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.
by Skip Cohen
Lately, the definition of "normalcy" seems to be a moving target. It changes every day as paranoia searches my brain, looking for a vulnerable place to sink its teeth. Life has changed, but the good news is that none of us are alone. We're all in this together, and for once, when you're worried, none of your friends are saying, "Stop being paranoid."
Sheila and I both have allergies. This time of year, we sneeze and cough on and off all day long. But even though Zyrtec is a regular product in our house, it doesn't change that split second of paranoia when I hear her cough. And, if I let it take hold, I'll go mad. Sound familiar?
But here's the great thing about the industry we're all a part of - we watch each other's backs. I now make it a point to phone a friend or two every day...just to check in. I'm also following everybody on Facebook. I'm taking a few minutes each morning to go through old photographs or albums - I'm following my own self-medicating prescription to get through this nightmare - looking in my rearview mirror. I'm not looking back with sadness, but optimism waiting for the good old days to return, and they will!
Two things kicked off my morning to get me on track today. Ralph Romaguera sent me this picture, and all his email said was "Memories." He didn't need to say anymore because it's our memories that are the foundation not to lose sight of how good life really is.
It was 2014, and John Sexton received the Lifetime Achievement award from PPA at the Imaging USA convention. That's me, John and Kenny Rogers. I was telling Kenny about how my son's girlfriend's most prized possession back then was the damaged gear train from his Hasselblad ELX that had come in for repair.
As Sheila and I were talking about at that conference, Facebook was doing its share in helping with great memories. Lori Nordstrom was wandering through the archives and hit the "like" button on a shot of the "Young Guns" program from WPPI in 2008, and it came up in my notifications feed. It was a classic moment of looking in the rearview mirror and then telling Sheila about the program.
A classic moment in that presentation was Mike Larson demonstrating how he'd set his camera on self-timer and then throw it 20 feet in the air to capture what then became a signature shot of the wedding party. Nobody had a drone back then!
And just a few weeks ago at WPPI, I caught up to three of the artists who were part of this program. And Facebook is keeping us connected and the friendships very much alive!
I have no answers on how our lives are going to change. There's no question; life is going to be different. Sheila and I haven't been out with friends for a few weeks. Just like you, we're hunkered down and doing our best to stay safe. But we're not willing to accept this is the new normal. The only way to keep the light bright at the end of the tunnel is to cherish where we've been and remember those days will come back.
So, I wish everybody a day of peace, good health, and appreciation for all your memories, especially the ones with photos attached! My suggestion for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs is still good with your "Q-mates," (people you're self-quarantined with.) And if you're a solo act, the next best things are Facetime and Skype - go for a cyber-hug. We will get through this.
None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward.
Because we trust. Because we have Faith.
by Skip Cohen
It's anything but a typical Sunday morning - not just for me, for all of us. It's got nothing to do with photography, business, marketing, but the new way we now have to live. I'm trying to find a different way to look at the situation that's unfolding in front of us in a way that might be helpful.
I was in a chapter of my "previous" life and in Mexico on vacation when 9/11 happened. We checked into our hotel on September 10 and watched the disaster unfold on the TV that morning. We all thought everything changed that day. All of us became more aware of our surroundings. We became more vigilant in paying attention. And life changed - but back then, we knew who the enemy was, and we knew the principles of being an American would continue to be challenged.
Today, the world is trapped by a "terrorist" we can't see. We don't know it's even there until it formally announces itself. I'm not embarrassed to admit it scares the hell out of me. But there's another perspective to this, thanks to my college roommate.
He's been involved in health research most of his life. As I was on the phone with him yesterday, whining about how the world's gone mad, he responded this is actually a good thing or better put an "important" thing. Why? Because there are viruses out there far more deadly, and if one of them "got loose," we wouldn't have the ability to deal with it.
This simplifies the situation, but it's a severe wake-up call for the world. He went on to talk about the importance of social distance and referenced mistakes made with the Spanish flu in the 1900s. History shows that a complete lack of quarantines allowed the virus to go everywhere!
He added how we need to keep it spread out and stay away from geographical spikes because no community has the hospital beds to deal with it. That means we've all got to follow the appropriate guidelines that up until recently, I was rolling my eyes every time I heard another report.
Over the last two days, I've heard from dozens of friends who are watching their businesses dry up. For example, if you're a wedding and event photographer business has disappeared and won't be back for awhile.
Jared Burns, a good buddy and photographer from Seattle, described his life as being at "Ground Zero." But he also knows together we can find ideas to make the horrible situation more palatable. He had an idea, and we're doing an online Google hangout this Wednesday night. Click on the thumbnail to the right, if you've got an interest in joining us.
Here's my point - we're still part of an industry that's given society so much. And as I've said over the years, except for modern medicine, no group of people has given the world more.
Well, right now, modern medicine has to do its thing to help us all survive. We've got no choice but to listen and protect ourselves as best we can. But this also puts a spotlight on the importance of those memories you, as imaging artists, have the ability to capture every day.
Regardless of what your specialty is in photography, the value of capturing a moment out of time has been enhanced over the last month. The rules of the game have changed, and it'll be a long time before any of us are attending large weddings, special events, and celebrations about life. But that also means those special moments deserve more than a selfie with an iPhone!
Engagement sessions now have even more meaning. Family groupings will be done at a park or in somebody's backyard instead of an hour before a big reception. The list goes on and on. The life of a photographer has changed, but as hard as it is to not be depressed - don't take your finger off the shutter button just yet!
More than any Sunday in the past, I'm wishing all of you a day of peace and time to cherish your family and friends. I know it's hard, but keep things in perspective, we'll come out of this disaster stronger and maybe even more focused on the quality of our lives we so often take for granted. And those long therapeutic hugs for the people you're closest to don't need to stop.
Happy Sunday everybody...stay healthy!
PS Our son sent me an outstanding article with another perspective. Just click on the banner below.
by Skip Cohen
Well, had we remembered to turn our clocks ahead last night, it would be an almost normal Sunday morning. Still, typical of my Sunday posts, I'm about to go way off track from business and marketing, but I needed a little help from Melody Beattie.
I start every morning with her, in a never-ending quest to feed my head a little something before business kicks in. Her thoughts for yesterday really hit home...it was called "Peace."
"Anxiety is often our first reaction to conflict, problems, or even our own fears. In those moments, detaching and getting peaceful may seem disloyal or apathetic. We think: If I really care, I'll worry; if this is really important to me, I must stay upset. We convince ourselves that outcomes will be positively affected by the amount of time we spend worrying."
Sound familiar? It sure did in my head. I'd have a problem I was trying to work on, and my worry-gene would kick in and send a gremlin off to undermine my creativity and solution-finding skills. I'd sabotage my own abilities, and in the process, give up peace. It took me a long time to realize I had the power NOT to worry.
I've written a lot about time being our most valuable commodity... well, maintaining peace in a world of chaos follows, right after you learn to savor time. We all worry about things completely outside our control. We give up peace and a smile in our hearts for stress, anxiety, and fear.
If you follow me regularly, then you've heard me say, "You can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings, if your own heart isn't in it!" In the same respect, you'll never find peace on the outside if you don't find it on the inside first!
Melody closed with:
"Today, I will let go of my need to stay in turmoil. I will cultivate peace and trust that timely solutions and goodness will arise naturally and harmoniously out of the wellspring of peace..."
So, what have you got to lose? Stop worrying about what you have to do tomorrow. Stop letting the media and the outside world take away the peace you want in your own home. Stop being influenced by trolls in social media and go with what's in your heart. In other words - learn to kick back and chill!
For most of us, this is one of the scariest times in our history, and we'll all get through it, but there's no need to give up peace in the process. I'm not suggesting we ignore the outside world, just don't let it take away from the joy of what you've got in front of you right now!
Wishing everybody a day filled with peace and minimal anxiety. Appreciate everything you have, and don't give up time to things you can't control. Go for those long therapeutic hugs I always write about, but in the process of that hug, think about how much richer your life is because of the person on the other end of that hug.
Happy Sunday...or Monday for my friends and readers on the other side of the world.
Friends are the people who make you smile brighter, laugh louder and live better.
by Skip Cohen
While I'm off track on topics like marketing and business, today's Reflections hits on one of the best reasons to attend every possible conference and workshop you can work into your schedule - time with friends, both new and old.
I left a week ago for Las Vegas and the WPPI convention. Spending most of my time in the Platypod booth, it was a very different experience this year and jam-packed with meeting more photographers. (Note: If you haven't checked out Platyball.com, wander over to the campaign. Interest in this revolutionary new product was pretty amazing at WPPI. There are only two weeks left in the Kickstarter campaign.)
I usually get time to walk the show, but not this year. However, I still caught up with a lot of old friends and new ones, and along the way, there were plenty of selfies. Levi Sim, when asking me to step into one of the group shots, reminded me to practice what I preach with, "Come on Skip, I need pictures for my Throwback Thursdays in the future!"
This morning I was thinking about what to write for today's post, as I get back on schedule. It hit me that nothing beats the friendships we've all made and shared over the years. People outside photography don't realize just how small an industry we are, or the strength of so many bonds. We all watch each other's backs, provide feedback, and have worked on so many different projects and concepts.
So, whatever your schedule is for the rest of 2020, make the time to attend every possible convention and workshop you can get to. Take the time to connect with old friends, but keep bringing new ones into the mix! Share ideas, ask for help when you need it, and remember the only stupid questions are the ones you don't ask!
Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you!
Wishing everybody a day with family and the friends who mean the most to you. Go for those long therapeutic hugs and have some fun looking back on the relationship with whoever's on the other end of those hugs. And, as I've written a few dozen times over the last year alone - the best part of this industry has NOTHING to do with photography directly, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft!
Happy Sunday...or Monday on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
When I wrote this, it was Sunday morning. As usual with "Reflections," I'm way off track from business and photography. Why more so than usual? Because I wrote this while packed into a Frontier flight to Las Vegas for WPPI, which was after getting up at 3:45 AM to drive to Tampa Airport.
I may have been a little off-base and tired, but that doesn't mean I was without humor or sarcasm and a series of observations of the world around me in the early hours of the day.
Anyway, it's late in the day, and I'm finally checked in, and Sunday Morning Reflections is fact becoming an evening production.
Wishing all of you a day filled with as much sarcasm as you enjoy and plenty of humor. Remember, it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I always write about and enjoy the evening or the morning on the other side of the world.
And, if you're at WPPI this week, come by Platypod, booth 1029 and say hello. We'll have working prototypes of the new Platyball, and it's always great to meet you guys on planet earth instead of in Cyberspace!
by Skip Cohen
Well, it's 7:00 am, and the Sunday routine is in full swing. The pups have been out to do their thing, Alexa's got music playing, and I'm stepping away from business and marketing to write about some aspect of my life. While there are some Sunday mornings where I have no idea what I want to write about, this morning was easy. The topic is aging.
This past Thursday, I celebrated fifty years in the photography industry. For a few weeks leading up to February 6, I wrestled with whether or not to celebrate or withdraw into seclusion! I even talked with several good friends about whether or not I should keep it quiet or put it right out there. The unanimous opinion was to celebrate and share what I've learned. Essentially, stop worrying about what people thought and run business as usual.
Except for creaking for ten minutes when I get up in the morning, I don't feel a day older than I did in my forties! I've got a few more scars, literally and figuratively, but there's no change in my passion for imaging and business. There's also no change in wanting to keep sharing ideas with you, so you can learn from my mistakes and make new ones of your own.
Thursday's celebratory post probably got the most significant response of anything I've ever written, and it's still going. Now and then somebody's shocked I've been around this long and even more surprised I still have something worth reading and talking about.
It's all about passion. "Passion" is probably the most abused word in any language, not only in imaging but in business, and in life. It's that one ingredient that if you've got it, you can do anything, and without it, you'll wander aimlessly.
Passion is what keeps us focused on our goals, even when we don't seem to know what they are. It's what keeps us looking forward rather than spending too much time staring at the rearview mirror. It's also what sets the tone for virtually everything we do.
Somebody asked me what my "secret" was? There is no secret. Your level of passion is involved in every single thing you do and think about. What's wonderful about my journey has been how my passion for everything in my life keeps growing as I've gotten older. Nothing gets in the way for how much I love my life, Sheila, the pups, our friends, having a new camera in my hand, or writing this post this morning.
I know it's a trite way to wrap up a post, but I found a few quotes that say it better than I could ever write it:
You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.
Those who love deeply never grow old: They may die of old age, but they die young.
Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.
This past week somebody congratulated me and wrote: "Here's to the next fifty." It's a little overwhelming to actually consider I'm going to be around for another fifty. We all know it's not going to happen. However, I'm not going to slow down or stop doing things I love just because I'm older - so my point is wake up every morning with the same enthusiasm and passion you've had since you were a kid! There's no reason to grow up because nothing is impossible!
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead. Don't let anything or anybody stand in the way of your dreams. Age gracefully or with chaos - if you're passionate about your life, it won't make any difference. And, if lately, you've been off a beat trying to find the right direction on your internal compass, just remember, you can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it.
Go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people most special on your life and make time today to think about your next goal or dream. Most important of all, never waste time worrying about growing up!
If you want something you've never had, then you have to do something you've never done!
by Skip Cohen
Whether you consider Sunday the start of a new week or the last day of the previous week, I love this time because I've made it all mine. My routine gets a little challenged with the two pups, but there's time for me to kick back, think about the past week and recharge for what's coming Monday.
A few weeks ago I wrote about comfort zones. I guess the topic is still on my mind, because I'm back on it today. It's so important to creating a richer life.
At a time when so many of my friends have slowed down, I love this business too much to give anything up. The busier I am, the more I love it. The more I realize how much there still is to learn outside my comfort zone, the more energy I seem to have to explore and navigate a new path.
There's that old saying with age comes wisdom. In all honesty, the best thing that comes with age is more experiences. I'm learning every time I think "been there done that," I'm often wrong. So, for me, those shots at gaining wisdom come from taking more risks, stepping outside my comfort zone and exploring something new.
I've written a lot about Platypod lately from a business standpoint, it's a perfect example. Outside my comfort zone, I was part of a team who launched a new Kickstarter campaign, 2 1/2 weeks ago, now at over 1250 backers and growing. My point is that it gave me a better understanding of business, marketing, reach, and social media. Plus, a new network of associates, all with different skillsets.
Then there are the puppies - while comfort zones at home are all about being comfortable - I'm fortunate in having a partner, Sheila, who helped me shatter our comfort zone. Now, three months later, we're putting it back together. The puppies are starting to figure it out.
Each podcast I've done with Chamira Young has introduced me to another artist or educator. Each guest has stepped a little outside their comfort zone by agreeing to share their story with all of us. From Suzette Allen talking about hope; to Gareth Rockliffe finding a similarity between spirituality and stepping out of "P" mode; to Ken Hubbard shooting everything from landscapes to portraits in Tamron Recipes each artist is known for taking risks - ALL of them often outside their comfort zone.
And here's my point - Comfort zones are easy places to hang out. There's short term security in knowing something really well and not taking risks. But, you've got to get out of your comfort zone to keep discovering your potential. You've got to expand your circle of friends, your experiences and then often dive into what you might think are scary waters.
The sooner you step away from your comfort zone, you'll realize it really wasn't all that comfortable.
Eddie Harris Jr.
As photographers, you're surrounded by opportunities to do something different. Whether it's a class on something you've never done at an upcoming conference or exploring a new aspect of marketing and social media, take the time to think about everything you're doing now. You've got a never-ending choice of paths to follow, explore, and grow.
I hate it when I can't decide which quote to share, but here's one more:
We have to be honest about what we want and take risks,
rather than lie to ourselves and make excuses to stay in our comfort zone.
Roy T. Bennett
Wishing everybody time to appreciate your comfort zone with family and friends, and then look at ways to step outside that zone and grow even more! Those eleven-second therapeutic hugs should go to those people you love the most and are closest to because they're always with you in and out of the zone!
Happy Sunday, everybody!
by Skip Cohen
This is a hard Sunday Morning Reflections to write. The topic isn't difficult; just the message I want to share without sounding like an infomercial. If you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time, you know I don't shy away from much of anything - so, here goes...
I'm at IUSA and will be working in the Platypod booth this week. Every show I attend is usually about networking and building relationships for whatever my next project might be. It's about maintaining my relevance after a lifetime in this industry. However, this is the first time in years, I've actually worked a booth to help sell products and great concepts.
Three and half days ago Platypod launched their Kickstarter campaign for a new ball head and has already carved out their own little piece of photography history. We're approaching a thousand backers, and the response from photographers has been incredible. I don't want to talk about the product, but the team that put it together and the passion behind its growing success.
There's an old African proverb I've shared a few times over the years:
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
To succeed in anything, you have to be focused on your dream, and in the process, let nothing block your passion. "Dr. T," Larry Tiefenbrunn, had a vision four years ago and started to pursue it. He never strayed from the journey to create a new approach to the product he wanted to develop.
In a way, I feel like a rookie ballplayer who joined a team at the top of the ninth of the last game of a winning season. Helping with marketing the last couple of months, pales in comparison to the blood, sweat, and tears that's gone into this project before I joined the team.
"Dr. T" isn't just an engineer/photographer with a passion for change, but a team builder. It's that refusal to give up on a concept, while at the same time building a team that makes this fun to write about. His passion is infectious, and as I look back on my life in the industry, is something I've only seen a few times, and never from the front row! LOL
"We are not a team because we work together. We are a team because we trust,
respect and care for each other."
I'm sharing the project video below, not as a pitch to you, but as a demonstration of what can happen when a group of people focuses on the same goal and become a team. While it was "Dr. T's" script, there were a half dozen people who helped write it; a talented filmmaker and his team who like a great chef turned it into reality, and then dozens of people, including, Scott Kelby and his team who helped launch it to the public. In every aspect, it's the result of a group effort.
And here's my point:
Each of you have dreams of success - things you want to do in your life. At times those dreams get buried under the baggage of stress from a variety of sources - changing priorities, a growing family, finances, developing your skillset, and the list goes on and on. Before you know it, those dreams have been pushed out of sight, put in a shoebox, and kicked under the bed. Right now, they're sitting in that same box with old photographs and your notes from a workshop you might have taken years ago.
Well, it's time to bring out that box and take some time to dust off those dreams. You don't have to do it alone. Share those goals with your family; bring in some friends to help, and lay out a map to bring them closer to reality. Don't let anything stand in your way, and like Larry and his wife, Mina - be willing to risk whatever it takes to turn those dreams into reality!
As always, I wish everybody a terrific Sunday, and I hope you'll take the time today and dust off any of those dreams you've let slip to the back-burner. Take a little time to think about the team you might need to help with your quest, and that includes shutting down the little voice inside you that challenges your self-confidence from time to time.
Go for those long therapeutic hugs with the people you care most about - always remembering they're a part of your team. Without them, whatever dreams you have can never become a reality!
Happy Sunday, everybody, and thanks for being part of my team. It's seven years ago today, with your help, I started SCU. Without you, this would be such a tedious business and a life that could put a rock to sleep! It's all of you who help make it exciting and ever-changing. And, if you're at IUSA this weekend, come by booth 157 and laugh at me as I try and act like I know what I'm doing!
It's Sunday, and if you've followed me for even a short amount of time, then you know I ALWAYS go off track from photography. I started doing this years ago, just for my sanity. It was therapeutic to write about something outside the topic of business.
Well, this morning is the new typical Sunday. It starts with the "kids" getting up early. The kids are two puppies, Lucy and Belle. They're a stitch to have in our lives, but we'd both forgotten the work that goes into a puppy. Double that when it's two!
Right now, Lucy's at my feet playing with an antler bone, now a squeaky toy, now a ball, back to the squeaky toy, now she wants my camera strap...are all puppies A.D.D.? LOL
In spite of the distractions this morning, I know exactly what I want to write about. My good buddy Nick Vedros sent me the quote below on Friday. I knew immediately it would become the foundation for this morning's post!
"You're a kid, your whole life is awesome. It's awesome right? You had no money, no ID, no cell phone,
no nothing, no keys to the house. You just ran outside into the woods. You weren't scared of nothing.
I challenge you to do that as an adult. All your IDs, all your credit cards - just run out of the house
with no phone, turn the corner where you can't see your house, and not have a full on panic attack."
I'm not sure if this is going to be more of a rant or a topic for Throwback Thursday, but what happened to those days?
When I was a kid, my Mom often worked in the afternoons, helping my Dad in his business. I came home to an empty house, made it look like I did my homework, and then went out to play with friends. In the wintertime, I would be walking home in the dark, and by 6:00 pm, she'd be back. I was never afraid, had no ID, just a kid in the neighborhood, and we were all pretty much in similar situations.
I know you can never go back, but the smile on my face right now, thinking back to those days would be contagious if you were here. We had it so easy in comparison to kids today. Even as adults, it was easier.
No cell phones, no computers, three TV stations, and plenty of time to read, relax, and reflect. The TV shows ended at midnight, and what would be politically incorrect today, the test pattern above came on the screen as the station went off the air. Stores were never open on Sunday, not even gas stations. There were no ATMs, no drive-throughs - just time to spend with family. And on a Sunday like today, we'd be headed over to my grandmother's for Sunday dinner.
So, while we can't turn back the clock, when it comes to Sundays in our house, Sheila and I are doing our best to spend the day with each other and the pups. We'll take a walk later and pretty much have a low-tech day, watch a movie and appreciate time together and being as low tech as we can go. I'll do my best to shut down my computer after this post and check in later in the day, but that will be it.
I know we can't stop time, but I sure do miss those days as a kid, when like so many of you, I was in a hurry to grow up!
Wishing everybody a terrific day and time to slow things down in your life. Take the time to savor the moment...right now...because the present is only sure thing you've got. Hug the people most special in your life. If you want to have some fun, take your own walk down Memory Lane. And while I don't ask for comments often, it would be great if a few of you would share what life was like when you were a kid!
Happy Sunday! Making it a great day only requires you to focus on what's most important in your life. You know how to use selective focus with your camera - now do it with your heart!
by Skip Cohen
This is it gang, the last Sunday Morning Reflections post of 2019! It's been quite a year, jam-packed with a lot of emotional moments. What I started to think about as I was writing was how so many of you look at the close of one year and the start of a new one as a clean slate. The truth is, the only fresh start to the new year and end of the old one is with your taxes. Everything else in life is a rolling average.
As you're thinking about the new year, there is no "clean slate" if you keep doing everything the same way. And, unlike your accountant who can help you with financial decisions, the only one who can truly change the new year ahead in terms of more smiles and less frowns is YOU!
Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams
than you are to your comfort zone.
There it is - the key to what helped many of you in 2019. You started taking your dreams more seriously. You started listening to your heart just as much as your head.
I know for me personally, I found myself working to change some of the self-destructive behaviors I was doing. They were never intentional, but more self-fulfilling prophecies, following the philosophy of - if you define something as hopeless, then it will be. And, I could only let go of that feeling by finding better points of focus on other things I wanted to do.
Here's my point this morning - If you want today to be better than yesterday, than do something different. Stop living life in "P" mode! My buddy Gareth Rockliffe talked about this concept in a Beyond Technique podcast in July. It's worth listening to.
Years ago, back in my Hasselblad days, a photographer came to our booth at PPE. He asked to be set up with everything Denis Reggie used. We gave him the list - camera, lenses, and accessories. He went off to his favorite dealer and bought it all. A year later, he was back in the booth and laid out a stack of proofs and screamed, "These don't look anything like Reggie's work!"
Most of you know this already - it's not the gear that makes the artist. Sure, it contributes, but he'd shot EVERYTHING at the same aperture and shutter speed. He barely understood depth of field, let alone composition, exposure, and anticipating the decisive moment to click the shutter. He never left his comfort zone!
And that brings me full circle to what made 2019 a great year for most of us and how we can make 2020 a fantastic year - get out of our comfort zones.
Wishing everyone a perfect day filled with family, friends, and wrapping up the year with plenty of smiles. 2020 is right around the corner. If you truly want to make it a "NEW" year, think about things you can do differently while listening to your heart more often! As always, go for those long hugs with the people who mean the most to you and stay focused on things that make you happy.
Have a great Sunday or Monday, depending on where you are in the world!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and if you follow me regularly, then you've noticed a pattern of me whining about the puppies and being up at 6:15 am every morning. And while I was always an early riser, Lucy and Belle have created a new pattern in our home. And Sunday mornings, which used to be outrageously quiet with Molly the Wonder Dog asleep at my feet, are long gone - but that's not bad.
I want to go right to my point this morning...we're down to the wire. Christmas is only three days away. Chanukah starts tonight. And the start of a new year is in ten days. What are you going to do to close the year differently than you have in the past? What's the plan to kick off the new year differently than you've done before?
There's that old line about if you do what you've always done, you'll never get more than you ever got. Well, I don't want New Year's day to just me another morning. I want 2020 to be a different kind of year. One of my most favorite quotes from Zig Ziglar goes:
“Your attitude, not aptitude, will determine your altitude”
Here's what I've already started doing:
I've written about this so many times over the years - you've got to feed your brain and your heart with more than photography and business. You'll never keep your perspective if the only thing you feed every day is your stomach!
And there you have it, the way I hope to build a daily foundation that has a routine of predictability combined with a quick super-charge. And if you hate the idea of reading Melody Beattie, then hit google for inspirational quotes, YouTube for motivational videos, or pick a few of your favorite artists to follow.
Oh, and there's one more great ingredient - there's always music on in our house. There are five Alexas playing all day long, and our musical tastes range from classical to Celtic Women to James Taylor and Crosby, Stills and Nash - you never know what Sheila and I are going to need to help keep our energy focused.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead, whether it's Sunday where you are or Monday. Make it a day that helps set the stage for the new year, but keep things in perspective. You're only one person, and there's only so much you can do. Most important of all - don't be afraid to ask for help when you seem to hit the wall! Always go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most important to you.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
Just a reminder - I always go off-track from the business and marketing of photography on Sunday mornings. Although, this morning there is a link - at least in terms of chasing your goals and dreams...
I'm almost back to those quiet Sunday mornings I used to refer to. They just start a little later, and after puppy time. I've learned a lot over the last thirty-nine days, twenty-one hours and eleven minutes, but who's counting?
The backstory is a short one. We lost Molly the Wonder Dog to Cancer in February. It took a long time to stop missing her, and just over five weeks ago, we decided it was time to bring a pup back into our life.
Here's the key to the smile in my heart and the bags under my eyes. Sheila wanted a small dog and one that wasn't with me all the time. I wanted a bigger dog - so somehow our logic suggested TWO dogs. While we started looking at rescues, we wanted non-shedding small dogs, joining the family at the same time, and females. Meet Belle and Lucy. Belle will grow to ten pounds and Lucy to twenty-five, and they're inseparable.
I have no idea what made us think at this point in our lives we'd have the patience for two puppies. Puppies are cute; they make you smile, but they also bring out the Jekyll and Hyde in your personality. One minute I'm laughing and having a ball playing with them, the next minute I'm running to the door to get them outside before they pee on the floor.
The word "NO!" has never been more active in my vocabulary, and there are days when if it wasn't for the F-bomb, the house would be silent. I go back and forth between pure joy and trying to remember what life was like once upon a time. And we're almost always tired since we both get up early with the pups and start the daily routine.
And here's my point -
You have to go wholeheartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having.
Frank Lloyd Write
I've worked with so many young photographers over the years who feel the need to rush the process. They want overnight success and often have never taken the time to define what that means.
I'll use Belle and Lucy as examples - we're still a long way from two pups who have run of the house. But each day, there's another milestone. They're only five months old, but the process, although exhausting, has taught me more about myself and my relationship with Sheila. First, there's nothing the two of us can't accomplish together, and second, there are so many different ways to get each task done.
Sheila couldn't be more consistent in her approach to the pups...as a result, they both know the minute we say go to bed, they run to their crate. When she says "come" to Belle, the pup comes running. When I say it to Lucy, she stares at me and takes some coaxing. So, as the dogs learn those essential basic commands, I'm learning that my way isn't always the one that works.
If we had it to do over again, we probably wouldn't do two puppies at the same time, but now that we're here, I wouldn't trade the smile in my heart for anything...except 10-12 hours of sleep!
So, whatever your goals are for the rest of the year and into 2020 - hit them with everything you've got! Go all out and give every dream the horsepower it deserves. Don't compromise on the things most important to you, but also remember there are people all around who care about you and are willing to give you a hand!
And for today - go for those long hugs - eleven to twenty seconds is the suggested time these days. Share those hugs with those people in your life most important to you. They're the ones who challenge you not to be mediocre!
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're following me from the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
If you're new to this blog and looking for help marketing your photography, Sunday's the wrong day to think about business. I always go off-track on Sunday mornings, and it's as much for me as it is for you. There's too often a very thin line between the personal side of who we are and our business. On Sunday's I do my best to separate the two.
This morning I'm getting a little help from one of my favorite motivational authors, Melody Beattie. I haven't taken the time to read any of her books for a while. Being stuck on what to write about this morning is the direct result of minimal sleep, two puppies, and three weeks of craziness on both the business and personal side of my life. I've been in a rut, and while it's all understandable, that doesn't change the fact my smile muscles have atrophied!
Well, it's Melody to the rescue! I needed to start today the way I used to - reading something inspirational that had NOTHING to do with business. Turning to December 1, Melody wrote:
Many of us have been seeking diligently for the meaning of life, at least for the meaning of our lives. I thought I had found it when I began recovering from chemical dependency. Aha, I thought the meaning of life is to stay sober. Then along came codependency and my need to recover from those issues...
I have to paraphrase to make my point...She went on to talk about her search for the meaning of her life, and closed with:
One day, I stopped looking. It wasn't that I gave up. I gave in. I stopped waiting to win the spiritual lottery. Stopped trying to become enlightened. Stopped looking for that perfect soul mate. And started surrendering to and enjoying each moment of my life - just as it is.
That's when I found joy. Or maybe joy found me.
The key to enlightenment might be simpler than we think. We're here to experience joy. Look at each moment in your life and learn to say, "How sweet it is!"
And there it is, my point this morning. We all spend too much time looking for things we can't see. Yet, we know they're there. We lose faith in our abilities; start to doubt ourselves, and before we know it, we're in a rut.
So, whether it's success or whatever you think is the key to your happiness - stop looking for it! Sheila has the quote below framed on the wall in a corner of our bedroom - it's a constant reminder to believe.
Faith...is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.
Wishing all of you a day filled with a feeling of accomplishment as you recognize your ability to experience joy and learn to say, "How sweet it is!" As always go for those long therapeutic hugs with the people who help you find that joy every day. They're a big part of the not so secret recipe to keep those smile muscles active.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
The fun of writing "Sunday Morning Reflections" is a lot like those moments when many of you have a camera in your hands for your own enjoyment rather than work. I can go anywhere, and as so many of you have read, often off-track from the business of photography. This morning's post is a little of both.
To start, the friendships we all have in the industry are the best part of photography and a good friend was with on the beach last night for the Nokomis Drum Circle. Bob Thompson's in Florida. He's wrapping up three weeks on the road, with one primary purpose - catching up to friends.
I wrote about Bob and the sadness of losing his wife Cindy a few months ago. The title of that post was, "When Memories Mean the Most." Well, that describes his trip over the last few weeks.
Bob and I met in '87 when I joined Hasselblad, and the friendship just grew from there. Along the way, so did all the memories. His trip over the last few weeks has been a journey to harvest so many of those memories, and with each stop along the way, he's shared photographs and moments with so many different friends.
Now, to last night at the Drum Circle. While it's not season down here yet, there was still a nice crowd, and nothing beats the sunset. My LUMIX G9 is on loan, so I grabbed my FZ300, and it never disappoints.
I was also reminded of a valuable lesson I learned years ago...never assume that somebody who looks like they know photography, doing a great job when you hand them your camera and ask, "Any chance you can grab a shot of us?" LOL
We've decided to keep the random woman on the right in the image. And, we've adopted her as a new member of the family...Meet "Aunt Beatrice." She's from Nebraska so the accent is on the "a." (In joke, only picked up by people who have lived in NE.)
She's always been a little aloof at times, but she's been that way since she was a kid! She hoped to grow up to be a pirate. So, the ocean has always been a magnet for her dreams - but no pirate career.
And on that note, as I become more obscure, it's time to wrap it up and wish everybody a terrific day. Time with good friends and moments of brilliance when you share stories from the past. Go for those, now suggested, twenty-second hugs. And, to our buddy, Bob, who's headed home to Arizona today, safe travels and remember you've always got a place to hang out here in Florida, and it comes with a bottle of Scotch. What a kick to cover 32 years of memories in two days!
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
I'm into my NEW typical Sunday morning routine - Sheila and I are both up with the pups. Belle is with her on one side of the house, and Lucy's hanging out with me. "Alexa" has music playing throughout. And, the pups gave us a little extra time to sleep this morning. So, it's starting off to be a pretty stellar day.
At least twice this week, I pondered the meaning of life, wondering what we were thinking to take on two puppies at once. Several times Sheila and I said to each other, "We're too old for this!"
I even went online to search for trainers specializing in house-breaking dogs. Exhausted, often before the day even started, the love of having pets in the house was overshadowed by the bags under my eyes! Looking in the mirror, all I'd see was Yoda looking back at me and saying, "Puppies got I - tired I am."
Then two days ago, at the eight-day mark for these to four-month olds, things changed. They were starting to get it. No accidents in the house; playing in the right area of the yard and staying out of the garden and barking less while playing more. The fun moments started to outweigh the effort.
And that takes me right to my point this morning...
So often we give up too early. We don't have the confidence in a decision we've made, and we start second-guessing the direction our hearts have taken us. We get "buyers remorse," as we struggle to justify whatever path we're on, that's taken more energy than anticipated. And, when we make the decision to give up, we rationalize until we convince ourselves it was the right thing to do.
Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line.
They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.
Years ago, I had the honor of interviewing Mary Ellen Mark in a podcast. She talked about how she made her students tape over the screens on their cameras. She wanted them to shoot like they were working with film. I'm paraphrasing, but mostly, she said, "Photographers give up too early. They look at the screen, think they've got the shot, and then move on. But what if the real shot was yet to come?"
Think about it, what if the embrace between the bride and her grandmother was only the beginning? What if the memory-making moment was the tear in grandma's eyes thirty seconds later, but the photographer chimped, got the shot and moved on?
So, whether it's the way you photograph or the projects you take on - don't give up too early. Listen to your heart. Believe in your convictions, and don't forget there's very little in our lives that's truly forever. Stay focused on your dreams, and never underestimate the power of a decent night's sleep!
Before you give up, remember why you started!
Wishing everybody a terrific day with no regrets and plenty of time to stay focused. You know how to hold focus with a camera in your hands - don't forget how to maintain focus on other aspects of your life. And as always, go for those long hugs...apparently eleven-seconds is the old guideline - now they're saying you need twenty!
Happy Sunday, or Monday, if you're on the other side of the world!
It's the friends we meet along the way that help us appreciate the journey.
by Skip Cohen
At the risk of sounding like a joke that's going around:
What do you get when you put Michele Neal Celentano, Paul Neal, Susan Stripling, Kelly Brown, Rob Brown, Sheila, and me in the same house for a weekend?
You get non-stop laughs, minimal sleep, and bags under your eyes that when you look in the mirror, you see Yoda looking back at you!
Daylight savings time has screwed me up, and Sheila and I are both up this morning way too early. That being said, nothing changes quality time with old friends and new ones. If you think about it for just a second, none of us get the time together we wish we had at conventions or throughout the year. So, when Michele and Paul suggested sharing a house together for Sue Bryce and George Varanakis' wedding, we were in...no hesitation whatsoever.
While the wedding was the obvious highlight of the weekend...the bonus benefit has been getting quality time with some incredibly talented people who are each in their own right a knucklehead! I use the word "knucklehead" as one of my highest compliments. True knuckleheads are energetic, risk-takers who repeatedly challenge us to think outside the box and push the boundaries of paradigms.
If you look up the word knuckleheads, it's going to be derogatory and suggest people with small brains, the size of one's knuckles. But from Skip's Urban Dictionary - over the years, I've used it to refer to friends whose hearts are bigger than their brains - In fact, their hearts are typically the largest part of their body!
So, there are two points this morning...
First, surround yourself with great friends, the knuckleheads who make you smile a little more, laugh a little louder, and who you know will be there, even when you've got nothing to smile about. Second, find quality time with people you want to get to know.
It's not a new topic, and one I seem to be hitting a lot lately. I think it's part of the aging process. The older you get, the more value you put on friendships. It becomes more important to get to know people who come into your life on a stronger foundation than just a few minutes together on a trade show floor.
Wishing everybody a day filled with the knuckleheads in your life, and the time to laugh and appreciate how lucky you are to have them by your side! Always go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs, and cherish how the "huggee" makes your heart soar.
Happy Sunday, or as always, Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
It's Sunday morning, and while I always go off track from business and marketing, I'm staying in photography. Most of the time, I never know what I'm going to start writing about. As I jumped online this morning, there it was - a Facebook memory shot of me, Sheila and Robert Vanelli, AKA "V" or "Vanelli."
Ever had somebody come into your life and after just a few months, you can't remember when they weren't in it? For me, Vanelli is one of those people. With a heart as big has his three consecutive world champion titles in Karate back in the eighties, it just feels like he's always been there for so many of us.
Then there's the Kevin Bacon degrees of separation game and so many people come back to Vanelli. The same happens with photographs.
I needed a new shot for the crew at ShutterFest for my speaker banner in 2018. Headed to PPE last year, I asked Vanelli if he'd grab one for me. A few minutes after this shot with Sheila and me, he got the image I needed. It later became my headshot on my Facebook page.
Then there were the antics that happened at the same time - nothing beats giving noogies to a good buddy, especially when he could take you out with one swing. Andrew Darlow captured the fun and sent me the image. Next came the bobblehead joke for Sheila, based on my new headshot.
Last on the list; there's the common denominator of our mutual love for photography. Vanelli and I had never spent any quality time together. We'd been to a dinner or two, but after catching up to each other at trade shows for a few years, I suggested a boyz weekend. I invited him to the house for a couple of days in October of 2018. That's where the friendship and laughs escalated to a relationship I cherish today.
It was also at that time he captured two photographs that would become part of my collection of priceless memories - me and Molly the Wonder Dog.
And that brings me to my point - great friendships don't just happen. While they might start by chance, to flourish, they need an investment of time - real-time - not cyberspace. Social media is fine for keeping touch and sharing, but it's the phone calls and actual time together that brings the real quality of getting to know new friends.
Little did I know at that first meeting with "V" that he'd become such an inspiration, source of smiles and laughter, and most important of all a quality friend. We all wear multiple hats and live hectic, often insane lives. But trust me on this - nothing beats relationship building with great people. Commit to bringing more quality time into getting to know people you respect. You'll never regret it!
Wishing everybody a day when time represents an investment in good solid friendships. We're an industry involved in capturing memories and making intangible moments tangible. We capture them for clients all the time, but today I'm suggesting "charity starts at home." Make those memories today, just for your own heart! And, as always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs.
Happy Sunday, everybody...and yes, Happy Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
It's Sunday morning, and included in reminding you that I always go off-track on Sundays, I should also share a sarcasm alert.
Here's the scenario - It's 5:00 am, and I'm at Pittsburgh airport, headed home after my buddy Terry Deglau's memorial service yesterday. It was a pretty awesome day meeting so many of the friends he grew up with, getting time with his family, and telling stories about Terry over the years.
Well, I wanted to get home in time to spend the day with Sheila and booked a 7:00 am flight. I was hungry and hit Bruegger's Bagels on the way to the gate and thought I'd find the perfect place to sit and eat breakfast. I started at that first arrow but never noticed it was right next to the men's room. As guys came out zipping up, it just lacked the ambiance for a great bagel.
Second stop...no big deal, just move down two seats. NOT - a sweet little old lady decided to try and fill her water bottle. She asked me to hold her cane as she proceeded to come close to drowning me and everything with a 4-5 foot radius of the drinking fountain. Remember, it's early on a Sunday morning, and there shouldn't be a whole lot of people even here!
Last stop - I moved down more, and what you don't see is the entire hallway is empty on both sides. Ooops didn't notice I was right under the flight board. Obviously, there's a convention of far-sighted people in town...because everybody has to lean in to read the board, one guy practically crawling onto the seat I was in, as I'm trying to enjoy the ambiance of an "empty" airport and breakfast.
However, it did give me something to write about this morning. This is one of those posts that's here just for my benefit and the fun of writing. And, while the "location-location-location" rule is always relevant in retail, this morning, it applies to non-existent privacy and trying to be an anonymous traveler.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead and time to enjoy what I'm hoping to do - be home with my honey! Make it a day of peace, family, and appreciate being home and not on the road. When I was a kid, I always hoped I'd grow up and have a job where I could travel. What a silly thing to wish! Then again, as somebody said to me in the TSA line, "Hey, remember, we're just livin' the dream!"
by Skip Cohen
I love going off-track from business and marketing on Sunday mornings. Well, I'm miles off-track this morning, mostly because of the process that got me here. Having no idea what I wanted to write about, I started looking through images from our trip last May to New Mexico.
One of the highlights of the trip was our tour of Georgia O'Keefe's home in Abiquiu. Access to the house is only by appointment, and it's done with very small groups.
There's no photography allowed inside her home. But, outside is unlimited. While the structure, the view, and the layout are all remarkable, I found myself drawn to flowers she planted that have continued to flourish, since she finished renovations on the house around 1950.
So, those aren't just chives that have gone to seed above; those are Georgia O'Keefe's chives! Throughout the property, there are trees, plants, houseplants she more than likely chose and nurtured. I guess what hit me is that while the house and artifacts could be renovated and maintained, parts of her garden still thrive.
At first, it seemed bizarre to me that I was so preoccupied with the still living components of one of America's most celebrated artists, the "Mother of American Modernism." We're all familiar with her paintings, but it's her home that hit me the hardest.
"The Abiquiu Home and Studio offers a special look into the life of one of America's greatest artists. It offers viewers a chance to see the home, which was her vision. Throughout the property, one can see and feel the time and love O'Keeffe dedicated to this special property"...Historic Artists' Homes and Studios
That takes me to today's point of those milestones important in each of our lives. Each of us has something special we're known for; something special we'd leave behind to the people most important in our lives.
For example, our home is like a gallery. It's filled with prints I've collected from friends over a lifetime in this industry. Every photograph has a story behind it. And, in my office, I have a bookcase loaded with industry memorabilia. From the prints to the memorabilia, they're all reminders of great friends and how much photography has contributed to who I am.
I've had a fantastic career, and it's still going - new memories, new friends, and every day a new challenge pushing me to grow. We're all part of an incredible industry, and if you're not having the time of your life, then step back and take some time off.
Most of you are about to head into the fourth quarter crunch, and there will be days when you wonder why you chose this profession! Don't lose site of what you're giving back - you're the magicians who stop time and give people memories to hold. And, like Georgia O'Keefe's chives, those memories keep growing, and your images become more and more cherished with each day that goes by.
I know it's a little hard to connect the dots in today's post, but that's the fun of Sunday Morning Reflections - the dots don't always have to connect!
Wishing everybody an outstanding day, one filled with time with the people you love the most, great friends, and a sense of satisfaction in the journey you're on as an artist and business owner. As always, go for those eleven-second therapeutic hugs with the people who mean most to you.
Starting Monday, March 23 at 2:00 PM EST. Ideas to help your business in these difficult times. Click for more info!
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.