by Skip Cohen
I wish it was mandatory for EVERY small business owner to pay more attention to building a stronger brand based on exceeding consumer expectations. So many of you underestimate the power of exceptional service, not just to create a more substantial business but to sustain it.
This is a short post in the continued series of Friday cleanup ideas - One of the very best tools you have to make 2023 your best year yet is your database of past customers.
A few years back, I stumbled upon groovehq.com. It was packed with statistics supporting the importance of Customer Service. And how it was presented made so much sense - unlike statistical sites that could put a rock to sleep. For example, I pulled three key points from their information:
There is NO substitute for excellent service, and nothing will improve your brand more. It's about more than great products and on-time deliveries but the entire customer experience. It starts and ends with you!
How can you exceed expectations and make yourself habit-forming?
by Skip Cohen
We've all grown up knowing the importance of a good breakfast, but we rarely think about feeding our minds daily. Sheila and I have a couple of motivational books we read each morning. And yes, we read these short pieces out loud to each other and talk about what we just read. While to some of you, it might seem a little hokey - it helps us both focus and know what we each have on our plate for the day ahead.
My reading this morning was perfect for this topic:
by Emily Silva, Sunrise Gratitude - Before you begin your day, take some time to plan the way you want your day to go. Allow your mind to focus on this intention and visualize how you can incorporate it today. See yourself as you want to act, respond, and communicate. As your day progresses, remind yourself of your intention. An intention can be a guidepost for each day. If you feel off course, remember your vision and act, respond, or communicate from the guidepost.
Happy Hump Day!
“Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home...
it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.”
by Skip Cohen
WARNING: SAPPY ALERT!
Ever had a day that just started out perfect? Welcome to my Tuesday - and while I'm not questioning the day so far, I am trying to understand the ingredients that have me so content and simply happy. I'm off on a quest...
I know it's sappy, but life is good and way better than the alternative! LOL
No pun intended following "Idalia" last week, but this really is the calm before the storm. Thanks to Labor Day, it's a short week, and holiday seasonality is still a little way away. That means you have time to do a little fine-tuning on this year's promotional efforts.
Last but not least is all of you...Barring the frustration of dealing with Facebook's algorithm and the continued challenge of how they now limit our reach - so many of you have contributed new ideas and feedback through IMs, email, and phone calls. You're responsible for a big part of my smile every morning when I get out of bed.
Thank you for your support, feedback, passion for the craft, and especially your friendship.
You can only become truly accomplished at something you love.
Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing,
and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you.
Habits for Wellbeing
by Skip Cohen
Wandering through cyberspace, I follow hundreds of photographers each year. Put them together with IMs, phone calls, and catching up with friends at various workshops and conventions, and there are hundreds more. The younger the artist, the more they're focused on the numbers - especially bottom-line dollars.
It took me years to find a definition of success. I've learned that it's waking up every morning smiling and excited about the day ahead. I won't deny the financial side of business is essential, but it took me years to realize that being happy helped me stay focused on all my goals.
"You can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it."
And there you have it - if you stay focused on what you love to do and capture/create images that move people, your reputation will grow, along with brand awareness, and the business will come. But the quote below from Mark Twain takes it all one step further.
"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born
and the day you figure out why.”
None of us can go back and change our lives, but I'm suggesting you learn from my mistakes - focus on what you're most passionate about and then figure out your "why?" Keep the negators in your life on short leashes and don't let anybody stand in the way of your dreams.
by Skip Cohen
Every morning Sheila and I share a quick reading of something inspirational. We each have a different motivational author, and whatever we read is always short and to the point. Mine really hit home this morning, and I want to share it with you.
WHAT IS YOUR SUPERPOWER? There are many things that we are good at, and our superpower is the one thing that if we didn't do it, we would feel a void in our life. This is the thing that you're passionate about, that people come to you for. Tap into your inner power and find the things that keep you from sharing your talents. Do less of what drains your power and more of what empowers you. - Emily Silva, Sunrise Gratitude
Short, sweet, and to the point...so, what's draining your power that takes you away from being able to focus more on what you're most passionate about?
by Skip Cohen
Because I love the illustration from Adobe Stock above, and it makes me smile, I'm going to stay with doing a "Hump Day" feature. It's too much fun not too! I'll do my best to keep it light and continue this series of quick thoughts to help you through the back half of the week and build a stronger business.
Years ago, I did a podcast with Matthew Jordan Smith as my guest, and we talked a lot about special projects.
Special projects help you stay focused on your creativity. This is especially important when your bread-and-butter business isn't as glamorous as you had hoped. A unique project allows you to be in complete control and can be virtually anything you decide to capture.
And you never know when a special project can become something bigger than you planned. Special projects can become exhibits, gallery shows, books, and even new businesses. For example, Matthew's book Future American President was based on an idea that was part of his life for at least three years before publication.
Most important of all is a special project helps to keep your sanity! Special projects help you stay focused on your passion for the craft beyond whatever pays the bills. When did you last shoot for your most important client - yourself? So often, what might have started as a just-for-the-fun-of-it idea evolves into something more focused and substantial.
Well, it's Hump Day, and the rest of this week is perfect for finding yourself a special project involving your skillset, camera, and unbridled creativity.
Perfection is an illusion.
If we keep waiting for the stars to align, we will reach the end of our lives regretting that we never tried.
Stop the waiting game and take action toward the change you want.
by Skip Cohen
It's Wednesday, hump day, and If you think about it, there really is no middle of the workweek any longer. The expression started in the 50s when Saturday was a coast day, and no businesses were open on Sunday. Today most retailers run seven days a week. Plus, if you're a wedding and event photographer working Friday - Sunday, there is no "coasting" into the weekend.
Still, and probably just because I love the illustration above from Adobe Stock - I'm going to keep it light and start a series of quick thoughts to hopefully help you through the back half of the week.
After making a big change in their life, we've all heard people comment, "I wish I had done it years ago!" Change doesn't come easy for most of us, and big changes are always slow, depending on the risk involved. In business, especially, there's a lot to consider.
But the challenge so many of us have is finally taking that leap of faith to make a change. Whether it's big or small, we procrastinate too much through the process. The point is, we're looking for perfection - exactly the right change.
One of my most favorite quotes is thanks to Zig Ziglar:
If you wait for all the lights to turn green, you'll never get started on your journey!
There's my point - stop chasing perfection, but don't slow down on continuing to set high goals. Whether it's running your business, working with clients, raising the bar on your skill set, or simply recognizing what it takes to make you smile every day - all you can do is your best. And if there's something slowing you down then just like a garden - it might be time to do a little pruning!
"I'm careful not to confuse excellence with perfection.
Excellence I can reach for, perfection is God's business."
–Michael J Fox
Happy Hump Day!
by Skip Cohen
I'm unsure why this is on my mind today, but so many of you haven't done a fire drill since grade school! And very few of you have ever bothered to think through all the negative "what-ifs."
Murphy's Law is: If anything can go wrong, it will. Then there's Murphy's Second Law: Murphy was an optimist!
Here's my point - if you were ever in a car accident or even a minor fender-bender, you were incredibly cautious for weeks or months afterward. But over time, you got back to your old habits. The same thing happened through the pandemic, and now, as things go back to normal, we've stopped paying attention to some of the details of doing business that came out of being hunkered down.
So, here are a few questions to answer as you do your own fire drill:
While they all sound so similar, the common denominator is that something happened that you just didn't plan. Take the time and do a few fire drills - You never know when Murphy is going to come knocking on your door. Hopefully, never, but you're working too hard to build your business and not be prepared with backup plans.
by Skip Cohen
Note to self: Don't stay in your home office when you're having a new roof installed!
That explains why I'm just getting around to posting this morning's post at 3:45 PM! But it's short and doesn't change the sentiment or, I hope, my ability to make a point.
Every morning, Sheila and I read something short and inspirational from two books we picked out for the new year. As hokey as it might sound, it often sets the tone for the day ahead. Here's one that hit home for me just a few days ago.
What do you want to accomplish today?
There is a full day ahead with a fresh canvas for you to paint a beautiful picture.
What will it look like at the end of the day? Consider what needs to get done
and sprinkle in something nonessential and memorable.
Our days aren't supposed to be a list of tasks...
Emily Silva, Sunrise Gratitude
And while usually, this would be a topic for a Sunday Morning Reflections post; it's relevant to most of us every day of the week. We get so over-focused on the challenges of running a business that we need to remember to add in a few things that most people might consider nonessential.
Listen to just about any Mind Your Business or Tamron Recipes podcasts, and you'll repeatedly hear some of the industry's most respected and successful artists discussing the importance of special projects. For the most part, they're projects that started just for the fun of it but evolved into support for your most important client, YOURSELF.
That brings me to wrap up with a point - if your day wasn't as stellar as you hoped, take a break right now. Step back and think through when the day started to go downhill. Then set tomorrow up with something to break up the tasks for the day.
This is all about putting a smile on your face and keeping passion in focus. You all know how to focus your camera, but sadly we all forget how often we need to focus our hearts!
Should we wear our most expensive outfit to a mud fight? Why then do we continue to place ourselves in jobs, situations, and relationships that ruin our peace, health, and self-value?
Acts of Faith
by Skip Cohen
There's a difference between playing in the mud and getting stuck in it. (Although I've never understood the concept of trashing the dress!)
Usually, I'd save making a point like this for one of my Reflections posts on Sunday mornings, but that quote above hit home for me. I've had several conversations with photographers over the last few weeks, who were all unhappy with their business choices. Each one had the same underlying challenge - their declining self-value!
I've written so much over the years about the importance of surrounding yourself with positive people, friends, and associates who share your passion for your goals. In every specialty in imaging, from still photography to video and from macro to landscape, your creativity comes from a combination of your skill set and your heart. You can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it.
We're still in spring seasonality, down to graduations and Father's Day, and then the summer gets quiet for some specialties and very busy for others. Here's my point:
If you're unhappy with what you're doing, then change things! I'm being simplistic, but we're also an industry of people who watch each other's backs. We're all here to help each other, and you don't have to be miserable, waking up daily to watch another little piece chipped out of your self-esteem.
Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line.
They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown.
Often, just starting the process will boost your self-esteem. The whole idea is to stop putting yourself in situations that impact the peace in your life, your health, and how you feel when you look in the mirror. And if you're stuck - you know where to find me for help. Just send me an IM on Facebook with a phone number and I'll do my best.
by Skip Cohen
Once a year I share the "Live Forever" Kodak video. Why? Because everybody in this industry needs to listen to it. The image quality isn't very good, but that doesn't change the short film's impact. Fortunately, you can find anything on YouTube - it was posted by Ricardo Azevedo sixteen years ago.
Ignore the quality of the video, move your chair back a little from the monitor and then just listen to the dialog. It's outstanding. It's the perfect reminder of how important imaging is in everybody's life. The two comments below really sum up everyone's feelings when they watch it.
One of my favorite moments is the kid looking at the shot of Muhammad Ali. That really is Howard Bingham who was Muhammad Ali's biographer and good friend. Sadly, he passed away in 2016.
If you've seen it before - trust me and watch it again. It's so well done. Every time I've watched it, I feel the same way...proud to be in this industry.
by Skip Cohen
A big thanks to so many of you who commented or hit the "like" button in the various forums where I shared this yesterday. Hopefully, you'll like the second half just as much. Part II gets a little more personal and goes beyond the rules of engagement, hitting on a few basic concepts.
The bottom line is simple - it's a long post, but pick the highlights that work best for you. And remember, we're ALL work in progress!
11) Never use the word "fail!" Don't be afraid to admit you screwed up, but the truth is "fail," "failure," and "failed" are all self-fulfilling negative words. You're dead meat the minute you use words like this. If you tried something and it didn't work – all that happened was that it didn't work. If you hadn't tried anything at all, then you'd be a failure.
So, strike the word from your vocabulary and get your internal spell-check going so that all derivatives of the word fail are removed. Success is about taking chances; failure is just part of your journey. As long as you learn from each situation, nothing can ever be a failure.
12) Recognize when you're on overload. Anybody with kids knows the signs of a sugar low. As adults, we're no different; we never outgrow that sugar-low mood swing. What does change is that as we get older, we're not only susceptible to a real sugar low, but we react the same way when we've just got too much going on. So you've got to take a break now and then and stay grounded with those things most important in your life.
13) Only claim your own work as yours - And don't share somebody else's work without permission: There's been a lot of talk in our industry over the years as some pretty well-known photographers have been caught using another photographer's images and text. If you can't come up with a concept on your own to write about in your words, then either ask for permission and quote the source or forget it! And when you're shooting behind your instructor in a hands-on class, stop claiming it's your image and sharing it in your galleries. Instead, take what you learned and apply it to your own photographs.
14) Keep in contact with friends. We all get busy. We all lose touch, but it's worth the effort to keep in touch with friends and people you've met who share your passions. And don't forget your network - Your network takes work to maintain, and you need to communicate with the core members regularly, not just when you need help.
14B) Keep in touch with your immediate family! I made this its own category, because it's so easy to forget the people closest to you. For example, Sheila can't know why mood swing just went south if she doesn't understand various aspects of my business. So, whether it's your spouse, partner or roommate - don't forget their stake/investment in your life. Share what's going on in your business with the people closet to you.
15) Listen to your staff. Your business is growing, and as it does, you'll bring on more people to help. You might outsource to other vendors. All these people, directly or indirectly, become your "staff." Learn to include them in discussions about your business and listen to their suggestions. You don't always have to incorporate their ideas, but at least let them know their input is valuable and is being considered.
16) Be realistic with your deadlines. Deliver on time or even early. Nobody is interested in your excuses if you come in late.
17) Be on time! It's pretty simple – show up when you're supposed to, regardless if it's a meeting with an associate or a client.
There's a great story about business writer Tom Peters many years ago. He was hired to speak at a conference of airline executives. There was a lot of angry tension in the room when he showed up ten minutes late. He opened with one comment, "By all your standards, this is an on-time arrival!"
18) Get to know your vendors. As a professional photographer, you need a great lab, an album company, a frame company, a reputable equipment retailer, and a marketing/planning resource. And, within each one of these vendors, there are additional resources with people there to help you succeed in virtually every aspect of photography.
But here's an engagement rule when you're at a trade show or convention: Don't be a stormtrooper! There's nothing more aggravating than when working a booth at a busy show, somebody interrupts your conversation to introduce themselves. It's okay if you want to talk to that person, but make an appointment in advance or simply wait your turn.
19) Be careful what you say and to whom! We're a relatively small industry. We all go to the same rubber chicken dinners together. I've been caught a few times at conventions, talking a little too loud in a restaurant and unaware of who might be sitting at the next table. Remember, you never know how many degrees of separation there are between the person you're talking to and the person you're talking about!
20) Unless you're willing to accept responsibility for a rumor, don't pass it on! Around year six of my twelve years at Hasselblad, I heard a rumor I traced back to a retailer that I was about to be fired. When I confronted him directly, he refused to tell me his source, yet he passed the rumor on to one of Hasselblad's salesmen. The rumor was absolutely not true. I found out later it was started by an employee who was simply mad at me. I was there for another six years and made it a point to remind the retailer every year that I was still on board.
21) Be involved in a charity and your community! I've written about this so many times – you're looking for your community to be good to you. Well, you have to be good to your community. It doesn't matter what you do to give back - even if it has nothing to do with photography. The point is to be involved as a business owner in your community.
22) Act like your grandmother is watching! It's a great quote from a photographer and good friend, Levi Sim. I use it most often when people can't seem to be nice to each other in some of the Facebook forums. So much of everything I shared yesterday and today is built on a foundation that most of our grandmothers wrote!
23) Don't just shoot for clients. My buddy, Terry Clark, wrote a few years ago: "Take Pictures for the love of photography. So many photographers I know, only pick up the camera when a paycheck is attached. What a shame. You need to keep your eye fresh. Musicians practice so they're ready for the performance, and athletes train for the big game; why in the world would a photographer not take pictures to keep their eye inspired and in tune?"
My list yesterday and today isn't meant to be all-inclusive. There are plenty more I could add to the list. I know it sounds pretty hokey, but we've all got the ability to make 2023 a year of peace, goodwill, growth, and fun. Remember "fun?" It's a word that's too often lost under the stress and baggage of running a business. But, with minimal effort, we've got the potential to make this year a sweet one!
And in terms of your business and personal life - exceed expectations and make yourself habit-forming! This applies not just to your clients but family, friends, and associates!
by Skip Cohen
I hate long posts, but now and then, it's necessary. However, I've written this first round with numbered bullets to highlight each point. I will have accomplished my goal if you only read the highlights.
While the Internet is partly responsible for many of the challenges, social media can't be blamed for bad behavior. Wannabe trolls hide behind the anonymity of their computer screens and send out a barrage of negativity they'd never have the nerve to share in person. At the same time, we tend to react quicker, especially when somebody challenges something in which we deeply believe.
There's nothing like the imaging industry. While we have our share of challenges with technology, the economy, and the changing face of consumer trends, with the exception of modern medicine, there isn't another group of people on the planet who have given the world more.
So, while I'm calling this the "Rules of Engagement," it's also my personal wish list of how I'd love everyone in the industry to interact with each other!
1) Follow Through: I'm tired of people and groups who promise us one thing and then never follow through. We're all guilty now and then, but a few people out there just don't stay focused. There's a big difference between forgetting to do something and never following through on what you promised. It's one thing if it's just between business owners and staff, but it's critical when you don't keep your promises to your clients and target audience.
"It takes roughly 40 positive customer experiences to undo the damage of a single negative review." Inc. Magazine - now think about that in terms of a customer who's upset that you missed getting back to.
2) Never Compromise on Quality: Whether it's an image posted on your website or just one of the hundreds in an album – if it's not your best work, don't show it. Nobody ever hired a photographer because of the number of images in their galleries! But QUALITY goes beyond just your photographs and videos - it's time to review all aspects of your business, from your website to your social media presence to your involvement in the community.
3) Don't be afraid to ask for help! It's one of the most important on the list. You're part of an incredible industry, and so many people are willing to help you through the challenges. But we can't help if you don't ask! So stop thinking everything you do needs to be a solo flight!
4) Don't be afraid to experiment! Now and then, you will have to go with your gut and try something new. If it doesn't work, you've got the opportunity to change and start again. But if you wait until everything is right, you'll never get going! Zig Ziglar is responsible for one of my favorite quotes,
"If you wait for all the lights to be green, you'll never get started on your journey!"
5) Call people back! If somebody has left you a voice mail, they deserve a response. Even better, use your phone now and then instead of email! It's called the back to your roots plan. I've blogged about it in the past, but a phone call rather than an email to a client or just about anybody can have an incredible impact. And if you've called somebody and they've returned your call, but you weren't available - don't let that return call slip through the cracks. Sometimes it's hard to avoid a volley of phone tag, but don't make it a habit.
6) Don't be greedy - but don't undervalue your work either: Price your products and services at a level in line with your market. Share the profit and the accolades with those people who have helped you grow. If you want to be a miser, realize you'll spend most of your life alone, even when people act like they're with you. However, at the other end of the spectrum is ensuring you don't undervalue your work. Remember ALL of your costs and price your work with a respectable margin.
7) Make your handshake mean something! The pandemic is behind us, and we're all back to shaking hands. But sadly, the younger generation seems to have forgotten how to do it right. My grandfather and father did business their whole lives on a handshake. I realize thousands of attorneys out there will tell me I'm nuts, but for the most part, I'm still doing business the same way. Sadly, we live in a litigious world, and you need contracts, but the symbolism of eye contact and a firm handshake still speak volumes. The same goes for the tone of your voice on a phone call or with Zoom, Skype, etc.
8) Smile More Bitch Less: It's that simple. Everybody has challenges, and there will always be somebody who can top your story about being miserable. But, even more important – if you're miserable, think about a plan to change whatever is dragging you down. And smile when you're on a call - it really does make a difference - you can usually tell when somebody you're talking to is having a great day or simply doesn't want to talk to you.
9) Surround Yourself With People You Respect. My grandmother used to say, "You're judged by the company you keep!" Photography and business are just like playing tennis with somebody better than you. Your game gets better as well. Look for people to bring into your network who complement your weaknesses. It'll give you a stronger "game." Success isn't exclusively financial - it's about your personal and family values, integrity, and keeping your skill set at the highest level.
10) Never Stop Learning: Technology constantly changes, and consumer trends are only a short step behind. You need to attend every workshop and convention you can. Take the time to watch webinars and listen to podcasts and READ. You've got to be on top of every change in your profession to be the very best. Never let your skill set stagnate, and remember - you'll always learn more outside your comfort zone!
I know it's a long post, but I'm still going tomorrow with Part II, which will get a little more personal. Here's my point: We're in an incredible industry - the job of helping people capture memories. If we work together, we can raise the value of that process and have more fun at the same time.
"Fun" is one of those words that's too often lost today in business. It's buried under the baggage of stress and poor communication. But it'll take so little to raise the bar and increase how often we smile each day. And as simplistic and naive as that sounds - what a kick if we do it!
by Skip Cohen
Up until IUSA, I only knew Kevin Dooley a little. However, we share a lot of mutual friends, attend the same conventions, and we've been saying "Hi" in passing for a long time. We caught up in Nashville, and I've been following him on Facebook.
Our growing friendship is a perfect example of why you need to attend every conference/convention you can. It's all about meeting new people, building a stronger network, and getting to know other photographers better. IUSA next year is in Louisville, January 28-30, 2024. Put it on your calendar, and then make it a point not to let anything get in the way.
I wanted to share Kevin's post for two reasons - First, it drew me in. For years I remember my good buddy Don Blair talking about capturing emotion in portraiture - and it didn't mean each subject had to be looking straight down the lens barrel! The same applies to critters, like this mother/child shot of Kevin's from South Africa.
Meanwhile, while Kevin's images are stunning, what he shares with each one is just as unique. So to Kevin's point in his post - think about everybody and everything that's made you who you are today. It's an incredible group of people and experiences, and each has contributed.
Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in Ulysses, "I am a part of all that I have met." The reverse is just as true.
by Kevin Dooley
I certainly have my times when I look to the heavens above with no way to hide the questions of my being who I am. If only I had less sensitivity, would I be able to float through life with a much calmer and happier heart. If only my skin was as thick as leather and even the harshest of unkind words could never leave even a scratch. If water rolled off my brow and I never spent another moment wondering if people like me. Imagine how much easer life would be.
Yet I also ask myself if I were a bit more harsh, a bit more of who cares, that's not my problem, would I see what I see in the world with the same understanding? Does goodness, expression, love, kindness, and caring come from being aware of the other ends of the world? When I look for a photograph, I look for my experiences, my feelings, my expression. So I suppose all that we are made of has its goods and its difficulties. Ever ask yourself what makes you who you are?
Note: Kevin and Tricia Dooley own IDUBE Photo Safaris. If you're looking for an incredible adventure, check out their website and follow Kevin on Facebook.
Intro by Skip Cohen
I posted the short post below a few years back. It was written by my good buddy, Scott Bourne, and initially, it was one of the first posts when we launched the SCU blog. What l love about his posts over the years is there's rarely any spoilage. They're not like a carton of milk with an expiration date!
But along with the wisdom in the post below, he once referred to photography as the "great equalizer." It doesn't matter who you are, your gender, race, financial status, or where you're from - your images are judged on their own merit.
As you start ramping up for spring seasonality, are your images the very best they can be? Every client deserves the best you can capture. The only way you get to that level is never to stop learning, experimenting, and keep taking those photographic leaps, Scott refers to!
PS: Since I'm betting many of you don't know who Garry Winogrand was, enjoy the article from 2011. Again, there's no expiration date on inspiration!
by Scott Bourne
The great and prolific photographer Garry Winogrand used to say you should be risking failure every time you raise your camera to your eye. By that he meant if the scene looks familiar to you, you’ve probably already taken a similar photograph, so try something new. It may not work, but when it does it can take you to the next level. I find that I have to push myself all the time because I lapse into familiar habits: shooting from eye level, same lens to subject distance or comfort zone, don’t move around enough or shoot enough variety.
We have no excuse for not taking photographic chances with digital, it doesn’t cost extra and there’s nothing to lose and extraordinary pictures to gain. So take a look at your stuff, if you’re seeing a lack of variety and similar photographs, grab your camera and take a photographic leap….
Intro by Skip Cohen
This post only needs the shortest introduction because Kevin Dooley has shared his thoughts on a topic everyone can identify with. Sadly, it can be challenging for some of us to live by. So trust me, and read his guest post below, which he recently shared on Facebook.
In terms of knowing Kevin - he needs to be on your radar! Kevin and Tricia Dooley own IDUBE Photo Safaris. Click on Kevin's image above to visit their website. Based out of New Mexico, if you've met them, you easily understand why they're considered one of the premier companies in photo adventure safaris.
Kevin and I have been saying hi to each other for many years at various conventions but never found the time to talk. But at IUSA, I was able to meet both Kevin and Tricia, and while our time together was short, they epitomized the definition of passion for the craft, combined with the building blocks for a great friendship.
Spending time with them is one more reason why everyone needs to get out more! The recent IUSA convention was one of their best. Great programming, lots of new faces, passionate vendors, and excitement in the air. Lots of time to network and catch up with old friends while meeting new ones! Next year's show is January 28-30 in Louisville, KY. Here's the link - YOU NEED TO BE THERE!
A big thanks to Kevin for letting me share his post beyond his FB page.
by Kevin Dooley
One of the things I talk of in my programs is the value of forgiveness. The opportunity of second chances and hard earned lessons. I touched on this thought this last week as I spoke in Nashville. I find it to be a very important part of maintaining creativity. A mind free of sadness and negative thoughts is a mind that has space and time to be creative. To find happiness.
I suppose I don't know a single soul that has not made the occasional mistake. In fact I would say some of the best people in the world are those who have learned a lesson or two. Of course some lessons come the hard way. Imagine being so perfect that you never make a single mistake, you never have the need to learn to be a better person.
What if there were no second chances given in life? What if you took everyone else's opinion of another person and never had the opportunity to develop your own? I have no doubt that some of the best friendships come from forgiveness and the ability to give out second chances. Or better yet to have the opportunity to make your own opinions without the help of gossip, jealousy, or a difference of opinions.
Gossip and misunderstood opinions are simply killers of great opportunities to learn and spend time with some of the most talented and wonderful people in the world. May I never fall prey to the inabilities of forgiveness, the cold hearts of no second chances, or overlooking my own ability to discover another. I can only think of the many many great people and friendships I may not of had.
Please may my heart be loving, kind, and giving. May I have the guts to find my own opinions. May I be brave and clever enough to stick up for the underdog when the gossip gets thick and muddy. For I know that so many amazing people are just a moment away from being great friends.
by Skip Cohen
Field of Dreams is one of my favorite all-time feel-good movies. Being at IUSA this past week, I was thinking about the incredible spirit and excitement of the crowd. People were pumped to be there - all looking for ideas for the new year and answers to the big questions, "What do I need to grow my business? What do I need to build?"
Well, that took me to both sides of my title above.
There is no reason not to follow your heart.
First, you've got to get the fear of failure out of your system and go for it. Follow your heart to start, and you can modify the journey as you go along. But sadly, too many of you live in a state of fear. You're dominated by overthinking the challenges with a side order of worrying about the outcome. So, you procrastinate your next steps and ponder the meaning of life until you've missed window after window of opportunities.
Second, what if you build it and they don't come?
When I left Rangefinder/WPPI in 2009 to go out on my own, Sheila said to me, "What are you afraid of?" My answer was instant, "Failing!" Her response was, "So what?" The more we talked, the more I realized that if things didn't work out going in one direction, nothing was cast in concrete. I'd rethink things and take a different route.
Ironically, what I wanted was what I respected in so many of you - your passion as entrepreneurs. It was easy for most of my career to work for other companies, but when it's your own business, it's a true test of your focus and dedication.
It's Friday, and perfect to leave you with one more thought:
"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people."
The bottom line - Build your dreams, and if they don't come, take a closer look. Figure out what you missed and then stay focused on the next "turn in the road." And if you hit a wall - build a door, knock it down, or climb over it!
by Skip Cohen
I rarely post on Saturdays, but Sheila and I are both Melody Beattie fans and I want to share an excerpt from what she wrote for today.
The journey of a year is drawing to a close. Cherish the moments, all of them, even the ups and downs. Cherish the places you've visited, the people you've seen. Say good-bye to those whose journeys have called them someplace else. Know you can always call them back by thinking loving thoughts. Know all those you love will be there for you when you need them most. Honor the lessons you've learned, and the people who helped you learn them. Honor the journey your soul mapped out for you. Trust all the places you've been. Make a scrapbook in your heart to help you remember.
There's really nothing more I need to add.
Happy New Year!
I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us...
If we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice,
it will tell us the right thing to do.
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and we're definitely in the final stretch of 2022's seasonality. At the same time, some of you are still trying to make key decisions regarding promotions, partnerships, community involvement, and more things to bring the year to a solid close.
Here's my point, and it's all in the quote above - stop second-guessing yourself and, like Nike's tagline - JUST DO IT! That little voice inside us gets drowned out by all the noise, stress, and confusion in our lives. And while it's simply the way life is - we all wear too many hats, and that little voice in our hearts - the one we should be listening to most often, disappears in silence.
It's just a short thought this morning. Listen to the voice in your heart and let yourself be proactive instead of reactive.
Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist.
by Skip Cohen
At the risk of sounding like a Jack Handey clip from old SNL shows, when I read the quote above, it got me thinking about how it applies to our industry. As pros and aspiring professional photographers, you're all in the business of capturing relationships.
And here's one last big one I see every day when I'm wearing my Platypod hat. Eight years ago, Larry T. had a vision of being able to travel without the bulkiness of a tripod but have the necessary gear to capture images that could never be handheld. In fact, the recent Platypod Pros feature on the website highlights forty of the most respected artists in the industry who, every day, create and capture relationships where none previously existed.
So here's my point - so many of you undervalue what you bring to the party with your skills, business, and ability to help your target audience. You worry about the timing of getting more involved and reaching out. You've got the passion for the craft, and you've spent plenty of time fine-tuning your skills, but taking that jump into the public eye and building relationships is risky.
Here's one more thought based on an old proverb:
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago.
The second best time is now.
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.