When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch you!
Every day starts out the same when you have puppies - there's this silent rush to get them outside, preceded by a small squeal of joy if their bed's dry! It's that feeling of progress and knowing the routine is finally working that sets the tone for the start of the day.
Then comes my business routine, and it's become my standard - the first stop is my in-box, followed by Facebook notifications. The tweet stream is next, then a quick look at my calendar for the day, a stop at my Platypod mailbox, and then I'm ready to start the day, usually with a post.
This morning when I hit Facebook, which starts with "Notifications," I had a couple of complaints from members of two forums where I'm an administrator. If you're not an Admin on Facebook, what we get is a notification that says, "_________ reported 1 post in _________." Then, if you have time, you research what the complaint is about. Ninety percent of the time, it's the result of people being too sensitive. So, as an administrator, you decide to keep the post or kill it, comment to the person reporting the post and finally get on with your life.
Well, one of the reports this morning had absolutely no foundation to complain about. One photographer didn't like the tone of what another artist wrote and decided to call in the "big guns." I kept the post, ignored the report, and chose not to respond to anybody. However, I did go looking for a quote this morning, and when I found the one up top, I knew it needed to be shared.
It might be the "slow season," but that doesn't mean it's slow for you to build your business. So, focus on what's vital in the building blocks to make 2020 your best year ever and stop bitching, moaning, and complaining about things that don't matter! Stop being so sensitive. Give your peers the benefit of the doubt, remembering that the toughest way to express yourself is through the printed word!
If you don't like what somebody said in a thread, unless it's going to have an impact on some aspect of your business, your family, or your life, let it go! Start singing Taylor Swift's "Shake it off," and just move on. And if somebody doesn't like one of your images, listen to their suggestions and then do whatever you think is right, always remembering what my good buddy Dean Collins used to say,
Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!
When Chamira Young and I relaunched this series last summer, we wanted to bring you topics out of the ordinary with guests who are extraordinary. Even though we love the podcasts we've done in the past, we wanted "Beyond Technique" to be different. Inspiration, new ideas, and sharing unique concepts while stepping away from the technique of capturing images was our goal.
Thanks to Platypod, the "Beyond Technique" series is bringing you a different perspective each month about business and life. In fact, it's a lot like Platypod's goal - giving photographers a different perspective and adding more creative tools to their skillset.
Suzette Allen joins us in the December episode, with a topic perfect for wrapping up 2019 and even better to kick off the new year!
Most of you know her as one of the industry's leading educators. She's a photographer, artist, educator, author, blogger, and a great friend to so many people in the industry. The story of how she got started isn't very different from most of yours. What changed was a horrific accident that became an incredible journey of hope, focus, dedication, and spirituality.
I've known Suzette for a long time, but what I appreciate the most about our conversation on this podcast is her ability to stay candid, open, and honest about what she went through. She holds nothing back, which is a big part of what makes her such a great instructor and friend!
I grabbed screenshots of some of my favorite images from her galleries. Click on any one of them to visit her website, blogs, and make sure she's on your radar! She and her husband Jonny are both LUMIX Ambassadors, and you'll find them both at a long list of workshops and convention programs throughout the year. And, check out her YouTube channel. There are 400 different videos covering a long list of topics, each there to help you raise the bar on the quality of your images and the support you give your clients.
"Beyond Technique is brought to you by...
We're proud to have Platypod as an SCU partner. Their products are giving photographers the ability to be more creative and capture images from a different perspective. From the Ultra and Max Platypods to great accessories like the new goosenecks and multi-accessory kit, they never slow down on developing new products.
And a big thanks to Photofocus.com. Always sharing great content to help photographers grow their skills in technology, marketing, and business, Photofocus also hosts some of the very best podcasts in photography! They're just a click away.
All images copyright Suzette Allen. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
This is it gang, the last Sunday Morning Reflections post of 2019! It's been quite a year, jam-packed with a lot of emotional moments. What I started to think about as I was writing was how so many of you look at the close of one year and the start of a new one as a clean slate. The truth is, the only fresh start to the new year and end of the old one is with your taxes. Everything else in life is a rolling average.
As you're thinking about the new year, there is no "clean slate" if you keep doing everything the same way. And, unlike your accountant who can help you with financial decisions, the only one who can truly change the new year ahead in terms of more smiles and less frowns is YOU!
Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams
than you are to your comfort zone.
There it is - the key to what helped many of you in 2019. You started taking your dreams more seriously. You started listening to your heart just as much as your head.
I know for me personally, I found myself working to change some of the self-destructive behaviors I was doing. They were never intentional, but more self-fulfilling prophecies, following the philosophy of - if you define something as hopeless, then it will be. And, I could only let go of that feeling by finding better points of focus on other things I wanted to do.
Here's my point this morning - If you want today to be better than yesterday, than do something different. Stop living life in "P" mode! My buddy Gareth Rockliffe talked about this concept in a Beyond Technique podcast in July. It's worth listening to.
Years ago, back in my Hasselblad days, a photographer came to our booth at PPE. He asked to be set up with everything Denis Reggie used. We gave him the list - camera, lenses, and accessories. He went off to his favorite dealer and bought it all. A year later, he was back in the booth and laid out a stack of proofs and screamed, "These don't look anything like Reggie's work!"
Most of you know this already - it's not the gear that makes the artist. Sure, it contributes, but he'd shot EVERYTHING at the same aperture and shutter speed. He barely understood depth of field, let alone composition, exposure, and anticipating the decisive moment to click the shutter. He never left his comfort zone!
And that brings me full circle to what made 2019 a great year for most of us and how we can make 2020 a fantastic year - get out of our comfort zones.
Wishing everyone a perfect day filled with family, friends, and wrapping up the year with plenty of smiles. 2020 is right around the corner. If you truly want to make it a "NEW" year, think about things you can do differently while listening to your heart more often! As always, go for those long hugs with the people who mean the most to you and stay focused on things that make you happy.
Have a great Sunday or Monday, depending on where you are in the world!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and if you follow me regularly, then you've noticed a pattern of me whining about the puppies and being up at 6:15 am every morning. And while I was always an early riser, Lucy and Belle have created a new pattern in our home. And Sunday mornings, which used to be outrageously quiet with Molly the Wonder Dog asleep at my feet, are long gone - but that's not bad.
I want to go right to my point this morning...we're down to the wire. Christmas is only three days away. Chanukah starts tonight. And the start of a new year is in ten days. What are you going to do to close the year differently than you have in the past? What's the plan to kick off the new year differently than you've done before?
There's that old line about if you do what you've always done, you'll never get more than you ever got. Well, I don't want New Year's day to just me another morning. I want 2020 to be a different kind of year. One of my most favorite quotes from Zig Ziglar goes:
“Your attitude, not aptitude, will determine your altitude”
Here's what I've already started doing:
I've written about this so many times over the years - you've got to feed your brain and your heart with more than photography and business. You'll never keep your perspective if the only thing you feed every day is your stomach!
And there you have it, the way I hope to build a daily foundation that has a routine of predictability combined with a quick super-charge. And if you hate the idea of reading Melody Beattie, then hit google for inspirational quotes, YouTube for motivational videos, or pick a few of your favorite artists to follow.
Oh, and there's one more great ingredient - there's always music on in our house. There are five Alexas playing all day long, and our musical tastes range from classical to Celtic Women to James Taylor and Crosby, Stills and Nash - you never know what Sheila and I are going to need to help keep our energy focused.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead, whether it's Sunday where you are or Monday. Make it a day that helps set the stage for the new year, but keep things in perspective. You're only one person, and there's only so much you can do. Most important of all - don't be afraid to ask for help when you seem to hit the wall! Always go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most important to you.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it!"
I've missed a few of the last Fast Food Friday posts, but the "kitchen" of the SCU Diner is up and running today with a unique entree!
I started the series to help you with quick ideas to fine-tune your business. The goal was pretty simple, easy things you could do to sustain and grow your business, implement stronger branding, marketing, revenue, and even content.
The majority of you are right-brain creative types, which means you tend to ignore the operational side of the business but love the challenge of creativity. That's great, but you can't ignore what it takes to run and build the biz!
Today's Fast Food Friday is all about finding your "why." Even the artwork I chose up top is symbolic of the challenge. Notice how most of the question marks are the same? They represent all the other photographers out there - but the one that's different is you. You've got to make yourself stand out. You've got to make yourself different from your competitors.
You've Got to Find Your Why
This past week at a Board meeting of the Sarasota's Senior Friendship Centers, the CEO shared a video with us. The SFC is a multi-million dollar nonprofit here in Sarasota. We provide two-hundred thousand meals a year, health services, adult day-care, places to socialize, primarily for senior citizens.
As I watched the video, I couldn't help but think about my own business and in turn, yours. If you haven't read Simon Sinek's book, click on the link to the right. In the meantime - think about your why. All of you know what you do for a living. You also know how you do it. But have you ever thought about why? Are you sharing that message with your target audience?
For example, dozens of times in the past few years, I've talked about the message on your about pages. I've written about people not caring what awards you've won, how long you've been in business, or what gear you shoot with - "Mom" wants to know why you're a photographer. She wants to see if you can be trusted to capture photographs of the people most important to her. Your about page is one small step towards sharing your why.
Please take the time to watch this video, and trust me - it'll start you on a life-changing journey, or at the very least, business changing!
by Skip Cohen
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It's a purely American holiday, becoming way too commercialized but still, a time of family, friends, and a reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.
Over the years, as my life has changed, the number of chairs around the table has gotten smaller along with the menu. However, that doesn't change my appreciation for my life. At the risk of being sappy and sounding like a bad acceptance speech at an awards show, a big part of that appreciation is thanks to all of you.
While I still have days when I don't know what I want to be when I grow up, the one consistency is how grateful I am to have all of you in my life. Whether we've met in real-time or cyberspace, I'm thankful for your support, feedback, and your never-ending passion for the business of capturing memories.
And, to remind you of the pure joy of the career path you've chosen, once a year, I share the video below. The quality is terrible, but it's good enough to listen to and watch. If you've seen it before, take the time to watch it again, and if this is your first time, just enjoy it! It's the singular greatest explanation of the importance of imaging.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving - Time with the people you love, and time to kick back and smile.
I spend a lot of time looking at images, especially on Facebook. Now and then, one just catches me.
With the image above, it's just an old freighter on the water in Port Huron, Michigan. My podcast co-host, Chamira Young, posted it on her Facebook page, and I love it. And while she has no idea I'm doing a post about it and sharing it, my point isn't really about her artwork, but about your growth as an artist.
We're an industry where you can never kick back and rest on your laurels. You've got to keep experimenting and pushing the edge of the creative envelope. With the image above, Chamira wrote:
Yes, I need therapy. Art therapy! Funny how photography and digital art tend to intersect when I need a good ole' dose of creative elixir. It calms me down. Below is an artistic rendering from right here in Port Huron, produced from a photo. So many scenic places in this town. Fun!
While I do love the image, it's the process I appreciate the most. Put that together with the fact that Chamira NEVER slows down, and you've got all the ingredients for a growing career in imaging!
And one more thing to remember - no matter where you live, images are waiting to be captured and turned into art. So many times over the years, I've heard people from small towns, the midwest, etc. talk about how there's nothing to photograph in their area. Usually, it's a comment made in reaction to somebody's stunning images from the coast or mountains.
I know it sounds sappy, but there's beauty all around us - you just have to take the time for the "therapy" to help you stay grounded and remember why you became an artist in the first place. I can guarantee that Chamira wasn't thinking about the challenges of her business when she took the time to be creative!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Last April I met Kevin Kuster. The meeting was online, and all thanks to the kick-off of ClickCon in Chicago, where he was a keynote on the first day of the show. Since then, I've shared a few of his images and the words he pulls together to create each masterpiece.
This morning I caught a post of his on Facebook. He was on his way back from helping to make the world a better place through Watts of Love. I always text, IM, or call him for approval to share his thoughts in the SCU blog but today, I decided to take the risk and just post.
It's one thing to capture/create a stunning image, but it's another skill set altogether to write something that moves us as much as the photograph.
I watched movies. She slept.
I chose beef.She chose vegetarian.
I drank a coke. She drank water.
I kept my hiking￼ shoes on. She removed her sandals.
I got up three times to stretch my legs and use the restroom. She never left her seat except to let me pass.
I have a small tattoo on my ankle. She has henna all over her fingers, hands and wrist.
I kept my over head light off for the entire 9 hour flight. She was the only passenger to keep her overhead light on ￼for the entire 9 hour flight.
I have traveled the world and been to many countries. This was her first flight.
I have learned we are all more alike than we will ever understand.
We all want to be loved, told we are special, laugh with our friends, provide for our families and know that our lives matter.
I am a recorder of ordinary moments that contain the extraordinary complexities of life.
We are created equal but torn apart by comparison.
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people
by Skip Cohen
At least once a year, I write the same post about the rules of engagement. My feeling for the need to share it, again and again, is always the result of a battle in a Facebook forum that went off-track. It would be so great if wannabe-trolls just had a button on their computer to push before posting a comment.
I'm one of four administrators in one of the larger Facebook forums. A couple of weeks ago, I got sucked into being a playground guard with "kids" who weren't playing nice. I commented on the thread and suggested they grow up, but we all know that isn't going to change their behavior.
So, I'm going back to a post from a few years back and suggesting we work just a little harder on what should be the rules of engagement. The original post was more about personal attacks on other photographers, but I want to expand it to Facebook and social media threads too. And, while most of you don't need to be reminded, give me hand with people who just don't get it.
And whether in social media or live in ANY industry:
I know this post doesn't apply to most of you, but feel free to share it with somebody who's forgotten! Or as my buddy, Levi Sim has said, "Act as if your grandmother's watching!"
I don't usually quote Queen Latifah, but I got a kick out of this quote. I guess it's a matter of your priorities:
A lot of people are crazy, cruel and negative. They got a little too much time on their hands to discuss everybody else. I have a limited amount of energy to blow in a day.
I'd rather read something that I like or watch a program I enjoy
or ride my damn motorcycle or throw back a couple of shots of tequila with my friends.
It's Sunday morning, and while I always go off track from business and marketing, I'm staying in photography. Most of the time, I never know what I'm going to start writing about. As I jumped online this morning, there it was - a Facebook memory shot of me, Sheila and Robert Vanelli, AKA "V" or "Vanelli."
Ever had somebody come into your life and after just a few months, you can't remember when they weren't in it? For me, Vanelli is one of those people. With a heart as big has his three consecutive world champion titles in Karate back in the eighties, it just feels like he's always been there for so many of us.
Then there's the Kevin Bacon degrees of separation game and so many people come back to Vanelli. The same happens with photographs.
I needed a new shot for the crew at ShutterFest for my speaker banner in 2018. Headed to PPE last year, I asked Vanelli if he'd grab one for me. A few minutes after this shot with Sheila and me, he got the image I needed. It later became my headshot on my Facebook page.
Then there were the antics that happened at the same time - nothing beats giving noogies to a good buddy, especially when he could take you out with one swing. Andrew Darlow captured the fun and sent me the image. Next came the bobblehead joke for Sheila, based on my new headshot.
Last on the list; there's the common denominator of our mutual love for photography. Vanelli and I had never spent any quality time together. We'd been to a dinner or two, but after catching up to each other at trade shows for a few years, I suggested a boyz weekend. I invited him to the house for a couple of days in October of 2018. That's where the friendship and laughs escalated to a relationship I cherish today.
It was also at that time he captured two photographs that would become part of my collection of priceless memories - me and Molly the Wonder Dog.
And that brings me to my point - great friendships don't just happen. While they might start by chance, to flourish, they need an investment of time - real-time - not cyberspace. Social media is fine for keeping touch and sharing, but it's the phone calls and actual time together that brings the real quality of getting to know new friends.
Little did I know at that first meeting with "V" that he'd become such an inspiration, source of smiles and laughter, and most important of all a quality friend. We all wear multiple hats and live hectic, often insane lives. But trust me on this - nothing beats relationship building with great people. Commit to bringing more quality time into getting to know people you respect. You'll never regret it!
Wishing everybody a day when time represents an investment in good solid friendships. We're an industry involved in capturing memories and making intangible moments tangible. We capture them for clients all the time, but today I'm suggesting "charity starts at home." Make those memories today, just for your own heart! And, as always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs.
Happy Sunday, everybody...and yes, Happy Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
"Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams
than you are to your comfort zone!"
Just about every morning at 7:30, I tweet a quote to kick off the day. While I hope my followers find them inspirational, the search for a great quote is as much to start my day as it is yours. So often, I find quotes that get me thinking about the day/week ahead. It's like stretching before working out.
The quote above was shared this morning, and it got me thinking about so many different aspects of education, networking, marketing, business, and life. Yeah, all that coverage from just one sentence by an unknown author!
Here's my point to this short post. When we were kids, we all had dreams of what our lives would be like when we were older. Then, over the years, experience and our perceived reality put limitations on our goals. We let go of some dreams and hung on to others. Now we're adults, and our visions for the future are often limited by other responsibilities and the many hats we wear. We prioritize what we're going to do next.
Well, we all still have our dreams. At the same time, we let our comfort zones limit ourselves. In photography, it becomes especially apparent when you're headed to a conference, convention, or workshop. We all like to stay in our comfort zone, whether it's our skillset, new products, applications, or meeting other photographers.
This week is PPE in NYC. Then, in two and a half months, the convention season explodes with IUSA, WPPI, and a long list of state conventions and conferences. Give your dreams priority and step out of your comfort zone into areas to help you grow as an artist and business owner. Take the time to meet the staff at vendors whose products/services you use, but also get to know companies who are new to you. Make it a point to walk every inch of each trade show.
And when classes are offered, attend a couple of programs completely outside your expertise. Here's a great example: When I teach, I'll often ask for a show of hands of anybody who does tabletop work. Very few hands ever go up, especially if the audience is mostly wedding photographers. Yet, the hardest tabletop shots of all are great cake and ring shots. Imagine how wedding artists could expand their skillset, taking a few macro classes!
In the history of photography, there have never been more creative tools at your fingertips than today. They're in new products, techniques, and services. They're all supported by people excited to introduce you to new ideas and directions to help you grow as an artist!
Plan each trip to every convention you can attend. ALWAYS step out of your comfort zone. Don't be a you-snooze-you-lose artist when there are so many opportunities to grow!
If work isn't fun, you're not playing on the right team!
by Skip Cohen
The Fast Food Friday series is all about tips to help you build a stronger business. The posts are meant to be short ideas - sort of quick tips to fine-tune your skillset, but as a business owner. This morning I'm going a little off track on business but not on your career.
Suzette Allen and Jon Yoshinaga have been here for the last couple of days, taking a break from the Bubble Trailer Light Tour I've written about so many times in the previous six weeks. As they leave today, I head to Latrobe, PA, for my buddy Terry Deglau's memorial service. Stay with me, because there's a great connection.
While my mind has been flooded with stories I want to share tomorrow about Terry, it occurred to me how much fun we had together over the years. Well, that brought me to this very minute, hanging out with Suzette and Jonny. They were here for a couple of days, and we did nothing except relax, talk, and enjoy the time we were able to have together.
And there's my point - having fun in what you're doing is as important as your skillset as a photographer. In fact, it's at the very core. But fun doesn't just happen - it takes work! You've got to take the time to have fun. You've got to recognize burnout. You've got to use those who-wants-to-be-a-millionaire lifelines and phone a friend.
During his years at Kodak, Terry and I simply had fun, but we worked hard to make it happen. We often tagged on extra days to several conventions - including driving Ansel Adams' Cadillac into Yosemite for three days with a trunk loaded with Hasselblad gear and Kodak film after PhotoWest many years ago.
And, as always, we had a blast with Suzette and Jonny this week as they hit day forty on the road for the tour. In the process of laughing and enjoying each other's company, new ideas bubbled to the surface, even a short conversation about the definition of success. It's not really about fame, money, or your skills, but about being happy in whatever you're doing, especially when it's just for you.
Here are some easy suggestions:
Work to put "FUN" into your business life. And, don't let your business interrupt the time you need to have with family and friends.
Have fun, work hard and money will come. Don't waste time - grab your chances.
Have a positive outlook on life. When it's not fun move on.
for a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life.
but there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first,
some unfinished business, time still to be served, a dept to be paid.
at last it dawned on me that these obstacle were my life.
this perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness.
happiness is the way. so treasure every moment you have
and remember that time waits for no one.
happiness is a journey, not a destination.
by Skip Cohen
Many years ago I published a series of posts based on the wisdom shared on refrigerator magnets. The quote above has been on our fridge for years, but I hadn't noticed it in a long time. When I read it this morning it hit me how there's no expiration date on the thought - happiness is a journey not a destination!
No need for me to write anything more about the concept.
In January 2018 we kicked off the year with a great podcast series, sharing insight into the business and marketing of photography with some of the most respected artists in the world. The sponsor for the series, while liking the concept, decided they wanted to do something different on their own in 2019, and the series was put on the back-burner.
Working together with my co-host Chamira Young, we decided recently it was time to bring back the series and "Beyond Technique" is off the back-burner. And the heats turned up to HIGH with great guests and insights that go well beyond the business of photography.
This week Kevin Kuster joined us with some incredible insight into how his career has progressed and the importance of giving back. "Watt's of Love" is changing people's lives, and in the process Kevin Kuster's ability to be a phenomenal storyteller is in the spotlight. As I said in my intro on the podcast - "He's changing the world one light at a time!"
And if you missed our first podcast in the relaunch of the series, check out our podcast with Gareth Rockliffe. Just click on the banner above. This episode is clearly beyond technique!
Catching up on a phone call a couple of months ago, Gareth mentioned an idea he's had about the spirituality of imaging as it blends in with the way we live our lives.
"We start our lives in "P" mode, and as we get older, we spend the rest of our lives trying to get out of it!"
As kids, we're all pretty much put through the same process. We're given a foundation to live our lives by including always coloring within the lines. As we get older, we start to pursue other interests, ideas, and ways to live our lives. As we gain more experience, we also challenge the system, often coloring outside the lines.
Gareth is a talented artist and writer. I hope as his conversation did with Chamira and me, he'll get you thinking about how to enrich your life and take more time to step out of "P" mode!
A big thanks to Photofocus.com for the platform to share great insight provided by these terrific artists. Check out all of the podcasts on Photofocus - you'll never be disappointed!
Every time we think we're out of new "blue-plate" specials in the SCU kitchen, another topic comes along. This one is all thanks to questions that came up at ClickCon earlier this month from new professional photographers. It starts with developing your skillset, but then comes the biggest challenge of all - building brand awareness, or quite simply getting your name out there!
Remember why I started this series - to give you ideas to build a stronger business! Most of you are right-brain creative types with too little focus on growing your business. Many of you don't think of yourselves as small business owners. Even if you're working for another studio, imaging is a career choice that lends itself to freelance assignments, and you're ALWAYS building your brand.
These days, it's not who YOU know, but WHO knows you! So, I've put together a list of ideas to help you get recognized.
Twelve Tips to Getting Your Name Out There!
Too many of you think there's nothing you can do to build your brand until you're open for business. Relationship building is your strongest marketing tool - so, set up time every week to be building your foundation of awareness - beyond your skill set.
Tony Corbell, one of the most recognized photographers in the industry once told a story about when he first got started. "I might not have been the best photographer in town, but I was determined to be the nicest!" Tony's never strayed from that practice!
With the exception of when I'm traveling I post a quote on Twitter every morning at 7:30. I rarely load up social media in advance because I like starting the day with a few inspirational quotes. It's sort of like warming up before you jog. I came across this one a few minutes ago:
"Giving up on your goal because of one setback is like
slashing your other three tires because you got a flat!"
Last week I taught four different presentations at ClickCon in Chicago, including a three-hour evening program called "Midnight Madness." The Heart of ClickCon planning committee put together an outstanding schedule of classes, one of which has never been done before.
They put together a day of workshops before the conference kicked off, for the models, stylists and makeup artists. They're always behind the scenes and so important to a successful photography conference. At the same time, each one of them is a small business owner and need the kind of help each of you need as photographers.
Between all the photographers who were new to the business and the models/makeup artists, there were a lot of people I met who were on the edge of being frustrated because they "haven't made it yet." That's what got me thinking about today's quote.
Here are a couple of the most important things I've learned in my career: The definition of success is a moving target, and you NEVER give up on your dreams.
Success: My definition of success today is all about loving what I'm doing. Waking up with a smile on my face, excited about the day ahead has priority over everything else in terms of business. That definition has also changed over the years. The younger I was, the more important my income was. But that doesn't change how much I wish I'd realized how important good old happiness was. I would never have changed my goals, just the path I might have been on at times.
Dreams: Another quote I found says it all. While it might seem easy for me to say as the old guy here, I have plenty of dreams still left in my stash. We're all work in progress, and I'm no exception. I never lose focus on my dreams - just change the routing of my journey when it's necessary.
If you don't build your dream, someone else will hire to you to help them build theirs.
Tony Gaskins Jr.
The key to staying focused on your dreams is a combination of listening to your heart and surrounding yourself with positive people. Listen to everybody's advice when it comes your way, but then give your heart the final vote. Living your dream is an investment of time and patience, but at the same time, you have to recognize your growth.
So, for those of you frustrated because you haven't "made it yet," look back a year ago and recognize how far you've come! As small business owners, regardless of whether you're a photographer or not, you can't create things that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in the game!
It's Marketing Monday! I'm using the new ClickCon conference as an example of why photographers need to attend every possible convention they can - INSPIRATION and NETWORKING!
INSPIRATION: I rarely, if ever, catch the keynote presentations. However, over the last few months, I've shared several posts thanks to a new buddy, Kevin Kuster. He was the 7:00 am kick-off speaker, and after a long day of travel yesterday, I was considering sleeping in! Well, I'm so glad I made it to his program. While my shot of the room at the very start of his program looks like there are a few empty seats, it was packed about fifteen minutes later.
What I love most and I think the crowd felt the same way, was how open Kevin was in talking about his career and then his life-changing involvement in Watts of Love. Kevin's presentation was so relatable as he talked about burning out and not even owning a camera when his son was born. We're all on our own personal journey, but Kevin reminded everybody of the importance of my favorite quote, "To thine own self be true."
As he progressed through the milestones in his work with Watts of Love, each slide was packed with a reminder of so many things we all take for granted. As part of this year's ClickCon event, giving back is a theme with the Watts of Love Silent Auction and an opportunity for everybody to give back and help provide light to the 1.8 billion people in the world who live in darkness the minute the sun goes down.
And under the umbrella of "inspiration," were Kevin's images. Each image was a reminder of how photography can help change the world. Kevin's the ultimate storyteller, reminding all of us of the power of a photograph or video.
NETWORKING: Last night, I had dinner with the Panasonic LUMIX team. In just the walk to the ballroom where Kevin was speaking, I caught up to dozens of photographers and people I've met at other conferences. I wrote about the importance of catching up to old friends and making new ones in yesterday's Sunday Morning Reflections.
Great energy is contagious! And the air is filled with a lot of enthusiasm, excitement and a never-ending stream of reminders of just how special this industry is. There's a common theme of working together and it's amazing.
Yesterday I did a one-hour presentation on business and marketing to a room of models and makeup artists. It was an all-day event for this important group of support people who are behind the scenes at virtually every photographic convention. This morning at 10:00 I'm doing a presentation for new photographers on how to get their business off the ground. And I've got two more programs tomorrow, including "Midnight Madness" from 9:00 - midnight. All along the way, I'm going to be meeting new photographers and learning. Education, even as a presenter is a two-way process. I find I often learn just as much from the attendees as I hope to share with them
And that brings me full-circle. Your growth as an artist, business owner, and for that matter, a human being is dependent on interaction with other people. If you're looking to grow in virtually any capacity, you've got to hit the road and attend every possible conference and workshop you can work into your schedule!
This is indeed "fast food" today, but that doesn't make it any less relevant.
I started the series to give you quick ideas on how to fine-tune your business. Some topics have been more complicated than others, but each one has been relevant to some aspect of building your reputation, brand awareness and efficiency.
Today's "blue-plate" special ties to your business, your clients, and for some of you your personal life and other relationships. So many of you have lost the art of communicating. I'm not talking about the talking side of the equation as much as learning to listen. And when I use the word "listen," I'm also talking about paying attention to what you read as well, especially in the volley of comments back and forth in Facebook forums.
Here's the point today - you've got two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk.
Five Tips to Help You Be a Better Communicator
I added this book to my library recently, and while it was published in 2012, there's nothing dated in author Jim Smith's approach.
One section that caught my eye was about developing your listening skills, and I want to share a few of my favorites, which so many of you ignore:
They're five simple tips that all fall under the umbrella of learning to shut up. And from my own style and personality, at times I'm guilty of all of them. However, I'm work in progress and honestly trying to raise the bar on my listening skills.
What I find I do too often, along with so many of you, is immediately jump in and start talking. And, while it's not rude, the process absolutely is. Instead of listening to whoever was talking to me, I've tuned them out to formulate my answer the minute they're done.
So, the next time you're having a conversation with somebody, think of those five points above. You might find what I have, in our rush to respond; we've lost a big part of the true art of communicating.
Click on any image above to listen to this new podcast!
by Skip Cohen
The Beyond Technique podcast became a favorite right from the start when we launched the first one in January 2018. When the focus on business changed with the sponsor earlier this year, we put the series on the back burner. A few weeks ago we decided to bring it back and crank up the volume!
This first new episode is especially relevant because the topic is so unique. It all started with a friendship with fine art and landscape photographer, Gareth Rockliffe. He's no stranger to SCU having been part of the Photodex series Building Your Business in 2015 and an episode of "Why?" two years ago. Catching up on a phone call last month, he mentioned an idea he's had about the spirituality of the craft as it blends in with the way we live our lives.
"We start our lives in "P" mode, and as we get older, we spend the rest of our lives trying to get out of it!"
Now, take a second and think about that statement. As kids, we're pretty much put through the process of learning to color within the lines. We're taught to appreciate/respect the "system," and do things in ways that are expected of us. As we get older, we start to pursue other interests, ideas, and ways to live our lives.
Gareth is a talented artist, writer, and shared a lot of wisdom on this new podcast. And, I hope as the conversation did with Chamira and me, he's about to get you thinking about how to enrich your life and take more time to step out of "P" mode!
Click on any of Gareth's images below to visit his website. I pulled a few of my favorites to share in this post. His galleries are stunning and no image is ever captured in "P" mode or for that matter the way he lives his life. What a kick to have him join us on Beyond Technique!
A BIG thanks to Photofocus for the platform for both Beyond Technique and Mind Your Own Business! Check out both series along with the InFocus Interview Show. You'll never be disappointed.
Today's post title is a quote often credited to Dr. Phil. However, it's a question I've only recently begun to understand. It's making a huge difference in my life, and just maybe it'll help a few of you.
I'm a right-fighter and grew up in a whole family of right-fighters. Whatever the cost, if we're right we'll fight down to our last ounce of energy to prove a point. We're little trial lawyers always on the side of justice! But now it's time to define the value of justice: It accomplishes nothing to prove a point if the energy and pain of the process cost more than the accomplishment of winning.
On a large scale in terms of Facebook, here's a perfect example. I was just on an IM with a photographer who was frustrated over a thread on a blog post on Facebook Wedding Photographers. I'm an administrator of this 36,000+ member group.
An image was posted that demonstrated one of the challenges in photographing a wedding - he made some suggestions and was slammed by a few people who wanted to flex a little and act like trolls. He did the right thing - he pulled his comments and stepped out of the conversation - obviously recognizing that trying to be helpful was a waste of energy in this discussion.
People aren't always this way in the forum. Most of the time there's a reasonable exchange of ideas and helpful suggestions, but there are some of you out there who feel your opinion is the ONLY one that matters. You'll argue the point, waste time, and energy on something that just doesn't matter - you know a moo-point, things that cows think that nobody cares about. (One of the all-time great lines from Joey on Friends.)
The bottom line is, there are times when it will accomplish nothing to explain yourself, argue a point, and waste energy talking to somebody who doesn't want to listen. And if you're a right-fighter, it's so hard to walk away. Trust me on this though - when you step away, that smile on your face comes back along with your creativity and energy! For me...I'd be rather be happy than right!
Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.
Wishing everybody a terrific Tuesday and plenty of time with the positive people in your life.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry this past August.
The dates have been announced for 2020 at the Palmer House in Chicago. August 11-14!
What a kick!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.