business. Don't write 100 page contracts. Don't treat your customers or prospects as if they are out to cheat you. Just have a good attitude and move ahead.
7. Don't fake it until you make it. If you can't carry your weight, you'll ruin your reputation. So if a client says "can you do aerial photography?" and you've never even been in an airplane, don't say yes. You may want to partner with someone who can do that, you may want to refer the prospect to someone else, but don't claim you can do it if you can't because you will suffer from a bad reputation with that prospect and all their friends for all time.
Smile big, laugh hard and make people happy!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Ever had somebody come into your life, and after the very first meeting, you can't remember when they weren't around? Well, meet a great buddy, Terry Clark.
It started in 2009 when Terry bid on a fund-raiser for a couple of hours of my time to help with marketing his business. I was living in Akron, Ohio, and he was in Pittsburgh. So, rather than do a conference call, Molly the Wonder Dog and I jumped in the car and drove over to hang out with Terry for the day.
That kicked off the friendship, and while we seem to take turns losing touch, each conversation always starts as if we put a comma after what either of us said the last time we talked. Last week was my birthday, and Terry wished me a happy one on Facebook...that started the conversation up again.
He sent me the piece below, and there's so much great content in it, and I asked if it was okay to share. Then I called him yesterday to talk him into being a guest on the "Mind Your Own Business" podcast for June, and here I am with his guest post today. Check out more of Terry's work with a click on the banner above. And if you're anywhere near Boardman, Ohio - Terry's teaching photography classes at YM Camera.
When I think of the most diverse artists I know and respect, Terry's one of the first who comes to mind. He's been a photo editor, photojournalist, portrait artist, educator, and storyteller. And there's a common denominator in all his images. It's his trademark - the emotion each image brings to the viewer.
I look back on our first meeting and remember thinking, "This guy's work is amazing - what does he need me for?" The truth is, we all need a friend like Terry!
by Terry Clark
When you reach a certain age, you're supposed to sit down and "retire." What does that even mean as a photographer?
There came the point in my career, after doing photography for 45 years, I recognized I needed a break. I wasn't interested in actual retirement, just a pause to reflect, take stock in what I had done in life, and plan for the next chapter. So I shifted my priorities to teaching thanks to an opportunity with a local camera shop. Selling out multiple lighting workshops sealed the deal. There was a void, and I could fill it with knowledge gained from decades of experience.
Then the dreaded pandemic hit. As the saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. It was a curse and a blessing. Suddenly I had a lot of time to reflect. Unfortunately, I also caught Covid. I recovered, mostly. Long Covid symptoms linger even after two years. So as I have done throughout my career, I now must improvise, adapt, and overcome to live the life I want.
With things mostly back to normal, I'm pursuing my plans while teaching students through the camera shop. And what praytell am I doing? I'm going back to my roots of photojournalism and long-term documentary photography. I'm also going back to shooting film.
Why film, especially at this point? The simple answer is it is part of my history. I spent most of my life working with Tri-X for newspapers and magazines. And it makes me happy.
Using film makes me think. Not just about exposure, but most importantly, about composition and timing. It's too easy to bang away on a digital camera where you have thousands of images available on a single card. A roll of film is 36 exposures. And since I'm using old Nikon cameras, you have to manually advance to each new frame. Timing is crucial to making a great frame.
Sure, there are ways to do the same with digital – tape off the LCD screen, use single frame exposure, and change your mindset. But in the end, you wind up with a file that's merely ones and zeros. There is nothing physical to hold in your hand, only an image in the ether of cyberspace.
I may be old, but I'm not foolish. I maintain a small digital kit for the occasional commercial job and lenses unavailable for my rangefinder film camera. A few weeks ago, I spent a wonderful time photographing eagles with a 150-600mm Tamron lens. The world of professional photography has moved on from film. Twenty-two years ago, I leaped early into the new technology for my business. It was the right move, just as going back to film is for my new chapter.
Another plan was to travel this country, exploring small towns and the great southwest. The current price of gas is forcing a change of that right now. Driving to Michigan from Ohio to visit my brother costs nearly $200 round trip. I know prices will ease at some point, so until that time, short jaunts will suffice. Once they do, we're way past due for that cigar my friend. You can expect a visit!
As my latest t-shirt says, "Young at heart, other parts slightly older." Except for my eyes, they are as sharp as ever. Always remember, smile big, laugh hard, and make people happy. And drink coffee, lots of coffee!
Stay young, my friend!
Intro by Skip Cohen
As I've written so many times in the past, the fun of this industry is in the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Well, meet a very new friend, Cheryl Dell'Osso. Cheryl's the Director of Content Strategy at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer at Portraits by Cheryl and Seniors by Cheryl in Raleigh, NC.
It's Marketing Monday, and with her permission, I'm sharing a post she shared a few months back with tips to help you sell more prints. Selling prints is an integral part of your business.
My own home is filled with prints. Friends have commented over the years that it's like a gallery. Expanding one of the points Cheryl makes in this guest post - memories were also never meant to live solely inside your computer! They deserve to be shared and always visible. The one little corner of my office in the grab-shot above is a never-ending reminder of so many beautiful memories.
And to share my most favorite quote about photographs from Jody Picoult:
“This is what I like about photographs. They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat,
everything was perfect.”
by Cheryl Dell'Osso
Photography is a form of art, and art was never meant to live solely inside a computer screen. Sure, your clients may be excited about getting that perfect profile-pic-worthy shot, but nothing truly brings a photograph to life like framed prints and canvases.
Having beautiful prints adorning their home’s walls benefits clients by serving as constant reminders of the joy they felt on the day of their shoot, but it can be equally as beneficial for the person behind the lens. Selling photo prints can lead to a huge leap in a photographer’s revenue while simultaneously showing off their skill and professionalism to potential future clients. Plus, photo prints serve as a daily reminder of you and your services, making your clients more likely to head your way for their future photo needs.
So how do you go about selling prints? The sales process should start the moment you come in contact with clients. And if your sales tactics don’t pay off right away, don’t fear. Selling prints often takes time and patience to find the best strategy that works for you. Learning to rely on e-commerce can make this process much smoother, as clients will be able to buy photo prints and related gifts directly from your website without the hassle of going back and forth about orders and pricing.
Once you have your e-commerce platform set up, here are four strategies you can use to increase your photo print sales.
Plant seeds before the shoot.
In today’s digital world, chances are most of your clients are coming to you with the expectation of receiving an online gallery of images they can then print at their local drugstore. It’s important to change this expectation the moment you start working with them.
As clients browse your portfolio, offer them examples of finished, framed photos and other products, and walk them through the benefits of having something tangible to house their memories. Show them the differences between photos that are printed on metal versus canvas so they can start to envision which products may look best in their home.
Let the quality of your work be your biggest selling factor. Consider ordering photo prints from a local drugstore that you can use for a side-by-side comparison to the products you’re offering. Once clients can physically see and feel the difference in quality, it’ll be hard for them to settle for shiny drugstore prints.
Present your work.
After the shoot, it’s important to follow up on those initial seeds you planted by helping your client picture how framed prints of their new photos can be used. Photo prints can help tell your client’s story and serve as great personalized home decor. As an added bonus, their photos also make great gifts and greeting cards!
Show your client examples of how your work has been used to liven up the space above a mantle or to create a gallery wall of memories. If you’re photographing families, show them a progression of photos that exhibit a child growing older.
Visually seeing these milestones might spark an emotional response to picture how their own child’s aging might look and think about why it’s important to capture their child at each stage of life. The bonus of this strategy is that they can easily recreate that progression by booking you for annual portraits!
On your e-commerce site, list finished products of past clients (with their permission) to show real-life examples of what other families, brides and pet owners are doing with their photo prints. You might even consider presenting a few prints from your client’s own shoot to give them something to hang onto.
Create a print selling strategy.
Once you’ve showcased the benefits of photo prints, it’s time to seal the deal. For this, you’ll need to create a selling strategy.
The best strategy for selling photo prints will differ between photographers based on their niche and specific client base, so it’s important to figure out what approach makes the most sense for your business.
For some photographers, this might mean building printed products into their overall photo packages so that ordering photo prints is the default. This can be influential for clients because they aren’t being charged extra for “add-ons” (even though the cost is being built into your session pricing).
Other photographers might offer deals and discounts for buying framed or mounted images on the day of the shoot to build clients’ excitement about seeing the finished photos. This strategy can also create a sense of urgency, which is a strong selling factor regardless of industry.
Another approach could be offering to mail a finished framed or mounted image to a client free of charge so they can see how it will look in their home. Then, add a price tag if they decide to keep it.
Whatever your selling approach, it’s important to market the convenience of your photo print service. Remind clients about their ability to order printed products by sending a follow-up email a few weeks after the delivery of their gallery. Oftentimes, people become busy and simply forget to have their photos printed. An extra nudge could be all it takes to push them over the finish line.
Find a professional printing source.
Your clients may wonder why it’s beneficial to order their photo prints directly from their photographer instead of printing them at a drugstore. Make the answer about quality and convenience.
By setting up an e-commerce platform on your site that offers multiple types of printed products, you’re creating a seamless process that allows clients to order their prints directly from their digital gallery. This saves them the hassle of having to download the photos they want printed and upload them to another site. It can also save them a trip to the drugstore, since products will be shipped directly to their door.
Convenience should also be a factor on your end, so make sure you find an e-commerce platform that’s also easy for you to use. Look for a service that offers a website builder so you can more easily integrate your store and portfolio. You’ll also want to find an e-commerce service that allows you to set your price, control your markup on products, offer coupon discounts and set gallery expiration dates to increase your early print sales.
Finally, consider partnering with a photo lab to print and deliver your products so that you can focus more on selling. It’s important to find a lab that offers the quality of photo prints you want your clients to receive. If you’re new to selling professional prints, or decide to change labs, it’s also a good idea to review your editing workflow. Uploading photos with the ideal file sizes and color space for your partner lab is key to beautiful prints.
Other factors to look for in a photo lab include fast shipping, a wide range of product offerings and daily customer service availability in case any issues arise with your client’s order. After all, you are ultimately responsible for making sure your clients’ orders meet their expectations and arrive on time.
Selling photo prints is a great way to expand your business, revenue and potentially even your client base. Finding the right sales tactics and process might take time and practice, but the payoff is far greater than the patience needed to succeed.
Please Note: Update image and information at the bottom of this post!
by Skip Cohen
Kevin Gilligan is no stranger to SCU. As a past Tamron Image Master, artist, writer, and educator, we've shared a lot of great content here at SCU, including his three-part series on how to put together your own exhibition. The bottom line is, he's a good buddy. So when he sent me this image the other day of his daughter, Lana, walking on her board in a California surfing competition, I wanted to share it. (And she won her heat at the time!)
The detail is outstanding, and this is from a screenshot - so, imagine the quality of the original. It's captured with Tamron's SP 150-600mm F5-6.3 Di VC lens. Tamron is manufacturing some of the finest glass in imaging optics, and there's very little that beats a Dad on the sidelines photographing one of his kids!
Tamron's has some terrific offers going on right now - just click on the banner below.
I got an update from Kevin after I shared the post above. The event was the 2021 Kick Off Classic Surf Competition. Over 200 boys and girls from South Bay High Schools competed in long board and short board. Despite the tough competition she got 1st place!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Yesterday I shared the image on the right, captured by my good buddy Eddie Tapp. While the image is outstanding, I wanted to use the post to remind you just as much about Eddie's upcoming program as I did IUSA and the importance of being part of the celebration of a return to normalcy in our industry.
Well, there's much more to Eddie's image, and because he never does anything halfway - here's the guest post that's meant to go with these images.
Eddie's a photographer, artist, writer, educator, and a good friend to so many of us in the industry. And understanding a little about drone photography will help you expand your skillset, and who knows where the journey might take you?
by Eddie Tapp
Take composition for instance, the one thing that will make a scene or image easy to look at with leading lines, element structor, rule of odds, light, story telling as in communicating a feeling and demanding that you look at a specific area or thing.
Experience teaches us to just move over this far to get that diagonal element to create excitement, a see though mystery or leading line. In a studio set we can bring in something to create eye flow, set the element structure for a visible feast or establish placements to balance the view.
Now that we include aerial compositions in some of our works which reveal the location or action that brings us to the discipline of low attitude solutions such as drones or moving vehicles.
Drones are not very difficult to fly, as a matter of fact, they are really quite easy to fly especially because of the GPS connection, the fact is that most drones today have obstacle avoidance along with features that allow cool cinematic movements.
What isn’t easy is learning to create the best possible angle or cinematic movements within a compositional mind-set while flying a drone and here are some of the reasons why. A remote control pilot now has to pay close attention to the telemetry such as speed, altitude and then obstacles can take over thinking about composition while flying.
If you were the pilot/image-maker, think about keeping your eye on the composition while flying with the added awareness mentioned and you have new challenges. Or at least it takes time to become proficient at flying before it becomes comfortable for one to get back to mastering composition from the air, then it becomes a second nature and the fun begins.
And if you really want to fly drones for professional use, you must have an FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification, this requires a written test to achieve. The website to find out more is faadronezone.faa.gov. The national air space has various classes of air space and safety is the most important aspect of drone operations. There are online study courses such as uavgroundschool.com where you can learn all the important aspects of flying in the national air space along with studying for the Part 107 written test.
It all comes down to vision and this is where our tasks start.
How ever you interpret a vision is something you should set as your objective. Use the best means you have to create and go for it. Just remember the three key elements that create exceptional imagery are light, composition and exposure. When creating your next project from the air, moving vehicle or from land, partner your composition with your light and make sure to keep thinking up.
Eddie Tapp, M.Photog., MEI,Cr., API, CPP
Photoshop Hall of Fame, Certified Drone Pilot, Delkin ImageMaker,Triple Scoop Music, Coloratti - Calibright
by Skip Cohen
I'm online virtually all day, every day. Now and then, somebody shares an image that's so stunning it deserves to be seen by more people. Often, I'm not even out in search of an image to share, but this one, especially when it came up full-screen on my monitor, just hit me!
Clay Blackmore is no stranger to SCU, or for that matter, many of you, especially if you're a wedding or portrait photographer. There's nothing Clay can't photograph, but it's his people work I've always loved the most. He shared the image above on Facebook yesterday.
Clay shared the following advice on his SCU faculty page when we first started this blog:
"More than ever, today's photographer needs a strong foundation in posing and lighting, along with a keen sense of business acumen to navigate a path to the better customers. When I was in Japan a few years ago I saw these signs about service that's so appropriate for the way we have to think about the business:
It's hard for me to believe Clay and I have been friends for over thirty years, first meeting after I joined Hasselblad. It's proof that time flies when you're having a good time.
Check out more of Clay's work with a visit to his website and Facebook page. And if you see him scheduled to speak at an upcoming conference or in the Canon booth, run, don't walk to grab a seat!
by Skip Cohen
One of the very best podcasts in imaging is Behind the Shot, hosted by my good buddy Steve Brazill. Steve's no stranger to SCU. We shared one of his favorite images on a past episode of "Why?" and he was also a guest on the Beyond Technique podcast last year.
He's a talented artist, author and he's got one of those stellar easy to listen to voices made for broadcasting. He was also a vital member of the team when we did the F64 Lunch Bunch during the early days of the pandemic. But one of his most outstanding traits in terms of photography is his pure love for everything under the imaging umbrella.
Steve recently tested the new Platyball Ergo and Elite ball heads and released the video below yesterday. If you don't know about the product, he does an outstanding job going through the features, benefits, and the fun of hands-on use in the field. And, let's not forget the job his camera operator did - kudos to Steve's wife, Debbie!
Behind the Shot needs to be on your radar. Steve's always sharing great content and conversations with some of the most respected artists in imaging, as well as his product reviews and information to help you raise the bar on your life as an artist!
As I've written so many times in the past - the best thing about this industry has very little to do with imaging but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft!
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.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Two of my most favorite portrait artists and good friends are Bev and Tim Walden.
In just a few weeks, they'll be launching one of the industry's strongest coaching/mentoring programs, Immersion. While I've been sharing a link to their program over on the right of the SCU blog, I asked Beverly to give me a short example of how straightforward they're going to be with helping you build your skills beyond your technical style.
It's your chance for a year long, never-let-up support system! You can even design the program you need the most over the next year, and add in an hour of private coaching as well! Just click on the banner above for more information!
One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and again and expecting different results. Well, this is your chance to raise the bar on the quality of your work and your marketing/selling skills. And like Carly Simon's song so many years ago, "Nobody does it better!"
by Bev Walden
As much as you don’t want to admit it, objections exist. Personally, I would love it if our clients always agreed to everything I said, bought it all as presented and never objected.
That is just not reality.
However, take heart. As you are in business longer and longer, reputation will provide privilege as people know what to expect…and objections happen less often.
Our best advice (not meaning to sound flippant) is to avoid objections by doing groundwork from the beginning. Weed out problems beforehand. It is your job to think ahead for your clients and avoid any possible objections by informing them about things they need to know such as your pricing and payment options, how you do business and what they can expect.
After doing due diligence beforehand, you can prepare for each selection appointment with confidence. Here are three common objections we see.
Objection #1: Being indecisive. Can I think about it? I can’t decide right now.
This is where groundwork comes in. Take time before the day of the sale to plant seeds about expectations and share your “rules.” Talk about it every format you can (written, videos, etc) and reinforce it our and over. Your rules, your way. Time is the enemy. In the first moments of the sale is where the money is made and money tanks as time passes and clients leave without making a decision. Relationships become contentious as you try to re-connect to get an answer. This is one of the worst scenarios for successful sales.
What do we do if this happens?
We say, “Let’s put everything into the system like we’ve talked about since we’ve spent all of this time together already.” Then we collect the deposit. Before we finalize everything, we ask them to let us know within certain time (ie: 24 hours) whether to go ahead with the order as is or modify it. If we don’t hear from them, we go ahead. This approach gets a solid order and a deposit, yet doesn’t back them into a corner.
Objection #2: I can’t bring my spouse right now, so can I just look at the portraits now and then we can come back later to place the order?
What do we do if this happens?
We say, “It is hard to get on the schedule right now as we are several weeks out.” Usually, when they hear this, they will find a way to come as originally scheduled and place their order. What we don’t want to do is show any images before they are ready to buy as the excitement is much less the second time the images are seen. When excitement goes down, the money goes with it.
Objection #3: I look ________________. You can fill in the blank.
What do we do about this? We avoid this objection by prepping images that we want to highlight with a little retouching and liquifying areas that need it. We put our best foot forward! This is why we limit how many images we show. We want to make each as beautiful as we can without spending too much time fixing too many images.
Finally, don’t be afraid of objections. And remember, sometimes, there is not an answer. If you have done everything right and still have a bad sale, no worries. Let it go. Be ok with it. And learn from it.
by Skip Cohen
With Father's Day right around the corner, I couldn't help but appreciate a post by Jenn Sim, Levi Sim's definitely better half (LOL) on Facebook. She wrote:
So proud of my family of photographers. Lana took first place in the amateur photographer category, and Levi took second in the professional photography category.
And Levi explained to me; This was a "Plein-air" photography contest. The pictures had to be made starting last Friday and presented on Wednesday by noon and had to be made within Cache Valley, which straddles the Utah/Idaho border.
Well, Lana is nine years old, and that's her portrait of her Dad and brother above. I had to give her top billing since she took a first. However, in second place was Levi's print below.
Besides Levi being a good friend for so many years, I got the biggest kick out of Lana getting involved in imaging. Photography is an incredible tool for self-expression, and a great activity for parents to enjoy together with their kids. So, if Lana's shooting like this at nine, imagine what she's going to be like in competition ten years from now!
One more fun quality of this - Levi's well-established as a photographer. He doesn't need to enter local shows like this, but he believes in being involved in his community. This is a perfect way to stay active and remind people what he does for a living.
Photography is simply part of this family's life, and it's a constant reminder of how small an industry we really are. Another good friend, Erin Holmstead, captured the family portrait on the right. I met Erin through Levi; I have repeatedly caught up to her at WPPI; she's an Admin for Cache Valley Photographers on Facebook and a writer for Photofocus.
It's Father's Day weekend! To Jenn Sim - thanks for sharing the pictures and your pride; to Levi, I can't wait to hear Lana stories when she wants to upgrade her gear! And to Levi and all you Dad's out there, wishing you all a Happy and HEALTHY Father's Day!
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.