"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.
I rarely post on Saturdays, but today is special. I want to share my experience over the last thirty minutes, and remind you of just how special the career path we've all chosen is.
It's June 29 and would be my parents 72nd wedding anniversary. Sheila and I are also celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary. When Sheila and I decided to get married, we chose the same day my parents were married believing it would be good karma. Well, we were right, and even with Mom's Alzheimer's the first couple of years we were married, we still celebrated together.
But our anniversaries aren't the topic this morning, but the fun of a Throwback Thursday on a Saturday. I knew I wanted to write something this morning about my folks - so I started out looking through a couple of old albums. I found the picture above of the two of them on a mini-vacation in 1948. They were with their friends at the Lakeside Hotel in Eagles Mere, PA.
I scanned the images and did a little post-processing on the contrast and sharpening in Luminar and couldn't help but notice a few different "signs of the times."
That brings me full circle to the fun of this morning and a reminder to all of you. The joy of our industry is all about the memories photographs help people capture. But it's also about the fun of the search! Hunting for an old photograph to share this morning put a smile on my face that will be there all day. I found everything from old school pictures to Mom and Dad to my old report cards, and in the process thinking about how lucky Sheila and I were to have my folks around to 88 for Mom and 93 for Dad.
During that time, we were able to share and appreciate their incredible zest for life and the love they had for each other as well as the two of us. I remember thanking my Dad once for keeping an open heart regarding my relationship with Sheila and getting remarried. His response, "When you love someone, you always keep an open heart!"
So, Happy Anniversary to my honey. What an incredible trip it's been and continues to be. Sure do love ya! And, here's to you Mom and Dad - for your love, and all the incredible memories, as well as a big thanks for Mom's never-wavering habit to write on the back of every photograph!
And to all of you - take the time this weekend to pull out an old album and take a stroll down Memory Lane. The older the photographs, the more you'll appreciate the true beauty of imaging - capturing memories and turning them into tangible moments we can hold in our hands and cherish!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Last Sunday I shared a post of Kevin Kuster's, and since then I've been hooked on following whatever he's sharing. He's in Uganda and posts on Facebook each day.
I'm so proud to consider him a buddy, even though that's based on only one phone conversation and a few emails. But, some people cross our paths on this journey we're all on, and you know right from the start they're in your life for a reason. I don't know if we're honestly "cut from the same cloth," or I just hope we are, because I so appreciate the way he looks at life.
We met through ClickCon, and strictly online, but you can be sure when Kevin gives his keynote presentation at the conference on Monday morning, August 5, I'll be in the front row! As I've written so many times in the past, the best thing about our industry has NOTHING to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft!
And to Kevin, thanks for sharing!
We must all try and choose courage over comfort. In life we all experience uncomfortable positions.
It’s how we respond to that discomfort that defines our character.
by Kevin Kuster
Day 8 at the water well.
I woke up late today. I sprinted to the well because I could tell it was the BEST sunrise yet. I missed it. Old legs, weak back does not a sprinter make.
I sometimes miss “it” in life. Some people are afraid of the unknown. I’ve learned to try and embrace it. What we don’t know we must learn to try and understand. An education is never a burden to carry.
When some of the very small children in Uganda see me for the first time, a white person, they cry and are afraid of me. Not because of who I am but, because of the way that I look. For some, I am the first white person they have ever seen. I have been told they’re scared because they believe I may be a ghost.
Whenever this happens I step away, smile bend myself down to their perspective and try and make myself look non-threatening and small. When this happens many of the locals burst into laughter. It’s a moment I have not yet learned to adequately process.
I appreciate all the joy and laughter from the locals but I am also keenly aware that the young one is afraid of my skin and that makes me contemplative.
It’s hard for people to revel who they are. Everyone wants to erase any flaws they see and be accepted. When we start erasing one flaw we need to keep erasing more and more. One of my flaws I struggle with is I REALY don’t like tension between me and another. I especially feel very bad when I mistakenly make the small children cry on these @wattsoflove trips. Thankfully it doesn’t happen a lot.
We must all try and choose courage over comfort. In life we all experience uncomfortable positions.
It’s how we respond to that discomfort that defines our character.
Again, no one came today while I was at the water well. I could only stay for a few minutes. This is the best perspective I could find for today.Thankfully every passer by both young, old, male and female, smiled and waved to me and said, “Ibutu Aber!” Good morning in Lango.
A smile and a wave in any country and culture always reveals the heart.
From Arby's, McDonald's, Burger King to Wendy's, Subway and Chick-fil-A, and more, fast food is part of our lives. They represent a quick bite and a no-brainer when you're hungry and don't have time to put effort into a full meal.
Well, the "SCU Diner" has been serving up fast easy ideas to help you build a stronger business and make 2019 one of your best years as a photographer. There are so many different challenges to being a small business owner, and this series has grown to be a list of reminders of areas to fine-tune.
Most of them have been relatively specific and related to your website, blog, policies, pricing, customer service, and communication. And, these are just a few of the topics we've covered in fifty-eight previous posts.
Today's "blue-plate special," if we keep playing off of the fast food analogy, is more of a dessert item - so think of it as the giant slice of banana cream pie in that glass case in just about every diner in the United States!
Take time to celebrate!
Along with many of you, I'm on LinkedIn. I don't put a lot of effort into it, just enjoy keeping track of a lot of old and new friends and seeing what everybody is up to. Because LinkedIn tracks everything in your profile, whenever an important date comes up, it's broadcasted to your followers.
This week I started getting "Congratulations" messages from people who follow me. In all honesty, I had no idea why anything came up beyond my birthday. This morning I went into LinkedIn to see what they had me listed as celebrating. I had completely forgotten it's ten years since I started my own company!
I incorporated MEI ten years ago and what a trip it's been. I hesitated about going out on my own for a lot of years prior. When I finally did decide it was time I still had a lot of concerns. I've told the story about Sheila's comment many times. She asked, "What are you afraid of?" My answer was without any hesitation, "Failing!"
Well, I've learned there's no such thing as failure if you learn from your mistakes. I've learned to delegate, to trust my gut and listen to my heart. I've learned the meaning of great friendships, thanks to some extraordinary people in my life. Most important of all, I've redefined my definition of success - it's about waking up smiling every morning and being excited about an industry that's continually changing! And maybe most important of all is learning to celebrate.
This week I'm celebrating ten years of running my own business; learning from so many of you and understanding we all have the power to do and be anything we want. It's not just the significant milestones we should all celebrate, but the mini-events in business and our lives.
And here's my point - take the time to appreciate those "Holy crap - I did it" moments. Maybe it's a client who just told you they love your work or a convention where you connected with some new friends. There are moments in all our lives we miss. They get buried beneath the day in day out stress or the baggage from past events and relationships.
Like I wrote at the start of today's post, it's more of a dessert from the SCU Diner than a main course, but it's something each of you has earned. Take the time to celebrate. Take the time to look back at your life a year or two ago and think about how much you've grown!
"The more you celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate."
Intro by Skip Cohen
This is one of my favorite guest posts from my good buddy Scott Bourne. I've shared it twice before over the last ten years. And, while it might be out of the archives, having just returned from ShutterFest a week ago, the topic couldn't be more appropriate for so many of you...RIGHT NOW!
When I left Rangefinder/WPPI ten years ago to start my own business, I remember having a long conversation with Sheila. She asked me, "So, what are you afraid of?" There was no hesitation in my answer, "I'm afraid of failing!" I've shared this story many times in past posts, but it's so timely because there are too many of you letting your fears get in the way.
Many of us, me included, spend so much time dealing with our fears, when in reality failure is all part of the process. First, there's no such thing as failure as long as you take each setback as a speed bump and learn from it. Second, the only time failure truly becomes a reality is when we let it!
“It is impossible to live without failing at something,
unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all,
in which case you have failed by default.”
“Try a thing you haven’t done three times.
Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it.
And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.”
Whether you're new to the business and just starting out or a seasoned pro, it's a great exercise to take some time and look at your business as of right now. Then, think through everything you've learned and consider what you might have done differently. I hate looking in the rear view mirror, but sometimes it's the best way to see the bigger picture of where you're headed.
The best thing about being an artist is your ability to adapt and change at almost any time, but you can't just talk about it. Nobody ever achieved success on a history of good intentions!
by Scott Bourne
My life as a professional photographer started with a great big bowl of luck. I didn't plan to be a professional photographer. It just sort of happened. I lived in Indianapolis at the time and I got a chance to photograph the Indy 500. I got lucky and made a photograph that the wire services picked up, and on my first serious shoot, I was published around the world and made $2000 for one picture. That was pretty serious and astounding money in the early 1970s. I spent the next six years photographing motor sports and realized, hey - I guess I'm a professional photographer.
While thinking about ways that I could potentially help emerging professionals, I thought back to those days and wondered - if I knew what I know now - what would I do differently. The answer might surprise you.
But before I tell you what I'd do differently, let me reveal the first thing I'd do as promised in the headline. Ready?
Here's the first thing I would do:
I would do the first thing.
Nope, it's not a riddle. It's sage advice from no less than Mark Twain.
"The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
Since there are many tasks associated with becoming a professional at any craft, why not just pick the first thing and knock it off your list? Pick anything. Do anything. More importantly, stop planning, talking, dreaming, thinking, speculating, worrying, procrastinating, wondering, contemplating and just START DOING. Do something. Do anything. Just do it. If you don't know what to do first, start with a marketing plan. It's the most important thing you could do. Think about what you will sell, to who, for how much and using what approach. Start there. Start anywhere, but start.
So many of the people I meet, who want to break into the photography business, are far too wrapped up in the mental side of things. They need to get up off the couch and just go for it.
As for me and what I'd do differently?
I wouldn't change a thing - and here's why.
I was too stupid to know I could fail. I was too stupid to even realize that failure was even an option. I was just a boy who had a camera and thought it would be fun to make photographs of race cars and all the trimmings that went with them. I didn't have any master plan. I ended up after that first big sale living in the back of mechanic's vans and car haulers, traveling the world - following the race cars and drivers with my camera. I ended up eating with the pit crews, track stewards and occasionally even the drivers, as I scratched out a living making $52.50 a week - after taxes mind you. I did that for six years and looking back at it now - well it looks like it was a bunch of hard work for very little pay. But I don't remember it as being hard. Back then I thought I was the luckiest kid in the world. Heck I'm still lucky. :)
While I didn't have this in my back pocket then, I do now. It's a quote from an inspiring book by Julia Cameron - The Artist's Way:
"Leap, and the net will appear."
I just jumped into professional photography. I took the leap, and everything worked out because I had the passion, the desire, the patience, the drive, the will and the persistence to succeed.
It's easy to find excuses. Telling yourself you'll probably fail is the lazy person's out. It's harder to actually get out of bed and do SOMETHING. Don't make excuses. Don't plan for failure. Just get busy doing that first thing on your list. Then do the next thing. Then do the next thing. Before you know it, you'll be like me.
Four decades will have passed and people will still be paying you to put a camera in your hand. It's an amazing, thrilling and rewarding career. No matter how much money you get paid. Your experiences - my experiences along the way - the lives we touch - those are priceless.
Now,stop reading this and get busy. Leave a comment if you like telling all of us what that first thing is for you personally - keep it to one sentence. Remember baby steps. You can do it. Skip and I are rooting for you.
We've postponed the f64 Lunch Bunch for a few weeks. There's so much going on in everybody's lives right now in terms of help and education. However, we're all still here to help and just an email away.
And if you missed the May 6 lunch with Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell - it's pretty amazing. The video is just a click away.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
The pandemic may have moved the dates for 2020 to August 10-13, 2021, but that's NOT slowing Team ClickCon down. Stay tuned for new programs online with ClickCon Nation! It all starts on August 11th.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.