"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude!"
by Skip Cohen
I wandered by this billboard in my travels to and from IUSA over the last week. I didn't know a thing about the sponsor, but I liked the message, and it's so true. And I did wander to their website just now and hit a couple of uplifting videos.
But when it comes to uplifting, I'm not sure anything could be as uplifting as the IUSA convention. This isn't meant to be a long drawn-out post about attitude, But Zig Ziglar's quote above really says it all.
Nothing could demonstrate Ziglar's point better than the crowds at the show this week. Platypod had a booth, and we were busy, non-stop right up to the last minute. And most of the other exhibitors I spoke with had a nice flow of traffic as well.
In terms of the attendees, people were excited to be back out and in personal contact. Zoom meetings have been great to keep in touch, but it's not the same as being with live people. While masks came off in the restaurants, various dinners, the bar, etc., for the most part, everyone was respectful of the relevant health issues.
People were hungry to talk to the vendors, instructors, and each other. Plus, it seemed like a younger crowd than I'm used to seeing at PPA conventions, which was outstanding. It was a good mix of photographers just starting out combined with those more established, as well senior veterans.
When it came to a strong platform of education, PPA covered all the bases. The class selection was terrific, plus "Networking Avenue" on Sunday evening, gave attendees a chance to enjoy various demonstrations, and ask questions of the speakers in a more informal environment.
Last but not least, as an exhibiting vendor, because the show was smaller than past years, although PPA managed to give the show a big feel with 80-90 companies represented, attendees got time to talk to each company. It was definitely a time for network building.
The shot below was the Pixel Connection booth on the show's last day. They were mobbed every day with non-stop traffic.
So, circle the dates for 2023 in Nashville, January 22-24, at the Gaylord Opryland. And if we can get the covid issues into the rearview mirror a little more, it's going to be another outstanding show. Platypod chose its booth for next year, and by the end of the show, the 2023 trade show floor was on its way to looking pretty good!
by Skip Cohen
Many years ago, Sheila and I visited the butterfly exhibit at one of the Cleveland Museums. It was my first time, and it left an impression on both of us, along with the desire to someday have a butterfly garden. Moving to Florida gave us that opportunity. We built the butterfly garden almost six years ago, and now, depending on the weather, we see butterflies nearly every day.
Yesterday I grabbed a shot of these Monarch caterpillars feeding on milkweed. It reminded me of being in Las Vegas over the years, with groups of us hitting the legendary seafood buffet at The Rio. At one point, seven caterpillars were munching away. It's hard to believe they turn into the stunning creature below.
Okay, so that's the backstory, but watching these guys got me thinking about what we've all been through over the last two years. That, in turn, brought to mind the quote I used as today's post title.
Here's my point, it's been a challenging year for everyone, both professionally and personally. But, sometimes you can't appreciate where you're going without a look in the rearview mirror and giving credit to where you've been.
IUSA is coming up this weekend, and I couldn't be more excited to be with old friends and make some new ones. I know it might seem hokey and even tacky to suggest the convention is my "butterfly," but it's simply the way my mind works. Am I a little apprehensive about health issues? Of course, but I've had my vaccines; I'll mask up; never be without hand sanitizer, and I've stopped watching the news. There's already a drop in new cases, mostly the spike from the holidays.
So, whether you're headed to the convention or not, look at the new year as your butterfly. There's a renewed sense of family in this country because of everything we've all been through over the last two years. It's creating an opportunity for photographers to do what they do best - help people capture memories and turn the intangible into the tangible. There are opportunities everywhere to build your business and get revenue back on the right track, from weddings to maternity, children, family portraiture, and pets!
Hope to see you at IUSA!
by Skip Cohen
One of the challenges many of us face is needing something inspirational each morning. For example, while Sheila and I read Melody Beattie every day, I love getting something else. You're missing out on a daily smile if you don't get the StoryPeople email blast. They don't always hit me like this one did this morning, but each one has made me smile. Just click on the banner above for more information.
In the meantime, this is probably one the shortest posts I've ever shared, but I loved today's "Story of the Day."
Happy Hump Day!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and as always, I'm nowhere close to talking about marketing and business. We're coming down to the wire for a year that's been overflowing with stress, politics, misinformation and the list goes on and on. But despite it all, what I love most about this time of year is simply "tradition." Even something as simple as an apple cider scented candle burning in the house makes me smile.
For me, after the insanity of the last year, combined with now being on the edge of another round of Covid issues, I'm hanging on to the pure joy of the season like a life raft! I love this time of year, and it doesn't matter what holidays you celebrate - there's plenty of optimism out there if you let it into your heart.
Okay, so it's sappy, hokey and there are those of you already rolling your eyes over the direction I'm going in, but the only way we're going to get through the garbage that keeps getting dumped on our doorsteps is a positive attitude, combined with some practical action.
I shared a Sunday Morning Reflections post featuring my good buddy, Robert Vanelli, back in October. The issue was the requirement to wear a mask at an establishment he needed to visit and not having one. So, he went and bought one next door at Walgreens - no big deal.
We all have choices, it's how we choose to react to our choice that makes a huge difference.
Here's my point - I love this time of year because nothing gets in the way of my holiday spirit. But I want that spirit to go deeper than just the December holidays. So I'm working on letting it carry right into the new year and beyond.
It's all about self-fulfilling prophecies - which are simply "if you define a situation as hopeless, then it will be." Well, it works for the positive too - if we all concentrate on everything good in our lives and do whatever we need to do to work together. Then we can change the world - well, at least our little corner of it.
Wishing all of you an incredible day ahead and the joy of the season - only let's make the season last. Savor those memories from the past and blend them in with family and friends today. Always go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with those people most important in your life.
by Skip Cohen
I know the title for this post sounds trite and hokey, but I can't think of a better way to express my thoughts on the state of the industry right now. I get that I'll get criticized, but there isn't a comment anybody can make these days that makes everyone happy.
There are still many of you undecided about going to IUSA in January. The issue holding most of you back relates to information from the media about Covid, new variants, mask mandates, etc. I don't know about you, but Sheila and I don't know what to believe these days. So, we trust our doctor, have had both vaccines and our booster, and if we're going somewhere with a mask mandate, we simply put on our masks - no big deal, just a way of life today.
PPA has done an incredible job doing everything they can to help get our industry back on track. Next year is truly a healing and rebuilding year. The IUSA show, from a financial standpoint, has intentionally been designed to run at a loss. PPA has under-written part of the hotel cost for all of us; they've taken registration cost down to the minimum, and throughout the convention, they're doing everything they can to support the industry we all love dearly.
Here's my point - PPA can't do it alone! The responsibility for a great conference is shared by the hosting organization, the attendees, and the vendors! It's everyone, and that's where teamwork plays such a huge part. It's up to ALL of us to get this industry back on track, and while the host hotel is sold out, there are so many alternatives incredibly close by.
After almost two years of insanity, this is an opportunity to network, share new ideas, expand your skill set and recharge your battery to get your business and love for imaging back on track. So, if you're still on the fence...please plan on joining all of us. IUSA is already over 5000 pre-registered attendees, and this is destined to be one of those shows we're all going to look back on with pride at having been there!
See you at IUSA!
by Skip Cohen
Well, it's a typical Sunday morning; the house is filled with music, the pups are coming in and out of my office, Sheila's in her home office, and I'm chasing ideas for a blog post. I love Sunday posts because you've allowed me to run with whatever's on my mind.
I woke up and found myself lying in bed, feeling very reflective about my life. I keep looking at how I got here - not just my career, but living in Florida, living with a wonderful partner, two knucklehead pups, and a pretty remarkable life. Of course, it's not without stress, challenges, the horrible communications with your partner that every couple experiences now and then - but it's a great life.
What amazes me is how I forget those times when things seemed hopeless and how everything worked out for the better. It's that old line about as one door closes, another opens. That's been the story of my life and my career. So many times when things seemed the bleakest, even standing in the unemployment line after the Internet collapsed in 2001 - another door opened.
The past almost two years have been tough for everybody, yet somehow so many of you have grown as artists, business owners, and simply members of your community.
So, here's my bottom line - if whatever you're doing right now seems like an uphill climb and at times almost hopeless - don't lose sight of your ability to find another "door" to walk through. Don't lose sight of your skillset and passion for the craft. And especially don't forget one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes:
Today you are you,
that is truer than true.
There is no one alive
who is Youer that You!
And for those of you stuck in looking back at the good old days - it's great to look back, but we can't go back! So, if you're like me, missing good friends, HATING Zoom, tired of Facetime and Skype, and just wanting to be together with other members of this industry that I love dearly, there's a new year, right around the corner, and it's destined to be amazing!
Stop looking in your rearview mirror and just focus on what's coming up, and to hit Dr. Seuss one more time:
Sometimes you will never
know the value of a
moment until it becomes a memory!
Wishing everybody a day with time to be a little reflective. Don't waste too much time analyzing your journey; just appreciate the people who came into your life because of it. Take the time to smile about all the good times and trust more of them are around the corner. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I always write about with the people most important in your life - because they're the ones next to you your next chapter!
Happy Sunday - make it the best one yet!
by Skip Cohen
Most of us have seen the artwork done by StoryPeople in various shops and galleries over the years. For Sheila and me, we've always found their messages mostly related to us personally or about love and relationships.
Well, I'm on their email list, and I get a new one every few days. But the minute I thought about the message in this week's artwork, my mind went immediately to business.
Right now, most of you are doing everything you can to get your business back on track. You're fighting to rebuild, be creative, and figure out how to best enjoy the upcoming holiday seasonality.
It doesn't matter whether you believe in angels, and you don't need one drop of spirituality to appreciate the message. Here's my point:
It's your imagination and creativity that will carry you through this year's holiday season and, in turn, sales. Coming out of the pandemic, even though we're struggling with politics and fighting to not get sucked back into a second wave - the world really is in the palm of your hand.
There's a new sense of family and just for a second, think about what everybody, especially "Grandma," has missed most - her kids! So, when it comes to the challenge of what to get Grandma this year, I'm not sure there's a better gift than a new family portrait. And if you're not a portrait artist, think about wall art. We've all spent more time at home with limited travel, looking at the same artwork on our walls. It's time to redecorate, and you've got the skillset to meet the needs of your clients.
But nothing happens without your imagination and creativity! Use your blog to plant the seeds of ideas. Talk to the vendors in your network, especially your lab, about unique products. The reality is - angel or not; your community is in the palm of your hand!
Images copyright Andrew Michaels. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
One aspect of the fun of a conference or convention is the people you meet. Today's post is a perfect example with a guest post from Andrew Michaels. We met briefly at ClickCon in Chicago last week, and after the convention, he sent me an email about a unique special project he worked on during the pandemic.
The main idea was to photograph a different train operator at each of the 194 CTA stations. I simply wanted to put a face to the L. I know a lot of people don't even think about it. After showing my friends, I would get texts "OMG I saw the operator at the front of the train!!" And from what the operators told me, it meant a lot to get that recognition...The message I was trying to send hit me harder than I intended. These people really are part of the community, and just like your barista you see every day, no reason you can't say hi and just smile to brighten their day. I got to know some of them, and they are truly amazing people.
There's that old line about "it takes a village." Well, take a second and think about the people in your "village" since the pandemic started. For Andrew, he wanted to recognize the team that kept Chicago's transit system operating - never missing a day of support for the community. And remember, they supported thousands of nurses and doctors who rely on the CTA to get to the people they care for!
I'm a big fan of special projects because they help you focus on essential concepts outside your business. In addition, they help bring out your creativity and spirit, which too often, lately, are buried under Covid's baggage. In other words, they help keep you grounded!
Andrew needs to be on your radar - visit his website and follow him on Instagram.
"Dedicated to the entire CTA organizaton for their consistent dedication keep Chicago moving forward."
by Andrew Michaels
In January 2020, I made a decision to commit full time to photography, spending January offering headshots and February learning squarespace to put the new portfolio online. In March 2020 COVID hit, so my plans came to a screeching halt.
With my studio-that-never-was on lock down, I needed a new creative outlet. I sifted through my phone notes and landed on an idea that I really liked: to photograph a CTA bus driver at every stop as they opened the door looking at the passengers outside. But with about 10,000 stops in Chicago, the “L” seemed like a better option, with 194 stops. In hindsight the “L” was even more near to my heart, given how many hours I’ve spent photographing classic shots like the Merchandise Mart and the Adams/Wabash overpass.
As I went about my work, kicking off each day with my morning coffee, I started to consider how the local barista becomes a friendly face in my morning routine. It occurred to me there's no reason the CTA staff shouldn't be embraced in the same way. It can make such a difference in someone's day to get a smile from a familiar face. I got excited thinking how a collage of 194 different operators could encourage the riders to connect with the workers. At the very least it would literally force Chicagoans to register the idea that these iconic trains don't drive themselves. It’s an obvious but often overlooked fact.
As I went about the project, I was amazed at how many times an operator - who I previously photographed, would appear days/weeks/months later at a different stop. It was serendipitous to see, even with such a sprawling organization, I might cross paths with these people over and over. In fact, the very first operator I photographed, Calvin, was spotted 3 times before I finished the project.
In rail transit, a “meet” is a situation in which a train traveling in one direction "meets" another traveling in the opposite direction. Growing up, I was pretty shy, so my family would encourage me to push outside my comfort zone, stressing the importance of meeting new people. “You never know who you’re going to meet…” implying at any moment, you can make friends with a stranger who may become the most important person in your life years later. On a micro level, this project proves that to be true.
I ended up leaving many of the duplicate people in the final collage to reinforce the lesson I was taught growing up, and during the project- treat every stranger you meet as if you will meet them again.
Sorry, but a blog post doesn't really do the collage above justice, but I know you'll get the idea! Check out “Familiar Faces” on instagram.com/statestreetphotostudio .The posts are more visible and the “Familiar Faces” highlight shows BTS/ video content as well.
Intro by Skip Cohen
I've shared this post several times over the years, and always at this time of year. It's one of my favorite guest posts by my good buddy Scott Bourne. This year after dealing with the pandemic and ALL of us graduating back into a bit of normalcy over the last month, Scott's words are even more appropriate.
His original target with the post was the new artist just coming into the business after graduation, but take a second and think about his advice. We've all experienced some level of hitting the "hold" button over the last year. His advice is the perfect reminder of the things we need to do like marketing, business, technology, and social media to get back into full swing.
We're all never-ending students! And, to Scott's point about relationships - Relationship building is your most valuable marketing tool!
by Scott Bourne
Commencements are coming up all over the country in the next couple months. As someone with gray hair, I can’t help but have a very different perspective on photography than someone of college age. I am often asked what advice I’d give someone just breaking into professional photography. The usual response goes something like this…
“Be prepared for lots of hard work – sales and marketing should dominate your day – show the work every chance you get – network like crazy – shoot what you love – repeat.”
But while that’s all good advice, there’s more I would say if I were speaking at a commencement.
I’d talk about understanding the high degree of importance graduates should place in each and every relationship they engage in during their career. Whether it’s the mailman or the recent client, these relationships are really all that matters. I didn’t know this when I was young and it hurt me…both personally and professionally.
So obsess over gear and f/stops if you must, but if you really want to succeed, pay attention to the people in your professional life. Build solid, long-term relationships with them. Care about them. Help them. Put them and their interests ahead of your own. You never know where that will lead. You might be dealing with that person 30 years later. They’ll remember how you valued (or didn’t) the relationship when you were young. And so will you.
If Scott isn't already on your radar, check out his blog; his website and follow him on Facebook. Plus, check out his field workshop and portfolio reviews.
by Skip Cohen
It's a typical Sunday, and while I'm off-track from marketing and business, my thoughts this morning will hit home with many of you.
One of the only publications I read anymore, which comes in hard copy every week, is The Week. My Dad got me started years ago, and it's my ongoing link to the outside world. In last week's publication in their regular feature called "The Last Word," the article shared profile stories of what people feel after a year in isolation.
The article originally appeared in The Washington Post and was used with permission in The Week. The title of the article was "One year of isolation," and the subtitle says it all:
At the anniversary of the pandemic, said The Washing Post, we have all had to get used to living apart. These are some of the stories of a year in which travel, school, ceremonies, and even touch disappeared.
I'm sharing only the subtitles related to each person in the article to set the stage for my point this morning.
Well, the article was incredibly reflective. It got me thinking about the last year and what I've missed the most. We're an industry built on a foundation of capturing memories. Yet memory-making moments suddenly became so limited. There were minimal opportunities to capture. But for me, most of all I've missed contact with friends.
It's that excitement in the air at a convention and the hugs that come with seeing people you've missed. I've mastered Zoom, Skype, and even Facetime - but nothing beats a live hug. Nothing tops the laughter and pure joy of reuniting with people you love, respect, and have shared chapters of your life with.
But over the last year, the glass was always half full, and in place of that time directly with friends, Sheila and I found we grew a little closer every day. We got to know each other better, and the two pups became a project to maintain the change in lifestyle and loss of freedom.
So, what's the piece of the puzzle over the last year you missed the most?
The pandemic's grip is slowly loosening, and we're getting back to normalcy, but I'm not sure what normal really is after the last year. There's certainly a deeper appreciation for so many things we took for granted.
Wishing everybody a day to recover those pieces of your puzzle you've been missing for the last thirteen months. Make it a day to bring back great memories and, most important of all, more smiles in your life. And let's get back to those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I used to write about.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday, and if you've followed me for even a short time, you know I'm about to run amuck from the topic of marketing. Sunday is my day to step into the world outside business, and with the pandemic slowly (very slowly) moving behind us, I was thinking about how Sheila and I got through it.
Like most of you, we've been isolated from friends and family for over a year. We chose to hunker down and ride out the storm. I have fewer respiratory issues than Sheila does, so I've been doing the food-shopping, typically at 7:00 am on Sunday mornings - before the no-mask wonders show up. We've cooked every meal at home, mastered a couple of fun cooking techniques, and put on the "Covid 15," which we're walking every morning now, trying hard to shed.
Through this entire nightmare, it's time I paid tribute to our therapists, Dr. Lucy and Dr. Belle. I wrote about losing Molly the Wonder Dog in February 2019. Like everyone who loses a dog, I was devastated. Nine months later, we decided it was time to get back into the dog world - only this time it was two fur-balls joining the family.
For the first three months, just about every day, I questioned our decision. Most of the time, Sheila and I would look at each other and say, "What made us think at our age we could handle two puppies?" Then we'd laugh and refocus on training.
When the pandemic hit in full force, the four of us really did become a family. Our days kicked off with getting the girls out, typically our morning walk around the neighborhood, and on and off through the day, it was puppy playtime. They've filled our life with chuckles and an occasional scream - but big smiles every day.
Over and again, I've thought about how lucky we are to have them with us, and the love for these two knuckleheads just keeps growing. I thought our experience was pretty unique until I called our vet to get them in for their annual checkups and shots. I was told that through the pandemic, "Everybody got a pet!" As a result, they're five months behind on available appointments.
That brings me right to my point - our pets help fulfill our lives. While there are no words to describe how much we've missed friends and getting together, our "therapists" have kept us focused on laughing and smiling every day.
Sheila and I got our second vaccine shot this past week, and there's finally light at the end of the tunnel. But over the last year, it was Lucy and Belle who helped us stay focused on our hearts and, in fact, each other.
Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole!
Wishing everybody a day loaded with smiles and hope for the future and a return to some level of normalcy. It's going to be slow, but still faster and the right direction away from what we've all dealt with for the last twelve months. And if you've got a pet therapist, dog, or cat, they deserve a couple of extra treats today because they guided you through the storm.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
We can't always control the timing of our plans, but we can have fun along the way.
Friends don't care if the project is finished; they just want to be a part of the magic of life.
Look at things from a new perspective. Laugh. Be grateful you're where you are at this moment.
Don't worry about trying to hurry the future along. Look for the joy in life now.
by Skip Cohen
Part of the fun of writing Sunday Morning Reflections is simply heading into any topic that moves me at the moment. Well, I just spent almost an hour staring at my computer and thinking. Along the way, there was plenty of procrastination as the pups wandered into my office to play. I got down on the floor to participate in the pure joy of a let's-abuse-Dad moment.
That's when it hit me, how downright awful the last year has been, but how proud I am that we made it through it all. And while it's still not over, we got our first vaccine shot, got out yesterday to the mall, and did a few errands. It was a day of just routine chores, but it was part of Melody Beattie's "magic of life."
Two days ago, we met a neighbor for the first time. We've been waving and nodding to each other for years but never actually talked directly. We were out for a walk, and so was he and his wife. It was great to finally meet him, and as we walked away, I looked at Sheila and said, "Oh my God, we shook hands."
Just go with me on this. Think about the last year and the level of isolation we've all been through. Even though we immediately grabbed the hand-sanitizer when we got home, we'd shaken somebody's hand! It was terrific and seems so damn stupid to write about.
Here's my point - all we've got is RIGHT NOW. It's this very moment in time we need to appreciate. We can't do anything about the mistakes we made yesterday, and spending time wishing we could turn back the clock only wastes the energy we could use to live today to its fullest. I still love looking in my rearview mirror, but only to give me the energy to create more memories.
Two of our honorary "kids" sent us the picture of Sheila and me above. It was an all-u-can-eat snow crab night at a restaurant in Sarasota. The four of us were out together. It was two years ago, and it helps set the tone for today - Smiling more and bitching less.
There's so much we all took for granted before the pandemic. Now is the time to appreciate the pure joy of the littlest things - from a handshake to just a run to the market. Like everyone else, I know I've wasted time wishing things were different. I miss friends, family, and freedom - but as it all slowly starts to come back, I'm not going to waste a minute not smiling.
Wishing everybody a Sunday filled with time to feel great and appreciate the moment - right now!
You can dream a little dream or you can live a little dream.
I'd rather live it, 'cause dreamers always chase but never get it."
"No Regrets," Aesop Rock
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the world. Wherever you are don't waste time on yesterday and tomorrow isn't here yet. Just savor today!
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sail.” William A. Ward
by Skip Cohen
A few months back, Sheila and I got in the habit of each picking a motivational writer and, over breakfast, reading a short thought for the day. While it's not something I ever thought I'd enjoy doing, it's terrific. It gives us a daily anchor, especially through the last year of being somewhat isolated.
This morning, Melody Beattie really hit home, tying into something I've noticed repeatedly with many of you over the last few months.
"There is always someone else to take the fall if our plans don't work out: "I would have been more successful, but the economy was slow this year." "Well, that sounds nice, but my therapist says that I should avoid too much stress." "I wanted to do that, but my husband didn't like the idea."
What a frightening prospect it is to take your life into your own hands, to decide whether or not you will accept full responsibility for all of your actions and choices.
What an amazing - and sometimes terrifying - freedom complete responsibility for actions brings! Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we stumble and fall. But oh, the feeling when ou finally get it right, when you decide to take that step and it works! That when you discover that those fragile butterfly winds on your back are not there just for ornamentation. You can Fly!
Take charge of your life. Take responsibility for your actions. Ultimately no one chooses what you will do but you, anyway. Enjoy the freedom. You've had it all along."
And here's my point: I'm tired of photographers who blame everything on the pandemic. I'm not suggesting business hasn't changed, or for that matter, that revenue didn't disappear. But I'm seeing so many artists who continued to build relationships with their clients, offered support during the toughest of times, and worked to expand their skill set. Now, as things slowly change and we get back a little normalcy, they're in the perfect position to bring back some of the last year's business.
Hunkering down is about your health - NOT about your business! And there's time now to rebuild and regain the momentum you had before the pandemic.
by Skip Cohen
Sunday Morning Reflections has become a significant part of my routine. What I write about is often as much for my benefit as I hope it helps you.
This past week I've been struggling with the pandemic. While I've got this reputation of being the industry cheerleader, and many good things are going on, there are times when it's hard to focus. Like so many of you, I miss time with friends, and I miss the freedom to go out anywhere I want. Zoom, Facetime, Skype - they're all great for keeping in contact, but they don't keep us in touch.
As I sat down to write this morning, I struggled with needing to simply hug a friend. One of those big bear hugs, or bro-hugs, or the hugs I used to write about - long hugs lasting at least eleven seconds and proven to be therapeutic!
Stuck for a topic without sounding like a pandemic victim and whiner, I turned to Melody Beattie. Today, November 22, she wrote a piece called The Magic of Gratitude and Acceptance. Here's an excerpt:
Gratitude and acceptance are two magic tricks available to us in recovery. No matter who we are, where we are, or what we have gratitude and acceptance work. We may eventually become so happy that we realize our present circumstances are good. Or we master our present circumstances and then move forward into the next of set of circumstances.
If we become stuck, miserable, feeling trapped and hopeless, try gratitude and acceptance.
Once again, Beattie came through - and remember, she wrote this in 1990, but the message is timeless. And while you might think it's a little too simple and even trite - we all need a reminder of where to set focus when a camera isn't in our hands!
So, I had a choice - I could remain stuck, miserable, and trapped or look around me and take a big breath of appreciation. It's going to be a strange Thanksgiving this year, but even the pandemic can't take away the gratitude I feel for the life I have, Sheila, my family, friends, two very special puppies, and all of you. That means I have no choice but the winning combination of acceptance and gratitude.
And regardless of how spiritual you may or may not be, Melody's close was so relevant:
Today, God, help me let go of my resistance. Help me know the pain of a circumstance will stop hurting so much if I accept it. I will practice the basics of gratitude and acceptance in my life and for all my present circumstances.
We're all struggling with variations of the same circumstances - leaving us two great options, accepting the challenges in our lives and gratitude for everyone and everything that will get us through this.
Wishing everybody a great day ahead and a pre-Thanksgiving week that helps you stay focused on everything you have in your life instead of what's just beyond your reach.
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and I'm definitely not in my usual mode of being off the topic of photography.
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives and not for the better. But it's also created some unique leadership opportunities in creativity and support to your clients and community. I know it's been an ugly year for virtually every business, but I also know there are ideas out there to help you get back on track and jumpstart your business.
ClickCon Nation kicks off today with an all-star cast, but more important than the educators/speakers is the timing and the topics. For example, I'm doing a program at 10:15 CST called "My Business Has Disappeared, Now What?" In one hour, I'm going to pack in 2-3 hours of material - one after another of things photographers can be doing RIGHT NOW to capture the seasonality in business.
And check out the company I'm with below.
The program is FREE - all you have to do is download the ClickCon Nation app, and you're in. I know this doesn't apply to everybody, but there are too many of you who have been crying the blues over the decline in business and not doing anything about it.
Remember that line of "God helps those who help themselves?" Well, regardless of what you believe spiritually, there's so much help in this industry. But you've got to make the first move - open your mind and join us!
Wishing everybody a day filled with ideas and opportunities to be a leader in creativity and business. The year isn't over yet. As I've written so many times in the last nine months - hunkering down is about your health - NOT about your business.
by Skip Cohen
As my day got started today, I was determined to write about anything but the election results, which will go on for the next few days. So, I decided to finish a post I started a month ago that was sitting in my draft folder.
While I hate writing about anything to do with the pandemic, at the same time, it's the new norm we all deal with. Like everyone, I have good days and bad. I miss time with friends and the freedom to simply go wherever we want, whenever we want.
But there is something that's helping Sheila and me through all the challenges: making a conscious effort to do something fun, even if it's only for a short break.
I've written before about the two new members of the family, Lucy, and Belle. They've been with us for a year. Their crate's now gone, and they have almost full run of the house. They've been instrumental in keeping us focused on staying optimistic. And while the first ninety days were horrible, they're now fully into life with "Mom" and "Dad."
Combining two passions, the pups, and photography, I decided to have a little fun in the water. Lucy's a Mini-Goldendoodle, and loving the water is in her gene pool. Belle's a Havanese and can swim, but she's the princess and prefers to be a spectator.
I set up my LUMIX G9 on a Platypod Max and started shooting video. These were still frames from the video. The video itself was pretty dull and pointed out my need to develop better editing and cinematographer skills. (Click on any of the thumbnails below for more info on my gear setup.)
But here's the fun thing about doing a mini-project like this - it captured a moment I cherish. It's even more relevant as a reminder of the importance imaging plays in our lives, even when it's DIY. Lucy's enthusiasm and trust with "Dad" and Belle's contentment to be a bystander pretty much says it all about their love for the water. Lucy is in, the minute I say "Jump," while Belle races up and down the sides of the pool following Lucy, but won't go into the water.
Here's part of my point today: One of the most respected physicians in Sarasota, at a Zoom meeting I was on, the other day, gave us a little pandemic insight, which I'm paraphrasing.
It's not going away, and the best prediction of a vaccine is now in the Spring. There's a spike predicted in new cases in Florida as the snowbirds come back and bring more than just their suntan lotion. And we were all advised to get our flu shots and follow the rules of wearing a mask and physical distancing.
There's no light switch about to be flipped to end the nightmare of the pandemic, but there is a switch you can turn on and off whenever you need a break from adjusting to the new norm: DO SOMETHING FUN!
Walk away from the business you're working so hard to maintain and do something that makes you smile. It might be a phone call to a friend you miss, taking a walk, looking through old photographs, or taking your camera gear and shooting just for you. If you take the time, you'll find the list is endless, even with the appropriate restrictions.
There are two great Zig Ziglar quotes that fit right now:
"If you can dream it, you can achieve it!"
"Your attitude not your aptitude, will determine your altitude"
If you want to beat the pandemic, don't give up on your dreams. Make time for things you love doing - things that make you smile. Use those core members of your network who you know you best for support, and keep your attitude at high altitude!
by Skip Cohen
This post is a combination of a thanks and an observation about one of the things I love most about being in this industry. It's about how connected we are to each other, and like the six degrees of Kevin Bacon game, yesterday's post was pretty remarkable.
It was Throwback Thursday, and I shared an article from Hasselblad's newsletter in 1987 about Dean Collins. Over the next 24 hours, sixty-four people would comment on Facebook and share their thoughts about Dean.
This is a short post today - here's my point:
I miss Dean a lot. Whenever there's an industry challenge, I think about my old buddy and what he'd say or be doing right now. In 2005, just a few weeks before he passed away, Nick Vedros and I drove down to spend some time with him. His spirit was incredible, and we actually believed he was going to win his battle with cancer.
When I shared the post yesterday, I had no idea how uplifting everyone's comments would be. Each comment brought back a memory and a smile. I was reminded of the reason I've loved this industry and been in it so long - it's the people! As sappy as it sounds, it's the way we're all connected, and the love we all share for the craft and watching each other's backs and the support.
There are no words to describe how much I've grown to miss conventions and contact with so many of you, but the challenges of the pandemic disappeared just a little bit yesterday as Dean pulled us together for some great memories.
So, thank you to all of you who commented and put one of our best in the spotlight again. And to Dean - we sure do miss you, buddy!
You only find out who's swimming naked when the tide goes out.
by Skip Cohen
It's a typical Sunday, and as usual, I'm stepping away from marketing and business, but staying focused on something I've noticed over the last seven months of being hunkered down.
It all starts with one of my favorite quotes above. While there are still a handful of idiots who think Covid-19 is a hoax, most of us recognized early on the necessary changes we had to make in our lives to ride out the crisis. (I'm trying hard to make today's post about believing in yourself and NOT the pandemic.)
I've been surprised by people I respect and have looked up to, who, when the pandemic hit, were "swimming naked." They hit the panic button and withdrew. From not knowing what to do about their business and disappearing, to not having the self-confidence they've always displayed in public. They stopped believing in themselves because so little they've done in the past prepared them for the new way they had to do business.
I'm not suggesting seeing revenue streams dry up isn't a reason to panic. But I think about my buddies Joe and JP Elario. Besides being great photographers and two friends I cherish, their business was almost exclusively weddings and events. But when things turned upside down, JP starting doing Face Time portraits and found a new revenue stream. I wrote about it a couple of months ago.
And that brings me right to my point - the pandemic has changed everything in our lives, but when it comes to business, you have to listen to your heart and not lose your ability to believe in yourself. The pandemic has created some unique opportunities for artists to demonstrate their communication skills and their ability to keep building relationships.
Hunkering down is about your health, NOT your business. You have to keep in touch with your target audience. When this crisis is over, and it will be eventually, people will remember you for the support you shared, by merely being present.
Wishing everybody a Sunday where you kick back and listen to your heart for the day. Take a little time to inventory your internal assets - not your camera gear, but all those great ingredients that make you unique. And as sappy as it sounds, your day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn, Winston Churchill.
Happy Sunday, everybody - do your best to make it a fun one!
I have a single track mind. I work on an idea for a long time.
It's like getting acquainted with a person. And I don't get acquainted easily.
by Skip Cohen
I'm not sure when multi-tasking became a lifestyle, but we all do it, some better than others. At the same time, there's something to be said for people who can appreciate each moment and each project. At the very least, I admire people who can identify those times that deserve to be savored, and NOT thrown into the urgency of the multi-tasking heap!
Sheila brought Melody Beattie into my life, and each morning it's another passage to think about. Yesterday's was below, and the beauty of its simplicity makes so much sense.
Letting Go of Urgency by Melody Beattie
One thing at a time.
That's all we have to do. Not two things at once, but one thing done in peace.
One task at a time. One feeling at a time. One day at a time. One problem at a time. One step at a time.
One pleasure at a time.
Relax. Let go of urgency. Begin calmly now. Take one thing at a time.
See how everything works out?
Note: The image is the view from Georgia O'Keefe's office window from her house in Abiquiu, New Mexico. It's no wonder she loved it so much.
by Skip Cohen
While parts of this post are out of the SCU archives from many years back, with the challenges created by the pandemic, it's even more relevant today!
There must be a hundred quotes we've all read related to determination. Most of them talk about falling down and how quickly you get back up or some facsimile. The more you read the more trite they become. For whatever reason, this one really hit me hard:
"How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win."
Let's call "losing" what we're all feeling with today's challenges and everything outside our control. Although I'm hearing some excellent stories about things coming back, business pretty much disappeared for the last few months.
All of us went into the new year with the usual optimism, anticipating a year of growth for the business, new friendships, and opportunities to expand our networks. WPPI in February was the last live conference any of us would attend for a long time. Like deer caught in your headlights, we simply didn't know what to do!
Here's the critical issue - it's entirely appropriate to be frustrated over everything that's happened. It's been a constant emotional energy drain, but what's wrong is giving up. It's mid-September, and we're about to go into the seasonality of the fourth quarter. You don't have time to be gun shy in today's environment.
Here's are some ideas to start thinking about:
Last but not least, do what you need to feed your own heart and soul. Take this weekend and be a slug, if that's what you need. Build up a little energy to tackle a more positive attitude. Pick up the phone and call a good buddy. Get involved in your favorite forum on Facebook with other photographers. Look for partnerships to promote multiple products, like a photographer and florist working together this holiday season.
I'm not suggesting it's going to be easy, and this isn't about me being one of the industry cheerleaders. Business will come back, and as long as it might take, people are still in need of your help in capturing memories and sharing them!
Good things come to those who believe.
Better things come to those who are patient,
and the best things come to those who don't give up.
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.