by Skip Cohen
Great photographers, share numerous common denominators. One of them is their willingness to share information. Here are just a few terrific examples.
A few years back I attended a program by Sandy Puc. If you don’t know who she is, you need to get out more often! Besides being an outstanding instructor and artist, she’s also the founder of NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep), a remarkable charity supported by thousands of photographers.
“Sam” was the first photographer I’d ever heard talk openly about benchmarks in her career related to hiring more staff and growth in revenue. I’ve obviously forgotten the actual numbers, but let’s say she started out in her career with a grand total of $10,000 in sales the first year, eating macaroni and cheese and sleeping in her car a lot. Her next benchmark, which might have included some advertising, showed a jump in business, followed by hiring her first assistant and another jump. Then came a marketing manager and special programs and another jump. She took us through twenty years of growing her business.
I don’t think my starting number for her is off that much, but I do remember her anticipated gross sales number for that particular year was over a million dollars! She was open, honest and frank about the steps she took to build her business, including some of the mistakes.
In a similar display of sharing information, I've linked you a couple times to Bruce Berg's post on the Lane County Children's Contest. Bruce couldn’t have been more open in sharing everything they do to make the contest a success and even talks about the level of revenue they create.
Hit Facebook's page for Jeff Lubin and you'll find post after post of Jeff sharing his "secrets", because he doesn't believe in secrets. His forum is a labor of love, simply helping people raise the bar on their work and think before the click the shutter!
Chris Fawkes is an Australian photographer who's become a great buddy. He started Facebook Wedding Photographers and asked me to help him administrate the forum a couple months ago. Every Monday he posts an advice piece to help photographers and virtually every day, there's something he's adding to somebody's request for feedback. He'll work hard to answer any question he's asked and in turn is helping thousands of photographers improve their abilities as artists.
Michele Celentano, teaching next week at SCU's Summer Session, started out a GoingPro Boot Camp we did three years ago with, "Twenty years ago I was sitting right where you are and wondering how long it was going to be before my work didn't suck!" The audience laughed and you could see people start to relax as Michele proceeded to show images from the first wedding she ever shot...and they were terrible.
With SCU's Summer Session coming up, I'm reminded that every one of the instructors are part of the program because they love to teach. They love to give away all their "secrets". Their focus is on raising the bar of everybody's skill set and in turn the quality of an entire industry. It's simply what they do all year long.
Over the years I’ve listened to so many great photographers share their ideas and that's one of those special traits that makes them great. A great photographer is one who's willing to share and be comfortable in helping you become a stronger competitor.
Illustration Credit: © Artur Marciniec - Fotolia.com
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.