by Skip Cohen
This is a hard Sunday Morning Reflections to write. The topic isn't difficult; just the message I want to share without sounding like an infomercial. If you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time, you know I don't shy away from much of anything - so, here goes...
I'm at IUSA and will be working in the Platypod booth this week. Every show I attend is usually about networking and building relationships for whatever my next project might be. It's about maintaining my relevance after a lifetime in this industry. However, this is the first time in years, I've actually worked a booth to help sell products and great concepts.
Three and half days ago Platypod launched their Kickstarter campaign for a new ball head and has already carved out their own little piece of photography history. We're approaching a thousand backers, and the response from photographers has been incredible. I don't want to talk about the product, but the team that put it together and the passion behind its growing success.
There's an old African proverb I've shared a few times over the years:
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
To succeed in anything, you have to be focused on your dream, and in the process, let nothing block your passion. "Dr. T," Larry Tiefenbrunn, had a vision four years ago and started to pursue it. He never strayed from the journey to create a new approach to the product he wanted to develop.
In a way, I feel like a rookie ballplayer who joined a team at the top of the ninth of the last game of a winning season. Helping with marketing the last couple of months, pales in comparison to the blood, sweat, and tears that's gone into this project before I joined the team.
"Dr. T" isn't just an engineer/photographer with a passion for change, but a team builder. It's that refusal to give up on a concept, while at the same time building a team that makes this fun to write about. His passion is infectious, and as I look back on my life in the industry, is something I've only seen a few times, and never from the front row! LOL
"We are not a team because we work together. We are a team because we trust,
respect and care for each other."
I'm sharing the project video below, not as a pitch to you, but as a demonstration of what can happen when a group of people focuses on the same goal and become a team. While it was "Dr. T's" script, there were a half dozen people who helped write it; a talented filmmaker and his team who like a great chef turned it into reality, and then dozens of people, including, Scott Kelby and his team who helped launch it to the public. In every aspect, it's the result of a group effort.
And here's my point:
Each of you have dreams of success - things you want to do in your life. At times those dreams get buried under the baggage of stress from a variety of sources - changing priorities, a growing family, finances, developing your skillset, and the list goes on and on. Before you know it, those dreams have been pushed out of sight, put in a shoebox, and kicked under the bed. Right now, they're sitting in that same box with old photographs and your notes from a workshop you might have taken years ago.
Well, it's time to bring out that box and take some time to dust off those dreams. You don't have to do it alone. Share those goals with your family; bring in some friends to help, and lay out a map to bring them closer to reality. Don't let anything stand in your way, and like Larry and his wife, Mina - be willing to risk whatever it takes to turn those dreams into reality!
As always, I wish everybody a terrific Sunday, and I hope you'll take the time today and dust off any of those dreams you've let slip to the back-burner. Take a little time to think about the team you might need to help with your quest, and that includes shutting down the little voice inside you that challenges your self-confidence from time to time.
Go for those long therapeutic hugs with the people you care most about - always remembering they're a part of your team. Without them, whatever dreams you have can never become a reality!
Happy Sunday, everybody, and thanks for being part of my team. It's seven years ago today, with your help, I started SCU. Without you, this would be such a tedious business and a life that could put a rock to sleep! It's all of you who help make it exciting and ever-changing. And, if you're at IUSA this weekend, come by booth 157 and laugh at me as I try and act like I know what I'm doing!
It's Sunday, and if you've followed me for even a short amount of time, then you know I ALWAYS go off track from photography. I started doing this years ago, just for my sanity. It was therapeutic to write about something outside the topic of business.
Well, this morning is the new typical Sunday. It starts with the "kids" getting up early. The kids are two puppies, Lucy and Belle. They're a stitch to have in our lives, but we'd both forgotten the work that goes into a puppy. Double that when it's two!
Right now, Lucy's at my feet playing with an antler bone, now a squeaky toy, now a ball, back to the squeaky toy, now she wants my camera strap...are all puppies A.D.D.? LOL
In spite of the distractions this morning, I know exactly what I want to write about. My good buddy Nick Vedros sent me the quote below on Friday. I knew immediately it would become the foundation for this morning's post!
"You're a kid, your whole life is awesome. It's awesome right? You had no money, no ID, no cell phone,
no nothing, no keys to the house. You just ran outside into the woods. You weren't scared of nothing.
I challenge you to do that as an adult. All your IDs, all your credit cards - just run out of the house
with no phone, turn the corner where you can't see your house, and not have a full on panic attack."
I'm not sure if this is going to be more of a rant or a topic for Throwback Thursday, but what happened to those days?
When I was a kid, my Mom often worked in the afternoons, helping my Dad in his business. I came home to an empty house, made it look like I did my homework, and then went out to play with friends. In the wintertime, I would be walking home in the dark, and by 6:00 pm, she'd be back. I was never afraid, had no ID, just a kid in the neighborhood, and we were all pretty much in similar situations.
I know you can never go back, but the smile on my face right now, thinking back to those days would be contagious if you were here. We had it so easy in comparison to kids today. Even as adults, it was easier.
No cell phones, no computers, three TV stations, and plenty of time to read, relax, and reflect. The TV shows ended at midnight, and what would be politically incorrect today, the test pattern above came on the screen as the station went off the air. Stores were never open on Sunday, not even gas stations. There were no ATMs, no drive-throughs - just time to spend with family. And on a Sunday like today, we'd be headed over to my grandmother's for Sunday dinner.
So, while we can't turn back the clock, when it comes to Sundays in our house, Sheila and I are doing our best to spend the day with each other and the pups. We'll take a walk later and pretty much have a low-tech day, watch a movie and appreciate time together and being as low tech as we can go. I'll do my best to shut down my computer after this post and check in later in the day, but that will be it.
I know we can't stop time, but I sure do miss those days as a kid, when like so many of you, I was in a hurry to grow up!
Wishing everybody a terrific day and time to slow things down in your life. Take the time to savor the moment...right now...because the present is only sure thing you've got. Hug the people most special in your life. If you want to have some fun, take your own walk down Memory Lane. And while I don't ask for comments often, it would be great if a few of you would share what life was like when you were a kid!
Happy Sunday! Making it a great day only requires you to focus on what's most important in your life. You know how to use selective focus with your camera - now do it with your heart!
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!
Just a reminder - I always go off-track from the business and marketing of photography on Sunday mornings. Although, this morning there is a link - at least in terms of chasing your goals and dreams...
I'm almost back to those quiet Sunday mornings I used to refer to. They just start a little later, and after puppy time. I've learned a lot over the last thirty-nine days, twenty-one hours and eleven minutes, but who's counting?
The backstory is a short one. We lost Molly the Wonder Dog to Cancer in February. It took a long time to stop missing her, and just over five weeks ago, we decided it was time to bring a pup back into our life.
Here's the key to the smile in my heart and the bags under my eyes. Sheila wanted a small dog and one that wasn't with me all the time. I wanted a bigger dog - so somehow our logic suggested TWO dogs. While we started looking at rescues, we wanted non-shedding small dogs, joining the family at the same time, and females. Meet Belle and Lucy. Belle will grow to ten pounds and Lucy to twenty-five, and they're inseparable.
I have no idea what made us think at this point in our lives we'd have the patience for two puppies. Puppies are cute; they make you smile, but they also bring out the Jekyll and Hyde in your personality. One minute I'm laughing and having a ball playing with them, the next minute I'm running to the door to get them outside before they pee on the floor.
The word "NO!" has never been more active in my vocabulary, and there are days when if it wasn't for the F-bomb, the house would be silent. I go back and forth between pure joy and trying to remember what life was like once upon a time. And we're almost always tired since we both get up early with the pups and start the daily routine.
And here's my point -
You have to go wholeheartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having.
Frank Lloyd Write
I've worked with so many young photographers over the years who feel the need to rush the process. They want overnight success and often have never taken the time to define what that means.
I'll use Belle and Lucy as examples - we're still a long way from two pups who have run of the house. But each day, there's another milestone. They're only five months old, but the process, although exhausting, has taught me more about myself and my relationship with Sheila. First, there's nothing the two of us can't accomplish together, and second, there are so many different ways to get each task done.
Sheila couldn't be more consistent in her approach to the pups...as a result, they both know the minute we say go to bed, they run to their crate. When she says "come" to Belle, the pup comes running. When I say it to Lucy, she stares at me and takes some coaxing. So, as the dogs learn those essential basic commands, I'm learning that my way isn't always the one that works.
If we had it to do over again, we probably wouldn't do two puppies at the same time, but now that we're here, I wouldn't trade the smile in my heart for anything...except 10-12 hours of sleep!
So, whatever your goals are for the rest of the year and into 2020 - hit them with everything you've got! Go all out and give every dream the horsepower it deserves. Don't compromise on the things most important to you, but also remember there are people all around who care about you and are willing to give you a hand!
And for today - go for those long hugs - eleven to twenty seconds is the suggested time these days. Share those hugs with those people in your life most important to you. They're the ones who challenge you not to be mediocre!
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're following me from the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
If you're new to this blog and looking for help marketing your photography, Sunday's the wrong day to think about business. I always go off-track on Sunday mornings, and it's as much for me as it is for you. There's too often a very thin line between the personal side of who we are and our business. On Sunday's I do my best to separate the two.
This morning I'm getting a little help from one of my favorite motivational authors, Melody Beattie. I haven't taken the time to read any of her books for a while. Being stuck on what to write about this morning is the direct result of minimal sleep, two puppies, and three weeks of craziness on both the business and personal side of my life. I've been in a rut, and while it's all understandable, that doesn't change the fact my smile muscles have atrophied!
Well, it's Melody to the rescue! I needed to start today the way I used to - reading something inspirational that had NOTHING to do with business. Turning to December 1, Melody wrote:
Many of us have been seeking diligently for the meaning of life, at least for the meaning of our lives. I thought I had found it when I began recovering from chemical dependency. Aha, I thought the meaning of life is to stay sober. Then along came codependency and my need to recover from those issues...
I have to paraphrase to make my point...She went on to talk about her search for the meaning of her life, and closed with:
One day, I stopped looking. It wasn't that I gave up. I gave in. I stopped waiting to win the spiritual lottery. Stopped trying to become enlightened. Stopped looking for that perfect soul mate. And started surrendering to and enjoying each moment of my life - just as it is.
That's when I found joy. Or maybe joy found me.
The key to enlightenment might be simpler than we think. We're here to experience joy. Look at each moment in your life and learn to say, "How sweet it is!"
And there it is, my point this morning. We all spend too much time looking for things we can't see. Yet, we know they're there. We lose faith in our abilities; start to doubt ourselves, and before we know it, we're in a rut.
So, whether it's success or whatever you think is the key to your happiness - stop looking for it! Sheila has the quote below framed on the wall in a corner of our bedroom - it's a constant reminder to believe.
Faith...is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.
Wishing all of you a day filled with a feeling of accomplishment as you recognize your ability to experience joy and learn to say, "How sweet it is!" As always go for those long therapeutic hugs with the people who help you find that joy every day. They're a big part of the not so secret recipe to keep those smile muscles active.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
The fun of writing "Sunday Morning Reflections" is a lot like those moments when many of you have a camera in your hands for your own enjoyment rather than work. I can go anywhere, and as so many of you have read, often off-track from the business of photography. This morning's post is a little of both.
To start, the friendships we all have in the industry are the best part of photography and a good friend was with on the beach last night for the Nokomis Drum Circle. Bob Thompson's in Florida. He's wrapping up three weeks on the road, with one primary purpose - catching up to friends.
I wrote about Bob and the sadness of losing his wife Cindy a few months ago. The title of that post was, "When Memories Mean the Most." Well, that describes his trip over the last few weeks.
Bob and I met in '87 when I joined Hasselblad, and the friendship just grew from there. Along the way, so did all the memories. His trip over the last few weeks has been a journey to harvest so many of those memories, and with each stop along the way, he's shared photographs and moments with so many different friends.
Now, to last night at the Drum Circle. While it's not season down here yet, there was still a nice crowd, and nothing beats the sunset. My LUMIX G9 is on loan, so I grabbed my FZ300, and it never disappoints.
I was also reminded of a valuable lesson I learned years ago...never assume that somebody who looks like they know photography, doing a great job when you hand them your camera and ask, "Any chance you can grab a shot of us?" LOL
We've decided to keep the random woman on the right in the image. And, we've adopted her as a new member of the family...Meet "Aunt Beatrice." She's from Nebraska so the accent is on the "a." (In joke, only picked up by people who have lived in NE.)
She's always been a little aloof at times, but she's been that way since she was a kid! She hoped to grow up to be a pirate. So, the ocean has always been a magnet for her dreams - but no pirate career.
And on that note, as I become more obscure, it's time to wrap it up and wish everybody a terrific day. Time with good friends and moments of brilliance when you share stories from the past. Go for those, now suggested, twenty-second hugs. And, to our buddy, Bob, who's headed home to Arizona today, safe travels and remember you've always got a place to hang out here in Florida, and it comes with a bottle of Scotch. What a kick to cover 32 years of memories in two days!
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
I'm into my NEW typical Sunday morning routine - Sheila and I are both up with the pups. Belle is with her on one side of the house, and Lucy's hanging out with me. "Alexa" has music playing throughout. And, the pups gave us a little extra time to sleep this morning. So, it's starting off to be a pretty stellar day.
At least twice this week, I pondered the meaning of life, wondering what we were thinking to take on two puppies at once. Several times Sheila and I said to each other, "We're too old for this!"
I even went online to search for trainers specializing in house-breaking dogs. Exhausted, often before the day even started, the love of having pets in the house was overshadowed by the bags under my eyes! Looking in the mirror, all I'd see was Yoda looking back at me and saying, "Puppies got I - tired I am."
Then two days ago, at the eight-day mark for these to four-month olds, things changed. They were starting to get it. No accidents in the house; playing in the right area of the yard and staying out of the garden and barking less while playing more. The fun moments started to outweigh the effort.
And that takes me right to my point this morning...
So often we give up too early. We don't have the confidence in a decision we've made, and we start second-guessing the direction our hearts have taken us. We get "buyers remorse," as we struggle to justify whatever path we're on, that's taken more energy than anticipated. And, when we make the decision to give up, we rationalize until we convince ourselves it was the right thing to do.
Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line.
They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.
Years ago, I had the honor of interviewing Mary Ellen Mark in a podcast. She talked about how she made her students tape over the screens on their cameras. She wanted them to shoot like they were working with film. I'm paraphrasing, but mostly, she said, "Photographers give up too early. They look at the screen, think they've got the shot, and then move on. But what if the real shot was yet to come?"
Think about it, what if the embrace between the bride and her grandmother was only the beginning? What if the memory-making moment was the tear in grandma's eyes thirty seconds later, but the photographer chimped, got the shot and moved on?
So, whether it's the way you photograph or the projects you take on - don't give up too early. Listen to your heart. Believe in your convictions, and don't forget there's very little in our lives that's truly forever. Stay focused on your dreams, and never underestimate the power of a decent night's sleep!
Before you give up, remember why you started!
Wishing everybody a terrific day with no regrets and plenty of time to stay focused. You know how to hold focus with a camera in your hands - don't forget how to maintain focus on other aspects of your life. And as always, go for those long hugs...apparently eleven-seconds is the old guideline - now they're saying you need twenty!
Happy Sunday, or Monday, if you're on the other side of the world!
It's the friends we meet along the way that help us appreciate the journey.
by Skip Cohen
At the risk of sounding like a joke that's going around:
What do you get when you put Michele Neal Celentano, Paul Neal, Susan Stripling, Kelly Brown, Rob Brown, Sheila, and me in the same house for a weekend?
You get non-stop laughs, minimal sleep, and bags under your eyes that when you look in the mirror, you see Yoda looking back at you!
Daylight savings time has screwed me up, and Sheila and I are both up this morning way too early. That being said, nothing changes quality time with old friends and new ones. If you think about it for just a second, none of us get the time together we wish we had at conventions or throughout the year. So, when Michele and Paul suggested sharing a house together for Sue Bryce and George Varanakis' wedding, we were in...no hesitation whatsoever.
While the wedding was the obvious highlight of the weekend...the bonus benefit has been getting quality time with some incredibly talented people who are each in their own right a knucklehead! I use the word "knucklehead" as one of my highest compliments. True knuckleheads are energetic, risk-takers who repeatedly challenge us to think outside the box and push the boundaries of paradigms.
If you look up the word knuckleheads, it's going to be derogatory and suggest people with small brains, the size of one's knuckles. But from Skip's Urban Dictionary - over the years, I've used it to refer to friends whose hearts are bigger than their brains - In fact, their hearts are typically the largest part of their body!
So, there are two points this morning...
First, surround yourself with great friends, the knuckleheads who make you smile a little more, laugh a little louder, and who you know will be there, even when you've got nothing to smile about. Second, find quality time with people you want to get to know.
It's not a new topic, and one I seem to be hitting a lot lately. I think it's part of the aging process. The older you get, the more value you put on friendships. It becomes more important to get to know people who come into your life on a stronger foundation than just a few minutes together on a trade show floor.
Wishing everybody a day filled with the knuckleheads in your life, and the time to laugh and appreciate how lucky you are to have them by your side! Always go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, and cherish how the "huggee" makes your heart soar.
Happy Sunday, or as always, Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
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!
It's Sunday morning, and included in reminding you that I always go off-track on Sundays, I should also share a sarcasm alert.
Here's the scenario - It's 5:00 am, and I'm at Pittsburgh airport, headed home after my buddy Terry Deglau's memorial service yesterday. It was a pretty awesome day meeting so many of the friends he grew up with, getting time with his family, and telling stories about Terry over the years.
Well, I wanted to get home in time to spend the day with Sheila and booked a 7:00 am flight. I was hungry and hit Bruegger's Bagels on the way to the gate and thought I'd find the perfect place to sit and eat breakfast. I started at that first arrow but never noticed it was right next to the men's room. As guys came out zipping up, it just lacked the ambiance for a great bagel.
Second stop...no big deal, just move down two seats. NOT - a sweet little old lady decided to try and fill her water bottle. She asked me to hold her cane as she proceeded to come close to drowning me and everything with a 4-5 foot radius of the drinking fountain. Remember, it's early on a Sunday morning, and there shouldn't be a whole lot of people even here!
Last stop - I moved down more, and what you don't see is the entire hallway is empty on both sides. Ooops didn't notice I was right under the flight board. Obviously, there's a convention of far-sighted people in town...because everybody has to lean in to read the board, one guy practically crawling onto the seat I was in, as I'm trying to enjoy the ambiance of an "empty" airport and breakfast.
However, it did give me something to write about this morning. This is one of those posts that's here just for my benefit and the fun of writing. And, while the "location-location-location" rule is always relevant in retail, this morning, it applies to non-existent privacy and trying to be an anonymous traveler.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead and time to enjoy what I'm hoping to do - be home with my honey! Make it a day of peace, family, and appreciate being home and not on the road. When I was a kid, I always hoped I'd grow up and have a job where I could travel. What a silly thing to wish! Then again, as somebody said to me in the TSA line, "Hey, remember, we're just livin' the dream!"
by Skip Cohen
I love going off-track from business and marketing on Sunday mornings. Well, I'm miles off-track this morning, mostly because of the process that got me here. Having no idea what I wanted to write about, I started looking through images from our trip last May to New Mexico.
One of the highlights of the trip was our tour of Georgia O'Keefe's home in Abiquiu. Access to the house is only by appointment, and it's done with very small groups.
There's no photography allowed inside her home. But, outside is unlimited. While the structure, the view, and the layout are all remarkable, I found myself drawn to flowers she planted that have continued to flourish, since she finished renovations on the house around 1950.
So, those aren't just chives that have gone to seed above; those are Georgia O'Keefe's chives! Throughout the property, there are trees, plants, houseplants she more than likely chose and nurtured. I guess what hit me is that while the house and artifacts could be renovated and maintained, parts of her garden still thrive.
At first, it seemed bizarre to me that I was so preoccupied with the still living components of one of America's most celebrated artists, the "Mother of American Modernism." We're all familiar with her paintings, but it's her home that hit me the hardest.
"The Abiquiu Home and Studio offers a special look into the life of one of America's greatest artists. It offers viewers a chance to see the home, which was her vision. Throughout the property, one can see and feel the time and love O'Keeffe dedicated to this special property"...Historic Artists' Homes and Studios
That takes me to today's point of those milestones important in each of our lives. Each of us has something special we're known for; something special we'd leave behind to the people most important in our lives.
For example, our home is like a gallery. It's filled with prints I've collected from friends over a lifetime in this industry. Every photograph has a story behind it. And, in my office, I have a bookcase loaded with industry memorabilia. From the prints to the memorabilia, they're all reminders of great friends and how much photography has contributed to who I am.
I've had a fantastic career, and it's still going - new memories, new friends, and every day a new challenge pushing me to grow. We're all part of an incredible industry, and if you're not having the time of your life, then step back and take some time off.
Most of you are about to head into the fourth quarter crunch, and there will be days when you wonder why you chose this profession! Don't lose site of what you're giving back - you're the magicians who stop time and give people memories to hold. And, like Georgia O'Keefe's chives, those memories keep growing, and your images become more and more cherished with each day that goes by.
I know it's a little hard to connect the dots in today's post, but that's the fun of Sunday Morning Reflections - the dots don't always have to connect!
Wishing everybody an outstanding day, one filled with time with the people you love the most, great friends, and a sense of satisfaction in the journey you're on as an artist and business owner. As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people who mean most to you.
Life is short, time is fast,
no replay, no rewind,
so enjoy over moment as it comes!
It's a typical Sunday morning, and while now and then I might miss other featured posts, I never miss this one. Writing Reflections is like a restaurant owner making the deposit at the end of the day or week. This is a way for me to start a new week fresh tomorrow, and tie up a few loose thoughts from the previous week.
Yesterday I got one of those silly anniversary emails from Facebook. It was eleven years ago I signed into Facebook for the first time. I remember my daughter telling me it was a little creepy to see her Dad on Facebook. Initially, I guess I was too old and just didn't fit the profile.
And there it is...one of two points I wanted to make this morning.
You're NEVER too old for anything. I've written a lot about my definition of success - waking up each morning smiling and excited about the day ahead. We're all part of an industry where we can't stop learning. Why? Because if you stop, you'll stagnate and live a relatively unfulfilled life. So, whether it's expanding your technique in your skills as an artist; leaping into the marketing and business side of life, or working on your bucket list - growth only happens outside your comfort zone.
My second point is how fast time flies. It accomplishes nothing to look back, wishing you'd done something different or as Sheila says, "Don't should on yourself." But there are moments when we all wish we had done something differently or chosen a different path. Time is like shooting chrome back in the film days - it was unforgiving. You either got the shot, or you missed it, and the lab couldn't fix it for you!
So you just roll with it. Learn from your mistakes, file them away, and move on. The key is moving on and not wasting time or energy on regrets.
And then there's Facebook...
While most of us are on Facebook, we rarely love everything they do. Their ever-changing policies and robotic approach to the way they communicate leaves us longing to talk to a live body.
Regardless, I love what happened with my "Faceversary" yesterday. The system chose a group of my followers to make up the artwork on the right, and also picked some great friends!
Wishing everybody a day filled where time goes by slow enough for you to savor every minute with good friends, but fast enough to not feel like you're watching a broadcast of a congressional session on the news! Go for the full impact of those eleven-second hugs I always suggest and think back to when the "huggee" came into your life!
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
Skills are cheap. Passion is priceless.
It's Sunday morning, and as usual, I'm a long way from the business and marketing of photography. But, that's what Reflections has always been meant to be. However, this morning is going to be a very short post, and one that doesn't require a lot of text.
Many years ago, I wrote a blog post about passion for the craft. I wrote,
"You can't create images that pull at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it!"
Pretty simple and straightforward right? Well, losing my good buddy Terry Deglau last weekend got me thinking about how much he loved the craft, but it was more than that. Terry's signature was the way he loved his friends, the industry, helping other photographers, and life in general.
Over the last few years, many of you have "met" some of the artists I respect most in this industry in features like "Why?" and various podcasts/posts. They all share one common denominator - their passion for everything they do! It's the energy and creativity that comes out of their love for imaging that helps ignite and keep elevating the love we all share.
If you love your work, you'll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can,
and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you, like a fever!
And that brings me full circle to my point. It's obvious I love this industry. However, so much of what I love most isn't directly about photography. It's about the dedication of so many artists I've met who open their hearts every day and demonstrate their passion for life!
Wishing everybody a fantastic Sunday, and a day when your passion for family, friends, and capturing memories is unmeasurable! Always go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most important to you, and make it one of those days that sets the standard for smiling a lot!
It's Sunday morning, and as I write today's Reflections, it may well be one of the hardest I've ever written. At the same time, it's one of the most important to share.
Yesterday afternoon I got an email about one of the very best friends I've had in my life, Terry Deglau:
This is Sydney, Terry's daughter, writing you today with sad news. We wanted to be in touch with all of you as soon as possible, and since dad so loved his blog, we figured this was the best way to get the word out. This morning, Sat., September 14, 2019, our Dad passed away...
I immediately teared up, and for the rest of the evening, the tears would come and go, until my head hit the pillow. I fell asleep thinking about my good buddy and our thirty-year friendship together. It was more than just "thinking" about our friendship. As I closed my eyes, I was looking at a theater marquis with bold letters, "TONIGHT: Skip and Terry's Awesome Adventure." I walked into the theater and grabbed a seat.
Most of you didn't know Terry. He and I met around 1989, and he was instrumental in putting Kodak on the map with professional photographers. That might seem strange since back then Kodak was one of the top five most recognized brands in the world, but not in everyone's heart. Terry was hired to be the relations manager with the working public. His target? Professional photographers in the portrait/social categories.
So, if you were a wedding, school, portrait, or pet photographer if you didn't know Terry personally, you certainly knew who he was. But you knew him because he was Terry Deglau the photographer, not because of his role in Kodak. He was a photographer, educator, writer, and friend to so many of us in the industry. He was perhaps the kindest most giving man I've ever met, and his passion for photography was unmatched.
I was president of Hasselblad at the time we met. After writing to Kodak and calling several times without a response, we chose to do a marketing promotion with Agfa. Management at Kodak was upset and sent Terry to meet with me to get the company relationship back on track. It was around 1989/90 at WPPI where we first met. There was an exhibitor lounge on the second floor overlooking the trade show, and that's where our friendship kicked off - and it only grew from there.
Within a few months, it was as if we'd known each other our entire lives. Our friendship was one adventure after another. We drove Ansel Adams' 1977 Cadillac and photographed Yosemite for three days. We started "Speakers Corner" between the Kodak and Hasselblad booths at trade shows. We were together on the annual snowmobile trip to Yellowstone each winter for ten years; then a father-son trip to Yosemite with my son Adam and his son Jim; and countless lunches, dinners, and projects together, year after year.
Always laughing about it, Terry referred to me as his evil brother, talking him into one adventure after another. The two of us complimented each other. We used to laugh about being like an old married couple. We knew each other that well.
Somewhere along the way, Tony Corbell, Terry, Don Blair and I became the Four Musketeers. We worked together on different projects; always caught up to each other for at least one meal at every convention and simply watched each other's backs. Our friendship existed in real time, since there was no Internet, Facetime, or Skype to keep in touch.
Terry's health wasn't always the best, and around 2005 he'd retired and was living in Florida in the Villages. After a stroke he wasn't allowed to drive, so we came up with a solution. I don't remember if it was Roy Madearis' idea or mine, but together with a long list of friends, we raised enough funds and surprised Terry with a 1957 Chevy replica golf cart. One by one, we all showed up at his house for the day of delivery.
As usual, Terry was clueless. My Dad and I showed up first, and told Terry we had to be in Orlando. Ralph Romaguera, who lived in New Orleans said he was just in the neighborhood and thought he'd stop by. The doorbell never stopped ringing.
Yesterday the industry lost one of its biggest fans, and many of us lost a best friend. I didn't have exclusivity on Terry's friendship, but couldn't be more proud to have been part of the circle of people who loved and respected him. In Don Blair's Guide to Lighting and Posting Body Parts, which was produced with Terry and Tony's help, I wrote:
"So the secret to creating great images really isn't a mystery at all. It just takes a photographer like Terry who loves what he does, a few good friends and an unmatched love for the craft!"
And to my buddy, Terry, you'll be missed more than you could possibly know. There are thousands of photographers whose lives you touched, and you'll always have a piece of my heart. Love ya man - until we meet on the next great adventure...
Note: A memorial service is planned for 11am on Saturday, Oct 19th, 2019 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Latrobe, PA. Hope many of you can be there.
It's Sunday morning, and as always I'm stepping away from the business and marketing of photography. While I'm writing this today, the idea came to me a few weeks ago when I was looking at the image above. It was captured with a LUMIX G9 while we were visiting friends in Ohio. I was amazed at the sharpness, but there was something else I appreciated.
The marigold in the front was at its peak, alive, beautiful and in full bloom. Just outside the depth of field in the back, an older flower was dying and fell apart a few days later. That got me thinking about the expression, as one door closes another opens.
I've had plenty of disappointments in my life, but when I look back, each one led me to something different and often better. Here are a few examples:
Think about your own life and experiences. How many times have you felt a knot in your stomach over a change you weren't expecting? (It's the same feeling you got with that first dent you put in your father's car as a kid!)
Now, look back at what followed - not always right away, but sooner or later as one door closed, another new one opened. I'm also a firm believer in the expression; everything always works out for the better. Over and again in my life, it's been proven true.
So, the next time you're feeling down over a closing door, have confidence, and be looking for a new one to open. Most important of all, remember, "It's just a bad day, not a bad life!"
Wishing everybody an outstanding Sunday and time with friends and families who most of the time represent doors that never close! Go for those eleven-second hugs I always talk about and remember to limit the time you spend looking at your life in your rearview mirror - it's what's in front of you that counts!
As with everything I write on Sunday mornings, I'm off-track from the business and marketing of photography, but it's hardly a typical Sunday. It's been a bizarre week here in south Florida because of the hurricane. There were lines at the gas stations, shelves in a couple of markets were bare, and there was a quiet rolling fear of the unknown. My heart goes out to everyone in Dorian's new path, but you could hear a city-wide sigh of relief when the hurricane tracking model changed yesterday.
In the aftermath of the good news, we had a chance to relax a little. Sheila and I love watching college football and the first major upset of the season came with Georgia State beating Tennessee. Georgia State was without question the underdog. After the win, one of the sports commentators asked the coach if it was true he told his players the following:
"If you don't believe, don't show up!"
It was such a great line that I wrote it down, so I could use it in this morning's post. Think about the power of that statement and how it applies to virtually everything we do. Examine the goals you have an artist to capture beautiful images, and as a business owner to exceed client expectations, and make yourself habit-forming.
I meet so many photographers at conferences and online who, when business is slow to grow, they start to question their decision to be an artist. Great photographers don't happen overnight. Look at any photographers you admire, and you'll find they've never stopped learning or growing.
Take it one step further - they've weathered so many different storms in their lives. But through every challenge, they've never stopped believing in themselves or their dreams. They've learned to listen to their hearts.
And there it is - my point this morning - you can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it! You know how to focus on your subjects, but don't back off from focusing on your dreams.
It's short and to the point this morning - photography and the respect and support your clients deserve requires you to believe in your skillset. If your skillset isn't there yet, then it's pretty simple - be patient and keep working on it. This is one business where you can't fake it 'till you make it.
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday and one filled with family, friends, and time to appreciate everything you have in your life. And as always, it's a time for those eleven-second hugs with those people who believe most in you!
It's Sunday morning and if you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time you know "Reflections" is all about going off-track from business, marketing and technique. I love that time you've allowed me to take to share what's bouncing around in my head, no matter what the topic.
This morning I'm in one of those how-did-I-get-here moments. Every day we're given choices of doors to walk through. Each door comes in the form of emails, phone calls, text messages, forum threads on Facebook with other photographers and conferences/workshops we can attend.
If I look back on my life, it's always been without very much direction. I've never known what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I was a kid, if you asked me, I thought it was clever to say "Peter Pan" and never grow up. We all have to grow up - but that doesn't mean we can't have fun in the process. My vote is walk through every door you can find time to open, and you'll be amazed at where each new path takes you!
Here's are some examples:
Here's my point - we all have a choice to make every day - be involved or be a couch potato, or I suppose more accurately put - an office/studio potato. You can't grow as an artist or for that matter a member of the human race if you don't get out of the house!
You need to attend every event you possibly can. Build your network of associates and friends. You never know when that person you're talking to on the elevator needs a little help or is going to help you. You need to be at every conference you possibly can attend: PPE in New York, IUSA in Nashville, SYNC in Florida, WPPI in Las Vegas, PhotoShop World in Orlando and Las Vegas, ShutterFest in St. Louis and ClickCon in Chicago. (Note: 2020 dates are not announced yet for all of these shows.) Then there are state and regional shows all year long.
And, for those of you who think you can't afford to go to so many shows - you can't afford NOT to! With each conference you attend you're going to experience a growth spurt and you never know what door might open next.
If over the next twelve months, you met new people at each conference and took at least one class outside your comfort zone - think about how much you'd raise the bar on your skillset. As your skillset and network grow - your life changes. It becomes richer and opportunities you never thought about become a part of your life.
So, how did I get here? It's a long list of events and great people. I wake up smiling every morning, never knowing what the day ahead is going to bring. In that group of great people are all of you, my readership. As I've written dozens of times in the past - the best thing about this industry is the friendships. The second best thing is where those friendships have the potential to take us.
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday. I hope the day is one of peace, love, and friendships. Go for those eleven-second hugs and take a minute to think about the people most important to you - how did they come into your life?
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're hanging out on the other side of the planet!
I'm back in Florida, and it's a typical Sunday morning. I'm up early and Sheila's still asleep, and I'm in a strange mood trying to find the words to express a particular kind of sadness. Remember, "Sunday Morning Reflections" are always off the topic of photography, and this morning I'm a long way away from marketing and business.
Friday night the phone rang and a good buddy was calling me to tell me his wife had passed away that morning. I started to tear up, but did my best to try and console him. I hung up the phone and cried, not just for the loss of a great lady, but for the pain he's going through and I'm too far away to do very much.
I hate when people post things that are personal, but this is "Reflections." So, I'm going into forbidden territory, but I'll keep it brief.
I met Bob Thompson when I joined Hasselblad in 1987. Our friendship has been one adventure after another, and his wife Cindy supported all of it. We used to laugh every time we did a scuba trip, because Cindy wouldn't let him go until he cleaned his office! She wasn't big on traveling but the two photographs I found of them were on a trip to Sweden in 1998.
The Hasselblad sales force won a trip to Sweden, with spouses, and it was a kick to have Cindy and all the spouses with us. Years later we're still laughing about some of the things that happened on that trip, but that's not my point so much this morning.
Our friendships are the mortar that keeps the bricks of our lives together. From scuba-diving to snowmobiling to working trade shows, meetings, and sharing a love for imaging, Bob and I have been through a lot of great times together. We've spent hours talking about our lives outside the industry and shared mutual losses of good friends and associates, but losing Cindy was never something I anticipated and I'm simply at a loss.
I know she's going to be watching over him along with a circle of good friends. A few years ago, while they were still living in Denver, Sheila and I got out to dinner with them. It was non-stop laughs for the evening and those memories are something we'll always cherish.
So, for my good buddy this morning, I have to use a quote from the Internet:
"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. "
There's no better caption for the photographs in this post today, than Jodi Picoult's quote I've used so often:
"This what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect."
Wishing everybody a day filled with the people most important in your life and time to appreciate them. Those eleven-second hugs are always important, but this morning when Sheila wakes up I'm going bump them up to longer. Life is just too short!
Happy Sunday everybody.
It's anything but a typical Sunday morning, as I get ready to head to Chicago for the ClickCon conference. I've got four different programs I'm doing, and my head is filled with PowerPoint slides! And while usually, I'm entirely off the topics of business and marketing in photography, this morning not so much.
I've written about the anticipation before a conference easily a hundred times since my first blog post in 2009. Sheila calls it my "show mode." She recognizes the lights are on, but nobody's home look on my face that comes and goes for the last week before I hit the road. But it's the energy of anticipation that's one of the sweetest reasons I love this industry - catching up to old friends and making new ones!
Technically we refer to it as building your network, but it's so much more. I've always loved conferences and workshops. In my Hasselblad days, I remember my buddy Tony Corbell saying once, "Skip's wound a little tight!" LOL - I still laugh at things Jim Morton used to do to try and keep me involved, but at the same time out of his hair when it came to getting the Hasselblad booth set up.
Here's the point - attending every conference, convention, and workshop you can keeps you connected. To say it's essential to build your network suggests it's a motivation to build a stronger business presence. The truth is, it's important to build your heart! As I've written in the past, you can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it. Well, building relationships with other people who share one of your passions reinforces the importance of the journey we're all on.
Yeah, I know, it sounds pretty lofty, but we're all traveling on a similar journey. It's a sense of community, passion for the craft, love for people, and the ability to capture memories. The key to success, in any business, is about building relationships - not only reinforcing the older ones but planting the seeds for new ones.
I don't make a living as a photographer - my first love is on the marketing and business side, but I'll match my passion for having a camera in my hands with anybody. Knowing that over the next few days I'm going to spend time with a couple of thousand people with the same love for imaging creates an amazing boost of energy. It's the reason for this stupid "What-me-worry?" Alfred E. Neuman look on my face this morning.
So, if you're in the Chicago area, come join the craziness this week. And if you're not heading that way - look at your calendar and check out the dates for future conventions and workshops. Go to as many as you possibly can and as your circle of friends grows, and you establish more relationships in this industry you'll recognize what I'm feeling this morning - nothing beats the anticipation of being with friends.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead. As always go for those eleven-second hugs with people you love and appreciate the path you've chosen for a career. If you're doing something in photography, there's no industry like it!
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry this past August.
The dates have been announced for 2020 at the Palmer House in Chicago. August 11-14!
What a kick!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.