by Skip Cohen
Lately, it seems like every post I write starts out referencing something different in our lives because of the pandemic. Like you, I'm taking a look in the rearview mirror more often than in the past, and it's become part of my daily routine.
I miss the total freedom all of us took for granted. I miss friends, planning for the next convention, and thinking about where Sheila and I might go for a long weekend. Everything has changed, but here's a good thing I'm learning to appreciate, my photographs.
I'm spending more time looking at past files and immensely enjoying Skylum's Luminar. They do not pay me, and I'm not an active affiliate, but I appreciate the simplicity of understanding how to adjust an image and make it a little better.
I also enjoy getting to know the various filters as I adjust an image to my taste. And for those of you who want to criticize what I did in the above photo, remember, "Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder," and in this case, I'm my own client, and the checkbook holder.
In May of 2019, Sheila and I spent ten days in New Mexico and fell in love with so many different areas. We started in Albuquerque, then drove to Santa Fe and finished in Taos, making stops all along the way. One of the most interesting and poignant was Taos Pueblo. Acting like total tourists, we took the reservation tour, at that time still inhabited by a half dozen full-time residents.
There's a story behind the graveyard and church above:
From Craig K. Gowens page on Flickr in 2009
The original San Geronimo Church was built in 1619 when the Spanish settled the area and began forcibly converting the Tiwa people of the Taos Pueblo to Christianity. The Church was destroyed in the 1680 revolt that drove the Spanish from New Mexico, but rebuilt after their return a decade later. The second destruction of the church occurred at the hands of the U.S. Army in 1847.
During the American military occupation, the native Americans again made a bid for their own freedom, rejecting the authority of the new American territorial governor of New Mexico, Charles Bent, assassinating him in his home in Taos. The U.S. Army retaliated against the Taos Pueblo as one of the leaders of the revolt was a Tiwa native. Hundreds of Tiwa, mostly women and children, had taken refuge in the church during the attack and were killed when the Army bombarded the church with artillery. The bell tower of the church has been restored and serves as a remainder of lives lost in the attack.
One of the features I enjoy most with Luminar is my ability to see the before and after as I'm working on an image. I grabbed a screenshot of one small section of the picture. That bar down the middle slides left and right, allowing you to see each part of the image and the impact the changes you're making have on the finished product.
In this case, I used the one-touch clarity booster, gave the saturation a slight tweak, and then used the structure filter, which enhances clarity and micro-contrast in surface area between edges detected in an image, improving perceived detail and making photos stand out.
Besides sharing a small history lesson from New Mexico, and intro to Luminar, if you haven't used it - there's an even better bottom line.
The need to hunker down is wearing on all of us. Don't let the pandemic's challenges get in the way of the love you have as an artist and business owner. Business is out there, and it will come back - but in the meantime, keep working on your skill set.
Wander through your files and appreciate where you were a year ago. Use your photographs to keep your creative juices flowing, and that passion you have for imaging alive. Keep in touch with friends, stay active in social media, and keep your eye out for moments of inspiration from the people you respect most. Most important of all, don't let go of your dreams.
And one more thing to think about - It's that first convention we're all going to attend LIVE. What a celebration that's going to be. I'll meet all of you in the bar of the host hotel that first night in town...wherever that might be!
Intro by Chamira Young
If you're a dog owner or have ever been one, you understand the deep, special bond that quickly forms with our canine family members. There's nothing like the pure joy that comes from spending time with them, including simply just tossing a ball around!
That brings us today's fun video with photographer Ken Hubbard, who demonstrates how to capture your beloved canine in action. There's a certain innocent magic our pets bring to us every day, and it's important we capture those priceless memories. Check out the video below to see how to do just that. Ken shares his specific camera settings, including his shutter speed, frame rate, and the reasons why the 28-200mm F/2.8-5.6 lens works so well in this use case. This fantastic lens combines performance and versatility in a package that won't disappoint! As you'll see in this fun video, capturing those special moments with your canine family can be fun and easy.
Also, be sure to check out a Tamron dealer near you!
by Skip Cohen
To start this post, click on the image above to view it enlarged in the SCU Lightbox. It was captured/created by my good buddy, Shiv Verma. He's no stranger to SCU, but of all the images we've shared of Shiv's, it's one of my favorites.
To start, I love black and white. We don't need to see color in every image, and I love it when Shiv adds something more to an image, just by keeping it simple. He shared this image on Facebook two days ago, and it deserves to be seen more! With the photo, he wrote:
Simplification. Photographed with the Lumix S1R and the Lumix S Pro 24-70 f/2.8 lens
and Breakthrough ND filter 10 stop.
Exposure Triad: f/11, 60sec, ISO 100.
Shiv Verma should be on your radar. He's always sharing great content with a lot of "how-to" information. You'll also find he's a regular contributor on the Platypod.com blog and their Instagram page. His website is only a click away.
Shive is also a LUMIX Ambassador, one of the most creative groups in imaging. Follow Shiv and the other 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.
For information on some of Shiv's favorite gear, click on either thumbnail below. Panasonic never slows down on developing incredible tools to help artist expand their skill sets and creativity.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Time is our most valuable commodity, but so often we throw it away worrying about what other people will think. Even when we've done our very best, we worry about criticism and outside opinions.
Well, it's Sunday morning and if you've followed me for even a short amount of time, you know I love to go off-topic from the business and marketing of photography once a week. Before I even thought about what I wanted to write about today, I got side-tracked with the post below from my good buddy, Scott Bourne.
It's too good not to share beyond his Facebook page. The best things about great friendships are what you learn from each other. Over the years he's been my sounding board on so many different ideas, and what he wrote this morning, once again hit home.
It also reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Dean Collins:
Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!
Remember that often, especially when you're creating for your own enjoyment, you're the checkbook holder!
by Scott Bourne
People ask me how/why I produce so much content. It doesn't matter whether it's photography, painting, writing, music, etc. It's always the same simple answer.
I've come to realize that my own effort is the only thing I can control in this life. Period.
I can't control what people think of my effort or of me for that matter. I can't control what others say about my effort or about me for that matter. So why worry about it?
I spend 100% of my time on that which I CAN control. My own effort. I do everything I do with gusto. I don't ever go half way. I don't ever ask for permission. I just go for it. For me it's always pedal to the metal, from sun-up to sun-down, seven days a week. And that's the way I like it.
As artists, it's none of our business what others think of our art. That's a rabbit hole and if you go down it, you'll never know how much work product you lost and time you wasted searching for empty compliments and dealing with vapid trolls.
So my advice is direct and to the point. Just do the work. Throw yourself into it 100%. Express yourself. Give the world your point of view without fear. Don't look back. When others hate. We create.
That simple philosophy has served me very, very well for more than six and a half decades. I hope it will serve you too.
Scott should be on your radar. His blog is just a click away, and you'll never be disappointed in the content he shares.
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday - a day filled with peace, minimal frustration with the pandemic, politics or anything that interrupts your ability to be creative. Smile more, bitch less and appreciate everything that's working right in your life, even though these days it's sometimes tough to recognize!
And to my pal Scott - thanks buddy. I needed this!
Happy Sunday everybody!
by Skip Cohen
I shared the bottom half of this post two years ago before any of us had ever used the word "pandemic."
SARCASM ALERT: This post is dedicated to those who seem to make a hobby out of losing clients and then blame the trend on everything and everybody except the face in the mirror, here's an updated list.
Wandering through the Internet several years ago I came across Desk.com and a list of "Five Annoying Customer Quotes" written by Allyson Stone. Today the site is called Salesforce.com and it's loaded with a lot of good content. Reading her five quotes, I wanted to put them into perspective for the business of photography.
Here's the thing about excellent Customer Service - it's about your attitude. It's not a department that's part of a large corporation. It's meant to be the foundation of everything you believe in business and about your customers. Excellent Customer Service is about making yourself habit-forming and exceeding customer expectations. Every client needs to feel like they're your most important customer.
We're still very much dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, but so is your target audience. Want to make some great in-roads in building your brand? Remember...
"Your customer doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care!"
Now's the time to show how much you care!
by Skip Cohen
As bizarre as this might sound, there is one fun aspect to the pandemic - with so much downtime old friends regularly surface, and it's fun to catch up!
Meet an old friend, Helmut Horn. We met in the '90s when he bought Ansel Adams' '77 Cadillac through a Hasselblad fundraiser. A few months later, he called me "Chicken" because I was afraid to get my scuba certification. He kept on me, and thanks to his support, I got my certification at Cheeca Lodge in the Keys, early the following year.
That one event changed my life and introduced me to an experience and hobby, unlike no other. Through Helmut, I met other divers, friends from the industry, and my first trips with Tom Danielson and Bob Rose - two of my best buddies to this day. Their names are in my logbooks through at least 300 dives over the years.
When I spoke with Helmut a few weeks ago, we talked about one of the biggest scuba challenges - getting all your photography gear on a dive trip. The shot above is Helmut and his friend Peter Kühn with their combined camera and lighting gear.
Remember, unlike today's lightweight camera gear, this was all back in the film days. Housings, lights, and even the brackets were heavy.
Helmut's introduction of the ocean into my life resulted in dozens of trips over the years all over the world. The shot above was to Cocos Island - 36 hours by boat from Costa Rica. I refer to the trip as the "most fun I don't think I want to do again," but incredible nonetheless. Strong currents and definitely for advanced diving, each dive kept you on your toes. It wasn't relaxed, but unbelievable to be an observer and in the water with thousands of sharks who had no interest in us at all. It's an experience I cherish and one that few people can relate to.
A typical dive would be to follow the mooring line down to a section of the reef and then grab a rock to hang on to and watch the hammerheads swim in and pause at a cleaning station. Dozens of tiny butterflyfish would come and eat the parasites off the sharks. Essentially it was the equivalent of nature's car wash for sharks.
I found the very short video below, captured with Panasonic's LUMIX cameras. In fact, there's one shot of a GH5 in the video, one of my favorite cameras in the LUMIX line. Click on the thumbnail for more info
I figured I might as well add a little entertainment to today's post. As with any place we've traveled, it's a kick to be back, even though it's only in video. It's a definite reminder of the importance of staying healthy, getting through the pandemic, and back to a time with friends and trips like this!
Take time to wander through your archives and find a memory that makes you smile. Between old photographs and talking to friends, there's no better therapy to help you stay positive during downtime!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Images copyright Rhonda Coe. All rights reserved.
You don't need a reason for doing everything in your life.
Do it because you want to. Because it's fun.
Because it makes you happy.
You can't find your passion, thinking about it in your head!
by Skip Cohen
The fun and insight gained in this series are thanks to the diversity of "chefs" in the Tamron Kitchen. We've covered so many different points of focus (pun intended), but the common denominator for each guest has been their love for the craft.
This new episode is a little different because Rhonda Coe doesn't consider herself a working pro, at least not yet. She's an extremely focused, serious hobbyist with a love for photography that will match anybody, pro or amateur. I knew from that very first phone call with her she'd share a lot of great insight into her love for life with a camera in her hand, and especially the world outside, including macro.
Several years ago, my good buddy Scott Bourne wrote a post about photography.
Photography is the great equalizer. When I see an arresting image the maker, no matter who they are or their station in life – the maker has the ability to rise with their image. Photos hang on the wall of the gallery or the museum or in the pages of a book or magazine or on the screen of a computer or television, not because the person who made the images was important – but because the image itself was important.
Rhonda's work speaks for itself, but it's her ability to seek out something interesting - something we'd take for granted and completely miss. She's in Ohio, a state that most people don't think of as very scenic - but I grew up there and lived there for many years. The park system around the Cleveland/Akron area is one of the most beautiful in the country, and she's not about to let a day go by without finding something interesting to share. Click on any image in today's post to enlarge and view in the SCU Lightbox.
Chef Rhonda's recipe is a click away if you missed it when it was posted last week. And for more information on Tamron's SP 90mm F/2.8 lens, click on the banner below. And to see more of Rhonda's work, check out her website.
The pandemic has changed so much in all of our lives, especially in accessibility to clients. At the same time, the Internet has become an even more significant part of our lives, and our ability to share images is greater than ever. And there is a benefit to downtime - getting out with your camera and exploring everything around you.
As we shared in Chef Rhonda's post last week, she rarely misses an opportunity to be out with her camera looking for critters and scenes most of us would just walk by. Her passion for the craft never slows down.
Tamron's support team doesn't slow down either - they've just moved to cyberspace. Check out Tamron's programs for rebates, online education, and even some great contests to share your work.
As we all adjust to the new normal, the change in business makes this an excellent time to expand your skill set. Having to "hunker down" doesn't have to mean your business, skills, or building relationships with your clients. It's essential to stay involved and keep growing!
"Every lens ever made was created with a purpose in mind."
by Skip Cohen
Every Monday, I share a new post with images from the world of mirrorless cameras, especially LUMIX. Today's post features the GH5 and a portrait shoot during the pandemic by my good buddy Charles Maring. But, the real stars of the video are Jessica Rose and the Leica 42.5 f/1.2 Nocticron lens.
It's a short video, but pay attention to the way Charles is shooting - into the sun and taking full advantage of the narrow depth of field created through this amazing piece of glass. His quote above says it all, and you'll see in image after image how he takes full advantage of the creativity brought out by his vision, combined with the best characteristics of the lens.
"I'll often point this lens into the sun, because with its f1.2 aperture it gives a really soft elegant glow, and roll-off to the highlights."
For more information about this incredible camera and lens click on either thumbnail below.
Charles and Jennifer Maring need to be on your radar. Click on any of the portraits in this post to visit their website, "Together in Style." You'll never be disappointed in the content they share. And stay tuned - they're about to make an amazing change in their lives, and all of us have been invited to share a front-row seat to their new adventures!
Take the time to get to know the LUMIX Ambassador team too. This group is one of the most diverse and creative teams in photo, and all the ambassadors should be on your radar as well. Looking for more great content? Check out the LUMIX Photographers Facebook page - there are always great conversations and images being shared by LUMIX artists from around the world.
by Skip Cohen
One of my readers recently asked me to make a video or write a post about the challenges of building a photography business. Her husband doesn't understand so many of the things she does that don't directly bring in revenue:
I would absolutely love to have something that I can sit down and watch with my husband, that will help explain to him what is really involved in building a photography business...So, perhaps you will consider putting together something aimed at the significant others that those of us in the industry are in love with, and don't want to strangle."
Over the years, I've heard a lot of comments mostly from husbands or wives that they can't get their spouses to understand what it takes to build a business as a photographer; equipment purchases when revenue is limited; experimenting with different techniques and the list goes on and on. And the same questions come up often from parents of photography students who proclaim, "Oh my God, my kid wants to be an artist!"
So, I'm going to take a shot at the request, and you guys can tell me how I did.
Here's the bottom line: Being a great photographer is about passion, but not just for the artistic side of pre and post-processing, but people. There are no compromises when it comes to the responsibility to each client, and the goal is always to exceed expectations. It takes years to learn all the skills, and it's never-ending.
Having spent my entire career in the photographic industry, there's no other field like imaging. Except for modern medicine, no career field has given the world more! Think about what a newspaper or wedding album would look like if it weren't for photographers. Every day they capture memories and turn them into tangible moments for their clients, but there's one last ingredient ideal for great artists...support.
Whether it's from your spouse, parents, or partner - support helps build confidence, and confidence is one of the key ingredients in building a business!
If you can't do anything about it, then let it go.
Don't be a prisoner to things you can't change.
by Skip Cohen
It's a typical Sunday, and I'm going to run amuck off the topic of marketing and business. It's a lesson I'm learning as I get older - sometimes there's absolutely nothing you can do. There it is - and while it might seem incredibly trite and simplistic, I'm still work in progress.
I was off a beat all day yesterday, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find the specific reason. The pandemic has created an emotional rollercoaster in my life, but as I sat here this morning determined to make today a better today, I started thinking about the world and my small piece of it.
We've got fires out of control in California, and I'm worried about friends in the area. We've got two hurricanes coming our way. While Sarasota is now predicted to be out of their way, New Orleans and Mississippi will get hit twice. Then there's the pandemic, which, while we've adjusted to the new norm, nothing changes in missing friends and the freedom we took for granted. Next in line is the political race, and it's another election where I have to decide who's the lesser of two evils - it's not about who's the best, who's less worse! (Apologies to Mrs. Sabo, my high school English teacher!) Finally there are things in my own little piece of the world with a family who were in isolation long before the word became fashionable.
The common denominator? They're all things I can do nothing about. I'm still running into people who won't wear a mask because all of this is a hoax. It's a perfect example of not being able to change people's opinions.
I searched for a quote to help me make my point and found the one above and then this one:
A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.
And that brings me right to my point and time to wrap up this post. We're all driving on winding roads and readjusting to new turns every day. We've got no choice but to play the cards we've been dealt, but what we so often miss are the cards we forgot we had.
For me, my inner gremlins took over and simply dragged me down. I wasted time feeling bad about things I just can't change and missed the time to savor all my friends trapped in cyberspace with me; Sheila, my health, the pups, and the list goes on and on. No matter how stressed we are over what's wrong in our lives right now, there's so much that's right.
Wishing everybody a day where you can just roll with it. Smile more, frown less, and trust what you feel in your heart. Most importantly, when those inner gremlins are dragging you down, reach out to someone you care about.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
“This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect.”
by Skip Cohen
I've used that Jodi Picoult quote at least a dozen times over the years, but there isn't a better one to describe what photographs mean to us.
Like a combo at Taco Bell, today's Throwback Thursday turns back the clock and, at the same time, is combined with a lot of love for a great guy who the industry lost recently, Rob Logan. We've all lost friends over the years, and while I don't do eulogy-like posts very often, here's one I really want to share today.
We often lose touch with friends and so many people who come into our lives. But, when someone we care about does pass, there's this incredible flood of memories, and most often smiles. We relive moments from the past as if we were in a time machine. We start the clock; however, far back, we want to go, and then watch life roll by repeatedly thinking, "Where did the years go?"
Rob was one of the all-time great people in our industry. I met him in 1987 when I joined Hasselblad. He was our sales manager in the south, based out of New Orleans. There isn't a person who ever met him who doesn't smile when you mention his name. He was simply a good guy!
I lost touch with Rob a long time ago, but that doesn't change the love or respect I feel about him. When I heard the news yesterday, my only response was, "Aw shit." Seriously, what else could I say over the sadness? But that sadness took me on a quest to find old photographs, mostly prints. Each image I found made me smile and pass on a story to Sheila, who met Rob only once.
The bottom line isn't so much about life being too short, but going by too fast. When we're in our teens, we can't wait to grow up, and when we're finally a big kid, we do our best to slow things down - both of which are impossible. So, the best thing to do is not waste our most valuable commodity...TIME.
The pandemic has given us all an opportunity to appreciate old friendships and take those looks back to times that made us smile. It's also a great time to get back in touch with old friends and even new ones from the last year or two. And best of all, with all of us spending more time on the Internet, everyone is pretty easy to find!
And to "Mr. Rob," we're all looking back on so many great moments shared with you, all the laughs and here and there even a few tears. You'll be missed from this industry, but if there's a way to find immortality, you did it with your smile. We'll miss you buddy!
by Skip Cohen
One of the best things about this industry is the diversity of the friendships that have all come out of our mutual love for the craft. From photographers to vendors, just calling it a diverse group would be a dramatic understatement.
Brian Campbell and I first met at WPPI 2009, my last show in my role as president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI. He's the president of PhotoFlashDrive, and their products are outstanding. (And I want to clarify my position on his company too - they do not pay me, and they're not an SCU partner.) They just have GREAT products to help you exceed client expectations.
Right now they've got a monster outlet sale going on and here's why you need to take a look.
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, especially in the business of imaging. More than ever before, your presentations to clients are in the spotlight. And PhotoFlashDrive manufactures hundreds of products to help you raise the bar on whatever you're delivering as a photographer.
From flash drives to wine and print boxes to branding material and everything in between, Brian has spent his life listening to what photographers need most. Don't take my word for it - take a look for yourself. You have a unique opportunity to deliver your products in a way that dramatically elevates the quality and perceived value!
Click on any image in this post to check out how PhotoFlashDrive can help you elevate your image and your brand!
Image copyright Rhonda Coe. All rights reserved.
by Skip Cohen
Chamira Young and I started this series because we wanted to introduce you to artists who were incredibly passionate about the craft. We wanted to share great images and, at the same time, the insights and backstories by the artists who created them. Working together with Tamron, we started the Tamron Kitchen. Like so many of our favorite reality food shows, we chose to play off the analogy of each artist being a fine chef.
If you think about a chef's skills to create something in the kitchen, the analogy to a photographer's creativity is almost identical. Years ago, the legendary portrait artist, Don Blair, used to refer to using a hair-light as the "garlic light." Like cooking with garlic, you want just the right amount, but use too much, and you'll ruin the dish.
This is a little different kind of Tamron Recipe this month. Rhonda Coe from Ohio joins us, and she has a full-time job outside imaging. But, one conversation with her and I'll match her passion for the craft with anybody.
Early in this series, I started adding a quote that seemed to fit each guest chef. I had never met Rhonda before our first phone conversation, but her enthusiasm is infectious, along with her quest for quality and sharing great images. With Rhonda, I found two that seem to describe her love for photography.
You don't need a reason for doing everything in your life.
Do it because you want to. Because it's fun.
Because it makes you happy.
You can't find your passion, thinking about it in your head!
About "Chef" Rhonda: "My goal in photography is to give people a glimpse of places they have never been, an appreciation of the nature that surrounds us, and a different view of the wildlife that lives amongst us."
The first line on her about page says it all. At the end of her about page she wrote, "And it's still the "hobby" that gets me up at 5am for sunrise, and keeps me up until 2am for Milky Way shots, and still makes me head into a patch of poison ivy (which I'm highly allergic to!) just to get a better shot of a bird."
Earlier I commented about Rhonda's love for the craft. Remember, like so many photographers in our industry, Rhonda's a serious hobbyist who never slows down, trying to learn as much as she can. With a full-time job working for the State of Ohio, she takes full advantage of her available time to go off in search of new subjects.
Take the time to visit Chef Rhonda's website. She's regularly proving a point about how much there is to photograph, no matter where you live!
About the Image: Rhonda used Tamron's SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD lens to capture both of the images shared in today's post.
Every now and there's a connection with a critter that almost seems like they know they're being photographed. Well, "George," the jumping spider hung out with her long enough to get a name! I hope you'll join us on August 25, when we'll air our podcast with Rhonda who shared backstories about both images.
Tamron's reputation has grown to be one of the finest manufacturers of camera lenses in the world. They never slow down on raising the bar on the quality of their optics and giving artists more creative tools for the craft. They're one of the industry's most favorite suppliers, and whether online these days in virtual workshops or live at their booth at any convention, they're always busy.
Tamron's website is loaded with outstanding content, as well as their YouTube channel. And their tech team is regularly teaching online with workshops supported by Tamron retailers all over the country.
Click on the banner below to check out a one-week "FLASH SALE" on two of their most popular lenses.
The pandemic has slowed down business, but not your ability to keep growing as an artist. This is a great time to expand your gear, and take full advantage of the downtime getting to know a new lens, and boost your skill set.
by Skip Cohen
William Innes and I have been friends for many years, thanks to meeting through Panasonic. He's a LUMIX Ambassador, and right now, there are a lot of us living vicariously through his travels. A couple of months ago, William and his wife Cora hit the road on a two-year tour of the US and Canada.
He's been posting to his Facebook page regularly, and virtually everything he shares is captured with a member of the LUMIX family of cameras. While the professional community knows the quality in the LUMIX interchangeable lens line, we often forget the smaller cameras.
The three photographs in this post were captured with the LUMIX LX100 II. You can click on the thumbnail banner below for more information about this remarkable camera.
William shared these images in late July when they were in Oregon. These images are from Shore Acres State Park on the Oregon coast (near Coos Bay). The gardens are incredible - click on any image to enlarge it in the SCU Lightbox. Keep in mind these are screenshots from his Facebook post, and they're still sharp.
Check out the LUMIX Ambassador team. This group is one of the most diverse and creative teams in photo, and all the ambassadors should be on your radar. Check out the LUMIX Photographers Facebook page too - there are always great conversations and images being shared.
Intro by Skip Cohen
Sadly, that image above is the equivalent of the attention too many photographers put into the final packaging of the products they deliver to their clients. Okay, maybe it's a little extreme, but it hopefully will help make my point!
It's Marketing Monday, although EVERY day in your business should be about marketing. And, while the pandemic has changed many things in our lives, the need to continue to market yourself has never slowed down.
Yesterday I did a run to "Total Wine" - we were low on two pandemic survival necessities, tequila, and vodka! (Actually, neither of us are big drinkers, but we were out of both.) I was blown away by the packaging of one of our favorites, Milagro.
The color combination of black and silver suggests high perceived value with both men and women. Black and gold, also repeatedly score high in packaging tests. The package itself, along with the bottle design, is eye-catching and contemporary. And the story about Milagro is printed on both sides of the box.
That got me thinking about professional packaging in photography, which I've written a lot about over the years. Even though business for most of you is down, the importance of your final presentation hasn't diminished. It's probably more important and noticeable than ever before.
Whether you're giving a client access to images online or physically delivering an album or prints - don't underestimate the value of professional packaging!
A few years back, I found the post below in Marathon's blog archives, and the timing couldn't be better to share it again. We're coming up to the fourth quarter, which will still represent the busiest time in seasonality for photography...even with the pandemic.
As you start to send out orders for the 2020 holiday season, remember the impact professional packaging can have on each shipment's perceived value. And don't think of packaging as just for your hard products, but the artwork involved in online deliveries as well.
Every order is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your professionalism. Use professional packaging and elevate the perceived quality of your products. If you don't send them out with an elevated level of respect, nobody else will do it for you!
How important is the packaging in which you deliver portraits and other photographic products to your clients? When you consider the majority of photographic purchases are either initiated or entirely controlled by women clients, then the answer is clear: Packaging plays a huge role in enhancing your studio’s brand! Smart marketers know that women are influenced by packaging that pays attention to these key elements:
Research shows that color palette preferences of women are decidedly different from those of men, and the psychology of color—how it influences moods and feelings—is something that every marketer should take into consideration when developing key branding pieces such as business cards, websites, brochures, marketing cards, and packaging.
Women are known to be attracted to packaging that has appealing physical profiles, such as shape and size. These two elements are sometimes key to the functionality of the packaging, which has a definite impact on women consumers; women typically are concerned about how products can be safely and easily transported.
Who doesn’t like to unwrap a package? Women certainly do, so when packaging has pleasingly interactive qualities, such as luxurious ribbon, artfully designed bellybands, deluxe tissue, and eye-catching stickers, each item adds a layer of anticipation to the process of receiving the photographic product.
The fact that attention to detail is important to women, the addition of decorative bag tags, bellybands, ribbons, and even charms, elevates product value in the mind of sophisticated consumers.
Whenever a transaction results in an emotionally satisfying experience for the client, he or she becomes more likely to return for additional sessions and to refer clients to your business. Personalized packaging, such as the addition of a session image used as a bellyband closure or to adorn a shopping bag, is just the kind of gesture that creates a positive emotion which adds significantly to the success of the client’s experience with you.
Artfully coordinated packaging materials support the kind of positive image building that defines and adds meaning to your business brand. Extending your innate creativity to creating packaging that attracts you ideal consumer is well worth your time.
As the holidays approach, there’s no better season to create imaginative packaging. By advertising that “all gift portraits include custom gift wrapping,” you’ll be adding value to your product, and you’ll be all set to conclude future sessions with style!
by Skip Cohen
It's a typical Sunday morning in what's become the new norm. Sheila and I get up together and get the pups out; then, on either Saturday or Sunday, I hit the market with the shopping list. They open at seven, and I like to be there ahead of the idiots who think wearing a mask restricts their freedom. A mask isn't a political statement, it's an IQ Test, and fortunately, these fools like to sleep in! LOL
I've noticed through five+ months of the pandemic that I've become more aware of my own mortality. Not in a morbid way, just concerning not wanting to waste time.
We're down to watching the news one day a week, but we still read a lot. The stories that seem to jump out the most often are about people who have lost the battle to Covid-19. My frustration with all of these stories is that's what the media wants us to hear most. That's the panic they want to keep creating. I'm not minimizing any deaths due to the virus or the growing number of new cases, just the way they're presented.
Sheila and I take turns helping each other stay focused. But that doesn't change the fact I'm aware time is flying by. I don't want to miss a second of any day and hate it when I let everything get to me. But I have noticed a huge change in the values of things I appreciate.
For example, we discovered that as an Amazon Prime Member, we can go back to our favorite shows and watch old episodes without a single commercial. So, we're on season 2 of Chicago PD - each episode without a single interruption. Come on, admit it, this is BIG!
See what I mean about appreciation levels? Here are a few more...
And there you have it - a life of simplicity demonstrating exactly what I'm talking about - continually changing priorities and appreciating the simplest of things.
But there's one more I've noticed - my friendships, both new and old, have never been more important. Catching up to somebody on an IM can be magical, even when I'm busy. And phone calls are astounding. I'm more in touch with people than before the pandemic. Now and then, my mother hen gene makes me worry when I don't hear from somebody I've been chasing down, but that doesn't change my appreciation when I find them. I also use the words "love ya" more often with great friends - because more than ever I realize how plain my life would be without them.
Wishing everybody a safe, healthy, and uncomplicated Sunday. Appreciate all the little things and just like the button in Luminar to "enhance the details," pay attention to how your love for so many things you barely used to notice has changed.
Sending everybody a long therapeutic virtual hug and hoping you can stay focused on the big picture - getting through the pandemic and being together at the next LIVE convention. What a celebration that's going to be!
Happy Sunday...and Monday to all my friends on the other side of the world.
"The greatest technology in the world hasn't replaced the ultimate relationship building tool
between a customer and a business...the human touch!"
by Skip Cohen
There was a long window of time when talking on the phone seemed to be on its way to extinction. Everyone was texting and emailing. And as a consumer, if we called any major company, we were put through a barrage of defaults, often in menus that made little or no sense. You know the drill, "Please listen closely because your menu has changed. If you're calling about ______ press 1, and I always wanted to hear, "If you'd like to talk to somebody who cares, call another company!"
Okay, maybe it wasn't always that bad, but the pandemic came along, and today, excellent communication skills are more critical than ever. We're a word of mouth industry, and personal contact with clients will be restricted for some time. That puts how you handle yourself over the phone at the top of the list of critical marketing tools.
I remember when the phone company, "Ma Bell," used to do classes for business clients on phone etiquette. As I look back on it today, those classes were really about how to have a conversation - so, the same way you carry yourself with somebody face to face or (mask to mask today), is a foundation for how you communicate on the phone.
And it's all just as much about Customer Service as it is verbal communication. NOW is the perfect time to strengthen your communication skills with the phone.
The phone is one of your very best marketing tools. How you communicate is all under the umbrella of great Customer Service. Being a great communicator is just as important to build your business as meeting client expectations with the quality of your images!
by Skip Cohen
The fun of Throwback Thursday is finding old photographs and memories that simply make us laugh. The less than fun part is admitting you have no idea, whatsoever, when or where the memories were made! And to all of my old friends in the image, if somebody remembers why we were all together, please share.
I know it was captured in the mid to late 90s, and on film with an Olympus Stylus. It was always a signature moment at Hasselblad when we'd all be together, and one of us would put the Stylus on self-timer and place it on the ground - everybody knew to huddle around.
We've all got time on our hands these days, and I've found looking at old photographs, especially the ones I find from the film days, bring back so many smiles. It's also a great way to keep in touch with friends who have slipped away over the years.
And for those of you who don't want to fool with rotating the image, here it is in the other direction.
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Intro by Chamira Young
Need a break from watching the doom and gloom of current events in the news? We've got you covered! Today we bring you a fun, constructive way to develop your artistic eye and vision with outdoor photography. It's a versatile genre that any photographer with a camera can get out and explore. Whether you consider it your business specialty or not, there are always countless opportunities to capture the beauty that awaits around you.
It's especially effective when you have the right lens for it. Professional outdoor photographer David Johnston brings us this video review about the the Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 Di III RXD for Sony Full-Frame mirrorless cameras. David shares why he loves this tip-notch glass and features it in a variety of outdoor situations. I love how he demonstrates its versatility in wildlife photography, landscape photography, travel photography, and even night photography!
Check out the video below. Also, be sure to check out a Tamron dealer near you!
by Skip Cohen
Paul Mango is a LUMIX Ambassador and posted the image above on his Facebook page and Instagram a few weeks ago. Besides loving the shot, it hit me how many times I've done just what Paul did - take a long look in the rearview mirror.
While we're all looking forward and impatiently waiting for things to improve faster with the pandemic, our past photographs offer a soothing return to normalcy. It's those archived images of places we've visited, something we've photographed, and friends we've shared time with that help, so many of us stay focused. With this image, Paul wrote: "Missing our National Parks this Summer - New Moon over Balanced Rock in Arches National Park last Spring."
Just over a year ago, my wife and I decided it was time to see another part of the country that was new for both of us. We spent ten days in New Mexico, starting in Albuquerque, then Santa Fe and Taos. I brought a full backpack of camera gear but wound up using the LUMIX G-9 exclusively with the LUMIX 14-140mm lens. The combination gave me everything I needed, and the image quality was remarkable!
Paul captured the image with a LUMIX G-9 and a Rokinon 12mm F2.0 lens. Exposure triad was: ISO 2500, F2.0, 25 second exposure using the 2 second self timer to eliminate camera shake.
Click on any thumbnail below for more information about this incredible camera!
I met Paul through the LUMIX Ambassador team. Thanks to social media, I've been able to enjoy the images he shares. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram. And check out the LUMIX Ambassador team. This group is one of the most diverse and creative teams in photo, and all the ambassadors should be on your radar. Check out the LUMIX Photographers Facebook page too - there are always great conversations and images being shared.
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.