by Skip Cohen
One benefit of having a blog is the opportunity to vent when the world goes mad. We broke down this week to watch the news, something we had managed to avoid for several weeks. We're keeping up with everything we can read - just avoiding the spin too many of the broadcasters put on things. We've self-quarantined for three months, heading out only for necessities at the market or CVS, and now and then a safe ride in the car.
It was no surprise that the numbers had spiked again, sending the stock market spiraling down as the reality of a second wave of the virus hit home. And as the government argues, we don't have a spike with new cases, because we're doing more testing, can somebody tell me what the hell difference it makes?
At the very beginning of the crisis, I read a great article written by a credible doctor/expert who talked about the bell-shaped curve of any pandemic. He went on to say that if the peak at the time was 70,000 deaths, then the back half of the curve would result in the same number, bringing the total to 140,000.
Last night's news unveiled the "surprise" forecast of 140,000 deaths by July 4! And as politicians around the country, including the governors, argue over how to open each state back up, we're hitting new highs...oops, sorry, they're not really new highs, just increases because we're doing more testing!
And that brings me to my point...while I wish everyone would act like we're all in this together, the reality is we're all on our own. There are too many people who don't get it. New cases are on the rise, although, at least here in Florida, deaths from the virus are headed downward.
By the way, most states have the same format for coronavirus data available online. Just Google your state and "coronavirus statistics." I'm following a report for Florida that takes me all the way down to information by county and even zip code.
It's going to take longer than any of us would like to feel safe again, but in the meantime, we all need to be smart. Social distancing has a sound foundation, along with masks, washing our hands, and taking care of yourself and your family.
A month ago, my good buddy Nick Vedros sent me an email with the subject line, "Share this with someone who thinks wearing a mask is a political statement." Here's the artwork that was attached.
So, as the politicians argue over whose crystal ball is more accurate, and clueless people wander through the community arguing this is all a hoax, we're staying hunkered down and learning to deal with the new normal.
And while a part of me feels I should apologize for my rant, the truth is, I don't want to. I'm tired of too many politicians, democrat and republican, who can't see anything beyond their own interests!
Intro by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, and I usually turn back the clock exclusively to old images or videos. But this morning, wandering through my archives, I found one of my favorite guest posts from my good buddy, Scott Bourne. I've shared it a couple of times over the last few years.
Scott and I go back a lot of years to my Hasselblad days, later to helping me launch Skip's Summer School, then writing a book together and a never-ending stream of projects and new ideas year after year.
In 2012, while at Summer School, Bobbi Lane did her best to get the two of us to be serious for a portrait session. She was successful, but only for a minimal time!
The post below is so relevant today. Life is very different for this year's graduates than it was when Scott first wrote this. However, as much as things change, to his point, the importance of relationship-building NEVER varies.
Most people see the challenges created by the pandemic as a liability, but for this year's graduates, I see opportunities. So many things in our lives have changed, giving this year's grads the ability to indeed be pioneers in virtually every field.
While business may have slowed down over the last few months in photography, we're all part of an industry that itself has never slowed down. More than ever before, your greatest marketing tool is relationship building!
by Scott Bourne
Commencements are coming up all over the country in the next couple months. As someone with gray hair, I can’t help but have a very different perspective on photography than someone of college age. I am often asked what advice I’d give someone just breaking into professional photography. The usual response goes something like this…
“Be prepared for lots of hard work – sales and marketing should dominate your day – show the work every chance you get – network like crazy – shoot what you love – repeat.”
But while that’s all good advice, there’s more I would say if I were speaking at a commencement.
I’d talk about understanding the high degree of importance graduates should place in each and every relationship they engage in during their career. Whether it’s the mailman or the recent client, these relationships are really all that matters. I didn’t know this when I was young and it hurt me…both personally and professionally.
So obsess over gear and f/stops if you must, but if you really want to succeed, pay attention to the people in your professional life. Build solid, long-term relationships with them. Care about them. Help them. Put them and their interests ahead of your own. You never know where that will lead. You might be dealing with that person 30 years later. They’ll remember how you valued (or didn’t) the relationship when you were young. And so will you.
If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business.
"The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working the minute you are born
and never stops until you get up to speak in public."
by Skip Cohen
The pandemic has changed all the rules for so many different activities, especially public speaking. While overall things are more restricted, social media has given EVERYBODY the ability to become a presenter. At the risk of this sounding like a rant, I'm tired of people offering to help you build some aspect of your business or life who simply think they have something to say because they're online!
This isn't a new topic for me to write about. Over the years, I've probably written a half dozen posts and articles on the subject, but with so many people thinking it's time for them to teach, it's time to post a few reminders.
Whether you're online live, pre-recorded, or going back to the "old" days and presenting at a conference, NOTHING has changed in what your audience expects!
Baby steps! I've met so many artists over the years who have a great message to share, but they want to start at the top as a keynote speaker, often because they have a huge fan base in social media. Having a great fan base is terrific, but they've joined your program to hear what you have to share and learn something.
Unlike a live audience who will stay seated through even the worst presentations, online, if your style would put a rock to sleep, people will simply leave. There are no rules for being a great audience when everyone is hidden behind the anonymity of their monitor. So, don't rush the process and start by speaking to smaller groups and then build momentum. There's nothing worse than watching a potentially great speaker crash and burn because they simply weren't prepared.
“Don't wait for a huge platform before you give of your best performance”
Bernard Kelvin Clive
by Skip Cohen
Sometimes the fun of following what friends are doing in photography goes deeper than just a classic image. Rick Friedman was out and about in Boston last week, and The Boston Guardian used his editorial coverage to put together the photographs above.
While the title, "A Week of Pride and Disgust," reflects the opinion of the publication (and most of us) over the events, in terms of Rick's skill set as a journalist and a buddy, I've got nothing but PRIDE!
Years ago, well-respected wedding and portrait photographer and educator Monte Zucker was given a Photographer of the Year award by one of the associations. There were four photographers recognized in the presentation - two of them for their coverage of the tragedy of 9-11. I still remember Monte's words,
"I'm so honored to receive this award in the company of these other artists. You see, I get to photograph the way the world should be, while they photograph the world the way it is."
Well, Rick Friedman tells the stories the way they are!
Tamron USA has an outstanding rebate program going on right now. Click on any one of the lenses below to learn more about the gear Rick used in the editorial section above. And for information on Tamron's Summer Savings program, just click on the banner below.
by Skip Cohen
Now and then, an image comes along that's just too much fun not to share. This morning while trying to get to know my way around Facebook's new format, I scrolled through my group section, and John Mitchell's post came up. The image above made me smile, and these days we all need more smiles.
I posted on my FB page to help let people know, and wasn't going to do a post here at SCU because it's already 8:00 am...that was until I dug deeper and John's based on the west coast - so it's PST. If you're dealing with a lazy Saturday, here's an event worth checking out. It's one more great way to expand your skill set during what's become the extended "slow season" in photography!
From the registration site:
Join us for a walk through into how John Mitchell creates an image with greatly contrasting sized elements and his steps for planning, shooting and editing. He will have a few examples of steps that he discovered as well as a gallery of images with the various ideas he has come up with.
Click on the image for registration information to this FREE event.
Click on any image above to listen to the podcast!
by Skip Cohen
Almost three and a half years ago, Chamira Young and I did our first podcast as co-hosts on "Mind Your Own Business." Since then, we've added two additional podcasts, "Beyond Technique" and "Tamron Recipes." With each guest, we've learned something not only about their journey but about creativity, passion, and diversity.
Charles and Jennifer Maring joined us on this podcast. We've been friends for many years, going to my early days at Rangefinder Magazine and WPPI. They're no strangers to SCU. We've shared videos and posts involving Panasonic, where they're both LUMIX Ambassadors, to great content on lighting with Profoto.
Charles and Jennifer may well be two of the most creative and diverse couples in imaging today. While best known for their work as wedding artists, they have incredible depth in so many different aspects of lifestyle - photography, music, art, even cooking and decorating. They also walk the talk with three diverse outlets where they share their work, combined with ideas to bring more quality and creativity to your life: MaringVisuals.com - TogetherinStyle.com - Together in Style – on Youtube.
The fun of "Beyond Technique" is in its purpose: helping you get to know the movers and shakers of the industry beyond their ability to capture stunning images. But it's still fun to share photographs, as I have below, from their galleries. These images demonstrate one common denominator with everything Charles and Jennifer do - they never compromise on the quality of everything they do.
"Beyond Technique" is brought to you by...
The Beyond Technique series is brought to you each month, thanks to Platypod. Just like Platypod's strength in giving artists a different perspective, we're hopefully doing the same thing with each interview.
If you haven't visited the Platypod website, take a scroll through the blog and Instagram pages. Artists from around the world are sharing their creativity.
Wander into the Platypod store, and you'll find some unique kits like the Ultra Essentials Kit, now on sale. Just click on the image to the right.
A a big thanks to Photofocus for always sharing great content to help photographers grow their skills in technology, marketing, and business. Photofocus also hosts some of the very best podcasts in photography! They're just a click away.
Images copyright Maring Visuals. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
Most of you know I don't make a living as a photographer. My passion is the business and marketing side, and that's where most of my career has been spent. However, hanging out with artists like Don Komarechka and Mike Moats over the last few years, I was bound to learn something.
Both Don and Mike have had a significant influence on the way I look at things, paying more attention to tiny details in the world around me. The little guy above was at best 3/16 of an inch and was just sitting on the pool cage's frame. We've had a lot of storms lately, and at first, I thought it was a chunk of dirt!
I missed the opportunity to get a shot to give you an idea of just how tiny this guy was. It's rare I've seen a frog this small, but here's roughly the size of the frog before the macro lens and enlargement.
The thumbnail on the right, with my new buddy next to a drop of water from the storm, shows how little he is too.
I took off this week to chill and enjoy time with Sheila and the pups. A side benefit was seeing this guy and having the time I needed to grab a camera. And while my skill set is still work in progress, having the right tools sure helps.
I should have used a tripod, but I didn't have a lot of time before "Kermit" took off. So, handheld and following him (or her) everywhere for about ten minutes was all I had.
I love the LUMIX G9, and teaming up with the LUMIX G 30mm macro lens, a Playpod Max, the new goosenecks, and two Litra Torch 2.0s gave me what I needed.
I also had some fun with Luminar, but only for minor tweaking. I lightened the image, sharpened slightly, cropped, enlarged, and erased a couple of distracting dirt spots.
The short video clip below was simply for the fun of it. The LUMIX line makes it so easy to push a button and grab a few seconds of video.
Shooting macro, handheld without a tripod, and having no video skills whatsoever, made focus a challenge. A tripod would have helped a lot, but at this point in my ten-minute adventure, I was standing on a ladder as my little buddy moved up the wall!
We've all been in some form of lockdown for almost three months. That means lots of time on our hands to do something different. Playing in the macro world is a kick, and with every image I get, I start to understand Don and Mike's love for the craft just a little better.
Click on any of the three thumbnails below for more information.
by Skip Cohen
I know I'm not alone in taking long walks down Memory Lane lately. As the world goes mad, my "panic room" escape to safety has become old videos and archived images. It's the one place I can go to simply appreciate great memories. Now and then, all of us need to clear our heads and unplug from the news.
So, this morning I took a scroll through YouTube and found this short video of my Dad and me from six years ago. I might have even shared it a few years back for a previous Throwback Thursday, but who cares?
Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Ironically, one of the most popular fund-raisers in history was all done wrong - but it didn't matter.
I teared up a little watching this. My Dad passed away a little over a year after this video, but the laughs we had that day live on forever. Even though I know Dad's watching over us, it doesn't change how much I miss him. And nothing changes how grateful I am to have been Ralph Cohen's son.
I know I've abused this quote by Jodi Picoult so many times before, but it's the only one that fits:
“This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect.”
Here's my advice for this Throwback Thursday: Whether you share your throwbacks or not, take the time for your own benefit and find a point to look back on. Find a moment in the past that makes you smile and your heart soar!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
by Skip Cohen
Normally by now, high school graduations would be history, but the pandemic changed all of that. All over the country, graduations have been delayed along with proms and other school-centric events. That's made the photographs you captured of this year's senior class even more valuable and important. The Class of 2020 deserves all the support we can give them, and a great looking grad card is one ingredient.
Marathon Press just recently announced they're extending their BOGO offer on grad cards. That not only allows you to support your senior clients, but the BOGO reduces your costs and increases revenue.
Just click on the banner below for more information and start the process of designing memory-making cards for your seniors, their families and friends.
by Skip Cohen
Working together with Photofocus, we started this series six years ago. I had no idea how many talented artists and content-rich interviews we'd be sharing.
Author, photographer, educator and podcaster, Larry Becker joins Chamira and me, and the timing couldn't be more relevant. Even before the pandemic, we were all meeting and appearing more in online forums. Well, the pandemic changed everything, and now your real estate in cyberspace has incredible value, but only if you use it right.
Larry's new book, Great on Camera, was just recently published. It was in the works long before the coronavirus was an issue, but to have it available now is perfect. We're all spending more time on camera, and just like the quality of your website headshot as a photographer, you need to present the best possible image.
In this new podcast, Larry shares a lot of good insight into his career, and especially the importance of capturing a great first impression and holding it! Larry's love for the craft and helping photographers and business owners is unbeatable.
Now's the time to take advantage of fine-tuning your skills and make the most out of the downtime. Listen to the podcast and then pick up Larry's book, so you always look great on camera.
I grabbed two of Larry's videos from his YouTube channel to share below. Visit his YouTube channel for more videos and learning how you can raise the bar on your presentation style.
By Chamira Young
If you don't happen to have a helicopter handy to whisk you away to your next photo adventure, the next best thing is to virtually peek over the shoulder of a fellow photographer who does! That brings us to today's dose of inspiration with Photographer Michael Gilbert as he takes us on an aerial outing over the "The Wall of Tears" in the beautiful island of Maui, Hawaii.
Michael is using the versatile new 35-150mm F/2.8-4 VC zoom lens as his pilot, Nick from Go Fly Maui, flies them both over the beautiful vistas. I'd be lying if I said wasn't just a tiny bit (or alot!) jealous!
It's no secret: the Tamron team never compromises when it comes to the quality of their glass. That's why we love featuring the creative artists who use their lenses. Don't forget to visit Tamron USA online to check out their lineup of lenses! Also, find a Tamron retailer near you!
Check out the video below!
Intro by Skip Cohen
After I posted a short rant a few weeks ago, which included projects several photographers have been doing, Steven Gotz wrote this as a response on Facebook. It really hit home, especially his last line:
The less time I feel sorry for myself, the better off I am.
I immediately caught up to him on an IM for permission to share what he wrote.
Unless you work for a company like Zoom, there is no silver lining to the challenges the pandemic has created. But there are things to have faith in and a reason for hope as things slowly return to some level of normalcy. Our definition of "normal" will continue to be different, as most of us miss the freedom to simply be out and about.
So, Steven, thanks for today's dose of inspiration. This is good stuff, and maybe it'll spark a few ideas with other photographers about things they can do to start rebuilding their revenue stream. Most important of all, as Mark Toal mentioned, photography is a way to keep his sanity!
by Steven Gotz
It is extremely easy for us to start feeling sorry for ourselves. Income streams for many of the best of us have dried up completely. Some may end up giving up on or postponing their lifelong dream of being a full time working photographer. Some may have to go back to the type of jobs they did before they went full time as a photographer.
Some of us are getting mad that we have to wear a mask, some people are outraged at others for not wearing masks. (I am staying in, so far, so no mask for me.)
All this during an election year with many people having to hold their nose to vote.
My personal solution to keeping my sanity is simple. I have been working on projects to help other people. I don't know how creative that is, but it really helps.
As long as it is not about me, I can continue on a lot easier. The less time I have to feel sorry for myself, the better off I am.
"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
by Skip Cohen
There isn't a professional photographer on the planet who isn't struggling with what's become the new normal! Quarantines, social distancing, sheltering in place have all become a way of life, but out of chaos and the pandemic crisis have come some remarkable new extensions for business.
A month ago, I shared a short video of JP Elario at his computer doing FaceTime portraits. Channel 13 in Albany, NY, picked up the story, and I have to share it here. I wish there was a way to make every artist watch this short clip.
JP's part of a father/son business and Joe, his Dad, and I go back to my early Hasselblad days. They're both remarkable artists specializing in wedding and portraiture, and exceptional service is part of their signature. Keeping in line with their never-ending quest to meet their clients' needs, JP starting doing online headshots.
These are challenging times, but who knows what other new ideas will come out of the pandemic crisis?
"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friend."
In the end we only regret the chances we didn't take.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and as always, I'm off track from business, marketing, and photography. I had no idea what to write about until Melody Beattie finally dropped an idea I can't entirely agree with. In her daily meditations, she talked about the negative side of "what if's."
"What if's" can make us crazy. They put control over our life in someone else's hands. "What if's" are a sign that we have reverted to thinking that people have to react in a particular way for us to continue on our course."
I'm a what if guy...but NOT the way Melody's using the expression. I'm the knucklehead who uses what if as a push to the positive side of things. To me, what if is a question, meaning, "What if I try something different?" What if is all about the positive. It's about progress and pushing the edge of my personal envelope.
"What if" is the challenge I make to myself all the time. It's the way I analyze the pros and cons of trying something new. And it includes, "What if what I'm about to try is a failure?" Well, my answer is always the same - "I'll try something else!"
The biggest what if in our house over the past year was probably "What if we got two puppies?" Sheila and I wrestled with it and, in November, picked up Lucy and Belle.
The next 90 days were hell. Through the stress of two pups, we'd painfully ask ourselves, "What made us think we had the patience to train two dogs?"
Well, now we're saying, "What if we didn't have the girls?"
These two pups, now ten months old, are entirely entrenched as members of the family. They've figured it out, and the pure joy they bring us, especially through the pandemic, is beyond measure. So our what if has become, "What if we didn't have them?"
So, the next time you're getting ready to try something new, hesitating and using "what if" as a negative, switch it around and ask, "What if I don't try this?" The pandemic has changed everything in our lives. We're all dealing with a new normal and how to stay positive, motivated, and keep those creative juices flowing. Asking "what if?" is your license to try something new, and as long as you learn something in the process, there's no such thing as failure!
Wishing everybody a Sunday of peace and time to appreciate everything in your life that makes you smile. It's easy to forget all the good things in life when "fun" is buried under the stress of today's challenges. And when it comes to the problem of getting business back on track, ask yourself, "What if I try something totally different this week?"
Happy Sunday, or Monday, if you're on the other side of the world!
“I love creating partnerships; I love not having to bear the entire burden of the creative storytelling, and when I have unions like with George Lucas and Peter Jackson,
it’s really great; not only do I benefit, but the project is better for it!"
by Skip Cohen
I woke up this morning, energized and aggravated, which is a dangerous combination!
I'm tired of the new normal, along with politicians and people who just don't get it. The way we're living now is the new normal for at least the next few months, maybe longer. There's no wizard behind the curtain who's going to flip a switch and change things.
But...there is a wizard inside of each of you screaming to come out! It's like Rudy shouting, "Come on, Coach, send me in!" So, what are you going to start doing differently to reach your audience and build your brand?
For years I've talked and written about the importance of partnerships. Long before the word pandemic was in our vocabulary, I was pushing all of you to build a more substantial presence with strategic alliances.
Over the years, I've been involved in a long list of partnerships.
At Hasselblad, we launched an ad campaign with Kodak and Polaroid. Featuring the work of Nick Vedros, the image used was shot with Hasselblad on Kodak film, but there was no digital technology then. A Polaroid back was an essential component to check exposure and composition for many commercial and portrait artists. The costs for the complete campaign, including production and media placement was split three ways between us.
Then came other campaigns, each one similar in structure that included Kodak, L.L. Bean, and Bogen (today Manfrotto.) Each time all of us not only reduced our costs, but each company became an ambassador for the others.
Here are a few ideas to help you start thinking about partnerships.
Your Online Presence: Cyberspace has never been more important in our lives than RIGHT NOW! It's the way we're staying in contact and sharing information. It's also the foundation of education at virtually every level. It's time to clean up your website, blog and any other places in social media where you target your client audience.
Be a Community Leader: A couple of months ago I caught up to Lori Nordstrom one day. Just before we talked, she had been involved in a Zoom meeting with business women from the community, all sharing ideas together on how they could help more during the pandemic. You've got the ability to be a leader in your community and bring other vendors together to help build a new standard of support.
Blogging: There's plenty of advice on developing a stronger blog, from me and dozen's of other writers but my point today is the importance of maintaining your blog with good solid content. Think about your target audience and your readership. How can you help them the most?
Developing a strong blog in your community is also going to help you find new partners. Guest posts from other vendors; informative Zoom meetings; tips on photography, cooking, flower arranging, DIY projects all have a foundation is developing great content.
Working With Other Artists: Other artists/photographers have always been great potential partners. Sadly, too many of you think working with a competitor is taboo. First, with or without the pandemic, you can't work every job that comes along. I know things are slow now, but sooner or later you're going to have a conflict in availability.
Second, look for partners who complement your skill set in another specialty. For example, a wedding photographer should have a close relationship with a maternity and newborn photographer. It's the perfect combination for building a strong referral program.
Check out the post I shared in late April thanks to Elizabeth Newton, which featured thirty different photographers. Click on the composite to the right for the backstory.
Then there's the archived post by Bruce Berg. It's the backstory about the Lane County Children's Contest. At the time, I shared the post they were coming up on 30 years. It was hosted by three competing studios in the same area and has repeatedly stimulated sales during the "slow season!"
Webinars and Podcasts: Looking to be helpful to your community? How about building a series of content-rich programs about summer projects, things to do with kids, picture-taking tips leading to a contest sponsored by various partners?
Direct Mail: In part, due to the importance of social distancing, direct mail has a new level of potential and reach. But you don't have to take on the burden of cost by yourself. Think about partnerships with other vendors in the community. Regardless of your specialty, look for partners whose target audience is the same as yours. A portrait or wedding photographer could easily partner with a florist, for example.
Past Clients: Coming up in a few weeks is a Beyond Technique podcast we recorded yesterday. Cindy Harter Sims was our guest, and she was very open about sharing the results of reaching out to her community. Like so many portrait artists, the pandemic initially shut down her business.
A few weeks ago, Cindy literally reached out to her past clients and her community. She was in danger of losing her business but went to her clients with suggestions for purchasing additional prints from previous sittings. That led to orders and later new business, all while respecting the need for social distancing. Her clients came through, in part because of the relationships Cindy has built over the years in her community.
Sharing Studio Space: Social distancing doesn't mean you have to close your doors. And if you don't have a door to close, sharing space is an excellent solution for access to a studio while minimizing the costs. It's also perfect for pooling your resources with another photographer or two. It reduces expenses, and you get bigger and better space than you usually would be able to afford, especially if just starting out.
Events and Fund-Raisers: It's still one of my favorite ways to partner, only the vehicle you use today is going to be different. Here in Sarasota, I was recently involved in the Giving Challenge. It was all done online in support of a long list of nonprofits in the area.
The nonprofits in your community are all in trouble. The pandemic has postponed or canceled events like walk-a-thons altogether. But you have an opportunity to help create and support a new level of awareness and funding through your Internet presence and the relationships you've made in the community.
Photo Contests: All done online and safely, use your expertise to establish relationships with other vendors for both their knowledge and ability to extend your reach as well as provide prizes. It starts with you sharing tips on capturing better images. Then bring in a florist, and a restaurant offering great carry-out. Include an entity from both to be judges in the contest. The theme of the contest? Anything you want it to be.
And that brings me full circle and back to the importance of relationship building and creating great partnerships. You don't have to do everything alone! Bringing in strategic partners for any project helps expand your reach, creativity, and brand awareness.
Now, add in the challenges created by the pandemic, and more than ever, great partnerships have the potential to lead back to profitability.
Business isn't dead - it's just dormant. The value of great photographs and capturing memories has never been stronger, and as a photographer, you've got the ability to make it happen!
Images copyright Mitchel Wu. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
In 2016, after teaching a workshop, I was bothered by the fact that nobody in the class knew who Mary Ellen Mark was. So, while I couldn't do much about artists who had passed, I decided it was time to launch a series that would introduce you to the movers and shakers in imaging who were more contemporary.
Mitchel Wu joins me in this new episode and he's our 129th artist in the series. And, while it's been a few months since the last podcast of "Why?" the feature is back in full swing.
Mitch is based in Los Angeles, and most of you would think of him as a commercial photographer, but I love his passion for storytelling. His passion is toy photography, and he's one of the most recognized toy artists in the industry.
But I so admire another aspect of Mitch's skill set - his focus on fun. Lately, "fun" has been lost under the stress of the pandemic. Well, not for Mitch and just listening to this short podcast, you'll pick on an artist living his dream.
Note: Click on these two images to enlarge and view in the SCU Lightbox!
In the podcast, I mentioned one of my new favorite images, his shot with Kermit. Click on the image to link to Mitch's Instagram page for more details. And don't miss the BTS video on how he created the shot.
Like the images Mitch chose for his episode of "Why?" you can sense the fun he had in creating the scene. It all goes back to his love for storytelling and detail.
Visit Mitch's website. His galleries are a kick and guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
And if you're interested in finding out more about Platypod, one of the new tools helping Mitch capture and create his images, just click on the banner below.
by Skip Cohen
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, especially the way we communicate. On a fairly regular basis, many of you are appearing live on Zoom, Skype, and the list goes on and on. But, just like the rules in creating a great image for print competition, there are some definite rules you need to follow when meeting in cyberspace. Your goal is to be just as professional in an online meeting as you would be in person at a conference or workshop.
And for those of you rolling your eyes, because you already know this stuff, just consider it a reminder. Like meeting with a new client, you've got a minimal amount of time to make a great impression. I'm not an expert in any of this stuff, but thanks to some great friends, I'm work in progress and there are a lot of you who could use a little help.
Let's start with the obvious - lighting. You don't need much. Ironically, none of you would light a basic headshot with a flashlight, but when it comes to your online presence, you do nothing. Yet, all of you understand lighting - so put a little light on the subject - YOU! While I've got a couple of softboxes in my office, my preference is thanks to Litra. I've got two LitraTorch 2.0s on goosenecks on either side of my laptop, which has become my leading computer when I've got to be on camera. When I'm on the iMac, I use the softboxes.
Here are a few more suggestions to consider:
1. Get a location without backlighting. When you've got something bright behind you, it fools the computer or your phone into thinking the scene is brighter than it really is. I have to remember myself to close the blinds in my office behind me.
2. Remove distractions: We don't all have the advantage of a movie set background. Often, I've forgotten turn the ceiling fan off in my office and have had people bothered by the distraction over my head.
3. Camera and your face on the same plane: Get your camera (computer or phone) on about the same plane as your face. Not only does it cut out chin and nostril shots, but it gives the audience your eye contact and more facial expression. When I'm using my phone, I have a Square Jellyfish adapter on a ball head with a Platypod Ultra. While there are plenty of phone holders out there, this little adapter gives my Platypod Ultra another useful application.
4. Make eye contact. Remember when talking, if you want to make eye contact, looking at your screen won't do it...you've got to look at the camera.
5. Cut down on the background noise. Mute your microphone when not talking. It's especially bad in a group of more than 3-4 people.
6. Earbuds or a headset cut down on feedback.
7. Consider a better microphone! The impact of the pandemic is here to stay for a long time. While we all wish there was a switch that could be flipped to end the crisis, it's not going to happen overnight. That means we're all going to be communicating differently for some time. My personal favorite is a Rode Podcast mic, but I also have a Yeti. Both are good, but the Rode seems to give my voice more clarity.
8. Smile more! It's a great tip from a photographer, author, and my good buddy, Larry Becker. He recently joined Chamira Young and me in a Mind Your Own Business podcast, which is now online. And check out his new book: Great on Camera. Written before the pandemic when we had no idea we were going to be on camera a lot more, Larry's approach couldn't be easier to follow, with great tips to raise the bar on your skill set as a podcaster, presenter and participant online.
And that brings me full circle to where I started. We're dealing with a new normal. While we all hope the good old days of just three months ago will come back, that doesn't change the need for looking good and professional online NOW.
From meetings with clients to edu-type presentations to meet-ups with other photographers, you're part of the imaging community. That means the expression "looking good" has a lot more meaning in cyberspace these days because it's often going to be all you have to start.
P.S. And if I missed any tips feel free to let me know and we'll do a post of add-ons!
by Skip Cohen
Most of us have been hunkered down for over two months, and while we're all tired of it, photography has been mentioned numerous times by artists as a key sanity-saver!
Never slowing down on their support for the imaging community, Tamron USA launched a new series, "Top Five at Five." It's a series of top five tips on various imaging types from some of the very best tech experts in photography.
Social distancing has changed so much in our lives and certainly in the business of photography. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't continue to build your skill set.
I chose to share this short video from Ken Hubbard because it's all about landscape photography. Nobody does it better than Ken, and with each image, like the one above, he's showing you the before and after adjustment.
So, take the next twenty-one minutes and watch the video below. You'll raise the bar on your landscape technique.
Then, regardless of where you live, once restrictions are lifted to allow you outside, put Ken's tips to use. Share the results with me. I'm always looking for great content to share and now's a perfect time.
"Sheltering in place" doesn't have to mean your skill set!
Check out all of Tamron USA's helpful videos with a visit to their YouTube channel. You won't be disappointed.
by Skip Cohen
About forty-five minutes south of us is a sweet (and expensive) little community called Boca Grande. On Saturday, in a goal to just get out of the house, we threw the pups in the car and headed south for a ride. I didn't feel like taking a lot of gear but wanted a camera with me. I took the LUMIX GX85 with the kit lens, the LUMIX 12-32mm.
As we crossed the causeway into Boca Grande, it was obvious we were late for the party. As I stood on the shore at the base of the bridge, I was initially disappointed in the coverage. This is the moment when so many of us "should on ourselves," as we regret not taking another lens with a longer focal length.
The image above is straight out of the can. It was shot handheld in panoramic mode and easy to hold relatively level since I had the skyline to work with as I panned. I had walked up into the no pedestrian section of the causeway bridge and shot in IA mode. I wanted to get in and out quickly.
I really appreciated the results. The image at the top is enlarged 120%, with the only tweak being clarity and exposure in Luminar. Click on the image to view in the SCU LightBox. And for the fun of it, I took the Sherif's boat on the right to 200%.
LUMIX GX85 4K Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera Kit, 12-32mm Lens,
16 Megapixels, Dual Image Stabilization, Electronic Viewfinder, WiFi
Panasonic's never strayed from their original commitment to "Changing Photography:"
"Nearly half the size of most DSLRs, the DMC-GX85 delivers impressive large sensor performance in the most compact camera system ever designed by Panasonic LUMIX."
The LUMIX GX85, with its ability to take interchangeable lenses and most of the same features as its bigger "siblings," is a perfect little camera for travel and more.
Click on the GX85 image above for more information.
We've postponed the f64 Lunch Bunch for a few weeks. There's so much going on in everybody's lives right now in terms of help and education. However, we're all still here to help and just an email away.
And if you missed the May 6 lunch with Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell - it's pretty amazing. The video is just a click away.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
The pandemic may have moved the dates for 2020 to August 10-13, 2021, but that's NOT slowing Team ClickCon down. Stay tuned for new programs online with ClickCon Nation! It all starts on August 11th.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.