by Skip Cohen
"Group f/64 was a group founded by seven 20th-century San Francisco Bay Area photographers who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharply focused and carefully framed images..." Wikipedia
Yesterday was day five for the f64 Lunch Bunch, and once again, there was a lot of good solid content shared. Plus, questions from the attendees created more ideas and food for thought as we all work to find some acceptable level of normalcy in dealing with social distancing.
Sadly, as I've written a few times, there are still too many photographers who have taken shelter in place to mean EVERYTHING. It's intended to help you protect yourself, your family and slow down the spread of the virus, NOT apply to every aspect of your business. You can maintain social distancing in cyberspace and still keep in touch with your clients and the needs of your community.
Joe McNally joined us yesterday for day 5 of the Lunch Bunch. The YouTube video is below. He shared a lot of great insight into the impact the pandemic has had on our lives and thoughts on taking advantage of the downtime.
There was a lot of additional content shared at yesterday's "lunch." Rather than just giving you the links, I decided to give you a screenshot of where the link is taking you. Each banner below is a live link, making it even easier for you to get to each resource. Just click any banner to visit the website we were sharing.
Last but not least are all you fans who became attendees this week. As I've said every day - we'll get through this, but in the meantime, keep sharing your ideas, stay healthy, and "Be careful out there!"
Join us for lunch on Wednesday, April 1, at 2:00 pm for the next f64 Lunch Bunch. The link to join is below, and I can promise you some fun surprises. Remember "fun?" It's a word that's been a little lost for all of us lately, but together we can get it back!
by Skip Cohen
"Group f/64 was a group founded by seven 20th-century San Francisco Bay Area photographers who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharply focused and carefully framed images..." Wikipedia
Like the characteristics of the great f/64 photographers in the early 1900s, we started the f64 Lunch Bunch to help with ideas to sharpen the focus on your business and establish a stronger framework for the future. We've got only one goal - to plant a few seeds to help you grow during this challenging downtime.
We're all in this together. We have no choice but to shelter in place, but that doesn't mean shelter in place from your business, raising the bar on your skillset, building marketing plans for the near future, or helping your community.
Jen Rozenbaum joined us yesterday for day 3 of the Lunch Bunch. The YouTube video is below. You'll immediately understand what makes Jen's style of teaching and especially her outlook on life so incredible. She shared a lot of great insight to help you fine-tune your skillset during downtime, stay involved in your community, and be prepared to hit the ground running when this is over.
During the conversation, she mentioned a video she did on the similarities between her battle with breast cancer for two years and dealing with the coronavirus. I promised I'd grab it from her YouTube channel. I've share it here below.
And, Steve Brazill shared information about MasterClass.com and a special promotion they're doing. Members of MasterClass have been given "a free MasterClass All-Access Pass to give to someone whose life you’d like to make just a little better right now."
If you know a MasterClass member, now's the time to give them a shout. This is a perfect time to take advantage of their online programs covering so many different topics. Here's the link to find out more.
Join us today at 2:00 PM EST when Anne Geddes joins the Lunch Bunch. And tomorrow, we'll wrap up the week with Joe McNally. Don't miss the opportunity to pick up new ideas to help make the most of this time when your business has changed so dramatically. Click on the button below at 1:55 pm EST - we always get the room opened early. Who said there's no such thing as a free lunch?
by Skip Cohen
Yesterday during the f64 Lunch Bunch, the topic of depression and anxiety came up. Everyone is feeling it, some far more than others. For me, my emotions up until recently have been a rollercoaster surpassing the highs and lows of any ride Disney ever created. While I still have moments of anxiety, they're getting farther and farther apart, like speed bumps in a quiet neighborhood.
Well, here's my recipe...
The rest of the day is a repeat of short conversations with Sheila, time with the puppies, short breaks whenever I need to step away from what I'm working on. Sprinkled here and there are phone calls with friends, especially people I haven't caught up to recently. Some calls are long catch-ups, others just short to see how a friend is holding up.
And, when I do feel overly concerned, I'll call a friend to calm me down. Who I call is directly related to the topic stirring up my anxious gene! For example, "Dr. T," in addition to being the inventor and founder of Platypod, is a full-time pediatrician in New Jersey and has become a very good friend. Being in the medical profession, he's on the frontline of the most accurate information. Plus, he's one of those people who has a personality build on a foundation of staying calm.
Throughout the day I catch up on my reading. Our son sent me an article this morning that's worth sharing. "COVID-19: interesting data from Korea and from the Diamond Princess." I'm just sharing one paragraph that helps make the point.
But the Diamond Princess cruise ship offers an interesting insight. It had nearly 4,000 people on board—many of them in risk groups. (Somebody who used to perform aboard cruise ships quipped that passengers are mostly "the newlywed and the nearly dead" ;)) You'd expect these packed together on a ship in quarantine to be all infecting each others. And yet...4,061 passengers and crew were examined, on board what effectively became an unintentional virus incubator. Only 712 contracted the virus (about 17.5%), of which 334 asymptomatic (8.2% of the total), leaving 378 (9.3% of the total) ill. Only 7 people died (1.85% of those ill, or 0.17% of all passengers and crew examined), all of them age 70 or older. (Remember, the passenger population is skewed toward the elderly.)
And that brings me to one of the most important ingredients to staying calm - stop being obsessed with the news! Sheila and I stopped watching most of the news years ago. We'd record World News with David Muir and then fast forward through everything political because none of us will ever know the truth. Now with the news being all about Covid-19, that fast forward button is getting worn out.
We're paying attention and following all the various directives from the health organizations. We're staying home and only going out when absolutely necessary. We wash our hands regularly and even packages from Amazon get opened outside. One of my best friends wrote:
Let's get on the other side of this pandemic together... And hopefully we are collectively more wise and ready for the next one. And not listening to the paid doctors of MSNBC as much as the CDC folks who dedicate their lives to solving these problems.
And one last ingredient - get out with your camera! Regardless off your business focus, we've all missed Spring! Looking for a moment of tranquility? Nothing beats a camera in your hands. And for those of you who think my sunset shot above was easy, after all, I live in Florida near the ocean, think again. That's Lake Erie in my home town of Painesville, Ohio, a couple of years ago.
We'll all get through this if we just stay focused. Our lives, the stock market, and the future will reset. It won't be easy, but when did anything worth having come easy?
by Skip Cohen
Lately, the definition of "normalcy" seems to be a moving target. It changes every day as paranoia searches my brain, looking for a vulnerable place to sink its teeth. Life has changed, but the good news is that none of us are alone. We're all in this together, and for once, when you're worried, none of your friends are saying, "Stop being paranoid."
Sheila and I both have allergies. This time of year, we sneeze and cough on and off all day long. But even though Zyrtec is a regular product in our house, it doesn't change that split second of paranoia when I hear her cough. And, if I let it take hold, I'll go mad. Sound familiar?
But here's the great thing about the industry we're all a part of - we watch each other's backs. I now make it a point to phone a friend or two every day...just to check in. I'm also following everybody on Facebook. I'm taking a few minutes each morning to go through old photographs or albums - I'm following my own self-medicating prescription to get through this nightmare - looking in my rearview mirror. I'm not looking back with sadness, but optimism waiting for the good old days to return, and they will!
Two things kicked off my morning to get me on track today. Ralph Romaguera sent me this picture, and all his email said was "Memories." He didn't need to say anymore because it's our memories that are the foundation not to lose sight of how good life really is.
It was 2014, and John Sexton received the Lifetime Achievement award from PPA at the Imaging USA convention. That's me, John and Kenny Rogers. I was telling Kenny about how my son's girlfriend's most prized possession back then was the damaged gear train from his Hasselblad ELX that had come in for repair.
As Sheila and I were talking about at that conference, Facebook was doing its share in helping with great memories. Lori Nordstrom was wandering through the archives and hit the "like" button on a shot of the "Young Guns" program from WPPI in 2008, and it came up in my notifications feed. It was a classic moment of looking in the rearview mirror and then telling Sheila about the program.
A classic moment in that presentation was Mike Larson demonstrating how he'd set his camera on self-timer and then throw it 20 feet in the air to capture what then became a signature shot of the wedding party. Nobody had a drone back then!
And just a few weeks ago at WPPI, I caught up to three of the artists who were part of this program. And Facebook is keeping us connected and the friendships very much alive!
I have no answers on how our lives are going to change. There's no question; life is going to be different. Sheila and I haven't been out with friends for a few weeks. Just like you, we're hunkered down and doing our best to stay safe. But we're not willing to accept this is the new normal. The only way to keep the light bright at the end of the tunnel is to cherish where we've been and remember those days will come back.
So, I wish everybody a day of peace, good health, and appreciation for all your memories, especially the ones with photos attached! My suggestion for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs is still good with your "Q-mates," (people you're self-quarantined with.) And if you're a solo act, the next best things are Facetime and Skype - go for a cyber-hug. We will get through this.
None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward.
Because we trust. Because we have Faith.
by Skip Cohen
Whether you call it "self-quarantine" or "social distancing," we're all in the same boat right now - confused, frustrated, and trying to figure what to do until business comes back. The social isolation we've all been forced to accept has left all of us with time on our hands.
Wandering through Facebook last Sunday, I stumbled on this shot by Joel Connor. First, I loved the photograph, but more important to my point this morning, I love what Joel wrote with it:
Did a quick session with my wife yesterday for the first time in ages. Have been working on adding new shooting spaces to our studio attic and with our session cancelation (of many) from yesterday, it seemed a good time to play for a bit. CC welcome. Fuji 50R w/ Mitakon 65 1.4 (at 2.0ish)
Note: A BIG thanks to Joel for giving me permission to share this image and what he wrote.
There's that old expression my mother used to use, and we've all heard it - "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" I know it's trite and hokey, but we've got no choice. Joel had some downtime and decided to practice a little. Looking at his work, you'd think he doesn't need to practice - but even great ballplayers warm up swinging two bats. (Visit his website with a click on the image.)
We've all got time on our hands. While it takes a lot of energy to fight the depression of the world going upside down, utilize this time to fine-tune your skills. If you wait it out and choose to let time slip through your fingers, then you let the Coronavirus win.
From raising the bar on your skills to cleaning up your galleries, strategizing marketing for later in the year, managing your database, and expanding your network, the list goes on and on. There's so much you can be doing now to make your business stronger.
I know it's abstract to think of this when your business has disappeared, but it will come back. The magic photographers bring to the world, turning intangible moments into memories people can hold in their hands, hasn't disappeared.
is being sure of what you hope for
and certain of what you do not see.*
*My wife Sheila has this in a frame on a wall in our home. It couldn't be more important to remember than today!
by Skip Cohen
Over the years, my buddy Nick Vedros has sent me dozens of links to stories he's found in cyberspace that were moments to stop and appreciate a piece of history, an artistic piece of work, or creativity in imaging. He never disappoints. Well, he sent me the link to the video below with a short comment, "This commercial is fantastic! It’s four minutes. So cinematic!"
I watched it; loved it and decided I'm probably not the only one who'd appreciate a break from business this morning. So, it's here for you to enjoy. Grab a cup of coffee and kick back for four minutes and appreciate this Mercedes Benz commercial for the cinematography as well as the story itself.
Bertha Benz was the wife of Carl Benz and the YouTube description says it all:
In a time when “car” was not even a word yet, and people relied on horses to pull their wagons, one woman challenged the status quo. To prove to the world that her husband’s invention was the future of mobility, Bertha Benz went on the first long-distance journey with an automobile, facing all kinds of challenges but stopping at nothing. The rest, as they say, is history.
When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch you!
Every day starts out the same when you have puppies - there's this silent rush to get them outside, preceded by a small squeal of joy if their bed's dry! It's that feeling of progress and knowing the routine is finally working that sets the tone for the start of the day.
Then comes my business routine, and it's become my standard - the first stop is my in-box, followed by Facebook notifications. The tweet stream is next, then a quick look at my calendar for the day, a stop at my Platypod mailbox, and then I'm ready to start the day, usually with a post.
This morning when I hit Facebook, which starts with "Notifications," I had a couple of complaints from members of two forums where I'm an administrator. If you're not an Admin on Facebook, what we get is a notification that says, "_________ reported 1 post in _________." Then, if you have time, you research what the complaint is about. Ninety percent of the time, it's the result of people being too sensitive. So, as an administrator, you decide to keep the post or kill it, comment to the person reporting the post and finally get on with your life.
Well, one of the reports this morning had absolutely no foundation to complain about. One photographer didn't like the tone of what another artist wrote and decided to call in the "big guns." I kept the post, ignored the report, and chose not to respond to anybody. However, I did go looking for a quote this morning, and when I found the one up top, I knew it needed to be shared.
It might be the "slow season," but that doesn't mean it's slow for you to build your business. So, focus on what's vital in the building blocks to make 2020 your best year ever and stop bitching, moaning, and complaining about things that don't matter! Stop being so sensitive. Give your peers the benefit of the doubt, remembering that the toughest way to express yourself is through the printed word!
If you don't like what somebody said in a thread, unless it's going to have an impact on some aspect of your business, your family, or your life, let it go! Start singing Taylor Swift's "Shake it off," and just move on. And if somebody doesn't like one of your images, listen to their suggestions and then do whatever you think is right, always remembering what my good buddy Dean Collins used to say,
Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!
When Chamira Young and I relaunched this series last summer, we wanted to bring you topics out of the ordinary with guests who are extraordinary. Even though we love the podcasts we've done in the past, we wanted "Beyond Technique" to be different. Inspiration, new ideas, and sharing unique concepts while stepping away from the technique of capturing images was our goal.
Thanks to Platypod, the "Beyond Technique" series is bringing you a different perspective each month about business and life. In fact, it's a lot like Platypod's goal - giving photographers a different perspective and adding more creative tools to their skillset.
Suzette Allen joins us in the December episode, with a topic perfect for wrapping up 2019 and even better to kick off the new year!
Most of you know her as one of the industry's leading educators. She's a photographer, artist, educator, author, blogger, and a great friend to so many people in the industry. The story of how she got started isn't very different from most of yours. What changed was a horrific accident that became an incredible journey of hope, focus, dedication, and spirituality.
I've known Suzette for a long time, but what I appreciate the most about our conversation on this podcast is her ability to stay candid, open, and honest about what she went through. She holds nothing back, which is a big part of what makes her such a great instructor and friend!
I grabbed screenshots of some of my favorite images from her galleries. Click on any one of them to visit her website, blogs, and make sure she's on your radar! She and her husband Jonny are both LUMIX Ambassadors, and you'll find them both at a long list of workshops and convention programs throughout the year. And, check out her YouTube channel. There are 400 different videos covering a long list of topics, each there to help you raise the bar on the quality of your images and the support you give your clients.
"Beyond Technique is brought to you by...
We're proud to have Platypod as an SCU partner. Their products are giving photographers the ability to be more creative and capture images from a different perspective. From the Ultra and Max Platypods to great accessories like the new goosenecks and multi-accessory kit, they never slow down on developing new products.
And a big thanks to Photofocus.com. Always sharing great content to help photographers grow their skills in technology, marketing, and business, Photofocus also hosts some of the very best podcasts in photography! They're just a click away.
All images copyright Suzette Allen. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
This is it gang, the last Sunday Morning Reflections post of 2019! It's been quite a year, jam-packed with a lot of emotional moments. What I started to think about as I was writing was how so many of you look at the close of one year and the start of a new one as a clean slate. The truth is, the only fresh start to the new year and end of the old one is with your taxes. Everything else in life is a rolling average.
As you're thinking about the new year, there is no "clean slate" if you keep doing everything the same way. And, unlike your accountant who can help you with financial decisions, the only one who can truly change the new year ahead in terms of more smiles and less frowns is YOU!
Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams
than you are to your comfort zone.
There it is - the key to what helped many of you in 2019. You started taking your dreams more seriously. You started listening to your heart just as much as your head.
I know for me personally, I found myself working to change some of the self-destructive behaviors I was doing. They were never intentional, but more self-fulfilling prophecies, following the philosophy of - if you define something as hopeless, then it will be. And, I could only let go of that feeling by finding better points of focus on other things I wanted to do.
Here's my point this morning - If you want today to be better than yesterday, than do something different. Stop living life in "P" mode! My buddy Gareth Rockliffe talked about this concept in a Beyond Technique podcast in July. It's worth listening to.
Years ago, back in my Hasselblad days, a photographer came to our booth at PPE. He asked to be set up with everything Denis Reggie used. We gave him the list - camera, lenses, and accessories. He went off to his favorite dealer and bought it all. A year later, he was back in the booth and laid out a stack of proofs and screamed, "These don't look anything like Reggie's work!"
Most of you know this already - it's not the gear that makes the artist. Sure, it contributes, but he'd shot EVERYTHING at the same aperture and shutter speed. He barely understood depth of field, let alone composition, exposure, and anticipating the decisive moment to click the shutter. He never left his comfort zone!
And that brings me full circle to what made 2019 a great year for most of us and how we can make 2020 a fantastic year - get out of our comfort zones.
Wishing everyone a perfect day filled with family, friends, and wrapping up the year with plenty of smiles. 2020 is right around the corner. If you truly want to make it a "NEW" year, think about things you can do differently while listening to your heart more often! As always, go for those long hugs with the people who mean the most to you and stay focused on things that make you happy.
Have a great Sunday or Monday, depending on where you are in the world!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and if you follow me regularly, then you've noticed a pattern of me whining about the puppies and being up at 6:15 am every morning. And while I was always an early riser, Lucy and Belle have created a new pattern in our home. And Sunday mornings, which used to be outrageously quiet with Molly the Wonder Dog asleep at my feet, are long gone - but that's not bad.
I want to go right to my point this morning...we're down to the wire. Christmas is only three days away. Chanukah starts tonight. And the start of a new year is in ten days. What are you going to do to close the year differently than you have in the past? What's the plan to kick off the new year differently than you've done before?
There's that old line about if you do what you've always done, you'll never get more than you ever got. Well, I don't want New Year's day to just me another morning. I want 2020 to be a different kind of year. One of my most favorite quotes from Zig Ziglar goes:
“Your attitude, not aptitude, will determine your altitude”
Here's what I've already started doing:
I've written about this so many times over the years - you've got to feed your brain and your heart with more than photography and business. You'll never keep your perspective if the only thing you feed every day is your stomach!
And there you have it, the way I hope to build a daily foundation that has a routine of predictability combined with a quick super-charge. And if you hate the idea of reading Melody Beattie, then hit google for inspirational quotes, YouTube for motivational videos, or pick a few of your favorite artists to follow.
Oh, and there's one more great ingredient - there's always music on in our house. There are five Alexas playing all day long, and our musical tastes range from classical to Celtic Women to James Taylor and Crosby, Stills and Nash - you never know what Sheila and I are going to need to help keep our energy focused.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead, whether it's Sunday where you are or Monday. Make it a day that helps set the stage for the new year, but keep things in perspective. You're only one person, and there's only so much you can do. Most important of all - don't be afraid to ask for help when you seem to hit the wall! Always go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most important to you.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it!"
I've missed a few of the last Fast Food Friday posts, but the "kitchen" of the SCU Diner is up and running today with a unique entree!
I started the series to help you with quick ideas to fine-tune your business. The goal was pretty simple, easy things you could do to sustain and grow your business, implement stronger branding, marketing, revenue, and even content.
The majority of you are right-brain creative types, which means you tend to ignore the operational side of the business but love the challenge of creativity. That's great, but you can't ignore what it takes to run and build the biz!
Today's Fast Food Friday is all about finding your "why." Even the artwork I chose up top is symbolic of the challenge. Notice how most of the question marks are the same? They represent all the other photographers out there - but the one that's different is you. You've got to make yourself stand out. You've got to make yourself different from your competitors.
You've Got to Find Your Why
This past week at a Board meeting of the Sarasota's Senior Friendship Centers, the CEO shared a video with us. The SFC is a multi-million dollar nonprofit here in Sarasota. We provide two-hundred thousand meals a year, health services, adult day-care, places to socialize, primarily for senior citizens.
As I watched the video, I couldn't help but think about my own business and in turn, yours. If you haven't read Simon Sinek's book, click on the link to the right. In the meantime - think about your why. All of you know what you do for a living. You also know how you do it. But have you ever thought about why? Are you sharing that message with your target audience?
For example, dozens of times in the past few years, I've talked about the message on your about pages. I've written about people not caring what awards you've won, how long you've been in business, or what gear you shoot with - "Mom" wants to know why you're a photographer. She wants to see if you can be trusted to capture photographs of the people most important to her. Your about page is one small step towards sharing your why.
Please take the time to watch this video, and trust me - it'll start you on a life-changing journey, or at the very least, business changing!
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.
I spend a lot of time looking at images, especially on Facebook. Now and then, one just catches me.
With the image above, it's just an old freighter on the water in Port Huron, Michigan. My podcast co-host, Chamira Young, posted it on her Facebook page, and I love it. And while she has no idea I'm doing a post about it and sharing it, my point isn't really about her artwork, but about your growth as an artist.
We're an industry where you can never kick back and rest on your laurels. You've got to keep experimenting and pushing the edge of the creative envelope. With the image above, Chamira wrote:
Yes, I need therapy. Art therapy! Funny how photography and digital art tend to intersect when I need a good ole' dose of creative elixir. It calms me down. Below is an artistic rendering from right here in Port Huron, produced from a photo. So many scenic places in this town. Fun!
While I do love the image, it's the process I appreciate the most. Put that together with the fact that Chamira NEVER slows down, and you've got all the ingredients for a growing career in imaging!
And one more thing to remember - no matter where you live, images are waiting to be captured and turned into art. So many times over the years, I've heard people from small towns, the midwest, etc. talk about how there's nothing to photograph in their area. Usually, it's a comment made in reaction to somebody's stunning images from the coast or mountains.
I know it sounds sappy, but there's beauty all around us - you just have to take the time for the "therapy" to help you stay grounded and remember why you became an artist in the first place. I can guarantee that Chamira wasn't thinking about the challenges of her business when she took the time to be creative!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Last April I met Kevin Kuster. The meeting was online, and all thanks to the kick-off of ClickCon in Chicago, where he was a keynote on the first day of the show. Since then, I've shared a few of his images and the words he pulls together to create each masterpiece.
This morning I caught a post of his on Facebook. He was on his way back from helping to make the world a better place through Watts of Love. I always text, IM, or call him for approval to share his thoughts in the SCU blog but today, I decided to take the risk and just post.
It's one thing to capture/create a stunning image, but it's another skill set altogether to write something that moves us as much as the photograph.
I watched movies. She slept.
I chose beef.She chose vegetarian.
I drank a coke. She drank water.
I kept my hiking￼ shoes on. She removed her sandals.
I got up three times to stretch my legs and use the restroom. She never left her seat except to let me pass.
I have a small tattoo on my ankle. She has henna all over her fingers, hands and wrist.
I kept my over head light off for the entire 9 hour flight. She was the only passenger to keep her overhead light on ￼for the entire 9 hour flight.
I have traveled the world and been to many countries. This was her first flight.
I have learned we are all more alike than we will ever understand.
We all want to be loved, told we are special, laugh with our friends, provide for our families and know that our lives matter.
I am a recorder of ordinary moments that contain the extraordinary complexities of life.
We are created equal but torn apart by comparison.
"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.
It's Sunday morning, and while I always go off track from business and marketing, I'm staying in photography. Most of the time, I never know what I'm going to start writing about. As I jumped online this morning, there it was - a Facebook memory shot of me, Sheila and Robert Vanelli, AKA "V" or "Vanelli."
Ever had somebody come into your life and after just a few months, you can't remember when they weren't in it? For me, Vanelli is one of those people. With a heart as big has his three consecutive world champion titles in Karate back in the eighties, it just feels like he's always been there for so many of us.
Then there's the Kevin Bacon degrees of separation game and so many people come back to Vanelli. The same happens with photographs.
I needed a new shot for the crew at ShutterFest for my speaker banner in 2018. Headed to PPE last year, I asked Vanelli if he'd grab one for me. A few minutes after this shot with Sheila and me, he got the image I needed. It later became my headshot on my Facebook page.
Then there were the antics that happened at the same time - nothing beats giving noogies to a good buddy, especially when he could take you out with one swing. Andrew Darlow captured the fun and sent me the image. Next came the bobblehead joke for Sheila, based on my new headshot.
Last on the list; there's the common denominator of our mutual love for photography. Vanelli and I had never spent any quality time together. We'd been to a dinner or two, but after catching up to each other at trade shows for a few years, I suggested a boyz weekend. I invited him to the house for a couple of days in October of 2018. That's where the friendship and laughs escalated to a relationship I cherish today.
It was also at that time he captured two photographs that would become part of my collection of priceless memories - me and Molly the Wonder Dog.
And that brings me to my point - great friendships don't just happen. While they might start by chance, to flourish, they need an investment of time - real-time - not cyberspace. Social media is fine for keeping touch and sharing, but it's the phone calls and actual time together that brings the real quality of getting to know new friends.
Little did I know at that first meeting with "V" that he'd become such an inspiration, source of smiles and laughter, and most important of all a quality friend. We all wear multiple hats and live hectic, often insane lives. But trust me on this - nothing beats relationship building with great people. Commit to bringing more quality time into getting to know people you respect. You'll never regret it!
Wishing everybody a day when time represents an investment in good solid friendships. We're an industry involved in capturing memories and making intangible moments tangible. We capture them for clients all the time, but today I'm suggesting "charity starts at home." Make those memories today, just for your own heart! And, as always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs.
Happy Sunday, everybody...and yes, Happy Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
"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!
If work isn't fun, you're not playing on the right team!
by Skip Cohen
The Fast Food Friday series is all about tips to help you build a stronger business. The posts are meant to be short ideas - sort of quick tips to fine-tune your skillset, but as a business owner. This morning I'm going a little off track on business but not on your career.
Suzette Allen and Jon Yoshinaga have been here for the last couple of days, taking a break from the Bubble Trailer Light Tour I've written about so many times in the previous six weeks. As they leave today, I head to Latrobe, PA, for my buddy Terry Deglau's memorial service. Stay with me, because there's a great connection.
While my mind has been flooded with stories I want to share tomorrow about Terry, it occurred to me how much fun we had together over the years. Well, that brought me to this very minute, hanging out with Suzette and Jonny. They were here for a couple of days, and we did nothing except relax, talk, and enjoy the time we were able to have together.
And there's my point - having fun in what you're doing is as important as your skillset as a photographer. In fact, it's at the very core. But fun doesn't just happen - it takes work! You've got to take the time to have fun. You've got to recognize burnout. You've got to use those who-wants-to-be-a-millionaire lifelines and phone a friend.
During his years at Kodak, Terry and I simply had fun, but we worked hard to make it happen. We often tagged on extra days to several conventions - including driving Ansel Adams' Cadillac into Yosemite for three days with a trunk loaded with Hasselblad gear and Kodak film after PhotoWest many years ago.
And, as always, we had a blast with Suzette and Jonny this week as they hit day forty on the road for the tour. In the process of laughing and enjoying each other's company, new ideas bubbled to the surface, even a short conversation about the definition of success. It's not really about fame, money, or your skills, but about being happy in whatever you're doing, especially when it's just for you.
Here are some easy suggestions:
Work to put "FUN" into your business life. And, don't let your business interrupt the time you need to have with family and friends.
Have fun, work hard and money will come. Don't waste time - grab your chances.
Have a positive outlook on life. When it's not fun move on.
for a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life.
but there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first,
some unfinished business, time still to be served, a dept to be paid.
at last it dawned on me that these obstacle were my life.
this perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness.
happiness is the way. so treasure every moment you have
and remember that time waits for no one.
happiness is a journey, not a destination.
by Skip Cohen
Many years ago I published a series of posts based on the wisdom shared on refrigerator magnets. The quote above has been on our fridge for years, but I hadn't noticed it in a long time. When I read it this morning it hit me how there's no expiration date on the thought - happiness is a journey not a destination!
No need for me to write anything more about the concept.
In January 2018 we kicked off the year with a great podcast series, sharing insight into the business and marketing of photography with some of the most respected artists in the world. The sponsor for the series, while liking the concept, decided they wanted to do something different on their own in 2019, and the series was put on the back-burner.
Working together with my co-host Chamira Young, we decided recently it was time to bring back the series and "Beyond Technique" is off the back-burner. And the heats turned up to HIGH with great guests and insights that go well beyond the business of photography.
This week Kevin Kuster joined us with some incredible insight into how his career has progressed and the importance of giving back. "Watt's of Love" is changing people's lives, and in the process Kevin Kuster's ability to be a phenomenal storyteller is in the spotlight. As I said in my intro on the podcast - "He's changing the world one light at a time!"
And if you missed our first podcast in the relaunch of the series, check out our podcast with Gareth Rockliffe. Just click on the banner above. This episode is clearly beyond technique!
Catching up on a phone call a couple of months ago, Gareth mentioned an idea he's had about the spirituality of imaging as it blends in with the way we live our lives.
"We start our lives in "P" mode, and as we get older, we spend the rest of our lives trying to get out of it!"
As kids, we're all pretty much put through the same process. We're given a foundation to live our lives by including always coloring within the lines. As we get older, we start to pursue other interests, ideas, and ways to live our lives. As we gain more experience, we also challenge the system, often coloring outside the lines.
Gareth is a talented artist and writer. I hope as his conversation did with Chamira and me, he'll get you thinking about how to enrich your life and take more time to step out of "P" mode!
A big thanks to Photofocus.com for the platform to share great insight provided by these terrific artists. Check out all of the podcasts on Photofocus - you'll never be disappointed!
Starting Monday, March 23 at 2:00 PM EST. Ideas to help your business in these difficult times. Click for more info!
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry this past August.
The dates have been announced for 2020 at the Palmer House in Chicago. August 11-14!
What a kick!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.