“This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat,
everything was perfect.”
by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, and once again, I chose not to dig back very far. I ran across this collage in a folder of PowerPoint slides. At the end of most presentations/workshops, I always comment about the best thing about this industry: The friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. This would typically be my last slide.
Looking at each of these photographs, I realized what I miss most: the freedom of being able to hug a friend.
I've shared Jody Picoult's quote so many times in other posts, but no other statement fits better at this time in history. It's our photographs and videos that capture those ordinary moments from the past that now have become iconic!
But while life is different for all of us today, nothing can change the love and respect I have for everyone above. And, as sappy as it sounds, it's the journey we're all still on together that makes each day unique, even when there's so much we used to take for granted!
Social distancing? We didn't need no stinkin' social distancing!*
Happy Throwback Thursday!
*If you don't get the reference, ask somebody over fifty.
"When you dance is your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.
It is to enjoy each step along the way."
by Skip Cohen
These days, Wayne Dyer's quote above has never been more accurate, and today's Throwback Thursday post is all about each step along the way.
The fun of throwback images for me has always been the hunt. Stepping into the time machine, I go back to memory makers and moments out of the past that make me smile. These days I don't have to turn the clock back very far. These images are all from 2015 and 2016 conventions and meetings.
We've been hunkered down for seven weeks, and while I'm catching up to friends via the phone, email, and Facebook, what I'm craving is contact and a crowd or two. I miss bumping into people, literally! In fact, I'm working on my program descriptions today for ClickCon in August, and praying things keep going in a positive direction with the pandemic because we all need a good conference to recharge our batteries!
For today's throwbacks, I went back and had fun with a mini-album of grab shots from conventions. Click on any image to view in the SCU light box - you just might find yourself in the aisle or a vendor's booth. But whether you were there or not, appreciate a look in your rearview mirror.
I write a lot about always looking forward, but these days, we all need to look back now and then to appreciate the importance of staying safe, healthy, and yes, optimistic. We'll get through this, bring back pieces of the good old days, and what a party it's going to be!
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
Throwback Thursdays in the past have been one of my favorite days of the week. I love the way old photographs transport me, even if for just a few minutes, to something in the past - a place, a moment in time or friends I've missed seeing over the years.
But I have to admit it's tougher to share this morning than ever before. Last night Sheila and I broke one of the rules in our home - we watched the news. We hadn't completely put our heads in the sand, just stayed away from the politicians and controversy over the pandemic. We're following all the guidelines and have self-quarantined for a month.
What hit me hardest and kept me up most of the night was a story on the news, not about the virus, but the effect of the virus on unemployment and lines of people trying to get food for their families. Then came the forecast of the number of people who are likely to lose the fight against Covid-19.
The world is a mess right now, and while there's little any of us can do, there's a lot we can do. It seems so trite to suggest we need not to lose faith. And honestly, I'm having a hard time walking the talk.
I've shared this before, which Sheila has framed in our bedroom:
Faith...is being sure of what you hope for
and certain of what you do not see.
So, sharing that quote from the Bible, and thinking about what it means, I went off in search of a Throwback.
It's nothing special - just a plain old ordinary Saturday night in Florida in 2013. We drove out to Anna Maria Island here in Sarasota, and sat by the water. I only had my iPhone with me, but here's what I got out of this ho-hum ordinary image.
I remember the waiter being frustrated with us because we spread out dinner to keep the table until sunset. We stretched it out for over two hours.
This one image took me back to a time that was so much simpler and safe. It was therapeutic and tempered the depression I was feeling with some much-needed ingredients - faith that the world, when this is over, will get back to something even better than it was, and a time when we'll all stop taking so much in our lives for granted.
My suggestion for all of you on this Throwback Thursday, or any other day for that matter, is to take the time to find a moment in your memory banks to savor. Use your images to stay focused on the goal of normalcy. Cherish those people in your life you love most and stay the course on keeping safe.
We'll get back to those days or something closer than what we're dealing with now.
“This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect.”
by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, one of my favorite days of the week.
It's rare I miss turning back the clock and sharing something out of the past, be it personal or industry-related. But I didn't need to go back very far today for a smile and a fast peek at the good old days because the "good old days" were literally just a few weeks ago.
Hanging out with "Dr T," Mina and Platypod friends at WPPI in February
Trust me on this suggestion - take the time to look at some of the images you captured back in the days when we only referenced Corona when ordering a beer. Those days will come back, and for me, it put a smile on my face to look back at friends I caught up to at WPPI. There was no such thing as social distancing.
And here's my point - we're ALL in this together. We're an industry of people who have always worked together and watched each other's backs. We'll never look back on these days and laugh, but we will look back and share the pride that we came through it together.
Stay safe and healthy - Happy Throwback Thursday!
by Skip Cohen
We're all in the same boat right now with time on our hands, and at least for me, Throwback Thursday has therapeutic value. I'm a big fan of always looking forward and not spending too much time looking in my rearview mirror, but in these days of uncertainty, a look back can be heartwarming.
My best guess is this image is from the late 70s. It's Jon Wolbarst and me during my Polaroid days as Regional Services Manager in Chicago. Jon was a Vice-President at Polaroid and had responsibility for Customer Service. He was the conscience of Polaroid, always fighting for the consumer. Regardless of the issues, he fought hard to keep Polaroid at the forefront of providing the very best service.
Those first SX-70 cameras were said to be 300% defective. Fortunately for Polaroid, there was no Internet, and Consumer Services could put out fires relatively quickly and keep them local. When I look at this photograph, I can't help but think back to how much so many of us learned, thanks to Jon's inspiration and direction.
Jon Wolbarst passed away in 1986 and was retiring when we presented him with this plaque. Jon loved to sail, and the plaque, complete with a starboard light read, "A guiding light by any other name would be Jon Wolbarst."
But here's the extra fun of this throwbacks:
And that brings me full circle to the challenges you're facing now. You've got time on your hands, and if you've got a blog, now is the time to build a stash of posts. Use Throwback Thursday to remind your readers of the importance of photographs. Even with the virus and social distancing, there are still opportunities for outdoor portraits, expanded engagement sessions, landscape/wildlife photography, fine art and more. Use your blog to help "Mom," with ideas related to imaging, all promoted thanks to your expertise.
Take the time today and even if you don't share them in a blog - take that walk down Memory Lane. It'll make you smile and there's no such thing as too many smiles right now!
by Skip Cohen
I shared this image five years ago, but even though it's Throwback Thursday, I'm not sharing it to look back. It's meant to be a tribute to all of you who are teaching photography and video on the public and private school level.
How I got into photography as a career I've always thought of as more of an accident than anything intentional - I needed a job. But then I look back over the years, and there's so much I learned about the craft, thanks to two teachers, Roger Stanley above and Dave Burris. Stanley had the photography club in high school, and Burris had the yearbook, where a few of my photos were first published.
Yesterday I had a great conversation with Tom Alvarez, a photography teacher in Northport, just south of us. I'm going down there in a few weeks to talk about photography to his class of high school students. We had a fun conversation, and while his kids are pretty much learning the craft via their phones, it doesn't change the importance of the seeds he's planting about capturing memories, creativity, and expression.
Today's post is a kick to share; as I go back to the days of my uni-brow, snap-on tie and zero body fat with little muscle mass (it was called skinny back then and not an asset). However, this post is really a giant THANKS to every teacher out there. You guys are the unsung heroes who routinely inspire and help orchestrate so many kids in directions most of them never thought about. And who knows, you might have a future Ansel Adams or
So, who were the teachers who inspired your early days in photography?
by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, and last week was one of those perfect visits with an old buddy, Jerry Costanzo. Here in Florida on a family vacation, he and Sharon snuck in a couple of days at our house. And, as often happens with old friends, we started talking about how we met.
The friendship goes back to my Hasselblad days and a 30x60 Duratrans lightbox. We needed an image to demonstrate just how big you could blow up a Hasselblad frame in the Photo East booth in 1992. The shot above was at PPA (now IUSA) in 1993.
My good buddy, Terry Deglau, told me he had just the image and a friend, Jerry Costanzo, to help us out. (That's Jerry in the middle shaking hands with Terry.) The best part of this was that we could show people a copy of the original. The picture above and the one in the booth were approximately a 1/2 inch square cropped from the original.
The original was captured with a Hasselblad 503CW, the 250mm Carl Zeiss Sonnar lens on Kodak Portra, color negative film.
Like so many friends we all have in the industry, the relationship kicked off with a photograph! Here we are still loving photography, sharing stories, and having a great time. Technology has changed everything but not anyone's love for imaging or how special an almost thirty-year friendship can be!
I love sharing old images and stories like this in the SCU blog, but that's because, as photographers, you're my audience. For your blog, use throwback images to share how fast the family's growing, changes in styles, events from the past - anything to remind "Mom" it's time for a new family portrait!
by Skip Cohen
Yesterday I was thinking about what I might share for Throwback Thursday today when the mail came and answered my question...the Yellow Pages. Seriously, while last time I wrote about the "phonebook" a couple of photographers still claimed they get leads, overall I don't know anybody who lets their fingers do the walking.
But there is a point when it comes to Sarasota County that's fast becoming obsolete. I heard once that Sarasota County has one of the oldest average age populations of any county in the country. Now, if you pay attention to the demographics of your business, that means we've got a community that's less computer literate than in other parts of the country. So, just maybe the Yellow Pages becomes a good thing for part of the population here.
But it's Throwback Thursday, and like the national obsolescence of the phonebook, I've got some other things it brought to mind:
Floppy disks and payphones? Alarm clocks and encyclopedias? Fax machines? Bench seats in cars?
My good buddy, Brian Caporicci, has found a perfect use for old floppy disks. He hands them out to brides at bridal fairs and says, "Please take this home and enjoy looking at some of my favorite weddings and albums." And when they look at him like he's from outer space and exclaim, they've got no way to view them; it becomes the perfect argument about printing your images and the importance of the wedding album!
I just shared a few of my favorite obsolete products but I wanted more. I Googled "Products that have become obsolete" just for the fun of it. What I found was a mini-goldmine of memories.
Mini-labs: At their peak in 1993, there were 7,600 one-hour labs in the US, and another 14,700 so-called mini-labs inside chain stores like Kmart. If you didn't live through the 1980s and 1990s, it's hard to visualize just how common these stores were.
Film: 1839-2018 - In 1839, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre shocked the world by freezing a moment in time when he snapped the world's first photograph. Film photography would dominate for more than 150 years. Although the first digital camera was created in 1975, the 1999 Kodak DC210 truly signaled the beginning of the digital camera revolution — and the beginning of the end for film. In May 2018, Canon announced it had finally sold its last film camera, eight years after it stopped making them — it took that long to deplete the unsold inventory.
Note: I have a DC220, a gift from friends at Kodak in 1998 when it was introduced and then selling for $1000.
Phonebooks: 1878-2012 - In 2007, Bill Gates predicted that "Yellow Page usage among people, say, below 50, will drop to zero — near zero — over the next five years." More than a decade later, the 20th century relic refuses to die, with bound white and yellow paper directories of business and residential phone numbers still showing up on doorsteps across the country. But while they are still being produced, how often are they actually used in the era of smartphones and Google? Their biggest users, however, appear to be YouTubers attempting to tear them apart in video stunts.
Just for a break from business today, take a scroll through these two sites. You'll be surprised how many things most of us considered standard in our lives just a few years back, and that's part of the fun of Throwback Thursday. Although for me, the questions are a lot more pressing, like:
Whatever happened to Cold Duck? What happened to my Mother's recipe for tuna casserole? Does anybody remember how to make a Harvey Wallbanger?
The list goes on and on, but feel to add to my list.
The fun of Throwback Thursday is that trip down Memory Lane. Old photographs, ads, products we used to feel we couldn't live without - they're all part of our heritage. And, whether they were booted to the back-burner because of technology or trends - who cares? It's fun to look back.
by Skip Cohen
Since it's Throwback Thursday, even though I've shared bits and pieces of this story in past posts, it's perfect for this morning. Fifty years ago today, I started my journey in imaging, and it's amazing how fast time has flown by.
Off to college in 1967, I was every parent's nightmare. Forced to take a class that was a requirement, I'd never study, but give me something I loved, and I could make Dean's List. Unfortunately, I went on and off academic probation, like the changing of the seasons.
However, certain aspects of my college experience became my first introduction to marketing and sales. For example, I had trouble studying in the dorm because it was so noisy. Summer of my sophomore year I convinced my folks it was cheaper to live in an apartment, which it actually was. I did a full presentation worthy of pitching investors in Silicon Valley today! (Note: You weren't allowed to be in an apartment until your senior year. However, I found a grad student who needed a place to live, and that's all it took. He also taught me how to cook...okay, so it was Alice B. Toklas brownies, but still required learning baking technology!)
After being on and off probation, Miami U. sent me on my way in December of 1969. I didn't want to live at home and needed to spread my wings. Much to my parent's dismay, I decided to move to Boston, where my girlfriend lived. A neighbor in Ohio knew one of the engineers at Polaroid at the time, and made a call - I had my first real full-time job.
It was February 6, 1970, when I started. Polaroid updated security badges every year or two, and while others were lost along life's journey, the one above, probably from 1975, survived. I was a Lab Tech in the Emulsion Development group washing bottles in the lab at $2.89/hour. It was the most money I'd ever made. Plus, on B-shift for a few months, there was a premium and overtime was 1 1/2 times with weekends being double time.
Leading up to the introduction of the SX70, the department was working on new ways to make emulsions, the light-sensitive coating on film. I was working with some incredibly patient people, one of them being Edgar Gutoff, a Ph.D. Chemist/Engineer who sadly passed away a short time ago. For those of you who know me, try and picture me in a lab coat, complete with pens in a pocket protector and a slide rule.
So, the short version of my career goes - back to school nights through Polaroid's tuition reimbursement program. Polaroid's worldwide population was over 20,000 back then, and my journey included positions in HR, Customer Service, Regional Services Manager in Chicago and International Services Manager, traveling all over Europe and Asia for almost three years. My last assignment was Photo Specialty Dealer Manager, which were the camera stores. In April of 1987, I got a cold call from a headhunter looking for somebody to be "president of a small camera company," whose products were only sold through camera retailers. That company was Hasselblad USA, and my world changed.
Hasselblad to PhotoAlley.com to Rangefinder/WPPI to my own business in 2009 and six co-authored books over the years. SCU was born in 2013, and my career has never slowed down. I know I sound like a McDonald's "Lovin' it" commercial but I wake up every morning with a smile on my face. And I've got an ongoing level of curiosity that would rival any of the characters in a Willy Wonka movie!
As I wrote recently in a post:
At a time when so many of my friends have slowed down, I love this business too much to give anything up. The busier I am, the more I love it. The more I realize how much there still is to learn outside my comfort zone, the more energy I seem to have to explore and navigate a new path.
All along the way, amazing people and companies have come into my life and career. I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in photo, and I've learned so much from so many different artists, writers, managers and educators. And as I've written so many times in the past, it's the friendships that make this business so incredible.
With fifty years invested in this industry, stay tuned. I'm going to launch a new series called "Lessons Learned," and I'll do my best not to hold anything back. If you can learn from my mistakes, then you'll have time to make new ones of your own!
Take the time today and take a look in your rearview mirror...as long as you're always going forward, it helps to appreciate your roots!
Happy 50th Anniversary to me, but even better, Happy Throwback Thursday to all of you!
by Skip Cohen
I spend a lot of time talking with other photographers online as well as time at every convention. Lately, it seems like everybody has gotten so serious. I'm not saying you should take the challenges of business lightly, but there are too many people in this industry who need to loosen up a little.
I have no idea how my brain works when it comes to my "archives," but the expression "that's so funny, I forgot to laugh" popped into my head. It sent me on a quest to YouTube looking for of one of my favorite old SNL skits with Gilda Radner and Bill Murray. The SNL channel on YouTube is jam-packed with the classics and well worth your time whenever you need a chuckle.
Here's my point today - a lot of you need to loosen up. Stop being so serious about your quest for success. Seriously, what good is working to become a great artist if you're not stopping to smell the roses along the way? What good is working this hard if you're missing time with family and friends?
Thinking of photographers I admire, Tony Corbell immediately comes to mind. You'll never see him without a smile. He deals with the same stress in his life we all do, but it's rare anyone has ever heard him say "NO" to helping another photographer because he's too busy. He couldn't be more focused as an artist, but we love him because he's never let the craft overshadow his love for life.
So, lighten up today! Focus on your business, your clients, but don't forget to focus on yourself, your family, and your friends. Don't let your sense of humor get buried under the stress of business. In my Sunday Morning Reflections series, I always write about giving the people you love most one of those eleven-second therapeutic hugs...well, maybe it's time I suggested you give a friend a "noogie!"
And speaking of people in the industry who make us smile: At PPE a couple of years ago, I gave my buddy "Vanelli' a series of noogies, and I'm still laughing! Fortunately for me, as a past Triple Crown Karate Champion who could take me out with a blink, he's still laughing too. (Thanks Andrew Darlow for capturing the moment!)
Here's a recipe for success: Laugh more than you worry. Don't lose sight of your goals. Recognize that success isn't just about the bottom line, but being happy. Stay in touch with good friends. Accept that you're only one person and can only do so much. Know that everyone makes mistakes. And like Tim McGraw's lyrics, always stay humble and kind!
Happy Hump Day! I hope Todd and Lisa make you smile as they did me this morning!
Seeing old photographs, we get enamored by the memories we made
which will keep tugging at our heart-strings forever and ever...
by Skip Cohen
The other day my good buddy Glen Clark posted this picture of Tony Corbell from the IUSA convention and me. We were in the Platypod booth, and I was showing him the Platyball, the revolutionary ball head recently launched on Kickstarter.
Well, this image sent me straight to my stash of old photographs looking for something that had Tony in it. As I wandered through both prints and digital files, I realized I could do a book loaded with stories of the adventures we've shared during a 30+ year friendship.
I have yet to figure out where the years have gone, but that old expression of "time flies when you're having a good time" couldn't be more appropriate. Put the two of us together, and within minutes the stories are going to flow, as each of us takes turns trying to top the other on a walk down Memory Lane. But the best thing about our friendship is that we're still having a blast and writing new stories every day!
It was hard trying to decide what to share this morning, and I settled on this grab-shot that another good friend, Jim Morton, sent me. The year is 1995, and we were flying someplace on the planet. The woman with the hot dog, Eva, worked for the factory in Sweden. She was in the US on a three-month assignment to better understand the US market and Hasselblad's role.
As you can see, we introduced her to the culinary thrill of an airport hot dog and a coke. But I picked this shot because there were two other things that it brought back.
First, Tony's got a mullet that tops anything Billy Ray Cyrus ever grew! Second is educating somebody from Sweden on the unofficial rules of travel.
Tony had arrived at the airport earlier than any of us and scooped an upgrade to first class. The rest of us were back in coach. As the plane took off, Eva turned to me and said, "Is Tony not an underling?" (Tony and I worked together for many years at Hasselblad. Since I was president, technically, he worked for me.) I answered that he was, but that we worked together. She followed up with, "Then why is he in first class, and we're back here?"
So I explained the rules of the road - whoever gets there first gets the upgrade. But I had to bite my lip and hold back from telling her that there was no "we," she wasn't even in the running for a first-class seat!
And that brings me full circle and back to why I love Throwback Thursdays. I've made it a routine to wander through old photographs once a week. Why? Because they're reminders of the journey, I'm on and looking in the rearview mirror now and then helps me appreciate where I'm headed next.
Tony and I have shared hundreds of trips, practical jokes, and moments that helped to change both our lives. In fact, the original foundation for classes I teach today on marketing and business all started with help from Tony. And like so many of you, who also consider him a good friend - he's one of the most supportive and giving people in the industry. If he's speaking at any of this year's upcoming conventions, and you're there, run don't walk to grab a seat!
Take the time today and look through some of your old photographs. Those walks down Memory Lane will help you create more in the future!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
It's the first Throwback Thursday of the new year, and as I searched through my stash, I decided to make it a "daily double." Back in July, I wrote about Hasselblad and NASA and shared one of the holiday cards the team at the factory in Sweden made for all of us to use.
Well, thanks to my good buddy Jim Morton, the holiday cards live on! He sent me his stash earlier in the year, and considering it's just after the holidays, these are perfect for today. And as usual, there are behind the scenes stories for both.
I think the card above was for the holidays in 1988. I joined Hasselblad as president in July of 1987, and the backorder on the 2000 FCW was pretty substantial. It had been on backorder for over a year, announced before the factory had adequate time for delivery. There was even one price increase on the product, again, before it had ever been delivered.
So, when the holiday card came out featuring the camera, I refused to use it. In fact, in one Board meeting, I remember my sarcasm reaching a peak and asking if it was true that "Hasselblad in English meant backorder?" My comments weren't received well, but they did make a point.
The gold 500CM was introduced in 1987 and in celebration of Hasseblad's 30th anniversary. Over the next twelve years, I was with the company; there would be at least three more gold cameras. Each time they represented another anniversary. While the 500CM was in celebration of the 30th anniversary, the 503CX in gold was in celebration of the 50th and came ten years later.
I remember questioning how we jumped twenty years in just ten. The answer was the gold 500CM was celebrating Hasselblad as a camera company, but the 50th was in recognition of the company's start as a business entity and a trading company.
Each time a new gold camera came out, the factory would push the US company to take more of them. We represented 1/3 of Hasselblad's worldwide business, but the gold cameras were getting harder and harder to sell. So, they changed the camera models, and then the color of the leather with limited editions of one in dark navy and another in burgundy.
Each anniversary edition was stunning, but by the time we got to the fourth one, they were no longer as unique as they were in the very beginning. Plus, as a company, they represented a huge hit on the value of our inventory. However, there's still nothing that beats the sound of a Hasselblad and having it in gold, for some, makes it even sweeter!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Take the time today to take your own look in the rearview mirror. Then share it with your readers. For most of you, "Mom" is your target audience. Use throwback images to remind her how much her family is changing, the kids are growing and time isn't slowing down. It might be after the holidays, but it's the perfect time to update that family portrait!
by Skip Cohen
The fun of Throwback Thursday is often in the hunt! You never know what you're going to find, and what you do find, brings back incredible memories. Searching for old Rangefinder Magazine covers I found the one the right.
The year is 1993, and WPPI was in Nashville. I was president of Hasselblad at the time, but very involved in WPPI. It would be eight years later I'd join Rangefinder/WPPI. Many of us would come in for the WPPI convention a few days early, and help the team with setup, print display, putting together the welcome bags - you name it we did it. The show was a labor of love and a reunion of some of the most passionate companies and artists in imaging.
That year I got an invitation to have my daughter on the cover of the magazine. She was the subject in a Don Blair portrait, taken at a plantation just outside town. Right after Don captured the images he wanted for the magazine, he did a series of bridal portraits of Clay Blackmore and his soon-to-be bride, Lilia. They even held their wedding at WPPI!
And that brings me to the second reason for searching for throwback images - the memories they bring back. Those were pretty amazing years for WPPI and the industry in general. The WPPI show was only around 2500 people, but the spirit of the show was unbeatable.
We were a film-driven industry. Digital cameras weren't really on the scene professionally for a few more years. The biggest excitement was over auto-focus. I remember Calumet protesting Nikon's announcement they were discontinuing the manufacturing of manual focus lenses. And the memories - all from one magazine cover, just keep coming!
Wishing everybody a terrific Throwback Thursday and one loaded with great memories. Use your own throwback images on your blog - it's the perfect marketing tool to help remind Mom how quickly the kids are growing up and life is changing.
by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, and while a big part of this post is from the SCU archives, it's so relevant to helping many of you raise the bar on the quality of your images, especially with tall grooms and short brides. It's a great lesson in posing and all thanks to Don Blair.
I've written a lot about him over the years, almost always about something I learned during our incredible friendship. "Big Daddy" pretty much became the older brother I never had.
He believed in the "rules" of photography, but he broke them all the time. He was always looking for a different way to take everything he learned and create something new, but he never compromised at the client's expense.
The two images above are a prime example of Don pushing the edge of the creative envelope. (My apologies for the quality of the scans. They're from a copy of the book we wrote together in the '90s.)
What do you do with a tall groom and a short bride?
He was a 6' 4" Algerian boxer, and she was the All-American cheerleader type, at best 5' 1". Just about every photographer at the time would have him hunched over her or put them on some stairs to balance things out. Don sat them down on the floor and created some of my most favorite bridal portraits.
And then, to do a different spin - he sat the groom down and brought the bride in behind him. The bridal portrait becomes so much more pleasing than the usual hunched over groom!
There are no shortcuts to becoming a great photographer. Make it a point to know every aspect of your camera and especially the different focal lengths of your lenses. Stop being a "natural light specialist" and get to know studio lighting. Spend time experimenting with various techniques and learn every rule in photography. Attend every hands-on workshop you can; watch every video, and read every book!
"You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice.
And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail."
Once you've learned the rules and understand them, you've earned the right to push the envelope, break the rules, and be a true artist. Throw away the rule book and like Charlie Parker suggests, just wail! You can break any rule you want, with one exception...NEVER disappoint a client.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
I shared the image above at least five years ago, but there's a new chapter as my career as "Embroidery Boy" comes to a close. Here's the backstory and only because it's Throwback Thursday.
My apologies for the fold in the image, but it's a scan out of the 1997 Lands End Corporate Sales Catalog. Left to right, Chuck Gutierrez, Jim Morton, Bob Nunn, Bob Thompson**, Skip Cohen, Peter Power, Mark Mather, and Tony Corbell.
Hasselblad's ad agency at the time created a campaign with the tagline, "Hot Stuff." We loved the campaign which featured double page spreads with images by some of the greatest artists in professional photography. Chris Rainier, Barbara Bordnick, Michael Grecco, Howard Schatz, Phil Borges, Jonathan Exley, Bambi Cantrell, Jill Enfield, and Lisa Murphey were all part of the series. Plus, the logo design was contemporary, and I had a growing reputation as "Embroidery Boy," putting Hasselblad's logo on just about anything I could find.
Photo East, now PPE, was coming up, and I wanted to get all of us in logo shirts. Remember, this was twenty-two years ago, and most of us were still working trade shows in suits or sport-jackets. So, I wandered through the Lands End catalog and found polo shirts for all of us.
We sent the artwork to Lands End on a Monday, had the stitched proof by Wednesday morning, approved the order by the end of the day and had our shirts ahead of schedule, in time for the show. The service was incredible, and I sent a letter thanking their president.
Lands End loved our story so much that a week later, they had a photographer contact us to schedule a shoot at the next convention. We had no idea what they were going to do or how they would feature us, but the exposure was remarkable. Not only was Hasselblad in a few million catalogs, but they tied in the logo on a picture of the shirt in a black and white newspaper campaign that ran nationally. They even tied us into the copy with the ad.
Well, last week, my favorite Hasselblad shirt was laid to rest and formally condemned by Sheila. Over the years, it became my BBQ shirt, hanging-around-the-house shirt, and my most favorite to simply slip on to relax. Like an old pair of your favorite shoes - it finally died.
It came out of the dryer, and if you've met my wife, then you know there's no shortage of humor. She printed out a shot of a tombstone with the word "Beloved" and added, "Rest in Peace." I get that it's dead and looks like something worn out of a zombie apocalypse movie, but I still haven't thrown it in the trash! LOL
And here's the fun of Throwback Thursday - the image of all of us in the booth that morning for the photograph brings back so many memories. With each memory comes another story. With each story come smiles and even a tear now and then. While we can never go back, the photographs in our lives create a treasure chest of cherished relationships. They're never-ending reminders of the best part of the journey - the friendships made along the way.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
**And Bob Thompson, next to me in the photograph, is due here tomorrow for a couple of days. You can count on the stories and laughs kicking off the minute he walks in the door!
My apologies for the quality of the image above, but it's Throwback Thursday. The photo is from the 90s, and was a 62KB file. I've tried to clean it up as best I can. It will never win an award for quality, but the booth certainly will!
Bambi Cantrell and I wrote three books together about wedding photography. The image above was her booth at bridal fairs at the time, which she talked about in one of the books. When so many photographers did the minimum with the usual skirted table and a bunch of albums, Bambi was always making a statement.
What's remarkable is how little effort the whole booth took to create. The panels in the back are just painted hollow wood doors with a little added molding and spotters. The floor they set up in advance on plywood sheets, and the rest is just accessories to be inviting.
Bambi was also one of the first photographers to use image boxes for shows like this. While she had albums to show as well, using the image box allowed more than one person to look at her work and not "hog" an album. Plus, it made a point to the audience about other ways to share images from the wedding. She had those big framed prints on display, albums and the image box - all giving the bride more ideas on things to do with the photographs from the wedding.
But here's the point - if you're going to exhibit at ANY show for ANYTHING - make your booth a statement. Go the extra step. I still see companies doing the same thing at trade shows today, and it's always the same. A static display with a staff member or two who are "underwhelming."
Are you looking to make your work stand out and make a great first impression? Don't settle for doing what everyone else is doing!
"It's never crowded along the extra mile!
by Skip Cohen
I apologize for the quality of the images below, but NOT for the memories, they bring back. We've set the Way-Back Machine for the 90s, and it's thanks to Terry Deglau and Bill Burbank. Here's the backstory:
Last weekend I flew to Latrobe, PA, for Terry Deglau's memorial service. I wrote about my good buddy in a previous post, but the fun of the trip was all in the memories it would bring back. Sitting next to Bill Burbank, we started sharing Terry-stories. Out of that conversation came Bill showing me photographs of the two ads above. Bill and Terry were both with Kodak back then - Bill on the creative team and Terry as the marketing manager and industry liaison for the portrait/social side of professional photography.
The two ads above featured two of the industry's most favorite and respected photographers, Ken Whitmire on the left and Al Gilbert on the right. They were featured in full-page ads in Kodak's Fantasy-Reality series featuring VPH and VPS films.
It was a fantastic time in the industry. Film was in its glory; Kodak was a powerhouse, and Terry led the charge. Supported by some of the finest photographers in the world, this ad campaign was just one of the memorable ingredients.
Four years ago, St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, did an evening event featuring Terry's work. Several of us reconnected for the first time in many years, and that's what I love most about this industry, the history. We all share the same love for imaging and as sappy as it sounds, Terry.
The fun of Throwback Thursday is always in the memories old photographs bring back. In terms of imaging, the longer you've been in the industry, the more changes you've seen, especially during the transition of film to digital. New photographers don't realize how small this industry really is - we've all been to the same rubber-chicken dinners together, watched each other's backs, and often worked for the same companies and on various projects.
In terms of my buddy Terry, it's like the Kevin Bacon degrees of separation game, only Terry's at the hub. I couldn't be more proud to have been a part of his life and him a piece of mine.
Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in Ulysses, "I am a part of all that I have met." Well, Terry is a part of so many of us, and as the reverend said in Terry's eulogy, talking about how warm and friendly he was, "Terry never met a stranger!"
Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment,
until it becomes a memory.
by Skip Cohen
I should be embarrassed over my lack of organization of files and images from the past, but for some strange reason, I'm not! Throwback Thursdays, have become one of my favorite posts to share because they're always about memories, and thanks to images I find in my stash. And, so often I'm surprised with what I find.
These are all from WPPI 2007, and I want to apologize to whoever the photographers were. If these are your images, I'll gladly do a second post and give everyone credit. They were all in a file on a disk I downloaded in 2008 and sent to me as a pdf.
WPPI had grown so much that in 2007, we took over both the Bally's and Paris hotels. These are from three different locations on the properties - two different ballrooms for the trade show and outside, near the moving walkway at Bally's.
At the junction of the hallways between the two hotels, there was a display dedicated to Monte Zucker, who passed away earlier that year. Sorry, but I don't remember who pulled everything together for the shadow box on the right, but I know Clay Blackmore and Jeff Medford were involved. You'll also notice an "In Memoriam" portrait of Monte in the Canon booth.
Monte's another wonderful memory who comes rolling back with Throwback Thursday. He was instrumental in so many careers of professional photographers. He was also a key to getting WPPI started at a time when most of the industry didn't see a need for another conference. At that time, none of the organizations recognized part-time photographers. WPPI was originally launched as a foundation to help professional photographers who weren't yet full-time.
Throwback Thursday is about memories, but it's also reinforcement for the career path, so many of us have chosen. Most of the time, I suggest you use throwback images as a marketing tool to remind Mom how fast the kids are growing, etc. But today, why not take the time to look through your stash of old photographs?
It's a great time to appreciate all the memories, and a good day to take a few minutes to enjoy what's in your rearview mirror!
by Skip Cohen
I've shared the backstory on images like this many times before, but if you're new to SCU...
In 2005 Maureen Neises, president of Graphi Studio hit me with an idea - to produce an annual day-in-the-life of WPPI album featuring four different photographers. It was a perfect way to capture different perspectives on the convention each year.
These images were captured by Victor Sizemore, one of four artists telling the WPPI 2007 story. Also joining him that year were Jim Garner, Catherine Hall, and Calvin Hayes.
What I love most about Throwback Thursdays is the journey down Memory Lane each old photograph takes you. Taking a fun look in your rearview mirror now and then is a whole lot of fun. Plus, check out the people in the photographs. I think this was our last year at Paris and Bally's before moving to the MGM Grand.
Throwback photographs are also a great marketing tool, especially for those of you who are children and family portrait artists. A blog post sharing old images is a perfect way to remind Mom how fast the kids are growing up, and her family is changing! And, obviously how it's time for a new family portrait!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
We've postponed the f64 Lunch Bunch for a few weeks. There's so much going on in everybody's lives right now in terms of help and education. However, we're all still here to help and just an email away.
And if you missed the May 6 lunch with Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell - it's pretty amazing. The video is just a click away.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
The pandemic may have moved the dates for 2020 to August 10-13, 2021, but that's NOT slowing Team ClickCon down. Stay tuned for new programs online with ClickCon Nation! It all starts on August 11th.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.