by Skip Cohen
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It's a purely American holiday, becoming way too commercialized but still, a time of family, friends, and a reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.
Over the years, as my life has changed, the number of chairs around the table has gotten smaller along with the menu. However, that doesn't change my appreciation for my life. At the risk of being sappy and sounding like a bad acceptance speech at an awards show, a big part of that appreciation is thanks to all of you.
While I still have days when I don't know what I want to be when I grow up, the one consistency is how grateful I am to have all of you in my life. Whether we've met in real-time or cyberspace, I'm thankful for your support, feedback, and your never-ending passion for the business of capturing memories.
And, to remind you of the pure joy of the career path you've chosen, once a year, I share the video below. The quality is terrible, but it's good enough to listen to and watch. If you've seen it before, take the time to watch it again, and if this is your first time, just enjoy it! It's the singular greatest explanation of the importance of imaging.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving - Time with the people you love, and time to kick back and smile.
Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world.
A veteran doesn't have that problem.
by Skip Cohen
I feel like I'm trapped in an old movie, and the hands of the clock are spinning as time passes by. This year has gone incredibly fast, and I'm astounded that it's already Veteran's Day. Just for the fun of it, I looked up "Veteran's Day" on Wikipedia:
Veterans Day (originally known as Armistice Day) is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11, for honoring military veterans, that is, persons who have served in the United States Armed Forces (and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable). It coincides with other holidays including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day which are celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I.
The definition of the day is to honor those who have served honorably. But, I like the fact the holiday has also morphed into respect for those who are actively serving now. And, I love the spill-over to thank the families who "serve" as well.
So, to our son who's a Colonel in the Army; Uncle Randy who rarely takes off his Marine baseball hat; our friends who have served, and so many families with members currently deployed and serving...THANK YOU for your service and your sacrifice.
A year or so before my Dad passed away, I took him to D.C., thanks to HonorFlight.org. It's a fantastic organization. If you've got a veteran in the family, don't wait to get them on an Honor Flight trip. Just click on the banner below to link to their website. They're a non-profit and need all the help we can give them!
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people
by Skip Cohen
At least once a year, I write the same post about the rules of engagement. My feeling for the need to share it, again and again, is always the result of a battle in a Facebook forum that went off-track. It would be so great if wannabe-trolls just had a button on their computer to push before posting a comment.
I'm one of four administrators in one of the larger Facebook forums. A couple of weeks ago, I got sucked into being a playground guard with "kids" who weren't playing nice. I commented on the thread and suggested they grow up, but we all know that isn't going to change their behavior.
So, I'm going back to a post from a few years back and suggesting we work just a little harder on what should be the rules of engagement. The original post was more about personal attacks on other photographers, but I want to expand it to Facebook and social media threads too. And, while most of you don't need to be reminded, give me hand with people who just don't get it.
And whether in social media or live in ANY industry:
I know this post doesn't apply to most of you, but feel free to share it with somebody who's forgotten! Or as my buddy, Levi Sim has said, "Act as if your grandmother's watching!"
I don't usually quote Queen Latifah, but I got a kick out of this quote. I guess it's a matter of your priorities:
A lot of people are crazy, cruel and negative. They got a little too much time on their hands to discuss everybody else. I have a limited amount of energy to blow in a day.
I'd rather read something that I like or watch a program I enjoy
or ride my damn motorcycle or throw back a couple of shots of tequila with my friends.
"Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams
than you are to your comfort zone!"
Just about every morning at 7:30, I tweet a quote to kick off the day. While I hope my followers find them inspirational, the search for a great quote is as much to start my day as it is yours. So often, I find quotes that get me thinking about the day/week ahead. It's like stretching before working out.
The quote above was shared this morning, and it got me thinking about so many different aspects of education, networking, marketing, business, and life. Yeah, all that coverage from just one sentence by an unknown author!
Here's my point to this short post. When we were kids, we all had dreams of what our lives would be like when we were older. Then, over the years, experience and our perceived reality put limitations on our goals. We let go of some dreams and hung on to others. Now we're adults, and our visions for the future are often limited by other responsibilities and the many hats we wear. We prioritize what we're going to do next.
Well, we all still have our dreams. At the same time, we let our comfort zones limit ourselves. In photography, it becomes especially apparent when you're headed to a conference, convention, or workshop. We all like to stay in our comfort zone, whether it's our skillset, new products, applications, or meeting other photographers.
This week is PPE in NYC. Then, in two and a half months, the convention season explodes with IUSA, WPPI, and a long list of state conventions and conferences. Give your dreams priority and step out of your comfort zone into areas to help you grow as an artist and business owner. Take the time to meet the staff at vendors whose products/services you use, but also get to know companies who are new to you. Make it a point to walk every inch of each trade show.
And when classes are offered, attend a couple of programs completely outside your expertise. Here's a great example: When I teach, I'll often ask for a show of hands of anybody who does tabletop work. Very few hands ever go up, especially if the audience is mostly wedding photographers. Yet, the hardest tabletop shots of all are great cake and ring shots. Imagine how wedding artists could expand their skillset, taking a few macro classes!
In the history of photography, there have never been more creative tools at your fingertips than today. They're in new products, techniques, and services. They're all supported by people excited to introduce you to new ideas and directions to help you grow as an artist!
Plan each trip to every convention you can attend. ALWAYS step out of your comfort zone. Don't be a you-snooze-you-lose artist when there are so many opportunities to grow!
We've all heard the expression work hard play hard. In this past week on the Bubble Trailer Light Tour, Suzette Allen and Jonny Yoshinaga taught six classes in six different cities in eight days! I wasn't there, but knowing the two of them as I do, I can guarantee there was no loss of enthusiasm in any of the programs.
When they first told me about the idea of a tour like this, one of the things I loved the most was their ability to meet so many photographers across the country. We live in a too often impersonal world. We communicate most of the time via the Internet. While social media, texting and, email are all incredibly important, that human touch and meeting somebody face to face is lost.
The image above is a perfect example. Eric and Heather Anderson at Studio H Photography created the image. I called them for permission to share it. Eric posted it on his Facebook page and wrote:
I just want to say "thanks" to Suzette Allen & Jon Yoshi for making a stop in Minnesota last week with the Bubble Trailer Tour... It always so great to see you two and I always, always learn something new! Godspeed in the rest of the tour - you are in our prayers!
Suzette and Jonny are two of the best ambassadors professional photography has, and the tour still has miles and miles to go - approximately 8,000! While the recording above won't win a Grammy, it was fun to catch up to them yesterday. Suzette realized after we were done she forgot to talk about a fantastic experience she had with Nanlite - stay tuned because she'll be sharing some of the images next week.
Great programs like this can't exist without industry support. The Bubble Trailer Light Tour is all happening thanks to the enthusiasm of some of the very best companies in professional photography!
Where are they now?
Put the tour 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!
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
OTR is for "On the Road" and with the schedule for this tour, I can hear Willy Nelson singing in the background every time I look at the map!
Last week two great photographers, Suzette Allen, and Jon Yoshinaga, hit the road with their "partner in crime" Ms. Bubble Trailer. In the tradition of "Where's Waldo," we're going to track and share their 13,000 nine-week journey each week and also give you a peek at where they're headed next.
It's an incredible undertaking in hands-on education and networking. It's going to give so many of you a chance to raise the bar on your images, pick up new techniques and see some of the latest products/services from some of the industry's most progressive companies.
Along the way, in between formal classes, this trip is about seeing America and sharing images. Suzette wrote about last week when hitting the Bonneville Salt Flats:
...We decided to invite our friends, the Chopstick Guys! They are a couple fo fun-loving, sushi-eating photographic educators and photographers and they did a fab class out there a few months back...Then we connected with Bry Cox in Salt Lake City and we had a creative photo party! Bry brought a couple models, Pamela and Addie, and we got some great shots with them and Ms. BT of course!
...We set up our new NanLites, which are super bright LED lights. that enabled us to do video as well. I loved the way we could separately light up the trailer and the model and have a perfectly lit look, making them pop on a cool blue backdrop!
Check out Suzette's complete post with more great images from the Salt Flats.
Great programming like this doesn't happen without strong industry support. What a kick and an honor to be part of the craziness of a 13,000 mile adventure and thousands of photographers who Suzette and Jon will be with in the weeks ahead.
by Skip Cohen
Next month Kevin A. Gilligan launches Developing Men, a solo exhibit comprised of still photography and a short film. The exhibition opens on October 5 from 4-9 PM PST at the Resin in Hermosa Beach, CA.
One of SCU's most-read posts was Kevin's in 2016 loaded with tips about doing an exhibition of your work. There was so much content that we ran it in three parts. Kevin has shared other guest posts over the years, including one of my favorite images in an episode of "Why?"
Developing Men is a contemporary examination of male friendship, masculinity, isolation, community and legacy through the mediums of photography and video. In his third solo exhibition, South Bay Photographer Kevin taps into the zeitgeist of the moment and asks what is going well with men, what is not going well with men, and more importantly, why?
“We are in the middle of one of the fastest periods of change in humanity, with new technologies, we are both more connected and more isolated than ever before. With increased feelings of isolation, communities suffer. At the same time, traditional roles of masculinity are changing rapidly. I am interested in how people perceive these changes and what are the effects on their lives. Why do some succeed when others do not? How do men think about these issues, and how does this affect the men, women and children around them?
What does it take to develop good men?”
Kevin A. Gilligan
But there are other aspects to Kevin's work that make today's post so much fun to share.
We first "met" in 2014 when I featured one of his images as part of a campaign for Tamron USA. Little did I know he'd become a great friend. Over the last five years, we've featured more of his work. As an educator and writer, he's always willing to help other artists.
Fast forward to March of this year. After five years of phone conversations and emails, Kevin and I finally got to meet in person when he asked me if I was willing to be a subject in Developing Men. Nothing beats the social in social media when you finally get to spend time in person.
And that brings me to my last point, which I've repeatedly written about - friendships. The best thing about the photography industry is the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. It's also a very small industry and Kevin, and I share so many common denominators like our appreciation for Tamron's quality; our love for imaging; mutual friends and the importance of continuing education in imaging.
If you're in the greater Los Angeles area, don't miss opening night. It's a free, private event, but RSVP is required. For your tickets, click on the South Bay Artist Collective link below and then be at the Resin in Hermosa Beach on October 5.
RESIN, workshop, creative space and home to South Bay Artist Collective has exhibited over 180 local artists including students in 12-15 annual events. Through RESIN, SBAC has provided emerging artists with an opportunity to display their art in a high quality space that does not take the typical 40%-50% commission, resulting in a huge financial benefit to emerging artists.
by Skip Cohen
Note: There are hundreds of posts published every year on the SCU blog, but every now and then we miss sharing one. This post was originally published in June, but never shared. All of you are looking for new business and creative products to separate your work from your competitors. It's time to take a look at Performance EXT Metal Prints!
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 eleven months ago I shared a post about 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:
Note: Click on either image to view in the SCU Lightbox.
Interested in more information? Just click on the banner below.
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!"
"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.
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.