Life is short, live it.
Love is rare, grab it.
Anger is bad, let go of it.
Fear is a mind-killer, face it.
Memories are sweet, cherish them.
by Skip Cohen
I'm in one of those sappy moods, so don't give up on me until I'm done with this post.
Thirty-three years ago this weekend, I was sitting in a hotel room nervous about starting a new job on Monday. It was my first day as President of Hasselblad USA. I'd been in the industry for almost twenty years at that point, but I look at that Monday as the real start of my career in photography.
We had a fantastic team at Hasselblad, and I'd experience so many incredible memories over the next twelve years. Many of my very best friends today came into my life during those early years. While I've always loved the imaging world, it's thanks to so many of you today that make getting out of bed such a kick every morning.
The pandemic has created a new norm we all have to deal with, but I can't think of a more incredible industry to weather the storm and help the world stay focused on what's most important in life.
Over the years, I've been accused of being the industry cheerleader, wearing rose-colored glasses too often. Well, maybe more people need a pair of those glasses! I love this industry, and if I can help you find a new direction to help rebuild your business, you know where to find me.
Together we can make it through any mess the world throws at us - and I know what a simpleton I sound like when I say that. It's tough right now, and even worse, it's scary. I find myself worrying about Sheila, family, and friends who are all vulnerable. That fear, if not controlled, would turn into procrastination, complacency, and depression. It's a roller coaster of emotion these days, and it takes work to smile from the inside out. Anybody can smile on the surface, but you have to dig to stay happy.
Ironically, it's Independence Day, and we're all fighting to be free of the pandemic. So, stay safe, listen to the doctors, NOT the politicians, cherish your skill set, and ability to help people continue to capture memories. Last but not least, my offer to help is in the foundation of virtually every post I write. But I'm not alone - I'm joined by hundreds of other community members who all share the same love for the craft.
Last but not least, thank you for being a reader, an artist, and for many of you, a great friend.
Intro by Skip Cohen
After I posted a short rant a few weeks ago, which included projects several photographers have been doing, Steven Gotz wrote this as a response on Facebook. It really hit home, especially his last line:
The less time I feel sorry for myself, the better off I am.
I immediately caught up to him on an IM for permission to share what he wrote.
Unless you work for a company like Zoom, there is no silver lining to the challenges the pandemic has created. But there are things to have faith in and a reason for hope as things slowly return to some level of normalcy. Our definition of "normal" will continue to be different, as most of us miss the freedom to simply be out and about.
So, Steven, thanks for today's dose of inspiration. This is good stuff, and maybe it'll spark a few ideas with other photographers about things they can do to start rebuilding their revenue stream. Most important of all, as Mark Toal mentioned, photography is a way to keep his sanity!
by Steven Gotz
It is extremely easy for us to start feeling sorry for ourselves. Income streams for many of the best of us have dried up completely. Some may end up giving up on or postponing their lifelong dream of being a full time working photographer. Some may have to go back to the type of jobs they did before they went full time as a photographer.
Some of us are getting mad that we have to wear a mask, some people are outraged at others for not wearing masks. (I am staying in, so far, so no mask for me.)
All this during an election year with many people having to hold their nose to vote.
My personal solution to keeping my sanity is simple. I have been working on projects to help other people. I don't know how creative that is, but it really helps.
As long as it is not about me, I can continue on a lot easier. The less time I have to feel sorry for myself, the better off I am.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Just a few minutes ago I opened an email from one of my favorite people, and an artist I so admire, Jen Rozenbaum. It was called, "A Heartfelt Hug (long distance)."As a subscriber I get everything she sends out, but this email is special as was her sincerity behind it. I'm sharing Jen's email message to all of you, with a very simple, "What she said..."
I decided when I woke this morning that the first thing on my to-do list was to email you. Why? Because it's been a while.
I have good reasons why it's been a while. First, since this pandemic started, I have been swamped with emails, have you? Besides the normal work stuff, my kids schools send a ridiculous amount of emails. It also seems I need a corona update from every single company I have ever bought something from.
I didn't want to be just another stupid email sitting in your inbox. Not to mention, I wasn't really sure what to say! I mean how do you get your feelings across in this crazy time? I thought and thought about it. One word kept coming to mind.
It's what I have based my life and work on. Being open, honest, raw and brave. Today is no different.
I can hop on an email and tell you that I'm killing it home schooling and that I perfected the banana bread recipe that my mom handed down to me. Instead here is the real truth.
As we (in NY) move into our third month of stay at home orders with no end in sight, I am a plethora of emotions. Some days I am terrified. Scared of losing my business. Scared that I am messing up my kids with too much screen time. Scared I will lose energy and momentum in doing the things I love. Scared of my loved ones falling ill or worse.
Other days I feel a sense of peace. I feel the world is right where it should be right now. I feel connected to my family. I have found alternative creative outlets that keep my mind sane. I thank the universe for the struggle because I know that struggle cultivates creativity and strength.
Days like today, I feel grateful. I feel grateful for my health. I feel grateful that you are reading this email. I feel grateful that I trust in myself that no matter what happens, I will figure it out as I always have.
I have been working on some new projects I can't wait to tell you about when it's time. For today, I have nothing to sell. No discount codes. No teaching updates. Just a heartfelt long distance hug and reassurance that we are all in this together.
With love and light,
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and I couldn't be more off-track from photography but not from what so many of us are feeling. Life is out of balance. On any given day, I'm an emotional roller coaster. I find myself feeling angry with a short fuse for what seems to be no logical reason...ten minutes later, I'm smiling, hugging Sheila and playing with the pups.
For the most part, we've stopped watching the news, but we caught the idiots around the country, protesting their right to assemble on beaches and in various state capital buildings. Honestly, I don't get it - during the worst 48 hours for deaths and new cases since the pandemic began, different governors were arguing over whether or not to reopen their states!
So, my world has become very small - it's our home, Sheila, me and two pups. It all works, and I'm grateful for so many things I took for granted most of my life. We venture out to the market, CVS, and here and there to go for a ride. I'm grateful my career morphed into writing and online education, but I'm miserable in missing human contact, a few bro-hugs, handshakes, and face to face time with friends. At the same time, I found myself uncomfortable the other day talking to somebody who wasn't maintaining social distancing!
The challenge initially with sheltering in place was a lack of balance. Everything tilted to being home, and just the four of us...but now we're finding a balance between work and family time. I've mentioned Melody Beattie many times over the years. On Thursday, she had a short piece on balance, and it's perfect for sharing this morning:
The goal is balance. We need balance between work and play. We need balance between giving and receiving. We need balance in thought and feelings. We need balance in caring for our physical self and our spiritual self.
A balanced life has harmony between a professional life and a personal life. There may be times when we need to climb mountains at work. There may be times when we put extra energy into our relationships. But the overall picture needs to balance.
Just as a balanced nutritional diet takes into account the realm of our nutritional needs to stay healthy, a balanced life takes into account all our needs; our need for friends, work, love, family, play, private time, recover time, and spiritual time - time with God. If we get out of balance our inner voice will tell us. We need to listen.
And for those of you who feel God doesn't belong in a blog post, get over it. Feel free to substitute whatever you believe in. The point is to pay attention to your inner voice and don't stop believing in yourself.
For all of us, this is the toughest time we'll ever share/experience in our lifetimes. We can get through this, but it means to accept virtual hugs instead of the real thing, face time on a computer screen, and sharing recipes rather than a meal together. We're an industry with a tradition of working together and watching each other's backs. Rather than let the pandemic push us into withdrawal - it's time to step it up and become more outgoing, and Cyberspace gives us that opportunity.
Wishing everybody a day of peace, good health, and safety. Think about your life right now and if you're out of balance what's missing to get back on an even keel. There's an old African proverb: "Smooth seas don't make skilled sailors." Well, we've all been sailing through the perfect storm for two months, and when this is over, there's nothing we won't be able to accomplish.
by Skip Cohen
For most of us lately, every day is the same, and today is a good example. I rarely post on Saturdays, but something came up yesterday, and it's perfect for many of you during Downtime 2020.
Looking through my emails, I read the online newsletter from my high school, Riverside H.S. in Painesville, Ohio. One of the bullet points they shared was this one:
"Instead of the Prom: In past years, the alumni association has always donated some funds to help support the RHS prom. This year, the prom is uncertain. Instead, the association is donating those funds to a project to give each graduating senior a lawn sign to celebrate his or her graduation. The signs will be handed out to the seniors as they drive through a set- up that will pass out their cap and gown for graduation. This is still in the planning stages but certainly will help the graduating seniors celebrate their success in this unusual year."
That got me thinking about things we can all do to support not only the Class of 2020 but high schools across the country. There isn't a school in America, even before the pandemic, that had all the funding they needed, especially for art programs, including photography. So, here are some ideas to consider:
I'll be the first to admit there's very little I've done in regards to my high school once I left Ohio so many years ago, but right now, the schools need our help. Even if you've got no connection to the community you grew up in, the one you live in now has the same needs for support.
Basketball season, spring sports, prom, graduation - all the programs that created memories for your high school days have been put on the back-burner. But you can help find ways to bring photography into the mix, and many of you have senior portraits captured long before the pandemic. Even Marathon Press has a special BOGO on grad cards.
You owe it to your community and your clients to get off the sidelines and support the schools and the Class of 2020. And if any of you are doing something special, let me know in the comment section below, and we'll add it to the list above.
by Skip Cohen
Wandering through Facebook this morning, I caught this image by Chris Withers in the Facebook Wedding Photographers forum. I immediately put in a call for permission to share his photograph. But just as high-impact as the image itself, what Chris wrote with his post was even more on point:
"Making the most of a crumby situation. This lovely couple was meant to be married this past weekend. Had to change their date. I was inspired to offer the chance to create a photo they could share with friends and family and also to remember this bizarre moment in time. Imagine the stories we will tell looking back. They will need memorable photographs."
If there was an award for optimism during a pandemic, Chris would have my vote! He's taken a "crumby situation" and turned it into a milestone memory-maker. And in the process of walking-the-talk, he's reminding all of you not to lose sight of your ability to continue to create magical moments for your clients.
by Skip Cohen
I've shared a lot of images over the years from various photographers, but this one tops them all!
Wandering through Facebook a few minutes ago I saw a post by Elizabeth Newton, and loved everything about it. Thirty different artists are featured in the image above, and it's the perfect reminder you can still keep in touch with your audience, even when hunkered down!
With the image Elizabeth wrote:
Thirty local photographers got together to spell out a message for our clients.
Quarantine has been hard on all of us. You miss leaving your home and your children are getting antsy. Or you're terrified to leave your home everyday and work on the front lines of medicine, food service and deliveries.
We miss watching your family grow, capturing your moments and telling your story with our cameras. We are doing our part, staying home, keeping our distance and waiting for you. We will see you soon. And when we do, we'll all be healthier and better for it!
Until we meet again.
Look, we're all in this together. I get the frustration at watching your business stall and being restricted to what you can do. But I'm also tired of the "doom and gloomers." You're limited in the actions you can take, but you don't have to disappear!
And to the New England photographers featured in this post...thank you! I'll tell you the same thing I just told Elizabeth when I called to ask permission to share this, "You guys make me so proud to be in this industry!" As business does start to come back, you're building a foundation of energy and camaraderie.
Nicely done, you guys!
PS Here's the link to Elizabeth's Facebook post, which included all the photographers and their websites in the image above.
About the Artists Above
by Skip Cohen
The only thing still consistent for me on Sundays is how much I enjoy writing Sunday Morning Reflections. As I've written so many times in the past, it's therapeutic and often more for my benefit than my readers. Well, needing a therapeutic moment at least once a week is another characteristic of what's become the new normal.
Over the years, I thought I did an excellent job of adjusting to all the changes. I accepted my loss of privacy as my phone suddenly was with me everywhere I went. I learned not to take it personally when somebody was talking to me, and the call was dropped. I adjusted to all caps in an email, meaning somebody was yelling at me. I ate lower carbs. I changed my vitamins each time research showed that whatever I was taking was no longer a healthy solution...on Vitamin E - off Vitamin E etc. I gave up ties, then suits and sport jackets, then accepted completely casual attire. I even tried to like eating Kale!
Life was so easy just seven weeks ago!
I now have five masks to choose from when running to the market. I say hi to neighbors, but I don't always know who they are because of their mask. ( I had my first wardrobe malfunction at the register: My mask slipped off one ear and my left cheek was exposed!) The old Jerry Seinfeld "close talker" episode would now be anybody five feet away rather than the social distancing six. I have to pay attention to the one-way aisles in the store - God forbid I should head up an empty aisle in the wrong direction. And going to the mailbox is a process. I get the mail. Open it in the garage, and make sure I don't touch my face before washing my hands.
But here's what hasn't changed...
My love for this crazy community we're all a part of. Even something as fun as my mask wardrobe for today's post brought out another new normal in my life - playing with Platypod. For those of you who have one, Square Jellyfish makes this great little adapter for your cell phone, which I use for "Facetiming" with family and friends.
And I'm actually talking with friends MORE now than before. We're all starving for contact, and my phone as an instrument to talk to somebody directly has never been more valuable. Just when I finally figured texting out, talking came back.
While I miss real contact, bro-hugs, and a firm handshake, this is the new norm. There's a stronger sense of family and plenty of time to be together, but also time to find plenty of moments for personal thought. We've binge-watched one great series after another, but always together - Sheila, me, and the pups.
There's also never been more support for photographers to expand their skill set. The downtime has created one opportunity after another with programs like QuaranCon, Out of Chicago LIVE going on today, the f64 Lunch Bunch every Wednesday, and the list goes on and on. And, there are some great deals out there with discounts for ongoing programs like KelbyOne and Creative Live.
I guess it's time for my point this Sunday - Business will come back, but until then, you've got to protect yourself, your family, friends, and dig deep for every ounce of patience you can find.
Patience is not the ability to wait,
but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.
This is a time to step outside your comfort zone because it's the only place growth can flourish. Expand your skill set; take time to consider how you can hit the ground running as things slowly get better and do everything you can to stay in touch with your clients and target audience.
It would be an understatement to say what we're all feeling is a pain in the ass, but we really are all in it together. None of us are alone!
So, you know how to hold focus on your subject with a camera in your hands - now it's time to hold focus on your attitude. Keep it together, and on those days when you want to give up and feel weighed down by frustration - besides your immediate friends, there are so many of us out here willing to help - including me.
Wishing everybody a Sunday with more smiles than frowns and hang onto that sparkle you had when you first started in this business. Don't let the politicians mess with your head. Reduce your intake of news and whether you've got somebody there to hug or it's a virtual hug with a friend quarantined miles away - go for it!
by Skip Cohen
Just a few months ago, my definition of a great conference involved floor space, thousands of people, and a venue of outstanding topics with great educators. Well, the pandemic has changed all that, but thanks to the Out of Chicago team, the ingredients for a great conference are all kicking off tomorrow at 1:00 pm CST. All that's missing is the floor space!
We're all going stir-crazy in the absence of contact with other photographers and friends. Fear, anxiety, confusion, frustration, stifled creativity, complacency - all words that have slowly crept into our vocabulary. The truth is, being hunkered down has created its own collection of symptoms and often feeling as damaging as the virus itself.
This weekend Out of Chicago LIVE is going to change all that. Excitement, education, creativity, diversity, clarity, and fun all replace those painful words above. "Fun" is one of those words that's been lost over the last couple of months, but it's making a comeback!
With over 600 people already registered, this conference is guaranteed to help you boost creativity with an incredible cast of talent - some of the very best artists in imaging! Plus, you'll find support from the vendor community, door prizes, and great deals to help you expand your skillset during the downtime.
And for those of you who think you're too late because it all starts tomorrow...NOT! Time is the one thing we've suddenly discovered we do have, and here's an opportunity to make the most of it.
Check out the schedule with some of the very best programming in professional photography. It's all just a click away on the thumbnail to the right.
See you on the Chicago side of cyberspace!
by Skip Cohen
Two weeks ago, I launched a new series, "The Hunker Down Photo Share: Finding Joy." The whole idea was thanks to Anne Geddes, who told us on the f64 Lunch Bunch how she's sharing images of "joy" from her followers on Instagram.
So, I sent out an email to fifty personal friends, all members of the photography industry, asking for images of joy. I also invited all of you to share images. We're all feeling the stress and anxiety of the pandemic. You have to work to find joy, whether it's something that makes your heart actively smile now or a look into the past.
Joe Buissink and I have been friends for a lot of years, and when I didn't hear back from him, I sent him an email as a reminder to send me an image to share.
I not only know Joe well but his work. We wrote a book together over ten years ago. But, as well as I know his work, I'd forgotten the smiles his photographs have always brought out.
He sent me three emails, each with a different photograph, and they simply deserve to be shared with all of you. Each image is a reminder of life before social distancing. In all honesty, as sappy as this sounds, my heart and soul needed a lift. It didn't matter that I knew none of the people in any of the photos he sent, only that I could feel the joy.
A BIG thanks to Joe for sharing the images and reminding us how these days might seem far away right now, but working together, we'll get through this. Those moments of joy with friends and family will come back. We need to have faith - and to share Sheila's favorite quote one more time...
Faith...is being sure of what you hope for
and certain of what you do not see.
by Skip Cohen
I hit a turning point this week on several levels, and I'm hoping what pushed me over the "top" helps many of you as well.
A few minutes ago, I read a post on Facebook by a photographer who described her level of depression:
...a lot of it, I think, is due to stress and anxiety over the current pandemic and how it's completely killed business and changed everything. I can't find motivation to even edit.
This has been a rollercoaster of emotion for all of us. For me, I cycle through optimism, anxiety, depression, frustration, sadness...and then repeat the process. You name it, I've felt it. Some of this is a guy thing - It's my job to watch out for Sheila, our home, the pups, my business, etc. But, I'm defending us against a burglar I can't see who's stealing joy and leaving behind a truckload of stress and fear over and again.
Not that I'm entirely home free and back to my optimistic self, but I did turn an important corner this past week and here's what helped me through it:
Look, COVID-19 is no joke, but its impact on America shouldn't have resulted in so many horrible spin-offs. Seventeen million people have lost their jobs, and Congress is still arguing over stimulus programs. How much faster do you think they would have moved if their salaries had been cut and most of them were furloughed?
And that brings me full circle. I'm out of my funk. Sheila and I are following every safety precaution recommended. We wear masks when we have to go out. We maintain social distancing. I wash my hands after a simple walk to the mailbox. We're doing everything we need to do to stay safe. But, if I let the pandemic shut me down completely, then all the doom and gloomers on the misery ship win! That cruise line is far worse shape than anything the Diamond Princess faced, which is where the shock of so much of this started. And by the way:
"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.)" Here's the link to the article.
I've got my focus on getting our joy back, and while I might slip now and then, I'm determined to make it just a speed bump and not shut down the whole highway!
As sappy as this sounds, together we can all get through this!
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!
We've postponed the f64 Lunch Bunch for a few weeks. There's so much going on in everybody's lives right now in terms of help and education. However, we're all still here to help and just an email away.
And if you missed the May 6 lunch with Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell - it's pretty amazing. The video is just a click away.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
The pandemic may have moved the dates for 2020 to August 10-13, 2021, but that's NOT slowing Team ClickCon down. Stay tuned for new programs online with ClickCon Nation! It all starts on August 11th.
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.