"The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working the minute you are born
and never stops until you get up to speak in public."
by Skip Cohen
The pandemic has changed all the rules for so many different activities, especially public speaking. While overall things are more restricted, social media has given EVERYBODY the ability to become a presenter. At the risk of this sounding like a rant, I'm tired of people offering to help you build some aspect of your business or life who simply think they have something to say because they're online!
This isn't a new topic for me to write about. Over the years, I've probably written a half dozen posts and articles on the subject, but with so many people thinking it's time for them to teach, it's time to post a few reminders.
Whether you're online live, pre-recorded, or going back to the "old" days and presenting at a conference, NOTHING has changed in what your audience expects!
Baby steps! I've met so many artists over the years who have a great message to share, but they want to start at the top as a keynote speaker, often because they have a huge fan base in social media. Having a great fan base is terrific, but they've joined your program to hear what you have to share and learn something.
Unlike a live audience who will stay seated through even the worst presentations, online, if your style would put a rock to sleep, people will simply leave. There are no rules for being a great audience when everyone is hidden behind the anonymity of their monitor. So, don't rush the process and start by speaking to smaller groups and then build momentum. There's nothing worse than watching a potentially great speaker crash and burn because they simply weren't prepared.
“Don't wait for a huge platform before you give of your best performance”
Bernard Kelvin Clive
by Skip Cohen
Now and then, an image comes along that's just too much fun not to share. This morning while trying to get to know my way around Facebook's new format, I scrolled through my group section, and John Mitchell's post came up. The image above made me smile, and these days we all need more smiles.
I posted on my FB page to help let people know, and wasn't going to do a post here at SCU because it's already 8:00 am...that was until I dug deeper and John's based on the west coast - so it's PST. If you're dealing with a lazy Saturday, here's an event worth checking out. It's one more great way to expand your skill set during what's become the extended "slow season" in photography!
From the registration site:
Join us for a walk through into how John Mitchell creates an image with greatly contrasting sized elements and his steps for planning, shooting and editing. He will have a few examples of steps that he discovered as well as a gallery of images with the various ideas he has come up with.
Click on the image for registration information to this FREE event.
by Skip Cohen
Most of you know I don't make a living as a photographer. My passion is the business and marketing side, and that's where most of my career has been spent. However, hanging out with artists like Don Komarechka and Mike Moats over the last few years, I was bound to learn something.
Both Don and Mike have had a significant influence on the way I look at things, paying more attention to tiny details in the world around me. The little guy above was at best 3/16 of an inch and was just sitting on the pool cage's frame. We've had a lot of storms lately, and at first, I thought it was a chunk of dirt!
I missed the opportunity to get a shot to give you an idea of just how tiny this guy was. It's rare I've seen a frog this small, but here's roughly the size of the frog before the macro lens and enlargement.
The thumbnail on the right, with my new buddy next to a drop of water from the storm, shows how little he is too.
I took off this week to chill and enjoy time with Sheila and the pups. A side benefit was seeing this guy and having the time I needed to grab a camera. And while my skill set is still work in progress, having the right tools sure helps.
I should have used a tripod, but I didn't have a lot of time before "Kermit" took off. So, handheld and following him (or her) everywhere for about ten minutes was all I had.
I love the LUMIX G9, and teaming up with the LUMIX G 30mm macro lens, a Playpod Max, the new goosenecks, and two Litra Torch 2.0s gave me what I needed.
I also had some fun with Luminar, but only for minor tweaking. I lightened the image, sharpened slightly, cropped, enlarged, and erased a couple of distracting dirt spots.
The short video clip below was simply for the fun of it. The LUMIX line makes it so easy to push a button and grab a few seconds of video.
Shooting macro, handheld without a tripod, and having no video skills whatsoever, made focus a challenge. A tripod would have helped a lot, but at this point in my ten-minute adventure, I was standing on a ladder as my little buddy moved up the wall!
We've all been in some form of lockdown for almost three months. That means lots of time on our hands to do something different. Playing in the macro world is a kick, and with every image I get, I start to understand Don and Mike's love for the craft just a little better.
Click on any of the three thumbnails below for more information.
"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
by Skip Cohen
There isn't a professional photographer on the planet who isn't struggling with what's become the new normal! Quarantines, social distancing, sheltering in place have all become a way of life, but out of chaos and the pandemic crisis have come some remarkable new extensions for business.
A month ago, I shared a short video of JP Elario at his computer doing FaceTime portraits. Channel 13 in Albany, NY, picked up the story, and I have to share it here. I wish there was a way to make every artist watch this short clip.
JP's part of a father/son business and Joe, his Dad, and I go back to my early Hasselblad days. They're both remarkable artists specializing in wedding and portraiture, and exceptional service is part of their signature. Keeping in line with their never-ending quest to meet their clients' needs, JP starting doing online headshots.
These are challenging times, but who knows what other new ideas will come out of the pandemic crisis?
"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friend."
by Skip Cohen
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, especially the way we communicate. On a fairly regular basis, many of you are appearing live on Zoom, Skype, and the list goes on and on. But, just like the rules in creating a great image for print competition, there are some definite rules you need to follow when meeting in cyberspace. Your goal is to be just as professional in an online meeting as you would be in person at a conference or workshop.
And for those of you rolling your eyes, because you already know this stuff, just consider it a reminder. Like meeting with a new client, you've got a minimal amount of time to make a great impression. I'm not an expert in any of this stuff, but thanks to some great friends, I'm work in progress and there are a lot of you who could use a little help.
Let's start with the obvious - lighting. You don't need much. Ironically, none of you would light a basic headshot with a flashlight, but when it comes to your online presence, you do nothing. Yet, all of you understand lighting - so put a little light on the subject - YOU! While I've got a couple of softboxes in my office, my preference is thanks to Litra. I've got two LitraTorch 2.0s on goosenecks on either side of my laptop, which has become my leading computer when I've got to be on camera. When I'm on the iMac, I use the softboxes.
Here are a few more suggestions to consider:
1. Get a location without backlighting. When you've got something bright behind you, it fools the computer or your phone into thinking the scene is brighter than it really is. I have to remember myself to close the blinds in my office behind me.
2. Remove distractions: We don't all have the advantage of a movie set background. Often, I've forgotten turn the ceiling fan off in my office and have had people bothered by the distraction over my head.
3. Camera and your face on the same plane: Get your camera (computer or phone) on about the same plane as your face. Not only does it cut out chin and nostril shots, but it gives the audience your eye contact and more facial expression. When I'm using my phone, I have a Square Jellyfish adapter on a ball head with a Platypod Ultra. While there are plenty of phone holders out there, this little adapter gives my Platypod Ultra another useful application.
4. Make eye contact. Remember when talking, if you want to make eye contact, looking at your screen won't do it...you've got to look at the camera.
5. Cut down on the background noise. Mute your microphone when not talking. It's especially bad in a group of more than 3-4 people.
6. Earbuds or a headset cut down on feedback.
7. Consider a better microphone! The impact of the pandemic is here to stay for a long time. While we all wish there was a switch that could be flipped to end the crisis, it's not going to happen overnight. That means we're all going to be communicating differently for some time. My personal favorite is a Rode Podcast mic, but I also have a Yeti. Both are good, but the Rode seems to give my voice more clarity.
8. Smile more! It's a great tip from a photographer, author, and my good buddy, Larry Becker. He recently joined Chamira Young and me in a Mind Your Own Business podcast, which is now online. And check out his new book: Great on Camera. Written before the pandemic when we had no idea we were going to be on camera a lot more, Larry's approach couldn't be easier to follow, with great tips to raise the bar on your skill set as a podcaster, presenter and participant online.
And that brings me full circle to where I started. We're dealing with a new normal. While we all hope the good old days of just three months ago will come back, that doesn't change the need for looking good and professional online NOW.
From meetings with clients to edu-type presentations to meet-ups with other photographers, you're part of the imaging community. That means the expression "looking good" has a lot more meaning in cyberspace these days because it's often going to be all you have to start.
P.S. And if I missed any tips feel free to let me know and we'll do a post of add-ons!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Mark Toal's back today with a quick introduction to Snapseed, which I just downloaded a few minutes ago myself. The original title of his post was "SOOC" (Straight Out of Camera). Every photographer's goal is a clean well-exposed image right out of the can. I know I'm dating myself to film with that expression, but it's still one of my favorites.
The truth is, how much you manipulate an image is up to you, and it's all personal taste. But to add two more points to Mark's message today - if you've done things right during capture, you don't have to spend hours cleaning up files when all you need or want is a tweak to the saturation, contrast, etc.
And while Lightroom and Photoshop are incredible tools, he missed my favorite, Luminar 4 from Skylum. I've been using it for the last two years, and I love the ease of use, especially with their presets for adjustments in clarity, exposure and saturation.
Last but not least, those purists who want to argue against manipulation of an image, or people who simply criticize what they don't like in your photographs:
Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!
My old buddy, Dean, was responsible for one of the greatest quotes in photography and sales. It doesn't matter what anybody thinks about your images except the client. Sometimes, when you're shooting for your own pleasure and not on the job, that client is YOU!
by Mark Toal
After showing a few of my photos in a class I was teaching, one the students asked if I processed my images or they were straight out of the camera (SOOC). I assured them not one of my photos is straight out of the camera and that I hate the term SOOC. Once in a while I say something in a class that I immediately regret, and this was one of them. I could tell that people wanted to hear that they don’t have to do anything to their photos.
I see the photos from my camera as a starting point for me to create something from. I’m not talking about drastic changes as you can see in these two examples. I’m mostly just adding contrast and saturation.
I understand that people don’t want to invest in Lightroom and Photoshop or pay a monthly subscription fee. There are other alternatives like Adobe Photoshop Elements or the App Snapseed for your phone. Most of the photos you see on my Facebook and Instagram pages have been transferred via wi-fi from my Lumix camera to the iPhone and adjusted in Snapseed.
If you’ve resisted trying Lightroom or Photoshop or any another program, and your sitting at home wondering what to do until the world re-opens, this might be a good time to download a free trial version and watch some videos on YouTube to learn to use it.
by Skip Cohen
Like most of you, I'm tired of dealing with the pandemic. It's the topic everywhere. Even commercials on TV have changed to a social distancing theme. One company after another wants to assure us we're all in this together...but the reality not everybody is!
All of us as an industry might be in it together, but the number of stupid people on the planet seems to be growing. I had some fun this morning and Googled "stupid things done during the pandemic." I found a treasure chest of gems at buzzfeed.com.
They shared 19 stupid things people have done or said. Here are two more of my favorites:
I'm putting a few of my favorites below:
With Father's Day and graduation still in the timeline, there are so many opportunities to start getting back a small piece of your business as a photographer. There's no question it won't be easy, and business has changed, but many of you just need an encouraging first step to getting back on track...and this is where we are, all in it together.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Mark Toal is no stranger to the SCU blog. We've shared a lot of posts from him, always well-seasoned with creativity and great images. Well, he's off of work this week and for the next five days he's sharing things he's doing in photography to help maintain his sanity!
Welcome to the first edition of "Mark's Corner."
The whole world is shut down and I decided to take a week off from work. Actually, I thought this was the week everything would open up again after being shut down for the past couple of months. I emailed Skip and suggested that I write a blog post everyday about how photography is keeping me sane during this time.
Photography has always been my therapy in hard times from when I was a shy kid who used a camera to feel like I had a reason to be in a social situation. Luckily, I’ve been hauling all of those old black and white negatives around for decades. Scanning them on these long nights has saved me from total boredom.
I wrote a blog here a couple of weeks ago about using my iPhone to scan old negatives. That works great for Facebook and Instagram, but it’s pretty low resolution. I didn’t want to invest in a new dedicated scanner, so I decided to try using my Lumix S1R with a Sigma 105mm Macro lens to photograph the negatives.
As you can see in the photo, I place the negative on a light table, put the S1R on a tripod pointed down and take a photo of the negative. You can do this with any digital camera as long as it has a macro lens. If you’re reading Skip’s blogs, you probably have a camera and tripod, so you just need an inexpensive light table.
Once the negatives file is in the computer, I open it in Photoshop, invert it to a positive image, adjust the contrast and clone out any dust spots.
The photo of my high school friend, Walter, was shot 120 Tri-X pan film and is now a 47-megapixel file ready to be printed.
Check out more of Mark's work by stopping by his website and blogs. As a member of the LUMIX team at Panasonic, you'll 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're sharing all the time.
Mark's using the new LUMIX full-frame S1R. More information is just a click away on the banner below.
Image copyright Erik Valind. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
It's our 17th episode in this series, and with each new "Chef," we're gaining more insight into not only their journey but expanding our own thoughts on creativity, technique and passion. When we started the series, the idea was simply to have some fun and introduce you to the movers and shakers in photography. What we've actually built is an extension of everyone's imaging family.
New York and Florida based Erik Valind joins us this month. He's no stranger to SCU, where we've featured a wide variety of his work. But his skill set is only part of the fun of knowing him. The only thing more impressive than his style is his love for the industry and the craft.
Erik used Tamron's 17-35mm F/2.8-4 Di OSD lens. It's one of his favorites:
"Here's a fun lens that we can talk about. I was really excited when it came out because finally I have an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens that is also easy to use filters with! No more expensive, bulky, fragile giant filter holders required, this lens has front filter threads built in. Plus its lightweight too, which is wonderful on long hikes."
For each new Chef, I've gone off in search of a quote that seems to fit their personality. It wasn't hard to find one for Erik. This is an artist who totally loves what he's doing.
In the world of business,
the people who are most successful
are those who are doing what they love.
About "Chef" Erik: We've featured a lot of Erik's work over the years, and even a short podcast here and there. However, even when we've bumped into each other at various conventions, there's never time for a very long conversation. So, we're just as excited about getting quality time with him in next week's podcast as we are in you getting to know at an artist who needs to be on your radar.
One trip to his website, and you'll start to understand how much Erik loves the craft. A short section on his about page says it all:
“I’m a Communicator... Freelance Photographer, Author & Educator. I was born on the beaches of Treasure Island. I like how it sounds storybook when I tell people that. Since then I’ve been blessed with what I call a semi-charmed life, and everything has been inspiration along the way. Now I get to create for a living. I leap at the opportunities to travel the country, to meet interesting people and to make great photographs of my journey.
There’s a tangible energy in my actions, and that energy is born from those around me. I love to teach and am always eager to learn. I claim to control light, but in reality light lends itself to us, and we just look good in it. Lets enjoy it together.”
About the Image: The image we chose for this month's feature is a six-minute exposure of the NYC skyline. Erik wanted a particular feel to the image and shared one of the main ingredients:
"For this particular photo I leveraged both of the lenses strengths (wide angle + filters) by shooting at 17mm and attaching a 15-Stop Neutral Density Filter. The combination allowed me to capture the entire NYC skyline, while blurring the busy water traffic to smooth glass, and transforming the rather unimpressive sunset into a more spectacular streaking light show of sun-rays."
Click on Erik's image to enlarge and view in the SCU Lightbox. Then visit his website and follow his event schedule too! He's one of the most approachable photographers in the industry.
There's a reason why there's always a crowd around the Tamron booth at every trade show. They've become one of the industry's most favorite suppliers. It's not just the quality of their lenses, but the spirit of the Tamron team and the staff.
Travel for all of us is limited now, but you can count on the Tamron team being back on the road when the crisis is over. However, their website is loaded with outstanding content as well as their YouTube channel. Now's a great time to catch up on your reading and video content - all focused on helping you raise the bar on your skill set as an artist.
Check out Tamron's NEW rebate program on several outstanding lenses. This might be just the right time for you to expand your gear, and then take full advantage of the downtime, and build your portfolio with more great images.
Click on the banner below to find out more about this new program.
by Skip Cohen
I've written a lot about the challenges for kids in the Class of 2020. Turn the clock back to your own high school graduation and think about the excitement in the air. Another chapter in your life was coming to a close, and friends, who many of you had known your entire life to that point, were also moving. It was a time of celebration.
Now fast forward to the challenges created by the pandemic, today. *POOF* Instead of celebrating, it's been a time of anxiety and loss. Moments today's seniors have looked forward to for many years became a giant question mark! But here's a small compromise solution to lessen the sting just a little.
It all starts with Todd White, his background and his skill set as a professional photographer. He specializes in fashion, commercial and portrait videography and photography. He partnered with the Project Graduation team from Georgetown High School to capture these kids' senior prom looks from their front porch.
Shooting both a vertical and horizontal image for those seniors involved in the program, Todd made sure they all had a memory-maker photograph of prom-time. Did the porch-traits replace prom? Of course not, but think about the impact Todd's having on his community as part of Project Graduation.
Todd White needs to be on your radar. His client list includes Facebook, Pinterest, The Alamo, Neiman Marcus, and various fashion designers. His commercial work has been published in Vogue, British Vogue, Elle, People, the Wall Street Journal as well as other publications. He is an Emmy award-winning Producer and Videographer for the Daytripper TV show on PBS and an instructor at Precision Camera and Video in Austin, TX.
He's also a LUMIX Ambassador. Check out Todd's website, along with the LUMIX Ambassador team. This group is one of the most diverse and creative teams in photo, and all the ambassadors should be on your radar. Check out the LUMIX Photographers Facebook page too - there are always great conversations and imaging being shared.
Todd captured his prom porch-traits with Panasonic's LUMIX S1R and the LUMIX S PRO 50mm lens. Click on either thumbnail below for more information.
The pandemic has changed all of our lives and businesses, especially most professional photographers. But sheltering in place doesn't have to mean your business. There are still things you can do to continue to build relationships with your community and clients.
Mother's Day was yesterday, but graduation and Father's Day are still on the horizon. Don't let the seasonality slip entirely by when there are still creative ways to maintain a presence for your business.
By Skip Cohen
As I pulled together a few images for the composite above, I couldn't help but smile after yesterday's f64 Lunch Bunch get together. The chemistry between Tony Corbell and Bobbi Lane is remarkable and a tribute to the purest definition of friendship. Then throw in our hosts yesterday with Steve Brazill, Don Komarechka, and Chamira Young, and you've got all the ingredients for great programming.
Tony and I go back over thirty years to my Hasselblad days...and although Bobbi came into my life much later, the intensity of the friendship with both of them is something I cherish. Then add in friends like Steve, Don, and Chamira, and I might have had the most fun of anybody watching. It's the friendships that make this industry so remarkable!
If you couldn't join us yesterday, the video is below and well worth your time to watch. Great images from Bobbi and then Tony, combined with lots of good solid insight into understanding and seeing the light make this video one off our best lunches to date.
Plus, a couple of great links shared yesterday:
A BIG thanks to everyone who's been supporting these programs...and especially your feedback. We'll be back next Wednesday with another great program.
Who says there's no such thing as a FREE lunch?
by Skip Cohen
JOIN US ON MAY 6 AT 2:00 PM EST FOR THE NEXT f64 LUNCH BUNCH WITH SPECIAL GUESTS BOBBI LANE AND TONY CORBELL!
Nobody teaches lighting better than these two. Besides being great friends, they share an incredible passion for the industry, teaching, and especially lighting! Just in case you don't know Bobbi and Tony, I pulled two older videos from both of their YouTube channels, so you get a better feel for their backgrounds and skill sets.
The f64 Lunch Bunch is all about downtime education, conversations with/for photographers and ideas to help you through the challenges of the pandemic. The only thing worse than the downtime and needing to hunker down, is not taking advantage of the free time to raise the bar on the quality of your work.
Bobbi and Tony will be joining our hosts with ideas on things you can practice, so you hit the ground running by having a better understanding of lighting.
We've still got too many "natural light specialists" in this industry. And we all know, while everyone loves the look and feel of natural light when somebody declares themselves a "specialist" it almost ALWAYS means they don't understand lighting!
I hope you'll join us next Wednesday for a terrific program with two great guests. And to put it in perspective on how well these two work together and love the craft, when I asked Bobbi about joining us with Tony she said,
"It'll be great to get the band back together!"
by Skip Cohen
I don't want to start this post with a rant, but it's so hard not to react to photographers who are all doom and gloom, but unwilling to take the time to change things. This is a tough time for everyone, but there are so many opportunities for artists to expand and strengthen their skill sets.
It's the hardest it's ever been to find business. So, I get it...but I'm not giving up on spreading the word on different programs going on to help you get things back in focus.
Coming up this morning at 11:00 am EST Scott Kelby and his team:
Yesterday I shared a link to Joe Elario's Facebook post from last week and was surprised at how few people checked it out... it's only fifty-two seconds of your time.
J.P. Elario is doing online portraits, and the idea is brilliant. His Dad Joe and partner in Elario Photography wrote: "New twist on J.P.'s Pop up Portraits & they're waiting in (virtual) line both U.S. & Canada ."
I don't have a link for other smart portrait projects, but the word is that "Front Porch Portraits" are gaining momentum everywhere. While not every community has modified its shelter in place policies, many are allowing people out, but requiring that social distancing be maintained.
Now think about the concept. Families have been in lockdown for weeks, and a "Front Porch Portrait" is a memory of a tough time, but right in line with family values. And for me personally, it would represent a memory of a time we got through it all.
On March 23 I announced the kick-off for the f64 Lunch Bunch. We had a new program every day for that week. We then went to once a week. We're skipping it this week, but on May 6 at 2:00 PM EST, we'll be talking about lighting with two of photography's most recognized educators - Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell. I can promise you it's going to be more than just a great lunch! Click on the banner to the left to join us next week!
And speaking of Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell:
And check out the Photoshop Rant with Lee Varis:
And that brings me full circle to my point - there's a lot of help out there, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. There's support to help you with marketing, technique, business and it's all being taught by photographers who want to give back to an industry they love dearly.
But the next move is yours!
Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
by Skip Cohen
As a writer, there are few things more fun and rewarding than when you see that first copy of a book you've written. So, a BIG congrats to my good buddy Larry Becker!
Larry's new book, Great on Camera, launches Tuesday, April 21. And for the first 24 hours, the eBook will be $1.99, and then it goes back to the regular $9.99 price. And the paperback will be $14.99 for that same day, and then back to $19.99 after that.
Timing is everything! Based on how many of us are on camera with more than just chats with friends, a lot of us need Larry's help.
Being an author takes a huge commitment, patience, an enormous chunk of your time, and most important of all a responsibility to your readers. Well, if you've hung out with Larry over the years on the Picture Success Podcast, or through programming at KelbyOne, or recently the f64 Lunch Bunch, you already know his passion for the craft and helping photographers.
Like Carly Simon's old song, Nobody Does It Better - tune into Amazon next Tuesday and order this new book. Larry's skillset couldn't be better to help all of us be great on camera!
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!
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.