"We didn't realize we were making memories. We were just having fun!"
Winnie the Pooh
I've written a lot over the years about looking forward towards today and tomorrow rather than spending time looking in the rearview mirror and wishing something in your life could be different. All of us know we can't turn back the clock, but there are times when a good look back might be just the thing you need. I found myself doing that when I found this image.
It was a little over thirty-two years ago I got a call from a headhunter wanting to know if I knew anybody who wanted to be president of a small camera company. I thought it was my brother-in-law pulling a practical joke and after a few classic expletives, I started to hang up the phone as the voice on the other end of the line yelled, "This is legit!"
The job was president of Hasselblad USA and little did I know it would launch some of the most incredible friendships of my career. Two of the first people I met outside the company were Dean Collins and his "right hand," Tony Corbell. Hasselblad had previously committed to Dean's first big roadshow together with Kodak and Sinar Bron. Meeting with the two of them during PPA's convention was one of my early official responsibilities in my new role.
We were all in Orlando and agreed to meet. Dean, and Tony both showed up in suits. Those of you who knew Dean, think back and tell me when you ever saw him in a suit! He couldn't have been more uncomfortable - and since this was supposed to be a casual meeting and I was a rookie...I showed up in a pair of cutoffs having been hanging out by the pool for an hour before the pre-convention meeting.
Years later, Tony and Dean would both give me stories about their pre-meeting thoughts. They were meeting with a guy from Polaroid, who had no experience on the professional side of the business, and his name was "Skip." They pictured me as the guy who was going to launch Hasselblad into every Kmart in the country!
And here's my point for this Throwback Thursday - There are moments when looking back is like savoring a great wine, old scotch or that favorite meal your mother used to make when you were a kid. It's those moments from the past that for me, for example, help to appreciate those special moments now.
For years I've said the best thing about this industry has NOTHING to do with photography, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Remember, there was no Internet back then, and the world was a huge place. Today it fits on our phones, watches, and laptops. We meet new people every day in social media, face to face at conferences and phone calls.
Looking back can be a pretty fantastic thing if you're selective about which past events to explore. In 1987 the door opened up that brought me to this very minute right now. And the best part of the journey is, I'm still learning, still smiling and still cherishing the role each of you plays in my life, and an industry I love dearly.
About the image: In September '87, we did an open house for all the journalists from the industry in NY/NJ. It's a scan from a 2 1/4 contact print I found. Considering my flatbed is a low-end Epson, it's a pretty decent scan and should be good enough to spot some of the most influential pioneers in journalism thirty-two years ago. We had just officially opened the remodeled office in New Jersey and did our version of a ribbon cutting.
by Skip Cohen
It's the Fourth of July, and as I went to post today, I was thinking about taking the whole day off, just like most Americans. Then it occurred to me that a holiday is a great time to appreciate a look back and since I seem to have developed an unlimited supply of throwback photographs why not share one and then enjoy the day.
To start, I wish everybody a happy July 4th and time to kick back and enjoy family, friends, fireworks, and the traditional opportunity to over-eat barbecue! And, since Independence Day is all about establishing our freedom as Americans going back to 1776, it's a perfect time to appreciate friends and family in the military who have helped preserve that continued freedom. To all of you involved in protecting the freedom we all enjoy, thank you for your service!
Now, since it's Throwback Thursday, I recently discovered a box of discs with hundreds of memories of past events in my life and the industry. Today's combines a little of both.
Sheila and I were married in 2010. We initially thought about a backyard wedding and finally decided to get married and then throw a party, mostly for local friends, a month or two later.
Somewhere in the process of getting ready, a good buddy came into town...Gary Blair. He didn't get to see much of Ohio on that trip because he was helping me slow-cook a dozen slabs of ribs on the grill that day, but what a kick to get a quality of time together we'd never before shared.
Most of my time over those years before was spent with Gary's Dad, "Big Daddy," Don Blair. While Don was on the road as one of the industry's most recognized educators, Gary was running the business back in Murray, Utah.
To this day, I still run into people whose senior headshot from high school was captured by Don Blair Photography. Well, the company had Don's name on the door, but so much of the photography that kept the business going for many years was thanks to Gary and his team. He's a pretty amazing photographer in his own right!
The time he and I got in Ohio was the first time we'd ever really spent together just kicking back. And obviously, we laughed a lot. To this day, the stories that get us smiling the quickest are always related to events involving his Dad, as we both do a pretty decent job of a Don Blair impression.
Wishing everybody an enjoyable and safe July 4th holiday and to Gary, in a deep voice as his Dad would say, "Hey, hey, hey - I love ya man!"
"Those we love don't walk away, they walk beside us every day.
Unseen, unheard, but always near. Still loved, still missed."
Intro by Skip Cohen
The fun of Throwback Thursday is often as much about what you find on the "hunt" as it is the photographs you want to share. And, today's Throwback is a memory-maker for many of us and a history lesson for those of you relatively new to the profession.
Don Blair was one of the finest portrait artists in the industry, and I've written a lot about him over the years. Best known as a leading educator in classic portraiture, it was his passion for the craft combined with his love for each of us that made him legendary.
I used to say he was the older brother I never had. Our "adventures" redefined the meaning of the word awesome and friendship. The first book I wrote was with Don. Together with two other partners in crime, Terry Deglau, and Tony Corbell, we created a classic "how-to" book and a long list of memory-making moments, not to mention a week of non-stop laughs!
Looking through a box in my garage last week, I came across a disc loaded with old images. On the disc was this piece I wrote for Rangefinder Magazine after "Big Daddy" passed away. It was the first article I ever had published in a magazine, and I remember the pride I felt at the time. It wasn't about being published but about the honor of speaking for so many of us in a eulogy for my best buddy!
And, to my point in my article below - he may have physically left us, but without question, his spirit lives on in the work of so many artists whose lives he touched!
Images by Cantrell Portrait Design
While I won't deny there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about Molly, this post isn't meant to be another episode of me missing my dog. In fact, it's light on sadness but heavy on an idea for a few of you to consider as a product/service.
Molly was by my side every day for 13 1/2 years. The only exception was when traveling. Going to work with me every day she became the office mascot at Rangefinder/WPPI. From late 2007 until I left Rangefinder in May of 2009, I was going through a divorce and lived in an apartment in Playa Vista, near Culver City.
Molly was probably one of the most photographed pups in the industry because every artist who came to town photographed my girl! On one of her trips for WPPI print judging, Bambi Cantrell spent an afternoon photographing Molly and me. She captured some of my most cherished photographs. Pay attention because there's a great product idea here.
Bambi did a Day in the Life shoot and captured Molly and me in three different settings. I found the disk of her images recently, and these are all right out of the can. My apartment had a small patio, and Molly would hang out with me just about every night as I pondered the meaning of life.
So the question is - how many of you offer clients a Day in the Life shoot? It's the perfect album capturing the story of kids, families and obviously pets. Remember, the top three reasons people hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories goes brides, babies, pets.
Well, a Day in the Life for a bride is already covered with a wedding album - but what about babies (kids too) and pets, especially the interaction with other members of the family? Done right it's got the same kind of potential for exceeding client expectations as a well-done wedding or event album. Plus, it doesn't have to be seasonal, giving you the ability to be a storyteller all year long.
And, back to Molly for a second...everybody who's ever lost a pet knows the feeling of loss, but great photographs keep those memories alive, and for me, they're finally starting to create more smiles than tears.
"When I needed a hand, I found your paw."
Happy Throwback Thursday!
It's a Throwback Thursday post back to sometime in 2003, and it brings up the perfect reason to take a walk down Memory Lane and look at old photographs.
Unfortunately, my relationship with my kids disappeared over the years. The things we all did wrong are irrelevant. What's important here is how old photographs allow us to time travel to when life was different. This image takes me back to a time when there was no such thing as too much time with my grandchildren.
Here's the backstory. The image is me holding my grandson Zachary at around age 2 or so. It's captured with whatever was the low-end point-and-shoot Fujifilm digital camera at the time and was window light and a lamp behind him. Whatever quality the image has was purely accidental.
Zack was the first grandson on both sides of the family, making him the focus of thousands of photographs and videos. Plus, because he was born at the front end of the digital revolution, I have hundreds of files of him in those early years.
And speaking of old files...
As I was searching for an image to share for Throwback Thursday, I ran across this chuckle my son mocked up in 2006. Sports have always been a big part of life with each of my grandsons, and mocking up a headline on Zack's soccer game at age 6 was a classic.
Whether you share images on your blog as a marketing tool to remind "Mom" how quickly her family is growing up, or you just wander through old photographs for your own memories - take the time!
I was actually looking through an old backup drive when I hit the mother lode - pictures of the kids, Molly as a puppy and photographs of me and my Dad. I quit looking when the tears started to flow, which brought me back to one of my favorite quotes.
Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
In 2009 I resigned as president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI to head out and start my own business. One of my first projects was getting Skip's Summer School off the ground. The program went for the next five summers until it just became too labor intensive, but in 2011 at the Mirage in Las Vegas 350+ people showed up for the mini-boutique conference.
Instructors/speakers that year included Vincent Laforet, Scott Bourne, Tony Corbell, Jerry Ghionis, Michele Celentano, Matthew Jordan Smith, Bambi Cantrell, Bob Davis, Doug Gordon, Jules and Joy Bianchi, Roberto Valenzuela, Bobbi Lane, Kevin Kubota, Tamara Lackey, Clay Blackmore and yours truly. It was a program loaded with content, and many of the photographers who attended those early programs have stayed in touch over the years.
In searching for an image for Throwback Thursday, I came across Amber Fox's post which included the shot above together with a full explanation of the activities from that program. Just click on the image to link to her blog post from 2011.
Just a suggestion for those of you who'd like to share throwbacks or anything else from somebody else's blog or website - ALWAYS ask! I probably didn't need to ask, since Amber had originally shared it in public, but it's still a great habit to get into. It shows respect for the originator too. Plus, it was fun to catch up to her in a text or two and get her permission as opposed to just sharing it.
I look back on those summer programs with a great deal of respect and appreciation for so many people who helped make them memorable. Getting this program off the ground, I remember the static a few of my speakers got from the staff at one of the major annual conventions. They were told that being involved with my program would jeopardize their future to speak at the other convention! Sound familiar to some of the present day politics going on right now?
Well, Skip's Summer School kicked off with me being told it would never make it, along with several other projects I've worked on over the years. This is why the quote below became my mantra, and is so important:
"I do it because I can; I can because I want to; I want to because you said I couldn't!"
Wishing everybody a Throwback Thursday loaded with as many memories and smiles as Amber's post gives me!
It's Throwback Thursday and wandering through all the photos sent to me through my Facebook page over the years, I ran across these two gems and chose to share the outtake first! Here's the back story:
In 2009, after leaving Rangefinder/WPPI, I moved to Akron, Ohio, and Sheila and I moved in together. With her help and encouragement, the first Skip's Summer School took place that summer in Las Vegas. But a few months later I wanted to do something more local and we launched the Akron Photo Series, bringing some of the very best educators in photography to northeast Ohio.
In 2011 Jerry and Melissa Ghionis joined us for an evening program followed by an all-day hands-on program at Sylvart Photography Studio in Barberton, OH. Brent and Teri Ann Watkins own Sylvart and over the years have become great friends. After the all-day program, we wanted to get a group shot...hmmm...either Brent needed to be faster or set the self-timer longer!
But here's the point I always make with Throwback images...they bring back memories. I remember everything that happened that day as if it was yesterday. Brent and Teri were terrific hosts and they helped make the day a success.
I also remember something Jerry said that I wish more photographers would follow up on. The issue is photographers who take hands-on classes and then shoot over the instructor's shoulder and then claim the images as their own.
I'm paraphrasing a whole lot, but you'll get the idea...
"If you need to take a picture when I'm shooting, then capture the whole scene, so you remember what I'm teaching you and how the image has been set up. It's not your work if you grab my shot. It also challenges your integrity when a whole group of photographers has the same shot - not theirs, but the instructor's in whatever workshop they were taking."
Jerry and Melissa stayed at our home for a few days that week, and that's another memory that's hard to top. We've all gotten so busy; we never get quality time anymore. We pass each other at various conventions and meetings, but too often there's no real quality to the moment.
And that hits my last point - take the time when you're at any convention to network with old friends and new ones. Find the time for quality - you know how to do it with your images. So, why not do it with your conversations? Nothing beats great friendships, but they need to be nurtured!
Chicago's ClickCon conference is coming up in August, and I'm excited to be teaching four different classes, along with Jerry and Melissa as well. You can be sure Sheila and I are going to find the time to catch up to them!
And, if you haven't registered yet, just click on the banner below! Use "ccskip" to save $50!
Wandering through my Facebook photos, I came across this shot with two of my favorite people in photography, Kay Eskridge and Sarah Petty. Sarah had posted it on my Facebook timeline in 2010, and it brings back so many great memories. Here's a little of the backstory:
When I left Rangefinder Magazine and WPPI in 2009, I had this idea for a small conference series and launched Skip's Summer School. I've shared throwback images before about that first conference and the educators who helped make it possible. This photo was from our second year. We were at the MGM Grand. The economy was still bad, and Vegas was hurting for business. We had great prices on rooms, buy one get one free coupons at many of the restaurants and a minimal attrition and food & beverage clauses with the hotel. That gave us the ability to do a lot of things you just can't do in hotel-based programs today.
We had approximately 350 people in attendance with a dozen or so vendors. The concept was a series of 90-minute programs all one after the other with Wifi in the room so people could work at their laptops and not be away from their business, yet still be away! Wifi in a conference room for 350 people set up classroom style was a relatively new concept, and I remember paying dearly for the daily boost to Wifi.
This was also the year Vicki and Jed Taufer were overseas adopting their beautiful daughter. They got caught up in immigration challenges from the US government and couldn't get back into the US! There were a lot of us in the industry who were writing to any government official we could think of in a sort of "Free Vicki Taufer" campaign.
And to Kay, you still have "my" Arnold Palmer signed putter, but I think the twenty-year lease is just about up! It's another backstory - Kay outbid me on the putter at a PPA Charities auction years ago, and I've never forgiven her! LOL But this is a perfect example of how throwback images can take us back to some pretty special times.
So, besides this photo bringing back memories from nine years ago, it's also the perfect reminder of how much I appreciate the friendships in this industry. As sappy as it sounds, we really are a family. And, even with a few dysfunctional "relatives" here and there, we watch each other's backs and are always there to support each other.
Take the time to look back through your own throwbacks. It's a great marketing tool to share on your blog, but even if you don't share the images you find, take the time for a scroll down Memory Lane to appreciate your journey so far!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
"Nothing haunts us more than the dreams we didn't act upon!"
It's Throwback Thursday, but just before I started looking through old photographs this morning, Suzette Allen left me a comment on a post I wrote three years ago about dreams. As I read the original post, it was so relevant to today. I decided to share a different kind of throwback. Some of you will like it, others will roll your eyes and find it trite, but it's perfect for this time of year.
I'm heading to ShutterFest in a little over a week, and I'm going to be surrounded by a lot of young photographers with dreams. Plus, even more seasoned pros have dreams of what they hope the rest of this year is going to be like. With Spring seasonality comes everyone's mind's eye visions of how the year is going to play out; new ideas for business; new products to inspire clients, and the list goes on and on.
Even though I'm officially an old fart, I still think about what I want to do with my life. Many of you are focused and for years have known what you wanted to be when you grew up. Well, I'm one of those still struggling, but it's also what keeps me smiling.
Whether you'd call them my dreams or aspirations, doesn't make any difference. I wake up every day knowing the things I need to do, including finding time to dream a little. I look at my dreams and goals like one big file drawer loaded with ideas, but there's something that happens as you get older.
You realize you don't have the luxury of endless time to procrastinate - something you never really had in the first place. Some ideas you jump quicker than others. Then there are those dreams that are very personal versus simple projects you want to do.
By this time, you should notice that I use words like dreams, goals, aspirations and even ideas all the same way. They all represent things I want and intend to do, and here six suggestions to help you keep your dreams alive:
Last on the list - when you're chasing a dream, and it's not working out, just change course. You don't have to let go of the dream, only the path you've chosen to get there. Remember, dreams don't have expiration dates!
Most important of all, DON'T SHOULD ON YOURSELF. It's a lesson I learned from Sheila because at the beginning of our relationship I was "shoulding" all over the place. You know the drill - you do something, it doesn't work out and instead of putting energy into a new direction you whine, shrug your shoulders and say, "You know what I should have done?"
"I'll do my dreaming with my eyes wide open, and I'll do my looking back with my eyes closed."
Happy Throwback Thursday everybody!
One of the fun things about Facebook is the way we share images.
Turning back the clock to 2009, "Skip's Summer School" was the second major project I took on after starting my own company. The first was three weeks of doing portfolio reviews at Hallmark Institute, which was an incredible experience. However, that was a one-time project, and afterwards it was time to get things going with the core of my new business.
I wrote a little about it this past Sunday, but finding this video in my Facebook archives was a complete surprise. It was produced by Ron Dawson, an incredibly talented artist, and filmmaker. He was a presenter at that first Skip's Summer School, and this is a perfect example of what I love about Throwback Thursday.
While the video is posted on Facebook and certainly can be shared, I still called Ron to make sure he was okay with it. I haven't talked to him in years, and he gave me the okay through an IM and we'll hopefully catch up on the phone one day soon. Throwbacks bring back both memories and old friends.
The second component making this fun is sharing my message in the video. Nothing's changed in the importance of knowing when you're headed to burnout and the importance of recharging your batteries! After all, you do it for your gear before every event you photograph. You're never without the power you need to get the shot in your camera, but so often we forget about our hearts!
And then there's the third ingredient...memories. Molly the Wonder Dog loved chasing tennis balls and her reputation for catching them was legendary. She was only four years old when this video was made, and she chased them right up to the day before she died. That's over thirteen years of chasing, four chukits, and probably 30 cans of balls until a friend at a tennis club brought me a garbage bag full of balls that had lost their bounce!
"I love those random memories that make me smile, no matter what's going in my life right now."
Take the time today to wander through your archives and appreciate what you find when you look in the rearview mirror. While it's important to keep looking forward, there's nothing wrong with a smile and a look backwards now and then.
It's Throwback Thursday, and there's a great lesson that goes with the backstory on the image above. (Note: Apologies for the quality of the images in this post - they're scans from the original book since the negatives for the originals are long since gone.)
It's 1998 and Don Blair, and I decided to do a book together; Don Blair's Guide to Lighting and Posing Body Parts. I've written a lot about the project in past posts. It remains one of the most important and special projects in my career. It wasn't just a great book to help photographers raise the bar on their portraits but a testimonial to a group of extraordinary friends, the Four Musketeers, Terry Deglau, Tony Corbell, Don Blair and me.
Don and I chose to shoot all the images for "Body Parts" in Las Vegas using local models. Since the book was going to be introduced at WPPI in 1999 at the opening night program, we wanted to be able to stage tips in our live program from the book using the same models.
Terry and Tony came out to Vegas for four days to help us shoot. Remember, this is all pre-digital using Polaroid proofs for our storyboards and shooting everything on Kodak Portra. Well, Terry had an idea for the author shot of the book bringing body parts from a scrap yard into the theme.
After three days of shooting everything for the book, he headed out to a junkyard outside of Vegas. He found the perfect scrap yard for the shoot but then had to explain it to the owner. It wasn't an easy sell until he mentioned one of the authors was a famous photographer. Well, the owner of the junkyard asked, "Oh yeah, who?"
When Terry mentioned Don Blair from Utah, the guy lit up like a Christmas tree. "He did my senior portrait from high school in 1982!" That was all it took. We had carte blanche to do anything we wanted. He opened the yard for us on a Sunday morning, and with Terry's direction, he moved cars around along with the crane in position for the background.
While the image we eventually used for the cover of the book was Bambi Cantrell's on the right, the "Junkyard Dogs" had a two-page spread in the book. Plus, we loved the images so much, we later used them for some fun publicity releases over the next few years.
And here's my point; nothing is more valuable than your reputation. Never compromise on the quality of your brand because it's your shadow. And depending on which way you're headed, it's often leading the way as well as being behind you!
Don never compromised on his love for the craft, respect for his subjects or his passion for the quest to capture the ultimate image. Someone once asked him, "What's the best photograph you've ever made?" he answered, "I don't know. I haven't made it yet!"
But my most favorite memorable comment from Don was at a class he was teaching. We had a photographer who thought he could make a point about Don always having beautiful models who asked, "So what do you do when the bride isn't beautiful?" Don looked him straight in the eyes and couldn't have been more direct, "There's no such thing!"
Terry Deglau and Tony Corbell in action during the making of "Body Parts."
Throwback Thursday is all about memories. While, these images take me back to one of those wonderful times in my life and a milestone with my first book, they mean so much more. They're a reminder that nothing beats great friendships! It's what I love most about our industry, and it's why I almost always share author Jodi Picoult's quote:
" This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect."
Use Throwback Thursday for your own trip down Memory Lane or as content on your blog. Throwback images are a perfect way to remind "Mom" how quickly time is flying by, the fast kids are growing, and the importance of a new family portrait!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
PS Time to call Terry and Tony!
Looking at old photographs brings back memories and makes us feel nostalgic;
it is like a time machine bringing us to the time
and places where we can see and feel everything in details.
I know I shared the photo above as a Throwback Thursday image a couple of years ago, but having just come back from WPPI recently, it's appropriate to share again and here's why.
If you were at the 2019 WPPI awards program, it was one of the longest in their history. Too many awards, too many speakers and too much fluff. Sheila and I had an early flight the next morning and left after 2 1/2 hours, and they still had albums, videos and Arlene Evans presenting the Bill Hurter Memorial Award to go, which was the reason we attended in the first place.
As negative as all of that sounds, it's a good thing, because Arlene is back as WPPI Director and one of her strongest qualities is listening. Every organization goes through transitions, and you can count on next year's event being more concise, short and with greater impact.
Plus, the number of categories, and in turn awards presented this year, were considerably more than we had twelve years ago.
I know it's not the greatest scan in the world, but the album is too big for my flatbed. The image was a spread, and the gutter runs right through J.B. Sallee. Regardless, nothing takes away from the fun of the photograph.
Late in 2004, Maureen Neises from Graphi Studio had an idea - to do a day-in-the-life album of WPPI each year. This was the third in the series. Each book featured the work of four different photographers who were given the assignment to capture the WPPI story. Catherine Hall captured the images in this post. That's twelve years ago, and most of you should recognize a lot of the award winners from that year. Many of them are still competing, shooting and continuing on their quest to be the very best!
The other two images are about Arlene and her love for photography. Few people in this industry can match her enthusiasm and passion for the craft as well as support for professional photographers. The fact that she's back "driving the WPPI bus," is one of the best things to happen to the organization for a long time!
I was with WPPI/Rangefinder Magazine for seven years and these photographs, along with others in the Graphi album, take me right back to that convention. It was the awards program where Tony Corbell and I were the MCs, and Ron Dawson launched one of the industry's funniest spoof videos, "Disgruntled Joe," first shown that night.
In the photograph at the bottom Tony Corbell is presenting an award with Arlene to Christian LaLonde.
There are several great reasons to take the time once a week and look at old images. First, they take us back to moments and memories in our lives. Second, they remind us of the importance of what we do for a living - we help people magically stop time. And last but not least, it's the perfect marketing tool for your blog, and reminding "Mom" it's time for a new family portrait!
So, were you there and how many of the 2007 top award winners do you recognize?
Happy Throwback Thursday!
I know I shared the picture above a few years back, but wandering through my archives in Shutterfly, I recently ran across a few more from that trip to Catalina Island.
Years ago somebody said to me that diving isn't a hobby, it's a sickness. Well, my obsession with being in the water as much as possible for many years after I got certified is proof that it's true.
Two things always made a scuba trip special. First is the obvious appreciation for everything you see and feel when you're underwater. For example, floating off the side of the wall in Grand Cayman and looking down a few miles into the darkness I always felt that it was as close to what an astronaut must feel floating in outer space.
Second, diving is about friends, and I'm hanging out with two of my favorite dive buddies in this throwback post, Kayce Baker and Bob Rose. We've done dozens of trips all over the world together, and for these images and the week's trip down Memory Lane, it was just a day trip to Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles.
The water's cold, so it was my first time in a heavy wet suit, but it wasn't my first time getting lost. True to form, my sense of direction is equally bad under the water or above! Kayce said, "We'll meet you at the red ball." I dropped in and went to the red ball and sat on the bottom of the ocean for 20 minutes. They never appeared, and I never noticed there were at least three red balls. Seriously, who loses their buddies in a roped off underwater park?
They're all grab-shots and will never win an award for composition, but they sure do win prizes for smiles and throwbacks. Photographs bring back memories, often so vivid that you feel like they just happened yesterday.
If you haven't taken the time yet today to look through some of your older images, take the time this evening. Old photographs are a great reminder of the career path we've all chosen in imaging and the power of every picture's ability to tell a story! And, use some of those old photographs on your blog to remind your audience how quickly time flies. You're the magician who can stop time and give "Mom" the ability to hold memories of her family in her hands forever, or until it's time to do the next family portrait!
It's Throwback Thursday and at the risk of sending some of you screaming at me for writing another post about Molly the Wonder Dog, today isn't about any sadness, but a process utterly foreign to me.
While I've experienced the loss of friends and family over the years, most of the time it was because of old age. I never had a dog from puppy through adulthood. Having Molly by my side for over 13 years left a void I've never experienced.
It was this video that got me smiling and bringing back some of the great memories. I was in a daily state of sadness. Even though so many of you commented, especially on Facebook, and reminded me the pain I was feeling was normal, that didn't change the misery I felt at letting Molly go.
Looking back through old photographs and files; I came across this video. It's been in my private channel on YouTube for a few years now, but just too much fun not to share.
Here's the backstory on the video:
Molly grew up in California. When we moved to Ohio in April of 2009 her first winter soon followed. She loved chasing tennis balls, and a little snow wasn't going to stop her. She was only four years old in the video. Up until the day before I lost her two weeks ago at almost 14, she was still chasing balls.
This was one of my first videos with a little FLIP camera, and the music was in the selection of what they offered for free use at the time. While the video will never win any awards for production values, it's a winner for making me smile. She never misses a ball, no matter how deep it's buried in the snow, and her tail never misses a beat of the music!
Do I still hurt and grieve? Absolutely, but I'm amazed at how many of you have shared your own stories about your pets. It's that unconditional love they share with us every minute of every day, and when they're gone, it leaves a monstrous hole.
The bottom line is just like all of you; I'm work in progress. It's a horrible experience to lose a pet, but it would be far worse if they weren't in our lives at all.
One of the things Facebook does well is supply all of us with an ongoing collection of memory makers from previous posts and shared images. They come up on your home page and often seem like completely random moments out of the past.
Well, this morning's post couldn't have been more fun to receive. It was a shot by Matthew J Wagner captured at WPPI 2009 as I introduced Blues Traveler at the Nikon party, which is to this day the biggest event of its kind WPPI has ever thrown.
We took over the MGM's Garden Arena with attendance at the convention itself being over 12,000 people that year. It was one of the toughest conventions we had ever put together because of the year after year growth.
John Popper and Blues Traveler played that night with a few thousand photographers demonstrating their ability to "work hard play hard!" It was a fantastic convention, but at the time I had no idea I would decide to resign and start my own business six weeks later.
Why I left Rangefinder and WPPI is no longer relevant, but what is fun is to look back on the last ten years, and the pride I have in the friendships that came out of my time there as president. Many of those friends are still in the industry, and we're in touch all the time, and always catching up at WPPI.
I know I shared the group shot above in a post a few years back, but here are some other fun snipets from 2009.
The Show Guide cover was an image by Bambi Cantrell
The Hy Sheanin winner was Sarah Jane Sanders
The Monte Zucker Humanitarian Award went to Kevin Kubota
The WPPI Lifetime Achievement Award went to Bill Hurter.
Bill Hurter sadly passed away four years ago, but for those of you who never had the privilege of meeting him, so much of what WPPI still is today is thanks to Bill, especially print competition. He was one of the finest editors in the industry, and his passion for photography was unmatched. He never anticipated the Life Time Achievement Award, but what an honor it was to be part of the surprise and catch him speechless.
What so many of you don't realize is the work that goes into any convention like WPPI. We used to get a break for a few months after each show and then slowly start ramping up. As the show grew, time off afterwards disappeared. Today, it's nonstop all year long.
But here's one more point, the fun of Throwback Thursday. Old photographs take us back to moments out of the past that feel like they were yesterday. Even with today's initial share by Facebook, I called Matthew to make sure he was okay with me using the image that started the trip down Memory Lane this morning. He commented the concert that the night was when he became a Blues Traveler fan. And while I couldn't get in touch with Kenny, he gave us permission years back to share images like the one above and has documented so much of WPPI's events over the years. Click on either image to see more of Matthew's work or Kenny's.
If you haven't taken a quick trip down Memory Lane yet today, it's Throwback Thursday - what are you waiting for? Old photographs help remind us of the incredible career field we've all chosen, and with WPPI coming up next week, there are sure to be a few more. What a kick!
It's not Throwback Thursday, but some dates come up in our lives when we do a flashback to other times, loved ones who have passed and great memories. Well, today is my mother's birthday, and even though she passed away several years ago, it doesn't change the fun of looking at old photographs, especially when they're hand-colored!
While I've shared a couple of these before, it's still a kick to look at them and be reminded of the incredible career field we've all chosen. As I've written numerous times, except for modern medicine, no industry has given the world more than photography. You guys are the real magicians of the world, stopping time and giving your clients intangible memories they can physically hold and enjoy for a lifetime.
So, to Mom, Happy Birthday! Alzheimer's took you from us too early, but it never took away the loving memories, the laughs or the stories we're still sharing and cherishing! And to all of you, when you hit those special dates that remind you of something in your past, take the time to find some of those old photographs. They'll help remind you of how much your clients, family, and friends appreciate and need your skill set as a photographer!
A big thanks to Bambi Cantrell for the images she captured in 2008 of my folks. It was early on in my mother's battle with Alzheimer's, but through the fight, that never slowed down her beauty or the wonderful outlook she had on life.
In April 2009 I left Rangefinder/WPPI, finally having the courage to fulfill a dream of being a true entrepreneur. For years I had lived vicariously through so many of you and with the help from a lot of friends decided to head out on my own. Also, like so many of you, I was scared to death.
As I wrote a few years back, I remember Sheila asking me, "So what are you afraid of?" My answer couldn't have been more direct or honest, "Failing!" That should sound familiar to some of you, especially those who think they're alone on those days when self-confidence is at a minimum. Well, here we are ten years later, and my business keeps changing and growing, but there's one common denominator - I wake up smiling every morning, excited about the day ahead.
I recently ran across this PDF of the speaker side of a double page ad we ran in 2010. The first program was in 2009, and this was the second one. In all honesty, it was even better than the first year with approximately 350 people in attendance and a speaker lineup that was top shelf. Las Vegas was still hurting because of the economy, and the MGM gave us a great package with minimal requirements on the room block, food, and beverage spending, etc. It gave us the ability to put together a great series of programs at a minimal cost to the attendees.
The program morphed into Skip Cohen University and ran every summer through 2013, which was also the year we started the SCU blog. I chose to discontinue the program because of the changing landscape of photographic education. The Internet was providing some terrific online education; more speakers were doing their own tours, and the big conventions were battling it out with more workshops and hands-on programming. Like many other great workshops, it became harder and harder to pull together. But, as one door closes, another opens and SCU, speaking requests, and writing for several magazines changed the path of my journey once more.
The industry is always changing, and it was interesting that out of fifteen different sponsors we had that year, seven of them no longer exist. But here's what does exist - the friendships that come out of all of our passion for the industry and this business.
And there's one more thing that hasn't changed...people's attention span and their ability to draw assumptions based on what they see rather than what they read. Anybody want to take bets on how many people contact me wanting to know where the program is going to be held this August? LOL
Happy Throwback Thursday!
It's Throwback Thursday, and if you're going to do it right each week, you'll notice how it starts to become an art form. A throwback image is anything you want it to be, as long as you have to jump into the "way-back machine" to appreciate it.
Appreciation comes in all forms, but for me, it's often split between our roots and technology. I love old photographs, especially when they tie into family. Black and white images are in all our roots in photography. There are few photos more fun to look at than old classic black and white portraits.
That's Sheila's great grandmother, Kitty Gentry on the left, and my great grandparents on the right. My guess is there's about a ten-year span between when the images were taken, Kitty being first, around 1865.
As I follow the worldwide crisis with immigration today, I can't help but think about the story of my own family landing in NYC and getting off the boat from Russia. Then there were the challenges Sheila's family faced when her great grandfather married a full-blooded Cherokee.
A few years ago I sat in on a terrific workshop with Beverly and Tim Walden. They talked about their portrait business. They position each portrait session as much more than a photograph but the creation of a fine art family heirloom. They're not creating stunning portraits, but art to be handed down from generation to generation. They even do a certificate of authenticity on the back, establishing its value as a memory to be savored for years to come.
We're an industry of magic, and as sappy as you might think it sounds, we help people stop time, capture memories and turn them into tangible moments to be cherished forever. Sheila and I love these two old photographs, and in fact, Kitty's in an antique frame and hangs in a corner in our home.
I always suggest you use Throwback Thursday as a marketing tool in your blog to remind your target audience of the power of old photographs and the importance of capturing today's memories. But you also need to look at old images for yourself. In the day-in-day-out challenges of business, it's so easy to forget the value of what photography gives the world.
So, take the time today to dig through some of those old family prints and take a walk down Memory Lane! You won't regret it.
One of the best things about my lifetime career in this industry has been the adventures over the years. I have photographs and digital files everywhere. I found this 5x5 print recently tucked away in a file drawer and it's a testimonial to memory-making.
That's me, Tony Corbell and Duncan MacNab on the annual snowmobile trip to Yellowstone. I have no idea why I was holding a can of SPAM, but what a kick to look back on these trips.
For ten years, every winter, a group of us flew into Bozeman and headed to Yellowstone for three days with a ton of camera gear. It was before all the restrictions on sleds in the park, so we had almost complete freedom and typically covered 300+ miles over the short trip. The idea started with just Bob Thompson, Duncan, Chris Kent and me, and eventually grew to 25 people, almost all from the photo industry.
On one day each trip, we'd ride up to "Two Top." If I remember right, the elevation was around 9000 feet. Duncan had a gas grill on runners he'd tow to the top. Equipped with everything, for a backyard barbecue the smell of cheeseburgers and grilled onions were in the air within minutes. I remember another group on snowmobiles showing up as we were having lunch. The WTF expression on their faces watching a group around a grill on a remote mountain top was priceless.
The view at Two Top was incredible, and you could see for miles. Temperatures hit well below zero and between the wind and the snow Mother Nature created a new art exhibit on the trees and bushes every day. This shot of a "Snow Dragon" was one of my favorites.
Use your throwback images as a marketing tool on your blog. Old photographs showing changes in style, your family growing up, etc. are perfect reminders for most of you to share with your target audience. Remind "Mom" how fast things are changing in her family and the importance of an updated family portrait. And, if you don't like to share old photographs, take the time to appreciate them just for yourself. They're a great reminder of the importance of this industry and the magic you can deliver to every client.
It's been a little while since I jumped in the way-back machine and posted for Throwback Thursday. That doesn't mean I gave it up, only that I wasn't sharing old memories in blog posts. I still take a few minutes at least once a week to wander through an old album or look through my archives of old images. Why? Because they remind me of my journey in this industry. Every old photograph brings back so many memories.
I always suggest professional photographers use Throwback Thursday as a marketing tool to remind your readers how fast time flies; how much their family's changing every day and the need to capture those memories with tangible photographs. But, even if you don't share your throwbacks, take the time to look through old images and enjoy the memories they bring out. Do it for your own enjoyment.
Speaking of memories, today's post is perfect for the first throwback of 2019! I found a copy of the June 2002 issue of Rangefinder Magazine. I saved it because it was the last published issue before I joined the company that July. Over the next couple of years, we'd build one of the best teams in publishing and conventions, taking the magazine to over 350 pages.
I apologize for the quality of the scans, but it was the best I could do. Check out the winners from WPPI that year, which was held at the Tropicana with attendance around 3,000. It was the last small show WPPI had, moving to Bally's the following year. A few years later we took over both Bally's and Paris, and when we ran out of space there, it was over to the MGM Grand.
Whether you enter prints in competition or not, get yourself into Las Vegas a day early and take the time to sit in on the judging. It's one of the very best educational opportunities at each convention. It was also one of my most favorite events, and it brought out a lot of stunning work. Four of the winners in the wedding category that year were Joe Buissink, Ken Sklute, Frank Cava and Joe Photo. They're all active photographers today and Joe Buissink's print from that year hung in our office for many years.
I also had some fun looking at the ads. I couldn't help sharing the one below, featuring my good buddy Matthew Jordan Smith. While his equipment has changed over the years, nothing has changed in his love for photography or his ability to create stunning images. Over the past eighteen years, since publishing Sepia Dreams in 2001, Matthew's become one of the industry's leading educators, speaker, author, blogger and a good friend to so many of us. He's an artist who should be on everybody's radar.
And here's my point for Throwback Thursday today - take the time to walk down Memory Lane. If you don't feel like scrolling through an old album, find an old photography magazine and have as much fun as I did this morning looking at old ads, articles, and photographs. Pay attention to how styles have changed. And, as much as technology has changed, giving us more creative tools that at any time in history, the industry has never budged on the importance of quality, creativity, and your passion for the craft.
Happy Throwback Thursday!