by Skip Cohen
If you're new to the SCU blog, here's a disclaimer for Sunday mornings - I ALWAYS go off track from the photography business and marketing. I consider it therapeutic to take a break from writing about the challenges we're all facing in business today.
These days, it's not hard to find something else to talk about. Just the pandemic and the election leave me with no shortage of topics. However, it's tough to not sound like a rant!
A few weeks ago, I was waiting for a prescription to be refilled and wandering around the pharmacy. I picked up a brochure about aromatherapy. I've never believed in it, except for recognizing that Sheila's Mexican casserole smells great! Well, the more I read, the more I wanted to try it out.
I chose two oils from a possible dozen, "Happiness" and "Mental Clarity" seemed to be the two most necessary to boost. Loaded with curiosity, I cranked up the aromas in my office the minute I got home.
Whether it's psychosomatic or it really does work, I don't care. I'm delighted with the results. I feel differently when I'm working, and the aromas are running at full speed.
Well, that got me thinking about a few new "scents" we could all use right now:
Meanwhile, just before writing this, I put in four drops of happiness oil, and it's working. Does it really work? Who cares? I know there are people who swear by it, and for now, it keeps me mellow, but so would a glass of wine. However, these days I need all the help I can get!
Wishing everybody a day filled with nothing but peace, along with people and things that make you smile. For me, it's Sheila and the two pups who typically outperform my happiness oil. But being hunkered down for over six months, it's nice to have a backup plan.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and I'm into my typical routine. I always go off-topic from photography, business, and marketing on Sundays, and I was thinking about different places I travel these days because of the pandemic.
For example, on land - Because I have fewer respiratory issues than Sheila, I want to do the food shopping. I typically hit the market at 7:00 am on Sundays for the weekly shopping list. The store's always pretty empty, and the idiots who still think this is all a hoax aren't up yet.
A mask isn't a political statement - it's an I.Q. Test!
In Cyberspace, there are all kinds of new places.
Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.
.And there you have it - we're staying safe and living what many would consider a pretty dull existence, but I still jump out of bed every morning. I'm amazed at so many new things happening as biz slowly inches it's way back on the business front. It's a snail's pace, but it's going in the right direction, and it's steady.
We're all dealing with a new norm. There are no words to describe how much we miss in-person contact with friends. We've got no choice but to stay the course. But think about what that first convention is going to be like when we all feel safe. Plus, we can stay connected with ClickCon Nation programs, going on all day today and one day each month through March of next year.
So, make it a great Sunday for connecting with friends and family. Just because you're hunkered down doesn't mean you're isolated from talking with people and plenty of virtual hugs. Most importantly, don't lose sight of your dreams - they're still out there, still alive, and still potential in your future - just a slower pace to get there!
Happy Sunday, everybody!
by Skip Cohen
I started today deciding I wasn't going to do Reflections post, but as the day's gone on, I realized I missed writing one. I started thinking about how I wanted today and the holiday tomorrow to go and in the process, stumbled on a quote:
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved!
That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.
It is the one thing we are interested in here."
And there you have what might be headed to one of the shortest Sunday posts I've ever written!
Just enjoy life! Ignore the politicians; give the news a rest; maintain physical distancing, and do what's necessary for your health and safety. Ignore the negators trying to squeeze their way into your life, heart, and mindset - just be dumb and happy!
Wishing all of you a Sunday and Monday holiday filled with peace, laughter, and time with the people you care most about, even if it's only on Facebook, Skype, or a phone call. Make time for people you love.
Happy Sunday...Happy Labor Day...and if you're outside the US, the sentiment is still the same!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Time is our most valuable commodity, but so often we throw it away worrying about what other people will think. Even when we've done our very best, we worry about criticism and outside opinions.
Well, it's Sunday morning and if you've followed me for even a short amount of time, you know I love to go off-topic from the business and marketing of photography once a week. Before I even thought about what I wanted to write about today, I got side-tracked with the post below from my good buddy, Scott Bourne.
It's too good not to share beyond his Facebook page. The best things about great friendships are what you learn from each other. Over the years he's been my sounding board on so many different ideas, and what he wrote this morning, once again hit home.
It also reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Dean Collins:
Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!
Remember that often, especially when you're creating for your own enjoyment, you're the checkbook holder!
by Scott Bourne
People ask me how/why I produce so much content. It doesn't matter whether it's photography, painting, writing, music, etc. It's always the same simple answer.
I've come to realize that my own effort is the only thing I can control in this life. Period.
I can't control what people think of my effort or of me for that matter. I can't control what others say about my effort or about me for that matter. So why worry about it?
I spend 100% of my time on that which I CAN control. My own effort. I do everything I do with gusto. I don't ever go half way. I don't ever ask for permission. I just go for it. For me it's always pedal to the metal, from sun-up to sun-down, seven days a week. And that's the way I like it.
As artists, it's none of our business what others think of our art. That's a rabbit hole and if you go down it, you'll never know how much work product you lost and time you wasted searching for empty compliments and dealing with vapid trolls.
So my advice is direct and to the point. Just do the work. Throw yourself into it 100%. Express yourself. Give the world your point of view without fear. Don't look back. When others hate. We create.
That simple philosophy has served me very, very well for more than six and a half decades. I hope it will serve you too.
Scott should be on your radar. His blog is just a click away, and you'll never be disappointed in the content he shares.
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday - a day filled with peace, minimal frustration with the pandemic, politics or anything that interrupts your ability to be creative. Smile more, bitch less and appreciate everything that's working right in your life, even though these days it's sometimes tough to recognize!
And to my pal Scott - thanks buddy. I needed this!
Happy Sunday everybody!
If you can't do anything about it, then let it go.
Don't be a prisoner to things you can't change.
by Skip Cohen
It's a typical Sunday, and I'm going to run amuck off the topic of marketing and business. It's a lesson I'm learning as I get older - sometimes there's absolutely nothing you can do. There it is - and while it might seem incredibly trite and simplistic, I'm still work in progress.
I was off a beat all day yesterday, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find the specific reason. The pandemic has created an emotional rollercoaster in my life, but as I sat here this morning determined to make today a better today, I started thinking about the world and my small piece of it.
We've got fires out of control in California, and I'm worried about friends in the area. We've got two hurricanes coming our way. While Sarasota is now predicted to be out of their way, New Orleans and Mississippi will get hit twice. Then there's the pandemic, which, while we've adjusted to the new norm, nothing changes in missing friends and the freedom we took for granted. Next in line is the political race, and it's another election where I have to decide who's the lesser of two evils - it's not about who's the best, who's less worse! (Apologies to Mrs. Sabo, my high school English teacher!) Finally there are things in my own little piece of the world with a family who were in isolation long before the word became fashionable.
The common denominator? They're all things I can do nothing about. I'm still running into people who won't wear a mask because all of this is a hoax. It's a perfect example of not being able to change people's opinions.
I searched for a quote to help me make my point and found the one above and then this one:
A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.
And that brings me right to my point and time to wrap up this post. We're all driving on winding roads and readjusting to new turns every day. We've got no choice but to play the cards we've been dealt, but what we so often miss are the cards we forgot we had.
For me, my inner gremlins took over and simply dragged me down. I wasted time feeling bad about things I just can't change and missed the time to savor all my friends trapped in cyberspace with me; Sheila, my health, the pups, and the list goes on and on. No matter how stressed we are over what's wrong in our lives right now, there's so much that's right.
Wishing everybody a day where you can just roll with it. Smile more, frown less, and trust what you feel in your heart. Most importantly, when those inner gremlins are dragging you down, reach out to someone you care about.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
by Skip Cohen
This is anything but a regular Sunday morning, but it gives me a chance to share a fun aspect of this industry.
I've been asked to kick off ClickCon Nation's first segment of a nine-month series in less than an hour, which will hopefully lead up to Chicago and ClickCon 2021. The challenge is that I wasn't scheduled to be the opening act. Joe McNally was supposed to be the kick-off keynote speaker today, but the hurricane last week took out power in his area, and they're not likely to have power before Tuesday.
Well, I got a call late yesterday, to ask if my program, "My Business Has Disappeared. Now What?" could be presented today. I obviously agreed, and while I'm a little nervous, I would never miss an opportunity to help this team. And there's the keyword, "TEAM."
I look at our entire industry as a team. We have a history of working together, helping each other, and watching each other's backs. And just as ClickCon Nation has asked for my help this morning, they'd be there for me...and you...if the situation were reversed.
Now, being asked to be Joe McNally's stunt double borders on overwhelming, but Joe's stuck on generator power in Connecticut. Once power is up and running, and life is back to normal, he's asked to do his keynote later in the conference. Tune into ClickCon Nation for more information. We all have our heroes in this industry, and this is a perfect example of why Joe's one of mine. He never walks away from a commitment!
So, I'm on at 9:00 am CST, 10:00 am EST, with my program. And while I'm definitely not Joe McNally, I'm excited to share some old and some brand new ideas to help photographers rebuild their business. Just don't ask me about anything to do with lighting ratios or specific techniques that Joe's become known for over the years!
Wishing everybody a day to simply kick back and appreciate everything you have in your life, especially friends and family who watch your back. The pandemic has been horrible, but after five months of semi-isolation, we all need to appreciate what we still have and stop focusing on what's been missing!
Happy Sunday, everybody!
The first rule of holes: When you're in one, stop digging!
by Skip Cohen
If you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time, you know I always go off track on Sunday mornings. It's my time to step away from the business and marketing of photography and write about life. But this morning, I'm off a beat. In fact, this is my third attempt at posting today.
I ran across the quote above as I was trying to follow through on what's become my Sunday routine. I do it because it's therapeutic to share things more personal than the challenges of business. We're all dealing with the pandemic in different ways and with various levels of fear, frustration, and anxiety. That's what I started twice to write about today, and I hated what I wrote!
Still, there's a lesson here, and the quote above couldn't be more appropriate. There are times when creativity doesn't flow. So, I'm following the first rule of holes and giving up digging. I'm spending the day with Sheila and the pups after I shut off my computer. I'm also going to clear my head and just feel blessed that I'm hunkered down with somebody I care so much about.
And there's my point - if you're not feeling whatever it is you'd like to feel, walk away from it for a little while. Take a break and shut off all the noise from the outside. Just stop digging!
A writer, Madeline L'Engle, was asked, "How do you define success?" She replied, "If I have enough laughter, I go to bed contented with myself and my life. I don't think the world's standards of success are that valid."
I wish all of you a fantastic day ahead and one filled with peace, love, and time to simply appreciate everything that's made you who you are. And lots of laughter! We all need more laughter right now. The pandemic has made us all victims, but we don't have to give in!
Happy Sunday, everybody!
Always find time for the things that make you feel alive!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and five months of the pandemic, like many of you, is having a less than positive impact on my heart and soul. What's interesting is that Covid-19 isn't taking the toll as much as the controversy between politics and science - It adds to the polarization in opinions of just about anything. I find myself dreaming about us living alone in Antarctica!
The challenge is not losing sight of our goal of surviving this mess and being back to a more acceptable norm in the future. And while I used to think that "future" was right around the corner, who knows when things will get better - but that doesn't change the need for optimism and the never-ending search for something to smile about.
So, Sheila and I got a lesson yesterday from Belle and Lucy. They both turned a year old this past week, and for a treat, it was time for their first frozen yogurt. Their focus, the minute their tongue hit the yogurt, couldn't be interrupted. Nonstop, sharing the frozen treat, gave us a moment of respite from worrying about the day-in-day out stresses that have become the new norm while hunkered down!
The short video below says it all - they weren't quitting for anything. And neither were our smiles!
And there's my point and the lesson, thanks to two furry four-legged pups who have helped us stay focused. We're all bored and dealing with different levels of fear, anxiety, and frustration. Like many of you, there are times when it just seems so gloomy.
That's the point where we all need to find something that makes us smile. Something that puts aside the pain of what we're going through and just makes us sing. And while that sounds outrageously sappy and hokey - this is a time to listen to our hearts and shut off everything negative from the outside.
We will get through this, and we can do it if we stay focused on what's most important, our hearts, family, friends, and good old optimism. I'm not suggesting you sugar-coat anything, but stop letting the news-media trolls and their social media followers into your life. Watch the news less, read recognized sources more, and ignore the politicians.
It took one frozen yogurt for Sheila and me to smile and recognize how grateful we are for what we have. It didn't make any of our fears go away, just helped to prioritize what's most important, what we have together.
Take the time to find something you haven't done before, or at least in a long time. Find that thing that makes you smile, even a phone call to a good friend you miss, will help make it a better day!
Wishing everybody a day obnoxiously filled with Alfred E. Neuman, What me worry? moments. And most of all, stay focused on a better future. We're all missing a level of freedom that's beyond our reach at the moment. Don't give up on it and do whatever it takes to find those simple things that can make you smile today.
by Skip Cohen
I started writing Sunday Morning Reflections as a way to maintain my sanity. It's become therapeutic to step away from marketing and business at least once a week. But the pandemic has changed all that. The pandemic has made every day almost the same and created a routine, that after four months, if I let it, becomes uneventful.
The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out;
the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.
Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough.
They're there to stop the other people.
The pandemic is our brick wall right now. I don't want to be like so many photographers staring at the wall like a deer caught in your headlights. The challenge is how to break through the brick wall and stay focused on something new - that carrot of inspiration dangling in front of me just beyond my reach.
Sheila and I laugh when each morning, I ask, "What do you have going on today?"
Every day has become the same, but there are highlights if I pay attention. For example, I'm back to keeping a camera by the back door and chasing butterflies when they appear. And last night before bed, I was spraying the bougainvilleas, winning the battle with bugs that keep eating them. Business-wise, I'm catching up with more old friends every day on Facebook, along with email and the phone. I'm reading more FB pages and following more people than ever before.
And technically I'm working hard to up my game in imaging. I just rebuilt my webcam setup with Platypod goosenecks and Litra lights. Plus, I'm jumping into more online programs being taught by some of the industry's finest educators.
Note: There are some great ones out there...Coming up this week, Kelby Media's hosting the Kelby One Photoshop Online ConferenceTuesday and Wednesday; stay tuned for new announcements about ClickCon Nation coming up in August; there are ongoing programs like my buddy Lee Varis with his Photoshop Rant, and Jay P. Morgan never slows down with The Slanted Lens.
So, here's my point - go back and read that quote above one more time. We've all got a giant brick wall in front of us, but it's opening new doors for creativity. It's pushing us all out of analysis paralysis and taking more risks in answering that age-old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Take your time and answer the question! You'll be surprised at how many options there really are, even hunkered down during a pandemic!
This past week I shared my new favorite quote in another post, and it's the foundation for everything we need to do during this new norm:
"Don't think outside the box. Think like there is no box!"
As always, wishing everybody a terrific day of staying healthy and focused on peace and the love you have for your family and friends. Even under today's restrictions, you can still reach out and touch their hearts.
Happy Sunday or Monday for my friends on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
It's a typical Sunday morning. If you're new to Reflections, be warned: I always go off track, typically writing about something other than business and marketing in imaging. This morning is too good not to share, and if you have fun with this and get involved, then I'll take credit - if you hate the idea, it's all Glen Clark's fault! LOL
Glen and I have been friends since a meeting at Kodak in the early nineties. We've worked on different projects together, caught up at various shows/conferences, and shared a bunch of meals together. And we grab a phone call with each other regularly. We've had a lot of great ideas and laughs over a twenty-five-year friendship, and we're not letting the pandemic slow us down.
Yesterday he sent me the images below and wrote:
Oh thank God...I finally got a haircut today. I still think you should do some "before and after"
Covid looks on your blog. I think it'd be hilarious (and eye-opening).
So, I'm running with the idea. Let's start our own gallery of photographers with BP (Before Pandemic) and AP (After Pandemic) images of haircuts, beards, anything fun in the grooming category. Everyone has been forced to let their hair grow through some part of the mandatory or voluntary quarantine.
Here at our house, I finally trusted Sheila to cut my hair. As Florida's Covid-19 numbers spike again, we're not going to the barber/salon. But I have to admit, she's cut my hair twice, and she's getting good at it. And if she screws up - who cares? Nobody's close enough to see it anyway!
Then I remembered a month ago another great friend, Melissa Ghionis shared her "BP" and "AP" hair. She wrote on Facebook:
About 14 weeks without a haircut (since WPPI!!!) made for a very rough "growing out stage"!
Thankfully Jerry doesn't love me for my looks.
And also thankfully Todd White is an amazing man and made me look like me again.
Sadly, Lucy didn't do quite as well as the rest of us when I bought a dog grooming kit. Fortunately, the mirrors are all too high for her to reach and see herself. Otherwise, we'd have a case of puppy PTSD on our hands. I definitely took too much off the top, but she seems to have forgiven me so far.
So, how brave are you? Let's have some fun with this and share your before and afters...and if you're still in the before mode, share the image anyway. Send it to me in an IM on Facebook. Let's get an industry gallery going, with no other purpose than having fun.
Remember, "fun?" It's a word that's too often lost, especially over the last few months. Time to get it back!
Wishing everybody a day filled with a few laughs and simply having fun. We'll get through this crisis, and while we'll never look back and laugh, that doesn't mean we can't have a few chuckles NOW! Thank you for following me; thank you for your support and, most importantly, thank you for helping me stay focused on what's important - this morning, a little laughter!
Stay safe and healthy!
by Skip Cohen
Last Sunday, I was on a "staycation," at the end of a week off to clear my head. I needed a break. We didn't go anywhere, just hung out at home, enjoyed each other and the pups, while binge-watching good and bad movies. A tropical storm blew into South Florida, so we spent a lot of time inside.
I'm back this morning, and my post yesterday seems to have sparked opinions from all sides, including one person who gets the Uninformed Jackass Award and runner-up for the saddest use of the F-bomb. He(or she) told me the flu comes the same time every year with the same number of deaths and never shut down the economy.
And on that note, I set out to write today's Sunday Morning Reflections. One key point I wanted to make yesterday - you've got to take care of yourself and the people you love and care about. I have no idea who to believe about anything lately, so we're going to continue to hunker down. However, I have noticed some interesting discoveries while in hunker down mode:
And to my "buddy" who told me this is just another flu season...no need to put on a mask. With your head where it is, you'll be protected. You just won't be able to drive.
Time to wrap it up and simply wish you a great Sunday and time to think about how to make your life better. None of us know who to believe in where the pandemic is taking us, but we are an industry that watches out for each other, and we can get through this together.
Wishing everybody a day filled with peace, love, and respect for other people's opinions, even when you want to choke the crap out of them. Never lose your sense of humor.
Happy Sunday, or Monday if you're on the other side of the world. Stay safe and healthy.
In the end we only regret the chances we didn't take.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and as always, I'm off track from business, marketing, and photography. I had no idea what to write about until Melody Beattie finally dropped an idea I can't entirely agree with. In her daily meditations, she talked about the negative side of "what if's."
"What if's" can make us crazy. They put control over our life in someone else's hands. "What if's" are a sign that we have reverted to thinking that people have to react in a particular way for us to continue on our course."
I'm a what if guy...but NOT the way Melody's using the expression. I'm the knucklehead who uses what if as a push to the positive side of things. To me, what if is a question, meaning, "What if I try something different?" What if is all about the positive. It's about progress and pushing the edge of my personal envelope.
"What if" is the challenge I make to myself all the time. It's the way I analyze the pros and cons of trying something new. And it includes, "What if what I'm about to try is a failure?" Well, my answer is always the same - "I'll try something else!"
The biggest what if in our house over the past year was probably "What if we got two puppies?" Sheila and I wrestled with it and, in November, picked up Lucy and Belle.
The next 90 days were hell. Through the stress of two pups, we'd painfully ask ourselves, "What made us think we had the patience to train two dogs?"
Well, now we're saying, "What if we didn't have the girls?"
These two pups, now ten months old, are entirely entrenched as members of the family. They've figured it out, and the pure joy they bring us, especially through the pandemic, is beyond measure. So our what if has become, "What if we didn't have them?"
So, the next time you're getting ready to try something new, hesitating and using "what if" as a negative, switch it around and ask, "What if I don't try this?" The pandemic has changed everything in our lives. We're all dealing with a new normal and how to stay positive, motivated, and keep those creative juices flowing. Asking "what if?" is your license to try something new, and as long as you learn something in the process, there's no such thing as failure!
Wishing everybody a Sunday of peace and time to appreciate everything in your life that makes you smile. It's easy to forget all the good things in life when "fun" is buried under the stress of today's challenges. And when it comes to the problem of getting business back on track, ask yourself, "What if I try something totally different this week?"
Happy Sunday, or Monday, if you're on the other side of the world!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning and if nothing else, you have to admit I'm consistent. Reflections has become a weekly ritual. If you're new to the SCU blog, be warned, there's no telling how far off-track from photography, marketing or business I might stray!
I ran a post about this Rangefinder cover two years ago. I found it this week in some old files. I decided it was perfect to make a point about the changes we're all going through as a result of the pandemic and social distancing.
The short backstory about the image goes back to my Rangefinder Magazine days. The photographer was Damien Bredberg, and the image won him Editorial Photographer of the Year in Australia in 2004. Adding to the fun of the backstory, it was his father, who was the model.
Within a week or two of being published, I started getting hate mail and even a nasty phone call. The call came from a reader in Arkansas who called me a "porn-monger," and claimed his granddaughter was emotionally crippled by seeing the cover when she went to get the mail. Then came a woman who ripped off the cover and mailed it to me, claiming her magazine was now better for the change. Last on the list was a woman who wrote, "May the view from the back of this motorcycle rider be your just reward!"
And that takes me to my point today - Most of us have been in some form of lockdown for over two months. In the process, we've become overly sensitive. We don't ask for clarification when we don't understand what somebody wrote or said.
Then we open the door for more stress. We listen to the news and believe the media. We believe what we read - after all, if it's on the Internet, it must be true. Anxiety and frustration, combined with genuinely missing human contact, is taking its toll on our smile muscles. Our happy gene has atrophied.
Notice I used "we" in the above reference? None of us are above the impact controlled isolation is having. I repeatedly have to catch myself from being overly sensitive. Sheila and I help each other stay grounded along with two puppies that drag us off to the happy zone, whether we want to go or not.
Things are not going to return to normal magically, but we can get better on dealing with the new normal. Stay in touch with friends via Zoom, Skype, Facetime - whatever it takes to get face to face contact. Use your phone more, not to text, but to call. The printed word is the most challenging way to communicate, but throw in the tone of your voice, and it's the next best thing to being with somebody.
We're part of an amazing industry. Even with the restrictions created by the pandemic, things haven't changed in the need for people to capture and share memories.
I used to show that RF cover as one of my last slides any time I was teaching, and my words are still relevant:
Stop taking life so seriously and just have fun with everything you're doing!
If you're not smiling for most of your day as a photographer then you're doing something wrong!
Don't let "fun" be one of those lost words buried under the stress of the pandemic. It takes work, but it's so worth keeping it active in your vocabulary.
Wishing everybody a day of fun, and in the US a long holiday weekend and time to catch up to friends, even if it's only on a Skype call. And those long hugs I used to write about - they'll come back some day. In the mean time, keep building on the foundation of friendships and love you have with those people most special in your life.
Happy Sunday...and Monday to friends on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
This is my third attempt today at writing Sunday Morning Reflections. The challenge I'm having is what to write about without sounding like a curmudgeon. Like most of you, I'm tired of the loss of freedom due to the pandemic. But, more frustrating is the way the media reports it, and the political spin they put on what we're all going through.
Sheila and I now watch the news selectively. We're watching movies and binge-watching one series after another. We're spending a lot of time with each other and the pups. The two most intense and unique times of the day are deciding what we're having for dinner, and putting together an updated list for a weekly trip to the market.
For me, creativity is a challenge - not because I've lost it, but because I'm feeling overwhelmed about where to start. I'm caught in analysis paralysis. The result is procrastination, a shorter than normal fuse, and time looking out the window!
After all that, the truth is we really are all in this together. What I'm feeling, Sheila's feeling, we're all feeling. But then I snap out of it. I do the same thing every day - at some point, my energy moves to the more positive side of the scale, and I count my blessings. We're healthy, we've got friends who we can catch up to online and our phone works - no texting just real calls. And we've even got toilet paper!
And that brings me to my real point:
"Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before,
how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way,
and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever."
Wishing everybody a day filled with keeping things in perspective. It's okay to feel frustrated, angry, and confused, but this is where you also have to remember you're not alone. WE'RE ALL FEELING IT! We will get through us, but because of our own resolve and common sense. And if you're missing those long therapeutic hugs, pick up a phone and call an old buddy. I can promise you; it'll bring a smile to your face and maybe even lift up your heart just a little.
Stay safe and healthy.
by Skip Cohen
There's something very different that happens on Mother's Day when your Mom has passed away. For me, it's become less sad. It's not so much about missing her, but a time that's more of a tribute. I find myself running through memories like searching for a file on my computer. It's an odd but enjoyable process.
Alzheimer's started robbing us of my mother just a year or two before Bambi Cantrell captured the portrait above. After seven years, Mom lost the battle, but even near the end, she still had moments when everything came together. I remember getting over to hospice early one morning by myself, two days before she passed away. I walked in and said, "Hey Mom, you look great today!" Her response, "Why shouldn't I?"
Sheila and I are blessed living in Florida, and it's thanks to Mom; we're here. In October 2011, Sheila could take early retirement from her job, and I could go anywhere I had a computer. My Dad was 89 and needed help. So, for the first time since I graduated high school, I was able to live close to my folks. It's become one of the very best decisions I've ever made.
So, to my Mother...I miss you, Mom. We talk about you all the time. I think about you most often when I'm cooking, and over the years, Sheila's heard story after story of things I learned from you - even the tough lessons. And knowing how much you loved a view of the water, any water, you're in my heart any time we're near the ocean.
And to all of you Moms out there right now who inspire all of us, I can't say it better than Sarah Petty said it a few days ago in one of her Joy of Marketing emails:
This Mother’s Day is gonna be a little different…No dinner out. No trip to the spa. Life is freaking hard for moms right now.
Trying to keep the peace and harmony in a house where everyone is crammed together 24 hours a day is no small task. School from home + working from home + having to put on a HAZMAT suit to go to the grocery store is not exactly the formula for a low-stress life.
And let’s not forget cooking 3,549 dinners every week. I don’t understand how the math on that works, either, but it’s accurate, somehow.
Plus, you haven’t been able to go out and shoot, so that hits you in the ego, not just the pocketbook.
To all my moms out there … I see you - Trying to keep it all together. Trying to put on a brave face for your family.
“I’m ok. I’m just a little tired.”
I hear the waver in your voice. That crack that hints at the tears you’re hiding. Because you can’t keep your family safe from this crazy virus. Because you can’t keep the scale from inching up with the gym closed. Because you love your family to death but ohmygoodness you just want a day to yourself, and you feel guilty about it.
You may not get the extravagant Mother’s Day you deserve this year. Especially if money is tight. (I personally think you deserve a PARADE and a 10-day luxury cruise this year). But I want you to know I SEE YOU. I see how hard you’re working to keep everything together for your family. I see how hard you’re trying. I believe that you’re a superhero for all you do. Cape or no cape.
Head up, mama. You never know who you’re inspiring.
You are inspiring to me.
Wishing all of you a terrific day ahead. Send your Mom a virtual hug if she's outside your house and if she's with you right now, then go for one of those good old eleven-second hugs I used to write about.
One of the first things you learn in an Alzheimer's support group is that you're not alone in what you're feeling. Well, it's no different in a pandemic. We're all feeling the same anxiety and frustration, but we'll get through this together and for many of you, in part, it'll be thanks to your Mom.
Happy Mother's Day!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and I couldn't be more off-track from photography but not from what so many of us are feeling. Life is out of balance. On any given day, I'm an emotional roller coaster. I find myself feeling angry with a short fuse for what seems to be no logical reason...ten minutes later, I'm smiling, hugging Sheila and playing with the pups.
For the most part, we've stopped watching the news, but we caught the idiots around the country, protesting their right to assemble on beaches and in various state capital buildings. Honestly, I don't get it - during the worst 48 hours for deaths and new cases since the pandemic began, different governors were arguing over whether or not to reopen their states!
So, my world has become very small - it's our home, Sheila, me and two pups. It all works, and I'm grateful for so many things I took for granted most of my life. We venture out to the market, CVS, and here and there to go for a ride. I'm grateful my career morphed into writing and online education, but I'm miserable in missing human contact, a few bro-hugs, handshakes, and face to face time with friends. At the same time, I found myself uncomfortable the other day talking to somebody who wasn't maintaining social distancing!
The challenge initially with sheltering in place was a lack of balance. Everything tilted to being home, and just the four of us...but now we're finding a balance between work and family time. I've mentioned Melody Beattie many times over the years. On Thursday, she had a short piece on balance, and it's perfect for sharing this morning:
The goal is balance. We need balance between work and play. We need balance between giving and receiving. We need balance in thought and feelings. We need balance in caring for our physical self and our spiritual self.
A balanced life has harmony between a professional life and a personal life. There may be times when we need to climb mountains at work. There may be times when we put extra energy into our relationships. But the overall picture needs to balance.
Just as a balanced nutritional diet takes into account the realm of our nutritional needs to stay healthy, a balanced life takes into account all our needs; our need for friends, work, love, family, play, private time, recover time, and spiritual time - time with God. If we get out of balance our inner voice will tell us. We need to listen.
And for those of you who feel God doesn't belong in a blog post, get over it. Feel free to substitute whatever you believe in. The point is to pay attention to your inner voice and don't stop believing in yourself.
For all of us, this is the toughest time we'll ever share/experience in our lifetimes. We can get through this, but it means to accept virtual hugs instead of the real thing, face time on a computer screen, and sharing recipes rather than a meal together. We're an industry with a tradition of working together and watching each other's backs. Rather than let the pandemic push us into withdrawal - it's time to step it up and become more outgoing, and Cyberspace gives us that opportunity.
Wishing everybody a day of peace, good health, and safety. Think about your life right now and if you're out of balance what's missing to get back on an even keel. There's an old African proverb: "Smooth seas don't make skilled sailors." Well, we've all been sailing through the perfect storm for two months, and when this is over, there's nothing we won't be able to accomplish.
by Skip Cohen
The only thing still consistent for me on Sundays is how much I enjoy writing Sunday Morning Reflections. As I've written so many times in the past, it's therapeutic and often more for my benefit than my readers. Well, needing a therapeutic moment at least once a week is another characteristic of what's become the new normal.
Over the years, I thought I did an excellent job of adjusting to all the changes. I accepted my loss of privacy as my phone suddenly was with me everywhere I went. I learned not to take it personally when somebody was talking to me, and the call was dropped. I adjusted to all caps in an email, meaning somebody was yelling at me. I ate lower carbs. I changed my vitamins each time research showed that whatever I was taking was no longer a healthy solution...on Vitamin E - off Vitamin E etc. I gave up ties, then suits and sport jackets, then accepted completely casual attire. I even tried to like eating Kale!
Life was so easy just seven weeks ago!
I now have five masks to choose from when running to the market. I say hi to neighbors, but I don't always know who they are because of their mask. ( I had my first wardrobe malfunction at the register: My mask slipped off one ear and my left cheek was exposed!) The old Jerry Seinfeld "close talker" episode would now be anybody five feet away rather than the social distancing six. I have to pay attention to the one-way aisles in the store - God forbid I should head up an empty aisle in the wrong direction. And going to the mailbox is a process. I get the mail. Open it in the garage, and make sure I don't touch my face before washing my hands.
But here's what hasn't changed...
My love for this crazy community we're all a part of. Even something as fun as my mask wardrobe for today's post brought out another new normal in my life - playing with Platypod. For those of you who have one, Square Jellyfish makes this great little adapter for your cell phone, which I use for "Facetiming" with family and friends.
And I'm actually talking with friends MORE now than before. We're all starving for contact, and my phone as an instrument to talk to somebody directly has never been more valuable. Just when I finally figured texting out, talking came back.
While I miss real contact, bro-hugs, and a firm handshake, this is the new norm. There's a stronger sense of family and plenty of time to be together, but also time to find plenty of moments for personal thought. We've binge-watched one great series after another, but always together - Sheila, me, and the pups.
There's also never been more support for photographers to expand their skill set. The downtime has created one opportunity after another with programs like QuaranCon, Out of Chicago LIVE going on today, the f64 Lunch Bunch every Wednesday, and the list goes on and on. And, there are some great deals out there with discounts for ongoing programs like KelbyOne and Creative Live.
I guess it's time for my point this Sunday - Business will come back, but until then, you've got to protect yourself, your family, friends, and dig deep for every ounce of patience you can find.
Patience is not the ability to wait,
but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.
This is a time to step outside your comfort zone because it's the only place growth can flourish. Expand your skill set; take time to consider how you can hit the ground running as things slowly get better and do everything you can to stay in touch with your clients and target audience.
It would be an understatement to say what we're all feeling is a pain in the ass, but we really are all in it together. None of us are alone!
So, you know how to hold focus on your subject with a camera in your hands - now it's time to hold focus on your attitude. Keep it together, and on those days when you want to give up and feel weighed down by frustration - besides your immediate friends, there are so many of us out here willing to help - including me.
Wishing everybody a Sunday with more smiles than frowns and hang onto that sparkle you had when you first started in this business. Don't let the politicians mess with your head. Reduce your intake of news and whether you've got somebody there to hug or it's a virtual hug with a friend quarantined miles away - go for it!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and it couldn't be more typical as each day of the week becomes more and more like the one before it. The pandemic is challenging my creativity. Melody Beattie has never been more helpful than through the last month or so. This morning though I was surprised at the feeling of indignation her words, normally inspirational, created.
The thought for the day was called Freedom.
Many of us were oppressed and victimized as children. As adults, we may continue to keep ourselves oppressed. Some of us don't recognize that caretaking and not setting boundaries will leave us feeling victimized.
Some of us don't understand that thinking ourselves as victims will leave us feeling oppressed.
Some of us don't know that we hold the key to our own freedom. That key is honoring ourselves, and taking care of ourselves.
We can say what we mean, and mean what we say. We can stop waiting for others to give us what we need and take responsibility for ourselves. When we do, the gates of freedom will swing wide. Walk through.
Today, I will understand that I hold the key to my freedom. I will stop participating in my oppression and victimization. I will take responsibility for myself, and let others do as the may.
Remember, Melody Beattie is writing about codependency. In that context, she's always right on the mark, but she got me thinking about victimization. We do hold the key to our own freedom and need to honor and take care of ourselves.
Right now, we're ALL victims of an invisible terrorist, the coronavirus. We're also victims of a political system with too many politicians who would rather argue over who's to blame instead of finding ways to help their constituents. Last but not least, we're victims of ourselves, having taken so much for granted in the way we lived our lives before Covid-19.
I was at WPPI when the news from China was starting to peak and still felt safe. We joked about my buddy Bob Coates always doing an elbow bump instead of a handshake or bro-hug. After all, this is the United States, and what was happening in China couldn't possibly happen here.
We're all victims right now, but the one way to not feel victimized is accept there's been a severe climate change. There's nothing we can do in terms of losing some of our freedom, but there's everything we can do to maintain a presence in society. We don't need to allow ourselves to disappear under the stress of anxiety, depression, or even loneliness.
My emotions throughout the day go up and down like the Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney. I worry about everything outside my control; I find myself in writer's block on and off, and when I'm on overload, I procrastinate and hide behind some absurd time-sucking game on my phone!
So, here's my point - the only way to fight the ability of the virus to take over my life, is to focus on everything else.
When you complain, you make yourself a victim.
Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness.
So, we can't leave the situation, but we can change it and accept it...for now. We can use this time to become more skilled and creative. We can keep in touch with friends and associates and together create a level of cyber-energy to fight the anxiety and depression we're feeling.
I'm not suggesting we can do this alone - but together, there's nothing we can't accomplish.
I'm wishing all of you a day of acceptance without complacency. Use the downtime to grow your skills and keep in touch with people important to you. Share your frustrations with other business owners in your community and utilize social media and meeting online to create ways to expand your reach. And while those therapeutic hugs I used to suggest are limited - they're still available to give and receive in the virtual world.
And as always, in the words of Sgt. Esterhaus (Michael Conrad):
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday Morning Reflections time, and I doubt my feelings this morning are any different than yours - I'm missing the freedom I took for granted just a few months ago.
Occasionally watching the news, I'm frustrated with the various arguments regarding the pandemic. For example, mask-on or mask-off? It shouldn't be a question. It's not wax-on wax-off with Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid. I don't get the need to argue - then again, I've never understood bikers who feel the helmet law challenges the Constitution!
I hit Publix supermarket yesterday with my mask and gloves...discovered if I'm wearing glasses, they steam up every time I exhale. So, without my contact lenses, and my glasses off, my vision is horrible. But I started laughing, thinking back to stupid things I've done when I can't see! Years ago I bought Bonnie Raitt's new album. I put it on in the car on the way home from NYC and it was horrible, all bad hard rock. Another look - without my my glasses on I bought "RATT."
I made it through the supermarket run - didn't touch my face, and washed my hands for twenty seconds when I got home. Welcome to "Normalcy, 2020!"
For those of you too young to understand, "Is it soup yet?" It came out of a Lipton's soup commercial in the 70s and was a slam against Campbells. Suddenly, thanks to modern chemistry and technology, instant soup was there in seconds rather than the incredible struggle to wait a few minutes to cook soup on the stove! The bottom line is - today, it means "Is it time?" or "Is it done yet?"
Sadly the answer, when it comes to the challenges of dwindling patience, we're all facing staying home, is "NO!" And, while this mess we're in isn't over yet - we're getting closer to the end...patience is a virtue, although I found the perfect quote for how so many of us feel:
"Why is patience a virtue? Why can't hurry the F--- up be a virtue?"
However, there are some very cool things happening if you take advantage of the time you've suddenly got.
And last on the list - I've got at least forty images to share in a few upcoming posts based on the post I shared Friday and yesterday about sharing Joy. A few of you couldn't figure out the email address of skipatmei500dotcom. It's done that way to avoid spammers and spiders...so replace the "at" with a @ and "dot" with a . Send me a low res image of something in your life right now, making you happy and bringing a little joy into your life. I'm going to be sharing all week long.
Wishing everybody a Sunday of peace, patience, safety and good health. Those long therapeutic hugs are still valid with whoever you're quarantined with, and if you're solo - give yourself a big pat on the back, stay safe and call a friend. We'll get through this.
Dawn Davis said it best in a comment to one of my posts yesterday:
Please be safe and stay healthy. There is no better time to strengthen our bonds,
to virtually stand together, to help each other through this storm,
and come out the other side stronger.
Stay safe everybody...Happy Sunday!
Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
by Skip Cohen
After almost three weeks of self-quarantine, we're settling into what's fast becoming the new normal. If you're like me, defining "normal" includes anxiety, frustration, disbelief, and a complete change in my outlook on life. Getting out is now defined as a fast run to the market, social distancing, and paranoia, followed by hand-sanitizer, not touching my face and washing my hands before and after the groceries are unpacked!
I hate it; you hate it; we ALL hate it, but that doesn't mean we can't get through this and live wonderfully fulfilling lives! That old African proverb above sure seems to fit. Whether you've ever learned to sail or not, when this thing is over, we'll all be qualified to sail in the America's Cup!
This week, thanks to some great friends, we launched the f64 Lunch Bunch, an online get-together to talk about the change in business as a result of the pandemic. In every show the topic came up of the importance of remembering you're not alone. In fact, for the first time, certainly, in our history, the world is in this together.
Despite the pain of feeling isolated, there are a few things I've discovered to help get through it all.
Yesterday Sheila and I had a great day, not because of anything incredible we did, but because the two of us embraced a moment of being cool, calm, and collected. We found time to laugh! The weather's almost summer-like. I made a plate of nachos and a batch of Margaritas. We sat by the pool with a drink and munchies while the pups chased each other and wrestled.
I know we're lucky to have the weather on our side, and like so many homes in Florida, we have a pool. Wherever you are there's something you used to do at home that was fun and brought a smile to your face. That was us yesterday, and it was energizing. I'm not saying I'm not afraid, or that I have a handle on my fears, but if I make an effort I can lock the Boogie Man in the closet for hours at a time. And, when I'm in touch with being grateful for my life, there's very little that changes the Alfred E. Neuman smile on my face. (If you don't understand that last sentence, call somebody over forty.)
When my Dad was dealing with my Mom's Alzheimer's, she would come in and out of the clouds with a lucid moment. Dad would say, whenever those moments came, he was going to squeeze every drop of joy he could get out of them. He saved every one of those drops and drew from them whenever he had to deal with his sadness.
I guess that's what I'm trying to do now. We're safe for today, and all we can do is take it one day at a time. I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring, but I do know if I let depression get hold of my heart, the virus wins. It's not easy, but we're all in this together.
So, pick up the phone and check in on an old friend. Cherish whoever's in your life right now. Smile over your love for helping people capture memories, but remember to check in on the stash of memories you've captured for yourself. Right now, they might be buried under a ton of emotional garbage, but take the time dig them out - it's so worth it, and it can start by just looking through files of images back in the days when Corona meant a cold beer!
Wishing everybody a day filled with memories, conversations with friends you've lost touch with, and a long hug if you're quarantined with your family, and a virtual hug in cyberspace if you're flying solo.
Oh, and apologies to my followers who heard me quote Sargeant Esterhaus and credit the wrong TV show. It was Michael Conrad on Hill Street Blues!
Happy Sunday, everybody - stay safe, healthy, and be careful out there.
We've postponed the f64 Lunch Bunch for a few weeks. There's so much going on in everybody's lives right now in terms of help and education. However, we're all still here to help and just an email away.
And if you missed the May 6 lunch with Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell - it's pretty amazing. The video is just a click away.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
The pandemic may have moved the dates for 2020 to August 10-13, 2021, but that's NOT slowing Team ClickCon down. Stay tuned for new programs online with ClickCon Nation! It all starts on August 11th.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.