If a photography and travel adventure with Bobbi Lane and Lee Varis isn't on your bucket list, it should be! They're two of the most recognized instructors in imaging. Traveling with them to places in the world loaded with incredible beauty, breath-taking landscapes and another culture is an opportunity for you to grow, expand your skill set and quite simply create memories!
Their trip is coming up in September, but the deadline to register is right around the corner. There are only two spots available, and this is definitely a you-snooze-you-lose scenario. Click on any image in this post to link to their website.
A week ago I announced a very special promotion in support of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, and teaming up with Westcott. SCU is a Westcott affiliate, which means 10% of whatever you buy from Westcott when you go through the SCU gateway is our sales commission. But we're NOT going to take it.
With everything you buy, when you click on a specific product in a blog post or when you go through the door above, 10% of what you spend, for the rest of 2019, is going to one of the industry's best-known nonprofits, NILMDTS. I've been a NILMDTS Ambassador for many years and couldn't be more proud of the help their photographers have provided families having to deal with the worst kind of pain - the loss of a baby.
One of the most read SCU guest posts about NILMDTS was published in 2013, only a few months after SCU launched. I wanted to bring it back today because it gives such a strong perspective on the gift these photographers provide each family.
In response to Aurora Daley Olmstead's guest post about photographing baby Dora, the mother of the child responded directly as a comment. I'm not sure there's any higher honor than for a photographer to hear back from the client directly, especially when it's the mother of a child who's died!
Westcott is manufacturing some of the finest and most diverse lighting gear in professional photography. And, if you're headed to Chicago for ClickCon in August, swing by the Westcott booth and meet some of the crew. They're always looking for ways to help you through the challenges of capturing stunning images...and now we're adding support for NILMDTS to the focus!
The Real Definition of the Ultimate Image
by Skip Cohen
When I asked Aurora Daley Olmstead if she'd do a guest post about her experiences with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep several years ago, I had no idea the significance of my request. Typical of most photographers, Aurora got busy, and it was at least three weeks before she was able to find the time to send me something. Even when I first read her guest post, while it obviously touched me, I still failed to recognize the true impact. But read what the baby's mother posted as a comment to Aurora's blog just a day or so later:
When I asked Aurora Daley Olmstead if she'd do a guest post about her experiences with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep several years ago, I had no idea the significance of my request. Typical of most photographers, Aurora got busy, and it was at least three weeks before she was able to find the time to send me something. Even when I first read her guest post, while it obviously touched me, I still failed to recognize the real impact. But read what the baby's mother posted as a comment to Aurora's blog just a day or so later:
Thank you so very much for the beautiful blog. My tears are pouring reading it and reliving the most precious moments in our lives! I also want to take a moment to thank all the photographers from the NILMDTS who volunteer their time to help families like ours walking through the darkest moments of their lives.
I also want to let you know how much we cherish the pictures you took. I carry Dora's picture in my wallet everyday. It reminds me not only of her beautiful face, but all the wonderful people she brought to us, including her aunt Aurora. I know my little girl is just as happy as we are now to see her little brother grow everyday, and to see more people like you bringing light to other people's lives.
Love and kisses to your little princesses!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
The ability of the baby's mother to open her heart and publicly comment on the meaning of Aurora's work and NILMDTS as an organization represents the rarest of feedback and affirmation of what everyone hopes to accomplish as a photographer. There could be no greater "thank you" than to receive a comment like this from a subject, a client who has now become part of Aurora's life as a professional photographer.
I've said it at the end of virtually every workshop, class or program where I've ever spoken and in dozens of blog posts. "Except for modern medicine, no career field has given society more than professional photography! "
Everyone dreams about capturing the ultimate image - that one shot nobody else could get that becomes your signature. Sometimes the ultimate image is a moment in time when you're given an opportunity to use your skill set or as Weihau put it... "help families like ours walking through the darkest moments of their lives."
Aurora said it best in one of her comments on the blog, "...my life and my heart are fuller for having given what I can to these families - it always fills my heart to know I've been able to help them even in some small way!"
by Skip Cohen
I don't know about you, but being involved in photography my entire adult life, our home is like a gallery. We have dozens of photographs from great friends, and some of the very best artists in imaging, all collected over a lifetime in this industry. In addition to the framed prints on display, there are dozens in storage, hopefully, dry and packed correctly in my garage. We simply ran out of wall space.
At least that was the case until I saw Bay Photo's Performance EXT metal prints. It was ten months ago I shared a post about the the print above, displayed outside by our pool. Remember, I live in Florida, and we're out by the pool all year long. I even boosted the wifi so I could take my laptop outside to work.
Well, the print is just as stunning today as it was the day I hung it. There's no visible sign of any change in color, scratching, fading, etc. In fact. It's been bumped a couple of times by friends coming in through the back door of the pool cage.
Here's my point:
Interest in finding out more? Just click on with image in today's post.
Note: Click on either image to view in the SCU Lightbox.
"Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid.
They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices."
President Harry S. Truman
It's Memorial Day and trying to write this morning is a lot like a Sunday Morning Reflections post when I don't know what to write about. But, it's not so much that I don't know what to write about as much as I'm trying hard to come up with something different that I haven't written before. I want to express the respect I have for the members of our military, especially those who have given their lives for us.
The meaning of Memorial Day seems to get a little more lost each year under the banner of being the unofficial start of summer, so I've got to bring back the Wikipedia explanation for the day:
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans — established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.
But the holiday has grown to represent a time to also express our respect for our active members of the military today as well. Several times over the last few years, I've shared stories about projects Stacy Pearsall is working on, and today is the perfect time to remind you about her Veteran's Portrait Project. This year she's going to make it to ALL fifty states finally!
I first met Stacy in 2010 at the second Skip's Summer School in Las Vegas. As she took us through her story, there wasn't a dry eye in the room, but over the years, her story has become so much deeper than that first presentation.
She joined me and Chamira Young on a podcast last year, talking about photography, the Veterans Portrait Project, and shared a lot of great insight. Her project always deserves top billing, but she's also a accomplished artist, writer and educator as she discussed the role photography has played in her life; the importance of special projects, storytelling and the benefits of helping others.
And that brings me full circle, right back to the importance of Memorial Day...it's a time to make sure we never forget the sacrifices made by the men and women in our military, both in the past and into the future. It's a time to thank those who have served, are serving, and especially those who gave their lives to serve.
Wishing everyone a Memorial Day filled with peace that so many have given their lives for and deserve our respect and appreciation.
In posting yesterday's two throwback images of my great grandparents and Sheila's great grandmother, I started thinking about how serious their expressions are in both photographs. Then I went digging and found a few more old photographs I've shared over the years. Again and again, nobody is EVER smiling. Off I went in search of an answer and what I found is a partial testimonial that you really can find just about anything on Google!
I found this article by Michael Zhang on the PetaPixel website going back to 2013. Click on any image in this post to read the full article, which shares other examples, but here are a couple of excerpts from his research, in part, based on an in-depth article by Nicholas Jeeves.
"Although nowadays we think of smiles as being indicative of happiness, humor, and warmth,
they apparently had a very different meaning back in the day:
"By the 17th century in Europe it was a well-established fact that the only people who smiled broadly, in life and in art, were the poor, the lewd, the drunk, the innocent, and the entertainment."
Want to be seen as upper class and as a person of good character? Don’t smile."
I have no idea why the group photograph at the top was in my grandmother's album, and there's no longer anybody alive who would know. I know it was more than likely taken somewhere around Sandusky, Ohio. However, this family certainly lives on in cyberspace. But notice their expressions - every single person, including the baby are serious! Also, I love the presentation with the image in a decorative matte.
The three images below are my grandfather, probably taken around 1910; my wife's great grandmother taken around 1865; and my great grandparents around 1875. Not a smile in the bunch, although I love the shot of my grandmother on the right, probably around 1910. She still isn't smiling though.
Notice the classic technique in the portrait, complete with a little catch-light in her eyes. As far as the pose goes, there's a great story going back thirty-plus years ago that came out of PPA print competition. Supposedly there were multiple artists one year who all used the same similar pose of a bride with her hands together next to her cheek. Well, one of them claimed the pose was his.
Al Gilbert used to do an incredible program about the history of portrait photography. As the story goes, Al stepped in and showed the pose didn't belong to any of them, but the great masters of the 16th century!
As much as things have changed over the years in portrait photography, the goal of every artist, is still the same. You can't fake it 'till you make it, when it comes to portraiture. Your clients are putting their trust in you to exceed expectations. And, if you do it right, you'll become habit-forming and build a lasting relationship with your subject.
So, learn how to capture good solid portraits; keep raising the bar on your skill set, especially in lighting; and keep building relationships with each potential client. And if you get caught up in the criticism of your work on various Facebook forums, listen to what's being said; consider how to make your work better and then remember what my old buddy Dean Collins used to say..."Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!"
We're down to the wire on a list of special offers in photography. I don't want to waste time or space with a lot of text, so everything below is linked to the appropriate program and manufacturer. There are some terrific deals out there right now, but it's a narrow window, and the opportunities are closing fast.
From Profoto Ending December 31
Profoto's promotion on the incredible A1 ends on December 31, 2018. Just click on the banner below to link to the product and find out what all the buzz is about!
From Marathon Press Ending on December 31
Every professional photographer is looking for ways to increase their profitability and Marathon Press is always there with great promotions. Their Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO) offer on holiday cards ends on December 31. Here's your chance to cut your costs per card literally in half! And, even if you no longer need cards, check out their various products and programs, so you don't miss out next year!
From Tamron USA:
You've got two different promotions worth checking out. Their holiday savings program ends on January 5, and includes other lenses beyond what's shown below. And, registration for their VIP club, which is pretty remarkable. You've got until January 15 to register.
From the SLR Lounge
Photography is one of those skill sets where you can never slow down on your education. No matter how much you feel you know and understand about the craft, there will always be more to learn. With that education comes a need for a continuous supply of creativity as technology keeps pushing the envelope and giving you more tools and concepts to help you capture outstanding images! Just click on the banner below and check out SLR Lounge Premium. It's an annual membership fee providing outstanding content to help you stay on track to becoming the very best...all year long!
From Panasonic on LUMIX Cameras
,Just about every Mirrorless Monday a member of the LUMIX team has shared a great image and insight into their passion for photography. Right now Panasonic has some outstanding offers on a variety of LUMIX cameras and it's well worth the time to take a scroll through their online store. Just click on the banner below.
It's not really down to the wire, because PhotoShelter has this program ongoing but concerning timing, it's the perfect solution for so many of you. Just because we're headed into the slow season, doesn't mean it should be quiet for you.
NOW is the time to clean up your website and raise the bar on your presentation to your target audience. PhotoShelter makes it so easy and with downtime coming up for many of you, it's time to stop procrastinating and clean up your website and galleries!
Note: After I wrote this the other day I realized I was confusing the issue with two points. Of course everyone is frustrated with the challenge of trying to talk to a real person at Facebook. However, the real issue for me is whether or not I'm alone in being bothered by the number of people who have passed away who still have FB pages. I'm not trying to launch a campaign, just curious.
Is anybody else frustrated with the challenge of trying to talk to a real person at Facebook? So far it seems impossible. Here's the latest challenge and I know not everyone is going to agree with me.
And the list goes on with other friends like Bill Hurter and Arnold Crane, to name a couple more.
Look, I get the sentimental attachment to people we've loved and lost. There are a few times when I've even posted something on their old page. It's almost therapeutic to remind them how much they're missed. But, overall, as Facebook is in the news lately talking about how they're working hard to clean up the challenge with fake people/profiles, it seems like they could do a better job with people who are no longer living.
I hate the fact that my father's account, along with other friends who have passed away, is just sitting out there vulnerable and waiting for somebody to take it over.
I'm obviously a fan of Facebook, and there are more good things it's done for all of us as opposed to bad. However, their customer service model is a perfect example of what NOT to do in your own business. Respond quickly to customers; give them solutions to help address their concerns and remember, silence is not part of your skill set.
If you're looking for a unique holiday gift this season, check out the sale on this print from John Sexton.
"This 5x7" handcrafted silver gelatin image is being offered for one week only at the very special discounted price of $150 – a significant saving from the gallery retail price of my prints. Unlike my other prints, this 5x7" print – printed by me on 11x14" silver gelatin photographic paper – will be delivered UNmounted, and without an overmat. Please know that this special discounted price is good only for orders placed prior to midnight Friday, November 30, 2018. After that date the price will increase to $300."
Launched last week on "Black and White Friday," there are just 48 hours left for this offer.
Whether you're a collector looking to own a unique piece from one of photography's
best known artists, or searching for a great gift idea for someone special, John's work is remarkable. His photographs are in collections and galleries all over the world. And, he's no stranger to SCU, helping us launch "Why?" with the very first episode in 2016.
Click on the print to the right for more information about John and this stunning print.
Image copyright Jeremy Chan. All rights reserved.
At PPE in NYC a couple of weeks ago I met Jeremy Chan through my good buddy Matthew Jordan Smith. Since Matthew moved to Japan, we don't catch up as often as we used to and neither of us knew we were both going to be at the show. He introduced me to Jeremy.
Throughout the next couple of days Jeremy and I kept bumping into each other at various booths at the trade show. We're all part of a relatively small industry and sometimes it's surprising how many common friends we all share.
Getting home from PPE, Jeremy sent me a quick IM on Facebook, just to say hello. That led me to his Facebook page and a lot of stunning images. So, loving great images and appreciating how the Internet has helped make our industry a smaller place, I asked him for permission to feature one of his photographs.
Not only did he say yes, but he sent me the following:
San Francisco City Hall is a magical place to photograph. This photo is captured around 5 pm which is during sunset. So, the golden hour light is leaking in from the west side of the building. By combining the “yellow” light on the upper floor and the two lamps, the photo is made naturally with the warm color tone, which is exactly how I wanted it to look.
Check out more of Jeremy's images by visiting his Facebook page. Just click on his photograph above.
In the meantime, look at your schedule for 2019. One of the most significant benefits of attending every possible convention/conference you can work into your schedule is networking! And, there's very little that beats the power and fun of meeting people who you've only met in cyberspace, face to face!
Sorry to use this quote again, but it's my favorite quote about photography!
"This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect."
In October of 2011, we moved to Sarasota. The primary reason was to help my folks. My Dad was 89 and taking care of my mother who was a few years into her battle with Alzheimer's. Since graduation from high school I'd always lived in another part of the country, and while we talked regularly and saw each other several times a year, I was never "next door."
Moving to Florida was one of the best things I've ever done. It gave me and my folks quality time, and even with Mom's Alzheimer's, there were plenty of special moments. It's a horrible disease that, like a burglar in the night, robs you of your loved ones. But, Dad used to say, "I'm going to squeeze every drop of joy out of whatever's left," and he stayed focused on every moment when the disease would take a break and Mom's personality came shining through.
Today, Halloween would be Dad's 96th birthday. When I was a kid the poor guy never had a decent birthday, always interrupted by trick or treaters, including me headed out in search of trick or treat candy. It was ironic, since back then he was in the wholesale candy and tobacco business. I had access to an entire warehouse of candy, but nothing was sweeter than what I got in my bag every Halloween.
Just to say I miss the guy would be a colossal understatement. The incredible memories along with knowing he and Mom are watching over us keep them in our hearts all the time.
Over the last years of his life, I talked Dad into writing two blog posts for me. I paid him a dollar for each of them, agreeing to write off the allowance he still owed me from when I was 12! LOL One of the posts I shared on Father's Day and the other I pulled out of the archives this morning.
Dad was part of the greatest generation, and there's a lot of wisdom in what he wrote below. As much as business has changed with social media, the power of the Internet making the world smaller and technology giving us the ability to reach thousands of people - the basics of good business and how we treat each other NEVER changes.
Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday Pop!
by Ralph Cohen
I have been happily retired for many years, and unemployed for almost twenty. I am not a plagiarist, but I must quote my father who spent the last months of his life writing advice to his children:
“Conduct your business in an upright manner and remember, the most important thing in one’s life is to be honest with one’s self. Maintain the high standard and dignity that your business requires. Do not go into deals hastily and be visible in your business as much of the time as is possible. If you take time to play, do it away from your business, because your livelihood needs all the attention you can give to it.”
Early on, I concluded that the best testimonials came from my many friendly competitors. We didn’t really compete with each other, in the true sense. True, we were in the same field of endeavor, but we all knew we were there to help each other. Happily, the “tough competition” fell by the wayside.
I remember giving Skip driving lessons and I told him, “Watch the left front fender…..the rest will take care of itself!” I’ve found this is really true of everything in life.
An old axiom says, “If you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.” That is all part of reputation-building. I found that, sadly, in the field of real estate, truth is hard to come by for many. In our case, it was a major building block in the reputation which we enjoyed, and helped us to thwart the competition.
Goodwill is all of the above, plus a lot of caring for your clients as well as your competitors. If life is a give-and-take situation, giving is the more important of the two. The taking will come with time and be far more appreciative. Just remember – you heard it here!
Ralph Cohen, Founder and 1/2 the Creators of Skip Cohen!
If you follow me on a regular basis, you noticed I posted very little on the SCU blog last week. That's because I was at PhotoPlus Expo in NYC, and it was quite a show. Although somewhat scaled down and a little smaller than past years, it still had a good feel. It was especially good to take advantage of one of the most important reasons all of you should attend as many conventions/conferences as possible - networking.
This isn't just about building your network, but touching base with people already on your "team." A good network is only as strong as the time you put into its care and feeding! During the week I caught up to old friends and new ones. I often asked, "So, what's new?" or "How's business this year?" The answers were all over the place.
I was surprised by the number of people with a common theme. There are so many of you frustrated because your business isn't growing as fast as you'd hoped, and you haven't hit your stride yet. Chasing dreams is exhausting, especially when you don't realize how much progress you really might be making.
It's the perfect topic for Marketing Monday - sharing a few key things I've learned in my almost-an-old-fart life's experiences:
1) Everything always works out for the better! It sounds trite, but I've seen it happen over and over again. Just when you think it's the darkest day of your life, the sun comes out. Just trust this concept! The key is not to give up, and I'm reminded of a quote by Ross Perot:
"Most people give up just as they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line.
They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown."
2) A watched pot never boils! Okay, I threw that in for my grandmother's sake. In today's terms, it merely means stop looking so hard. You're looking for success and recognition, and it'll all come in time. Just keep working at expanding your skill set and never compromise on quality.
3) You're judged by the company you keep! There she is again, Grandma Alice, who used that expression all the time. In today's terms, it means hanging out with people who can help you grow. I've worked with and for a few people over the years who loved to be intimidating. They managed by being bullies, but I learned the most from those managers who encouraged me to challenge their decisions. The same goes for my friends, who challenge me every day.
If you're a tennis player, you know your game gets better when you play with somebody better than you. Photography and business are the same way - surround yourself with people who are trying new things, have confidence and are willing to give you advice, even when it contradicts what you're about to do.
4) A stitch in time saves nine! One more from my grandmother and I'll let her rest. She used to scream at me because of the holes in my socks as a kid. Since she was the only one in the family who sewed, her efforts often involved "rebuilding" a sock rather than just fixing a hole. Yeah, this is when you realize I'm an old guy, because today you just throw them out and buy a new pair, but here's how that applies to business.
When you run into a problem, address it at the time, don't procrastinate, especially with customer service issues. Not calling a client back who's upset comes up most often. When a customer doesn't hear back from you, things immediately start getting out of proportion. You don't always need to have an immediate answer, just let them know you're listening. Often all it takes is three short sentences, "I understand you're unhappy. Well the buck stops here. How can I help?"
5) Never believe your own press releases. It's the ego bus, and there areafew too many people on it lately. Remember, you pass the same people on the way down that you passed on the way up!
6) Anything is possible! All it takes is hard work and a great support team. Look at some of the things you're doing right now. You're probably involved in projects or techniques today you never believed you could do just a few years ago.
We're part of a fantastic industry with incredible photographers, terrific manufacturers/vendors, and many genuinely approachable icons, but you've got to talk to them to get their feedback. You've got to share your ideas to develop new ones and most important of all, you've got to be patient and don't slow down!
"If you want to be successful in a particular field of endeavor, I think perseverance is one of the key qualities.
It's very important that you find something you care about, that you have a deep passion for,
because you're going to have to devote a lot of your life to it. "
Wishing everybody a terrific Monday and the start of a new week!
For years I've talked about the best thing about this industry - the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. And, thanks to social media those friendships that get started continue to grow, even when we don't see each other that often.
Meet Fran Ruchalski, a photographer who I first met at an evening program in Jacksonville in 2012. The evening program I was doing at a local library had to shut down early when a tropical storm flooded the area all around us, and we needed to evacuate before everyone's cars floated away.
Fast forward six years and he and I have stayed in touch through Facebook. He left Florida in 2014 and today is in Logansport, Indiana, but the Internet keeps making the world a smaller place. A couple of weeks ago Fran posted some fun news about a recent award.
That hits one more fun aspect of social media - being able to share news with each other. Fran's shooting for the Pharos-Tribune and recently won first place in the HSPA contest for sports action photography. So, being one of Fran's fans I made the request to see the image and permission to share it in a post.
I know most of you aren't sports photographers, but what a kick to share an image that's completely out of the norm from what most of you shoot. A big congrats to Fran - sure is a kick to be following your career! You can check out more about Fran with a visit to his Facebook page.
I'm not sure where the year's gone, but it seems more evident than ever that time never stands still! Here it is Labor Day, and the summer just flew by.
Like many of you I'm taking the day off, and in fact, this is my only post today. We're spending a quiet day at home and later firing up the grill for a traditional Labor Day barbecue. It will be followed by the usually anticipated indigestion and me mumbling something like, "Why didn't you top me on that last hot dog?" Then comes the search for Pepto Bismol.
It's a day that brings back a lot of great memories. As a kid, this meant a barbecue at my grandmother's house. Family would make the "long drive" out from Cleveland, always arriving just as the food came off the grill. Sweet corn, burgers, and dogs were always on the menu, along with bets over how many ears of corn my Aunt Sarah would eat. And, the day always meant the end of summer - because unlike today where school starts in August, the Tuesday after Labor Day was our first day back to school.
With a little help from Wikipedia, I thought it would be fun to share the origin of the holiday for those of you who don't know how it got started or are readers from outside the US.
Labor Day in the United States of America is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday.
Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor. "Labor Day" was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, which organized the first parade in New York City. In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty states in the United States officially celebrated Labor Day.
Canada's Labour Day is also celebrated on the first Monday of September. More than 80 countries celebrate International Workers' Day on May 1, and several countries have chosen their own dates for Labour Day. May 1 was chosen by a pan-national organization of socialist and communist political parties to commemorate the general strike and events that took place around the Haymarket affair, which ocured in Chicago on May 1 through 4, 1886.
Whether you celebrate Labor Day or not, wishing you a terrific Monday!
I've written a lot about friendships over the years. In fact, I've repeatedly said, "The best thing about this industry has nothing to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft."
Going back almost ten years ago, Sheila got me into reading Melody Beattie. While her book, The Language of Letting Go is daily meditations on codependency, I've found so many of her thoughts inspirational. I find whenever I hit a low spot in creativity or problem solving, it's time to take a break and step away from the business. I'll often pick up one of her books, turn to that day's date and see what she's written.
Yesterday I hit a dry stretch and couldn't seem to focus on what I needed to do. So, I grabbed Melody's book and took a short break. It was just what I needed, but I went one step further and took her advice. I picked up the phone and called an old friend. While it wasn't necessarily for the purpose she suggested, it gave me the lift I needed.
We're all so wrapped up in the challenges of business combined with the many hats we wear. Learn to recognize when you need a little lift. Many of you are coffee drinkers, and you love that feeling when the first cup of coffee kicks in each morning. Your spirit is no different, and getting in the habit of reading something inspirational from time to time is going to feed your brain...and heart too.
by Melody Beattie
Friends - August 13
"Don't overlook the value of friendship. Don't neglect friends. Friends are a joy. Adult friendships can be a good place for us to learn to have fun and to appreciate how much fun we can have with a friend.
Friends can be a comfort. Who knows us better, or is more able to give us support, than a good friend? A friendship is a comfortable place to be ourselves. Often, our choice of friends will reflect the issues we're working on. Giving and receiving support will help both people grow.
Some friendship wax and wane, going through cycles throughout the years. Some trail off when one person out-grows the other. Certainly, we will have trials and tests in friendships and, at times, be called on to practice our recovery behaviors.
But some friendships will last a lifetime. There are special love relationships, and there are friendships. Sometimes, our friendships - especially recovery friendships - can be special love relationships too.
Today, I will reach out to a friend. I will let myself enjoy the comfort, joys and enduring quality of my friendships."
I've written this many times before: I feel like I'm trapped in an old movie and the hands of the clock are just spinning by! Well, this week seems to have gone by in a flash, and I'm trying a little experiment.
I'm involved in a lot of different projects, companies, podcasts, and products. At the same time, it's tough for me to keep up, let alone remember what we're sharing in posts and tweets. In fact, just this morning I found an outstanding guest post from Kevin A. Gilligan about finding an artist's collective to help get your work out in front of more people. Kevin sent it to me last year, and it wound up lost in my email!
So, welcome to The Saturday Summary and links to a few of the week's highlights. Click on any of the images below to connect to the original post.
Six Photographers Share Their Experience with Excire Search Pro
Everyone Needs to Meet John Isaac
Albert Watson's Iconic Portrat of Alfred Hitchcock
Moving Your Photographs Outdoors
Tamron in the Blog and the News
Just for the Fun of It!
As always, thanks for being a reader. I sure do appreciate the support and the feedback. And, we've got a new week coming coming up that's going to be filled with some great content, all thanks to so many of you and the industry we're all passionate about!
Happy Saturday everybody!
Close to thirty years ago I met John Isaac at an industry dinner in NYC. At that time he was Chief of Photography for the United Nations. Although I haven't caught up to him in a long time, my admiration is the same as it was then. So, yesterday when a good friend sent me the link to this TEDxIHEParis Talk from last year, after watching it, I had to share it with you.
Many of you are relatively new to photography. You don't know very many of the artists who have blazed a trail of creativity, respect, and integrity before you. John is all about empathy, honor and compassion, and this quote by Emerson seems like it was written about him.
The purpose of life is not to be happy.
It is to be useful, to be honorable,
to be compassionate,
to have it make some difference
that you have lived and lived well.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Grab a coffee and kick back for the next 18 minutes and meet one of the industry's finest photographers. And, this isn't just about his skill set, but his passion and respect for the human race. John's giving us all a blueprint for the way we should live our lives, and I couldn't be more proud to say,
"Yeah, I know John Isaac!"
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's almost August and while technically it's still summer - all of you should be thinking about the Fall and getting ready for the fourth quarter's seasonality. I stumbled across this archived post from my good buddy Scott Bourne, and it's a topic and idea that just has no expiration date!
It takes me back to packaging studies in my Polaroid days. For example, we found that different colors created different impressions. Black and gold or black and silver were interpreted as higher quality and value than other color combinations. Certain combinations of pastels also created feelings of high value and had a stronger appeal to women than men. Today, aspects of that same logic apply to your website, blog, mailing pieces and brochures.
Competition is fierce, and you've got to make yourself stand out. Think about this example - You can buy the same Polo shirt at Macy's or Nordstroms, yet the attitude of the staff at Nordstroms is entirely different, along with the store layout, inventory and many of their policies. Now is the perfect time to take a long look at your business and decide - do you want to be Macy's or Nordstroms?
by Scott Bourne
One of the craziest, but most powerful things you can do to market your photography is take your existing marketing plan and pull it inside out. What do I mean by that? Simple. Take something that you've been doing with mixed results and put a new twist on it. Look at other industries OUTSIDE of photography. How does the car business handle that problem? What would a bakery do to solve that issue? How would a shoe store approach it? What do fast food chains do to make that work?
I love studying other business models. I love taking a little bit of this and a little bit of that from other verticals and throwing it into my photography mix.
Maybe it works - maybe it needs to be refined - maybe it fails. But if you are at least trying something new, you have a shot at improving. If you're always doing the same old thing and failing, well you know where that will take you - NOWHERE.
Try pulling things inside out and looking OUTSIDE the small world of photography. When I bought my first really nice car, I noticed that EVERYONE at the dealership, people who were lot boys and people who were upper management, despite their age and mine, called me sir. "Right away sir." Yes sir Mr. Bourne." "Great to see you at the dealership sir, how can we serve you today?"
Over the top? Nope. Not a bit. I was in my 30s and I started applying the lesson I learned there every time I dealt with a client. And they noticed. It wasn't the last thing I learned by studying high-end retail. I bought my first expensive watch in my 30s. Again, very polite, intelligent people. But this time there was a twist. They delivered the watch in the fanciest box and packaging I'd ever seen. Every time I opened the box the watch came in, I was a kid getting a Christmas gift. You see where I'm going with this right?
Study what other businesses do. Not just what other photo businesses do. Jump verticals. Change things up. Look at all the options and then innovate.
Skip and I are rooting for you.
"It's just a bad day, not a bad life!"
It's Sunday morning and as always I'm off track from marketing, business and photography. This is the time when I just kick back and let my thoughts go anyplace they choose. As always Molly the Wonder Dog is asleep at my feet and I can't help but wonder how great it would be if we were all the kind of people our dogs think we are!
For some reason that quote above popped into my head this morning as I read three "Chicken Little" posts and emails this morning. A "Chicken Little" issue is from somebody who every day finds something to worry about and does their best to rally everybody around them into believing the "sky is falling."
Over the years In photography we've had some big ones: Photographers in the fifties who felt photography was going to hell because of color! They had children who believed life photography was ending when auto-focus came into play. (Anybody remember when one of the biggest retailers in photography, Calumet, in the late 80's threw Nikon out because they stopped making manual focus lenses?) But it doesn't stop there because the same people upset over autofocus had kids who complained that imaging was over with the invention of the digital camera! And I'm sure we can find a link to today's challenges with social media, digital files, and the list goes on and on.
Okay, so I stepped back into photography for one paragraph, but here's how it applies to life. I'm so tired of having a conversation with somebody that starts out with me asking, "Hey, how have you been?" and then hearing how the sky is falling! And while we all have friends who truly have endured some horrific days - they recognize that it's just that; a bad day and they wouldn't trade their life with anybody.
So here's my point this morning - let's help those people who have mastered the art of pessimism to morph into something else. Instead of asking them how they're doing let's open the conversation with, "Wow, you sound great today - what's going on?" Let's help them to keep life's daily challenges in perspective and get them to stop writing their lives off because there are too many speed bumps along the way.
I spent a lot of time in Japan in the 80's, and when having a lot of differences in a negotiating session, there's an expression which translated means, "there are too many pebbles in the stream." So, one by one you work to remove each pebble, but nobody ever looks at the stream as a dried up creek bed!
Wishing everybody a Sunday, or Monday if you're on the other side of the world, that's filled with optimism and time with the people most special to you. Always go for those eleven-second hugs and think about how much the person in that hug means to you. And definitely, keep each day in perspective. Not every day is the one you're going to base your life story on, but without those days that are off a little how would you ever appreciate the ones that are stellar!
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
The real potential of social media comes when the "social" side kicks in and that's what happened with my introduction to Greg Anzalone, a fine art photographer from Buffalo, NY.
He had a question about Excire Search Pro that came through the Customer Support email. Since his question involved a new role for me, and company I'm working with, I've been following all the correspondence.
Wanting to get to know more about him, I checked out the link to his website. I loved many of his images and sent him an email through his website asking him to call me.
So, I'm not only sharing the work of a passionate photographer but reminding you of a basic lesson in communication. NOTHING tops a phone call except meeting somebody in person. Greg and I probably talked for 20 minutes or so, and in that short time the initial foundation for a friendship kicked off.
We live in an instant fulfillment world. We text, we email, but the phone at times seems to be the very last tool we think about. Yet, it has the potential to build relationships the quickest.
A big thanks to Greg for permission to share a few of his images on the SCU blog. Click on any one of his three photographs to see more.
Over the last few years I've written a lot about the "Rules of Engagement." Each time it's because I've watched a conversation go completely off track, usually on Facebook. It's one thing to disagree with what somebody's posted, but another altogether to try and rip their heart out.
I've repeatedly watched as photographers battle it out over semantics, politics, and beliefs until finally an administrator in the forum comes along and deletes the entire thread. As the thread disappears, often the members who thought they had a right to bully their way through the argument, wind up being removed from the forum as well.
A few years ago I was following a thread on Linkedin in one of the discussion groups. A member of the group had a black-tie wedding coming up and threw a question out about what was appropriate attire, wondering if he could get by in a dark suit and not a tux.
The question was great and certainly appropriate. It was answered right away, but twelve days later the banter was still going on. The volley continued as two photographers argued their points about beach weddings versus the rest of the world, when the only answer that really mattered was to "dress appropriately". The question was answered right from the beginning, yet people wanted to keep giving input and it got emotional and ugly.
When things heat up in a forum I'm amazed at what happens next. Hiding behind the anonymity of their computer screens, there are always photographers who morph into trolls and bullies, insisting everyone buy in on their opinions.
Last week I had the same type of challenge in a forum I administrate. It got ugly because a couple of people wanted to play troll and simply didn't know how to behave, let alone communicate. Once a thread goes off track, there is absolutely NO WAY to get it back. We wound up deleting the thread and permanently removing the trolls.
So, here's what I wish we could all agree to and I'm including myself in this. It's an extension of the "Rules of Engagement" I've written about before and it's pretty simple.
Don't get me wrong, I love forum/group discussions. The Internet is a remarkable tool and helps so many photographers every day, but there's no telling how much stronger we could all become if we were simply more selective when commenting in any group.
The endless volleys that come up over and again would rarely happen if we were all together in one room talking to each other.
“Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.”