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!
It's a typical Sunday morning. I'm up early as always; the house is quiet, and Sheila's still asleep. As usual, I'm off track, but with a head overloaded on things I need to do this week before heading to ClickCon. Helping to keep my sanity is an outrageous appreciation for the role all of you play in my life; the anticipation of meeting many of you at the conference; and quite simply an overall appreciation for my life.
In the process of thinking about all of these things, there's a topic that seems to be screaming for me to write about. I'm curious about some of the things you do to escape from the stress of business.
Here's a new one on my list: Sheila and I planted a vegetable garden. It might not seem like a big deal, but after years of watching her play in the dirt, I've caught the bug.
We planted zucchini, pickles, peppers, a few tomato plants, and basil. I've learned the hard way about fighting the bugs and lost the zucchini early on, discovered bugs on the tomato plants last night, but most of the other plants are doing well. And the basil is definitely king of the jungle!
The other night we decided to make a pesto sauce from scratch using our own basil. With Sheila's Celiac, we finally found a great gluten-free cheese pizza that's incredible when cooked on the grill. We came up with our own recipe using the premade three-cheese pizza as the base. We added our pesto sauce, prosciutto, sliced fresh tomatoes, and a light layer of shredded mozzarella and provolone. It was perfect and is now in the Skip & Sheila - OMG Hall of Fame.
And that brings me right to my point - As I've gotten older, it's become harder to put the business on the back burner. It's hard not to check email one last time before bed; take time off, and especially to relax. There's always something popping into my head reminding me of an upcoming deadline or a project I'm hoping to do. But there's something soothing in working in the garden, trimming back a plant or even battling it out with bugs, squirrels, and rabbits.
That pizza the other night and the fact that we enjoyed it so much was my at-home version of scoring a 100 in print competition. The satisfaction at creating a great pizza, combined with time together in two of our hobbies, gardening, and cooking, was simply fun. It helped to clear my head and set the stage for so many different things I needed to work on the rest of the week.
So, I'm wishing all of you a terrific day filled with things that help take your mind off business. I'm hoping you can make it a stress-free day with people important to you; those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I write about every Sunday and time to appreciate everything in your life outside the business.
Oh, and as a joke two years ago I made the sign below for the side of the house where all of Sheila's gardening stuff is. I guess it's time to see if she'll let me add my name to the "company!" LOL
Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
It's Sunday morning, and I couldn't be more off-base from the marketing and business of photography. In fact, for a few minutes, I thought about breaking my Sunday habit and not posting - that's when I realized that was the topic all in itself.
Ever sit and ask yourself, "Why?" Ironically, I have a series of the same name. It features 121 artists and their favorite images over the years, but I'm not talking about photography, but various aspects of my life. I guess it started with one of the Pinterest emails that was loaded with poems about losing a pet...well that sent me into a tailspin, missing Molly the Wonder Dog.
Then, when I checked into Facebook, there was a post from my pal Melissa Albert about missing a friend she'd lost who was like family. Well, that got me thinking about Don Blair, Dean Collins and Bengt Forssbaeck (VP at Hasselblad in Sweden.) One step further and my folks jumped in, especially my Dad. I found myself telling him about some of the bizarre politics in this industry as I continue to fine-tune my presentations for the upcoming ClickCon show in Chicago. He was a one-man band in commercial real estate and used to be fascinated by the stories I shared about so many of the characters in our industry.
Why were all these personalities on my mind? Why do I do what I do? Why is life at times so bittersweet? Why do I feel compelled to write every Sunday morning, which has so little to do with my core business?
The answer isn't particularly witty or astute, it borders on cheesy and even trite, but it's who I believe we all are and it's summed up in a line I've used dozens of times...
I am a part of all that I have met.
From Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
My "why" simply gets answered with "because." Everyone who passes through our life regardless of how long they stay becomes a part of us. They become an ingredient to who we are, why we do the things we do, and why time is so special. Looking back over the years, I find myself wishing I'd savored so many friendships just a little longer.
At the same time, it's the legacy all those no longer with us have left us - our ability for them to live on through our memories, the stories we share and the lessons we learned. It's the gleam in my eye when I tell a story about something crazy that Big Daddy and I did once, or describing Molly's never-ending quest to catch tennis balls, or my Dad's smile when eating a ten-dollar plate of onion rings!
And there's my point - learn to savor your time with everyone who shares your journey. We did a great podcast with Jen Rozenbaum last year, and she talked about how she wanted to run her life in reverse so that she could look back with no regrets. I can't do her explanation justice, but it's a podcast worth listening to.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead and time to appreciate not only the people you're with but those you miss. That heartache when you think about them is simply the power of the memories you have, and there's no better way to respect the love you have for them than to take a walk down Memory Lane. Always go for those eleven-second hugs with those you love and as always, thanks for being here this morning!
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
"I woke up with no idea what I wanted to write about and turned to Melody Beattie. Well, she not only helped me organize my thoughts, but she tied in directly to a new podcast we're airing later this week.
Here's what she wrote for today:
"My friend, a clerk in a local bookstore, and I were sitting on a bench one evening about twenty feet from the edge of the Pacific Ocean. A few stars and a tiny sliver of moon softly lit the sky. We were drinking coffee and staring at the sea. "I like the ocean," my friend said, "I need to see it. It's nature's way of reminding us of eternity."
Sometimes, we zoom in on the details of our lives and all we can see is the small picture - the problems, issues, and specifics of what we need to do today. These moments are real. They're the heart of our lives. It's good to stay focused and attend to them, but sometimes we need to step back and see the big picture, too.
Visit places that remind you of eternity when you can. See the mountains. See the stars. Walk among the ancient redwoods. Stand at the ocean's door. Let nature and life remind you of eternity in ways that speak to your soul."
And here's why it was so perfect as I looked back on this past week.
Chamira Young and I did a series of podcasts together with Photofocus last year called "Beyond Technique." When the sponsor wanted to do their own podcast, it went on the back-burner. We decided to bring it back, and the first episode airs this week with an extraordinary guest and friend, Gareth Rockliffe.
What makes this first episode so unique is the topic, an idea he's been thinking about for a few months. Basically, it's the spirituality of the craft as it blends in with the way we live our lives. What started the idea was a conversation he and I had a couple of weeks ago where he mentioned how we begin our lives in "P" mode and then as we grow older, spend the rest of our lives trying to get out of it.
Melody Beattie was talking about looking at the big picture versus zooming in on the details, and I realized the strong parallel to Gareth's thoughts, and it tied in with my "macro" view of life this morning.
I didn't sleep well last night; I've got a lot on my plate I want to do today and woke up feeling stressed about getting everything done. Instead of just appreciating looking through a wide angle lens for today, I went straight to macro and the details of what I need to accomplish over the next twelve hours. In the process I lost that smile I always have getting out of bed in the morning, but between Melody Beattie and Gareth, I'm now back to the right "lens choice."
I stepped back, took a few minutes to regroup my thoughts, and here I am walking the talk. And all along the way, photography played a roll in changing my view, starting with Gareth's image above. What I loved most about it was the way he picked up on the closer view as well as the horizon and the vastness of the ocean. I found it calming, being able to almost hear the surf rolling in on the beach. (Check out Gareth's website - you won't be disappointed!)
And there it is, my point this beautiful Sunday morning: Recognize when you need to step back for the broader view of anything you're working on, but at the same time, appreciate your ability to look closer when you need to. Personally, I'm stepping back today and enjoying the big picture, realizing that everything I want to do will get done, but the best part of the day is looking through a fish-eye lens.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead. Take the time to appreciate the wide-angle view and all that you have in your life to be grateful for, and where needed, like a therapeutic eleven-second hug with somebody you love, switch to macro. Recognize the important role they play in your life and helping you simply be you!
Happy Sunday, everybody! (And Monday to all my friends and readers on the other side of the world.)
This is my second attempt at writing a Sunday Morning Reflections post this morning. I'm off a beat. In fact, I wrote a post I liked about looking back and the fun of nostalgia but decided to save it for Throwback Thursday. So, here's my point this morning...
There are times and projects we all need to do that come with moments when we can't focus. There is no auto-focus button in life, and there's never been an auto-composition button. So, I'm taking my own advice and going off-the-grid for the day because there are times when we need to take a step back and regroup our thoughts.
I'm going to try and walk the talk. If you're having a day like mine is starting out to be, walk away from whatever you're working on. Hit the reset button and come back when your thoughts are better defined, and you can activate focus confirmation for whatever it is you're trying to do.
Wishing everybody a terrific day and if you're just stuck on what you thought you'd do next today, don't worry about it. There's nothing wrong with wasting time when you need to waste time. But no matter what you're doing - go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people most important in your life. They might just be the ones to help you refocus!
Happy Sunday, everybody!
Black Iris from Georgia O'Keefe's Garden
LUMIX G9 with LUMIX Vario 14-140mm lens - f5.6 @ 1/500 ISO 200
It's a pretty typical Sunday morning. The house is incredibly quiet; Sheila's still asleep, and I'm sitting here trying to decide if what I want to share is relevant. The issue is how my perspective about time has changed as I've gotten older. I've run into so many situations lately that leave me shaking my head and realizing how many people simply treat "time" as if they had an endless supply.
I went looking for a great quote about wasting time and so many of the quotes referred to spending time on the wrong people. I'm not talking as much about people as wasting time on things that are meaningless in the long run.
Here are a few examples:
And while this might sound like a contradiction - recognize there are times when you need to recharge and kick back and just relax. Too many people think taking a break from the chaos of a tough day is wasting time.
Time you enjoy wasting isn't wasted time.
Bertrand Russell and John Lennon
That brings me right back to the beginning. Time is the one thing we will never have enough of. You don't need to be productive every minute of the day, just stop wasting time on things that don't matter. Most important of all, like drinking that bottle of wine you saved for a special occasion, savor time with special friends, working on great projects, and following your heart.
Wishing everybody an outstanding day ahead and opportunities to get the most out of time with friends and family. Take the time for those eleven-second hugs because they're therapeutic. And, during those long hugs, think about how much that person means to you and how much they've enriched your life.
I hit the computer about half an hour ago without a clue of what to write about for Sunday Morning Reflections. Part of my routine is to scroll through my home page on Facebook and catch up on what's been shared over the last day or two. In the process, I ran across a short video from Karen Kuehn of her ranch, and the peacefulness of the video hit me along with her comment, "Blessed I love my life."
As one of the industry's most outstanding artists, Karen came into my life in the late '80s when one of her images was featured in a Hasselblad campaign. We only met for a minute back then, but we caught up to each other two years ago, and here we are today as good friends.
Last month in New Mexico, we finally caught up to Karen and spent part of an afternoon on her ranch, and it couldn't have been more peaceful. Surrounded by giant willows, she planted over twenty years ago; it's a haven for creativity and stillness.
I still wasn't sure what to write about, so I grabbed one of Melody Beattie's books and for today read:
"Stillness is different from solitude, different from aloneness, different from turning off the stereo or speaking softly. Stillness is a place. You can find it in the desert or in the mountains. You can find it when you're alone or when you're in the midst of people. You can find stillness wherever you are, whatever you're going through. Stillness is a place within you. Slow down. Breathe deeply. Get quiet. Become familiar with stillness. Take time to learn its power."
And there it was - the perfect topic for today and why I enjoy writing Reflections - it's about the stillness of a Sunday morning. It's about the peacefulness as the sun's coming up. Those first morning rays bring a deep appreciation for my life, Sheila, family, great friends like Karen, and so many memories. It's stillness that allows me to savor so many moments that through the noise and craziness of any typical business day I'd miss.
Finding stillness is an art form. It takes practice to shut off the noise, block the stress and have complete control over wherever you'd like your head and heart to wander. At that moment there's no particular purpose other than to savor time.
I have yet to find a consistent recipe for stillness, but the basic ingredients are always the same, and it starts with learning to cherish what's really important...love. I know it sounds sappy, but I'm not just talking about love for those people most special in your life, but a love for yourself, and the passions that have you getting out of bed each morning with a smile on your face. It's about the love for your life, even if it's not quite where you want it yet.
As always, I wish everyone an incredible day ahead, and time to enjoy the stillness. Nothing beats one of those eleven-second therapeutic hugs while surrounded by the peace of stillness. And to our friend Karen, who started this thing today...thanks, buddy! Sure do love ya and glad to see the second round of knee surgery has you on the mend.
PS The images I grabbed for today's post were all taken at Karen's, where the beauty of stillness abounds. She's got this funky little garden surrounded by roses and at either end are two chopped up old cars. It makes absolutely no sense, but at the same time, it's brilliant. I was traveling with a LUMIX G9, and Karen grabbed a shot of us in the garden.
I started writing Sunday Morning Reflections as a way to help me keep my sanity by taking a break from the business and marketing of photography. Thanks to your feedback and encouragement, I think I've only missed 1-2 Sunday's since I kicked off the series so many years ago. And while my life has changed over the years, the passion for writing on a quiet Sunday morning just keeps getting better.
I guess today's post could be as appropriate for a Throwback Thursday as it is wishing all you Dads out there a Happy Father's Day today.
The back story is short and sweet - for my fiftieth birthday, my folks took us for a long weekend to a great little hotel/inn on the Chesapeake Bay. We had a really nice dinner one night at the Inn. Although these days, putting a suit on to go out to dinner is so rare. And, check out the width of those ties!
However, sitting out on the patio behind the hotel, in a suit after a great dinner, and having a cigar with my Dad was a perfect memory-maker. Dad and I talked about our lives, careers, business, and it made the evening perfect.
Well, it's Father's Day and while my Dad isn't around that doesn't change the profound impact he had and continues to have on my life or the love I feel for him every day. And, thanks to this industry all of us are a part of, I've got plenty of photographs to spark the memories and send me on a trip down Memory Lane whenever I want.
So Dads - I wish you a day filled with peace, lots of smiles, and the presence of people around you who you love the most. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I always write about, and in the process, think about how much meaning your kids have given your life.
Happy Father's Day!
It's only a typical Sunday morning in that I had no idea what I wanted to write about. I started scrolling through my Facebook home page. About ten minutes into checking out what people had shared I struck gold finding Jeff Schewe's post about the Epson produced video below featuring Paul, and John Paul Caponigro called "Two Generations."
I'm a big fan of both artists but have only met JP over the years. JP is no stranger here at SCU, from his episode of "Why?" to links to his workshops and even his 2011 TEDx presentation. He's an accomplished artist. Both JP and Paul need to be on your radar.
However, for me, the power of the video wasn't just about their passion as artists, but the bond and respect between father and son. The title "Two Generations" is so appropriate - not only as father and son but as silver-based and digital technologies. They've both made it a goal to never compromise on the quality of their images, their relationship, or their love for the craft.
Just trust me and take the time to watch and listen to the video!
I suppose the video and their relationship is hitting me a little harder this time of year because Father's Day is next weekend, and I find myself thinking about my Dad.
My Dad was a businessman. As a kid, he had a wholesale candy and tobacco business. His company sold everything from ribbon candy for fundraisers to schools and non-profits to the candy counter at local stores and vending machines in northeast Ohio. He had a warehouse full of candy, which I had access to and is probably the reason I never got into candy that much, because I had all I ever wanted.
I've always regretted that Dad and I didn't share the same focus on a career path, like Paul and JP. He left the candy and tobacco business when I was in my teens, and went into commercial and industrial real estate until he semi-retired in his early 70's. Seeing JP, together with his Dad in the video, sparked memories for so many moments, my Dad and I enjoyed.
While we didn't share the same career field we shared the same passion for life. Even in our focus together on my Mom's Alzheimer's, we found time to create a few memories and even a photo-op or two. A few years back the Senior Friendship Centers used a photograph my good buddy Bob Coates helped us with. They ran us in a full-page ad in the local paper and magazines. And, that brings me full circle to my point this morning:
The video Paul and JP did together, with Epson's help, is a gift to all of us. But, there's a much bigger point than being about photography and printing. It's about an incredible bond between father and son. It brought so many great memories of my own to the surface - like the richness of heavy cream rising to the top.
My Dad passed away almost four years ago at 93, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him. But thanks to photography and printing, I've got so many memories I can hold in my hands. We can't stop time or turn back the clock, but each photograph and video gives us the ability to time travel, and that's the magic of this industry.
Wishing everybody an incredible day ahead and time to appreciate your parents, whether they're still by your side or not. Take the time to look in your rearview mirror and cherish those moments that helped make you who you are. Sadly, I have no relationship with my own kids today, but that doesn't change the smiles and memories of the past before life got unnecessarily complicated.
As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, especially with your folks. We can't stop time, and they won't be around forever - don't miss the opportunity that's there for you right now.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
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.