by Skip Cohen
Wandering through Facebook this morning, I caught this image by Chris Withers in the Facebook Wedding Photographers forum. I immediately put in a call for permission to share his photograph. But just as high-impact as the image itself, what Chris wrote with his post was even more on point:
"Making the most of a crumby situation. This lovely couple was meant to be married this past weekend. Had to change their date. I was inspired to offer the chance to create a photo they could share with friends and family and also to remember this bizarre moment in time. Imagine the stories we will tell looking back. They will need memorable photographs."
If there was an award for optimism during a pandemic, Chris would have my vote! He's taken a "crumby situation" and turned it into a milestone memory-maker. And in the process of walking-the-talk, he's reminding all of you not to lose sight of your ability to continue to create magical moments for your clients.
by Skip Cohen
I've shared a lot of images over the years from various photographers, but this one tops them all!
Wandering through Facebook a few minutes ago I saw a post by Elizabeth Newton, and loved everything about it. Thirty different artists are featured in the image above, and it's the perfect reminder you can still keep in touch with your audience, even when hunkered down!
With the image Elizabeth wrote:
Thirty local photographers got together to spell out a message for our clients.
Quarantine has been hard on all of us. You miss leaving your home and your children are getting antsy. Or you're terrified to leave your home everyday and work on the front lines of medicine, food service and deliveries.
We miss watching your family grow, capturing your moments and telling your story with our cameras. We are doing our part, staying home, keeping our distance and waiting for you. We will see you soon. And when we do, we'll all be healthier and better for it!
Until we meet again.
Look, we're all in this together. I get the frustration at watching your business stall and being restricted to what you can do. But I'm also tired of the "doom and gloomers." You're limited in the actions you can take, but you don't have to disappear!
And to the New England photographers featured in this post...thank you! I'll tell you the same thing I just told Elizabeth when I called to ask permission to share this, "You guys make me so proud to be in this industry!" As business does start to come back, you're building a foundation of energy and camaraderie.
Nicely done, you guys!
PS Here's the link to Elizabeth's Facebook post, which included all the photographers and their websites in the image above.
About the Artists Above
by Skip Cohen
The only thing still consistent for me on Sundays is how much I enjoy writing Sunday Morning Reflections. As I've written so many times in the past, it's therapeutic and often more for my benefit than my readers. Well, needing a therapeutic moment at least once a week is another characteristic of what's become the new normal.
Over the years, I thought I did an excellent job of adjusting to all the changes. I accepted my loss of privacy as my phone suddenly was with me everywhere I went. I learned not to take it personally when somebody was talking to me, and the call was dropped. I adjusted to all caps in an email, meaning somebody was yelling at me. I ate lower carbs. I changed my vitamins each time research showed that whatever I was taking was no longer a healthy solution...on Vitamin E - off Vitamin E etc. I gave up ties, then suits and sport jackets, then accepted completely casual attire. I even tried to like eating Kale!
Life was so easy just seven weeks ago!
I now have five masks to choose from when running to the market. I say hi to neighbors, but I don't always know who they are because of their mask. ( I had my first wardrobe malfunction at the register: My mask slipped off one ear and my left cheek was exposed!) The old Jerry Seinfeld "close talker" episode would now be anybody five feet away rather than the social distancing six. I have to pay attention to the one-way aisles in the store - God forbid I should head up an empty aisle in the wrong direction. And going to the mailbox is a process. I get the mail. Open it in the garage, and make sure I don't touch my face before washing my hands.
But here's what hasn't changed...
My love for this crazy community we're all a part of. Even something as fun as my mask wardrobe for today's post brought out another new normal in my life - playing with Platypod. For those of you who have one, Square Jellyfish makes this great little adapter for your cell phone, which I use for "Facetiming" with family and friends.
And I'm actually talking with friends MORE now than before. We're all starving for contact, and my phone as an instrument to talk to somebody directly has never been more valuable. Just when I finally figured texting out, talking came back.
While I miss real contact, bro-hugs, and a firm handshake, this is the new norm. There's a stronger sense of family and plenty of time to be together, but also time to find plenty of moments for personal thought. We've binge-watched one great series after another, but always together - Sheila, me, and the pups.
There's also never been more support for photographers to expand their skill set. The downtime has created one opportunity after another with programs like QuaranCon, Out of Chicago LIVE going on today, the f64 Lunch Bunch every Wednesday, and the list goes on and on. And, there are some great deals out there with discounts for ongoing programs like KelbyOne and Creative Live.
I guess it's time for my point this Sunday - Business will come back, but until then, you've got to protect yourself, your family, friends, and dig deep for every ounce of patience you can find.
Patience is not the ability to wait,
but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.
This is a time to step outside your comfort zone because it's the only place growth can flourish. Expand your skill set; take time to consider how you can hit the ground running as things slowly get better and do everything you can to stay in touch with your clients and target audience.
It would be an understatement to say what we're all feeling is a pain in the ass, but we really are all in it together. None of us are alone!
So, you know how to hold focus on your subject with a camera in your hands - now it's time to hold focus on your attitude. Keep it together, and on those days when you want to give up and feel weighed down by frustration - besides your immediate friends, there are so many of us out here willing to help - including me.
Wishing everybody a Sunday with more smiles than frowns and hang onto that sparkle you had when you first started in this business. Don't let the politicians mess with your head. Reduce your intake of news and whether you've got somebody there to hug or it's a virtual hug with a friend quarantined miles away - go for it!
by Skip Cohen
Just a few months ago, my definition of a great conference involved floor space, thousands of people, and a venue of outstanding topics with great educators. Well, the pandemic has changed all that, but thanks to the Out of Chicago team, the ingredients for a great conference are all kicking off tomorrow at 1:00 pm CST. All that's missing is the floor space!
We're all going stir-crazy in the absence of contact with other photographers and friends. Fear, anxiety, confusion, frustration, stifled creativity, complacency - all words that have slowly crept into our vocabulary. The truth is, being hunkered down has created its own collection of symptoms and often feeling as damaging as the virus itself.
This weekend Out of Chicago LIVE is going to change all that. Excitement, education, creativity, diversity, clarity, and fun all replace those painful words above. "Fun" is one of those words that's been lost over the last couple of months, but it's making a comeback!
With over 600 people already registered, this conference is guaranteed to help you boost creativity with an incredible cast of talent - some of the very best artists in imaging! Plus, you'll find support from the vendor community, door prizes, and great deals to help you expand your skillset during the downtime.
And for those of you who think you're too late because it all starts tomorrow...NOT! Time is the one thing we've suddenly discovered we do have, and here's an opportunity to make the most of it.
Check out the schedule with some of the very best programming in professional photography. It's all just a click away on the thumbnail to the right.
See you on the Chicago side of cyberspace!
by Skip Cohen
Two weeks ago, I launched a new series, "The Hunker Down Photo Share: Finding Joy." The whole idea was thanks to Anne Geddes, who told us on the f64 Lunch Bunch how she's sharing images of "joy" from her followers on Instagram.
So, I sent out an email to fifty personal friends, all members of the photography industry, asking for images of joy. I also invited all of you to share images. We're all feeling the stress and anxiety of the pandemic. You have to work to find joy, whether it's something that makes your heart actively smile now or a look into the past.
Joe Buissink and I have been friends for a lot of years, and when I didn't hear back from him, I sent him an email as a reminder to send me an image to share.
I not only know Joe well but his work. We wrote a book together over ten years ago. But, as well as I know his work, I'd forgotten the smiles his photographs have always brought out.
He sent me three emails, each with a different photograph, and they simply deserve to be shared with all of you. Each image is a reminder of life before social distancing. In all honesty, as sappy as this sounds, my heart and soul needed a lift. It didn't matter that I knew none of the people in any of the photos he sent, only that I could feel the joy.
A BIG thanks to Joe for sharing the images and reminding us how these days might seem far away right now, but working together, we'll get through this. Those moments of joy with friends and family will come back. We need to have faith - and to share Sheila's favorite quote one more time...
Faith...is being sure of what you hope for
and certain of what you do not see.
by Skip Cohen
I hit a turning point this week on several levels, and I'm hoping what pushed me over the "top" helps many of you as well.
A few minutes ago, I read a post on Facebook by a photographer who described her level of depression:
...a lot of it, I think, is due to stress and anxiety over the current pandemic and how it's completely killed business and changed everything. I can't find motivation to even edit.
This has been a rollercoaster of emotion for all of us. For me, I cycle through optimism, anxiety, depression, frustration, sadness...and then repeat the process. You name it, I've felt it. Some of this is a guy thing - It's my job to watch out for Sheila, our home, the pups, my business, etc. But, I'm defending us against a burglar I can't see who's stealing joy and leaving behind a truckload of stress and fear over and again.
Not that I'm entirely home free and back to my optimistic self, but I did turn an important corner this past week and here's what helped me through it:
Look, COVID-19 is no joke, but its impact on America shouldn't have resulted in so many horrible spin-offs. Seventeen million people have lost their jobs, and Congress is still arguing over stimulus programs. How much faster do you think they would have moved if their salaries had been cut and most of them were furloughed?
And that brings me full circle. I'm out of my funk. Sheila and I are following every safety precaution recommended. We wear masks when we have to go out. We maintain social distancing. I wash my hands after a simple walk to the mailbox. We're doing everything we need to do to stay safe. But, if I let the pandemic shut me down completely, then all the doom and gloomers on the misery ship win! That cruise line is far worse shape than anything the Diamond Princess faced, which is where the shock of so much of this started. And by the way:
"It had nearly 4,000 people on board—many of them in risk groups. (Somebody who used to perform aboard cruise ships quipped that passengers are mostly "the newlywed and the nearly dead" ;)) You'd expect these packed together on a ship in quarantine to be all infecting each others. And yet… 4,061 passengers and crew were examined, on board what effectively became an unintentional virus incubator. Only 712 contracted the virus (about 17.5%), of which 334 asymptomatic (8.2% of the total), leaving 378 (9.3% of the total) ill. Only 7 people died (1.85% of those ill, or 0.17% of all passengers and crew examined), all of them age 70 or older. (Remember, the passenger population is skewed toward the elderly.)" Here's the link to the article.
I've got my focus on getting our joy back, and while I might slip now and then, I'm determined to make it just a speed bump and not shut down the whole highway!
As sappy as this sounds, together we can all get through this!
by Skip Cohen
"Group f/64 was a group founded by seven 20th-century San Francisco Bay Area photographers who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharply focused and carefully framed images..." Wikipedia
Yesterday was day five for the f64 Lunch Bunch, and once again, there was a lot of good solid content shared. Plus, questions from the attendees created more ideas and food for thought as we all work to find some acceptable level of normalcy in dealing with social distancing.
Sadly, as I've written a few times, there are still too many photographers who have taken shelter in place to mean EVERYTHING. It's intended to help you protect yourself, your family and slow down the spread of the virus, NOT apply to every aspect of your business. You can maintain social distancing in cyberspace and still keep in touch with your clients and the needs of your community.
Joe McNally joined us yesterday for day 5 of the Lunch Bunch. The YouTube video is below. He shared a lot of great insight into the impact the pandemic has had on our lives and thoughts on taking advantage of the downtime.
There was a lot of additional content shared at yesterday's "lunch." Rather than just giving you the links, I decided to give you a screenshot of where the link is taking you. Each banner below is a live link, making it even easier for you to get to each resource. Just click any banner to visit the website we were sharing.
Last but not least are all you fans who became attendees this week. As I've said every day - we'll get through this, but in the meantime, keep sharing your ideas, stay healthy, and "Be careful out there!"
Join us for lunch on Wednesday, April 1, at 2:00 pm for the next f64 Lunch Bunch. The link to join is below, and I can promise you some fun surprises. Remember "fun?" It's a word that's been a little lost for all of us lately, but together we can get it back!
by Skip Cohen
"Group f/64 was a group founded by seven 20th-century San Francisco Bay Area photographers who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharply focused and carefully framed images..." Wikipedia
Like the characteristics of the great f/64 photographers in the early 1900s, we started the f64 Lunch Bunch to help with ideas to sharpen the focus on your business and establish a stronger framework for the future. We've got only one goal - to plant a few seeds to help you grow during this challenging downtime.
We're all in this together. We have no choice but to shelter in place, but that doesn't mean shelter in place from your business, raising the bar on your skillset, building marketing plans for the near future, or helping your community.
Jen Rozenbaum joined us yesterday for day 3 of the Lunch Bunch. The YouTube video is below. You'll immediately understand what makes Jen's style of teaching and especially her outlook on life so incredible. She shared a lot of great insight to help you fine-tune your skillset during downtime, stay involved in your community, and be prepared to hit the ground running when this is over.
During the conversation, she mentioned a video she did on the similarities between her battle with breast cancer for two years and dealing with the coronavirus. I promised I'd grab it from her YouTube channel. I've share it here below.
And, Steve Brazill shared information about MasterClass.com and a special promotion they're doing. Members of MasterClass have been given "a free MasterClass All-Access Pass to give to someone whose life you’d like to make just a little better right now."
If you know a MasterClass member, now's the time to give them a shout. This is a perfect time to take advantage of their online programs covering so many different topics. Here's the link to find out more.
Join us today at 2:00 PM EST when Anne Geddes joins the Lunch Bunch. And tomorrow, we'll wrap up the week with Joe McNally. Don't miss the opportunity to pick up new ideas to help make the most of this time when your business has changed so dramatically. Click on the button below at 1:55 pm EST - we always get the room opened early. Who said there's no such thing as a free lunch?
by Skip Cohen
Yesterday during the f64 Lunch Bunch, the topic of depression and anxiety came up. Everyone is feeling it, some far more than others. For me, my emotions up until recently have been a rollercoaster surpassing the highs and lows of any ride Disney ever created. While I still have moments of anxiety, they're getting farther and farther apart, like speed bumps in a quiet neighborhood.
Well, here's my recipe...
The rest of the day is a repeat of short conversations with Sheila, time with the puppies, short breaks whenever I need to step away from what I'm working on. Sprinkled here and there are phone calls with friends, especially people I haven't caught up to recently. Some calls are long catch-ups, others just short to see how a friend is holding up.
And, when I do feel overly concerned, I'll call a friend to calm me down. Who I call is directly related to the topic stirring up my anxious gene! For example, "Dr. T," in addition to being the inventor and founder of Platypod, is a full-time pediatrician in New Jersey and has become a very good friend. Being in the medical profession, he's on the frontline of the most accurate information. Plus, he's one of those people who has a personality build on a foundation of staying calm.
Throughout the day I catch up on my reading. Our son sent me an article this morning that's worth sharing. "COVID-19: interesting data from Korea and from the Diamond Princess." I'm just sharing one paragraph that helps make the point.
But the Diamond Princess cruise ship offers an interesting insight. It had nearly 4,000 people on board—many of them in risk groups. (Somebody who used to perform aboard cruise ships quipped that passengers are mostly "the newlywed and the nearly dead" ;)) You'd expect these packed together on a ship in quarantine to be all infecting each others. And yet...4,061 passengers and crew were examined, on board what effectively became an unintentional virus incubator. Only 712 contracted the virus (about 17.5%), of which 334 asymptomatic (8.2% of the total), leaving 378 (9.3% of the total) ill. Only 7 people died (1.85% of those ill, or 0.17% of all passengers and crew examined), all of them age 70 or older. (Remember, the passenger population is skewed toward the elderly.)
And that brings me to one of the most important ingredients to staying calm - stop being obsessed with the news! Sheila and I stopped watching most of the news years ago. We'd record World News with David Muir and then fast forward through everything political because none of us will ever know the truth. Now with the news being all about Covid-19, that fast forward button is getting worn out.
We're paying attention and following all the various directives from the health organizations. We're staying home and only going out when absolutely necessary. We wash our hands regularly and even packages from Amazon get opened outside. One of my best friends wrote:
Let's get on the other side of this pandemic together... And hopefully we are collectively more wise and ready for the next one. And not listening to the paid doctors of MSNBC as much as the CDC folks who dedicate their lives to solving these problems.
And one last ingredient - get out with your camera! Regardless off your business focus, we've all missed Spring! Looking for a moment of tranquility? Nothing beats a camera in your hands. And for those of you who think my sunset shot above was easy, after all, I live in Florida near the ocean, think again. That's Lake Erie in my home town of Painesville, Ohio, a couple of years ago.
We'll all get through this if we just stay focused. Our lives, the stock market, and the future will reset. It won't be easy, but when did anything worth having come easy?
by Skip Cohen
Lately, the definition of "normalcy" seems to be a moving target. It changes every day as paranoia searches my brain, looking for a vulnerable place to sink its teeth. Life has changed, but the good news is that none of us are alone. We're all in this together, and for once, when you're worried, none of your friends are saying, "Stop being paranoid."
Sheila and I both have allergies. This time of year, we sneeze and cough on and off all day long. But even though Zyrtec is a regular product in our house, it doesn't change that split second of paranoia when I hear her cough. And, if I let it take hold, I'll go mad. Sound familiar?
But here's the great thing about the industry we're all a part of - we watch each other's backs. I now make it a point to phone a friend or two every day...just to check in. I'm also following everybody on Facebook. I'm taking a few minutes each morning to go through old photographs or albums - I'm following my own self-medicating prescription to get through this nightmare - looking in my rearview mirror. I'm not looking back with sadness, but optimism waiting for the good old days to return, and they will!
Two things kicked off my morning to get me on track today. Ralph Romaguera sent me this picture, and all his email said was "Memories." He didn't need to say anymore because it's our memories that are the foundation not to lose sight of how good life really is.
It was 2014, and John Sexton received the Lifetime Achievement award from PPA at the Imaging USA convention. That's me, John and Kenny Rogers. I was telling Kenny about how my son's girlfriend's most prized possession back then was the damaged gear train from his Hasselblad ELX that had come in for repair.
As Sheila and I were talking about at that conference, Facebook was doing its share in helping with great memories. Lori Nordstrom was wandering through the archives and hit the "like" button on a shot of the "Young Guns" program from WPPI in 2008, and it came up in my notifications feed. It was a classic moment of looking in the rearview mirror and then telling Sheila about the program.
A classic moment in that presentation was Mike Larson demonstrating how he'd set his camera on self-timer and then throw it 20 feet in the air to capture what then became a signature shot of the wedding party. Nobody had a drone back then!
And just a few weeks ago at WPPI, I caught up to three of the artists who were part of this program. And Facebook is keeping us connected and the friendships very much alive!
I have no answers on how our lives are going to change. There's no question; life is going to be different. Sheila and I haven't been out with friends for a few weeks. Just like you, we're hunkered down and doing our best to stay safe. But we're not willing to accept this is the new normal. The only way to keep the light bright at the end of the tunnel is to cherish where we've been and remember those days will come back.
So, I wish everybody a day of peace, good health, and appreciation for all your memories, especially the ones with photos attached! My suggestion for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs is still good with your "Q-mates," (people you're self-quarantined with.) And if you're a solo act, the next best things are Facetime and Skype - go for a cyber-hug. We will get through this.
None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward.
Because we trust. Because we have Faith.
by Skip Cohen
Whether you call it "self-quarantine" or "social distancing," we're all in the same boat right now - confused, frustrated, and trying to figure what to do until business comes back. The social isolation we've all been forced to accept has left all of us with time on our hands.
Wandering through Facebook last Sunday, I stumbled on this shot by Joel Connor. First, I loved the photograph, but more important to my point this morning, I love what Joel wrote with it:
Did a quick session with my wife yesterday for the first time in ages. Have been working on adding new shooting spaces to our studio attic and with our session cancelation (of many) from yesterday, it seemed a good time to play for a bit. CC welcome. Fuji 50R w/ Mitakon 65 1.4 (at 2.0ish)
Note: A BIG thanks to Joel for giving me permission to share this image and what he wrote.
There's that old expression my mother used to use, and we've all heard it - "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" I know it's trite and hokey, but we've got no choice. Joel had some downtime and decided to practice a little. Looking at his work, you'd think he doesn't need to practice - but even great ballplayers warm up swinging two bats. (Visit his website with a click on the image.)
We've all got time on our hands. While it takes a lot of energy to fight the depression of the world going upside down, utilize this time to fine-tune your skills. If you wait it out and choose to let time slip through your fingers, then you let the Coronavirus win.
From raising the bar on your skills to cleaning up your galleries, strategizing marketing for later in the year, managing your database, and expanding your network, the list goes on and on. There's so much you can be doing now to make your business stronger.
I know it's abstract to think of this when your business has disappeared, but it will come back. The magic photographers bring to the world, turning intangible moments into memories people can hold in their hands, hasn't disappeared.
is being sure of what you hope for
and certain of what you do not see.*
*My wife Sheila has this in a frame on a wall in our home. It couldn't be more important to remember than today!
by Skip Cohen
Over the years, my buddy Nick Vedros has sent me dozens of links to stories he's found in cyberspace that were moments to stop and appreciate a piece of history, an artistic piece of work, or creativity in imaging. He never disappoints. Well, he sent me the link to the video below with a short comment, "This commercial is fantastic! It’s four minutes. So cinematic!"
I watched it; loved it and decided I'm probably not the only one who'd appreciate a break from business this morning. So, it's here for you to enjoy. Grab a cup of coffee and kick back for four minutes and appreciate this Mercedes Benz commercial for the cinematography as well as the story itself.
Bertha Benz was the wife of Carl Benz and the YouTube description says it all:
In a time when “car” was not even a word yet, and people relied on horses to pull their wagons, one woman challenged the status quo. To prove to the world that her husband’s invention was the future of mobility, Bertha Benz went on the first long-distance journey with an automobile, facing all kinds of challenges but stopping at nothing. The rest, as they say, is history.
When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch you!
Every day starts out the same when you have puppies - there's this silent rush to get them outside, preceded by a small squeal of joy if their bed's dry! It's that feeling of progress and knowing the routine is finally working that sets the tone for the start of the day.
Then comes my business routine, and it's become my standard - the first stop is my in-box, followed by Facebook notifications. The tweet stream is next, then a quick look at my calendar for the day, a stop at my Platypod mailbox, and then I'm ready to start the day, usually with a post.
This morning when I hit Facebook, which starts with "Notifications," I had a couple of complaints from members of two forums where I'm an administrator. If you're not an Admin on Facebook, what we get is a notification that says, "_________ reported 1 post in _________." Then, if you have time, you research what the complaint is about. Ninety percent of the time, it's the result of people being too sensitive. So, as an administrator, you decide to keep the post or kill it, comment to the person reporting the post and finally get on with your life.
Well, one of the reports this morning had absolutely no foundation to complain about. One photographer didn't like the tone of what another artist wrote and decided to call in the "big guns." I kept the post, ignored the report, and chose not to respond to anybody. However, I did go looking for a quote this morning, and when I found the one up top, I knew it needed to be shared.
It might be the "slow season," but that doesn't mean it's slow for you to build your business. So, focus on what's vital in the building blocks to make 2020 your best year ever and stop bitching, moaning, and complaining about things that don't matter! Stop being so sensitive. Give your peers the benefit of the doubt, remembering that the toughest way to express yourself is through the printed word!
If you don't like what somebody said in a thread, unless it's going to have an impact on some aspect of your business, your family, or your life, let it go! Start singing Taylor Swift's "Shake it off," and just move on. And if somebody doesn't like one of your images, listen to their suggestions and then do whatever you think is right, always remembering what my good buddy Dean Collins used to say,
Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!
When Chamira Young and I relaunched this series last summer, we wanted to bring you topics out of the ordinary with guests who are extraordinary. Even though we love the podcasts we've done in the past, we wanted "Beyond Technique" to be different. Inspiration, new ideas, and sharing unique concepts while stepping away from the technique of capturing images was our goal.
Thanks to Platypod, the "Beyond Technique" series is bringing you a different perspective each month about business and life. In fact, it's a lot like Platypod's goal - giving photographers a different perspective and adding more creative tools to their skillset.
Suzette Allen joins us in the December episode, with a topic perfect for wrapping up 2019 and even better to kick off the new year!
Most of you know her as one of the industry's leading educators. She's a photographer, artist, educator, author, blogger, and a great friend to so many people in the industry. The story of how she got started isn't very different from most of yours. What changed was a horrific accident that became an incredible journey of hope, focus, dedication, and spirituality.
I've known Suzette for a long time, but what I appreciate the most about our conversation on this podcast is her ability to stay candid, open, and honest about what she went through. She holds nothing back, which is a big part of what makes her such a great instructor and friend!
I grabbed screenshots of some of my favorite images from her galleries. Click on any one of them to visit her website, blogs, and make sure she's on your radar! She and her husband Jonny are both LUMIX Ambassadors, and you'll find them both at a long list of workshops and convention programs throughout the year. And, check out her YouTube channel. There are 400 different videos covering a long list of topics, each there to help you raise the bar on the quality of your images and the support you give your clients.
"Beyond Technique is brought to you by...
We're proud to have Platypod as an SCU partner. Their products are giving photographers the ability to be more creative and capture images from a different perspective. From the Ultra and Max Platypods to great accessories like the new goosenecks and multi-accessory kit, they never slow down on developing new products.
And a big thanks to Photofocus.com. Always sharing great content to help photographers grow their skills in technology, marketing, and business, Photofocus also hosts some of the very best podcasts in photography! They're just a click away.
All images copyright Suzette Allen. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
This is it gang, the last Sunday Morning Reflections post of 2019! It's been quite a year, jam-packed with a lot of emotional moments. What I started to think about as I was writing was how so many of you look at the close of one year and the start of a new one as a clean slate. The truth is, the only fresh start to the new year and end of the old one is with your taxes. Everything else in life is a rolling average.
As you're thinking about the new year, there is no "clean slate" if you keep doing everything the same way. And, unlike your accountant who can help you with financial decisions, the only one who can truly change the new year ahead in terms of more smiles and less frowns is YOU!
Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams
than you are to your comfort zone.
There it is - the key to what helped many of you in 2019. You started taking your dreams more seriously. You started listening to your heart just as much as your head.
I know for me personally, I found myself working to change some of the self-destructive behaviors I was doing. They were never intentional, but more self-fulfilling prophecies, following the philosophy of - if you define something as hopeless, then it will be. And, I could only let go of that feeling by finding better points of focus on other things I wanted to do.
Here's my point this morning - If you want today to be better than yesterday, than do something different. Stop living life in "P" mode! My buddy Gareth Rockliffe talked about this concept in a Beyond Technique podcast in July. It's worth listening to.
Years ago, back in my Hasselblad days, a photographer came to our booth at PPE. He asked to be set up with everything Denis Reggie used. We gave him the list - camera, lenses, and accessories. He went off to his favorite dealer and bought it all. A year later, he was back in the booth and laid out a stack of proofs and screamed, "These don't look anything like Reggie's work!"
Most of you know this already - it's not the gear that makes the artist. Sure, it contributes, but he'd shot EVERYTHING at the same aperture and shutter speed. He barely understood depth of field, let alone composition, exposure, and anticipating the decisive moment to click the shutter. He never left his comfort zone!
And that brings me full circle to what made 2019 a great year for most of us and how we can make 2020 a fantastic year - get out of our comfort zones.
Wishing everyone a perfect day filled with family, friends, and wrapping up the year with plenty of smiles. 2020 is right around the corner. If you truly want to make it a "NEW" year, think about things you can do differently while listening to your heart more often! As always, go for those long hugs with the people who mean the most to you and stay focused on things that make you happy.
Have a great Sunday or Monday, depending on where you are in the world!
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.
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.