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Skip Cohen and Liam Douglas Talk About Growing Your Photography Business

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Skip Cohen gives you tips on growing your photography business by giving back to your community as well as other means to accomplish this.
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This is Tina Douglas and you're listening to the lamb photography podcast with your host, my husband, liam Douglass enjoy greetings everybody, you're listening to the liam photography podcast. I'm your host, liam Douglass and this is episode 199 So over the last six months to close to a year, I've had a lot of the photography students that listen to the show regularly emailing me instant messaging me, texting me, asking me when I could get certain guests on the show that you guys really wanted to hear on the show. And last week, as you all know, we had the famous and talented fine art landscape photographer stared dreamily and to make you guys even more happy. I have another one of the big guns that everybody had been asking for. So today joining me on the show is the super talented and super awesome skip Cohen from skip Cohen University. So I'm gonna go ahead and bring him on with us right now and we're gonna talk about how to move your photography business forward. Hey, skip. Thanks for joining me boy. Oh boy, awesome and super talented all in one sentence. I am honored and flattered. Well, I'm honored to have you on the show seriously. Um, you're, you're a giant in the industry whether you realize it or not. You know what years ago I took my dad with me to one of the conventions. I think it was imaging USA before it became imaging USA and we walked around the show and my dad made some comment to me about boy walking around the show with you is like walking with the mayor. And what I was trying to get dad to understand is that if you've been in the same industry your whole life, which at that point I was probably, I don't know, I'm guessing there's probably about 35 or 40 years I've been in the industry. Um, you start to know everybody and we all become Mayor's. So I appreciate the line about a giant in the industry. But I love this industry. And when you've been around it long enough, and we've all been to the same rubber chicken dinners and retirement parties and stuck in airplanes and snowstorms and everything else. Um, you just, it really does become a family. And it's something that I always try and remind, especially new photographers that everybody thinks the photographic imaging industry is so huge and it really isn't. It's a few 100,000 of artists and I'm not counting in everybody. That's that's an amateur videographer these days. But in terms of professional photographers and videographers and everybody is involved in some aspect of the business. Um, we're all, we're all pretty close. We all watch each other's back. So, like I said, I I appreciate, um, your comments, but I don't know these days, all of us have the ability to be giants in this industry. It's just it's just got to pay attention. Yeah, exactly. And your modesty. I love your modesty, but you are, you're, you're very big in the industry and most anybody knows that you are. Um, so to start off, how about you go ahead and give my listeners, uh, some of your background, how you got into the photography world and what you currently do. Because I know you have a lot of irons in the fire. Well, all right, I'm going to try, I'll do this as short as possible essentially. I go off to college and I am every parent's worst nightmare. Um, never studied, Never wanted wanted to open a book. It was, this was Vietnam and college was a deferment and my parents wanted me to do something with my life and I had no maturity. And truthfully had I gone into the military, it would have given me the discipline and I would have been able to define what it meant to be an adult a whole lot earlier. But I went off to college and I guess that's where I first learned sales and marketing. I mean, I convinced my parents that I could study more. It was too noisy in the dorm. But if I had an apartment, oh, looking back on these days, um, I'd be able to study more and not be interrupted. Uh, I convinced them. If I had a, if I could keep my, my car, which I bought over the summer. Um, if I could have a car, I could come home more often. I was in Miami of Ohio and down near Oxford, which is way south bottom of the state. And I grew up in the northeast corner, in a little town called Painesville, Ohio. And I didn't, you weren't allowed to have a car, you weren't allowed to have an apartment, but they didn't check on that. Um, I kept the car for $10 a month off campus at the place called the College View Motel. And I, I thumbed my way out to get the car. Bottom line is after several semesters on and off probation, I would, I would go on probation and I'd be afraid of not getting back into school. So I go to summer school, I'd make Dean's list and then the next semester I screw off again and party and eventually Miami of Ohio said that's it, you're, you're gone, we've given you three strikes, you're out and now I'm without a job out of school. And that was the first draft for the Uh, the military. I was, my number was 297 and I knew that in lake county Ohio, that number was not gonna come up. So decided it was time to move out, move to boston to be with uh my girlfriend at the time. And uh, I went to work at Polaroid. It's 1970 to 89 an hour. Most money I ever made in my life. I was washing bottles in a research lab. Um, but I love the company and I went back to school nights at boston University, which at that point now, um I'm married, I've got A baby on the way and I loved polaroid and took one course after another in marketing, worked my way up to being uh manager of the specialty dealer channel, which is about $125 million dollars of sales. Polaroid had a an internal bidding system at that time. So if you were an employee, you could go ahead and bid on any posting you saw for a job that was open. And I just kept taking shots at at jobs that were essentially line supervision, entry level, uh salary jobs. Eventually I got that specialty dealer manager. And then one day I got a cold call from a headhunter who wanted to know if I knew of anybody that wanted to be president of a small camera company. Uh I thought it was my brother in law screwing around. I absolutely told him. I said you know, kiss my ax, I'll see at my house for dinner tonight. And as I went to uh hang up the phone, I'm hearing this guy screaming no, this is a legitimate call. The job was president Hasselblad us. And what I had that gave me the qualifications for that job. There are only a handful of companies in photo that had managers for the camera dealers and hassle bladders were only sold through photo specialties channel. Um you didn't, they weren't at kmart, they weren't in service merchandise which was alive and well at the time, um certainly weren't any drug stores or supermarkets. So that channel of trade, I had the background And that's really, that's 1987 and that's where I look at my career truly taking off because if I look back Today, of my friends and the people I am closest to all came out of those early hasselblad years. That's also when um Abadan was alive and scapula was alive and Irving penn, all these greats were all, all in new york um alive and well and doing so many things commercially and shooting with hassle blood And that was kind of a connection into the pro world and I was there for uh 12 years and then got an offer to go play in the internet um took it, they gave me a million shares of a company called Photo ali dot com. Now a million shares if it's worth something is great when the company goes belly up, there's, you can't even use it for wallpaper. So I was president of Photo Alley dot com. And fortunately the screw ups that the company had were related to the financial side which I had nothing to do with. We had an office in New Jersey. I was essentially the face of uh Photo Alley dot com brought in Jim O'neill who is one of the finest buyers I have ever met and we essentially built a retail store. But the idea was to build it on a foundation of community. So we had classes online and just like if you went into a store for a class you had to get through the store to get to the classroom and and we got up to I think it was around $37 million in sales but never got into the black because at that time yahoo and A. O. L. Were the two big vehicles to advertise on. They were incredibly expensive. There was no humility out of that side of the world. And when photo ali went belly up um I was standing in the unemployment line trying to figure out what to do and everybody kept saying to me, oh come on your skip cohen you'll find a job. Well the reality is everybody that no matter what you think you are or your friends think you are. The reality is you're just another person out in the job market. And it was a very humbling experience. And steve Shannon who then owned Range Finder magazine and WPP. I gave me a shot one day and said why don't you come out to California, I'll make you president, I'm going to promote myself to chairman of the board and I'll stay out of your hair headed out to California. I was president of W. P. P. I. And Range Finder Publishing for seven years and then left in 2000 and nine to go off on my own because I have always admired all of you out there. I've lived vicariously through people like you, liam as entrepreneurs and I wanted to see all right, can I really walk the talk? And that's when I started skip Cohen University and we did skip summer school and today skip Cohen University is essentially uh, my blog, I have clients that come and go marathon Press Panasonic over the years, Tamerlan over the years. Uh, Tamerlan's on a little bit of a hiatus right now, but they'll be back. Um, and a number of other smaller companies that essentially are paying for content support. Pro Photo was very active for a while. So is Westcott and it just changes as the market changes and that's half, well that's about a third of the hat that I wear. And the other rest of the have the big hat is CMO for plata pod, which I just, I adore the company. I love the owner. It really is a mom and pop company and a great product and here I am. Well, that's a fantasy. That was the short, that was the short version. My apologies, just starts getting a little long winded, you know, No, you're absolutely fine. Like I said, my believe it or not. My listeners tend to prefer the interview episodes to be an hour and hour plus. I've actually had a couple of them that went 2.5 hours and the number of downloads was just off the charts. I was blown away because I was like, man, I think that's a little bit too long of an episode. But nope, they liked it, they loved it. Well, I can, I can help you fill in. You want to make time. I've got, I've got photo stories. I mean, yeah, I can imagine Ansel Adams car keys here in my desk drawer. So I know that's crazy, plenty material. Well, I love the fact that you're a plant pot. I actually love their product. I have two of the max. They think it's the max or the ultra, the bigger plan to pod max, plate tripods. I've got two of those and I absolutely love them. I haven't picked up one of the ball head yet. Are they out now? The plateau ball is not out yet. Um, this has been the plateau ball has been what I would consider the perfect storm. We launched an incredibly great product on January 15, 2020 on scott Kelby show the grid and Larry was on live dot com. Mariska who is one of the finest may well be the finest macro photographer in the world. He came, he drove down from Canada to be on the show with Larry and I was over on the side table and we launched it and had an incredibly good response and then Covid hit just as we were, we were coming to the end of the Kickstarter campaign, we raised enough money to get it off the ground. But then it went into that perfect storm scenario between Covid and then they made some incredible improvements in the design. And when we made the improvements of design, we essentially had to step out of line for the manufacturing that was going to be done because this is being built in Taiwan. So we step out of line and we come back in line and because of Covid and other manufacturing priorities for other companies, we're now at the back of the line again. So that slowed us down. And then just when we were coming out of it and we thought all right, great Taiwan went into another Covid lockdown and we're just now waiting for our first shipments to come in within the next week or two. Um, so we can start shipping and it will be available to retail. Um probably not until March early April because we've got over 2200 photographers who back the project primarily through Kickstarter and um Indiegogo, wow, that's amazing. I'll definitely be looking for that when it becomes readily available. I'll definitely be picking one of those up because I've been intrigued by the entire design and Plateau pod seems to be a fantastic company. Well, I don't know what, you know about plata pod and I don't want to turn this into a platter pod discussion. But what's truly amazing is that the owner and founder inventor, Larry Tiffin brune is, he's a full time pediatrician, but he fell in love with photography before he became a doctor and he's got a pediatrician practice in New Jersey and one day a week is full time plata pa day, the rest of the rest of the week. He's seeing patients and all of these designs and ideas. Um, he's just remarkable not to mention probably the highest integrity of anybody I've ever met or worked with and he is just phenomenal. He loves the product, um, knows the product inside and out and the product really did come out of a trip to Utah and he's hiking around, I don't know Monument Valley, wherever they were. I don't, I don't know my state parks very well. That's embarrassing. And he wanted to find a way that you could, you could get the shot without having to drag a tripod with you. So it's not meant to replace the tripod, but it's one hell of a buddy to hang out with. Oh yeah, along with your tripod. Exactly. I mean, I didn't get rid of any of my regular tripods, but I have two of those just because I like the unique perspective I can get with it, yep, especially. And that's where we keep, that's what, yeah, that's what we keep reminding everybody. I mean we've got a great shot that rick Sammon did of a woman in china at a loom and where most of us would photograph, you know, standing up, or maybe it kneel down and get a shot of her in her hands or something. He shot from the floor, up through the loom with window light on her face, and it's just stunning. But it changes your perspective. And that's the big challenge for everybody today is, you know, how do they make your work look a little different? It's great to learn and follow all the icons in the industry, but you still have to put your own spin on, on your images in what you offer your clients. Exactly. You have to you have to be able to create your own style if you're gonna stand out. Okay, so, getting into, let's get into the meat and potatoes of this episode now, because you are a photographer, but your biggest thing that you do is photography education. Now. There you go. So, let's let's let's dispel the myth right now. I couldn't be farther away from a real photographer. I do not make a living at it. Uh my training has been mostly hands on over the years, hanging out with all of you guys. And what I often say, the difference between me and Tony Korbel, for example, who is one of my very dearest buddies. Um, Tony could do a stunning portrait for you and have it lit put together in 10 minutes now, I can give you the same portrait, but it'll take me 10 days. That's that's the difference. And I've had a few, I've had a few images published and I know more than I let on simply because I've been around so many photographers. I grew up in a dark room in high school working for the local newspaper. So I certainly understand um the process and then along came digital and I'm fascinated by it. I love what I'm, what I'm doing. I shoot mostly with with Panasonic lou mix and that's kind of where I am. So I'm not a photographer. My real passion is helping you guys with marketing promotion. Um the right brain side of the business because so many photographers are there great technicians but they don't pay attention to the marketing and they don't understand the things they need to do. Dean Collins, God bless him when he was alive, used to say that. And this is very dated Now. All you needed to be a photographer was a roll of duct tape and yellow pages at uh it's today. Nobody knows what the yellow pages were. Um everybody knows duct tape, but you've got to go a lot deeper than that to build a business and a reputation as an artist. Exactly. So that and that's the reason why I wanted to have you on here because you're one of the foremost experts on building a successful photography business. Um That's one of the main drivers that skip cohen University if I'm correct. Um yeah, I mean that's somehow somehow my life I morphed into being a writer and I loved to write, I've co authored six books starting with Don Blair Scott Born and I did the most recent one about 10 years back called Going Pro, which is great. Um you'll still find it now and then on amazon and then in the middle there three books with Bambi Cantrell and one with job use ink. So there's a lot of great information out there. My role has been the writing and then I always do the marketing section and there's so much out there to be able to build, help you build your business. And there's so many, there's so many photographers today that are, that are out there and educators that are out there willing to help, but people have to remember to ask for it. Yeah, absolutely. So getting into the business side because I, like I said, I get these kind of questions all the time from photography students because of my situation is an alumni ambassador when I was in college and after I graduated. Um so what is the very first thing that a new photographer needs to do towards building a successful business? Oh, let's start with, let's start with building out your skill set, for example, I can't stand it when I meet a new photographer who tells me they're a natural light specialist that, that the bells go off all over the place because when you tell somebody or natural light specialists, it means you haven't taken the time to learn studio lighting or any kind of artificial lighting. And the reality is that in our hearts we're all natural light specialist. We all like that natural look. We don't nobody wants, nobody wants the, that that 19 fifties flashbulb look, unless that's the look you're really going for. But as as an ongoing style, we're all, everybody is a natural light specialist. So I would say the first step is, is to learn your craft and understand it and don't rush it. In fact, uh, jerry jones did a workshop for me when I lived in Ohio, we did a thing called the Akron Photo series and jerry and his wife melissa came in and we all hung out for a few days. And I remember jerry talking to his class and he said in all honesty, the way we go into businesses backwards. You know, we, we get our camera, we think we know what we're doing. We go out and we start photographing in his case. He's one of the finest wedding photographers in the world. But in all honesty jerry, there isn't anything jerry couldn't photograph, but he said it's backwards because you go out and you start shooting right away and building a client base when excuse me, you do that for a couple of years and then you're struggling trying to figure out why your business isn't working. And he said what really everybody should do is be a second shooter for a couple of years, learn your skills, understand your target audience. It's just like sports photographers, you know, anybody photographing. I've tried to photograph a couple of hockey games and it's really impossible because you have to anticipate, you have to understand the sport so well that you can anticipate when that puck is going to get hit or when, or when brady is going to pass. Um, if you're doing football or baseball the same thing and he said, it's all backwards because what we should do is be that second shooter for a couple of years and then once we understand all our skills and we can work that, that camera in complete darkness and know where every button is and know what focal length lens we want to use. Then it would be time to go ahead and now you've got some time to start to learn the business side because you've already spent two years shooting and understand your camera. In fact, for years, I used to say before anybody should be allowed to buy high end digital uh, DSLR, they absolutely should be forced to shoot a case of chrome on an old camera because chrome. Well you shot, you shot a little chrome, I'm sure. Yeah, yeah, it's unforgiving the lab can't fix it. It's what you see is what you get. So understanding everything about photography. So that's where, that's where I'd say your, your foundation is now from there. Now you start to get into, for example, figuring out what you want to do, What's, what's especially you want to go towards. I see this all the time on websites where I'm looking at somebody's website and I used to do website reviews and it didn't matter if it was 30 minutes or an hour and a half. We went through every aspect of that photographer's website and I'd be stumbling through their galleries because they wanted to shoot, let's use weddings an example. They really want to get into wedding photography, but they love landscape and every now and then they do some product shots. What they don't understand is that there are three different audiences for that and you can't be a master of mediocrity across the board. You need to, you need to identify what it is you want to shoot. Mhm. And then, then you can branch off of that. For example, if you're a wedding photographer, um, it's a logical transition to be able to start to do portraiture maternity babies, kids. In fact, the hierarchy of why people hire photographer goes, brides babies, pets. And that was out of a Kodak study 25, 30 years ago, Up until the pandemic. I don't believe it moved at all today. I think it's probably brides have dropped down a little bit, only because of the number of events that were held back during Covid. Um, and there's still a little bit on the edge. Babies may be held back a little bit pets is outrageously strong right now and again. That's because everybody got a pet during the pandemic. Yeah, absolutely. I'll tell you another thing that really took off because of the pandemic. Um, and one of my friends in Atlanta started doing this. She came in and I trained her because I do real estate photography while I was doing that for a few years as a full time gig because I'm not a big, I'm not begging to doing portraits as bread and butter, you know the way to make money. And uh, I brought, they brought in this new girl and I was training her and then when the pandemic hit what she started doing and she already had these skills as she started doing live streaming of funerals and making a boatload of money doing that because especially back in the early days of the pandemic, you know, nobody was allowed to go anywhere or very few people where everything was locked down. So she started offering live streaming for funerals and was making a killing doing it. I was actually shell and I were at the funeral of the brother, a very good friend. Uh, that was, that was a tough time. And yet I have to tell you something when you do a funeral and these were, this one was done on zoom? Um, I didn't know, I didn't know my friend Kevin's brother. I didn't know any of his family. I just knew kevin and his immediate family and we wanted to be there out of respect and love for kevin and his family and were attending the funeral and it really gave you an opportunity to get to know the deceased much better than you would have ever picked up at a live funeral. And I'm not saying that, okay guys, you know, let's look at having another pandemic so we can all get together more on zoom. I think we're all sick of zoom. But what the pandemic did do is give us a different way to keep in touch. And also out of the pandemic has come a renewed sense of family that I don't believe this country has seen. Um, since the 40s and 50s when you had one TV in the house or you didn't have a TV and everybody sat around and listen to the radio. Uh, there's a renewed sense of family and if you think about it this year, uh, portrait photography is going to be a very hot item uh, through this year's holiday seasonality. Oh yeah, absolutely. And I agree with what you were saying before with everybody should as a way to better their skill set, should be a second shooter for somebody else. That's how I started out. Uh, many years ago. I'm from a small farm town in pennsylvania that nobody's ever heard of. All right, what, what is the troy pennsylvania up in Bradford County. Okay, We only had a population of about 3000, but I started out, well not as the second shooter book because I was considerably young at the time, but I started out as a photography assistant for the gentleman that did, he had his own portrait studio in the town and he also did all the portrait photography for the schools. So he handled all the public schools in the area. He did portraits for couples families, all of that good stuff and he did some weddings on occasion, but he was an older gentleman when I started assisting him and unfortunately, you know, he later passed away and when I got into the high school phase of of my, you know, regular schooling, one of my chemistry teachers, Mr borg Jason was a professional portrait and wedding photographer. Uh in addition to being a teacher that was how he would supplement his income during, especially during the summer when teachers were laid off, he would do wedding photography and you know, holiday times, he did a lot of portrait photography and so I I was the second shooter started as an assistant for him and then a second shooter and I was in the camera club. So I learned, you know how to work in the dark room and all that good stuff and that's how I started out. And then my first paying gig and I'm not trying to monopolize your time. I was actually as a traveling portrait photographer for Kmart back eons ago before any of the box stores had these little uh rinky dink in house photo studios, you know, all of Kmart's portraits were done by professional photographers that they contracted with. And I actually traveled up and down the east coast, the eastern seaboard from Maine, all the way down to florida. That was myself and six other guys. And when we get to a region, you know, we'd stay at a centralized hotel and then each day we all went in different directions to cover the Kmarts in that area. Well, that was, that was a tremendous time in, in the photo industry. Uh you were, you were shooting all film, you're working, you're working up and down the coast, you're getting to know the skill set. I mean, you know, you're set up with two or three lights and a backdrop in the middle of a Kmart. Um Sears had a huge business then, in fact, it was all over the place. Uh and that was, yeah, you've got an awful lot of photographers out there that have got, have got roots like that and it was, it was a great experience and you know, there's that old line about, you know, part time photographers will often get asked, when should, when do I know that it's time to go full time. Well, the answer is when you can't afford not to. So when you're part time business grows And there's some real benefits to being part time. That's another thing. I mean, half the industry, 50% of of photographers, certainly in the portrait social categories have always been part time. And it started with with teachers because typically wedding season was, you know, april to october and teachers are off all summer long. There's also a very high correlation for some reason between law enforcement and photographers. Um In fact, I've got a buddy in new york who was part of C. S. I. New york and shot weddings on the weekend. And he used to laugh and tell me that every now and then he gets a couple that he knows he's going to see again at a homicide. Oh my goodness. Where? It's just not, yeah, it's not a good match, but he photographed, but the photos photograph their wedding. Um So there's always been a correlation there. So you've got these, you've got photographers that are part time, they want to go to full time and it's all part of all the ingredients you need. But it's a great, it's a great way to build your skill set. So you're wandering up and down the East Coast at a great time in an imaging, Oh yeah, because that was in the early 90s and uh I can't remember, I'm getting too old. My memory fails me. I want to say that the cameras they had us using I want to say they were a Yoshi ca Yeah, it could have been and I remember, I mean it was crazy because most people when they think of film photography, you know, they think of, you know, the little rolls of film like 1 10 and standard 35 millimeter, you know, stuff like that. But the cameras that we used to actually had a big cartridge that mounted on the back of the camera And that cartridge held a roll of film that had 555 shots on it before you'd have to change. So yeah, and I'll tell you uh, and and people don't realize because you know, so many of the retail stores leader later had little fixed studios in a corner of the store or whatever. People don't realize just how difficult it was to meet her. Your lighting when you set up in a case like you said in the middle of the store, usually I would stick us like in the jewelry ill or something like that or maybe the club near the clothing department and it was a real bear to meter the stores lights, your studio lights to get everything right because we did all that ourselves. And and it was funny because when I was getting my degree, one of my classmates was doing portraits, I think at the time for Sears it was before they went out of business. And she was all snooty with the professor about one of her assignments. She got failed in an assignment because you know, we were supposed to shoot in manual mode only, and she was constantly using the auto mode on her camera. And she's like well I'll have, you know, I've been a professional photographer series for the last three years. And I said with all due respect, you're what I would classify as a shutter monkey because I know how and I wasn't trying to be mean, but I know how they do things now. You go into these stores now like walmart or when they were still there Sears and they had their own little in house portrait studio, basically what they did is they brought in the little bench or whatever the kids were gonna sit on, they put duct tape X's on the carpeted floor, one light goes here, one light goes here, the camera goes here, set the kid there and hit the button, that's all they did. You know? And they got paid like $10 an hour to do it. And I was trying to explain to her. I'm like, I'm not trying to be mean, but you are not a professional photographer doing that for Sears for the last two years. Well I know photographers. Uh I have one photographer tell me that whenever she hires an assistant. Uh that's just gonna shoot for her to cover a wedding. she gives them some pointers and she will tape down the shutter so they can't, the shooting everything at f eight 125th, whatever it is, she's going to lock it down so that they're not going to change it at all. All she wants them to do is just grab shots. Now this is again this is pre digital and a little bit different than but that's not. She was a photographer only in the respect that she may have done a good job in learning when to click the shutter to get that natural expression as opposed to the say cheese toothy grin. Yes, exactly. Yeah goodness. Uh But okay, so we talked about how a photographer should build up their skill set first, which is a huge thing um from there. Where do they should they go next? As they're trying to build a successful photography business? Now, I'm thinking probably and while and that's part of your skill set section, building up their portfolio. But then they've got there's so many other things they've got to figure out like pricing, how they're going to price their work, um you know, buying their insurance for the business and for the equipment, all of that stuff. So where do you recommend after? They start with their skill sets, what it what would be the best next step for them to take? Well next one is to define what your specialty is going to be. Next one after that is to start to think about who your audience is. There's this big word out there that everybody knows, but nobody ever pays attention to is your demographics. If you were a, I don't know if you wanted to do maternity and baby photography and opened a studio up in Bay Harbor Island in Miami where the average age is 90. Um it's probably not the community that you want. Uh in fact, there's a really cute joke of uh the definition of optimism. Um she's 95, he's 97, they're just getting married and they want to buy a house in the neighborhood with a good school system. Uh it's just not gonna happen. You gotta pay attention to the demographics. You also have to think through, there's a great book by scott stratten called on marketing. And I have one of the first books now that I knew there's a, there have been several rewrites out in the most recent one. His wife is also um a co author, but the tagline is stop marketing and start engaging relationship building is absolutely your greatest tool. I mean, one of the things right now that in fact I just wrote about it in a blog post yesterday. Um Get out on your zip code, knock on doors, go to every single business and retailer in the area. Um and just introduce yourself and, and this is what will happen when I'm teaching a workshop, for example, somebody will say, yeah, but I'm a wedding photographer, why would I call on a real estate agent while you're going to call the real estate agent? Because you're going to go in, you're gonna introduce yourself, you're going to handle your business card and you're going to say, my specialty is weddings. But if you ever need help with anything in imaging in photography, give me a call. I won't always have the answer, but I've got a bunch of friends that that do, and I've got a great network and happy to help you on anything you ever need. And then you're going to leave. Now the realtor may have a daughter that's getting married, the realtor may have other associates, or there may be something that comes along because you just want to own your zip code. And this is, this is something that I learned from scott born over the years because it's still even during the pandemic, I'm so tired of people that said, well I lost a lot of business because I hunkered down, hunkered down, was about your health, not about your business, you could still maintain relationships, whether it was facebook, keeping track of client birthdays and anniversaries and keeping in touch with your audience, um or actually putting a mask on and knocking on somebody's door. Now I know in those first 3 to 6 months we all pretty much were, we're hunkered down. But as social distancing became the norm, there were so many ways that people could stay in touch with their audience, even a phone call. Um, their number of photographers that just started calling everyday. All right, everyday, I'm going to call three or four of my past clients. Just two not to sell anything. But just to say, I'm just checking in, how are you guys? Everybody's staying healthy? Do you need anything? Is there anything I can do? Um, I've had photographers say they called a client that they knew well and said, listen, I'm doing a supermarket run. Can I pick anything up for you? Because that's the way we were all trying to work together. And this is one of those things that we'll all get through and I won't get into the politics, but I'm so tired of it. Um, the reality is we can all get through this if we just pay attention and watch each other's backs, um, not just our own. Absolutely. So we're out. So now I'm sorry, I get off track. Oh no, no, you're fine, you're fine. Um, so you've, you've worked on your skill set, you're just finding what you want to do for your business, then you start looking at at where, what are the demographics that I want to reach and how do I get to those people. Um, getting involved in your community is absolutely critical in the top 100 things that Jay. Conrad Levinson wrote, wrote about passed away a few years ago, but he's the, he's the father of guerilla marketing. In fact, he's the one that put those two words together and he's got a great website. If you google jay Conrad Levinson or Guerilla marketing, you'll find it because it's still maintained with lots of great timeless content that has no expiration date on it. But in his top 100 things that Gorilla Marketers need to do, he wrote about being involved in the community because people like buying products from companies they perceive as giving back. And it doesn't mean that you've got to be out there with your camera, You might be filling mustard and ketchup bottles for the booster club at a friday night football game. The point is you want to separate yourself from other retailers in the community. Um, and, and be out there show that you love the community. Show that you're giving back, show that you're not just the studio down the street that that wants to be paid to take photographs. Um, and that's, I'll stop for a second, let you get a word in because I get going on this stuff and there's no stop it. Oh, That's no problem. And you know, and I agree with you 100%. And I was recently, I can't remember which podcast it was, but I was listening to one of the other photography podcasts that I listened to all the time. Um, in a recent episode. They had lead by some on there. Um, and I can't remember if it was Brent had him on latitude or if he was on the Master Photography podcast with Jeff Harmon. They're both friends of mine and um he was talking about how he got started as a portrait photographer, not only building up a skill set, but he would go to the local farm show complex where he lived and he would just set up a little booth in a tent and do free portraits for everybody that was there. Hey, come on into my tent, let me let me make a great portrait for you and he didn't charge him anything and he would get their information and email the portrait to him later. And that was how he built up his portrait business was doing that. Well, Levi, Levi is a perfect example. Um first of all is an example of how small an industry is you and I didn't know each other before this podcast and a phone call or two a short time ago, but but Levi, we both know, um I have spent God knows how much time with with Levi over the years. But if you go back, uh let's see, I started skip summer school in summer of 2009 and Levi was one of the attendees and Levi has made it a point to just be helpful and just be out there and he established a, you know, his signature is that, is that brown fedora that he wears. He's a, his other signature is, if you need help on something, Levi is going to be there. And sometimes it's been a disadvantage to him because he, he lose focus on one project because he's helping somebody else on another. That's, that's the old Levi. I mean today's Levi is focused. He's got a love for the craft. Everybody knows Levi and we all know him because he's all been there to give us a hand on something, whether it was helping me at summer school or uh, when smugmug was alive and well. I know he was working a lot with rocky bowls on the, uh, the pug meetings and being out there to be part of the industry and how can I give back. And then he's got his own Group that, that he originally started, which is the Cash Valley Group in Utah, which is like 800 photographers that are in that Facebook Forum. So does, there's just so much that he's done because he loves me. He loves the craft. Absolutely. And you can tell, you can hear the passion in his voice when he's talking about it. It's just, he's so passionate about it. And I love the fact that in that particular episode, you know, he was telling people, look, you don't have to spend a ton of money on lighting to start out. And you know, he was giving examples, you know you can use the sunlight that's bouncing off the side of a Fedex semi, that's part somewhere and you know, put your model next to that and use that as your big soft light source. And it was just really great and it was a lot of really great information that he was. Dean Collins used to say that the only difference between the sun and a really powerful studio light is the recycle time. Exactly. So there you go. But leave. Like, like I said, Levi, Levi is a great example. In fact, he tells a story about um, how his business grew at one point because he had a competitor in town that didn't like him wouldn't talk to him and Levi made it a point um, to go over and say anything you can do to give you a hand and he built a relationship with his number one competitor um, in the community and that grew into another aspect of his business, I think. I remember he talked about that. Yeah. But no, I agree with you 100% you know, to get out there. Marketing networking, that's, you know, I have people ask me all the time, they're like, why have you gone to imaging usa so many times because I've gone like eight or 10 times and I'm like, it's all networking and marketing. I meet so many fabulous people there, I get to talk to so many people, you know, I hand out my business cards. Doesn't matter if they live in another part of the country, I don't care. Um And as a matter of fact, to an extent, it was my marketing and networking that landed me the most recent gig I got, which was shooting content for a big international brand for a new product that they're coming. Well, I don't want to give too much away because I'm under an NBA but I went out and shot for them in the early part of october, a type of photography had never done before, but I did a couple of test shoots for them and they gave me, you know, guidance on how they wanted things done. They couldn't send their crews over from the U. K. Because of the pandemic and the restrictions in europe. And uh and uh so anyways, I ended up going out and doing a five day shoot for them and send them, you know, uploaded the photos and zip files to their FTP server and they came back and they were like, you did such a great job, would you be willing to travel to six more locations in the US for us? And I was like, absolutely. There you go. Well, that's the whole reason, I always encourage everybody go to as many shows as you can now over the last year and a half there haven't been a whole lot of shows to go to imaging. Usa you brought it up is coming up january, what, 14th to the 19th, something like that. So, um, yeah, it's at the Gaylord in uh, National Harbor in Baltimore. It's going to be a great show. And part of the reason it's going to be a great show. One is because things are getting better on the covid side of life. But to uh, P. P. A is a nonprofit organization and they're taking funding that they've built up over the years and they're putting it back into the convention. So they reduce the cost of the convention. I don't remember what it is, but it's something silly. Um, so that it can be affordable for everybody. And then they're also underwriting, They're helping to underwrite the cost of everybody's room. So they've been able to work with the gaylord and bring the room costs down, I think about $40 a night, so that people can afford to be there. And the reason that you go to a convention one is to learn, but it really is networking. You want to meet every vendor you wanna meet every photographer. You can, and I always tell people when you go to a workshop, um, talk to the person on the left and talk to the person on your right, uh, odds are one of them you've never met before. The reality is that everybody is dealing with the same kinds of challenges and you may have a problem today, um, in pennsylvania where you can't figure it out. But somebody in Nevada that you're sitting next to the show just has had the same kind of problem, whether it was copyright or or slow pay on a client, something that's out there and they've got a solution and that's why you go to these shows to network and they also remind everybody never eat a meal alone. Absolutely. You always, it's, it's just a great way. Yeah. It's great to get out with old friends but bring a new friend along. If you're going out with three or four, you're going out for dinner one night. Um, drag somebody along that you met during the day. Hey, just to say, come on, you wanna join us for dinner. It's not like you're going to buy them dinner, but over over a meal, there's so much good stuff that comes out and so many ideas that can come up that, that you might not have thought about. And it all comes from getting to know everybody you can possibly meet when you go to convention. By the way, I also remind everybody, if you go to any convention or conference, always take at least one or two courses that are completely outside your comfort zone. You may not ever think you're going to do macro photography, but if there's a macro course and you're normally doing landscape or weddings or portraits or something. It just might give you a new outlook or a new idea on something you're doing. And there's that old line about growth only happens outside your comfort zone. Absolutely. And it's funny that you said that because when I was getting my degree, I got to be fairly close with several of my professors and one of them is a woman named Jill Lamont. She was a professional photojournalists for quite a two or three decades at least before she started uh, teaching at the university level and she and I are still close friends to this day. And that was the big thing that she always pushed, especially me because she knew I had previous experience in the photography, you know, world, I just didn't have an official diploma from anywhere. And every time I had her for a class and we had a shooting assignment that was always, she was always pushing me make sure you're shooting something outside your normal comfort zone, think outside the box, take up something different. If you're normally shooting this, give this a try and I agree with you 100%. And I always did that When I went to, uh, the only convention I've ever been to is imaging, but like I said, I've been there like 10 times and I did tons of networking there. I took, I would take a seminar on macro or even wedding even though I don't want to be a wedding shooter, I still took one of those seminars there anyways, just learn something else. A different type of skill set and photography. And I was also known as the conventions for being the guy that would rope other people into joining me for lunch. Like I would go get my lunch and I would sit at one of the big picnic tables or whatever and everybody that walks by, hey, come and join me. We've got plenty of room at this table and next thing, you know, there's 12 of us sitting at this table and we're all talking about all kinds of different things. I refer to myself as the photo industry's biggest launch slut because I mean, I love it. Even, I mean when I left, uh, let's see where to go. When I left Range finder in California and move back to Ohio. Uh, I remember contacting photographers in the area and just saying you want to grab lunch because it's such a great way to get to know somebody and start to build that relationship. Absolutely. We're not. Yeah. And we're not talking about, you know, doing the doing Fleming's, you're talking about, you know, any burger joint doesn't matter. Just get together. Don't go to a convention and be sitting, you know, doing room service or eating in a corner by yourself. Get to know other photographers. Absolutely. And when I go to a convention, there's no room. I literally stay on the convention floor until I'm so exhausted. I have to go back and sleep. Uh, I'm just, I'm notorious for that and I've been a volunteer several times at imaging usa and uh, oh cool, we're gonna be there this year now. Unfortunately this year I'm not gonna make it. Um I'd like to, but I've just got too much other stuff going on that same time of of january that's gonna keep me from it this year. And this will be the first one. Well, I can't say the first one because of course they didn't happen during the pandemic when it was really bad, but um, it'll be one of the first ones I've missed in quite a long time. Well, I think it's going to be a good one. I'm very excited because she married young, my co host on mind your own business and beyond techniques. She and I are doing a live program on the monday night of the show, talking about things to do to not let the outside world grind you down. And we've got um Allison, uh God replying Alison Turner jones, Myron Fields and K. Ostrich who are all going to be guests in a panel discussion of things that they've been doing to maintain. Uh a business. In fact, Alison made a comment that she's tracking to the best year that she's had in her business, which is phenomenal because she's, she's been in business kept me or if it's 12 years or 15 years, but she's not, she's not new to the business and there's so much out there, like I said before, there's a renewed sense of family and if you think about what did grandma miss the most during the pandemic actually, what do we all miss? It was family and friends that makes family portraiture just an ideal product. And that goes back to another thing to do when you're talking about building your business is that network within the photo industry a lot of times if you really want to get an idea, all you have to do is call your lab and say what's new. Yeah, absolutely. And then just listen, yep, great ideas there and I agree with you wholeheartedly about spending the time in the community that you talked about a little bit ago. Um when I was still living in the Atlanta area, I was a volunteer photographer and web master for a wildlife rescue nonprofit called called aware Wildlife. And and I would go there and photograph the new animals as they came in. And what they were doing is they were trying to, it was not only uh not only a rescue, but they did a lot of uh I guess you could say medical related stuff like they had a Canadian goose that came in one year that was brought in that somebody had shot with a bow and arrow and the arrow was still in the goose's neck and the goose is still alive. So they actually did surgery to safely remove the arrow rehabilitate the goose. Um and the goose was eventually re released back into the wild, but of course some of the animals, you know, once they've been rehabilitated medically aren't able to fend for themselves anymore in the wild. So they end up becoming permanent residents um at this wildlife refuge, which I thought was really fantastic. And you know, everything I did for them was all volunteer and networking. That's what I did when I was helping them out for five years. There's a lot of that stuff. Great way to get your name out there, but switch gears for a second. Let's talk about one thing not to do which new photographers seem to get into a lot. I'm one of the admins on Facebook wedding photographers, which has got 36 or 37,000 global members. Um then we went ahead and um I actually started one called advanced wedding photographers. It's around four or 5000 members. Uh and then there's another one called going pro. This is probably three or 4000 members. And then there's then there's a couple of others out there that are for people just starting out one thing that new photographers get into all the time as you're trying to develop your own style. You're looking for some kind of confirmation and support and a couple of strokes that say, hey, nice job. But not everybody on the internet plays nice and not everybody is going to tell you a nice job or they're not going to tell you nice job because it was a really crappy image and you didn't do your job. But what I see all the time, our photographers that are starting out and they're all excited about a picture they put up and it's horrible and then you get shredded or it's not so horrible and they still get shredded and the reality is, and this is where my old buddy Dean Collins comes in. He had a great line that said, just remember beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder, it's between you and your client now. Your client deserves the very best possible images. But if you're putting an image up on, on any of the facebook forums or anyplace else for that matter, could be instagram any, any place you're sharing your images. If you're looking for all positive feedback, um don't post, expect that you're going to get some, some things that people don't like take that and sort it out but do not go to battle with trolls on the internet because you will never win a battle. The troll is somebody spineless who hides behind the anonymity of their computer screen and you can never win. In fact you're helping them when you take it to heart. And I remember, I remember a knucklehead in the early days of the internet when we only had a all and they used to be a chat room. Uh the Kodak had and I used to love to go into the chat room on friday and saturday nights because it was like stopping off at a bar after work. All the wedding photographers and event photographers would be coming in and sharing comments. And I was there absolutely upfront. I'm here. I'm the president of hassle glad and somebody got on my case and attacked me and the product line claiming that hasselblad bodies warp and it was absolutely untrue. And I can't tell you I went for weeks battling it out with this guy, um trying to explain that it's impossible to warp a body and then his and he said no, it happened to my friend. Well his friend then actually called me and apologize for his knucklehead, idiot friend. The body had war, but it's because he and his friend were backpacking. They had a camera with, they had a body with a long lens on it. They had all their stuff in the trunk and to close the trunk. The two guys jumped on it to put enough weight to slam the trunk shut and the body was damaged, which our service department fixed at no charge and replace the camera body form. But it was impossible to do. But the point, my point isn't so much about hassle. Black quality back then, but it's about you can't win if you take on patrol. So take their, take their critique, do what you want with it, Don't react to it, let it go. And then look, they may be, you know, some of the suggestions that people give, especially with some of the bridal portraiture that shared their really good um you know, there's so many things on lighting and posing and Don Blair for example, who I call co authored my first book with used to talk about the bride holding her flowers too high. Well when she's got her flowers and with two hands in front of her and she's holding them to high, you've got those very sharp right angles at the elbow. It was one of the first things I learned opposing where if as she lowers the flowers and brings him down more to her hips that that sharp right angle are carpenters, right triangle. He used to refer to as suddenly softens and you've got a nice, you've got a nice part of an s curve going down and all you did was lower the the flowers of foot exactly as opposed to holding it up at her up to her chest. So there's so many things that you can learn but just don't get wrapped up as a new photographer in in thinking everybody is going to love your work. Um in fact Matthew Jordan smith who today is one of the most recognized uh beauty cosmetic again, Matthew is one of these guys that can shoot anything but Matthew talks about when he first started out, where he was constantly showing images to people. This is pre internet and saying you know what do you think? Because he was trying to figure out what what he was supposed to do and it was until a few months of doing that and getting people's feedback that he realized he had to just go develop his own style. Um Clay Blackmore is one that's out there that does phenomenal work. Clay studied under Monty zucker and was Monty's assistant and Monty was is definitely one of the icons of portrait and wedding photography. And if you look at Clay's work today, Clay took what Monty taught him and then what he learned and he brought the two of them together into his own style. Um and Beauty and the work that he does today. And again, everybody wants to have somebody that whose work they love and I'm gonna I'm gonna study it, I'm going to copy it. You don't want to copy it, You want to learn everything they do is kind of like a great chef, you want to learn the recipe. And then once you learn the recipe, as Don Blair used to say when you know the recipe, you've got you've now earned the rights to to break it and that's when you start to develop your own style. Exactly. I got long winded again on, you know, you're you're absolutely fine, don't worry about that. Um you know I spent my time when I was younger studying Ansel Adams. I never, unfortunately got to meet him when he was still alive. I wish I could have. But uh, you know, I studied his work and others in the industry and then I went from there and created my own style. I do like to show I don't consider myself a landscape photographer, but I do like to shoot quite a bit of it just as hobby side of my photography just for my benefit. And well, I took what I learned from Ansel Adams and then tweaked it and made my own style for it. Well, I have Ansel's uh zone five rear license plate frame with a picture of his widow Virginia Handing me the keys to his 1977 Cadillac sitting right here, framed on my wall. Oh, well, I'm so jealous. It's one of the crazy stories out of, out of my history. See that's why you, that's why I said, you're a giant in the industry. You knew Ansel, you knew all the big ones. Actually, I never, I never got to meet Ansel. Ansel had passed away, but Ansel and victor Hasselblad were the best of friends. I was the president hassle. Glad and I was invited to be on the board of the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson that Ansel started and at that time the chairman of the board was Peter wins. Berg who I knew from my Polaroid days and he wanted somebody from the industry on his board and asked me to be there and I was honored and the night I got drafted, my first board meeting, this is like a rookie ball player being drafted and sitting on the bench and having your team when the last game of the World Series so that you get the ring, but you didn't do anything to earn it because my very first meeting was a board meeting. And that night, uh, Richard Avedon turned over his archives at a, at a really neat reception um, for all the arts supporters and philanthropists of the, of the center in Tucson. And I wound up at three o'clock in the morning doing, doing shots in a sort of a $3 all you can eat mexican bar, um, doing, you know, tacos and drinks with Abadan and it's, it's like I said, I felt like a rookie ball player that won the ring, but I sure didn't do anything to deserve it. And Virginia Adams had donated the cadillac to the center to help raise money for their Visiting Scholar fund. And the chairman, um, at that point, this is years later now the chairman at the board at that time bought, they bought the car and came in the next day and said, well, somebody take the car off my hands, my wife is going to shoot me for buying Ansel's cadillac and it occurred to me that because victor has to blend an answer were the best of friends. I would buy the car with Hasselblad is money. So I wound up buying it and then we had it on the floor of two different conventions that year, both the West Coast Show and the New York show and it was sold to the highest bidder, which was a gentleman by the name of helmet horn who bought the car and brought it back to Carmel. But in the process, um, a buddy of mine from Kodak terry, Diego and I took the car and went up to Yosemite and I mean you're, you're driving around in Ansel Adams 77 cadillac with a car horn that plays 80 melodies that he programmed and you're in Yosemite with a trunk full of Hasselblad gear and a couple of cases of Kodak film and it doesn't get much better than that. So there's kind of a sidebar story. But when I sold the cadillac to the highest bidder, the money went back in part to the Elizabeth Glaser pediatric AIDS Foundation and photographers and friends united against AIDS, which were both strong organizations then. But that led to me selling Don imus when he was alive. Um, Ansel's camera gear, which is another story, which I won't bore you with. But we raised, we raised $100,000 for charity and I'm assuming you're talking about Diane. I missed the radio DJ, you got it. That's what I was, yeah, he was based out of new york. He was a house accounted hassle glad and he shot Hassell glad and Nikon and he would come out, I don't know every couple of months, he would get his driver and he'd come out with an envelope of cash and buy something from, from hassle blood and he was just phenomenal. Couldn't have been more sarcastic on the air, but did so much for charity and uh, SIDS, which is a horrible uh, sudden infant death syndrome, uh disease and did so much to raise money for SIDS. And I remember him saying that he was out of hassle bladder and he saw all this gear that we had gotten back from Rod dresser who was Ansel Adams assistant last assistant before Andrew Hassell passed away and Rod had returned this gear had been on consignment for years. Nobody even knew it was out there and he put in his bid for $100,000 and got the bid and the gear, wow, that's amazing. I knew Don was into photography, but I wasn't sure what equipment he used. I thought I'd heard at one time it was definitely half of Glad, but I wasn't certain, but that's a fantastic story. Yeah. Hasselblad and I can in fact, it was funny when, when I put the bid out there. This is a lesson for everybody to listen. This is the old line about um um a bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. Well, the reality is that Don put in his bit of 100,000. He didn't live on the air. And he said I was out of hassle glad. And I'm hanging out with skip Cohen and jim martin my buddies and I'm putting a bid in for $100,000. And if I get it, this is like finding babe Ruth's bat. Now. I had gone out and set up the campaign To go for a year because that's how long I thought it would take me to get there. I just wanted to get the 10 grand. Who knew I'd get 200. But the reality is that we did get one other bid Who wanted to buy the camera and wanted to own this. This wasn't just a camera as a couple of bodies. It was three or four lenses, couple of backs and he wanted to buy it all right there and was going to spend more than 100,000. But I had to stay with the rules that I set and I said it still has six months to go. And when the end of the campaign came around for the highest bidder, um, I went back to him and he said, there's no way he could do it. He was, he was caught in a couple of other challenges and this was somebody very well known in manufacturing owning a company and a product that everybody here would know if I gave out the name and we just couldn't do it. So I just got it. And I called him and I just remember him going on the air and saying, well, I own Ansel Adams gear. I got Hoodwinked by skip, Cohen and the rest of those crooks, that hassle glad. And I was, I was crushed. And I remember getting home that night and my wife saying, um, hang on now, because in the same, at the same time he slammed you, He slammed dan rather and mother Teresa. And sure enough, I mean his check came through, but it's just who he was on the air. People have no idea, so many people have no idea how much uh, he did give back to this world and he's got a, he's got a book that he did with his brother that I have sitting somewhere here in the shelf. That's, there was pretty decent of images from out west. Wow, that's amazing. Well, there was another one of my favorite people as far as, and this person was actually an actor and he's since passed away. That was big into photography. Uh, was Leonard Nimoy from Star Trek ng. Oh my God, I've seen some of his work, that guy had some serious talent when it came to photography. Yeah, beautiful work. In fact, Sammy's in L. A. Um, a lot of the celebrities. I remember them calling one day and brad, pitt wanted to buy a hasselblad and they wanted to figure out how to do the leather in another color. Oh wow. So I don't I don't recall whatever happened with that, but you got a lot of great photographers out there. But again, that goes back to networking, yep, exactly. I know Jeff Bridges is big into photography. They they've actually had him on the B NH photography podcast talking. I think, I want to say, I think he shoots primarily like him, but I could be wrong. I think that's what they were talking about. Um I don't know what he shoots, but, but Graham, nash of Crosby stills and nash um has done a lot of work out there. Um in fact, I got to meet him once backstage and the minute I brought up photography, he left and he moved on to the next group of people. So, what can I say? Obviously it wasn't, it wasn't a great moment, but it was, he's still, he's still one of the great supporters and imaging fans out there. Absolutely. So if we want to wrap this up, what is the one last piece of advice you could give photographers that are trying to build their business? We covered, you know, mastering their skill sets, uh exposure on social media and with the watch out for their, which I did an episode on about a year or so ago. Um and that was great. That was great that you brought that up. But uh what else did you wanna talk about? The kind of wrap this episode up because I don't want to keep you too long. I know you're expecting just, I'll sit here as long as your listeners didn't say, oh my God, I can't believe how long they've gone. So I'm ready. I'm ready to wrap it up. If you say this is, this is long enough, I've always been convinced that podcast needs to be shorter, but if you've got a good following, uh, and they feel that they're getting some good content, I'm glad to help out. I think the, the one thing to remember when you're just starting out, um is one, you're not alone. Don't be afraid to ask for help uh to um, don't worry about, Don't worry about the money, worry about the skill and give back as much as you can because it will come back to you 10 times over. So when you're, when you're out there shooting, I'm a huge fan of photographers who give back to charity and their community and I'm not talking about a financial donation. Um, as much as just being there too, help support your community. Don't take it too seriously, when you get to those days where you're not having fun and I mean we all have days that just aren't fun. Step away from the business for a little bit. Get out, Get out and and do something, whether it's with or without your camera, recognize the signs that you're about to crash and burn and step away from it. Um, and then the last thing I recommend, which I'm not even going to go into on this because we could do a whole podcast on this. I absolutely believe that that um, you need a blog or, or a facsimile Now, the fact similarly can be maintaining a great facebook page that you share content with essentially your website is about what you sell, your blog is about what's in your heart. And I've written a lot and talked a lot about content and what you need to put on your blog. And even if you hate to write, uh, and you're sitting there rolling your eyes right now going, oh my God, he's out of his mind. I'm not gonna write, go to the local high school and find yourself in a student that's a sophomore junior senior or talk to the teacher and see if the teacher, an english teacher wants to do a little moonlighting for you. It's still your words and concepts. But if you hate to write, you want somebody to put it down and into something. Um, so look, look for ways that you can be more than just an a retailer in the community. Exactly. And I agree. 100%, I know there's another, I can't remember the name, but I know there's another big non profit organization that's related to photography. Um, and it has to do with, I can't remember the name of it off the top of my head, but it has to do with, um, going to hospitals and uh, taking portraits basically of terminally ill infants. Well, let's, let's hit that real quick because I'm one of their ambassadors. It's now, it's now I lay me down to sleep. Um, started, uh, Sandy putsch or Sandy puckers. People will mispronounce. It was one of the founders, um, along with her friend Cheryl when, uh, Sam was asked to photograph the baby. Now, this is, this is a tough one. It's not for everybody. And yet every single person that does, it comes back and talks about it being life changing. They are responsible for photographing, uh, babies that, that died at birth or are dying. And what it does is it gives the family, it gives that child legitimacy in the family. It's not just, you know, this sounds so caustic, but it's not just a dead baby. It's a member of their family. They have done so much good. Um, it's now I lay me down to sleep dot org. Um, all you need to do is google it. They're always looking for volunteers. And I've had so many people, uh, talk about, well, I don't know how I could do that without crying. It's okay to cry. It's okay to get involved. And I did a blog post. One of the first ones I did was probably around 2009 or 10. Um Arora daily. I think she's got a she is married a different last name now, but Arora did this great blog about a korean family who lost their baby and it was so poignant and we did a follow up to the blog post because the mother of the baby that had died wrote in and talked about how much um Aurora's work meant to her in terms of of establishing the reality that there was another member of the family. Um and in fact if I remember right the name in korean translated into something like a little angel. And it was just, it was very it was it was so touching. Um and it's it's a wonderful organization. Now I lay me down to sleep. There's also Hearts Apart dot org that does family portraits for members of the military who are about to be deployed. And they print these images on a product. Um that's just about indestructible so that as a member of the military, um you've got an up to date portrait of your of your family with you at all times. Um uh so I'm just drawing a blank there. There are a number of them out there and then you've also got things in your own community that you can get involved in. Absolutely, and I really appreciate the fact that you were familiar with now. I lay me down to sleep because I've recommended it. The photographers is a way to get back to the community and then when I wanted to talk to you about it and bring it up on this episode, I had a complete brain cramp and couldn't remember it. The name of the organization. Oh my goodness. Well, there's the difference between us. You call it a brain cramp. I call it a brain fart. Well, I do too most of the time. Well, all right. I was trying to be semi polite. Yeah, I figured you know, this is this could be pG rated at least. No problem. No problem. We'll skip. I want to thank you again for giving so much of your valuable time. We're just about an hour and 20 minutes close to it. And because I know you're super busy, you've got so many irons in the fire and you mentioned a moment ago that we could have another whole podcast episode about the blogging aspect of things. And you know, if you got the time next year, maybe we could have you come back and we could do that episode. You tell me when you want to do it, Happy to do it. This. This industry is is all thanks to people like you liam that are doing something. Um photographers that are just getting started, photographers that had trouble during the pandemic that are fighting to find their way back and jump start their business and I love it. I mean, you, you've given me a lot of nice strokes today about you know what I've done and giant of the industry, the reality is that there's that old line about if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. I love this industry. I've been criticized and accused of being the industry cheerleader because I always see the glass is um half full as opposed to half empty. There is so much more that imaging can do to have an impact on people. And when you think about photography, just think about what a newspaper looks like today. Uh if there weren't, if they weren't photographs, in fact even finding a newspaper, forget I'm dating myself there too. How about a magazine online without photographs and you know, stick figures, it would, it would all look like the transcript from a uh an artist sketched a major trial. Absolutely. And don't feel bad. I'm dated as well because I do remember the days when newspapers were prevalent as a matter of fact first Job I had at 10 years old was as a newspaper boy, that's what I did. There you go. I had one to Cleveland plain dealer, yep, I started out doing the Daily Review which was based on a Towanda pennsylvania and then I picked up the star gazette as well, which was based out of Elmira new york because we were near the border of uh upstate new york. So And I started out with one paper route and by the time I was 16 I had eight of them plus the TV Guide. And I had all my brothers and sisters working for me. All right, yep. All right, skip. I want to thank you again for your time. Please go ahead and take a moment here and share any of your social media websites that you want to share. I'll have you send them to me so I can put it on the show notes as well. Well, just to remind everybody everything I write is that skip Cohen university dot com. You'll also find a lot of great content over at plata pa dot com on the blog. We also have a newsletter that goes out. My email is skip at M. E I. And the number 500 dot com. If you've got questions, I write this a lot and I say it in workshops. If you're stuck and you're looking for help, give me a call or write to me. I I answer my phone, I'm not going to put out the phone number here, that'll make people crazy, you know, make me crazy. Yeah, but if you've got a question and you're stuck on something, don't be afraid to ask for help. Um but at least put in the subject line, you know, per your conversation with liam, then I at least know where you're coming from and not not a knucklehead control or stalker or whatever, but happy to help. I appreciate it. Yeah. And I'm skip going on on facebook and skip going on twitter, nothing, nothing fancy are hard to remember their Alright, yep, thank you very much sir. Again, I wanna thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us today. It's gonna make my listeners very happy because like I said, you're one of the people, they were really hammering me to get on the show. So I know there's gonna be a lot, a lot of my happy listeners when this episode releases this thursday. Um it's gonna be a lot of them happy. Well, and for those of you listening um that are here at the very end. You are proof that people will listen to An old fart babble for an hour and 22 minutes. Not just by the way, I'm an old fart. You're the old fart. Category two. So I'm gonna let you off. Yeah, no, absolutely. I remember it was funny when you were talking about the volunteering yourself in the community. Not necessarily photography. And you mentioned till and ketchup mustard bottles for the boosters because I remember doing that. There you go. I remember doing star at the Lions Club and all that. Oh goodness are being involved. Alright, skip. Thank you again for your time and let you go and hey, you're welcome and thank you and keep in touch. All right. Hopefully we can have you back on towards the first part of next year. Let's get past all the holidays because I know that gets crazy. Sounds good and we can get together and talk about that other subject as well. You got it already. Thank you sir. You have a good day. Thank you. Take care. Bye bye. Bye bye. Well, there you have it, everybody. That is a wrap of this episode 1 99 with the fabulous Mr, skip. Cohen. Uh as I mentioned at the start of this episode, this guy is definitely one of the industry giants. He's and the reason why he is is because exactly what he talked about. He's done tons of networking, especially a different photography conventions. He's worked in the industry for a very long time. And as he said, the photography industry isn't as huge as people think it is. It's actually more of a small, close knit community. Um, and that's where you can see why you should be doing your networking and building that little family. Get yourself into that family and getting yourself known a little bit spend time with other members of the community. Go to the trade shows, go to the conventions and stuff like that. Trust me, you're not gonna regret it. All right. I'm gonna go ahead and wrap up this episode. Thank you again, skip and thank you to all my listeners for subscribing rating and reviewing an apple podcast, google podcasts and anywhere else you might be listening to the show. Also stop by and check out the latest photography Youtube channel. Subscribe to the channel. Watch the videos like them, share them, comment on them and hit the little bell icon so you can be notified as new content drops. Please also make sure you swing by skip Cohen's website, skip Cohen University. Uh, the link will be in the show notes along with some of the non profits that we talked about at the tail end. I'll share their, their websites as well. So you can check those out and you can also reach out to skip on facebook or twitter or as he mentioned, shoot him an email with any questions you have photography related just put in the subject per your conversation with liam. And he'll be happy to help answer your questions and more than happy to get back to you. All right. That's going to wrap this one up and I will see you all again on sunday. Yeah, Yeah. Mm. Mhm