Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.
by Skip Cohen
I rarely, if ever, miss a Sunday Morning Reflections, but this morning biz took over. I'm helping Larry T. with a Platypod presentation this afternoon for CanAm Expo. Then tomorrow night, I'm doing a program for the Professional Photographers of Northeast Ohio with ideas for recovery after the pandemic. However, I don't want to mess up my almost perfect track record.
I might be a little late, but I'm staying off-topic from business and marketing with a theme that's been on my mind a lot lately - listening to my heart. I'm not sure if I can blame it on Melody Beattie because coming out of the pandemic, I've been doing a lot of my own soul-searching. Like many of you, I'm trying to define my business better and strategize over what I'd like to do in the future.
My challenge is - I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!
Listen to the voice of Your Heart by Melodie Beattie.
Cultivate the art of listening to your intuition, your inner voice. This is the guidance of your heart. It's a voice that speaks differently from the one in your head. The heart whispers softly; the head prattles loudly.
The head has an agenda for our lives. It chatters away boldly, but its vision is limited. It leaves no room for the mysterious workings of the universe, nor does it take into account the side trips we need, to get where we're going, where our souls need to go. It's the voice that says, This is the way it's going to be.
The heart, the inner voice, speaks differently. Sometimes it whispers. Sometimes it pulls. Sometimes it pushes. It's spontaneous, in the present moment, and often a surprise. The heart takes into account what has to be done and the best way to do that. The heart takes emotions into account - the way things feel, the way you feel, the wisdom of your soul. The heart leads us into and through the lessons we're here to learn.
Cultivate your inner voice. Practice listening to the whispers of your heart. Practice trusting your intuition, what you really feel, what you really know. Practice until that voice is the one that you hear.
Be patient. Be gentle. Let yourself learn to hear the gentle and trustworthy words of your heart.
Here's the bottom line, we're all in search of confirmation that we're on the right path, but so often, we're searching for answers when all along they're right there in front of us...in our hearts. We just have to learn to listen.
Wishing all of you a day when your heart speaks to you, and you hear it! There's an extraordinary feeling when you know something is right. And with more people getting vaccinated, it's time to get back to those eleven-second hugs I used to write about! So, hug somebody special to you and let them know how important they are in your life.
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the planet.
Image copyright Adam Rainoff. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
I started this series to introduce you to the movers and shakers in the industry. These photographers/artists share their images for various reasons. But there's always one common denominator, their love for the craft.
Adam Rainoff is a conservationist. He describes his passion for travel and adventure as - Empowering Communities by Promoting Sustainable Tourism: I started traveling the world when I was a young boy with my father when he took a job in Venezuela. It opened my eyes to other cultures and the importance to preserve them. The images he shares introduce us to cultures and environments all over the world.
The more of his images I see, the more I find myself living vicariously through his adventures. Follow Adam through his website with links to virtually every platform in social media.
A BIG thanks to Adam for taking the time between trips to join me on "Why?"
Intro by Chamira Young
Whether you're a wedding photographer or a wildlife photographer (or anything in between), it's important to get out of your comfort zone once and a while. Not only does it keep you on your creative toes, but the additional skills you learn from experimental projects may actually come in handy when you're out shooting your main subject matter later. Or, it may simply continue to keep your passion for the craft fresh and fun! In any case, it's worth exploring something difference and a while.
That brings us to today's featured photographer, Frank Kuszaj. A professional real-estate photographer by day, he's a passionate astrophotographer by night. Using his Sony mirrorless camera with the Tamron 70-180mm F/2.8 Di III VXD telephoto lens, he takes amazing captures of the night sky that will take your breath away!
Check out the post below, and take note of the practical tips he gives to those who want to try their own hand at astrophotography. We love that Tamron is making some of the finest optics in photography, while at the same time providing fun, educational content that is second to none!
How to Shoot: Astrophotography
Frank Kuszaj uses the Tamron 70-180mm F/2.8 Di III VXD telephoto lens on his Sony mirrorless camera to capture the deep-space beauty of galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters.
By Jenn Gidman
Images by Frank Kuszaj
During the day, Frank Kuszaj is a professional real-estate photographer. When the sun goes down, however, he looks up toward the sky and into space. “I’ve always loved the stars,” the Missouri photographer, who’s been specializing in night sky photos for about a decade, says. “I remember in 1997, when the Hale-Bopp comet was visible to the naked eye from Earth—I was fascinated.”
Frank has been shooting of late with his Sony mirrorless camera with the Tamron 70-180mm F/2.8 Di III VXD telephoto lens. “First, I like that this lens isn’t too heavy, so it’s easy to carry with me out to the remote areas where I’m shooting,” he says. “Its focal-length range is also handy for astrophotography. I can go somewhat wide at 70mm, but then zoom in to 180mm when I’m doing my deep-sky photos. Plus, when I shoot in crop mode, that 180mm effectively becomes 270mm with the 1.5x crop factor on my Sony’s sensor.”
For those who want to try their own hand at astrophotography, Frank suggests first using a star finder app like Star Walk or Stellarium to help you pinpoint where the Milky Way and other celestial objects will be in the sky and at what time. Checking the weather in advance is also crucial, as clouds that roll in right as you’re about to start shooting can ruin the whole night.
Looking for a place with as little light pollution as possible is also key, perhaps with the help of a dark-sky map. Frank lives in Eureka, a suburb of St. Louis, and he usually heads to a town called Cook Station, about a 2.5-hour drive from home, for his night sky photos. “There’s something called the Bortle Scale, which measures how much light pollution is in different areas, and Cook Station is about a 3 out of 9 (with 9 being the most light pollution, like what you’d find in the middle of a city),” he says. “It’s one of the darkest places in Missouri.”
Once you’re there and ready to shoot, turn off the image stabilization on your camera. Make sure you have a sturdy tripod, as well as a remote camera release or intervalometer. “You don’t want to be touching your camera, to avoid shake,” he says. “I usually have my camera on an intervalometer so it takes the photos automatically. I also have a star tracker, which slowly moves in unison with the rotation of the Earth, so you can take a much longer exposure than you’d normally be able to. A star tracker is especially important when you’re shooting two-, three-, or four-minute-long exposures of galaxies while doing deep-sky photography.”
Read the rest of the post here.
by Skip Cohen
Lately, what I love most about this industry is the challenge of how much I have yet to learn. With each challenge comes a new set of lessons. Yesterday it was practice makes perfect - but as my good buddy, Roberto Valenzuela, reminds his students, only if you practice it right.
While there were a few things I did right, the more significant mistakes were what I did wrong. I was so focused on doing a time-lapse series for the first time that I missed the big picture and should have just shot video. It's only 5-10 minutes once the action starts.
I was down to the wire on this chrysalis attached near the underside of a concrete bench in our backyard. I had problems setting up the camera, but three calls later, another good buddy, Shiv Verma, came through.
I shot in "P" mode because I was in between doing a podcast and a conference call and didn't have time to think through the journey I was about to embark on. However, the Platypod set up with the goosenecks, and two Litra Torch 2.0s was perfect. I was able to get under the chrysalis.
It was a complete failure as a time-lapse video - but learning from my mistakes, I still managed to capture one of nature's most incredible moments!
And like any proud papa - it's a girl!
by Skip Cohen
This is hardly a new topic, but it's based on one an old African proverb. We're just starting to come out of the pandemic, and all of us have been a long way from "smooth seas" over the last fourteen months.
Think about it. The pandemic brought virtually every business to a standstill, especially in photography. But you've had a year to fine-tune your skills, expand your reach in social media, and hopefully diversify a little from your original specialty.
What's exciting right now is the new energy focused on marketing, relationship building, and leadership for those of you no longer willing to sit still! There's a stronger sense of family these days, and combined with the overwhelming need to help clients capture new memories, business is about to start growing again.
Plus, technology has made us stronger as an industry. Think about how we share photographs today - Zoom, Facebook, Facetime, Skype, Google, YouTube, etc. As the economy continues to improve, business will come back, starting with this year's graduations.
Scuba diving is a major passion of mine, and I remember a dive when I first started. We had 6-8 foot swells, and we were in a small boat - I was diving with my buddy, Bob Nunn. The captain looked at us and said, "If you guys can dive in this, you can dive in anything!" I came off the boat green, and Bob left breakfast a half-mile off the Florida coast, but it did make us better divers. It also gave us something to laugh about.
Well, none of us will ever be laughing about the last year but as an industry, we've survived the most brutal of times. Now, Spring seasonality is right around the corner.
What are you doing to let your target audience know you're back? Use your blog, email, the phone and direct mail to get back in touch with your audience. Own your zip code and start knocking on the doors of local businesses to introduce yourself. Look for partners (other companies with the same target audience) and get out to lunch with other artists.
The point is, we've all learned to sail in rough water, and now we're better sailors!
It's time for you to thrive, not just survive!
Chance favors the prepared mind!
by Skip Cohen
Years ago, I started stepping away from marketing and business topics on Sunday mornings, feeling it was my day to write about anything I wanted. Today, I'm staying true to that goal and sharing the pure joy in my role as a new "parent"!
Four years ago, we planted a butterfly garden in the back corner of our yard. We've had plenty of butterflies, but for the first time we spotted a monarch chrysalis a week ago. I got such a kick out of it that I made it my header for my Facebook page.
A few days ago, entirely at random, Sheila went out to check on the new addition. All I heard was, "Get a camera!" So, while I missed the opportunity to get a time-lapse, I did manage to get a few still shots. The first one above is minutes after coming out of the chrysalis. You can see the wings still crumpled up from the confinement. Five minutes later, they were flattened out, and our new addition was flying all over the garden.
It's hard to find the words to describe what we were both feeling as we watched the butterfly emerge. As I wrote the other day, there's something wrong in nature when a butterfly only lives two to six weeks, but a cockroach can go for two years! Regardless, nothing can take away the absurd feeling Sheila and I had at becoming new parents.
My point this morning couldn't be more simple - I almost missed the moment because I was off doing other things. Thanks to Sheila, I was at least there with a camera before the activity was over. There's so much going on in our lives every day; when we don't stop to look around, we miss so many memorable moments.
We are so busy watching out for what is ahead of us,
that we don't take time to enjoy where we are!
Calvin & Hobbs
I know the pandemic has had an impact on all of us. Hunkered down, we've all worked to protect ourselves and our families - but even while isolated, there are still moments to capture, savor and appreciate. Take a minute right now and look around you and look for those "butterflies" about to emerge! Sorry, it's hard not to get sappy with this stuff.
Wishing everybody a perfect day ahead and time to anticipate and be part of memory-making moments. They're all around us if we just change our priorities and notice them.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, and in my hunt for old photographs, I found this classic of my grandparents, folks, and me. And with every old picture comes a series of backstories that simply make me smile. So, here's the inside scoop on a print from the mid-fifties.
So, throwbacks become "waybacks" when they're really old, or they just bring back so many different memories, smiles, and memorable moments. Take the time today and go off on your own hunt for a time capsule that simply makes you smile!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.
by Skip Cohen
We've been working on a butterfly garden for four years, and it's finally taken off. This is the first chrysalis we've seen, and sometime over the next few days, a Monarch butterfly is going to appear. When I shared the image on my Facebook page I mentioned it looks like an ornament missed when the tree was taken down after Christmas.
Butterflies don't live very long, which leads me to wonder how Mother Nature screwed things up. Cockroaches can live for two years, but Monarch butterflies live for 2-6 weeks! Hmmm, only the good die young? Any day now, we're going to watch a Monarch come out of that little pod, which is about the size of a large vitamin.
I know my opening quote above is an obvious lead-in for something about marketing. And while it couldn't be sappier - think about the pandemic chrysalis you've been in for the last year. Now, take it a step further and think about all the opportunities for you and your business to stand out today!
The list of things you can be doing right now goes on and on - and don't forget Father's Day, the start of Summer, owning your zip code, and making the community aware you're there for support! Everyone in business has had the same challenges over the last year, but now is the time to be a leader and work to have your business thrive, not just survive!
By Chamira Young
As visual storytellers, the ability to create high quality video is becoming an increasingly essential skillset to have these days. Whether you're on a Zoom call for a meeting, or taking video footage for your wedding clients, it's essential you know how to leverage this important medium. While most cameras come with the ability to simply flip a switch to record video, there are other components that are also important, such as the lens you choose to use.
That brings us to today's video feature by Tamron Student Ambassador Noah Bullock, titled “L O V E”. It's a short film that features his home town of Dubuque, IA and follows a short story of a couple on their journey to find each other. Footage shows off the versatile capabilities of Tamron’s advanced standard zoom lens 17-70mm F/2.8 Di III VC RXD on a Sony A7III with drone segments to end their story from above. Among it's many qualities, you'll get a firsthand look at the VC stabilization in the film’s panning footage.
As you watch the video below, consider the possibilities for your own business! It's also a great way to get a feel for the 17-70mm's capabilities with video. You can check out more of Noah's work at www.noahbullockphoto.com. We love how Tamron is constantly raising the bar on both imaging and video quality, which in turn helps the industry as a whole!
by Skip Cohen
Long before the pandemic, we'd all experienced online education, but safety and social distancing has created an entirely new level of quality programming over the last year. "E-learning" is a buzzword regularly in our vocabulary. Coming up on April 16-18, circle the dates for CanAm Expo - three days of intense opportunities to help you fine-tune your skillset and raise the bar on the quality of your images.
Sometimes it's tough to figure out which programs are going to meet your needs best. Well, here's one that's destined to be outstanding - great instructors and a platform designed to allow you to raise the bar on your imaging skills with excellent presentations.
I've written a lot over the years about the best thing about our industry being the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. It goes deeper than that because it's also about respect for each artist's skill set, which is often the catalyst for kicking off the friendship in the first place.
Besides teaching great photography, there are three instructors who are great friends of both mine and Platypod's - Rick Friedman, Don Komarechka, and Shiv Verma. All three are teaching at CanAm and putting their best into programs to help you become better at your craft! Click on their headshots below for more information
Plus, there's a special bonus program: Batting "clean up" and wrapping up the conference is Platypod's founder and owner, Larry Tiefenbrunn.
"Dr. T" will be presenting a ninety-minute program on the last day of the conference featuring dozens of photographers using Platypod in a long list of different applications. Together with Shiv Verma, they'll share dozens of "how-to" tips to help change your perspective in portraiture, landscape, wildlife, macro, closeup, and even working with flash.
CanAm Expo offers you an opportunity to learn from thirteen of the movers and shakers in imaging today, all in the comfort of your own surroundings. Great topics and perfect timing for you to sneak in more ideas to help you create even better images for your clients as we approach Spring seasonality.
Remember, hunkering down has been about your health - not about your business or building a stronger skillset!
See you at CanAm Expo!
by Skip Cohen
For me, half the fun of Throwback Thursday is the hunt for old memories. When it comes to photographs and videos too, I've got files, prints, and albums all over the place. Yesterday, in search of something fun to share in today's throwback post, I ran across a folder from my last party with the industry's dream team - the staff of WPPI and Rangefinder Magazine.
While a few key people are missing, this was the team that took the company to record highs. The March 2009 issue of Rangefinder Magazine broke 350 pages. WPPI grew to be the largest professional photographic show in the industry, hitting an attendance of somewhere around 15,000 that year. That was also the year, with Nikon's help, we took over the MGM's Garden Arena for a live concert with Blues Traveler.
It was twelve years ago today I gave the owner of the company sixty days notice that I was leaving to start my own company. The decision was later made to leave earlier, but I was a "lame duck for the next two weeks."
Webster's Dictionary defines "lame duck" as one whose position or term of office will soon end. It was a strange time, but the party at my place, just a couple of days before moving, puts the biggest smile on my face. Watch the video and you should recognize a lot of the team from those days and the industry today!
Three days later, I was on my way east with Molly the Wonder Dog. The movers had picked up everything, except they refused to take any bottles of liquor or wine, so Molly's bed in the front seat was on top of a couple of dozen bottles of liquor!
We were in Ohio just a few days later. By May, my new company was established, and the adventure began. I chose Ohio because Sheila and I were moving in together, and she was in Ohio. Plus, starting a new business in California, my taxes alone would have been more than the income the first year.
My best advice this Throwback Thursday is to go on your own hunt. Find some of those old images that simply make you smile and bring back those incredible memories. After being somewhat isolated over the last year, all those special memories out there are waiting for your energy. Best of all, as things get better in terms of the pandemic, more and more memory-making moments are going to come back!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
by Skip Cohen
I'm not sure the opportunities for senior photographers have ever been greater than they are for this upcoming graduation season.
To start, think about what these kids have gone through for the last year, compared to what all of us experienced when we were kids. Now, add the opportunities for creativity with seniors and the upcoming graduations, which appear to be scheduled LIVE in most communities around the country.
Last but not least, think about how senior photography has grown in the previous decade. We've come a long way from when I was a kid, or even my kids were seniors a generation later. (This is where I get to share my senior head shot each year - complete with clip on tie and glasses that hid my uni-brow!)
Senior photography today captures the subject's personality, with images often telling a story about their interests, hobbies, and even dreams for the future.
These kids deserve every opportunity you can create for them to help celebrate. So, do you offer grad cards? Grad cards represent one of the best tools you have to help families celebrate and appreciate images you captured and created despite the challenges during the pandemic.
Think back to the pride you had in the quality of the senior portraits you captured. Now it's time to put them to the very best use and create more ways to share the memories!
And yes, this is an infomercial for an outstanding product - grad cards! I love the way photographers can work with Marathon Press and extend the celebration for the class of 2021. Find out more with a click on the banner below, and make sure you check out Marathon's BOGO promotion going on through May 31, 2021.
by Skip Cohen
It's a short post this morning with a point that's so perfect for today!
Koi are beautiful but put a few hundred together in a pond, and they all look the same. None of them truly stand out.
Well, that's exactly what's happening in business right now, especially in photography. Everyone is in the same boat, battling similar challenges. Too often they're trying to rebuild business with the same old products and services.
If you're going to stand out, you've got to bring something new to the party! You've got to position yourself as a leader in your community. You need to start planting seeds of ideas on memory-makers. You need to take advantage of all the creative ways out there to reach your target audience. The pandemic took a lot away from every business owner, but it doesn't have to impact your creativity and marketing skills.
Seasonality in photography is right around the corner with graduation, proms, Mother's Day, and Father's Day. While most of what the pandemic did was painful, there's a new stronger sense of family today. There's a greater demand for family portraiture and you can help put the pain of the last year on a back burner.
As photographers, you're magicians. You take intangible moments and turn them into memories your clients can hold in their hands for a lifetime! I wrote this the other day in a post - think about the last year. What's grandma missed the most? Her family - and what better time for an updated family portrait?
If you're stuck for ideas of what to do this season - you know where to find me. There are so many opportunities for you to be a leader.
In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.
Keep up your enthusiasm.
There is nothing more contagious than exuberant enthusiasm.
by Skip Cohen
Eugene Manning joins us in the Tamron kitchen this month. His focus is all on fashion photography. Based out of NYC, he's in one of the most competitive markets in the world for fashion. But as you'll pick up in the podcast, nothing slows down his love for the craft or goal to keep raising the bar on the quality of his images.
Over the last almost two and a half years, we've shared chefs' stories from so many different "cuisines," but Eugene is our first exclusively from the fashion world. He shares a lot of great insight into his craft, especially the importance of relationship building.
Chef Eugene's recipe is a click away, which we shared last week. Eugene was shooting with Tamron's SP 90mm F2.8 Di VC USD Macro lens. Just click on the banner at the bottom for more information about this remarkable piece of glass! Follow Eugene on his Instagram page; He shares both new images and information about his shooting schedule regularly.
As things start to improve, There are so many levels of freedom we're all realizing we took for granted. But the pandemic has also created opportunities to demonstrate leadership and have your work stand out from the crowd. Tamron never slows down making great products with the quality needed to help raise the bar on your images.
Remember, "hunkering down" is about your health, not about your business, skill set, or your creativity!
Spring Savings! In need of great optics and new gear? Check out Tamron's new Spring savings program going on until May 2, 2021.
Images copyright Eugene Manning. All rights reserved.
Obstacles don't have to stop you.
If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up.
Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and almost a year ago, I shared the thoughts behind this post. Sadly, as we come out of the pandemic and things start to improve, there are still too many business owners struggling with where to start first. In some cases, they're genuinely confused, having spent too much time hunkered down from their business.They spent too much time being sad, frustrated, and angry - the result, is that deer-in-the-headlights look.
It's all understandable, but the pandemic has created a unique opportunity for leadership in your community. NOW is the time to step up and make the noise needed to remind people of the importance of memories and getting things back in focus (pun intended).
It's time to step out of analysis paralysis. I want to help you get back on track, and right now, you don't need to analyze anything. Stop worrying about what to do, and simply start taking action. The one common denominator for everyone is questioning the best ways to start getting business back on track.
Best of all - we're coming into Spring seasonality. LIVE graduations are taking place all over the country; Mother's Day and Father's Day are coming up, along with Easter. The importance attached to memories has never stopped - just the ability to capture them. And what's Grandma missed the post during the pandemic? Her family - and that makes the need for a new family portrait even greater.
This isn't meant to be a long, drawn-out "how-to" post this morning, but plant a few seeds to get you to start taking action:
Here's the bottom line - you're the only one who can impact rebuilding your business, but it takes focus. You know how to hold focus with your camera, and now it's time to take an intense look at your business. Everything has changed because of the pandemic, but that doesn't mean business isn't out there!
The pandemic is far from over, but things are improving. The risk and fears that goes along with Covid-19 aren't going to disappear, but there is a greater emphasis on family. And as more people are vaccinated, business is starting to pick up again - you can either be on the sidelines and watch the parade go by, or you can be in it!
by Skip Cohen
It's a typical Sunday, and while I'm off-track from marketing and business, my thoughts this morning will hit home with many of you.
One of the only publications I read anymore, which comes in hard copy every week, is The Week. My Dad got me started years ago, and it's my ongoing link to the outside world. In last week's publication in their regular feature called "The Last Word," the article shared profile stories of what people feel after a year in isolation.
The article originally appeared in The Washington Post and was used with permission in The Week. The title of the article was "One year of isolation," and the subtitle says it all:
At the anniversary of the pandemic, said The Washing Post, we have all had to get used to living apart. These are some of the stories of a year in which travel, school, ceremonies, and even touch disappeared.
I'm sharing only the subtitles related to each person in the article to set the stage for my point this morning.
Well, the article was incredibly reflective. It got me thinking about the last year and what I've missed the most. We're an industry built on a foundation of capturing memories. Yet memory-making moments suddenly became so limited. There were minimal opportunities to capture. But for me, most of all I've missed contact with friends.
It's that excitement in the air at a convention and the hugs that come with seeing people you've missed. I've mastered Zoom, Skype, and even Facetime - but nothing beats a live hug. Nothing tops the laughter and pure joy of reuniting with people you love, respect, and have shared chapters of your life with.
But over the last year, the glass was always half full, and in place of that time directly with friends, Sheila and I found we grew a little closer every day. We got to know each other better, and the two pups became a project to maintain the change in lifestyle and loss of freedom.
So, what's the piece of the puzzle over the last year you missed the most?
The pandemic's grip is slowly loosening, and we're getting back to normalcy, but I'm not sure what normal really is after the last year. There's certainly a deeper appreciation for so many things we took for granted.
Wishing everybody a day to recover those pieces of your puzzle you've been missing for the last thirteen months. Make it a day to bring back great memories and, most important of all, more smiles in your life. And let's get back to those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I used to write about.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Here's what happens when you cross Throwback Thursday with a great friendship, and then, like a chef, add a little good advice for seasoning! My good buddy, Scott Bourne, shared the post below eight years ago, and I shared it again in 2017.
But here's where there's a twist - the pandemic has changed everything in business today. Right now, your most effective marketing tool is relationship building. Advertising, publicity, promotions, community involvement, a great skill set, etc., all play essential roles. However, everyone has been hunkered down for the past year, and as we slowly get back to a level of normalcy, your customer needs to hear from you - NOW!
The fun of sharing a Marketing Monday kind of post on a Throwback Thursday is pulling old photographs from your stash. From the first Skip's Summer School in 2009 to the SCU blog and dozens of projects in between, Scott Bourne has been an incredible influence, sounding board, and truly good friend.
In 2013 at Skip's Summer School in Chicago, one of the classes focused on video skills, created a short film featuring Scott and me as battling competitors. It was a lot of fun to do, except for one component where the class missed a beat - using copyrighted music. So, while the video never saw the light of day to the public, this is one of my favorite still images from the project.
Scott and I met years ago in my Hasselblad days, but not until 2009 did the friendship take off. We started working together on so many different projects, including writing "Going Pro," which is still one of the best books ever written about getting started in the photography business.
To Scott's point about caring about your customers in his guest post below - you can't truly care about them if you don't know them! All the answers on how to build a successful business are out there - you just need to listen to your target audience and understand what's most important to them!
Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
by Scott Bourne
If you want to sell photography (or anything else) you should spend more time caring about what your customers care about and less about everything else.
Your customers don't care what your Klout score is, which of your lenses is the sharpest or which brand you shoot with. Your customers care about having photographs that make them (and their families) look good. That's it. That's all.
The online camera forums are full of discussions about photography but, not the people who buy photography. Want to stand out? Want to get ahead of your peers, including those with nicer gear and more experience than you? Simply start caring about your customers. Put all your focus (pun intended) on them and their needs. This is NOT about you. This IS about them. The sooner you realize that - the sooner you'll start to thrive as a professional photographer.
Let the nerds in the photo forums duke it out about which lens is sharper. You go out and make your customers happy by paying attention to their needs and making them look their best. You'll win every time.
by Skip Cohen
When Chamira Young and I started this series, the idea of comparing photographers to great chefs just seemed like a novel approach. After all, just like your favorite cuisines, there's always a chef involved, creating the presentation and the flavors. Even the legendary portrait artist, Don Blair, used to refer to using a hair-light as the "garlic-light," always stressing that you only needed a small amount.
Like great chefs, the photographers we've featured are passionate about their work and love for the craft. Fashion photographer Eugene Manning joins us this month, and his passion for the craft matches any great chef you've ever heard about.
The process of featuring a photographer starts with a phone call. We wanted to feature Eugene after a story about his work was featured in the Tamron Newsletter. (You need to sign up for this publication if you don't already receive it.)
Eugene and I talked, and a few days later he sent me several of his favorite images. Loving black and white, like so many of us do, I decided to try something a little different and feature two of his favorite photographs side by side. While the pandemic has changed so much in our lives, it hasn't slowed down Eugene's quest to capture and create!
Early into this series, I started having fun finding a quote that seemed to fit each artist. It's often based on what comes out of that first phone call. Eugene was excited about the Tamron Recipes concept, and combined with his enthusiasm for imaging it wasn't hard to find a quote that fits.
Keep up your enthusiasm.
There is nothing more contagious than exuberant enthusiasm.
About Chef Eugene: Eugene's based out of one of the most competitive fashion markets in the world, New York, and without question, he focuses just as much on his skillset as he does relationship building with each subject. His work has been featured in Elle India and L'Officiel Baltic plus Vogue Italia's "PhotoVogue" curated fine art website.
About the Images: I love the images for different reasons; for example, the texture of the garment in "Cyrene" is just amazing, as well as the hint of skin. I am my own worst critic, and while I love the image, I use it to remind myself that I have a lot further to go. I would have shot it differently today.
For "Kinetic Energy," I love the movement in Lailanni's hair, and the peacefulness in her face. Lailanni is another very gorgeous model, and we wanted to create an image that was interesting and would have people stop scrolling and look at it. In contrast with "Cyrene," I really love the final image, and I'm happy with how it came out; I'd only make a few minor tweaks.
There's something interesting in Eugene's comments about both images - his quest to keep growing his skill set. Again, think about our comparison to a fine chef - not satisfied with the flavors he put together, he's continuing on a quest for different results. Each Tamron "Chef" has shared the importance of their growth and the never-ending changes they've seen in their own work over the years. It's all part of the journey!
Take the time to visit Chef Eugene's Instagram page. He's regularly sharing images from his fashion shoots.
The pandemic may have changed travel plans for many of us attending the various first quarter conventions each year, but that isn't stopping Tamron from being accessible! Online and off, in small programs around the country, they support imaging artists as best they can. Check out their listing of local events, all within the appropriate safety and physical distancing guidelines.
The lens Eugene used for the image above was the SP 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro. Click on the thumbnail to the right for more information, and join us on his podcast next week when he'll talk about why he wanted to use this particular lens on a fashion shoot.
With more and more people getting the vaccine, things are starting to open up a little more each day. However, that doesn't change my need to remind you about staying focused on your skills and business.
Hunkering down is about your health, NOT about growing as an artist and expanding your skillset. Nothing grows if you stay in your comfort zone. That means the downtime you're still experiencing is an opportunity to raise the bar on the quality of your images.
Stay active in social media and spend time with your camera in your hands every day, capturing images for your most important client...YOU!
Only when normal things are not normal anymore,
do we realize how special normal things are.
by Skip Cohen
I'm staying true to my one consistent rule on posting Sunday Morning Reflections - they're never directly about business. I always run amuck, rarely with any preconceived idea of where I'm going!
Today is definitely a celebration and one that I hope many of you are repeating now and into the weeks ahead. For the first time in over a year, we had a return to normal last night with good friends Rose and Nairn' at a favorite restaurant in Sarasota. Four good friends who hadn't seen each other in over a year because of the pandemic - but dinner in a normal setting, lots of laughs, a drink or two, and truly a celebration.
Ironically, it was also the first day of Spring. Like pictures people have been sharing of trees in bloom this weekend, a great friendship also came back to life! We didn't lose touch, but being hunkered down, we so missed the contact. Masks in and out of the restaurant, but once at our table, the outside world disappeared.
We're a long way from what normal used to be, but those first "baby steps" were terrific, right down to no masks, hugs and clinking glasses.
The world is a long way from getting back to normal, but with all four of us having both vaccine shots, for an evening, the pain, sadness, and loss of freedom over the last year disappeared in a wave of love and friendship. I'm big on metaphors, especially on Sunday mornings - it was the light at the end of the tunnel we've all been waiting for - now it's time for the rest of the world to catch up. I've written a lot over the years about the importance of friendships, but it wasn't until we lost access to our friends did I really appreciate how vital they are to the richness of our lives.
Wishing all of you a day filled with smiles and especially hugs with friends who have had their shots! It seems like a funny way to say it - but your health and safety still need to be kept in focus. However, there's no way to describe the feeling of how a jumpstart helps to get your emotional battery back to a full charge!
And to Rose and Nairn' - sure do love you guys.
Happy Sunday - Happy Spring - Happy Journey on the way back to NORMAL!
by Skip Cohen
Once upon a time, there was a Fortune 500 company called Polaroid. They represent 17 1/2 years of my photography career and the foundation for so many things I believe in when it comes to business today. Well, a chapter from the past, going back to my Chicago days, bubbled to the surface a week ago.
Here's another fun aspect to social media, and especially Facebook. Lori Hawk is a photographer based out of Kentucky. She collects cameras and recently received a Polaroid SX-70 for her collection. In with the camera was the service card below.
She recognized my name and sent me an IM on Saturday morning. A phone call later, we had determined the camera had been repaired twice, once in 1980 and again in 1985.
Most people don't know that the first production run of the SX-70 camera was over 300% defective. Each camera came back repeatedly for service. If the Internet had been around then, Polaroid would have gone out of business! Instead, thanks to an amazing man, Jon Wolbarst, a Polaroid VP, who had responsibility for Customer Service, Polaroid became a leader in consumer support. We were one of the most pro-active and recognized corporate service departments in the industry.
Jon felt Customer Service was the company's conscience and never eased up on manufacturing or the company executives to stay pro-active, always fighting for the customer. The response card above went out with every repaired camera. We needed to make sure our service was the very best!
They were so worried about a class-action suit that we made "roving rep" calls, heading out on personal visits to those consumers who screamed the loudest. We made house-calls to teach people how to use the camera.
I was based out of Chicago and got a call one night to fly to Detroit the next day to meet with a woman who couldn't take a decent picture. It was because she could barely see, and the camera had an incredibly sensitive follow-focus system. So, with flash, if she took a picture of me and focused on my ears, the front of my face would be completely blown out.
To help correct the problem initially, they added the distance scale on the front of the lens. Later on, the technology changed, so the problem eventually disappeared.
A BIG thanks to Lori for helping to keep the world a tiny place. What a kick to be contacted with this snippet from my history. I was with Polaroid from 1970 to 1987 and based out of the service center outside Chicago from 1976 - 1981.
There's nothing like a trip down Memory Lane to make you smile!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
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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.