You can't be the kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it.
You have to go down the chute.
by Skip Cohen
In the last few months, I've talked with hundreds of photographers online, through emails, and IMs on Facebook, or live on the phone. If there's a common theme, it's centered around getting business back on track.
Many of you already had challenges in your business before the pandemic you needed to address, but you procrastinated and put those issues on the back burner. After all, there was nothing you could do to change the dynamics of the new normal.
Well, Covid-19 isn't going to disappear with one dramatic "grand sweeping gesture." Masks, hand-washing, physical distancing, and being smart about protecting yourself and your family is all part of the new normal.
What's NOT part of the new normal is running your business the same old way. You need to adapt to the needs of your clients and, at the same time, respect the health parameters important to both them and you.
So, you're at the top of the waterslide, and it's time to leap into a new level of diversity for your business. You still need to fine-tune your skills, but there are still some strong imaging needed by your clients.
Just because the new norm requires physical distancing and has prevented most photographers from getting out of the slow season, doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to rebuild your business. You know how to focus your camera. Now it's time to refocus your career.
Over the years, mostly on Twitter, I've shared a lot of great quotes. While I'd like to take credit for all of them, it's thanks to two authors, Kathryn & Ross Petras, who put together a book of motivational quotes in the clickable thumbnail on the right. Tina Fey's quote above is from their collection. But my all time favorite is, "Age Doesn't Matter Unless You're a Cheese."
Whether you like to share quotes online or not, this little book is loaded with inspiration!
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday and the perfect time to redefine being a pro in photography. The pandemic and physical distancing with various levels of self-quarantine have reduced some of the more prominent tools of a pro. But the Internet has expanded the playing field for so-called professional artists to jump into the market. You've got to make yourself stand out from the rest of the "herd."
Years ago, my buddy Dean Collins used to say, "All you need to be a pro these days is a roll of duct tape and a Yellow Pages ad!" His sarcasm still rings true today with too many photographers calling themselves pros, simply because of the gear they own.
I've written a lot about this topic, and it's time to update some of the qualities that make an artist a professional. And it's sure not your gear! Every time you're in public, especially in cyberspace, there's a chance to show your skillset, not just as an artist but as a business owner.
Here's the bottom line: Professionalism is obviously defined by your ability to exceed the expectations of your clients. But your technical skills in producing beautiful images mean absolutely nothing if you don't have a sense of service, listen more than you talk, and build a brand based on being helpful. Make working with you an experience beyond the click of the shutter.
"Customers don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."
by Skip Cohen
We're living with a new normal in communication. Face to face meetings are minimal, but phone calls, Skype, Zoom, Facetime, etc. are critical in how we talk to each other. And even though a phone conversation allows two people to hear the inflections and emotion in their voices, there's still no visual anchor.
This isn't a new topic; in fact, the quote above I've shared numerous times, but with the new normal, everyone needs a reminder about fine-tuning your listening skills. It all starts with slowing down and not being distracted. You've got to listen to the client and ask for clarification if you don't completely understand what they've said.
Listening these days goes hand in hand with your written skills as well. So let's fine-tune everything in how you communicate.
Your most influential marketing tool is about building relationships and trust. It applies to every specialty within photography, including commercial, boudoir, family, children, maternity, and the list goes on and on!
The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand.
We listen to reply.
by Skip Cohen
I've written a lot over the years about the importance of maintaining your network. Without care and feeding, like a house plant, it'll just die!
The pandemic has changed how we deal with so many different aspects of communication and support. The result makes it more critical than ever for you to keep in touch with clients, associates, and opinion-leaders in your community.
Your network is one of your most valuable tools for success. That "plant" I mentioned needs water, light, fertilizer, and a pot big enough so it can grow. Your network is no different. Sheltering in place does NOT apply to your business and especially your network.
Building relationships is your greatest marketing tool! And as Scott Stratten says in his book UnMarketing, "Stop marketing and start engaging!" Social distancing changes how you engage, but not the importance of keeping in contact!
I hate to quote politicians, but Hilary Clinton's line about "It takes a village," is so on point today. But it starts with you giving your village the support it needs. Then, you've got to be there to help people in your network because they're going to be your best resource when you need help!
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.
by Skip Cohen
I first shared this post as part of my Fast Food Friday series last year, but it's even more relevant today. The pandemic and social distancing have changed everything in business today. Now, more than ever, your website and blog are critical components of your business. Sadly, too many of you have websites that could put a rock to sleep!
I've done a lot of website reviews over the years, and so many of you miss an opportunity to make a great first expression. A visit to your website needs to be a great experience. Like shopping at Macy's vs. Nordstroms - you've got a choice to make in the experience you give visitors to your website!
In reviewing websites, photographers will often say to me, "I know it's out of date. I need to fix those images." Well, the days of procrastinating are over, and it's genuinely a you-snooze-you-lose scenario. Here are some ideas, most of them easy fixes and things you can do NOW!
While somebody will challenge me on this, you can't be in business today without a website. I also feel a blog is essential. Why? Because your site is about what you sell, and your blog is about what's in your heart. Both work together, much like advertising and publicity. Together a great website and blog can open doors, build trust, and help establish your reputation as a professional photographer.
But just like discussions on Facebook forums about what photographers wear when shooting a wedding, you've got to dress the part. You've got to dress for success! Your website is the equivalent of a bricks and mortar store - make a visit, starting with your audience walking through the front door, that's memorable and a fun place to "shop."
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, and I usually turn back the clock exclusively to old images or videos. But this morning, wandering through my archives, I found one of my favorite guest posts from my good buddy, Scott Bourne. I've shared it a couple of times over the last few years.
Scott and I go back a lot of years to my Hasselblad days, later to helping me launch Skip's Summer School, then writing a book together and a never-ending stream of projects and new ideas year after year.
In 2012, while at Summer School, Bobbi Lane did her best to get the two of us to be serious for a portrait session. She was successful, but only for a minimal time!
The post below is so relevant today. Life is very different for this year's graduates than it was when Scott first wrote this. However, as much as things change, to his point, the importance of relationship-building NEVER varies.
Most people see the challenges created by the pandemic as a liability, but for this year's graduates, I see opportunities. So many things in our lives have changed, giving this year's grads the ability to indeed be pioneers in virtually every field.
While business may have slowed down over the last few months in photography, we're all part of an industry that itself has never slowed down. More than ever before, your greatest marketing tool is relationship building!
by Scott Bourne
Commencements are coming up all over the country in the next couple months. As someone with gray hair, I can’t help but have a very different perspective on photography than someone of college age. I am often asked what advice I’d give someone just breaking into professional photography. The usual response goes something like this…
“Be prepared for lots of hard work – sales and marketing should dominate your day – show the work every chance you get – network like crazy – shoot what you love – repeat.”
But while that’s all good advice, there’s more I would say if I were speaking at a commencement.
I’d talk about understanding the high degree of importance graduates should place in each and every relationship they engage in during their career. Whether it’s the mailman or the recent client, these relationships are really all that matters. I didn’t know this when I was young and it hurt me…both personally and professionally.
So obsess over gear and f/stops if you must, but if you really want to succeed, pay attention to the people in your professional life. Build solid, long-term relationships with them. Care about them. Help them. Put them and their interests ahead of your own. You never know where that will lead. You might be dealing with that person 30 years later. They’ll remember how you valued (or didn’t) the relationship when you were young. And so will you.
If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business.
by Skip Cohen
Normally by now, high school graduations would be history, but the pandemic changed all of that. All over the country, graduations have been delayed along with proms and other school-centric events. That's made the photographs you captured of this year's senior class even more valuable and important. The Class of 2020 deserves all the support we can give them, and a great looking grad card is one ingredient.
Marathon Press just recently announced they're extending their BOGO offer on grad cards. That not only allows you to support your senior clients, but the BOGO reduces your costs and increases revenue.
Just click on the banner below for more information and start the process of designing memory-making cards for your seniors, their families and friends.
"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
by Skip Cohen
There isn't a professional photographer on the planet who isn't struggling with what's become the new normal! Quarantines, social distancing, sheltering in place have all become a way of life, but out of chaos and the pandemic crisis have come some remarkable new extensions for business.
A month ago, I shared a short video of JP Elario at his computer doing FaceTime portraits. Channel 13 in Albany, NY, picked up the story, and I have to share it here. I wish there was a way to make every artist watch this short clip.
JP's part of a father/son business and Joe, his Dad, and I go back to my early Hasselblad days. They're both remarkable artists specializing in wedding and portraiture, and exceptional service is part of their signature. Keeping in line with their never-ending quest to meet their clients' needs, JP starting doing online headshots.
These are challenging times, but who knows what other new ideas will come out of the pandemic crisis?
"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friend."
“I love creating partnerships; I love not having to bear the entire burden of the creative storytelling, and when I have unions like with George Lucas and Peter Jackson,
it’s really great; not only do I benefit, but the project is better for it!"
by Skip Cohen
I woke up this morning, energized and aggravated, which is a dangerous combination!
I'm tired of the new normal, along with politicians and people who just don't get it. The way we're living now is the new normal for at least the next few months, maybe longer. There's no wizard behind the curtain who's going to flip a switch and change things.
But...there is a wizard inside of each of you screaming to come out! It's like Rudy shouting, "Come on, Coach, send me in!" So, what are you going to start doing differently to reach your audience and build your brand?
For years I've talked and written about the importance of partnerships. Long before the word pandemic was in our vocabulary, I was pushing all of you to build a more substantial presence with strategic alliances.
Over the years, I've been involved in a long list of partnerships.
At Hasselblad, we launched an ad campaign with Kodak and Polaroid. Featuring the work of Nick Vedros, the image used was shot with Hasselblad on Kodak film, but there was no digital technology then. A Polaroid back was an essential component to check exposure and composition for many commercial and portrait artists. The costs for the complete campaign, including production and media placement was split three ways between us.
Then came other campaigns, each one similar in structure that included Kodak, L.L. Bean, and Bogen (today Manfrotto.) Each time all of us not only reduced our costs, but each company became an ambassador for the others.
Here are a few ideas to help you start thinking about partnerships.
Your Online Presence: Cyberspace has never been more important in our lives than RIGHT NOW! It's the way we're staying in contact and sharing information. It's also the foundation of education at virtually every level. It's time to clean up your website, blog and any other places in social media where you target your client audience.
Be a Community Leader: A couple of months ago I caught up to Lori Nordstrom one day. Just before we talked, she had been involved in a Zoom meeting with business women from the community, all sharing ideas together on how they could help more during the pandemic. You've got the ability to be a leader in your community and bring other vendors together to help build a new standard of support.
Blogging: There's plenty of advice on developing a stronger blog, from me and dozen's of other writers but my point today is the importance of maintaining your blog with good solid content. Think about your target audience and your readership. How can you help them the most?
Developing a strong blog in your community is also going to help you find new partners. Guest posts from other vendors; informative Zoom meetings; tips on photography, cooking, flower arranging, DIY projects all have a foundation is developing great content.
Working With Other Artists: Other artists/photographers have always been great potential partners. Sadly, too many of you think working with a competitor is taboo. First, with or without the pandemic, you can't work every job that comes along. I know things are slow now, but sooner or later you're going to have a conflict in availability.
Second, look for partners who complement your skill set in another specialty. For example, a wedding photographer should have a close relationship with a maternity and newborn photographer. It's the perfect combination for building a strong referral program.
Check out the post I shared in late April thanks to Elizabeth Newton, which featured thirty different photographers. Click on the composite to the right for the backstory.
Then there's the archived post by Bruce Berg. It's the backstory about the Lane County Children's Contest. At the time, I shared the post they were coming up on 30 years. It was hosted by three competing studios in the same area and has repeatedly stimulated sales during the "slow season!"
Webinars and Podcasts: Looking to be helpful to your community? How about building a series of content-rich programs about summer projects, things to do with kids, picture-taking tips leading to a contest sponsored by various partners?
Direct Mail: In part, due to the importance of social distancing, direct mail has a new level of potential and reach. But you don't have to take on the burden of cost by yourself. Think about partnerships with other vendors in the community. Regardless of your specialty, look for partners whose target audience is the same as yours. A portrait or wedding photographer could easily partner with a florist, for example.
Past Clients: Coming up in a few weeks is a Beyond Technique podcast we recorded yesterday. Cindy Harter Sims was our guest, and she was very open about sharing the results of reaching out to her community. Like so many portrait artists, the pandemic initially shut down her business.
A few weeks ago, Cindy literally reached out to her past clients and her community. She was in danger of losing her business but went to her clients with suggestions for purchasing additional prints from previous sittings. That led to orders and later new business, all while respecting the need for social distancing. Her clients came through, in part because of the relationships Cindy has built over the years in her community.
Sharing Studio Space: Social distancing doesn't mean you have to close your doors. And if you don't have a door to close, sharing space is an excellent solution for access to a studio while minimizing the costs. It's also perfect for pooling your resources with another photographer or two. It reduces expenses, and you get bigger and better space than you usually would be able to afford, especially if just starting out.
Events and Fund-Raisers: It's still one of my favorite ways to partner, only the vehicle you use today is going to be different. Here in Sarasota, I was recently involved in the Giving Challenge. It was all done online in support of a long list of nonprofits in the area.
The nonprofits in your community are all in trouble. The pandemic has postponed or canceled events like walk-a-thons altogether. But you have an opportunity to help create and support a new level of awareness and funding through your Internet presence and the relationships you've made in the community.
Photo Contests: All done online and safely, use your expertise to establish relationships with other vendors for both their knowledge and ability to extend your reach as well as provide prizes. It starts with you sharing tips on capturing better images. Then bring in a florist, and a restaurant offering great carry-out. Include an entity from both to be judges in the contest. The theme of the contest? Anything you want it to be.
And that brings me full circle and back to the importance of relationship building and creating great partnerships. You don't have to do everything alone! Bringing in strategic partners for any project helps expand your reach, creativity, and brand awareness.
Now, add in the challenges created by the pandemic, and more than ever, great partnerships have the potential to lead back to profitability.
Business isn't dead - it's just dormant. The value of great photographs and capturing memories has never been stronger, and as a photographer, you've got the ability to make it happen!
by Skip Cohen
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, especially the way we communicate. On a fairly regular basis, many of you are appearing live on Zoom, Skype, and the list goes on and on. But, just like the rules in creating a great image for print competition, there are some definite rules you need to follow when meeting in cyberspace. Your goal is to be just as professional in an online meeting as you would be in person at a conference or workshop.
And for those of you rolling your eyes, because you already know this stuff, just consider it a reminder. Like meeting with a new client, you've got a minimal amount of time to make a great impression. I'm not an expert in any of this stuff, but thanks to some great friends, I'm work in progress and there are a lot of you who could use a little help.
Let's start with the obvious - lighting. You don't need much. Ironically, none of you would light a basic headshot with a flashlight, but when it comes to your online presence, you do nothing. Yet, all of you understand lighting - so put a little light on the subject - YOU! While I've got a couple of softboxes in my office, my preference is thanks to Litra. I've got two LitraTorch 2.0s on goosenecks on either side of my laptop, which has become my leading computer when I've got to be on camera. When I'm on the iMac, I use the softboxes.
Here are a few more suggestions to consider:
1. Get a location without backlighting. When you've got something bright behind you, it fools the computer or your phone into thinking the scene is brighter than it really is. I have to remember myself to close the blinds in my office behind me.
2. Remove distractions: We don't all have the advantage of a movie set background. Often, I've forgotten turn the ceiling fan off in my office and have had people bothered by the distraction over my head.
3. Camera and your face on the same plane: Get your camera (computer or phone) on about the same plane as your face. Not only does it cut out chin and nostril shots, but it gives the audience your eye contact and more facial expression. When I'm using my phone, I have a Square Jellyfish adapter on a ball head with a Platypod Ultra. While there are plenty of phone holders out there, this little adapter gives my Platypod Ultra another useful application.
4. Make eye contact. Remember when talking, if you want to make eye contact, looking at your screen won't do it...you've got to look at the camera.
5. Cut down on the background noise. Mute your microphone when not talking. It's especially bad in a group of more than 3-4 people.
6. Earbuds or a headset cut down on feedback.
7. Consider a better microphone! The impact of the pandemic is here to stay for a long time. While we all wish there was a switch that could be flipped to end the crisis, it's not going to happen overnight. That means we're all going to be communicating differently for some time. My personal favorite is a Rode Podcast mic, but I also have a Yeti. Both are good, but the Rode seems to give my voice more clarity.
8. Smile more! It's a great tip from a photographer, author, and my good buddy, Larry Becker. He recently joined Chamira Young and me in a Mind Your Own Business podcast, which is now online. And check out his new book: Great on Camera. Written before the pandemic when we had no idea we were going to be on camera a lot more, Larry's approach couldn't be easier to follow, with great tips to raise the bar on your skill set as a podcaster, presenter and participant online.
And that brings me full circle to where I started. We're dealing with a new normal. While we all hope the good old days of just three months ago will come back, that doesn't change the need for looking good and professional online NOW.
From meetings with clients to edu-type presentations to meet-ups with other photographers, you're part of the imaging community. That means the expression "looking good" has a lot more meaning in cyberspace these days because it's often going to be all you have to start.
P.S. And if I missed any tips feel free to let me know and we'll do a post of add-ons!
by Skip Cohen
For most of us lately, every day is the same, and today is a good example. I rarely post on Saturdays, but something came up yesterday, and it's perfect for many of you during Downtime 2020.
Looking through my emails, I read the online newsletter from my high school, Riverside H.S. in Painesville, Ohio. One of the bullet points they shared was this one:
"Instead of the Prom: In past years, the alumni association has always donated some funds to help support the RHS prom. This year, the prom is uncertain. Instead, the association is donating those funds to a project to give each graduating senior a lawn sign to celebrate his or her graduation. The signs will be handed out to the seniors as they drive through a set- up that will pass out their cap and gown for graduation. This is still in the planning stages but certainly will help the graduating seniors celebrate their success in this unusual year."
That got me thinking about things we can all do to support not only the Class of 2020 but high schools across the country. There isn't a school in America, even before the pandemic, that had all the funding they needed, especially for art programs, including photography. So, here are some ideas to consider:
I'll be the first to admit there's very little I've done in regards to my high school once I left Ohio so many years ago, but right now, the schools need our help. Even if you've got no connection to the community you grew up in, the one you live in now has the same needs for support.
Basketball season, spring sports, prom, graduation - all the programs that created memories for your high school days have been put on the back-burner. But you can help find ways to bring photography into the mix, and many of you have senior portraits captured long before the pandemic. Even Marathon Press has a special BOGO on grad cards.
You owe it to your community and your clients to get off the sidelines and support the schools and the Class of 2020. And if any of you are doing something special, let me know in the comment section below, and we'll add it to the list above.
by Skip Cohen
I don't want to start this post with a rant, but it's so hard not to react to photographers who are all doom and gloom, but unwilling to take the time to change things. This is a tough time for everyone, but there are so many opportunities for artists to expand and strengthen their skill sets.
It's the hardest it's ever been to find business. So, I get it...but I'm not giving up on spreading the word on different programs going on to help you get things back in focus.
Coming up this morning at 11:00 am EST Scott Kelby and his team:
Yesterday I shared a link to Joe Elario's Facebook post from last week and was surprised at how few people checked it out... it's only fifty-two seconds of your time.
J.P. Elario is doing online portraits, and the idea is brilliant. His Dad Joe and partner in Elario Photography wrote: "New twist on J.P.'s Pop up Portraits & they're waiting in (virtual) line both U.S. & Canada ."
I don't have a link for other smart portrait projects, but the word is that "Front Porch Portraits" are gaining momentum everywhere. While not every community has modified its shelter in place policies, many are allowing people out, but requiring that social distancing be maintained.
Now think about the concept. Families have been in lockdown for weeks, and a "Front Porch Portrait" is a memory of a tough time, but right in line with family values. And for me personally, it would represent a memory of a time we got through it all.
On March 23 I announced the kick-off for the f64 Lunch Bunch. We had a new program every day for that week. We then went to once a week. We're skipping it this week, but on May 6 at 2:00 PM EST, we'll be talking about lighting with two of photography's most recognized educators - Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell. I can promise you it's going to be more than just a great lunch! Click on the banner to the left to join us next week!
And speaking of Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell:
And check out the Photoshop Rant with Lee Varis:
And that brings me full circle to my point - there's a lot of help out there, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. There's support to help you with marketing, technique, business and it's all being taught by photographers who want to give back to an industry they love dearly.
But the next move is yours!
Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
by Skip Cohen
I've shared a lot of images over the years from various photographers, but this one tops them all!
Wandering through Facebook a few minutes ago I saw a post by Elizabeth Newton, and loved everything about it. Thirty different artists are featured in the image above, and it's the perfect reminder you can still keep in touch with your audience, even when hunkered down!
With the image Elizabeth wrote:
Thirty local photographers got together to spell out a message for our clients.
Quarantine has been hard on all of us. You miss leaving your home and your children are getting antsy. Or you're terrified to leave your home everyday and work on the front lines of medicine, food service and deliveries.
We miss watching your family grow, capturing your moments and telling your story with our cameras. We are doing our part, staying home, keeping our distance and waiting for you. We will see you soon. And when we do, we'll all be healthier and better for it!
Until we meet again.
Look, we're all in this together. I get the frustration at watching your business stall and being restricted to what you can do. But I'm also tired of the "doom and gloomers." You're limited in the actions you can take, but you don't have to disappear!
And to the New England photographers featured in this post...thank you! I'll tell you the same thing I just told Elizabeth when I called to ask permission to share this, "You guys make me so proud to be in this industry!" As business does start to come back, you're building a foundation of energy and camaraderie.
Nicely done, you guys!
PS Here's the link to Elizabeth's Facebook post, which included all the photographers and their websites in the image above.
About the Artists Above
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and if you're old enough to remember the Mickey Mouse Club, it's "Anything Can Happen Day." Three things point out where my head is:
The result of this rollercoaster of thoughts this morning resulted in me yelling at Alexa to play the best of White Snake! LOL So, consider yourselves warned - it's merely going to be a strange morning!
The image above is of our gardenia bush that we've been nursing for over a year. It's finally blooming. It got me thinking about marketing. The flowers are stunning, but not for long. However, as quickly as one dies, another one is opening. Your marketing right now has to follow the same one-after-another pattern.
Two months ago, our lives changed. Getting back to what used to be the norm is taking longer than anticipated, but that doesn't mean you have to sit back and keep waiting. So, let's hit some tips and start NOW! You've got one goal - jumpstarting your stalled biz. It's nobody's fault business died, but it will be your fault if you bury it now!
It's not whether you get knocked down. It's whether you get up!
Just like the next gardenia ready to bloom, think about your marketing plans for the rest of the year. Marketing doesn't mean one special offer after another, but a continuous stream to maintain your presence.
I've shared this illustration numerous times over the years. You've got the greatest collection of marketing tools in the history of business - but nothing happens if you don't get started!
Most important of all, if you're stuck and just bogged down because of the stress and anxiety of the challenges today, pick up a phone and call a friend; find an educator you respect and check out what they're sharing, or give me a shout. I won't always have the answers, but I've got a network of friends who will!
Last night one of my favorite people, Jennifer Maring, shared the perfect quote:
I don’t regret the things I’ve done, I regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.
Always go for it!
Things are starting to get back to normal, but it's going to be a slow journey back to the "good old days" of two months ago. You can speed up the process by making sure you're maintaining a strong presence. Don't let this time become a stretch of your life where you look back with regrets over things you could have done.
And don't forget - we really are all in this together. And, there are so many of us willing to help!
Note: Gardenia thanks to the LUMIX G9 with 30mm LUMIX G Macro lens. Minor post processing in Luminar.
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and there isn't a better topic right now than Spring seasonality!
Just because we're all in various forms of lockdown doesn't mean Mother's Day, graduation and Father's Day are going to go away. You've still got a remarkable opportunity to create a little excitement and sales.
1. Start with a call to your lab and simply ask, "What's new?" Remember, before the pandemic, most of the pro labs were showing new products and ideas at both IUSA and WPPI. Those products didn't disappear.
One of my favorites is Bay Photo's Performance EXT Metal prints. I wrote about one over a year ago. It's outside our home, and it's still stunning. That's twenty months in the hot sun and rain in Florida with no visible change in quality. Think about how everybody has a back porch or patio, and an outdoor print becomes a novel idea, especially when we're spending so much time at home inside these days.
2. Coloring books of family portraits: The idea is thanks to Steven Gotz, and I shared a post about it last week, but let's turn this into a product. If you're a children and family photographer, imagine the pure joy a grandmother would have with a Mother's Day gift of a coloring book of pictures of her family her grand-children have colored. Obviously, this has the most potential for families with young children. All the information is a click away.
,3. Graduation opportunities: The class of 2020 is definitely in transition when it comes to graduation ceremonies and celebrations. While some graduations might be postponed until later in the year, most of this year's seniors are going to miss out. That makes the photographs you took of them before the pandemic even more valuable. So, from grad cards and Marathon's BOGO program to prints and albums, you've got a chance to play a significant role in acknowledging their accomplishments.
4. Slideshows: If you're in any of the portrait/social categories, you've got images in your files of clients and their families. That makes this the perfect time to build slideshows for your clients. Great photos put to music and even short video clips if you have them make, creating a slideshow a remarkably strong product/service.
5. Education: Use your blog to share tips on being a better photographer. Whether Mom and Dad are using their cell phones or a real camera, give them advice on how to make their images better. Share tips on posing, lighting, exposure, and composition - all things you do every day without a second thought. Be helpful and let your blog be the gateway to your readers for ideas about photography.
6. Photo Flash Drive: They are NOT paying me for mentioning their products - I just simply like what they offer, and there's a reason why their booth is always so busy at every convention. Once again, here's a unique gift idea and one that keeps on giving.
One idea involves a series of images from a client shoot, put to music, and on a flash drive together with prints. It's a perfect memory-maker and a reminder of the life every client is looking forward to returning to. And that's just their flash drive presentations. From their classic Playbook video player to gifting presentations with a bottle of wine, the combination of great ideas is virtually endless. Note: watch the short video on their website about the Playbook.
This is a time in history where photography and video have an unprecedented ability to enrich people's lives. The images you've captured have never been more valuable to your target audience than today! Don't miss the opportunity to support the needs of your clients through the seasonality on your doorstep right now!
by Skip Cohen
Every imaging artist is feeling the same pain right now - business disappeared with the flip of a switch, and now you're struggling with what to do. Sound familiar?
This is an industry where we all watch each other's backs. It's never been more evident than right now! Just like that lifebuoy being thrown above - you've got access to so many different places for help.
There's no need for me to write a lot of text today - but I am going to give you the links to six great resources available with a click of your mouse - RIGHT NOW. There's a long list of great programming, and it covers everything from expanding your skillset to changing your marketing strategy!
This is only the beginning - I'll be sharing more places you can find help as I hear/read about them!
I know it's hard to see downtime as an asset when it feels like a monstrous liability. Take advantage of this time to build a stronger brand, skillset and relationships!
And if you've got questions or need help you sure know where to find me!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Mark Weber and I have been friends for a whole lot of years. As one of Marathon's most versatile senior managers, he's also a photographer, educator, and writer. He brings so much to the party whenever there's a challenge. He recently shared the post below on Marathon's blog, and it's packed with great ideas.
Being in "lockdown" at home is about your health and safety. It does NOT mean step away from your business, customer service, developing your skillset, or marketing. I love the ideas Mark shared this week and decided to share some of them here and the rest are a click away on the Marathon blog.
Marathon has built its reputation on support for professional photographers. And today, even under the challenges of the pandemic, they're not slowing down on being there to help!
Don't forget, if you're a senior photographer, their BOGO program on grad cards is going on right now. This is an especially tough year for the class of 2020 - more than likely there won't be any big graduations or parties to celebrate. That means the senior portraits you captured a few months ago are even more important to share!
by Mark Weber
With the unprecedented social distancing we are practicing right now we have an excellent opportunity to catch up on the things that have been delayed or neglected in our business for too long. From your equipment maintenance to your marketing, you have some extra time to do things you’ve been needing to do.
So here’s a top 21 list of ideas you can do prepare your business to hit the ground running when things start returning to normal, and they will return to normal. Don’t let your competition get a jump start on you!
#1 Website – How old is your website? When was the last time you updated the images on your site? Does your about me page read all about you or what you can do for them? (hint: they don’t care you got your first camera at age 7) Do you have a blog page that has a huge gap since the last time you posted? Do you have last year’s seniors, families, old ads still showing? Now is the time to update all of those! Need a new website?
#2. Studio Sample Prints – Now is a great time to replace some of those prints on the wall. You know the ones that are going on over a year old? Yeah, those need to be sold to the family of that subject in the image. Offer the image to them at a 50% discount and you can use those funds towards new samples. Consider testing some of your lab’s different paper samples. Today many labs have fine art papers to give you an alternative product that the consumer can’t get at Walmart or Cosco.
#3. Studio Sample Albums – Albums are one of the most profitable products you can offer in your studio. Chris Fritchie of McKenna, TX photographs with an album in mind with every session he does. Especially his storytelling Santa albums.
His philosophy is that you can always sell a wall portrait from a session shot with an album story in mind but you can’t always sell an album from a wall portrait session. Now is a great time to think of a creative story theme to promote later in the year like Chris’s Santa theme. Chances are you probably know someone even now who is not ultra paranoid and would be willing to model to help you create a new sample. You could build your set and have it all ready for later in the year.
#4. Sample Brochure – Show you are an expert or specialize in something. Use this in your PR Kit with follow-ups to meetings you’ve had or connections you want to make. You can insert gift cards or coupons for additional incentives.
#5. Family Portraits – Family portraits are going to be even more meaningful after this experience. Now is a good time to start planning your fall family campaign. Direct mail is still effective and thanks to Every Door Direct Mail things are more affordable than ever. Use this time to craft your message, put together your content, your offer and decide where you want to target. Learn more at USPS here – https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm
#6. Photography Technique – Now is the time to experiment with a new lighting and camera technique. It might be the use of constant lighting or making your own light diffusion source or a large reflector? Experiment with creating shadows on the wall with your background light as an interesting touch on an old background. Go scout new on-location backgrounds, etc. You can also get some great free education online and experts like Joel Grimes offer tremendous photography education. Check him out here at – https://www.joelgrimes.com
#7. Photoshop Techniques – Regardless if you are a newbie or experienced, there’s always something to learn or try. Maybe it’s a Photoshop action or a new texture to blend or an unusual graphic look you want to try. It’s a great time to work thru these ideas. There are some great free Youtube tutorials but if you want someone who takes it to the next level is Woody Walters. You can find more information on Woody’s education here: https://woodywaltersdigitalphotocandy.com
#8. Workflow – Have you struggled with creating a workflow to manage your image files? Determining the right procedure that saves you time is important. Perhaps a new batch action in Photoshop is in order? Do you use Lightroom? Or maybe you have it but haven’t learned to use it? There’s a lot you can learn in a short time! Here’s a link to learn more – https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-
#9. Camera room improvements – Sometimes your camera room just needs a little reorganizing or remodeling. It’s amazing how a little change can spark your creativity. Get some hangers up on the wall to get those chairs off the floor. Get a background rail hooked up to get all those muslins off the floor for faster use and fewer wrinkles. Get some cubby boxes or drawers installed for better organization.
#10. Studio Facility – Take some candid of your facility starting with the outside of your location and all areas your customer sees. Does it look neat, tidy and professional? Or are there obvious things that need to be cleaned up, repainted or reorganized? Chipped walls or chairs that are starting to look a little too worn can affect your customer’s perception of you. Wires that need to be bundled and hidden will help minimize the look of over technology. Be critical of what you see because your customer is.
#11. Deep Clean – From this point forward cleanliness is going to be a common conversation and message to customers. What will do and promote that going forward?
#12. Stay in Contact – Contact your customers on a regular basis. Email blasts and newsletters are more apt to be seen and read now more than ever. Interview other vendors and post that to your blog page to add variety and interest to attract potential new customers thanks to that new connection. Consider a printed newsletter as direct mail provides maximum exposure. And you only need to send it to your client base so it’s affordable to do.
For nine more great ideas click on the thumbnail below.
by Skip Cohen
This is an incredibly difficult time for all of us, especially photographers. Sadly, I'm hearing people who are sheltering in place with EVERYTHING, including their business and client relationships. Now is the time that social media can play it's most significant role ever in helping you maintain your presence and brand awareness.
As I've written so many times before - your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. So...USE YOUR BLOG to maintain contact with your clients. We're all in this together, and you've got a unique opportunity to be more helpful than at any time in the past.
The other day during the conversation with the f64 Lunch Bunch I mentioned sharing ideas on blog content. So, here's a starting list of topics, and I'll keep adding to it in the days ahead.
This list is hardly all-inclusive, but it should give you a starting point to use some of this downtime to build content for the pipeline. When you've got a dozen posts ready to go...then start posting at least twice a week.
We'll get through this mess, and business and life will come back to some level of normalcy. In the meantime, you can be a leader in your community, and it's really simple - just be helpful!
by Skip Cohen
This is going to be a strange year for members of the class of 2020. With graduation typically just 7-10 weeks away, there's a good chance very little will be happening in terms of significant events wrapping up their high school education.
That means those of you who are senior photographers have a huge responsibility to help the class of 2020 enhance the celebration as much as possible. While this post is an infomercial for Marathon's BOGO program on grad cards, it's got a much higher purpose - to help build your brand for future grads and, at the same time, help parents find other ways to celebrate and share their pride.
I'm a big fan of grad cards and how they can be used to celebrate, spread the news and, despite the current pandemic, recognize the accomplishments of today's seniors. It all starts with your grad card sales kits, giving you everything you need to help this year's class and their parents design a unique announcement.
The design options are infinite, with 50 different basic designs, five foil options, color combinations, paper choices, and the list goes on and on. And, to help you through the process, Marathon's staff is there to help. They're open and in production.
At a time when everyone is looking for ways to maintain some level of normalcy in business, grad cards represent one of the best tools you have to help families celebrate and appreciate images you captured and created before Covid-19 changed their lives.
Think back to the pride you had in the quality of the senior portraits you captured initially. Now it's time to put them to the very best use and create more ways to share the memories!
Click on any image in this post to link to Marathon's Grad Card promotion, and don't forget BOGO pricing helps your profitability, giving you more flexibility in what you offer your clients.
by Skip Cohen
Over the last few weeks, I've repeatedly thought about writing today's post. I've avoided the topic because I honestly didn't want to contribute to what we're all dealing with already. Sheila and I fast forward past the news that adds nothing to our lives. It used to be anything political; now it's the stories about the virus. We've got World News down to a 7-minute watch!
The truth is, the world has gone mad. I'm not suggesting that Covid-19 isn't serious. Still, as I watched dozens of people at Costco loading their cars with cases of water, toilet paper, and paper towels I couldn't help but wonder what's going through their minds as they attack their fears with the same concern as a class 5 hurricane!
While I'd love to share my frustration with the media, politicians, and those at the forefront of the pandemic - my concern in this post is focused strictly on the business of photography.
Yesterday I got a call from my good buddy Jared Burns. He's in Seattle, essentially at "Ground Zero" for the US and the virus. The business has dried up - weddings and events are gone, and even family portraiture is a challenge. Fear has taken over the country and Jared's in the front row.
Well, he had a brilliant idea - getting a group of photographers together for a panel discussion of what to do through the pain of this horrible down-time. The seasonality of the business of photography has moved, and it's global - there isn't a place on the planet that isn't feeling the pain.
I've known Jared going back to one of my early "Skip's Summer School" programs, and I've watched him grow as an artist and a business-owner - right into going full-time into photography. And besides having respect for his skills as a photographer, manager, Dad, and husband - his approach is always the same: he's always searching for better solutions.
So, think about what we do know at the moment about the business:
I don't have a lot of answers, although there are some obvious things every photographer could be doing now:
Jared and a bunch of us are going to meet online on Wednesday night at 7:00 pm EST to talk about the challenges in photography. I can't catch Jared right now because of the time difference, but I'll share the link for anyone who wants to join us right here later this today. If you've got an interest, just type, "Count me in" in the comment section below so we know who's got an interest in joining us.
Just to wrap up this post, Sheila, has this quote framed and on a wall of our home where I see it every day. I can't think of a better thought to close with. You've got to have faith in things changing for the better...
is being sure of what you hope for
and certain of what you do not see.*
We've postponed the f64 Lunch Bunch for a few weeks. There's so much going on in everybody's lives right now in terms of help and education. However, we're all still here to help and just an email away.
And if you missed the May 6 lunch with Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell - it's pretty amazing. The video is just a click away.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
The pandemic may have moved the dates for 2020 to August 10-13, 2021, but that's NOT slowing Team ClickCon down. Stay tuned for new programs online with ClickCon Nation! It all starts on August 11th.
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.