by Skip Cohen
With everything that's changed in our lives, the lines between great images, memories, and classic skill sets are all blurred. Technically it's Throwback Thursday, and the fun of the day is typically looking back at a moment in the past captured in a photograph. Well, I'm combining a little of everything this morning.
The image above is thanks to the outrageous passion of Erik Kuna.
It's a 9-minute long exposure streak of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching across the sky and the booster turning back and landing on earth. It was taken from an abandon launchpad from the '60s at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with a Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon in the Foreground, since Elon Musk actually named the Falcon rocket after this iconic Sci-Fi Spacecraft.
Erik captured it with his camera set up on a Platypod Max, but that's not where the story about the image ends.
Here's where the "throwback" comes in...
For so many of us, the fun of a throwback image only requires turning back the clock a few weeks!
Erik shared the image on The Grid last month. I was a guest on that show and arrived much later than usual because I was stuck in traffic. (There's a throwback all its own - traffic!)
I remember joking that it might be our last time all seated together for awhile. Even then, we didn't really understand the full impact of the "social-Tsunami" headed our way.
The image of the three of us is actually my last photograph taken while being with other people outside my home/office. Right now, it seems like it was so long ago.
But there is a brighter side to all of this, or maybe it's better described as an enduring side. Social distancing makes it tough to spend direct time with friends now, but it doesn't stop the support available or the willingness of so many people, like Erick and Scott to help us through the challenges.
Start with all the support you'll find at KelbyOne, including ongoing articles and great online educational programs. Then, tune in The Grid and catch up on past episodes. Follow Scott Kelby's blog for more good solid content.
Last but certainly not least - check out Erik's website. It's jam-packed with incredible images. And while some of you will think they're a long way from your specialty of weddings, portraits, etc. they're right in line with the passion so many of you share for having a camera in your hands! I love the way Erik describes his passion for space:
Driven by a passion to create images that inspire, I work with artists and media focused on creating photos, animations, motion art and videos that communicate the story and capture the beauty, wonder and amazement of space exploration.
"The value of beauty and inspiration is very much underrated, no question." - Elon Musk
The greatest gift we can give humanity today is to look beyond our current generation to the future of space exploration. Democratizing space for everyone, the next frontier for all of us to explore.
by Skip Cohen
There's a lot going on this week, and I grabbed information on four programs I recently spotted. Obviously, the "f64 Lunch Bunch" is near and dear to my heart since I'm the knucklehead who, with help from some great friends, got it off the ground.
This week we meet on Wednesday at 2:00 pm EST, and we're moving in a different direction. We'll have three couples joining us; all focused on wedding and event photography. Our guests will be Bob and Dawn Davis, Charles and Jennifer Maring, and Brent and Teri Ann Watkins. I can promise you a great webinar with a lot of depth in the skill sets of the guests to answer your questions.
Dealing with the severity of the changes in business is no fun, but you do have the ability to get a lot out of the downtime. When the pandemic finally ends, it's going to be your expanded skill set that helps you get business back to what you want it to be!
Click on any of the banners in this post for more information.
From Tamron USA:
DSLR VIDEO AND FINDING YOUR OWN STYLE
In this webinar Charley will describe three different styles of production, basic videography, commercial work and cinematic films. He will layout entry level packages of accessories and a production approach for each.
From Kelby Media:
You can either spend your time at home parked on the couch, or you can find a fun and kick butt online community to join and stay connected to your passion. Seems like a clear choice to us!
Looking for a budget friendly place to start? New members can enjoy their first month of a Plus membership for just $3!
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and there isn't a better topic right now than Spring seasonality!
Just because we're all in various forms of lockdown doesn't mean Mother's Day, graduation and Father's Day are going to go away. You've still got a remarkable opportunity to create a little excitement and sales.
1. Start with a call to your lab and simply ask, "What's new?" Remember, before the pandemic, most of the pro labs were showing new products and ideas at both IUSA and WPPI. Those products didn't disappear.
One of my favorites is Bay Photo's Performance EXT Metal prints. I wrote about one over a year ago. It's outside our home, and it's still stunning. That's twenty months in the hot sun and rain in Florida with no visible change in quality. Think about how everybody has a back porch or patio, and an outdoor print becomes a novel idea, especially when we're spending so much time at home inside these days.
2. Coloring books of family portraits: The idea is thanks to Steven Gotz, and I shared a post about it last week, but let's turn this into a product. If you're a children and family photographer, imagine the pure joy a grandmother would have with a Mother's Day gift of a coloring book of pictures of her family her grand-children have colored. Obviously, this has the most potential for families with young children. All the information is a click away.
,3. Graduation opportunities: The class of 2020 is definitely in transition when it comes to graduation ceremonies and celebrations. While some graduations might be postponed until later in the year, most of this year's seniors are going to miss out. That makes the photographs you took of them before the pandemic even more valuable. So, from grad cards and Marathon's BOGO program to prints and albums, you've got a chance to play a significant role in acknowledging their accomplishments.
4. Slideshows: If you're in any of the portrait/social categories, you've got images in your files of clients and their families. That makes this the perfect time to build slideshows for your clients. Great photos put to music and even short video clips if you have them make, creating a slideshow a remarkably strong product/service.
5. Education: Use your blog to share tips on being a better photographer. Whether Mom and Dad are using their cell phones or a real camera, give them advice on how to make their images better. Share tips on posing, lighting, exposure, and composition - all things you do every day without a second thought. Be helpful and let your blog be the gateway to your readers for ideas about photography.
6. Photo Flash Drive: They are NOT paying me for mentioning their products - I just simply like what they offer, and there's a reason why their booth is always so busy at every convention. Once again, here's a unique gift idea and one that keeps on giving.
One idea involves a series of images from a client shoot, put to music, and on a flash drive together with prints. It's a perfect memory-maker and a reminder of the life every client is looking forward to returning to. And that's just their flash drive presentations. From their classic Playbook video player to gifting presentations with a bottle of wine, the combination of great ideas is virtually endless. Note: watch the short video on their website about the Playbook.
This is a time in history where photography and video have an unprecedented ability to enrich people's lives. The images you've captured have never been more valuable to your target audience than today! Don't miss the opportunity to support the needs of your clients through the seasonality on your doorstep right now!
Intro by Skip Cohen
The Internet has made the world a smaller place, and with it have come some terrific cyberspace friendships.
Meet Steven Gotz. Based in California, I first "met" Steven when he joined us for lunch with the f64 Lunch Bunch. During one of those webinar gatherings, he shared an idea for converting images to coloring book pages. Well, that led to a phone conversation and the start of a great little friendship.
I made the offer to help share his coloring book idea with my readers, and Steven was kind enough to do a guest post. Now, think about the power of this for any family with young children who are hunkered down trying to find things to keep the kids busy.
Even more valuable is the concept for those of you who are children and family photographers. Here's a way for you to share something with your clients - coloring book pages of their own family portraits!
A BIG thanks to Steven for sharing the idea and writing the post. He's a perfect reminder that we're all in this together! More of Steven's work with his FREE Shelter-in-Place coloring books and Wordsearch puzzles is just a click away below, as well as his KelbyOne Class, "The Art of Zootography."
by Steven Gotz
By way of introduction, I am a Headshot Photographer, as well as a Zootographer and Docent at the Oakland Zoo in Northern California.
With most of us forced to stay home due to shelter-in-place orders, and with most zoos being closed, in order to continue to give back to my community I have been keeping busy making coloring books of my animal images for the Oakland Zoo web site.
My takeaway from a lot of the Zoom sessions, chats and tutorials I have been watching lately is that photographers are looking for constructive ways to stay in touch with their clients. And, at the same time, many of them are looking for ways to keep their own children constructively occupied. Or, at least, quietly occupied.
It occurred to me that while children are enjoying coloring my photographs of animals, they might also enjoy coloring photos of themselves and their families.
If a photographer who shoots family or pet photos could keep in touch with clients by sending them a PDF with one or more coloring pages of the family, the children, the family pet, etc, then that photographer might well be remembered when we come out the other side of this crisis.
How about if the client were to take a smartphone photo of their children in their favorite superhero shirt, or their favorite sports team’s jersey, then send that photograph to the photographer? It only takes a few minutes to turn that photo into a coloring page and send it back. Now there is truly a two-way communication with clients.
While photos of families with younger children would most likely be more useful, for the purpose of this post, I chose to use a family with older children to respect privacy issues.
To create your own coloring pages, start by opening your photo in Photoshop. You can use a raw file, an edited PSD or TIF, or even a JPG. However, if you are using anything other than a raw file, please remember to edit a copy, not the original.
Duplicate the background layer.
With the background copy selected,
Image / Adjustments / Desaturate
Duplicate the desaturated background copy
With Background copy 2 selected
Image / Adjustments / Invert
With Background copy 2 still selected change the blend mode from normal to Color Dodge. This will likely make the layer almost completely white. No worries, that will change in the next step.
Apply a Gaussian Blur to taste.
In the tiger image I chose 9 pixels. I used 6 for the family photo.
You might find that using a levels adjustment on the black and white top level provides a bit better result. Each photo is different.
I use the Lightroom Print Module to organize the pages, and then I simply print to a PDF.
It is my hope that you find making coloring pages out of your photographs a constructive use of your time while staying home, and staying safe.
Intro by Skip Cohen
We're all at home and hunkered down looking for things to do that are more than just fun, but useful. My buddy Mark Toal switched gears this week with a great App that solves the challenge of all those old negatives most of you have had stored in shoeboxes for years. And for those of you with young kids at home, here's something they can do to bring back great memories and capture joy!
I love Mark's comment with a recent share on Facebook, which says it all: "Scanning negatives with my iPhone sure beats watching the news!"
Check out more of Mark Toal's work with a visit to his website and blogs. As a member of the LUMIX team at Panasonic, you'll also find a lot of solid content on making the most of LUMIX cameras. Follow the LUMIX Ambassador team too. The group is one of the most diverse and creative teams in photography, and all the ambassadors should be on your radar. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how much great content they share.
by Mark Toal
I accidentally stumbled onto something that is bringing me great joy during this time of isolation. While surfing the web I came across a reference to a free App, FilmDeveloper, that turns my iPhone into a negative scanner. With time on my hands and thousands of old 35mm negatives I stared scanning and posting the images to Instagram and Facebook.
The scans aren’t very high resolution, but they are good enough for online use, plus fast and easy to do. I scan in the evenings and post them fairly late. The joy comes when I press the button on my phone that turns the negative into a positive, then again when I wake up in the morning, and see how much people have enjoyed my trip down memory lane.
by Skip Cohen
Every imaging artist is feeling the same pain right now - business disappeared with the flip of a switch, and now you're struggling with what to do. Sound familiar?
This is an industry where we all watch each other's backs. It's never been more evident than right now! Just like that lifebuoy being thrown above - you've got access to so many different places for help.
There's no need for me to write a lot of text today - but I am going to give you the links to six great resources available with a click of your mouse - RIGHT NOW. There's a long list of great programming, and it covers everything from expanding your skillset to changing your marketing strategy!
This is only the beginning - I'll be sharing more places you can find help as I hear/read about them!
I know it's hard to see downtime as an asset when it feels like a monstrous liability. Take advantage of this time to build a stronger brand, skillset and relationships!
And if you've got questions or need help you sure know where to find me!
by Skip Cohen
Last summer Chamira Young and I did a podcast with Gareth Rockliffe on "Beyond Technique." He talked about the way we start out in life and as we grow older, we expand our creativity. He then compared life to being a photographer. Everyone starts out shooting in "P" mode and later develops the skills to use "A","S" and "M."
This is a time in history when, as an artist, you need to find ways to make yourself different. You've got to get out of "P" mode, both literally and figuratively. For example, there are too many photographers who have taken shelter in place to mean everything, including their skillset, marketing, and business.
It's Mirrorless Monday, and Mark Toal is taking us out of "P" mode and in a new direction for most of you. He's sharing some great information on how to set your camera up for time-lapse photography.
Check out more of Mark Toal's work witha visit to his website and blogs. Then follow the LUMIX Ambassador team. The group is one of the most diverse and creative teams in photography, and all the ambassadors should be on your radar. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how much great content they share.
And in terms of taking full advantage of the time you've got on your hands now - One way to start is to make a list of everything you've always wanted to practice and learn but never had the time. We're stuck in a new way of living, and none of us know whose crystal ball is more accurate in when the pandemic will end.
But one thing we all can agree on - there's time to do a lot of new things!
Mark's shooting with a LUMIX G9, one of my most favorite cameras. Just click on the thumbnails below for more information.
by Mark Toal
I’m trying to think of things that I’ve been putting off doing and time lapse photography came to mind. I fell in love with time-lapse a couple of years ago when I made this video about how to set up time lapse in Panasonic Lumix cameras.
It’s perfect for this time since all you need is a camera, tripod and time, which we all have right now. In this video I use a Lumix G9, but almost all current Lumix cameras and many other brands have this feature built in.
I shared the time lapse video below which Mark created a few years back. It's a different application from the video above, but makes the point about a technique so many of you should add to your skillset for the future.
by Skip Cohen
If you've followed me for even a short amount of time, then you know I love this industry, but it's not just about the magic of capturing memories for your clients - it's the friendships and projects we all work on together. It's the way, so many of us help each other and utilize our skillsets to share information.
Today's post is just one of those moments, thanks to Charles and Jennifer Maring. After WPPI last week, they headed out for a few days in California before returning east. Along with their LUMIX Gear (they're both LUMIX Ambassadors for Panasonic), they had two working prototypes of Platyball, the Elite, and the Ergo.
Charles did a full review of the product in the video below. Having a chance to test drive the new ball head, he was able check it out firsthand. And, with six days to go, this is the community's last chance to acquire Platyball at a 20% savings and receive it before anyone else. And, it's a significant saving -
$50 on Ergo, $76 on Elite, and $175 if you're buying both.
More information is just a click away.
by Skip Cohen
I can't deny I'm a little partial when it comes to my good buddy Scott Bourne. He became one of my best friends out of the respect I have for him, and the fact that he NEVER does anything halfway. He's an incredible artist, teacher and has been an inspiration to so many of us.
Talking with him yesterday, he mentioned he's got four seats open on his Bosque del Apache trip coming up in November. Opportunities like this don't come along very often. If the tour itself isn't on your bucket list, then hanging out with Scott for a few days with a camera in your hands should be.
For more information, click on the banner below - but don't wait too long. These four openings are going to fill quickly!
by Skip Cohen
As I've written so many times over the years, the real fun in this industry is all about friendships. That's also the reason why I continue to suggest attending every possible convention and workshop you can work into your schedule. You need to pay attention to the care and feeding of your network!
Rick Friedman and I had been saying hello to each other for years at conventions, but never took the time to stop and actually talk. Well, a couple of years ago, we made it a point to grab a drink while at WPPI, and that opened up a whole new chapter in the ongoing friendship.
Rick is no stranger to SCU. He's joined me on an episode of "Why," been featured in Tamron Recipes, and his work has been in a guest post or two. He's based out of Boston, but travels all over the country. While his Facebook page most often tracks to his role as a photojournalist, he's become one of the industry's leading educators, specializing in lighting.
Last week we caught up to each other at WPPI, and while time was short, we had a chance to talk a little. We share a lot of mutual enthusiasm for an industry we both love deeply.
I requested one of his most recent images to share in a spotlight post. Well, Rick never disappoints. Captured with Tamron's SP 85mm F/1.8 Di VC USD, along with beautiful lighting is his portrait of CaraMia, it's the epitome of attitude!
Rick needs to be on your radar. Follow him on Facebook and click on his spotlight portrait to visit his website. And, best of all, if you're in the area for any of his upcoming workshops, run don't walk to grab a seat. Click on the links below for more information.
Georgetown, Texas Photo Festival - Location Lighting Workshop
CanAm Photo Expo, Niagara Falls, Ontario
The Photo Center, Brick, NJ, May 8-9th
By Skip Cohen
Since the launch of Platyball's Kickstarter campaign on January 15, there's been a lot of great content shared all over the Internet; on YouTube; live at both the IUSA and WPPI shows; on numerous blogs, podcasts, and in the tweet streams of many of the industry's leading artists and educators.
Platyball is down to the last two weeks of the Kickstarter campaign and your chance for substantial savings. As a backer, you'll save $50 on the Ergo and $76 on the Elite. Or purchase both and save $175! Plus, your Platyball will be shipped to you before anyone else.
Last week "Dr. T" founder of Platypod was interviewed on TWiP (This Week in Photo) by Frederick Van Johnson. Then, Frederick later talked with photographers Gilmar Smith and Shiv Verma about Platyball.
It's a remarkable product and is turning an industry-standard, literally upside down. Isn't it time you checked out what all the buzz was about?
All the information on Platyball and how you can become a backer is just a click away.
by Skip Cohen
I've written a lot about my role with the team at Platypod over the last few weeks. Since launching the new Kickstarter campaign on January 15, we've not only turned the tripod world upside down but set a level of awareness and performance that rocks the record books.
As of this morning, the campaign has brought together almost 1100 photographers as Kickstarter backers in just the first nine days of a sixty-day campaign. To find out more about the product and how you can take advantage of the launch promotion, take a scroll through the Kickstarter page.
Yesterday, Jay P. Morgan on The Slanted Lens shared the first video tutorial showing the Platyball in action which is below.
What I love about the short film is that it's more than just an introduction to seeing the performance of the product. It's a perfect demonstration of what makes Jay P. one of the leading educators and filmmakers in imaging. Whether you've got an interest in the ball head or not, pay attention to how he takes you through using Platyball as well as his thought process for what he's trying to capture. Then, imagine what the rest of his presentations are like.
There are almost 400,000 subscribers to The Slanted Lens on YouTube, with 501 videos to choose from. Each one brings together technology and Jay P's unmatched love for education and imaging. It's one of the best educational resources available, and subscribing is just a click away!
Image copyright Jordan Bunch. All rights reserved.
Now and then, an image is posted in social media that's simply spectacular. That's when I love to share it through a "Spotlight" post because it deserves to be seen by more photographers.
Jordan Bunch is a LUMIX Ambassador and posted this image from a recent wedding. You could hear him singing his comment, complete with musical notes...when the suns hit your lens like a big pizza pie!
Jordan is an accomplished wedding artist based out of Austin, Texas. As both a photographer and filmmaker, his work sets a high standard for imaging, as well as storytelling. I love his approach in the way he's positioned the importance of capturing those special memories from a wedding. Under "Our Story" for Ladybird Studios is the perfect message for a bride to read:
At the heart of every wedding is a love story worth telling well.
Your story matters. It matters to you, it matters to the ones you love and your future family.
Your story matters to us.
Leave your wedding in the hands of the romantics at Ladybird Studios.
Now, to the image above. First, keep in mind this is a screenshot from a Facebook page. Imagine how stunning the original image must be! It's also SOOC - (Straight Out Of Camera) - printable with no manipulation whatsoever! It was captured with the LUMIX S1R and 70-200 mm lens. You can find out more about these two extraordinary members of the LUMIX family with a click on either thumbnail below.
It's not very often there's a video produced about a lens, but the LUMIX S PRO 70-200mm deserves it. It's worth just over a minute of your time to check it out, and understand the technology that's gone into this remarkable lens!
You'll find more of Jordan's images with a visit to his website - just click on the image above. You'll never be disappointed in the content he shares. And check out the LUMIX Ambassador team. This is one of the most diverse groups in photography, and they're on the road all year long with workshops and presentations at LUMIX dealers and conventions across the country.
Image copyright Ken Hubbard. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
It's been one of those years where I feel like I'm trapped in an old Hollywood movie, and the hands of the clock are spinning out of control! It's December, and since Chamira Young and I started this series, we've introduced you to another artist each month since January. We've learned so much from some of the best imaging "chefs" in the world. As I've written in the past, they're artists, educators, writers, and passionate about their careers and love for the craft.
This month, we're finishing out the year with one of my favorite "Chefs," Ken Hubbard, Field Services Manager for Tamron USA. He's no stranger to SCU, and his work has been featured many times over the last six years.
Ken actually lives in the "Tamron Kitchen", and we're so excited about him joining us that I wanted to share two of his images. I love the fact that he chose black and white photographs. I'm a huge fan of black and white because there's no distraction of color. Don't get me wrong, I've loved all the images we've shared this year, but there's something about the power of Ken's two choices for this post.
Image copyright Ken Hubbard. All rights reserved.
In these two new Recipes, Ken is using Tamron's SP150-600mm Di VC USD G2 with the wild mustangs, and with the portrait of musician, Slim Fatz, he's using the Tamron SP70-200mm Di VC USD G2 lens. The links to both lenses are below and it's a bonus this month to share two BTS videos involved with both images.
With every Tamron Recipes post, I always manage to find a quote that fits our guest "chef." The quote below is Ken, through and through.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life,
and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do!
About "Chef" Ken: Ken is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, educator, manager, and friend to so many of us in the industry. All you need is one minute with him, and you know you've met somebody who loves what he does!
Visit Tamron's booth at any of the major trade shows, and you'll find Ken at the counter - helping photographers raise the bar on their work. He's always approachable and worth waiting for if you caught him in the mad rush of people often in the Tamron booth.
Part II of Ken's recipe series will air next Tuesday. You can be sure we'll get into the backstories about both of these images.
Ken needs to be on your radar - follow everything he's working on and where's he headed through his Facebook page. He's always sharing great content.
Part of the fun of this Tamron series is the artist is sharing the experience. The BTS videos below will give you more insight into Ken's work and the circumstances that put him on the scene with both images. I hope you'll watch both these short videos and enlarge them full screen to really appreciate the story-lines.
Photographing the wild mustangs Ken wrote: Capturing them interacting with each other, running wild as fast as they can and just standing about next to each other was phenomenal...They started to kick up some dirt, rear up on their hind legs and jostle about...All I could do at that point was press the shutter, tell myself don’t stop just keep firing and hope that I didn't run out of media space...No matter how long you have been capturing images, that feeling you get when you nailed the moment is still the same and will always be incredible.
Ken wraps up 2019 as our twelfth guest "chef" in the Tamron kitchen. Join us on the next Tamron Tuesday when Chamira Young and I will be sharing our conversation with "Chef" Ken in another new podcast. You can be sure Ken will be sharing a lot of great insight into his career in photography, and especially the hundreds of phenomenal artists he's worked with over the years and how he's developed his own remarkable skill set.
Tamron never slows down manufacturing some of the finest glass in photography. Their tech team is on the road all year long, helping photographers become great "chefs." There are some outstanding holiday savings at your Tamron retailer. Both lenses are part of a special holiday program going on right now!
Finding your local Tamron Dealer is just a click away.
by Skip Cohen
It's Mirrorless Monday and also the home-stretch of the holiday shopping season. If you're thinking about an incredible camera to add to your gear, the new full-frame LUMIX S1H is it. But my post this morning isn't meant to be a sales pitch on the camera as much as it is to get you to check out the way Panasonic's told the story.
The under three-minute "Sizzle Reel" is just that - all sizzle! It's a composite piece of shorts from four different films, each by a different artist. But the common denominators are their creativity and putting the S1H through the paces! It's worth your time just to be inspired by the quality of the images, each artist's approach to making their short film, and the way Panasonic's told the story.
How would you tell your story?
Panasonic's tagline is "Changing Photography." Well, they've gone well beyond that and are changing imaging. From still images to filmmaking, they never slow down providing more creative tools artists need to capture, and create the ultimate story!
The LUMIX team needs to be on your radar! Follow the LUMIX Ambassadors for great content and a lot of terrific diversity. Each Ambassador has a unique skill set, but the common denominators are their love for the craft and respect for quality and creativity. And whether you currently shoot with LUMIX cameras or not, check out the LUMIX Facebook group. There's always great content being shared by over seven thousand photographers from all over the world!
by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, and while a big part of this post is from the SCU archives, it's so relevant to helping many of you raise the bar on the quality of your images, especially with tall grooms and short brides. It's a great lesson in posing and all thanks to Don Blair.
I've written a lot about him over the years, almost always about something I learned during our incredible friendship. "Big Daddy" pretty much became the older brother I never had.
He believed in the "rules" of photography, but he broke them all the time. He was always looking for a different way to take everything he learned and create something new, but he never compromised at the client's expense.
The two images above are a prime example of Don pushing the edge of the creative envelope. (My apologies for the quality of the scans. They're from a copy of the book we wrote together in the '90s.)
What do you do with a tall groom and a short bride?
He was a 6' 4" Algerian boxer, and she was the All-American cheerleader type, at best 5' 1". Just about every photographer at the time would have him hunched over her or put them on some stairs to balance things out. Don sat them down on the floor and created some of my most favorite bridal portraits.
And then, to do a different spin - he sat the groom down and brought the bride in behind him. The bridal portrait becomes so much more pleasing than the usual hunched over groom!
There are no shortcuts to becoming a great photographer. Make it a point to know every aspect of your camera and especially the different focal lengths of your lenses. Stop being a "natural light specialist" and get to know studio lighting. Spend time experimenting with various techniques and learn every rule in photography. Attend every hands-on workshop you can; watch every video, and read every book!
"You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice.
And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail."
Once you've learned the rules and understand them, you've earned the right to push the envelope, break the rules, and be a true artist. Throw away the rule book and like Charlie Parker suggests, just wail! You can break any rule you want, with one exception...NEVER disappoint a client.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Images copyright Bob Davis. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the industry, mostly because of the people I've met and worked with over the years. I'm not a tennis player, but we've all heard that your game improves when you play with somebody better than you. That's the way it is with creativity. That's also why taking as many workshops/classes as you can each year will help your skillset. It's not just about learning something new but being exposed to creativity on a different level.
Bob Davis is one of those creative buddies who never sits still and is always pushing the edge of the envelope. Together with his "partner in crime," Dawn, they're always looking for new ways to support their clients and build relationships. If you've never heard them talk about how they build relationships with vendors, listen to this past episode of Mind Your Own Business.
Every photographer is looking for ways to make their work different, especially in the wedding industry. We all know the sequence of events at a wedding, and it's tough to tell the story differently each time. But there are things you can do to make some of your images unique - find a different perspective.
That's one of the things I love about working with the Platypod team - they're giving artists the ability to capture from a different perspective. In turn, that creativity trickles up to the clients and helps create beautiful albums and memory-making images.
Bob sent me the images in this post (click on them to view in the SCU Lightbox) and wrote:
Platypod is the one of the best pieces of grip gear that goes everywhere with me! Sometimes tripods are not allowed in many public places, and when I travel it's much easier to pack this camera support over a tripod. I use remote cameras often and the Platypod is perfect for getting my remotes in position and out of the way.
He takes it everywhere, including while on Safari in Mashatu, Botswana, Africa, last April.
I had a vision of the Tree of Life, beneath the Milky Way and thousands of stars in the heart of darkness in Africa. It's the oldest Baobab trees estimated to be over 6000 years old, and I can only imagine what this ancient tree has witnessed.
Using the Platypod with a small Manfrotto ball head to support Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a EF 16-35mm f2.8 vIII lens, I was able to accomplish my vision. This frame the tree is rim light using the modeling light of Profoto A1.
Check out more of Bob's work with a visit to his website. And, if he's teaching at any conference you're attending in 2020, run don't walk to get a seat! You'll never be disappointed in what he shares. He's an artist who needs to be on your radar!
Interested in finding a different perspective for more of your images? Check out Platypod. There are some great holiday specials going on right now, and more creative tools to expand your skillset from macro to landscape and everything in between! Just click on the banner below.
Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell!
Over the last few years, I've written this at least a dozen times - Your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. It's the fundamental difference between these two pieces of "real estate," and done right, your website and blog should work together.
The stories you tell start with your about page and talking about why you love being a photographer. For most of you, "Mom" is your target audience, and she doesn't care about what gear you work with, what awards you've won, or how you got started. She wants to know if she can trust you to capture the kinds of images she wants. She wants to see if you love being an artist or you're just in it for the business.
Next up is the importance of the products/services you sell. Your blog can position the importance of capturing memories, while your website can share ideas on how to preserve and present them. For example, a wedding album isn't a book of pictures - it's the first family heirloom of a new family. As my buddy, Denis Reggie, used to say, and I'm paraphrasing a little, "The flowers will die, the food's been eaten, the gown will never be worn again, but the album is priceless and will last forever."
Talk about the importance of prints. Share ideas on displaying images. Consider an idea like Justin and Mary Marantz do when they "Shoot for the silver frame." It's that one spectacular image that becomes the signature memory maker of the wedding. While every artist does their best to capture nothing but great photos, there's always one that's a show-stopper.
And, if you're having trouble getting clients to understand the importance of printed images, Michele Celentano has made it easy for you. She's permitted you to plagiarize her "I Believe" statement. Here's the link to the first time I shared it on the SCU blog.
Ironically, photographers are the world's greatest storytellers, yet when it comes to selling their services, so many do an underwhelming job of telling their own story!
by Skip Cohen
Regardless of what holiday you celebrate in December, there are some great gift ideas this year for the photographer in your life...or just for yourself.
I won't deny for a second the products/services below are all from SCU partners, but they're here because they believe in education, and helping you build a stronger business. So, as somebody who believes in truth in advertising, these companies live up to their reputation for quality and support for the industry. And I've worked with many of them for a considerable part of my career.
So, whether you're stuck for gift ideas or not, here are some of my favorite show-stoppers for this holiday season:
Platypod - The Perfect Gift
While Platypod is relatively new to SCU, it's a product line and company that's grown near and dear to me. They're more than just an SCU partner, I'm personally active in the company helping them with their marketing, but I also love their product line. I'm having fun with it myself. Nothing is going to break the bank when it comes to the cost, and best of all is the new perspective Platypod will add to your creativity.
From an instant macro/closeup setup like we've shared in posts from Shiv Verma, Don Komarechka, and Larry Becker to simply using the Litra Torch 2.0 lights behind my laptop for better lighting on video podcasts and chats, there's been no shortage of creativity. I love the diversity. And, for travel and hiking, the Ultra with the Benro ball head is perfect.
Wander over to the Platypod website and check out the full product line and while supplies last, this year's holiday specials.
PhotoTexting - Helping to Grow Your Business
Senior photography isn't for every artist, but diversity is! Everyone is looking for ways to grow their business, and PhotoTexting recently launched its new Senior Rep Program. They've made it easy to get started and then build brand awareness based on your best marketing tool - relationship building with seniors and their parents.
As a gift idea, it's a classic and another no-brainer. PhotoTexting is standing behind their products with a great promotional getting started offer - the price of a cup of coffee! Plus, there are dozens of videos to take you through each step of the process.
If you're a portrait artist, growing your senior business can be an incredible experience, not to mention pushing your creativity to the max. Gone are the days of boring headshots! A senior session today is about capturing the personality of the subject and establishing the first step in a new relationship. Done right, that senior will be coming back for other events. Seniors become brides and grooms; brides and grooms start families, and the opportunities go on and on.
Marathon Press - From Marketing to Bella Art Prints
As the industry's leader in support for photographers printed needs, Marathon's grown to be the "new sheriff in town" when it comes to stunning print quality and albums with their Bella line. Going back to when I first came into the professional side of the industry, they were best known for all their support in printed business material - from business cards to brochures to direct mail pieces.
TODAY - it's everything from marketing support with the benefits of MAP, to bulk order holiday cards for your clients; family marketing campaigns, stationery, beautiful prints and albums, and the list goes on and on. They're an amazing company. They never slow down helping photographers with the tools they need to grow their business, and at the same time, create products with incredible consumer appeal. Their BOGO program is going on right now on holiday cards for your own use, or as a finished product for your clients.
Click the banner below and start doing a little shopping to help grow your business.
LUMIX - "Changing Photography"
Four years ago, I started shooting mirrorless with Panasonic's LUMIX line. Yes, they're an SCU partner, but remember my background - twelve years as president of Hasselblad USA. While I don't make a living a professional photographer, I know more than I let on. And it takes a lot to impress me. LUMIX totally recharged my love for having a camera in my hands.
But it's not just how easy Panasonic has made expanding my creativity and helping me grow - it's the durability and features built into every camera. It's the low-light ability it gives me to capture tack sharp images and control the variables in every scene.
Don't take my word for it - wander into your LUMIX retailer and check out the line for yourself. Look at everything - I currently shoot with the G9 with the 14-140mm lens and love it. And if you're looking for full-frame, check out the new S series!
Tamron - Expanding the Creative Tools in Your Camera Bag
Over the years, Tamron has grown to become one of the most respected manufacturers in the world in optics and great glass! Over and again, their lenses have won awards, but of greater significance are the outstanding artists who we've featured in SCU blog posts and podcasts. Again and again, we've shared stunning images captured thanks to Tamron products.
Tamron has an outstanding savings program going on right now, and it's a click away to check out. Then, wander into your Tamron retailer for your own test drive! You'll never be disappointed in the quality Tamron's brought to the industry or the diversity of the lens selection you have to choose from.
ClickCon - Expanding Every Artist's Skill Set
Last year ClickCon launched it's first show in Chicago. It was an overwhelming success with one innovative educational idea after another. With a busy trade show and jam-packed educational platform, close to 1500 photographers took part in establishing this incredible boutique conference as a venue to help artists grow their skill set in capture, post-processing, business and marketing.
There's a special early bird registration going on right now. It's a unique gift for the photographer in your life, or again, just a present you need to give yourself. Plus, it's in August and gives you a chance to recharge your battery before the seasonality of the year kicks in.
by Skip Cohen
A few years back, Bryan Caporicci sent me a copy of Scott Stratten's book, Unmarketing with its subtitle,
"Stop marketing and start engaging!"
It's one of my favorite business books, and deserves a place on every business owner's bookshelf. Nothing beats your most powerful tool to build your brand, and succeed in business than relationship building!
If you've had an interest in growing your business into senior photography or your already a veteran in senior portraits and you want to build a stronger presence, it's time to check out PhotoTexting. Prime season to reach seniors is RIGHT now. And, there's little that beats a strong senior rep program because it's about relationship building with both the students and their parents — making it easier than ever is PhotoTexting, with dozens of short videos to take you through each step of the way. Combined with their programs, and customer support, for the price of a cup of coffee you can get started. It's a no-brainer.
Technology keeps changing. How we communicate changes every day. Consumer trends are a nonstop moving target. From cyberspace to mobile technology, your reach as a business owner matches the power that only magazines and newspapers had just a few years ago. But the one consistent component for success in business that's never changed, and is stronger than ever today, is the importance of relationship building.
In the same way, I've talked in past posts about artists today having the most creative tools in the history of photography - you've also got the most marketing tools! It's worth two minutes of your time to watch the video below and then visit PhotoTexting.com and check out all the benefits of their Senior Rep Program.
Think about the new year that's fast approaching. Here's an opportunity to expand and grow with a solid goal to make 2020 your best year in business yet!
We've postponed the f64 Lunch Bunch for a few weeks. There's so much going on in everybody's lives right now in terms of help and education. However, we're all still here to help and just an email away.
And if you missed the May 6 lunch with Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell - it's pretty amazing. The video is just a click away.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
The pandemic may have moved the dates for 2020 to August 10-13, 2021, but that's NOT slowing Team ClickCon down. Stay tuned for new programs online with ClickCon Nation! It all starts on August 11th.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.