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.”
Please note: I don't usually post on Saturdays, and on Sunday, it's just one post, Sunday Morning Reflections. However, I was looking through my archives and stumbled across this one from 2014. It's perfect to share right now, but even better are the comments that were written at the time.
If you need a little lift today, I'm hoping this does the same thing for you that it did for me, especially the comments. Check them out and feel free to add to them - Meanwhile, wishing all of you a terrific day and time to pat yourself on the back a little for staying focused on your dreams!
My wife, Sheila, got me into feeding my long-time starving spiritual side several years ago. Since then writers like Melody Beattie and Marianne Williamson have become regular reading. Well, yesterday I read something Melody Beattie wrote:
"Problems were made to be solved. Life was made to be lived. Although sometimes we may be in over our heads-yes, we may even go under for a few moments and gulp a few mouthfuls of water, we won't drown. We're wearing- and always have been wearing - a life jacket. That support jacked is called "God".
Okay, so I know at this point a few of you are rolling your eyes, because I've committed one of the things you're never supposed to do in a post...talk about God or politics. Well, if you don't like the God reference then replace it with "believing in yourself" or "faith". I'm not going to get in an argument over my belief in God, yours or for that matter semantics. Melody's point is right on the money, because we won't drown, life was certainly meant to be lived and every problem has a solution.
Another thing I believe in is every one of you who are dealing with the day in day out challenges of running a business and building your brand as an artist. I'm proud to be working with so many of you to help you build a stronger business and skill set. My frustration comes out of those moments when I hear about somebody giving up, because of the challenges. I especially hate hearing stories about friends who have family members who don't support their dreams, letting their negativity spill over into your world and creating one more hurdle to test your passion.
I don't know about you, but in high school I remember Algebra and a chemistry class where, on the first day, I looked at the back of the book to see how hard things were going to be. It scared me every time, but after a school year of the stuff, it meant absolutely nothing. Instead of worrying about how much you don't know, give yourself a big pat on the back for how much you've learned and are applying right now!
I found a quote that will hopefully help a few of you to keep things in perspective. Don't get hung up on your challenges. they're all part of growing a business.
The struggle you're in today is creating the strength you need for tomorrow!
Daily Quotes - no author listed
It's the 4th of July, and since it's the only holiday of the summer, I'm going to kick back, hang out with my wife Sheila, fire up the grill and probably over-eat! The challenge I face, like so many of you with a home-office, is finding the discipline to step away from the business. It's not easy at any time and on a holiday like this year, in the middle of the week, it's even tougher.
I've written so many posts about recognizing when you need a break and the importance of being good to yourself. It's not easy when I have to walk the talk!
I know you're a global audience and the 4th of July, Independence Day, is an American holiday. So, to all of you celebrating the day, make it a day to appreciate family and friends. If you're on BBQ duty, pay attention to how long you leave the burgers on and savor the day, the laughs and the time away from the business - it'll all be there tomorrow.
And, if you don't celebrate the day and don't have it off, I can still wish you a terrific Wednesday or Thursday, if you're on the other side of the world!
Happy July 4th everybody!
PS Two days ago I walked outside just as the sun was coming up and there was a rainbow at the end of our street that seemed to run directly overhead. How could I not grab a LUMIX camera? I used a LUMIX FZ300 and just left it on "IA" for the perfect backdrop for my neighbor's dead tree!
Now and then an event comes along in this industry that redefines the meaning of the word "fun." Remember that word? It's the one word that all of us occasionally lose under the baggage and stress of business. It takes work to keep "fun" in your life every day.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Over the years I've always been fortunate in jobs that I loved, and the fun I have in this business. Some moments are exceptionally special, and that defines my experience last week hanging out with Scott Kelby.
Here's the scenario...
Like so many people in the industry, Scott and I have known each other for years. We share a lot of mutual friends, but in all this time, we've rarely had more than five-minute conversations in passing at a trade show or convention. KelbyOne is only 75 miles away and last Tuesday we grabbed lunch together.
I consider myself the biggest lunch slut in photography! I love lunch because it gives people a time to talk about the business, get to know each other better and share ideas about an industry I love dearly. So does Scott, and when he told me about the topic the next day on The Grid, there was no way I could say "No" when he asked me to join him.
The topic? Your portfolio and why you need one is a topic I've written about so many times. I headed back up to the Tampa area the next day to join Scott in the KelbyOne studio. Click on the image above to listen to the webcast.
We ran out of time to cover everything, so here's a little more to think about, in relation to your portfolio and upcoming trade shows and conventions.
And one more sidebar about The Grid last week. What a kick the offices are at KelbyOne. Besides all the other hats he wears, Scott's a musician, and they went with a rock n' roll theme throughout the building. They haven't missed a beat from headphones on the great masters to a display of rock lunch boxes!
A big thanks to the KelbyOne team! To quote Carly Simon, "Nobody does it better!"
Here's a fun quality of Facebook. The image above was shared on Royce Chenore's page over a year ago. Recently somebody commented and the thread became active again, coming up on my page this morning.
Royce originally wrote:
This is Circa 1995... it was a publicity photo for the "PORTRAIT 2000" teleconference.... this was in the VERY early days of "electric imaging" now called digital retouch... the photographers submitted "selfies" on FILM of all formats brands and speeds....(selfie...another term that didn't exist) and ACI composited them into one image.... this was EXTREMELY INNOVATIVE AT THE TIME!! Feel free to share and tag others if you wish....
Well, I picked up the phone and called an old friend who I hadn't talk to in a lot of years, Ed Pierce, (front row, second from the end.) What a kick it was to talk him about this event. Here's what so many of you don't know.
Now, take a minute and think about online education today. This is where it all started! There was no Creative Live or Lynda.com or for that matter ANY online programming. There were no webinars, even YouTube wouldn't be founded for almost another ten years!
But this is also another example of a fun aspect about Throwback Thursday. While in one respect I can't believe how old I am to have been around for this stuff - on the other hand, I couldn't be more proud to have been a very small part of it. Hasselblad was one of the sponsors and Tony Corbell, and I flew to Washington D.C. and were in the audience all day at the live event.
It's hard to imagine a more fun trip down Memory Lane when it comes to photography. To Royce for sharing over a year ago - thank you! And, to my old buddy Ed Pierce, who answered the phone just a few minutes ago, it really is time for you to write a book. You're the one who blazed this trail into video education and helped change so many lives in photography!
Happy Throwback Thursday everybody!
I first heard the expression twenty years ago from a friend who was an outstanding outdoor photographer. Since then I've used it numerous times, usually in reference to photographers who spend too much time trying to fix a bad image. In fact, a few years back somebody sent me the link to a Mythbusters episode where they proved you could!
Every day I look at websites of professional photographers, and I'm shocked at how many artists compromise on the quality of the images they share.
They seem to fall into a few different categories:
Having galleries with great images is essential. You don't need a lot of images to show your skill set. And, if you don't have the skill set yet, then stop calling yourself a pro. Your galleries have got to look better than "Uncle Harry's." If they're not, you're building a weak foundation for the brand awareness you're working so hard to establish.
Sadly many of these artists do have the skill set and the passion for the craft, but early on they wanted to fill their galleries to the max. They never went back to update their galleries. They didn't take the time to do a "lifeboat drill" on their images and decide which ones get saved and which ones need to be trashed.
When I was a kid, I had a red Mustang, and I was trying to sell it. It had a fairly significant dent in the door, but I didn't want to bother fixing it. Everybody who looked at the car loved it, but not the dent. My Dad finally took the keys, got the dent repaired and sold the car for $200 more than I was asking. He sat me down and gave me a life lesson I've tried hard to never forget,
"Whatever it is your selling, don't set yourself up to have to apologize for anything!"
Think about how that applies to your business. Whether you're showing images to sell your photographic services or a house for that matter - don't compromise. Don't show people anything that would require an apology, excuse or an explanation as to why it's not their best choice.
If it's a lousy image, don't show it! Never show less than your very best work. Never compromise on quality. Only show "wow" images - images so good you'd just have to show one of them to get hired! Most important of all, be consistent in everything you deliver!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Now and then I meet a photographer at a conference or online, and I'm amazed at the potential paralysis over making a mistake. The pure fear of worrying about so many aspects of their business from capture right through to marketing sends them into their own "No Fly Zone."
We all make mistakes. They can't be avoided. Depending on what you do with them, they can stunt your growth as an artist or just the opposite, create a growth spurt. It's all in how you look at the mistakes and if you choose to learn from them. Norman Vincent Peale wrote:
"Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles, they toughen and make them strong."
Scott Bourne wrote the following post a while back about making mistakes and as we leave the slow season, and business starts to pick up again, it's the perfect time to share it once more. While a couple of points have been updated by new technology and now auto-reset, it's still a great list to review and develop a habit of how you shut down after each shoot and make sure you're in good shape for the next one!
No matter how seasoned you are, the pressure of business, the economy and new technology all change the game, and suddenly you find yourself buried in mistakes you never used to make. Scott's put together a solid check-off list for cutting out one critical variable in your life, mistakes with your gear.
by Scott Bourne
No matter how experienced, we all make mistakes. Sometimes we go out to shoot and nothing works. We’ve forgotten to reset the ISO from 3200 (shot the basketball game last night) to 200 (for the landscape shots at Mt. Rainier.) Or sometimes that odd custom white balance we set at the art museum gets saved and used for the next wedding. Oops.
Whatever the mistake, mistakes have a way of cascading. And it’s easy to get frustrated to the point where you simply can’t do anything right. When you reach this point it’s time to give up and start over – “reset,” as Joe McNally says.
To do this, you need to establish a baseline for your gear. Here’s my baseline. Your situation may be different, but this works for me...
1. Camera bodies off
2. Camera batteries recharged after each and every shoot – no exceptions
3. Flash(es) off
4. Flash(es) batteries recharged after each and every shoot – no exceptions
5. Set ISO to 200
6. Set aperture to wide open on all lenses
7. Set shutter speed to 1/125
8. Set mode dial to Aperture Priority
9. Turn off IS/VR on all stabilized lenses
10. Set all lenses with focus stops to focus maximum area of focus
11. Remove any and all filters
12. Check that the camera body and any/all lenses are set to autofocus (unless you just always use manual focus – in which case disregard.)
13. Set white balance to AUTO
14. Set exposure compensation to “0.”
15. Reset the focus point to the center.
16. Set motor drive to high speed advance
17. Make sure mirror lockup is disabled
18. Make sure to run camera’s auto sensor cleaning after each shoot, no exceptions
19. Do quick visual examination of the camera to look for damage defects
20. Reset additional gear like tripods, light stands, etc.
After bringing everything back to default condition, you can take a deep breath, find your subject, and start building the next shot knowing you’ve done all you can to be ready.
Remember, we all make mistakes. Even the pros. It doesn’t mean a thing. Fix it, reset, reshoot, repeat. You’ll be fine.
"When you find yourself in a hole. Stop digging!"
I wanted to share these short videos about the Palm Springs Photo Festival for several reasons. First, there are a lot of conventions, conferences, and workshops in our industry. Some of them are great, others mediocre and a couple I've heard are terrible. Well, each one has their own personality and benefits for attending. Jeff Dunas has been a friend for a lot of years, long before he realized his dream of founding the Festival. Thanks to Jeff and his team, the Festival has grown to be one of the GREAT events each year, and needs to be on your radar to attend.
Second, watch the videos and pay attention to the way they explain the story. How would you tell your story? And, could you do it all in 2 1/2 minutes like the first one?
Last but not least, unlike other annual events in our industry, the Palm Springs Photo Festival is truly a festival. It's a celebration of imaging, education and networking. One of its unique characteristics is the energy and the pure joy in the air...all the time. This is about the passion for the craft from each instructor, speaker and attendee.
For more information and to register for the event, just click the banner at the top or either of the two Festival images.
"I like to think of it as a renaissance. Everybody inspires everybody else."
I started this as a concept idea about four years ago. Since then I've probably written a few hundred posts about the importance of exceeding client expectations and making yourself habit-forming. I'm bringing the topic back because there are still so many artists who just don't get it! Plus, we're in the fourth quarter, the seasonality stretch for 2017. There's no better time than RIGHT NOW to make some changes in how you do business! And, if this post just doesn't apply to you, please don't be offended but help me make the point and send it on to somebody who's clueless!
Take a minute and think about a few things:
We’re living in the age of instant gratification. We text, tweet, and abbreviate. Our spelling has become absurd, phonetically attacking a conversation for the sole purpose of packing a full paragraph into just 140 characters. We eat on the run, multi-tasking and getting a little work done so we can justify stepping away from the biz at lunchtime. MacDonalds has two lines for the drive-in window, and we can order combo meals, and the decision-making process becomes even faster.
New photographers jump into the market thinking because they understand Photoshop they’re perfectly capable of being a professional. They shoot with wild abandon and a mindset of, “No problem. I’ll fix it later in the computer!” The truth is, no matter what your skill set, if it's a lousy image there’s one fundamental rule of nature, “You can’t buff a turd!”
The reality is you can’t Tweet quality. There are no shortcuts to creating outstanding images. There are no shortcuts to building relationships with your clients. There are no shortcuts to great marketing. All of this leaves me with one sentiment – it’s time for many of you just to slow down, take a big breath and decide what you want to be when you grow up.
If you’re a shortcut, bought a camera and learned Photoshop artist before you understood lighting, exposure, composition and your gear, here’s you’re missing some incredible opportunities:
So, here are a few ideas to help you fix the problem:
You’re part of a fantastic industry, and there’s help every step of the way, providing you respect and love the craft. And trust me, if you respect the craft, there is no way to describe the return on your investment!
by Skip Cohen
With ShutterFest just around the corner, I pulled this post from the SCU archives. It's the perfect reminder to make some plans for the conference - Not just ShutterFest, but ANY convention or workshop series you attend!
There are two primary reasons to be at a convention: education and building a stronger network. The sad part of the process is, so many of you spend the money and take the time but do absolutely no planning. Time is your most valuable commodity and once it's gone you'll never get it back! So, let's look at ways to get the most out of every convention.
For those of you who are regular readers, I know this is going to be redundant, but as often as I've written about it, even I forget some of the basics. We all get too busy and as recently as ten minutes ago I got an email from my good buddy Bryan Caporicci about finding time on both our schedules at ShutterFest to catch up. We've work on a lot of projects together, but lately never have the time during our regular days.
Here's the first big rule!
DON'T GO TO A CONVENTION COLD! THINK THROUGH WHY YOU'RE GOING, WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH, WHAT YOU WANT TO COME BACK WITH! WHO ARE THE MOVERS AND SHAKERS YOU WANT TO TALK TO? PLAN YOUR TRIP! Sorry, It's all in caps, a font larger and bold, because I'm yelling at you! LOL
1) Think about what you need most in terms of help with your business. Do you need more education in marketing and business, a better understanding of photography or more products for providing added value to your customers like frames, canvas prints etc? Are you creating slideshows for your clients? When you print your own images are you calibrating your monitor and printer? Maybe you need a few new focal lengths in your camera bag - maybe you need a new camera bag! Have you checked out mirrorless technology? How about the albums you offer? Is it time you had some new things to show your clients?
The purpose here is to establish your priorities - at the bigger shows, for example, there are a few hundred exhibitors and it sure helps to walk in the door focused on where you need the most help. Otherwise, it's simply overwhelming, with too many choices to make once you're there.
Note: My personal top choices to check out at ShutterFest this year? Panasonic for LUMIX cameras, especially the new GH5, Marathon Press for Bella Art Prints and Albums, X-Rite for color calibration, Tamron for outstanding optics, Photodex for slideshows and obviously Profoto for the best in lighting!
2) If you need high ticket equipment - look into leasing if you're worried about tying up capital. You've got time to establish your credit line with a leasing company before you go, then you know exactly what you've been approved for and can work the convention like a pro. This is about using somebody else's assets without depleting yours!
3) Go to print competition judging! If you're in early enough for any convention in professional photography with print competition, it's the best bang for your buck out there! I went in to observe 10 years ago for half an hour wondering how my own entry was going to do (yes, I only had one) - I stayed all day. With the comments from the judges, it's like having class after class in composition, exposure and printing being given by dozens of industry icons!
4) Plan your days in advance. For example, most convention schedules are out early and on line. Think about what classes you want to go to and then be there at least 15-20 minutes early for each one. And, when you get there early, go talk to the instructor - this is just as much about building your network as it is absorbing the content of the class. Programs fill up fast and you don't want to be closed out of a program, but if you are, it's not the end of the world. Yes, it's frustrating, but there's a lot to choose from - so select your programs on where you need the most help, not exclusively on the popularity of the speakers.
5) Pay attention to the lineup of speakers at many of the exhibitor booths. This starts by reviewing any convention's exhibitor list and knowing in advance who their spokespeople are. Many of the exhibitors have some great mini-programs going on in their booth throughout the trade show.
6) Network, network, network - since you're there early to get a seat in a program then utilize the time wisely and talk to the people around you. Try to never have dinner alone or with the same people - bring along a newbie, somebody you've just met at the show. This has always been the coolest part of any convention for me personally - the friendships you can make just sitting and talking to people. Remember, everybody is dealing with the same challenges you are - the economy, creativity, growing the business, marketing and technology. When you exchange ideas, even your frustrations, sooner or later somebody you talk to from another part of the country is going to have a solution that worked for them!
7) Diversify - I've already written a lot over the years about staying diverse, but here's your chance to really start to learn a new skill set. Find at least one program to attend that's completely out of your element - the one that might scare you the most! Do that at every convention you attend. Always have one program on the list to help you expand your horizons.
8) "Working the trade show" is no easy endeavor, but since you're there, at least do it right. You don't need to go straight to that one company you want to see the most - because your tunnel vision will result in missing everybody you walk by on the way. Literally work the room one aisle at a time and do your best to see EVERYBODY. I love ShutterFest because it's a smaller show, but don't underestimate the power of quality! There might be less exhibitors than at a bigger show, but Sal and his team have been very selective and these are all vendors you need to know.
10) Bring some of your own images! I never understand photographers who come to a convention with access to every icon in the industry as well as so many manufacturers and leave all their work at home! You don't need to carry around a 16x20 portfolio case, just a book of a dozen or so of your favorite images, or your promotional piece or even a few images on an iPad - but be careful of boring somebody with too many images on the screen. This is where I really like paper prints at a convention. If I'm working in a booth and busy, I don't have time to have somebody try and direct my focus to their iPhone or iPad, but leaving me a couple of 5x7's in a folder with a business card and more information will stay in my memory a lot longer. Plus, it allows me to examine the material at my leisure when things might be a little quieter.
11) Take a camera with you!!!! I'm not talking about the gear you shoot with for your business, but something better than your phone. Since ShutterFest is all about hands-on, most of you have a decent camera with you. Don't just use it to build your portfolio! Get a few shots of yourself at the show interacting with vendors and other photographers. Do a press release when you get back to the local paper, Chamber of Commerce, post it on your blog or Facebook page - nobody is watching out for you but you!
12) Take advantage of evening programming and special events. Sure, it's important to have a good time, but take advantage of the various presentations. You want to come home from a great convention with more than a hangover and a few good jokes you heard at dinner!
13) Don't be afraid to talk to your favorite speakers. Everybody is approachable and everybody is there because they believe in education and sharing. But, I can't bring this blog to a close without a few words of caution - show some courtesy.
I know it seems basic and maybe insulting to some of you, but when you see one of your favorites stay away from the storm trooper approach, especially if they're already in a conversation. You might have to wait a few minutes for an opening or you might even need to catch them later. It's tough when you're involved in a conversation and somebody just jumps in and interrupts - you'll never get anyone's attention or the respect you want and deserve.
And for me at ShutterFest, Sheila and I will camped out each day at a table in that incredible lobby of the hotel. We've got a couple of breakfast meetings, but we're almost always there by 9:30. And I'm there to not just meet new friends, but to help you with business and marketing issues you're dealing with. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I won't always have the answers, but I've got an incredible network and it's all yours if you need some guidance!
Last but not least - have fun! Seriously, it's one of those words that's lost in business today - you're going to a great convention. You're going to see old friends and make new ones. It's okay to work hard and play hard - just make sure you never miss the bell the following morning!
Although I shared this post almost three years ago, Calvin Hayes has a birthday today, and it's time to bring it out of the archives! As Calvin sits in his office admiring the "World Sushi Federation" Belt hanging on the wall, which he won fair and square, I want him to remember a little of the pain that followed. Besides laughing until my sides hurt, I couldn't eat sushi for month. Not only that, but my Dad was present for the whole thing and it's hard when you've been humiliated in front of one of your parents! LOL
So, Mr. Hayes - Happy Birthday! You share a pretty special seat of honor on Memory Lane, especially when it comes to moments defined as the most fun I could never do again! Over the years you've always been there to help with virtually any project that came along. You've always given back! There's no question, I miss the old days, but that's the fun of Throwback Thursday - it brings them all back.
And for those of you relatively new to the industry - the best thing about being a photographer has little to do with imaging, but the friendships you make that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Nothing beats a Throwback Thursday image that makes you laugh out loud! So, take the time today and look for those old images that make you laugh, smile and reflect back to the pure joy of being an artist and part of an amazing industry!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
To this day I don't know how it started, but it was in the 90's and AOL was pretty much the only forum photographers were active in. For some reason, in the Kodak Chatroom, Tony Corbell and I were challenged by Wendy Saunders and Calvin Hayes to see who could eat the most sushi. The trash talk went on for months.
That year, the PPA convention was in Orlando and that's where these extensive crimes against all creatures from the sea took place. Now, if you know Tony Corbell or me, you know neither of us ever do anything just halfway! So prior to the event, we prepared...
That night, Tony and I, just like the goofballs of professional wrestling, came into the restaurant carrying our championship belts over our heads in our Yukatas. There were probably a dozen people who joined us for dinner, but it was really Wendy, Calvin, Tony and I who ran up the tab.
I remember eating for what seemed like an eternity, when Tony turned to Wendy and asked, "Honestly, how much more can you eat?"
She looked him straight in the eye and said, "At least a couple more orders!"
I looked at Tony, he looked at me, we were both turning green... we threw in the towel! At that point we were coming up on 63 pieces each. We had to give up our belts and to this day, every time I see Calvin he reminds me that the belt is hanging in his office!
As with every Throwback Thursday post, there's always a point or two. First, get photographs from those special events that help create the memories in your life with friends/associates at each workshop and convention you attend. Second, print them...if these were just on a jump drive somewhere, I never would have found them. Third, there's an incredible value to the friends in your network and they're part of your life to help you make those memories, regardless of whether it's for work or play. Just appreciate them.
And yes, the final check did come to just under $2000, but Wendy and Calvin were both spokespeople for Hasselblad and most of the guests that night all had something to do with supporting our marketing efforts. So we rationalized and decided it was part of sponsorship. LOL
Just for the record, my Dad joined us that night and I remember heading back to the hotel and he looked at me and said, "Wow...business in your industry is a lot tougher today than it was for me. All I had to do was learn to play golf!"
by Skip Cohen
I wrote a post on a similar topic several years ago, but I've meet so many artists online recently and I'm amazed at the different perceptions they have of their business. With the first quarter trade show and convention season just around the corner, I'll be meeting more in person and I know I'll continue to be surprised at the different levels of enthusiam with each artist I meet.
I found a terrific quote a few years ago that Martina Navratilova is given credit for:
"The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs.
The chicken is involved; the pig is committed!"
Running across that quote recently, it got me thinking about our industry, because we've got too many people who are involved, rather than committed. Photography is an art form, not just in the capture and creation of the final image, but in the relationship each artist has with their clients and the passion for the craft.
An involved photographer gets the job done, has a goal to at best be average and spends too much time looking at the revenue stream.
Committed photographers can't stop thinking about their images. While they're obviously concerned about revenue, they're more concerned about creating an experience for each client. They're looking for ways to give back to the community. Their hearts skip a beat when they download images from a portrait sitting, commercial shoot or an event. They spend more time listening to their clients than they do talking to them.
If you're a regular reader here at SCU you're more than likely committed, rather than just involved. However, odds are you know somebody who's on the fence between involvement and commitment. So here are eight questions to help you define the difference and maybe share to help them better define their goals.
Okay, there it is, my top eight, but there are so many more. Feel free to add to my list via the comment section below and I'll do an extension of this post with your additions.
Most important of all, being committed is about unstoppable passion! There's little else you can see yourself doing. While it's directed to the topic of relationships, I found a quote that really hits home and being a photographer is about a relationship with your craft.
We have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment,
unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.”
Sunday Morning Reflections are essentially a process. At the core is me simply enjoying the effort of writing something that might be helpful, but not just for you as a reader. Often the process takes me to a topic I need help with myself. It's often therapeutic.
This morning's "process" started with this quote:
"When everything seems to be going against you,
remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."
I wanted to find an appropriate image to go with the post. I started looking through Adobe's Fotolia for small planes. I found the shot of the two kids above. It reminded me of an annual themed promotion Vicki Taufer used to do for children's portraiture, "Little Aviators." It's also one of the more fun images I've seen from a stock house.
Finally, it's time to get to the meat of a Sunday Morning Reflections post. Right now, I have too much on my plate. What's cool about feeling overwhelmed is knowing I'm not alone. For most of you, you're in the heat of battle working on holiday orders and wrapping up the year. Throw in any personal challenges and the holiday season and we're all going against the wind.
As usual, one idea leads to another and I found myself thinking about things that go against us, but in the end, actually help soar a little higher.
Think about all the challenges over the last year in trying to build and maintain your business. Each one, regardless of how painful, has served a purpose. Each challenge from cash flow to fear of failure to lack of confidence all hold a place as building blocks, and have made you stronger. Each obstacle you've had to overcome has tested your passion for the craft, not just as an artist but as a member of the business community.
Out of the chaos and difficulties you've had to work through have come some incredible friendships. Look back over the last year and think about a couple of people who helped you through the storms. They were able to help you because we all share many of the same concerns, and common worries help to build some uncommon friendships.
So, the next time you're feeling like your problems are unique in your journey, remember you're not alone. There are thousands of people out there dealing with the same challenges you're facing. Getting to know those people is one of the greatest benefits of attending every convention you possible can, starting with the first convention of the season in San Antonio with IUSA! (Sheila and I will both be there and looking forward to catching up to many of you.)
The opportunity to share ideas with each other, including how we deal with everything that's thrown at us is what helps us soar a little higher.
Wishing you a day of time away from the business enjoying family and friends special to you. Take the time to relax and step away from December's chaos. You can't help everybody else, if you haven't helped yourself. As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs and make a few new memories.
Note: My good buddy Brian Malloy gave me a bro-hug recently and started counting. It took me a second to realize what he was doing - going for that eleven seconds. In all honesty, I forgot about it and thought he was trying to pick my wallet! LOL Nothing beats great friendships.
Happy Sunday everybody!
The kind of commitment I find among the best performers across virtually every field is
a single-minded passion for what they do, an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think
and the way they work. Genuine confidence is what launches you out of bed in the morning,
and through your day with a spring in your step.
I've written a few times over the years about being one of the luckiest guys in the photography industry. One example is having the privilege of working with all four of the icons above. Don Blair and I wrote our first book together. I have dozen's of Monte stories from so many different workshops and programs. Avedon made me lunch once in the flat above his studio, and Scavullo's dog tried to take a piece out of my leg on a couple of different visits.
As we go into the last month of 2016, and at the same time prepare for a new year, it's the perfect time for all of us to remember the ingredients that made those four above iconic, along with the traits of so many younger contemporary artists we admire today.
Image Quality: They NEVER compromise on the quality of an image. Exposure, composition, expression and impact are as consistent as the sun coming up every morning.
Lifestyle Quality: They maintain a lifestyle of giving back and a strong sense of family and friendships. They have integrity, they have poise and they follow through on their promises. They also surround themselves with people with similar commitments.
Loyalty: Whether it's to the vendors they work with or their friends, their loyalty is rarely questioned. Everyone watches each others backs and the mutual respect and admiration, at least from my perspective, is pretty much unmatched in comparison to most other industries.
Humor: They don't take themselves too seriously. Think about any program you've attended that you loved and learned something - I'm willing to bet you laughed...a lot. Today's photography icons are comfortable with admitting when they do something stupid, have fun with a client or completely screw up a job and live to tell about it.
Humility: Not everyone has it, but even those few we might consider a little arrogant - if they knew how they were being perceived they'd be upset and ready to work on a different persona. So, I'm not sure if the quality I'm trying to describe is humility or a willingness to listen, but they've got it.
Confidence: They believe in their abilities, their willingness to learn new skills and they understand their camera gear and photography cold - there's no second guessing and no "chimping." Even when they talk about a new idea or technology, you'll pick up a unique tone in their voice, almost as if they've been shooting that way for years.
Diverse Skills: It goes with confidence, but there's nothing they can't shoot. We might know them as a portrait photographer and then we'll see work that's fine art, landscape or architectural - they refuse to be type-cast into any one skill set.
Passion: It's the last word on the list, but it drives everything they do! It's not just about photography, but about life in general - they simply never stop loving the craft, their lives, their friends, families - you name it and passion is what drives them to succeed.
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do.
If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.
As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."
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.