by Skip Cohen
Years ago, Hasseblad's legendary Ernst Wildi told me the biggest difference between amateur and pro photographers is that amateurs show you ALL of their shots! I'll spare you the first fifty attempts at a family selfie for our holiday portrait, but it's the process that was so memorable. Although we liked one of all of us looking at the camera - the fun for the next portrait will be in a video!
I used the LUMIX G9 with the 14-140mm lens, one Litra Torch 2.0, and had it all set up on a MeFOTO Classic tripod. Very minor post-processing was done in Luminar with cropping and a light tweak in the saturation. Last on the list was using the Panasonic Image App on my phone. I've used it before on videos but not with an attempted portrait. I wound up using it to start the process but set the camera on delayed shutter so we could try to get the pups both looking in the right direction and get my phone out of the shot.
All of you know I'll never profess to be a pro, and while I know more than I let on, it took us fifty+ shots to get the one we wanted to share. Most of you would probably get it in far less. But the biggest challenge and most laughs came in trying to get Lucy and Belle both looking in the direction of the lens. I know it's old school, but our idea started as a posed family portrait.
Panasonic's slogan is "Changing Photography," and they've stayed true to that commitment. Check out the G9 and 14-140mm lens with a click on either product below.
It's the last "Mirrorless Monday" of 2019 - and what a year it's been. With posts shared by some of the most talented artists and educators in the world, we've shared new images all year long. Panasonic never slows down in manufacturing new products and giving photographers everywhere an opportunity to capture stunning images and raise the bar on their skill set.
Check out the LUMIX photographers page on Facebook, and if you haven't visited your local LUMIX retailer recently, check out the full line. The new full-frame S series is remarkable. and like everything Panasonic manufactures, represents the best in imaging!
Wishing everybody a Happy and Health New Year!
Images copyright Ken Hubbard. All rights reserved.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life,
and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do!
by Skip Cohen
Each "chef" who's joined us has shared a different journey in their quest to be an artist and photographer. A few episodes back, I started adding a quote that seemed relevant to some aspect of each guest in the Tamron Kitchen.
Ken Hubbard is the epitome of somebody who truly loves the craft. And while it sounds so simplistic - imaging runs through his veins. When I found the Steve Jobs quote above, it screamed Ken's name.
If you wander through Tamron's YouTube channel, you'll find video after video featuring Ken. It's not just photography that runs through his veins, but a love for education. Catch up to him in Tamron's always busy booth at any convention, and you'll immediately notice his willingness to help other photographers raise the bar on their skill set.
In this new podcast, Ken shares a lot about his journey in photography. And while he obviously has a serious respect for the tools Tamron's brought to the industry, he's always pushing the edge of the creative envelope looking for ways to use their products other artists haven't yet tried. He also shared a lot about his love for varying the landscape of subjects he has an opportunity to photograph. I loved the two images we chose for his first Recipes post - from wild mustangs to a stunning portrait of a musician, Ken's experience covers everything!
As Tamron USA's Field Services Manager, Ken needs to be comfortable in working with every Tamron lens. And think about his role within the industry. He's also got to understand the challenges every specialty faces with the variety of subjects photographers capture.
We featured two of Ken's favorite lenses in this episode, and while they're both SP zooms, the subjects couldn't be farther apart. The mustangs were captured with the SP 150-600mm and Slim Fatz with the 70-200mm. Ken's skill set shines through on both.
"Chef" Ken's recipe is a click away if you missed it when it was first posted. Just click on the thumbnails to the right for more information about both lenses Ken used for the images. Plus, there are only a few days left for Tamron's Instant Holiday Savings program.
If you haven't visited your local Tamron dealer, it's time to check out the entire family of Tamron lenses. And keep track of Ken's classes, images, and his schedule with a click on any of his images in today's post. He's always sharing great content on his Facebook page and on Instagram, and his travel schedule matches most photographer's bucket lists! LOL
Tamron is manufacturing some of the finest glass in photography. You owe it to your clients and yourself to capture images with the very best tools available!
Put Tamron's ongoing events on your radar with a click on the banners above! As soon as the new year is underway you'll find the schedule jam-packed with great programming throughout the year.
by Skip Cohen
This is it gang, the last Sunday Morning Reflections post of 2019! It's been quite a year, jam-packed with a lot of emotional moments. What I started to think about as I was writing was how so many of you look at the close of one year and the start of a new one as a clean slate. The truth is, the only fresh start to the new year and end of the old one is with your taxes. Everything else in life is a rolling average.
As you're thinking about the new year, there is no "clean slate" if you keep doing everything the same way. And, unlike your accountant who can help you with financial decisions, the only one who can truly change the new year ahead in terms of more smiles and less frowns is YOU!
Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams
than you are to your comfort zone.
There it is - the key to what helped many of you in 2019. You started taking your dreams more seriously. You started listening to your heart just as much as your head.
I know for me personally, I found myself working to change some of the self-destructive behaviors I was doing. They were never intentional, but more self-fulfilling prophecies, following the philosophy of - if you define something as hopeless, then it will be. And, I could only let go of that feeling by finding better points of focus on other things I wanted to do.
Here's my point this morning - If you want today to be better than yesterday, than do something different. Stop living life in "P" mode! My buddy Gareth Rockliffe talked about this concept in a Beyond Technique podcast in July. It's worth listening to.
Years ago, back in my Hasselblad days, a photographer came to our booth at PPE. He asked to be set up with everything Denis Reggie used. We gave him the list - camera, lenses, and accessories. He went off to his favorite dealer and bought it all. A year later, he was back in the booth and laid out a stack of proofs and screamed, "These don't look anything like Reggie's work!"
Most of you know this already - it's not the gear that makes the artist. Sure, it contributes, but he'd shot EVERYTHING at the same aperture and shutter speed. He barely understood depth of field, let alone composition, exposure, and anticipating the decisive moment to click the shutter. He never left his comfort zone!
And that brings me full circle to what made 2019 a great year for most of us and how we can make 2020 a fantastic year - get out of our comfort zones.
Wishing everyone a perfect day filled with family, friends, and wrapping up the year with plenty of smiles. 2020 is right around the corner. If you truly want to make it a "NEW" year, think about things you can do differently while listening to your heart more often! As always, go for those long hugs with the people who mean the most to you and stay focused on things that make you happy.
Have a great Sunday or Monday, depending on where you are in the world!
Whether I share old photographs in a blog post or not, I never miss the fun of Throwback Thursday. It's an opportunity to look in the rearview mirror and appreciate everyone who's been a part of my life. There's a great quote I've shared many times in the past by Alfred Lord Tennyson:
"I am a part of all that I have met."
All of the people and events in our lives are the secret ingredients making us who we are. Whether they were good times, hard times, or just plain bad times, they've contributed to things we do today. They're all a part of what makes each of us unique.
Going back to 1999, one of the holiday "events," that I love looking back on, was a good old fashioned towel fight with my Dad. When they first started, I was probably only twelve, and my mother would be screaming, "Ralph, don't hurt him!" Dad would laugh until he cried regardless of whether he was handing out the snap or receiving it! Years later, Mom would be screaming, "Skip, don't hurt your father!"
I know I shared a couple of these in a post about my Dad a few years back, but it's holiday time. Turning back the clock and savoring those moments from the past is a little bit about what the holidays are all about.
It's a time to cherish those family traditions and moments out of the past that help keep family and friends we've lost immortal. And when I look at these images, I can hear my Dad laughing, and all of us behaving like the lunatics we were.
Being in the industry and business owners, it's so easy to forget the power photographs have to turn back the clock. We get caught up in the day-in-day-out stress of business and forget our product line isn't really about photography, but being magicians and helping people capture memories allowing them to turn back the clock in seconds!
From the recipes that grandma made to looking back at memorable times together, give yourself a holiday moment before the end of the year and enjoy a trip down Memory Lane!
by Skip Cohen
Another year is rapidly coming to a close. This has always been my favorite time of year, and very few people get into the spirit of the holidays like me. It's simply a wonderful time, especially when you peel off that outer layer of commercialism we've all been subjected to since October!
As I've gotten older, I've noticed how fast time seems to go by. Everybody says it's all part of aging, but the truth is it's more about how much we take time for granted. It's our most valuable commodity, and all of us waste a little every day. We need to do a better job of savoring time and appreciating the journey all of us are on.
So, whether you're lighting the third candle tonight for Chanukah, or celebrating Christmas Eve, Sheila and I wish all of you a holiday season filled with love, peace, smiles and time to savor all the good things in your life.
Sheila found this quote by St. Therese, which is non-denominational in its message, and I love it!
“May today there be peace within.
May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.
May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content with yourself just the way you are.
Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us."
So from our house to yours and my keyboard to your screen...
Image copyright Larry Becker. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
Although we've been a little off the schedule on regular posts for "Why?" with too many other projects over the last few months, that doesn't change the reason I love this series. It was started to introduce you to the movers and shakers in imaging, artists who consistently make a difference.
We're getting back on a more regular schedule. With today's post there are now 127 photographers featured in the series, with a long list of new posts to share. Stay tuned - there are a lot more coming! If you missed any of the "Why?" featured artists in the past, they're all just a click away.
Today it's time to meet Larry Becker. Although we've known about each other a good portion of our careers, Larry and I kicked off the friendship a couple of months ago. Larry lives in Lakeland, Florida, and we've found a great little place to catch up once a month for lunch that's halfway for both of us.
Larry's skill set covers a little of everything. He's an artist, photographer, podcaster, writer, and educator. You can catch him regularly on the Picturing Success Podcast. You'll also see him on The Grid from time to time, and find him at conventions and workshops all over the US. Just recently, he created the short video piece on simple product photography below for Platypod.
Larry Becker needs to be on your radar. You can follow him through the Picturing Success Podcast. Just click on the banner below.
Image copyright Paul Mango. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
It's "Mirrorless Monday," and last week LUMIX Ambassador, Paul Mango, shared this image from NYC. It was captured with a GX85 and Rokinon 7.5mm F3.5 lens. The exposure triad was F/8 @ 1/6 ISO 3200.
One of the fun aspects of sharing great images here in the SCU blog is the recipes that go into the photographs. I've been shooting with a GX85 for the last couple of years. I love the fact that's it's small and takes interchangeable lenses. It's got most of the features the LUMIX family has become known for and perfect for simply having a camera with you when you're out and about.
Another fun ingredient with Paul's shot is the addition of a Platypod. Platypod changes your perspective, and Paul wrote:
"I'm having a ton of fun with my Platypod in NYC and it fits perfectly in my pocket. Combined with the LUMIX GX85, it's the ultimate pairing for lightweight awesomeness."
Need a little inspiration? Follow Paul and the other members of the LUMIX Ambassador team. They're always sharing great content as one of the most diverse groups of photographers in our industry. And, check out the LUMIX Photographers Facebook page with images being shared every day from 7,000+ photographers all over the world!
If you don't know about Platypod, the website is just a click away, But, even better is this short video by Jay P. Morgan. The tripod isn't dead - it just needs a new sidekick!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and if you follow me regularly, then you've noticed a pattern of me whining about the puppies and being up at 6:15 am every morning. And while I was always an early riser, Lucy and Belle have created a new pattern in our home. And Sunday mornings, which used to be outrageously quiet with Molly the Wonder Dog asleep at my feet, are long gone - but that's not bad.
I want to go right to my point this morning...we're down to the wire. Christmas is only three days away. Chanukah starts tonight. And the start of a new year is in ten days. What are you going to do to close the year differently than you have in the past? What's the plan to kick off the new year differently than you've done before?
There's that old line about if you do what you've always done, you'll never get more than you ever got. Well, I don't want New Year's day to just me another morning. I want 2020 to be a different kind of year. One of my most favorite quotes from Zig Ziglar goes:
“Your attitude, not aptitude, will determine your altitude”
Here's what I've already started doing:
I've written about this so many times over the years - you've got to feed your brain and your heart with more than photography and business. You'll never keep your perspective if the only thing you feed every day is your stomach!
And there you have it, the way I hope to build a daily foundation that has a routine of predictability combined with a quick super-charge. And if you hate the idea of reading Melody Beattie, then hit google for inspirational quotes, YouTube for motivational videos, or pick a few of your favorite artists to follow.
Oh, and there's one more great ingredient - there's always music on in our house. There are five Alexas playing all day long, and our musical tastes range from classical to Celtic Women to James Taylor and Crosby, Stills and Nash - you never know what Sheila and I are going to need to help keep our energy focused.
Wishing everybody a terrific day ahead, whether it's Sunday where you are or Monday. Make it a day that helps set the stage for the new year, but keep things in perspective. You're only one person, and there's only so much you can do. Most important of all - don't be afraid to ask for help when you seem to hit the wall! Always go for those eleven-second hugs with the people most important to you.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
With just eleven days left in the year, this is one of those Fast Food Friday posts to remind you of things you might have missed along the way in building your business and wrapping up the year. Most of you are right-brain creative types with a focus on your images and clients, rather than running your business.
That's the reason I started this series in the first place - to remind you of little things you could do to establish a stronger presence. Most of the entrees in the SCU Diner have all been quick, easy ideas to raise the bar on how you're perceived in the community, along with tips to make your business more successful.
This morning is simply the equivalent of a buffet or a big salad bar!
The year may be quickly coming to a close, but you still have time for a positive impact on your business in the home stretch!
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.
Image copyright Ken Hubbard. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
It's been one of those years where I feel like I'm trapped in an old Hollywood movie, and the hands of the clock are spinning out of control! It's December, and since Chamira Young and I started this series, we've introduced you to another artist each month since January. We've learned so much from some of the best imaging "chefs" in the world. As I've written in the past, they're artists, educators, writers, and passionate about their careers and love for the craft.
This month, we're finishing out the year with one of my favorite "Chefs," Ken Hubbard, Field Services Manager for Tamron USA. He's no stranger to SCU, and his work has been featured many times over the last six years.
Ken actually lives in the "Tamron Kitchen", and we're so excited about him joining us that I wanted to share two of his images. I love the fact that he chose black and white photographs. I'm a huge fan of black and white because there's no distraction of color. Don't get me wrong, I've loved all the images we've shared this year, but there's something about the power of Ken's two choices for this post.
Image copyright Ken Hubbard. All rights reserved.
In these two new Recipes, Ken is using Tamron's SP150-600mm Di VC USD G2 with the wild mustangs, and with the portrait of musician, Slim Fatz, he's using the Tamron SP70-200mm Di VC USD G2 lens. The links to both lenses are below and it's a bonus this month to share two BTS videos involved with both images.
With every Tamron Recipes post, I always manage to find a quote that fits our guest "chef." The quote below is Ken, through and through.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life,
and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do!
About "Chef" Ken: Ken is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, educator, manager, and friend to so many of us in the industry. All you need is one minute with him, and you know you've met somebody who loves what he does!
Visit Tamron's booth at any of the major trade shows, and you'll find Ken at the counter - helping photographers raise the bar on their work. He's always approachable and worth waiting for if you caught him in the mad rush of people often in the Tamron booth.
Part II of Ken's recipe series will air next Tuesday. You can be sure we'll get into the backstories about both of these images.
Ken needs to be on your radar - follow everything he's working on and where's he headed through his Facebook page. He's always sharing great content.
Part of the fun of this Tamron series is the artist is sharing the experience. The BTS videos below will give you more insight into Ken's work and the circumstances that put him on the scene with both images. I hope you'll watch both these short videos and enlarge them full screen to really appreciate the story-lines.
Photographing the wild mustangs Ken wrote: Capturing them interacting with each other, running wild as fast as they can and just standing about next to each other was phenomenal...They started to kick up some dirt, rear up on their hind legs and jostle about...All I could do at that point was press the shutter, tell myself don’t stop just keep firing and hope that I didn't run out of media space...No matter how long you have been capturing images, that feeling you get when you nailed the moment is still the same and will always be incredible.
Ken wraps up 2019 as our twelfth guest "chef" in the Tamron kitchen. Join us on the next Tamron Tuesday when Chamira Young and I will be sharing our conversation with "Chef" Ken in another new podcast. You can be sure Ken will be sharing a lot of great insight into his career in photography, and especially the hundreds of phenomenal artists he's worked with over the years and how he's developed his own remarkable skill set.
Tamron never slows down manufacturing some of the finest glass in photography. Their tech team is on the road all year long, helping photographers become great "chefs." There are some outstanding holiday savings at your Tamron retailer. Both lenses are part of a special holiday program going on right now!
Finding your local Tamron Dealer is just a click away.
by Skip Cohen
It's Mirrorless Monday and also the home-stretch of the holiday shopping season. If you're thinking about an incredible camera to add to your gear, the new full-frame LUMIX S1H is it. But my post this morning isn't meant to be a sales pitch on the camera as much as it is to get you to check out the way Panasonic's told the story.
The under three-minute "Sizzle Reel" is just that - all sizzle! It's a composite piece of shorts from four different films, each by a different artist. But the common denominators are their creativity and putting the S1H through the paces! It's worth your time just to be inspired by the quality of the images, each artist's approach to making their short film, and the way Panasonic's told the story.
How would you tell your story?
Panasonic's tagline is "Changing Photography." Well, they've gone well beyond that and are changing imaging. From still images to filmmaking, they never slow down providing more creative tools artists need to capture, and create the ultimate story!
The LUMIX team needs to be on your radar! Follow the LUMIX Ambassadors for great content and a lot of terrific diversity. Each Ambassador has a unique skill set, but the common denominators are their love for the craft and respect for quality and creativity. And whether you currently shoot with LUMIX cameras or not, check out the LUMIX Facebook group. There's always great content being shared by over seven thousand photographers from all over the world!
Just a reminder - I always go off-track from the business and marketing of photography on Sunday mornings. Although, this morning there is a link - at least in terms of chasing your goals and dreams...
I'm almost back to those quiet Sunday mornings I used to refer to. They just start a little later, and after puppy time. I've learned a lot over the last thirty-nine days, twenty-one hours and eleven minutes, but who's counting?
The backstory is a short one. We lost Molly the Wonder Dog to Cancer in February. It took a long time to stop missing her, and just over five weeks ago, we decided it was time to bring a pup back into our life.
Here's the key to the smile in my heart and the bags under my eyes. Sheila wanted a small dog and one that wasn't with me all the time. I wanted a bigger dog - so somehow our logic suggested TWO dogs. While we started looking at rescues, we wanted non-shedding small dogs, joining the family at the same time, and females. Meet Belle and Lucy. Belle will grow to ten pounds and Lucy to twenty-five, and they're inseparable.
I have no idea what made us think at this point in our lives we'd have the patience for two puppies. Puppies are cute; they make you smile, but they also bring out the Jekyll and Hyde in your personality. One minute I'm laughing and having a ball playing with them, the next minute I'm running to the door to get them outside before they pee on the floor.
The word "NO!" has never been more active in my vocabulary, and there are days when if it wasn't for the F-bomb, the house would be silent. I go back and forth between pure joy and trying to remember what life was like once upon a time. And we're almost always tired since we both get up early with the pups and start the daily routine.
And here's my point -
You have to go wholeheartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having.
Frank Lloyd Write
I've worked with so many young photographers over the years who feel the need to rush the process. They want overnight success and often have never taken the time to define what that means.
I'll use Belle and Lucy as examples - we're still a long way from two pups who have run of the house. But each day, there's another milestone. They're only five months old, but the process, although exhausting, has taught me more about myself and my relationship with Sheila. First, there's nothing the two of us can't accomplish together, and second, there are so many different ways to get each task done.
Sheila couldn't be more consistent in her approach to the pups...as a result, they both know the minute we say go to bed, they run to their crate. When she says "come" to Belle, the pup comes running. When I say it to Lucy, she stares at me and takes some coaxing. So, as the dogs learn those essential basic commands, I'm learning that my way isn't always the one that works.
If we had it to do over again, we probably wouldn't do two puppies at the same time, but now that we're here, I wouldn't trade the smile in my heart for anything...except 10-12 hours of sleep!
So, whatever your goals are for the rest of the year and into 2020 - hit them with everything you've got! Go all out and give every dream the horsepower it deserves. Don't compromise on the things most important to you, but also remember there are people all around who care about you and are willing to give you a hand!
And for today - go for those long hugs - eleven to twenty seconds is the suggested time these days. Share those hugs with those people in your life most important to you. They're the ones who challenge you not to be mediocre!
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're following me from the other side of the world.
"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it!"
I've missed a few of the last Fast Food Friday posts, but the "kitchen" of the SCU Diner is up and running today with a unique entree!
I started the series to help you with quick ideas to fine-tune your business. The goal was pretty simple, easy things you could do to sustain and grow your business, implement stronger branding, marketing, revenue, and even content.
The majority of you are right-brain creative types, which means you tend to ignore the operational side of the business but love the challenge of creativity. That's great, but you can't ignore what it takes to run and build the biz!
Today's Fast Food Friday is all about finding your "why." Even the artwork I chose up top is symbolic of the challenge. Notice how most of the question marks are the same? They represent all the other photographers out there - but the one that's different is you. You've got to make yourself stand out. You've got to make yourself different from your competitors.
You've Got to Find Your Why
This past week at a Board meeting of the Sarasota's Senior Friendship Centers, the CEO shared a video with us. The SFC is a multi-million dollar nonprofit here in Sarasota. We provide two-hundred thousand meals a year, health services, adult day-care, places to socialize, primarily for senior citizens.
As I watched the video, I couldn't help but think about my own business and in turn, yours. If you haven't read Simon Sinek's book, click on the link to the right. In the meantime - think about your why. All of you know what you do for a living. You also know how you do it. But have you ever thought about why? Are you sharing that message with your target audience?
For example, dozens of times in the past few years, I've talked about the message on your about pages. I've written about people not caring what awards you've won, how long you've been in business, or what gear you shoot with - "Mom" wants to know why you're a photographer. She wants to see if you can be trusted to capture photographs of the people most important to her. Your about page is one small step towards sharing your why.
Please take the time to watch this video, and trust me - it'll start you on a life-changing journey, or at the very least, business 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!
Intro by Chamira Young
Once and a while it's fun to go out and capture something different. We've mentioned it before on the blog and we'll say it again: getting outside of your comfort zone is a great way to foster your creativity as an artist. As important as paying the bills are, the day-to-day of running a business and constantly shooting similar images can eventually drain you of much needed inspiration. The remedy? Get out and shoot something unusual!
Today we have the perfect example in this episode of One Location, One Lesson, One Lens with the Tamron team. Peek over the shoulder of Photographer Ulla Vinkman as she uses the Tamron SP 35mm F/1.4 to document the annual zombie crawl in Frenchtown, New Jersey. Be ready to be creeped out and inspired at the same time!
Also, just a reminder we're in the full swing of holiday shopping and Tamron's Holiday Instant Savings Program can save you a ton of your hard-earned money. Click on the banner below for more details.
Tamron's manufacturing some of the finest glass in photography! Be sure to visit your local Tamron retailer and check it out for yourself.
Images copyright Bob Davis. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the industry, mostly because of the people I've met and worked with over the years. I'm not a tennis player, but we've all heard that your game improves when you play with somebody better than you. That's the way it is with creativity. That's also why taking as many workshops/classes as you can each year will help your skillset. It's not just about learning something new but being exposed to creativity on a different level.
Bob Davis is one of those creative buddies who never sits still and is always pushing the edge of the envelope. Together with his "partner in crime," Dawn, they're always looking for new ways to support their clients and build relationships. If you've never heard them talk about how they build relationships with vendors, listen to this past episode of Mind Your Own Business.
Every photographer is looking for ways to make their work different, especially in the wedding industry. We all know the sequence of events at a wedding, and it's tough to tell the story differently each time. But there are things you can do to make some of your images unique - find a different perspective.
That's one of the things I love about working with the Platypod team - they're giving artists the ability to capture from a different perspective. In turn, that creativity trickles up to the clients and helps create beautiful albums and memory-making images.
Bob sent me the images in this post (click on them to view in the SCU Lightbox) and wrote:
Platypod is the one of the best pieces of grip gear that goes everywhere with me! Sometimes tripods are not allowed in many public places, and when I travel it's much easier to pack this camera support over a tripod. I use remote cameras often and the Platypod is perfect for getting my remotes in position and out of the way.
He takes it everywhere, including while on Safari in Mashatu, Botswana, Africa, last April.
I had a vision of the Tree of Life, beneath the Milky Way and thousands of stars in the heart of darkness in Africa. It's the oldest Baobab trees estimated to be over 6000 years old, and I can only imagine what this ancient tree has witnessed.
Using the Platypod with a small Manfrotto ball head to support Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a EF 16-35mm f2.8 vIII lens, I was able to accomplish my vision. This frame the tree is rim light using the modeling light of Profoto A1.
Check out more of Bob's work with a visit to his website. And, if he's teaching at any conference you're attending in 2020, run don't walk to get a seat! You'll never be disappointed in what he shares. He's an artist who needs to be on your radar!
Interested in finding a different perspective for more of your images? Check out Platypod. There are some great holiday specials going on right now, and more creative tools to expand your skillset from macro to landscape and everything in between! Just click on the banner below.
Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell!
Over the last few years, I've written this at least a dozen times - Your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. It's the fundamental difference between these two pieces of "real estate," and done right, your website and blog should work together.
The stories you tell start with your about page and talking about why you love being a photographer. For most of you, "Mom" is your target audience, and she doesn't care about what gear you work with, what awards you've won, or how you got started. She wants to know if she can trust you to capture the kinds of images she wants. She wants to see if you love being an artist or you're just in it for the business.
Next up is the importance of the products/services you sell. Your blog can position the importance of capturing memories, while your website can share ideas on how to preserve and present them. For example, a wedding album isn't a book of pictures - it's the first family heirloom of a new family. As my buddy, Denis Reggie, used to say, and I'm paraphrasing a little, "The flowers will die, the food's been eaten, the gown will never be worn again, but the album is priceless and will last forever."
Talk about the importance of prints. Share ideas on displaying images. Consider an idea like Justin and Mary Marantz do when they "Shoot for the silver frame." It's that one spectacular image that becomes the signature memory maker of the wedding. While every artist does their best to capture nothing but great photos, there's always one that's a show-stopper.
And, if you're having trouble getting clients to understand the importance of printed images, Michele Celentano has made it easy for you. She's permitted you to plagiarize her "I Believe" statement. Here's the link to the first time I shared it on the SCU blog.
Ironically, photographers are the world's greatest storytellers, yet when it comes to selling their services, so many do an underwhelming job of telling their own story!
Intro by Skip Cohen
My buddy Bob Coates is no stranger to SCU, and many of you are familiar with his Successful-Photographer website. He's a photographer who not only believes in education but ALWAYS walks the talk when it comes to helping other artists.
While I shared the image to the right in a post last June, there's more to the story. And, if you're like me, and have the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico on your bucket list, there's no such thing as too many posts. It's one of the most incredible places on the planet this time of year.
Click on any of the images in this post to visit Bob's fine art site.
Note: Interested in some extended study time with Bob? He will be an instructor at the Texas School: the “Best Little Photography School in the World” April 26- May 1, 2020
All wildlife images in this post copyright Bob Coates. All rights reserved.
by Bob Coates
As the cover artist for the Festival of the Cranes I had the opportunity to spend another four days photographing at Bosque del Apache NWR. The cranes and large numbers white snow geese make an appearance each year. This is a target rich environment for wildlife photographers.
My main shooting combo was the Lumix G9 with the Leica 100-400mm f/4.0-6.3 lens. This is mounted on the Promaster GH25 Professional Gimbal Head on a carbon fiber tripod. I discovered one modification I’d like to make and recommend to all photographers photographing in cold weather. I’ll be wrapping my gimbal with some pipe insulation tape to keep contact with bare metal to a minimum. Even with gloves that metal shares the cold quite a bit.
In order to not be switching lenses while shooting I keep a second camera on my Peak Design camera strap. A Lumix GX85 with a 12-60mm f/2.8-4 lens covers my wide-angle zoom needs.
Yours in Creative Photography, Bob
In Bob's Camera Bag...
Click on any of Bob's favorite gear for more information.
by Skip Cohen
Regardless of what holiday you celebrate in December, there are some great gift ideas this year for the photographer in your life...or just for yourself.
I won't deny for a second the products/services below are all from SCU partners, but they're here because they believe in education, and helping you build a stronger business. So, as somebody who believes in truth in advertising, these companies live up to their reputation for quality and support for the industry. And I've worked with many of them for a considerable part of my career.
So, whether you're stuck for gift ideas or not, here are some of my favorite show-stoppers for this holiday season:
Platypod - The Perfect Gift
While Platypod is relatively new to SCU, it's a product line and company that's grown near and dear to me. They're more than just an SCU partner, I'm personally active in the company helping them with their marketing, but I also love their product line. I'm having fun with it myself. Nothing is going to break the bank when it comes to the cost, and best of all is the new perspective Platypod will add to your creativity.
From an instant macro/closeup setup like we've shared in posts from Shiv Verma, Don Komarechka, and Larry Becker to simply using the Litra Torch 2.0 lights behind my laptop for better lighting on video podcasts and chats, there's been no shortage of creativity. I love the diversity. And, for travel and hiking, the Ultra with the Benro ball head is perfect.
Wander over to the Platypod website and check out the full product line and while supplies last, this year's holiday specials.
PhotoTexting - Helping to Grow Your Business
Senior photography isn't for every artist, but diversity is! Everyone is looking for ways to grow their business, and PhotoTexting recently launched its new Senior Rep Program. They've made it easy to get started and then build brand awareness based on your best marketing tool - relationship building with seniors and their parents.
As a gift idea, it's a classic and another no-brainer. PhotoTexting is standing behind their products with a great promotional getting started offer - the price of a cup of coffee! Plus, there are dozens of videos to take you through each step of the process.
If you're a portrait artist, growing your senior business can be an incredible experience, not to mention pushing your creativity to the max. Gone are the days of boring headshots! A senior session today is about capturing the personality of the subject and establishing the first step in a new relationship. Done right, that senior will be coming back for other events. Seniors become brides and grooms; brides and grooms start families, and the opportunities go on and on.
Marathon Press - From Marketing to Bella Art Prints
As the industry's leader in support for photographers printed needs, Marathon's grown to be the "new sheriff in town" when it comes to stunning print quality and albums with their Bella line. Going back to when I first came into the professional side of the industry, they were best known for all their support in printed business material - from business cards to brochures to direct mail pieces.
TODAY - it's everything from marketing support with the benefits of MAP, to bulk order holiday cards for your clients; family marketing campaigns, stationery, beautiful prints and albums, and the list goes on and on. They're an amazing company. They never slow down helping photographers with the tools they need to grow their business, and at the same time, create products with incredible consumer appeal. Their BOGO program is going on right now on holiday cards for your own use, or as a finished product for your clients.
Click the banner below and start doing a little shopping to help grow your business.
LUMIX - "Changing Photography"
Four years ago, I started shooting mirrorless with Panasonic's LUMIX line. Yes, they're an SCU partner, but remember my background - twelve years as president of Hasselblad USA. While I don't make a living a professional photographer, I know more than I let on. And it takes a lot to impress me. LUMIX totally recharged my love for having a camera in my hands.
But it's not just how easy Panasonic has made expanding my creativity and helping me grow - it's the durability and features built into every camera. It's the low-light ability it gives me to capture tack sharp images and control the variables in every scene.
Don't take my word for it - wander into your LUMIX retailer and check out the line for yourself. Look at everything - I currently shoot with the G9 with the 14-140mm lens and love it. And if you're looking for full-frame, check out the new S series!
Tamron - Expanding the Creative Tools in Your Camera Bag
Over the years, Tamron has grown to become one of the most respected manufacturers in the world in optics and great glass! Over and again, their lenses have won awards, but of greater significance are the outstanding artists who we've featured in SCU blog posts and podcasts. Again and again, we've shared stunning images captured thanks to Tamron products.
Tamron has an outstanding savings program going on right now, and it's a click away to check out. Then, wander into your Tamron retailer for your own test drive! You'll never be disappointed in the quality Tamron's brought to the industry or the diversity of the lens selection you have to choose from.
ClickCon - Expanding Every Artist's Skill Set
Last year ClickCon launched it's first show in Chicago. It was an overwhelming success with one innovative educational idea after another. With a busy trade show and jam-packed educational platform, close to 1500 photographers took part in establishing this incredible boutique conference as a venue to help artists grow their skill set in capture, post-processing, business and marketing.
There's a special early bird registration going on right now. It's a unique gift for the photographer in your life, or again, just a present you need to give yourself. Plus, it's in August and gives you a chance to recharge your battery before the seasonality of the year kicks in.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
It's rare that a first year conference has the power that ClickCon brought to the industry this past August.
The dates have been announced for 2020 at the Palmer House in Chicago. August 11-14!
What a kick!
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.