by Skip Cohen
I started this series to share short ideas that seemed to fit into the middle of the week scenario. Plus, I love the shot of the camels!
Well, it's Hump Day* and the perfect time to hit on one of the biggest benefits of attending workshops, conferences, and conventions - they help you recharge your battery!
Yesterday, I presented a two-hour program to a passionate group of pet photographers, thanks to the Hair of the Dog Accademy founder, Nicole Begley. Over the last few weeks, I spent a lot of time pulling information about one of the biggest challenges in business - finding new customers and expanding your reach.
But my point today isn't about marketing and promotion but a side benefit of attending a conference like this: it recharges your battery!
I'm always writing about taking a break and recognizing the signs of burnout, but God forbid I should practice what I preach! I didn't realize how much I needed a recharge myself. Throughout my presentation, I felt like the Energizer Rabbit. There were just over 200 people in the program, and their energy, comments, and questions reminded me of how much I appreciate the true entrepreneurial spirit of so many artists.
From the attendee comments, the enthusiasm was infectious, not just in my program but in two other programs I was able to attend by Anne Thomas on Storytelling and Zoe Hiljemark on The Power of PR. The energy I felt yesterday was spread throughout the attendees. Plus, something unique happens at small conferences like this - everybody supports each other, working towards a common goal to find new ways to grow.
So, to Nicole Begley, thank you for the invite and for sharing your Hair of the Dog family. To the attendees, what a kick getting to "mee" so many of you. As I've already said and written - you know where to find me if I can ever help. And to all of you, my readers - as you lay out your calendar for 2024, pay attention to the dates of local workshops, conferences, and national conventions - just like our phones when the battery's low, we all need a recharge now and then. You should attend every possible program you can, whether LIVE or online.
Nothing beats hanging out with people in our industry. The energy is incredible, and sometimes, it's just what you need to revitalize your spirit and passion for the craft.
by Skip Cohen
After posting at least six days a week for the last ten years, missing the previous few days has felt strange. But the reason is a kick and points to a topic I've written a lot about over the years - special projects.
I'm honored and excited to be teaching at the Hair of the Dog Online Summit next week. Over the last month or two, since being asked, I've been pulling material for my program, and it was finally time to put it all together. From sharing the experiences/ideas of friends and associates to new material I've pulled together, it will be a jam-packed presentation with plenty of "low-hanging fruit" attendees can start to implement almost immediately.
And there are bonuses from some of the speakers when you purchase an All-Access registration. For example, I'll be holding an online bonus program on November 7 as a follow-up to my presentation. The whole idea is to help attendees stay focused on marketing and growing their business right through the holiday season.
But there's another aspect to the Summit that makes it special - I've worked with Nicole Begley, the founder, in the past. She's talented and totally focused on the goal for the two-day event - helping artists raise the bar on the skills. Plus, it's a fundraiser for the Hair of the Dog Conservation fund.
The growth of pet owners has never slowed down, and for so many of you it's such a logical addition to your existing specialty in imaging.
But, like any aspect of professional photography you have to have the skillset to match the demand, exceed expectations and make yourself habit-forming. The Hair of the Dog Summit has brought together ten industry specialists to help you grow and establish a stronger part of your business.
It's a no-brainer to attend, regardless of your choice of the two participation levels.
I hope you'll join us on September 26 and 27 - See you then!
“One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you'd be stricken blind.”
by Skip Cohen
I'm sticking with my "clean up" theme until I run out of things to suggest. Too many of you never think about how the photographs you capture, especially portraits, might be of value later on.
How often have we all worked on something and, whether rushed or exhausted, said to ourselves, "That's good enough?" We've all done it, and maybe it's acceptable when you're fixing something at home, but when it comes to a client, only your best is good enough.
In 2016, Bob Coates shared one of his favorite portraits with me, "Randy," shown on the right. I hope you listen to the short podcast with the photograph, but here's the summary. Randy was struck by a car and died two to three weeks after capturing the images. Bob's portrait was one of the last photographs ever taken of him.
One more major example, and it's so timely following the anniversary of 9/11 this week. Remember the tragedy and the photographs posted as people searched for lost family members and friends. Because so many of the victims were relatively young, there were hundreds of professional portraits, usually bridal or college, even high school senior shots.
Throughout the industry, there are stories from professional photographers who captured the last images taken of a specific subject.
Here's my point - NEVER compromise on the quality of an image. Your clients trust you to capture the best photos, and you owe them your full attention. You never know how important today's photographs are going to be tomorrow!
by Skip Cohen
Platypod has been a leader in helping artists expand their creativity since the company's first product was introduced eight years ago. From the original Platypod to Platyball, the eXtreme, and just recently introduced Handle - the complete Platypod line, with multiple accessories, has grown to be the Platypod Ecosystem.
But Platypod isn't slowing down - Have you subscribed to their YouTube channel? There's now a selection of NEW short how-to videos thanks to a remarkable team of respected industry educators. Each video hits a specific specialty and then a no-nonsense presentation, giving the viewer a solid educational base to build on and, with practice, expand their expertise.
The company's plan is to continue to support the imaging community with more short presentations, each one unique in its application. There are now six videos in the series, of which I pulled three in the click-on links below.
Another new feature is Platypod Perspectives. Again, short, concise and educational, helping you expand your expertise in imaging and at the same time introducing you to some talented photographers in our industry.
Platypod's YouTube channel is loaded with great information and ideas to help you expand your creativity. There's no limit to how you can put Platypod gear to great use - but there's also no limit to the company's goals to help more artists raise the bar on their skillset.
by Skip Cohen
I'm excited about being asked to speak at the upcoming online Hair of the Dog Summit at the end of this month. I'm in great company with nine other speakers; all focused on helping you build a stronger skill set and grow your business. Click on the banner above for more information and then to register.
What good is creating the finest images of your career if nobody knows who you are? And if they do know you, are they knocking on your door? I'll be sharing dozens of ideas on promotions, building awareness, partnerships, and ways to expand your reach beyond your existing customer base. Plus, there's a special bonus - in November, date to be announced - I'll be hosting a follow-up coaching program for VIP pass attendees, helping you keep the momentum going right through the holiday season.
Why you should attend: In the hierarchy of why consumers hire a professional photographer, the top three are brides, babies, and pets. This is from a survey Kodak did at least thirty years ago, and I don't believe it's changed. During the pandemic, weddings were down, along with photographing babies and maternity. The order might have shifted, but here's my point.
Seventy percent of U.S. households, or about 90.5 million families, own a pet, according to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA).
Think about those numbers. Seven out of ten families have at least one pet, and the average per household is estimated at 1.6 -1.8. Like our house, many families have two fur-balls. So, the big question is, are you including pet photography in your business?
Check out the one-minute video below from the Hair of the Dog Summit Host, Nicole Begley for more info.
See you at the Summit!
by Skip Cohen
Because I love the illustration from Adobe Stock above, and it makes me smile, I'm going to stay with doing a "Hump Day" feature. It's too much fun not too! I'll do my best to keep it light and continue this series of quick thoughts to help you through the back half of the week and build a stronger business.
Years ago, I did a podcast with Matthew Jordan Smith as my guest, and we talked a lot about special projects.
Special projects help you stay focused on your creativity. This is especially important when your bread-and-butter business isn't as glamorous as you had hoped. A unique project allows you to be in complete control and can be virtually anything you decide to capture.
And you never know when a special project can become something bigger than you planned. Special projects can become exhibits, gallery shows, books, and even new businesses. For example, Matthew's book Future American President was based on an idea that was part of his life for at least three years before publication.
Most important of all is a special project helps to keep your sanity! Special projects help you stay focused on your passion for the craft beyond whatever pays the bills. When did you last shoot for your most important client - yourself? So often, what might have started as a just-for-the-fun-of-it idea evolves into something more focused and substantial.
Well, it's Hump Day, and the rest of this week is perfect for finding yourself a special project involving your skillset, camera, and unbridled creativity.
All images copyright Howard Schatz. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
I joined Hasselblad USA in July of 1987, right around the same time that Howard Schatz and Beverly Ornstein were getting started. A few years later, I met them both. Now, twenty+ books later, I continue to be in awe of his work.
His new book, Pairs is remarkable - it's more than just stunning images. It spans thirty years of work in 365 photographs as Howard explores the relationship between two subjects or images. "Couples or colleagues; actors or acrobats; fighters or friends; lovers or dancers; newlyweds or newborns: the photographs in this book reveal the passionate and dynamic, subtle or obvious, and always compelling, mystery of relationship."
Howard goes on to explain:
From the beginning of my professional career, my main interest, my motivating force, and passion, has been to explore and experiment, searching for imagery that would surprise and delight me in my quest to explore what's deep inside. One of many areas of my ongoing interest has been the exploration of the relationship between two subjects: the visual, graphic, emotional, social, physical, and even spiritual dynamic resonating and resulting from such combinations.
This book belongs in the library of anyone who loves fine photography. It's the perfect holiday gift scheduled to start shipping on October 1, 2023. Having been given a sneak peek, this may be my favorite of his books to date; it's a stunning body of work and demonstrates why the statement, "Nobody does it better," is so appropriate when describing Howard and Beverly's passion for the craft.
What a kick to have followed Howard's work for so many years!
I am in search of the electric, sometimes eccentric and always compelling connections possible with a combination of two whether dancers, athletes mothers and newborns, gymnasts, and even inanimate objects. Sometimes, they were brought together intentionally: I've found other images that speak to each other in ways I had not previously noticed. The connections are sometimes subtle, sometimes not. - Howard Schatz
by Skip Cohen
Here's a workshop that needs to be on your bucket list. It's photographing the night skies in Sedona!
First, your "coach" is one of the best educators in imaging, Bob Coates. I won't deny I'm a little prejudiced, having hung out with Bob for 20+ years. But the friendship we have came out of my respect for his style, knowledge, passion for the craft, and willingness to always help on any project. He's an artist, educator, author, and a great friend to so many photographers in the industry.
Next comes the location: SEDONA! It's one of our favorite places to visit, but it's more than just the beauty of Sedona; it's the area's peacefulness. And for a night sky workshop, it's the ideal "canvas."
Sedona is a dark-sky community. Add red rocks to the Coconino National Forest, and the combination makes for some spectacular opportunities for making starscapes featuring the Galactic Core of the Milky Way or stunning star trail images.
The Milky Way and Night Sky Workshop starts with time in the classroom. You'll meet your fellow adventurers and learn how to find where night sky features will appear, allowing you to plan for a solid image. Tips and techniques for using your camera, including proper settings, will be covered. You'll learn how to experiment for the best results.
Last but not least is the ability to boost your skillset combined with the camaraderie of a small group (six people max) workshop. In a small hands-on environment like this, attendees will get time with Bob, as well as the opportunity to work with the other artists on the adventure.
The video below rounds out the description of this incredible opportunity with Bob and the Sedona night sky.
Got an interest? Click on either of Bob's photographs above for more information.
by Skip Cohen
Technology never slows down, and if you look at the creative tools at your fingertips today versus just a few years ago, the line between still photographers and videographers is completely blurred. We're all shooting video because our phones and cameras put the technique at our fingertips. But just because it's there and easy, doesn't mean you shouldn't still do your best to capture and create each story.
Charley Voorhis is an award-winning filmmaker and Tamron Image Master. He's also a great guy and educator, teaching at various programs around the country. In fact, Charley and I finally met in person before one of his classes at ClickCon several years ago.
I pulled three of his video tips below; each one is 20 seconds or less. Charley and Tamron wasted no time making three great points, and I'm betting many of you will appreciate these refreshers to raise the bar on your skillset.
Whether it's your own family, for a client, or putting together a reel for marketing, your blog, or a special project, you might as well follow the US Army's tagline - "Be all you can be!"
Images copyright Kevin A. Gilligan. All rights reserved.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Before you read on - this is the longest post I've ever shared on the SCU Blog, but it's for a great reason. We're back into great weather, summer, and many of you are going to think about showing your work in local galleries, shows, and community events. Even if you just scan the title of each tip, you're bound to find something relevant to help you raise the bar on showing your work.
In 2015, Kevin Gilligan did a guest post that's been one of the best we've had. Initially, I ran it in three parts. Today I'm putting all three of them into one post. And while here and there something might sound a little dated - there is no expiration date on relationship building as an artist with your target audience.
There's an incredible amount of helpful advice here as Kevin shared sixteen tips on doing a solo exhibition. Even if you have no intention of doing a photography show or gallery event, there's one tip after another to help you show your work better.
About Kevin: The real fun of this industry is the friendships that come from everyone's love for the craft. Ever had a friend who feels like they've been in your life pretty much forever? Well, that's Kevin A. Gilligan. We met in a phone call around 2014, and the friendship continued to grow, even though we didn't meet face to face until years later.
I'm not sure there isn't anything Kevin can't photograph, but the secret ingredient is his love for the craft. He's a writer, educator, artist, and a great buddy. Click on any of his images in this post to visit his website.
What I Learned From My First Solo Photography Show
by Kevin A. Gilligan
Landscape photography is one of my passions. I love the feeling of capturing a great scene, especially if I get to explore somewhere new while doing it. Photographers love to share their best images. We want others to enjoy and appreciate them, and hopefully, buy them.
In the past five years, I’ve shown my landscape and travel photography in a half-dozen group shows, and two museums. Last year I began to feel it was time to have a solo exhibit. I’m a self-taught photographer, and I was not planning to wait around for a gallery to offer me a show. I made up my mind that I was going to create my show. Over the course of six months, I planned and executed every detail of a solo show.
Deciding to do a solo exhibit is a large commitment of time, resources, and ego. Yep, ego, you are putting yourself out there, and saying come look at my work. You have to have the confidence to show it, and a thick skin for those who won’t like it. Photography is art; you won’t please everyone, nor should you try to.
The opening night of a solo show is exhilarating and worth all the work that goes into it. I learned a ton in the process. Here are a few tips I can share for those who are committed enough to put on their first solo show.
Tip #1 Try a Group Show First
Group art shows are a perfect way to ease your way into showing your work. You don’t need many pieces; you can often show just one. It takes less time and less money, and there is less pressure because much of the logistical work is already done. You don’t have to book a gallery space, and often someone will hang the images for you. The theme may already be selected. The group shows help you build your network of contacts: collectors, framers, printers, public relations folks. Hand out your cards, get the cards of others, send thank you notes.
Tip #2 Select Your Best Images
Learning to select your best images and editing them for a show is a big first step.
You must learn to be ruthless. I have over 40,000 images in my catalog. I showed 27. If you are thinking about a solo show, I am assuming you are already proficient in post-production using Lightroom/Photoshop, etc. Selecting your images for a show is much more than just processing your images. It involves selecting a group of images that go together in the show. You might have several groupings of images.
For my exhibit, I had 27 images in three groups. The first were aerial images of Los Angeles. I printed those on metal. The second were black and white photographs of Rocky Mountain National Park; those were printed on paper and framed and matted. The third group included some of my favorite water-related images, and a few black and white, or dark themed landscapes that complimented the Colorado images.
Tip #3 Print A Test Book
Once I had a semi-final selection of images, I printed a high-quality test book. The book was about 5x7 inches, and I did not spend a lot of time on the text. The point of the book was to see how the images looked together and to have the book to take with me when I met with galleries. It was also an inspiration to me to keep going. When I was tired or frustrated, I could look at the book and remind myself of my purpose. The book was something tangible I could hold in my hands. I also showed it to a lot of potential guests for the show. Printing the book shows you are serious, and it elicits a different reaction than, “Hey, look at these pictures on my iPhone.” Everyone has pictures on their iPhone, this is different, print a book. You will look at your images differently. It pushes you to do better.
Tip #4 Theme/Artist Statement
You need a theme. Your exhibit will need a name. Give some thought to what will describe your show to guests. This was hard for me, really hard. It took me a while. I read photography books, listened to podcasts, talked to my wife about it. I won’t lie, this took me months. Finally, I figured out something that worked for the collection of images I had in mind. ELEMENTS: SEA – AIR – LAND. Was it the best name ever, probably not, but it told the viewer what to expect, images of the sea, air, and land. As I got closer to the exhibit I wrote an artist statement incorporating the theme, and what I wanted to convey with this collection of images. Personally, I think this is an indispensable step to solidify your thoughts and connect with potential collectors. The theme was done early in the process; the artist statement came much later.
Tip #5 Find a Place to Show Your Images
Obviously, this is very important. You might even want to determine this first. Many decisions spring from this decision. You need to know what this space will look like so you will know how much space you have for images. How many can you show? How will you present them? The location is also an important consideration for your audience. How far will they travel to see you work? When the venue is available will affect how much time you have to prepare everything. If the location is a gallery or museum, it will likely have a lot of lighting, and it will be flexible to highlight best your art. If the location is not a gallery, you may need supplemental lighting. How much will the location cost to rent? Will you pay a flat fee or a percentage of your sales? Do they allow food and alcohol? Will they do marketing for you or will you be expected to do all of your marketing? Do they have a mailing list to promote you?
Finding the right space took months for me. I had been paying attention to the galleries during my group shows. I was ready to book one gallery and it closed. I was disappointed, and had to start my search over. I contacted real estate agents about vacant spaces, but that never panned out. The real estate agents always wanted too much money for a short exhibit, and they also wanted me to get insurance and pay for electrical hookups and the like. The logistics didn’t work out.
Ultimately I found a local gallery and was able to pay them a flat fee. They had lots of lighting, and they even helped me hang my images, which was great. I also found a very supportive group of artists who were interesting and fun.
Tip #6 Seek Show Sponsors
Putting on a show is expensive. Printing, framing, gallery space, public relations, food and beverages, a catalog….they all cost money. It’s thousands of dollars any way you cut it. Seek sponsors to help you reduce your costs, and give your sponsors billing on your public relations, social media, and gallery space. Hopefully, you have been building your connections as you have exhibited in group shows to this point.
Sponsors can also include local food and beverage companies who may be new and want to expand their client base. I was grateful to have Tamron USA, Pelican Products and a local brewery and chocolatier as my sponsors. You don’t have to provide a full dinner, but some wine and cheese, or beer and chocolate is in order. I did not drink during the show so I could stay sharp and attend to my guests.
Tip #7 Create a Show Flier
Once you selected the show name, images, location, and dates, it is time for a show “flier.” My flier had a key image for the show that would be on all the advertising, dates and times, and names of my sponsors, my website, and email address. I printed several hundred 4x6 postcards and carried them with me all the time. I handed out hundreds of these over the course of 3-4 months and left them at key places like my local photography shop.
Tip #8 Social Media
As soon as you book the date of your show, send out a “SAVE THE DATE” on social media. Use the show flier on social media. Send it out to all your outlets: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, your mailing list. Your sponsors will appreciate it. Vary the message, talk about the process, show the location, your printing, and framing. Don’t overwhelm but give periodic updates. Ask your friends and sponsors to help spread the word. Post images of the show itself, friends having fun, and perhaps even images you sell. Be sure to reach out to people individually before and after the show. Take the time to demonstrate that you are looking forward to people coming to the show, and say thanks to those who do come.
Tip #9 Be Humble and Ask For Help
You are going to need help, probably a lot of it. So be humble and ask for help. I’ve always been a believer in shopping locally. I buy a lot of my camera equipment from local camera stores. Yes, it costs me a bit more in the short run, but in the long-run the help with equipment and questions is invaluable. Plus I like to support my local community. For this show, I spent quite a bit of time working with an extremely talented photographer and printer from my local camera store. She helped me with paper selection, printing and gave me many helpful suggestions. One of the best suggestions she gave me was to create a replica model of the show space.
Tip #10 Create a Replica of Your Exhibit Space
Grab a legal pad, a few pens, and a tape measure and go visit your exhibit space. Measure the dimensions of ALL the walls and draw a diagram while you are there. Next create a model of the space out of foam board. Make every foot equal to one inch and be sure the model is to scale. Height of the walls and distances included.
Write the height and width on each wall. Connect the foam board pieces using clamps and/or nails. You will want to be able to take the walls apart and put them back together again. You are going to print super-small copies of your pictures and post them to the walls using pin cushions. By doing this, you will be able to see which images go together on a wall, which images should be vertical or horizontal. You are going to measure out the distances exactly.
Did this take a lot of time….yes. Did I get frustrated doing this….yes. Was I delighted when I got to the gallery, and I knew exactly where each piece was going to go……? Absolutely. It cut down on a lot of stress on the day of installation.
Tip #11 Test Prints
This will be obvious to some, but test prints are critical. You need to know how your image will look on the particular medium that you are using. Half of my images were printed on metal for this show. I ordered several metal prints (dye fused on metal) from several print labs before the show. I experimented with several different finishes on the metal as well i.e. glossy, matte, etc. The paper prints were even more complicated. Each paper has a different print quality, price and displays the ink differently. “HELP”….my head was spinning. I spent many hours working with a printer to get each shot right. Finding the right framer, at the right price, can also be challenging. Your network can be invaluable here.
Tip #12 Installation/Hanging Your Images
Hanging images can be very challenging. Honestly, I hate doing it. Give yourself enough time. At least a day. If you have done your model (tip #10), then this will be much easier, you already know which images go together as a group, and where specifically each will go. Ask for help, bring a friend who has done this already if you can. Keep in mind that some galleries will hang images with wires and some galleries only want “D” rings. You should ask the gallery how they want the images before you frame them, assuming the gallery is going to help you hang the images.
Tip #13 Create a Catalog
Create a catalog of your work for the show. Include your artist statement, pictures of the images, the size of the images, the medium, and the price. I made 250 copies of the catalog, and it was well worth it. Hand it out at the show and let people take it home. This will help with your follow-up sales.
Tip #14 Sign-In Book
Purchase a nice leather bound book for the show and have people sign in and provide their name and email address so you can thank them for coming and invite them to future events.
Tip #15 Follow-Up
Follow up with your prospective purchasers after the show. Thank those who came to the show and especially those who purchased an image.
Tip #16 Hire a Photographer
Hire a photographer for the day, so you get images (with you in them for a change) and you can relax. You’ll be happy to have the images of your friends and for use in future marketing and social media efforts.
Having a solo exhibition is a landmark in your professional photography career. It says you are serious about your photography and willing to put in much more time and effort than the average photographer. Give yourself lots of time, six-nine months and enjoy the learning process.
Nearly 250 people attended my exhibit, I sold a third of my images during the show, and even more after the show. I met collectors and I'm building my mailing list. It was an exhilarating and somewhat exhausting experience. I couldn’t be happier I did it. I hope you do it too.
by Skip Cohen
We've all been to various kinds of workshops over the years, some great, others average, and then there are those programs that could put a rock to sleep.
Here are three coming up in 2024 that will fill up fast, but it's all because they're great programs. So, what makes a great program, and why would I suggest you put these on the very top of your bucket list?
Last but not least - a photographic adventure with Moose will always be fun. "FUN" - that's one of those words too often lost today. It's buried underneath the stress of business.
These programs will fill up fast. If you're interested, click on the banner above for more information and get yourself signed up.
by Skip Cohen
Yes, this is an infomercial, but if you know my reputation, it's not without being justified. I've been involved in several Kickstarter campaigns since joining Platypod, and this one has been the biggest kick to work on. Why? Because the product has a huge payback in boosting creativity, and it's just $49 until the end of May.
While it looks like a light-saber handle with the description of a camera riser - it may well be one of the most diverse accessories the company has ever released. And for those concerned about backing projects before they go to market - this one is in full production, with our first shipments already headed from overseas to our warehouse!
So from studio to close-up, macro, food, portraiture, tabletop and copy stand work, even vlogging, this little marvel allows you to add up to eight different accessories. With eight 1/4-20 sockets at the top, you can add lights, reflectors, monitors, and the list goes on and on. Plus, it will hold up to eleven pounds, and they're stackable - each from a breakdown height of three inches to adjust from 6 to 10 1/2 inches!
Visit Kickstarter and scroll down the project page for great videos and reviews from Lenworth Johnson, Rick Sammon, Don Komarechka, Stewart Wood, Moose Peterson, Dave Williams, Liam Douglas, Bob Coates,
and Sharky James.
What a kick!
Check out Larry Becker's demonstration video below...there's so much this accessory can do. "Do you really need this?" For most of you, YES!
by Skip Cohen
Circle the Date: April 5th at 11AM PST and 2PM EST
There are a lot of great online programs these days, but nothing beats two remarkable artists joining forces for an outstanding event. Bob Coates and UK photographer Gavin Phillips are teaching together!
Bob Coates will be teaming up with UK photographer Gavin Phillips to share a webinar on artistic Photoshop Actions that Gavin has designed for creating watercolors and paintings from your photographs. When you sign up for the webinar you’ll get two backgrounds as a bonus. If you can’t make the live event you’ll be able to view the recorded version.
Learn more and click here to sign up.
by Skip Cohen
It's so easy to get caught up in the day-in-day-out challenges of life and business. Along the way, we forget our bucket list for adventures. Here are two outstanding trips coming up in Minnesota and Kenya.
What I love most about these two trips, besides the subject matter, is they involve two of my favorite people in the industry - Bob and Dawn Davis. We've been friends for a long time, but the friendship came out of the respect I have for their skill set as artists and business owners. Here's an opportunity for you to shoot with one of the finest photographers in the industry.
BLACK BEARS, WHITE AMERICAN PELICANS, WATERFALLS, + LANDSCAPES WORKSHOP WITH BOB DAVIS
It all starts out on June 7 in the Northwoods of Minnesota. Limited to just eight participants, the description of the bear part of the adventure says it all!
Get ready for an extraordinary adventure! This workshop offers an incredible opportunity for a thrilling in-field photographic experience that you won't want to miss. In June, we'll be focusing on capturing the antics of some of the most adorable creatures on the planet... the bear cubs. These little fur balls are brimming with energy, curiosity, and playfulness, making them a delight to photograph for amateur photographers as well as the most accomplished wildlife photographers. With so many bears present, this is the perfect time to capture all kinds of captivating interactions and portraits, including cubs of all sizes. It's an experience that's sure to fill you with wonder and excitement!
More information is just a click away on any of the images above!
JOIN BOB + DAWN DAVIS ON A PURPOSE-DRIVEN PHOTOGRAPHIC SAFARI
Here's another trip that should be at the top of your bucket list. Again the description says it all:
We're excited to invite you to join us, Bob and Dawn Davis, for a once-in-a-lifetime Kenyan adventure! This trip is all about immersing yourself in photography, storytelling, and exploration of unique experiences. For 10 days, we'll be focusing on wildlife, travel, and landscape photography while exploring the Amboseli, Tsavo, and Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. You won't find a higher concentration of big game anywhere else, including wild lions, leopards, rhinos, cheetahs, hippos, and elephants - and that's just the start!
If you've met Bob and Dawn, then you already know they never do anything halfway. This adventure is a massive memory-maker. Plus, it's combined with plenty to photograph, the commradiere that comes with small groups and the educational level of working with two of the industry's most passionate members!
Click on the banner above to link to the website for more information.
And if you're on the fence, take the time to call Bob and Dawn directly with questions. Neither of these trips will be available for very long. Contact Bob at 312-719-3577 or email email@example.com.
by Skip Cohen
As I've written so many times before, the fun of this industry is in the friendships that come from everyone's love for the craft. Meet Dave DeBaremaeker. Although we had talked on the phone a few times over the last couple of years, we finally met in person a few months back when he joined me on Scott Kelby's show, The Grid. It was a kick!
Dave's passion for photography is all about toys, but as I watched this recent video on his YouTube channel, I realized how many of his applications work in other specialties. From rings and detail shots at weddings to closeups and macro images of flowers at home through the winter months - the common denominator is the gear behind the scene.
Obviously, wearing the hat of CMO for Platypod, I love this video, but it goes beyond toys. So many of you have a diverse collection of demands on your skill set. You need to be prepared for different challenges, and Platypod is often about solutions and gaining a new perspective.
Click on any Platypod Pro below to check out the rest of the "family." There's an incredible variety of images being captured with Platypod as part of the gear to get the shot! And you'll notice Dave is in the third row down in the photos below. The "family" on our website includes forty-four artists shooting virtually everything from macro to landscape to toys, food, portraits, real estate, night skies, and the list goes on and on.
Dave needs to be on your radar. You'll find more of his work on his website and check out his YouTube page too!
by Skip Cohen
Michele Celentano and her husband, Paul, were here in early December. We haven't all been together since before the pandemic, but that didn't stop the laughs. We've been friends for a lot of years, and with great friends, even a one-night stay-over is time to cherish.
So, what happens when one of the industry's finest family photographers falls in love with your dogs? First, she threatens to steal them! When Michele wanted to photograph our girls, I figured a couple of grab shots, not a complete series. But the fun of it all was watching her work with the puppies. There's are reasons she's one of the best - her love for the craft and her ability to communicate with her subjects, whether they've got two legs or four.
For all of you younger artists, there's a lesson here. Michele's skill set is extensive. While she's not a pet photographer, she understands every aspect of composition and lighting. Moreover, she's never stopped learning and fine-tuning her skill set.
Lucy and Belle responded to the love they were being shown, the same as Michele's clients. When you wander through her galleries and look at her work, you can tell from the natural expressions of her subjects. It's a story of trust in the photographer combined with fun during the sitting.
Here's my point: As photographers, you've got an enormous responsibility to consistently deliver the best to your clients. They're trusting you to exceed their expectations. And when that happens you become habit-forming.
If you're at a convention and Michele is speaking or doing a demo on the trade show floor, run, don't walk to get a seat. She never disappoints and never compromises on the quality of what she delivers! Click on any of the images in today's post to link to her Facebook page, and then put her on your radar!
In the hierarchy of why consumers hire a professional photographer, it goes to brides, babies, and pets. That's the top three from a Kodak study at least twenty-five years ago, and I don't believe it's moved a bit. The pandemic changed the ranking slightly, but not the top three. Now, add to that the incredible growth in households with pets worldwide!
Take it a step further and look at the size of the pet industry. I took a quick stroll through cyberspace, and PetKeen.com had one the most thorough sets of statistics. Click on the banner below to link to the complete article. It's the top line you need to appreciate - the global market for pets is worth $261 billion, and pet owners in the US are spending over $100 billion on the furry members of the household. But one more statistic made me smile: Americans spent an estimated $490 million on Halloween costumes for their pets!
Here's the bottom line - pet photography can be an incredibly lucrative business, but don't underestimate the need for a great skill set. The standards for a great portrait and the experience of a fun sitting don't change just because the subject's got four legs!
by Skip Cohen
The new year is off to an outstanding start for education and expanding your skill set. Last week, David Bergman announced his "Shoot from the Pit" program is back for 2023 at stadium concerts. Here's an opportunity to learn concert photography with one of the best in the industry right from the pit at live shows!
David has an outstanding track record as an award-winning artist, educator, Canon Explorer of Light, author, and good buddy to so many photographers in the industry. I've included his short video on the workshop series, as well as David's November guest appearance on Steve Brazill's behindtheshot.TV. It's the perfect introduction to understanding the depth of not only David's expertise but his passion for the craft!
And if you still want to see more of his work and get to know him even better, just click on any image above to link to his website!
These workshops are limited to just a few attendees - they'll sell out fast. So check out the schedule with David and join him on the road with Luke Combs in 2023!
by David Bergman
Shoot From the Pit is back for 2023 at STADIUMS!
I've done nearly 100 of my live, concert photography workshops and we're continuing this year even bigger and better. I've learned more than a few things about photographing epic concerts in my 30+ years in the business, and I'll teach you as much as I can backstage at Luke Combs 2023 stadium shows in the US and Canada.
Then you get to shoot the entire show that night with incredible access! It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you won't want to miss. All stadium workshops are on sale NOW at ShootFromThePit.com. I expect them all to sell out, so don't wait to grab your spot.
* Proof of Covid vaccination is no longer required to attend the workshops. Also, future workshops (possibly in New Zealand, Australia and Europe *wink wink*) will be announced first on the email list at ShootFromThePit.com if/when they become available.
Join me and let's "Shoot From the Pit!"
by Skip cohen
Twenty-three years ago, Don Blair and I wrote a book together, Don Blair's Guide to Posing and Lighting Body Parts. Working with our good buddies, the other two Musketeers, Tony Corbell and Terry Deglau, we shot all the images for the book in Las Vegas. Of course, this was all pre-digital, so the storyboards were taped to the wall, and as we completed each page, the Polaroids were added to the illustrations.
There are few projects from my career that make me smile as much as this one. It was a lot of hard work, but the four of us were the very best of friends, and the energy, the laughs, and the success of creating each page made it an incredible memory-maker - perfect for Throwback Thursday!
Parts of today's posts are from the SCU archives, but there's a definite reason for sharing the two pages I chose below.
Click on either page to enlarge in the SCU Lightbox
There are too many of you who know virtually nothing about lighting. You call yourself "natural light specialists," suggesting it's a talent to always go with available light. But it's so easy for you to learn more about lighting with one goal - to exceed client expectations and make yourself habit-forming,
I was looking through "Life's Little Instruction Book, Volume II" and I found this piece of advice...
916. Learn the rules. Then break some.
Most of you never knew Don Blair. He used to tell people, "You have to know the rules before you can break them!" His favorite "rules" were about lighting and posing. He respected the rules because they represented the primary tools he had to create flattering images of his subjects. The rules were all about his ability to exceed expectations...EVERY time. Remember, there was no Photoshop for Don...he couldn't take twenty pounds off a subject in post-production. He had to rely on his skill as an artist and get it right in camera!
I apologize for the quality of the scans; these are from an old copy of the book we did together. However, there's enough here to help you understand my point. Every image on those two pages is exactly the way they looked...right out of the can.
Now, think about your work. It's holiday time, and most of you will be in a position at some time to capture a few portraits. So take the time to pay attention to your lighting, posing, exposure and composition. And going into the new year, learn everything you can do with your skill set, before post-processing. It'll not only save you time, but you'll elevate your work as an artist and be on your way to becoming habit-forming to your clients.
And...when you need to break the rules, for whatever reason, you'll have the incredible satisfaction of understanding them and elevating your work to becoming one of the great portrait artists. Every artist can break the rules; the key is to know them first!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
by Skip Cohen
When my buddy Scott Bourne posted the image above on the new community site for Platypod Users, I was blown away because it looked so real. The information about the portrait is below, but I still wanted to call him. It was our phone conversation that prompted me to want to write this post.
The star of the image is a toy, and while it was done in the studio, Scott gave credit to everything he ever learned about portrait lighting, starting with Monte Zucker. Monte's name is sadly not recognized by many young photographers. He was a master of lighting and portraiture and blazed a trail for so many of the techniques in lighting and posing today.
As we talked, the depth of Scott's understanding of lighting kept going deeper with names like Clay Blackmore, Tony Corbell, Bambi Cantrell, and Matthew Jordan Smith, just to name a few. And that brings me right to my point and why I wanted to share this image in today's post.
I am a part of all that I have met.
Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote that quote above, but it fits perfectly with everything Scott's learned in his career through so many different specialties. From his own workshops, to attending every convention he could find time for, he's never stopped learning, regardless of what his primary business in imaging might have been at the time.
He lit Boba Fett the same way he'd work with a live model in his studio to create a pensive portrait. And it doesn't matter if you're a boudoir, portrait, family, maternity, newborn, or children's photographer - understanding the craft and especially lighting will always raise the bar on the quality of your images!
Interested in seeing more of Scott's work? Follow him on Vero.
by Scott Bourne
Boba Fett Pensive Portrait
Sometimes you have to break the "rules." Typically I'd make a portrait where the subject looks into the empty frame. It's more comfortable and the eye likes to have a place to go. Here, I want to create tension and dissonance. Because of that I have Boba looking out of the short side of the frame. There's a tank trooper in the background. Is he friend or foe? That is for you to decide. I am merely the storyteller. My job is to get your mind churning on the possibilities.
The lifelike sculpt in the Hot Toys 1:6 scale Book of Boba Fett figure is amongst the best I've seen. I can work with this guy any time I want. He's probably my favorite character to photograph. And he always does exactly what I tell him to do.
This is mostly SOOC from my Fuji X100V using a Hoya +4 Closeup Filter. Photographed against a printed background from Printique.com. See the BTS photo for more info. Shot at 1/80th sec @ f/2
Remember, toys are joy.
For a list of my toy photo gear and props go to:
Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist.
by Skip Cohen
At the risk of sounding like a Jack Handey clip from old SNL shows, when I read the quote above, it got me thinking about how it applies to our industry. As pros and aspiring professional photographers, you're all in the business of capturing relationships.
And here's one last big one I see every day when I'm wearing my Platypod hat. Eight years ago, Larry T. had a vision of being able to travel without the bulkiness of a tripod but have the necessary gear to capture images that could never be handheld. In fact, the recent Platypod Pros feature on the website highlights forty of the most respected artists in the industry who, every day, create and capture relationships where none previously existed.
So here's my point - so many of you undervalue what you bring to the party with your skills, business, and ability to help your target audience. You worry about the timing of getting more involved and reaching out. You've got the passion for the craft, and you've spent plenty of time fine-tuning your skills, but taking that jump into the public eye and building relationships is risky.
Here's one more thought based on an old proverb:
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago.
The second best time is now.
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.