by Skip Cohen
Every time I write about this tour, I hear Willie Nelson singing "On the Road Again" in the background. It's day twenty-eight for the Bubble Trailer Light Tour. I've lost count how many photographers Suzette and Jonny have met over the last four weeks. If my calculations are right, they're also coming up on six-thousand miles and just about the halfway mark.
One of the most fun aspects of the tour has been the images Suzette's been posting and sharing all along the way. They're not only teaching workshops but using a lot of great gear at various stops on the journey. Her shot of the NYC skyline above is spectacular. It was captured with a LUMIX S1R and 24-105 mm lens - f16 @ 15 seconds, ISO 400. Make sure you click on the image to see it enlarged in the lightbox.
Nanlites are on the trip with Suzette and Jonny. If you don't know about the product line, they're just a click away. It's time to find out what all the buzz is about.
Suzette described the shoot, which was in the salt flats earlier on their trip:
"...We used the Forza 300 for the main light and then the Forza 60's for accent lights and for shooting later when we needed less power...and we can shoot with them on location where there is no power! Even the Forza 300 and 500 can be powered with a V Mount Battery,
One of the biggest advantages I see with the Nanlites is how they have one point of light instead of a panel of pin-lights. Often, the panel lights show as a freckled light in catchlights and even have a different light falloff than a strobe in a softbox. With the Nanlites, we can use the softboxes and get a perfect portrait quality of light, and that professional edge we have worked years to perfect. It's our leverage as a visible means of setting ourselves apart from the competition!"
The image below shows the set up for the shoot. What a kick using great gear that goes virtually anywhere!
Everywhere Suzette, Jonny and Ms. BT go they're meeting more photographers. Here are a couple of the stops they made this past week.
It takes great support from the industry to put together a tour like this. Obviously it starts with Suzette and Jonny's love for photography, people, and wanting to drive across the country and back! We all live in an Internet world - what a kick to spend time face to face with so many artists.
But, part of that love for imaging and people is fueled by some of the best companies in professional photography:
Where are they now?
The Bubble Trailer Light Tour needs to be on your radar. Here's the schedule for next week, occasionally dates and locations are subject to change. The complete itinerary is available with a click on the button below!
Make every interaction count, even the small ones.
They are all relevant!
by Skip Cohen
This past weekend we received the new copy of the area's Yellowbook, and it went from the driveway to a quick photograph and into the recycle bin. The only people who I think might use it would be the most senior citizens who aren't computer proficient. And, for them, most of the fonts used are too small to read! When was the last time you looked something up in a book like the Yellow Pages?
That got me thinking about all the ways photographers can stay relevant, and some of the challenges everyone faces.
"If I can see the world through my client's eyes, then I can sell my client, what my client buys."
Staying relevant is about seeing the world through your client's eyes.
No one blog post could hit on everything you should be doing to stay relevant in your community, but you've got to start somewhere. Show your very best images, build relationships with each client and never compromise on the quality of your work or customer service.
Photo credit above: © BillionPhotos.com
Who cares? Your target audience. Too many of you are sharing about pages (your bio) loaded with content nobody is interested in. It's time to throw out things like how you got started; who gave you that first camera; what gear you shoot with, or what awards you've won! That information would be great if you were talking to a room of photographers, but you're not - most of you are talking to "Mom."
I've written a lot about this over the years, but it's been a frequent topic lately. I'm still amazed at how many of you just don't get it! In the portrait/social categories, women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer. That means you're dealing most often with "Mom" or a future bride.
Here a few suggestions:
I'm convinced you can't be in business today without a website, but how well that website works for you is up to you. There may be plenty of technology shortcuts in building the infrastructure of the site itself, but there are no shortcuts in convincing potential clients you're the one they need to hire!
Your most important marketing tool is all about building relationships with your target audience. That first building block comes with opening your heart and sharing why you can be trusted to tell their story.
"It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter!
by Skip Cohen
Yesterday was one of those days that simply flew by so fast I felt like I blinked and we were trying to figure out what we were doing for dinner. In the middle of the night like Homer Simpson, letting out a big "DOH!" I realized I missed my weekly post on the tour of the year - Ms. Bubble Trailer with Suzette Allen and Jonny Yoshinaga. Ms. BT is already getting top billing! LOL
When Suzette and Jonny told me about the concept, I loved it from the very beginning. Why? First, because nobody does anything like this anymore. And, I'm not sure a tour has ever been done like this - 13,000 miles around the US with a trailer that has personality! Second, because it's about education from two artists who live to help photographers raise the bar on their skill sets. Third, because it's supported by some of the most respected companies in photography, and we've all got the same goals - helping you thrive in 2019 and not just survive! Last of all because it's fun!
Suzette and Jonny are teaching throughout the country for another seven weeks. Keep tabs on their whereabouts so you don't miss their program when it comes to a location near you! This is one of those crazy ideas that's creating its own little piece of photo-industry history. It's jam-packed with great content and all along the way a lot of surprises!
Great memory-making programs like this don't happen without support from the industry! The Bubble Trailer Light Tour is supported by some of the most reputable and fun companies in professional photography! "Fun" becomes an appropriate word in business when the companies involved are helping to make you a better artist and business owner!
Put Ms BT on your radar and follow the tour. All the info is just a click away on the button below!
by Skip Cohen
We couldn't be more proud to work with some of the very best companies in professional photography. One of those, PhotoTexting.com launched their new website yesterday with an incredible list of 20+ mobile solutions to help you grow your business and expand your reach.
If you're a senior photographer, their new Senior Rep Program offers you an incredible collection of tools to be more interactive with the senior market. Each component of the program not only takes full advantage of cutting-edge technology in communication but can make your business with seniors more fun. Remember, "fun?" It's one of those words frequently lost in business today. What started out fun years ago is too often drowning in a sea of stress and frustration.
The senior market over the last decade especially, has completely changed from what it was when I was a kid. This is where my buddy Scott Bourne would ask if Matthew Brady took my headshot to the right! LOL Back then we all dressed the same — just a boring black and white headshot for the yearbook.
Even my Dad's senior portrait, approximately twenty-seven years earlier was at least hand-colored! Done by Olan Mills Studios, there wasn't a formal senior program, but set up by my grandmother directly.
Well, fast forward to today, and senior photography is about capturing the personality of the subject. It's about multiple sittings, wardrobe changes, and building a relationship with each client. It's about creating an experience. Remember, for many of your senior subjects; this is their first real experience working with a professional photographer. Build the right kind of relationship, and you'll see them return as they get older and have other imaging needs.
PhotoTexting's new program for Senior Photographers is all about relationship building and utilizes the most important element, great communication. It allows you to be interactive with your senior reps and build a team beyond what traditional methods have allowed you to do.
But, don't take my word for it - check out the forty second video below and then click on the banner for more information!
What a kick to have cutting-edge technology at your fingertips and new ways to grow your business!
by Skip Cohen
Technology and how we communicate are continually changing. To grow your business, you've got to be able to adapt and reach your target audience in the most effective ways possible. It's time to supercharge your website and social media presence!
We're excited to share the launch of the NEW PhotoTexting.com website, giving you access to over twenty simple mobile solutions to grow your business. Watch the three-minute video below. Then, check out the link to PhotoTexting.com and the special bonus offer making new texting technology easy to understand and even easier to afford! There are 20+ simple to use mobile solutions to help you raise the bar on how you communicate with your target audience!
And, if you're a senior photographer check out the remarkable NEW Senior Rep Program!
If any part of your business targets family portraiture, NOW is the time to ramp things up! Think about the potential for an updated family portrait, and your ability to become a hero by giving Mom a new idea for gift-giving this holiday season. Remember, 98% of the decisions to hire a photographer in the portrait/social categories are made by women - and most often that's either Mom or with weddings, a bride.
It's Marketing Monday, or maybe today should be Marathon Monday because Marathon Press has a complete program to help you expand your reach and be more effective in attracting clients.
Here's what I love about the program and why it's perfect for so many of you:
It's September and time to start building more business to help you make the fourth quarter the best you've ever had. It won't happen if you just sit there and pray for more business to come through your door. Check out what Marathon's got to offer and let's help you give 2019 a strong finish. Here's your chance to make this year a time when you don't just survive but THRIVE!
Call Marathon at 800-228-0629 or click on the banner above for more information. If you do this today, you've also got time to order a FREE sample of their Family Marketing material. But, don't wait too long - you want to take action quickly and start planting those idea seeds with Mom NOW!
Photo Credit: © Yakobchuk Olena
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday and the seasonality of the fourth quarter is just down the road. Are you ready? While parts of today's post are out of the SCU archives, it doesn't make the topic any less relevant.
Challenges in technology and consumer trends are touching everybody. I'm not minimizing the degree of difficulty in growing your business today, but I'm frustrated with hearing photographers cry the blues when they haven't made an effort to evaluate and restructure their current business model.
Those photographers whose businesses have been solid this year are doing new things to reach their audience. Nobody is working any less, just smarter. Every photographer who has told me they're doing okay always follows with, "But I've NEVER worked so hard in my life!"
There is no secret to surviving as a professional photographer today—survival is all about marketing, promotion, hard work, and utilizing every aspect of new technology. But there are some aspects of running a photography business that everyone needs to spend more time thinking about.
Diversification: Are you hitting the same old target or developing new markets? For example, if you're a wedding photographer, how many of your brides in the last few years now have children? If they loved working with you, how about photographing their young family? If you don't want to stray from your core business, then at least develop a relationship with a children and family photographer and then cross-promote with each other.
Years ago—sorry I don't remember where—statistics were suggesting that 95% of brides under 30 have a baby within three years of their wedding date. Every bride you've ever photographed is a potential customer for family portraiture.
The demand for professional portraiture and why people hire a photographer in the portrait/social categories still runs in this order: brides, babies, and pets. And, my speculation is children, family, seniors, and boudoir follow in that order. So if business is down, take a look at your client database and find opportunities to create new clients or new applications.
Market and Promote: What are you doing to promote yourself? Are you involved in the community? Are you advertising in local papers and online? Do people recognize your presence? Do you own your zip code? Are you maximizing your effectiveness with texting technology like PhotoTexting.com is offering? Are you working too build your reputation as the photography expert in your community?
Well-known professional photographer and good buddy David Ziser, in a program many years ago, talked about tracking anniversary dates of his clients and did a first anniversary sitting at no charge. Think about it...the younger the bride, the more friends she has who will soon be getting married—it's a publicity manager's dream!
And Dean Collins, at holiday time would do a free family sitting of the president or CEO of companies who's annual reports, advertising, etc. he'd worked on during the year. He wasn't just a photographer but a relationship builder!
The Internet and Social Media: You can't be in business without a website, but how about the message you're presenting? Look at blogs, for example. Everybody wants to have a blog, but only a handful of photographers are doing it the right way.
Your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. The two work together to help build your brand. And, to be successful with your blog you need to be helpful, relevant and consistent.
Attitude: When was the last time you did an attitude check on yourself? I am reminded of the unspoken oath we all took when we fell in love with photography as professionals! That oath, we all share, is about quality, service, and responsibility. It's everything I've been writing about since my first blog post almost ten years ago. Your clients trust you to be their eyes and heart at a wedding. At a portrait sitting they're trusting you to see them the way they see themselves. They're trusting you to deliver a product far better than Uncle Harry could ever dream!
Think about how much you love the craft and all the excitement in our industry today. We're living in a version of Who Moved My Cheese? It's a business parable that was on The New York Times Best Seller List in the late 1990s and well worth a two-hour investment of time to read. If you've read it, you'll understand the only thing that's changed in our industry is that the "cheese been moved," and we simply have to work harder to find it!
by Skip Cohen
It's Labor Day, and if you're living in the US. It started in 1882 in NYC and was later adopted by Congress in 1894 when Grover Cleveland signed the bill making it a national holiday. It's always the first Monday of September. When I was a kid, it always marked the end of summer with school typically starting the next day.
I don't know about schools where you live, but here in Sarasota, the kids have been back at school for the last 2-3 weeks. But, even seeing school buses and kids with backpacks every morning weeks ago, Labor Day still seems to mark the official end of summer. It's also morphed into a great excuse for family barbecues, a burger or hot dog off the grill and let's not forget the endless Labor Day car sales. What President's Day has become to mattress sales, Labor Day seems to be dominated by the auto industry!
Regardless of what the day means to you, most of us are off today. It's the perfect time to wish you a safe holiday weekend.
It's also the perfect time to think about the start of seasonality in professional photography. There's a lot of potential business coming up in the very near future:
As I got older, Labor Day became the end of summer because the grill got put away. Then I started putting on a parka and firing up the grill in the dead of winter. Today, living on the gulf coast of Florida, the grill's used 3-4 times a week, all year long. So for me, the timing of Labor Day marks the kick-off of seasonality for you as professional photographers.
It's the start of the home stretch of 2019 and an opportunity for your business to thrive not just survive. Are you ready?
Wishing everybody a terrific Labor Day. Stay safe and hopefully stay dry!
It's Marketing Monday and the perfect time to remind you of one of the greatest self-destruct actions you can create: SHOWING MEDIOCRE/BAD IMAGES on your website and blog.
While there are a few thoughts in today's post out of the archives, there are still too many of you who just don't get it! Your galleries aren't about how much you can photograph, but how good you are as an artist.
Just for a second, pretend to be a business owner outside your own career. Would you expect to be successful selling inferior products? A dry cleaner couldn't survive with clients returning things only partially clean. A gas station wouldn't make it, short-changing customers with "almost a gallon" measurements. Your favorite restaurant wouldn't survive long with lousy food. I can see the tag line now, "Only a small chance you'll get sick!"
It doesn't matter what the product or service; people have to believe you're the best. With photography, they get a sneak preview by visiting your online galleries. That's why you've got them - to show people what you can do! Knowing then how important your galleries are, why are some of you still not cleaning them up? Why show an image you wouldn't buy yourself?
Then there's the other extreme; showing images that aren't yours! Fortunately, it's happening less and less these days, but it's a madness that needs to stop. If it's not your work, then don't show it!
And one more level of madness that comes out of workshops and conferences - using images you've taken in a workshop. I'm not against working with models to build your portfolio. I'm also not against taking things you've learned in a workshop and creating new images for your galleries and portfolio. What I am against is using that shot you got as you stood behind the instructor, while he/she was teaching. You piggy-backed off of somebody else's expertise. It's not your work, even if you did click the shutter.
There's only one way to build your business, and it's all about building your skill set. It's about directing your passion for imaging into your quest for quality. So, here's a suggestion for your galleries.
Take the time to review your website. Look at the images you're showing. Every photograph should be a "wow" print. That means if this was the only image you could show, you'd get hired!
This is a career field based on quality: Quality in your images, your relationships with your clients and the way you do business. Don't let yourself get caught up in the argument about showing lots of pictures just to fill up space. If an image isn't good enough, don't show it. Make visiting your galleries a great experience!
Vince Lombardi said it best,
"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor."
Make your commitment to excellence and never compromise!
It's the first anniversary of my first Performance EXT Metal print! It's been outside in the sun, heat, and rain for a solid year. It's been bumped by friends with backpacks and even knocked off the wall a couple of times, and it hasn't shown one sign of aging or fading. (Note: what might look like fading in the photograph above is strictly the reflection of furniture and the frame of the pool cage.)
And besides loving Bay Photo's products and quality, there's a more significant reason for me to be sharing this today. All of you are looking for ways to make your work different. You're looking for ways to be a stronger competitor and always in need of products that are different.
I'm pretty proud of my sunset image from Nokomis Beach. Having a print like this outside makes it a conversation piece. Now, think about all your clients - everybody has a porch, patio or lanai.
Justin and Mary Marantz refer to that one incredibly unique image they always try and get at a wedding as "Shooting for the silver frame." Well, I'm suggesting with each family sitting you consider shooting for an outdoor print. In terms of your own images, how about a print on your back porch from that last vacation? Photography doesn't have to be exclusive to the indoor environment!
Need to see more prints and learn more about Performance EXT Metal prints? Suzzette Allen and husband Jonny are about to hit the road for an educational tour that's going to top the charts in programming and Bay Photo is a partner. Just click on the link below for more information: so that you can catch up to them during their travels.
I've written a lot over the years about being one of the luckiest guys in the industry. Part of that feeling comes from the talented friends I have who are some of the most skilled artists in the world.
Helen Yancy created the image above, and we're rolling back the clock to around 2002. It's my grandson and me on a beach in New England, and the water was cold. What better gift to get your grandson than his first wetsuit? I was never big on the watercolor look - that was until Helen took a 4x6 CVS print and turned into one of my most favorite pieces of art. Matted and framed it became a never-ending favorite in our home for many years.
The second image is by Bambi Cantrell and would have been around 2003. We were living in California when Bambi spent some time photographing my family. I found this 4x6 tucked between the pages of a book recently, which points out my need to do a better job of practicing what I preach. Photographs are everywhere and I need to get organized.
I have no excuse, except to point out that being in the industry with so many friends who have captured images of my life over the years, plus my own images - they're everywhere! Pull any box out of storage, regardless of what it says on the outside, and odds are you'll find a couple of stray photographs.
Sadly, I'm not close to my kids these days, but that doesn't change the value of the great memories and the fun of taking a stroll down Memory Lane. But there's another sidebar here...the importance of printing images. Both were initially captured on film and without these prints who knows where my memories would be stashed!
Six years ago Michele Celentano wrote "I Believe," and shared it with everybody at Skip's Summer School, that year in Chicago. Consider this a bonus this morning in a sort of triple throwback as I share Michele's "I Believe" statement together with two of my favorite old photographs. And, she's given all of you the rights to plagiarize away and use it with your own client presentations.
Why? First, because she's Michele Celentano and that's what she does. LOL Second, and more important is the need for everyone to educate their clients on the importance of printed images. While some of you will think I'm an alarmist, the truth is we have no idea what technology is going to do to our ability to look at photographs in the future.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
by Michele Celentano
I believe in photography - but more than that I believe in photographs. Printed photographs are tangible. We can hold on to them, pass them around, frame them and hang them on a wall. We can make albums to be treasured and looked through by children for years to come.
We can’t touch a file and the truth is we don’t know the longevity of a file or if we will even be able to find it someday. A digital file is a bit of a mystery - if it’s lost, where did it go. If a drive is damaged what happens to the files? How many people truly back up all their images?
What happened to disc cameras, eight track tapes, Walkman's and other technology we thought would last forever? What will our children be looking at in 20 or 30 years? Photographs are special - files are not!
I believe in printing my work professionally. I believe my work is more than a screen saver. Years of studying and perfecting my craft comes down to more than sending files via the internet.
The photographs I create for my clients are not only precious to my clients but they are precious to me. It is my work, a lifetime of work that deserves to be printed.
Photographs are passed on to children and grandchildren. Can you imagine a floppy disk, a DVD or a flash drive sitting in a frame representing your family portraits?
Like many photographers I have struggled with bending to the needs or wants of a clientele that is looking for files. But this is what I discovered over the last year - It makes me uncomfortable in the center of my gut to hand over digital files no matter the price. Clients have told me that the DVD is still sitting on a desk and they should have had me make the prints in the first place because they never have time to get to it.
I wonder about those files that were sold.... How were they printed? Did the client crop it too tight? Is the color correct? Did they attempt to alter the image? It troubles me because I put so much of myself into my work. And, I have to wonder... am I really acting as a professional and serving my client the best way I know how to by simply selling intangible files that may never be printed?
For some, it’s easy.... take some photos, edit them, burn them on a disk or flash-drive and make a few bucks. I don’t and can’t operate that way - I care too much about my work, my clients and future generations that might have no photographs because I wanted to make fast and easy money selling files.
I’m taking a stand! I am a photographer! I am without a doubt passionate about creating photographs - real pictures - printed on professional papers - and made into beautiful albums. I want your children, their children, my children and future grandchildren looking at and holding onto photographs not the latest greatest gadget.
It has taken deep soul searching, a lot of thought and time to define the value of my work. I am taking a stand against selling files and taking a strong stand for printing my photographs.
If being a business owner and photographer today means the current market will force me to sell files not photographs and to compromise my work and my values - well then, I’m out.
But, that won’t happen! I know it won’t because I know there are people and clients who value my work, understand and respect the value I have placed on my work and actually want photographs.
I am Michele Celentano , a professional photographer - I believe in and value photography and the images we leave for our children. My work and your portraits will be professionally printed to my standards, they will be available to frame and look at in albums...
The portraits I create for you will not become a part of your screen saver slide show. I have worked too hard and taken too much pride in my work for that to happen. I will not take the risk that in 20 years we will be a generation of lost photographs.
There I stand!
It's Marketing Monday and while the topic might seem more appropriate for a photographer just getting started, the challenge of "analysis paralysis" hits all of us at different times, and for various reasons! New technology, keeping up with the trends in social media and consumer communication can be just as overwhelming to a veteran in business as they are to a rookie!
There's a growing, incredibly active new Facebook community following the successful launch of ClickCon in Chicago this month. The excitement combined with a perpetual state of "where-the-hell-do-I-start syndrome is definitely bogging a few of you down. In fact, after every conference, people seem to get stressed over how much they need to learn or change.
At the same time, there are a lot of confused artists who simply don't know where to start. And, instead of jumping in with both feet, they're caught in the confusion of what to do next. They procrastinate, and all the excitement of what they learned at the conference gets put in that imaginary shoebox of ideas and kicked under the bed!
It's time to put an end to analysis paralysis and take action. It's not that difficult if you follow my lead:
"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."
Here's my point this morning...stop procrastinating, because the longer you ponder on where you should start, the more you're letting the stress of change build a wall between you and your dreams!
There is no "Success Fairy" who's going to come in the middle of the night, put a little magic under your pillow, and raise the bar on your skill set. You're the only one who can focus on what steps to take next.
"If you wait for all the lights to turn green, you'll never get started on your journey!"
When I was asked to speak at ClickCon months ago, I suggested doing something a little different. For everyone who was in any of my programs, I'm doing a follow-up online on September 9 at 8:00 - 9:00 PM CST. How to access will be announced in the "ClickCon Social" forum on Facebook.
And, if we need to go longer, I'll be there. My goal is to help you stay on point on things you need to do to grow your business, but I'm also going to touch on a new topic - becoming your own publicity machine. Stay tuned to the Facebook ClickCon Social group for information as we get closer.
And, if this goes well and there's interest, we'll looking at opening it up to everyone and expanding on the topic list.
It's Marketing Monday! I'm using the new ClickCon conference as an example of why photographers need to attend every possible convention they can - INSPIRATION and NETWORKING!
INSPIRATION: I rarely, if ever, catch the keynote presentations. However, over the last few months, I've shared several posts thanks to a new buddy, Kevin Kuster. He was the 7:00 am kick-off speaker, and after a long day of travel yesterday, I was considering sleeping in! Well, I'm so glad I made it to his program. While my shot of the room at the very start of his program looks like there are a few empty seats, it was packed about fifteen minutes later.
What I love most and I think the crowd felt the same way, was how open Kevin was in talking about his career and then his life-changing involvement in Watts of Love. Kevin's presentation was so relatable as he talked about burning out and not even owning a camera when his son was born. We're all on our own personal journey, but Kevin reminded everybody of the importance of my favorite quote, "To thine own self be true."
As he progressed through the milestones in his work with Watts of Love, each slide was packed with a reminder of so many things we all take for granted. As part of this year's ClickCon event, giving back is a theme with the Watts of Love Silent Auction and an opportunity for everybody to give back and help provide light to the 1.8 billion people in the world who live in darkness the minute the sun goes down.
And under the umbrella of "inspiration," were Kevin's images. Each image was a reminder of how photography can help change the world. Kevin's the ultimate storyteller, reminding all of us of the power of a photograph or video.
NETWORKING: Last night, I had dinner with the Panasonic LUMIX team. In just the walk to the ballroom where Kevin was speaking, I caught up to dozens of photographers and people I've met at other conferences. I wrote about the importance of catching up to old friends and making new ones in yesterday's Sunday Morning Reflections.
Great energy is contagious! And the air is filled with a lot of enthusiasm, excitement and a never-ending stream of reminders of just how special this industry is. There's a common theme of working together and it's amazing.
Yesterday I did a one-hour presentation on business and marketing to a room of models and makeup artists. It was an all-day event for this important group of support people who are behind the scenes at virtually every photographic convention. This morning at 10:00 I'm doing a presentation for new photographers on how to get their business off the ground. And I've got two more programs tomorrow, including "Midnight Madness" from 9:00 - midnight. All along the way, I'm going to be meeting new photographers and learning. Education, even as a presenter is a two-way process. I find I often learn just as much from the attendees as I hope to share with them
And that brings me full-circle. Your growth as an artist, business owner, and for that matter, a human being is dependent on interaction with other people. If you're looking to grow in virtually any capacity, you've got to hit the road and attend every possible conference and workshop you can work into your schedule!
It's just a bad day, not a bad life!
It's Marketing Monday and a perfect time for a quick reminder about business, marketing, patience, and remembering the reset button!
The picture above is my Dad's wallet, or what was left of it. Although he passed away almost four years ago, the wallet sits on my bookshelf and is a constant reminder of the power we have to change directions. Here's the backstory:
Dad's caregiver didn't check his pants when doing a load of wash and put his wallet through a full cycle. I arrived at his place to take him out to lunch, and he was thoroughly aggravated. I got him calmed down with an easy virtually guaranteed solution - a minute in the microwave, and it would be as good as new! Well, you can see the results - it's a perfect example of a time when I over-promised and under-delivered!
But what happened next was the memory-maker...he started laughing, called me an idiot and let me know I was buying lunch! Sitting in the restaurant while waiting for our order, I ran next door to Macy's and bought him a new wallet - the crisis was over and a throwback memory was created that I'd never forget.
And, here's why I love this piece of family history in my office. We make mistakes all the time, but it's keeping a healthy perspective on the seriousness of the crime that allows us to hit the "reset button" and choose a new path. Obviously, some mistakes are tougher to resolve than others, but most of the wrong decisions we make were made with good intentions. When you find you've gone in the wrong direction; stop, hit the reset button, look at your choices, and head off down a new path.
There is no Photoshop fix for the mistakes we make in life. You can't undo a wrong choice with a click of a button, but what you can do is even better and more satisfying. You can try again with new insight and a better understanding of how to accomplish your goal, and if you're wrong still, the reset button is right there.
I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
I'm a big fan of podcasts because they give us a chance to multi-task and at the same time absorb content we might not have the time to read. I regularly have podcasts playing in the background while I'm working on something else.
I was recently honored to be a guest on The Profitable Photographer, a new podcast series launched by Luci Dumas. The topic was all about building relationships, and while I was a little embarrassed over Luci's long intro regarding my career in photography, she did a great job of asking the right questions. Luci's focused on helping photographers build a stronger business, and as sappy at it might sound a happier life.
I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the photographic industry, and Luci is a perfect example of what I love most - the friendships that come out of everyone's passion for the craft. We're all working to build a network of relationships with people we respect and work with. Luci and I first met back around 1990 at WPPI when I would have been in the Hasselblad booth. Our friendship is a perfect example of why you need to attend every possible conference/convention you can work into your schedule - a big part of your success is about building a strong network and relationships with people who share your same passions for imaging, business, marketing and success.
This is the fifth episode in her new series, and you'll find not only my episode but a lot of great content Luci's offering the photographic community with a click on the banner above!
A big thanks to Luci and her team for including me in this new series.
Each week I like to do an intro to whatever dish is being served as the special for the day in the SCU Diner.
I started the series to help you with things to build a stronger business. Too many of you are sitting on little gold mines if you'd only pay more attention to the marketing and business side of your career path.
A great skill set is a necessity to growth and survival, but equally important is making sure people know who you are; designing effective promotions; paying attention to your pricing, profit and building a strong brand.
At least a year ago I wrote a Fast Food Friday about getting help when you need it, and there's a little of that same "seasoning" in today's blue-plate special. Specifically, I want to talk about a program Marathon Press has in place for Family Marketing. It couldn't be more grass-roots in the approach, but it has so much potential for many of you, and hits on expanding your reach to the right target.
Getting Help with Family Marketing
What I love most about this program is Marathon's focus on doing everything for you. As an artist you don't have the time or staff to put together all the aspects necessary for a valid promotion, but Marathon does. They'll help you with design elements, identifying your target audience and all the components for a successful mailing.
And yes, it's old school direct mail, which is also one of the very best ways to get through all the noise and reach "Mom." Remember, women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories. That's from an old Kodak study over twenty years ago, and I don't believe it's moved even a point!
Their family marketing program is in three parts with an optional fourth:
There's also a level of exclusivity build into the program which limits activity to only one studio per marketing area. As a result, ZIP Codes are protected on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Here's the point to think about with anything you're doing to build your brand: Back in my Polaroid days, the analysts used to say you needed to hit a consumer 2 1/2 times before they remembered you. Today that number is 7-12 times. Doing a little research on Google on consumer recall, I came across the Rule of 7.
The Rule of 7 is a marketing principle that states that your prospects need to come across your offer at least seven times before they really notice it and start to take action. Your prospects can be exposed to your offer significantly more than seven times, but they need to see it at least seven times. From Google.
That doesn't mean you have to do seven mailings, but a direct mail campaign combined with a texting program, a well-designed website, publicity and community involvement is going to get your name out there and build awareness.
Marathon is just a phone call away at 800-228-0629 for more information. Just remember, your success and growth isn't based on who you know, but who knows you!
I'm honored to have been a guest on Lyn Morton's EOS Photographer podcast last week.
He chose a topic near and dear to my heart - getting the most out of a conference. With ClickCon coming up as the next big show in the US, it's essential for you to have a plan if you're attending.
And if you can't join us in Chicago, Lyn and I talked about a long list of tips to make sure you're always getting the most bang for your buck at every workshop, conference or convention you attend.
To grow as an artist and a business owner, you need to build your network, skill set, and get the very most out of every class you choose at a conference. Having a plan guarantees you'll head home when the event is over with something more than just a lot of stories about hanging out with friends, seeing new equipment, etc.
If you're not registered for ClickCon yet, the link is below. Use "ccskip" in the discount box and save $50. Register through the banner below, and you'll also be helping Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. As a speaker affiliate I get a 10% commission on registrations through my link - well, I'm not keeping any of that, but sharing half with NILMDTS and the other half in a cash rebate right to the attendee right at the show!
And, follow Lyn on the EOS Photographer podcast. He's got a lot of depth in understanding and support for the photographic industry and always does a great job in his interviews!
Last week, I shared a post in Fast Food Friday, which was all about getting the most out of a convention, starting with the upcoming ClickCon in Chicago. There were a few emails and comments made on Facebook with questions about my comment on business cards and a leave-behind handout.
I'll be the first to admit; I'm an old fart when it comes to communication, especially when you're face to face with a vendor you work with or hope to. Yes, we live in a digital world filled with the need for instant fulfillment, and I'm a huge fan of mobile texting, but let's talk about everything in reference to a busy trade show or convention.
Going back to my early days at Hasselblad, then to Rangefinder and WPPI and on to my own company today, I've spent a lot of time talking with photographers who want to show me their work. Most often it's at the most inopportune time - on the floor of a busy trade show. For those of you who insist that it's easier to show somebody your iPhone, iPad or email them - here's my argument.
And that brings right back to the beginning - suggesting a leave-behind printed piece for a couple of great reasons. First, when meeting a vendor, it's nice to have something to jog their memory later on after the show when things have quieted down. Second, we're a tactile industry, and a printed oversized postcard gives you a chance to show your skill set.
Here's how it all comes together. I'm suggesting an oversized postcard on heavy stock paper with 3-5 of your very best images and your contact information. It's the perfect leave-behind. Follow up with a hand-written note or email thanking the new contact for their time and letting him know you're around to help on anything they need in the future. At that point, you can include a link to more of your images.
This is NOT a new concept. I went digging through old files, and the two promotional pieces below are at least twenty years old. Gene Martin, who sadly passed away at much too young an age, shared his images of jazz musicians. Joe and JP Elario used to do the card on the right as a mailer, but it serves the same purpose as a leave behind.
It's time for you to meet Lenworth Johnson. I met Lenworth in Cyberspace during one of my guest appearances with Scott Kelby on The Grid. Lenworth won a website/portfolio review, and we spent an hour on the phone together a week or so later. At PhotoShop World two weeks ago, we got to meet face to face, and he shared his leave-behind piece, and it's stunning!
His leave-behind piece starts with a pebble grain clear plastic cover followed by fifteen images and a back cover with his contact information. And, had he met with anybody who he felt might want to see larger images he had a small portfolio with him. All old school, but incredibly useful and perfect for the application of making sure people remember his work.
Plus this is a 4x6 spiral bound handout with beautiful images. A big thanks to Lenworth for giving me permission to share in a post like this.
My apologies for the quality of these images, but I'm shooting copy work on the fly, handheld with window light, so I've got something to share in this post.
And here's one more to share, also at least twenty years ago. There were originally 35mm slides that Tony Corbell put together for me when we were both still at Hasselblad. They were in my "Hall of Fame" marketing folder because they were so well done. The two images below were from a staple-bound booklet Lois Greenfield put together for her mid to late 90's book, Airborne.
That brings me full circle to get you thinking about a leave-behind piece you can use when networking. And, if you hate the idea, remember to at least pay attention to the timing of when you're sharing images with anybody you're hoping to get to know better or get them to know you.
When you're working a booth at a trade show, the noise is incredible - you're being pulled in different directions and have little or no time to think about who you need to speak with next. A leave-behind piece gives you control with better timing. It's something you're leaving to invite people to visit your website at a more convenient time. You want their attention, and the best approach is to be soft-sell and plant that seed of interest for them to check out more about you when they're out of the craziness of a convention.
It's Marketing Monday, and this is a topic I've written so much about over the years, but there are still many of you who just don't get it!
In the last few weeks, I've read a lot of "About" pages on photography websites and 90% of you are taking the wrong approach. This is a short post this morning, but hopefully, well worth your time.
Remember, women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire most of you. That means "Mom" and brides are the ones looking at your work. When you write about your background for your "About" page, remember your target audience. Here's what they want to hear:
The biggest question new clients have is whether or not you can be trusted to capture the kind of images they want. Will you be able to meet their mindset?
Last but not least - write it all in the first person and include a signature. (With security issues these days, a facsimile of your signature is fine.) Write your "About" section as more of an artist's statement and stay relevant to what your target audience is looking for.
Every visit to your website is a potential opportunity to start a new relationship or expand an old one. Exceed consumer expectations right out of the block with great images in your galleries, followed by a strong "About" section!
Starting Monday, March 23 at 2:00 PM EST. Ideas to help your business in these difficult times. Click for more info!
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry this past August.
The dates have been announced for 2020 at the Palmer House in Chicago. August 11-14!
What a kick!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.