Exclusive Interview with Skip Cohen: Finding Balance and Learning From Mistakes The High Rollers Club

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Exclusive Interview with Skip Cohen: Finding Balance and Learning From Mistakes

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This video gives insight into Skip Cohen from Skip Cohen University, and his experience with photography. It begins by letting readers know a little of his background, such as how he started in the polaroid business and has seen massive growth in the photography industry. Now, the medium has changed with how images are shared and the amount of consumer reach available. He follows Steve Job’s philosophy that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. He goes on to explain that to find balance, you have to make sure your heart is in it, have a routine, and take care of yourself. In order to make your business successful, make sure you charge the right prices for your services and always try to learn new things from people who have good insight about the industry. You can learn more about Skip Cohen through https://www.skipcohenuniversity.com/about-us.html

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About Jenn Bruno Smith:

After leaving a successful career as a speech pathologist and clinical liaison, Jenn moved into pursuing her business full time. She has been shooting boudoir exclusively for 4 years and teaching marketing and business to the photography industry for the last two.

Jenn if a featured educator in the Do More Forum and AIBP. She is a guest blogger for Skip Cohen University and her work has been featured on Fstoppers. Jenn enjoys mentoring other photographers and teaching them her ninja business ways. She also enjoys spending time with her family and three small children, as well as sleeping (when she finds the time).

You can catch up with Jenn in her group The High Rollers Club- IPS, Business and Marketing for Boudoir Photographers.

About Skip Cohen:

Skip Cohen has been in the photographic industry his entire adult life, or at least the time he was supposed to act like an adult!

​He’s President and founder of SCU, founder of Marketing Essentials International and past president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI. He’s been an active participant in the professional side of photography since joining Hasselblad USA in 1987 as president.  He has co-authored six books on photography and actively supports dozens of projects each year involving photographic education.

In addition to his daily blog posts here at SCU he’s a regular contributor to Shutter Magazine and is a speaker at a variety of conferences/conventions around the country including WPPI, ShutterFest and Clickcon.

You can learn more about him at https://www.skipcohenuniversity.com/about-us.html.

 

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:00:00] Hey, guys. Jenn Bruno Smith here from the High Rollers Club. Thank you so much for joining us today. I’m here today with Skip Cohen. Skip Cohen University. So good to see you. How’s it going?

Skip Cohen: [00:00:13] Well, it’s going great. But I brought in Lucy and Bill as props, because I know one of the things you wanted to talk about was to talk a little bit about finding balance. I know a lot of people think, you know, what could skip have that? That didn’t provide balance. You know, you get two puppies at the same time. If you want to totally upset the apple cart and not know where you are or what’s up, or then there are a little things like just being excited in the morning when the crates dry. They’re beautiful, though. The little white one is Belle and Lucy. They’re both six months old. They were born four days apart and.

Skip Cohen: [00:00:51] That’s it. Are you ready to go now?

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:00:57] They’re gorgeous. That’s. They’re no longer on the caps.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:01:02] The ad does make a point. First, YouTube and podcast appearance here with the high rollers of I Love It. OK. Hang on one second. All right, Lucy. Go, go, mom. So Skip is giving his dog, OK? They’re listening to the podcast. He was moving his little babies out of the out of the screen. There are our listeners know, Skip. Tell us about yourself. Where you located at. You have been in this game for a long time and you’re just a wealth of knowledge. So and I’m so excited to talk to you about your experiences and about ice. Things like that.

Skip Cohen: [00:01:41] Well, the fun about being a, quote, wealth of knowledge, because I’m flattered by that. But I don’t know if I’m a wealth of knowledge or I’m just covered with a whole bunch of really good scars. I like sharing this stuff because if you could learn from my mistakes, then you guys can go out and make your own mistakes and make new ones.

Skip Cohen: [00:02:01] So with. Hold on one second.

Skip Cohen: [00:02:06] Can you hear Alexis in the background now? Oh, good. Then we’ll let the music play. As everybody can see, these are totally unrehearsed. In any event, I’ve been I’m based out of Osby, Florida, which is about 5, 10 miles south of Sarasota. It’s over on the Gulf Coast. Sheila and I moved down here in 2011 to give my dad a hand. He was dealing with my mom, who had all Simers and mom passed away. I guess it’s about four years ago and dad passed away three or thereabouts a year. In any event, it was a great move to come down here. We were living in Ohio. A lot of people know me from my rangefinder WPI days when I was living in California, but when I left there I wanted to start my own business. It was 2009. It was the worst economy that that I’ve seen in my lifetime. We were in a recession and people thought I was absolutely nuts, including members of my own family, because who leaves a job? I was president and a rangefinder WPI. Everybody knew me. I loved the job, but I didn’t agree with some of the things that were going on in the company. And I just decided, you know what? It’s finally time to see if I could walk the talk. Because I’ve always worked for other companies and great jobs.

Skip Cohen: [00:03:27] I love this industry. So I headed out on my own in 2009 and last year was last year. May was 10 years. So it’ll be eleven. This coming May and I love it. Skip Cohen University got started in 2013. It’s meant to be a really an educational resource. There’s a lot of different content on there. I have a number of different partners that help with that project. One is Plaid, a pod, Panasonic, Tamron Marathon Press. I’m looking because I hate it when I forget somebody. In fact, there are a number of other companies that do little things, big things, but those are primarily the four companies that that help support it and get the word out. And then there are a whole bunch of. Knucklehead friends I have and I use the word knucklehead as the highest compliment. Right. People know that they’re all risk takers and. And I can throw out almost any name and everybody’s gonna go, Oh, Tony Corbel is one. Michelle solitano is another. Roberto Vallon Swale. Melissa goes on and on. Scott, more shimmery young, came in and started helping me in March of 2017. She and I do three different podcasts now, one for Tamron, one for plaid, a pot and another one for photo focus. We do a lot of things together with photo focus and other companies, and that’s kind of what I do today.

Skip Cohen: [00:04:56] Now, the very short version is that a lot of years ago I started at Polaroid being thrown out of college. I was every parent’s nightmare and I’m kind of proud of it that I that I survived. I went to work at Polaroid in Boston at two eighty nine an hour washing bottles in the lab. I was with Polaroid for seventeen and a half years. I love the company. Yeah. School nights and took courses in marketing and business and communications and things that I could do that I knew I kind of my major was essentially marketing according to Polaroid, even wound up in personnel before it was ever called H.R. and actually actually issued a layoff notice to myself. 70S Polaroid had to cut back. Yeah, I was I was going to be out of a job. I was low senior seniority wise. I was low man on the totem pole. And that’s it. I was going out. But because I was within the system, I still had bumping rights back out of a salaried job and back into hourly. So I was able to go back into customer service. And that led to a whole new direction for me, including two and a half years traveling overseas every three weeks.

Skip Cohen: [00:06:16] Yeah. So polarized. My my dad was actually a photographer, so we had a darkroom in our basement. So I very distinctly remember going to the camera store and getting Polaroid film so that he could go do weddings with it. And I think that, you know, the the growth in our industry from, you know, ban until now is so massive. It’s really cool that you’ve had that experience starting from my kind of, you know, where it started in film now into the digital age. What is what’s the number one like? Is there one thing besides the medium you’ve really noticed is the big change in the industry from the days of film to the digital age that we’re in now? I think it’s industry, I gather.

Skip Cohen: [00:07:05] I think it’s a combination of two things. It’s a combination of how we share images. Yeah. And the other one is consumer reach. I mean, if you think about it, a customer today has the same reach that a small newspaper had 15 years ago. Let’s say you get less. Yeah. That also means from a customer service standpoint that if you’ve got one angry customer and you haven’t made it a point, no, it can’t please everybody. And every now and then somebody is gonna get a hockey puck that cannot be saved. But if you’ve ignored them and been afraid to resolve their problem, that also means that they’ve got the ability now to influence thousands of people. And all it takes is one person, whether it’s intentional or accidental, acting like a troll. And suddenly you’re seeing everything you’ve worked hard to build your reputation, start to go up in smoke. That’s all. To me, it’s all been tied in. It’s all digital. The way we capture is unbelievable. I mean, if you think about it. Photographers have more tools today to capture an image and post-production me.we. What was post-production before you sent it to the lab and your lab when there was a mistake?

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:08:20] Absolutely. And you know what? Whenever. When I first got into it, got into this industry and I was shooting large groups of people like large families and stuff. The first one I did, I called my dad and I was like, what did you do? Like when you were shooting weddings and you shot the whole wedding party, like now I can, you know, join pictures together in Photoshop and like, you know, make composites and things like that if someone’s eyes are closed or someone sneezing. Right. But I was like, what did you do about that? Like, how did you. He’s like, I just I just delivered images where someone’s eyes were closed because what else do you do? You know? Yeah. It’s so true.

Skip Cohen: [00:09:00] We have prisons within us. There wasn’t anything else that could be done. Yeah, right.

Skip Cohen: [00:09:05] And also the way people share images today. I mean, if you follow Michelle solitano at all, she wrote a thing called I believe that she’s made it available to every photographer.

Skip Cohen: [00:09:14] Wants it. In fact, skip controversy dot com, if you just type in, I believe in the search box. You’ll find it. And essentially, it’s a great piece that she wrote how she believes in prints. And the whole point being, you know, if when you take it on a jump drive, you don’t know where that image is going to be and how you’re going to look at it a year from now or or for that matter. Let’s go out farther, because everybody quiet. Everybody accuses me of being an alarmist, but I’ve got I’ve got a track tapes that I can’t play on anymore. And I’ve got albums that are up in the attic or now because I don’t have a turntable. Yeah.

Skip Cohen: [00:09:57] All I listen to is I mean, Sheila and I have Pandora and Alexia’s going in the house all the time.

Skip Cohen: [00:10:03] Everything changes. And she’s really worked hard to promote why you want to have a print and why you want to take this work. She’ll always give people the file that they can share on Facebook and Instagram, whatever they’re going to do. But she also works hard to make sure that that that print is gonna become a family heirloom.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:10:27] Yeah, same. I I totally agree. You know where we are currently moving my husband’s grandmother out of her home and into assisted living. So that’s where he is right now. You know, boxing up all of her stuff and things like that. And just last night, he sent me a bunch of pictures, great pictures of pictures that were that would have been lost. All those memories that would have completely been lost because they were 50 years ago, 60 years ago. And yeah, prints are very powerful. And I think that in this digital age that we’re in. Don’t forget that. So, yeah, I totally agree. So how do you manage all of this? Because I know like you’re still really busy. You’ve had a really busy career. How do you balance everything?

Skip Cohen: [00:11:17] Well, that’s why I wanted the puppies on in the beginning. Yeah, because puppies I mean, a lot of people sit there and go, hey, come on, you’re an old fart, you’re an empty nester. You’ve got control your life. And to a point, that was true. And I want to give people some ideas on how to get that control. But then bringing two puppies in three months ago absolutely changed everything. In fact, if you would asked me to be on this podcast a month ago, I would have said, you know, come back in the spring. You’re not getting sleep. You’re watching the puppies constantly. They’re not housebroken. And we decided we wanted two of them. She wanted to small dog. I wanted something a little bigger. I had lost Molly, the wonder dog, who was sixty two pounds of energy after 13 and 1/2 years. And anybody else ever lost a dog understands that hole in your heart. It was finally after six months, it was finally time to say no. Actually, it was almost eight months. It was time to say, come on, let’s let’s start to fill the hole again. And that’s where the two puppies come in. Now, when it comes to finding balance, because I know it sounds like a boy off track. The first thing that I think everybody misses today, you’ve got to define why you want the balance.

Skip Cohen: [00:12:42] And that’s to define success. And somebody asked me that question on a podcast a few months back and said, how do you define success? Well, for me, at this point in my life and I wish I had realized this when I was younger, the bottom line revenue is a big measurement. We all want to make money. We all want to live a certain lifestyle. We all have dreams. And some people believe and they say you should always have a picture of something that your your goals. And I’ve been in studios where you see somebody that’s got a picture of of a car or a Harley or it’s their boat or something that they want. And. And men or women. There’s no discrimination between the two. It’s what what is that thing that you want that define success? Well, for me is that when I was asked success for me today is waking up every morning smiling, being excited to get out of bed as opposed to getting out of bed and go, oh, shit, I don’t know what I got to do yet. And that’s and that’s the first thing that you have to define is, is what is success to you. And I’ve got I’ve met so many photographers. And usually they’re either they’re either younger or they’re making some kind of a mid-life change in their career or maybe one of the men, maybe maybe one half a couple has been downsized in their place of work and they’re trying to figure out what they want to do next.

Skip Cohen: [00:14:06] And they’ve always loved photography. And off they go to become a photographer. And then they start defining that by, wow. I’m not I’m not making money at this. Now, photography is not a philanthropy. You’re meant it’s it’s and you’re meant to make money. But if you can define success first and there’s that old line. Steve Jobs get credit, gets credit for it. So does Confucious. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. So it’s it’s a big range of a thousand years or more between, you know, Confucius and maybe it’s not a thousand between Confucius and Steve Jobs both getting credit for the same quote. But the truth is, you have to love what you do. Now, the second part of that and finding balance is you as a photographer, you cannot create images that tug at people’s heartstrings if your own heart is in it. And a lot of times your heart isn’t in it because you haven’t found that balance. So am I. Am I going too far off track with you?

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:15:07] Oh, not at all. Do you feel like. Sometimes I feel like that’s like an evolution that most photographers go through where they really like. They start out maybe with the passion for the craft and then they’re like, right, I’m not making any money. And so then they start to figure out how they can make money or they just burn out. And they stop. And then after making money in your comfortable, then you get back to the passion. You know what I mean? And let’s be like it’s like a life cycle. The photographer, I feel like that’s kind of how my Graffy journey has been, because now I’m comfortable. My studio is successful. So now I can get back to that passion part, the part where, you know, I’m doing things for me, you know?

Skip Cohen: [00:15:52] Well, you did that. You didn’t did a guest post for me a few years back. Yeah. And one of the things they loved was, in your case, you’re going after two different target audiences because one side was family photography. And then there’s making the transition over to boudoir. Or you could be boudoir making the transition going the other way. Well, the point is the client is the base. It’s the same base for both. It’s it’s mom. It’s women. Women make 98 percent of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer. And if that sounds like a quote, it’s because it is. It’s out of an old Kodak study. Done. I don’t know. Twenty five, 30 years ago, but it has changed one bit.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:16:33] I think it’s still applicable. Very nice.

Skip Cohen: [00:16:36] Yeah. And maybe instead of 90 percent, 98 percent, today it’s 92 percent. Who cares? Well, the point is that mom is your target most the time and or soon to be mom or or recently mom, whatever. That’s your target audience. So when it comes to defining what you’re doing and defining your business, you start out typically you have to start out with what’s going to pay the bills. I know all kinds of. And I’ll give you a good example. Under-class school photography would kill me if I had to shoot it. Now, the reality is you’ve got a lot of great under-class school photographers and it’s literally one kid after another. Sit on the stool, hit the button, sit on the stool, hit the button, get the shot. But it pays the bills. Would you usually find with those photographers? Is that the other side of their image in life? Might be landscapes, could be kritters, could be macro. Some of the weddings, you’ll find a very broad mix of other things that they do, even though they’re making great money on their skill set as an underclass photographer. And that’s another piece of finding balance, is that you’ve got to have some special projects. So if, for example, when you’re just starting out and you’ve decided, all right, let’s use weddings as an example.

Skip Cohen: [00:18:04] Jerry JEUNESSE years ago taught a class on a program that I was doing in Ohio. Made a comment to everybody in the class. He said the way we start out is wrong. He said the way we start out, we get our camera and suddenly we’re out there shooting. And we’ve got to understand business. And we’ve also got to understand technique and we’ve got we’ve got to develop our skill set. He said the way it should be. Everybody should go out. Be a second shooter for a couple of years so that they get the skill set down and they know every button and they understand focal length. So they know exactly which lens to pull, whether it’s a small church or a big church. They know which lens to pull out of their bag. And then once you had your skill set down, then you could go ahead and address the business. And to me, that’s another important part of balance. You’ve got to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’ve got to understand a little bit of the business side. Actually, a lot of the business side. If you look at where you are now and look at.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:19:10] Go back to when you started. Yeah. How afraid were you of that first client you charged?

Skip Cohen: [00:19:17] Yeah. I mean, very. I started for I started with I.P.S. Lake from day one because I’m like a big believer in lake preparing. And so I was kind of an outlier because I never went through the whole H shoot in Burton states that most photographers do. I started like watching Southam cut on creative light and I watched of course you did that had I.P.S. And I was like, oh, that makes sense. I’m going to do that. But the first time I did it, my work didn’t nearly any. I wasn’t good at all. Right. Who is? Whenever you start. But people got it. And so I I was able to kind of figure it out. But yes, scary. Like when you first start charging, everyone suffers from the impact. posterous in your specialty when you first start, I think.

Skip Cohen: [00:20:03] Well, and that’s that’s all part of it. And when you look at your starting your business, first of all, let’s go into other components of a finding balance. You actually absolutely need to have a routine. You’ve got to be able to sit there and say, all right, here’s what I’m going to do every morning. And now my routine. And again, people will say, how in the world do you balance your blog? Well, remember, I am a blogger. This is what I do. I’m not a professional photographer. I know a lot more than I let on from hanging out with all you guys for so many years. Yes. But the difference would be that I could shoot a portrait and it would take me eight hours and Janet would take you eleven minutes and you’d have your lights. Right. You know exactly what you want it. And forget, if I was trying to do an attractive boudoir shot the lady too harsh, I’d be too embarrassed. I’d be totally uncomfortable. And I wouldn’t understand some of the great benefits of working with a really good boudoir photographer because it is about self-esteem, it is about beauty, and it is about capturing the personality of the subject. No, I don’t make a living as a photographer. And people say, well, how do you keep up with your blog? Well, because that’s what I do. So for me, every morning, first thing I hit is my email. Second thing I hit is to check my Web site to make sure that everything is loading the way it should, which I’ve seen so many photographers forget about that and then ask them why they’re getting they’re getting no calls. And it’s because something happened in the middle of the night with go daddy or something out there. Right. Platform isn’t working. You should also check it on Chrome as well as Safari.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:21:46] That’s a great piece of advice.

Skip Cohen: [00:21:47] Well, I actually spoke at a conference two years ago and one of the people in the audience was part of a big studio. And they actually had multiple people in their studio that were assigned to check a different page each day. So every morning between, let’s say, 9:00 and 9:15, there might be 20 different pages on the Web site that would be checked to make sure it was working and checking them in three or four different platforms to make sure that everything was doing what it was supposed to do. Changes were coming up. Right. So that helped. So that routine becomes incredibly important. Another piece to finding balance, and this is going to sound really sappy and hokey, but you got to get enough sleep. Yeah. And when you’re tired, I don’t care who you are now. My wife and I are different. Sheila needs eight hours. I’m good on six. But by the end of the week, I’m going to be taking a nap sometime during the day or on the weekend. A complete blob. So I’m a 6 to 8 guy. She’s got to have eight. And if you’re not. Boy, if you’re not feeling good because along with sleep, also comes a little exercise of which the puppy is giving us plenty of that right now. Them on the backyard also getting out for a walk. All of these are they seem so basic. It’s so stupid to say to somebody. Well, if you want to find balance your life, start by making sure you’re getting enough sleep. And every different everybody’s body is like a bank account. And when you come up short, you don’t get enough sleep. You overdraw the account. Right. And we’ve all done that one. And you all know the pain of calling somebody. You’re dealing with some company because you bounced check because you didn’t move enough money over into the right bucket.

Skip Cohen: [00:23:30] Next on THE LIST goes back to understanding your business. You can’t find balance if you’re not charging enough for what you do. And there is a great you mentioned cell before. There’s actually if you go to YouTube and put in, try putting in cell SIM card pricing. Yeah. Is a great one or two videos. There might even be three now where cell talks about pricing.

Skip Cohen: [00:23:58] And how do you price your work? And he basically says that the greatest way to screw up a business is to not be charging enough. And he also talks about penalizing clients for buying a la carte. Right. And once you’re you’re all a car, pricing should be high. We’re all used to dealing in packages. We buy a car. We do it in a pack in our odds are you might be in a package where you’re anticipating that you’re. Yeah, we’re comfortable who you’re going to get a couple of side orders with your burger. I mean, it’s basics. And yet photographers tend to forget about that. And they get so excited because, wow, it only costs me two and a half bucks for an eight by ten at a lab. I’m going to charge 20 and make a killing. But they forget everything else in the pricing all the time, their insurance.

Skip Cohen: [00:24:49] I mean, how many hours would you guess that you spent in your career? How long have you been shooting?

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:24:55] Well, since 2009.

Skip Cohen: [00:24:57] Ok. So we’ve got 11 years in there. How much time would you say you’ve spent attending classes or watching something online or listening? You mentioned listening to sell on, create watching. So I’m creative lie a lot.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:25:11] I mean, I I’m a learner, though, so now not so much anymore because I’m like, really like the studio is just going. But I would say up until about five years ago, I was doing courses all the time. I have pictures with my babies on my lap, like watching. I watched Kelly Brown and create a lie. Right. Like with her, her new world class. And I had mine. You were in Jackson, my seven year old, now on my lap watching you in class. I was always and always watching new things and trying to learn and absorb information. I remember seeing Sal on YouTube talking about Louis the time and like modeling your brand after him, like he was sitting in a field somewhere in a chair. And I’m like this guy. He really knows what he’s talking about. And so I really consider him one of my very first mentors because whether he knows or not, but you know, he has such a good business mind. And after the work is solid, like you said, the next thing that you really have to do is figure out the business, how to run a business. And so that was key for me, like watching his business mentor.

Skip Cohen: [00:26:22] Well, he’s done he’s done a really great job with a lot of different programs and videos. In fact, when you said to the chair, I have to laugh because every time I’m talking about, you know, it really. Yeah. That that that was with all those things which initially started where he’d be moving his chair out into the middle of a highway and a golf cart.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:26:44] It was literally one of the very my very first exposures to the industry was Sal. And and I’m so grateful for that because it’s really shaped my business and and helped me understand the bigger picture of how I mean my business to be successful.

Skip Cohen: [00:27:03] Well, here’s another piece of balance, because what you mentioned, Kelly Brown a minute ago, I met Kelly for the first time and got to spend time with her like a whole weekend with her husband, Rob. Yeah, because a bunch of us rented a house together. It was Susan Rice’s wedding. Sue was getting married to George Vergne, Arcus, who is one of my best friends. And he and I go back to early my my WPI days and rangefinder magazine. Yeah. Ellie and her husband Rob were in one room. Michelle solitano husband Paul were in another room. And Susan Stripling was in another room.

Skip Cohen: [00:27:38] Now I’m throwing that in there. Not to brag about who I got to hang out with. I got it. It’s a pretty impressive list of namedropping.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:27:47] That is a very impressive level.

Skip Cohen: [00:27:49] But surround yourself.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:27:50] That’s another part of finding out is build your network. Yeah.

Skip Cohen: [00:27:55] And when we weren’t at the wedding, we were sitting in the hot tub. The wedding was in Palm Springs. We all got to hang out with each other and we all got to know each other just a little bit better. Well. Finding balance is also about people that watch your backs. It’s also a people whose backs you watch. This is a very small industry and new photographers coming in don’t always realize how close we all are.

Skip Cohen: [00:28:21] I mean, I’ve heard I’ve seen photographers totally destroy their career because they shredded somebody, somebody else and didn’t realize that that person they shredded was could be related to the person they were shredding.

Skip Cohen: [00:28:35] It could be recover. Yeah, it could be somebody. I mean, for example, I mean, I started out at Polaroid. I was at Hasselblad for 12 years. So I got a Polaroid, Hasselblad. I was off on my own, the Internet.

Skip Cohen: [00:28:47] I did some consulting work for a photo district news, which sadly is a magazine that that they just buried last week announced it was going to disappear. Then you’ve got rangefinder magazine and then you’ve got everybody that I’ve worked with over the years, different conventions. It’s a very small industry. And part of finding that balance is also having a really good network that you can draw from. Now, having a network just in itself isn’t enough. You have to be comfortable and recognize when you need help and ask for it. Absolutely. Stubborn and stupid and not open constructive criticism.

Skip Cohen: [00:29:28] Yeah, you’ve got to you’ve got to open it up. That’s also why I love your part of the AIB people group. And that just makes the letters up. No, I got it right now.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:29:36] You got it. You got it. I got it. What I love for our listeners who may not know what that is. It’s Association of International Kidwai Photographers, which is how we actually first met because. Right. Yes. Your AVP, it’s this great small community. But photographers. It’s very close knit. It’s very positive and uplifting communities.

Skip Cohen: [00:29:58] So the reason I brought that up is because being a part of a group like that, you don’t have to be active on Facebook all the time, but you want to have a group of people you can draw from, even if you haven’t been to one of the IBP retreats. You want to at least know. Oh, that’s that’s gin. I’ve seen her work. I’ve talked to her. Talk to her. I hate people that do that. I’m doing it.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:30:23] I talk to her.

Skip Cohen: [00:30:24] Yeah, I’ve talked to her in cyberspace and I’ve been part of a conversation. But you want to have that network of people that are close knit that you can ask a stupid question and not be embarrassed or like, did you use how many lights did you use? Can I ask what, Brad? I mean, it’s all those questions that come up. Some of them very detailed, some of them just just dumb. But you want advice? It’s kind of like I mean, we have a couple that we go out to dinner with on a regular basis down here and we take turns picking the restaurant because we don’t know all the restaurants in Sarasota. We’re getting close, though, because it’s not the community. But you’ll ask to say, well, I don’t know. What are you up for? Where do you want to go? Well, I want to go here. We were just there and it was it was really horrible. Well, you’ve got the same ability when it comes to equipment, depending on what everybody likes. Everybody’s got a different favorite. There’s no loyalty in this industry. It’s the hardware. It’s kind of like. All right. I mean, we’ve seen the battle over the years. The canon came along and suddenly Maicon was losing people. Then Canon changed something. And now, like games, we were back and forth. Well, today, as photographers, you guys have more choices than in any time in the history of photography, Hanada and Nikon. But you’ve also got like a shoot lunatic’s. You’ve got Sony, you’ve got Fuji out there, you’ve got Olympus and you’ve got three choices to notice.

Skip Cohen: [00:31:55] Yeah. Plenty of other choices. And then you’ve also got a whole bunch of photographers that that are playing the. Let’s go back to what it was, a craft card and shooting film again. Right. So there’s an unlimited collection of choices out there. And you need that network to help you find the balance, because odds are and this is one of the things I remind everybody and I apologize. I’ll let you get a word in any second screening.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:32:24] I’m enjoying this.

Skip Cohen: [00:32:25] All right. When you go to a convention, I always tell everybody, one, never eat a meal alone. And two, when you sit down at anybody’s program, talk to the person on your left, introduce yourself to the person on the right as well, and just say why you’re here. Because as you build that network, everybody is dealing with the same problems sooner or later. You know, you may not find anybody in your area. Let’s split. Let’s stick somebody in Cleveland, because I grew up there, so and I’m not there anymore. And with the weather up there now, I’m glad I’m not in Cleveland. And you’re having a problem with a particular client who thinks that something should be free and you happen. Go to a conference and you’re sitting next to a photographer from Phoenix. Let’s say, who just had the same problem six months ago.

Skip Cohen: [00:33:13] And that’s where getting to know more people in the industry and building a network can really help. Also drawing off the experience of your vendors. If you’re looking for something new to sell in a way to make money, just call your lab and ask what’s new. And then just shut up and listen. Walk into like an example. I do a lot of work with Bay Photo and I love their product, but I have a roughly 30 by 50.

Skip Cohen: [00:33:38] Now, remember, I live in Florida, so everybody’s got a pool right outside by the pool and it’s been in the sun and the rain. It’s been out there for a year and a half and there is no degradation whatsoever in the inn. It hasn’t faded, it’s not scratched. I can’t figure out why it’ll rain and the rain dries or I’ll hose it down when I’m cleaning the back deck and then the water drops on.

Skip Cohen: [00:34:10] I can’t figure out how the thing just automatically seems to stay clean and vibrant. But you’re looking for new products. And this is one that I love talking about, because every client you have has a back porch. They’ve got something outside, even if you’re in a small apartment. Right. If you’re lucky enough, you’ve got a little balcony. Right. Being able to take a special print, something that means a lot to you and have it out there. What a cool thing to wait outside your home. And it’s one of those things here. When people come over, they’re looking at this print and it’s one I’m proud of. I look at it now and see all the things that could have done better. But it’s a sunset and Acoma speech that’s 10 minutes from here. And here’s this big print hanging outside in the elements. Well, that comes back to balance again. It’s being able to ask for advice and look for new things when you’re trying to build your business.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:35:04] Now, I really want to see that happen. Now I really want to see that print. You’re going to have to take a picture and send it to me. I’d love to see it. It sounds gorgeous.

Skip Cohen: [00:35:13] Actually, if you go to Skip Cohen University, go to the search box again and just put in performance E:60. It will come up in the search engine. And like I said, it’s been out there. It’ll be two years in August. Now, odds are it probably has faded. Yeah, but to the human eye, it has not. And they don’t put a guarantee on it. But I’ve heard people talk about these things being outside anywhere a three to five years or more.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:35:40] Right. I’m gonna have to go look that up. That sounds like a great product.

Skip Cohen: [00:35:44] Well, it’s yeah. It’s one more thing to do and offer your clients.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:35:49] Absolutely. And, you know, going back to what you said about surrounding yourself with a network. One of my students in our mastermind class, her dad used to raise horses. They were equestrians. And she was talking about our exclusive mastering of our all of the students are. There’s like three hundred ninety people I know are just killing it. And she was like my dad used to always say, you need to surround yourself with thoroughbreds. And I was like, yes, that’s so true. And that’s ridiculous. It’s so important, because I think when you’re surrounding yourself with other people that are successful and have a positive mindset. It just lifts you up. And then on the other hand, whenever you go into these massive Facebook groups and everyone’s complaining and no one really knows what’s going on, but they all have advice. It just pulls you down. So I think that it’s really important that, you know here that you’re cautious and they know who you are surrounding yourself with. So it lifts you up. Is that a pull you down? Right.

Skip Cohen: [00:36:50] Absolutely. In fact, that’s another piece. You keep hitting on things that I mean, obviously, I’m not working off a list here. The list is all in my head about how I have found balance and mistakes I’ve made when I when I had no balance. The other piece is stepping outside your comfort zone. Right. And that’s another part of your fact. I did a blog post just this past Sunday that that ran and it was all about stepping outside your comfort zone, because a comfort zone is is great, but nothing grows there. Right. And when you take when you go to a conference, for example, WPI is coming up later on in February. And I always recommend whatever classes you’re going to take. Take. We’ll try and take one every day. That’s outside your comfort zone. Great advice. Yeah. Well, I’m one of my favorites is suggesting that everybody in the world take a macro class. What do you photograph? At some point, a wedding photographer is going to be in the details. Landscape photographers may be a macro of of a critter or or some beautiful. I don’t know. You’re talking about foliage. Yeah, it’s all kinds of things that are out there. But macro is another discipline. Another one is whether you like to shoot newborns or not. If you’re a wedding photographer, you’ve got to at least respect the process because with it a certain amount of time. Most brides are going to have a baby, right family.

Skip Cohen: [00:38:19] So why not be there to be able to offer the service? Or if not, you at least respect it enough because you can make a referral because you never want to say no to a client, say no, I’m sorry. I hate babies. That photograph babies. Right. The better answer is, hey, I don’t photograph babies, but I’ve. A great friend does. Let me make contact them and somebody is going to call you in the next day or so and be able to give them an answer. So being able to step outside your comfort zone helps round you as a photographer. It helps expand your expertise greatly. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you’re if you’re boudoir, then stepping outside and doing something in family portraiture or babies or get macro or tabletop. I love it when I get a bunch of wedding photographers in the room and I’ll say, how many do the tabletop and no hands go up. And then I’ll look and I go, really? The perfect shot in the world to get is that cake shot, right? You have the advantage of tabletop at a studio where you can control the lights and you’ve got a backdrop and you’ve got time to get the shot. You’ve got to get it on the fly. And if you’re really unlucky, the wife is the wife. The bride is is cutting the cake with her grandmother’s cake knife.

Skip Cohen: [00:39:35] And she wants to see the silver and silver engraving bride in the shot along with the cake itself. So outside your comfort zone. And then I got one more. I don’t know. Where are we out of time?

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:39:48] You know, I think this is great. I’m. I’m good. Yeah.

Skip Cohen: [00:39:52] I’m watching. You have a yarn yet. So that’s.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:39:55] No, no. Which is surprising because, you know, I have three young kids. Right. Right. So if I do it right.

Skip Cohen: [00:40:01] Because. Well, you’ve got you’ve got one more than I have two puppies. So three kids. That does it. That changes your life. The other one is having a good partner. Yeah. And I can’t say enough about the relationship I have with Sheila. Do we have days that are rocky? Hell, yeah.

Skip Cohen: [00:40:17] So there’s every couple. But when it comes to her understanding my business, when it comes to sharing my frustrations, you’ve got to have a sounding board. All right. If you’re looking for balance in your life now, obviously it goes both ways.

Skip Cohen: [00:40:31] But I’m talking about this as I’m the one talking about how I’ve gotten balance. Sheila has her own things that that have helped bring balance into her life.

Skip Cohen: [00:40:41] But you’ve got to compliment each other. You’ve got to be you’ve got to know when to back off. You’ve got to know when to push evil. You’ve got to make time for yourselves. You’ve got to have time for date night. You’ve got to get out of the house now and then you’ve got to get out with friends. My life, Dean Sanders talked about years ago in his in his first book that he did about you are not your photography.

Skip Cohen: [00:41:07] You know, there’s a point where you’re business. You can’t separate it. There’s a point where too many of us become where. Oh, yeah. We’re obsessed. It’s not I mean, I I got into scuba diving years ago and somebody said it’s not a hobby, it’s a sickness. And then I really hit that sickness, Mark, because I can’t tell you how many trips I did diving in those first couple of years. But it’s the same with your business. I’ve finally gotten disciplined enough that by five o’clock, sometimes earlier, I’ve shut everything down. Now I start usually around 6:30, 7:00 in the morning, and I typically go nonstop. We have we take time to take turns and get the puppies out. Although she has been taking the burden of that lately. But you’ve got to find that that that balance you’ve got to find that time where you’re putting in time together as well as finding the balance. And you get to this point where I used to. All right. Five o’clock, she’d take him on. What do you do for dinner? Just give me five minutes. Well, there’s no such thing as five minutes when you’re coming through looking at your e-mail. No such thing as five minutes when you just want to tweak the saturation out of print because it’s what you were working on. And you were kind of.

Skip Cohen: [00:42:20] You were in the zone business.

Skip Cohen: [00:42:22] Right now, the same thing going back and later at night, I used to. Excuse me. I need a drink here.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:42:31] We’ve been going for a while. You’ve you’ve had vodka nuggets of information.

Skip Cohen: [00:42:35] It’s just good stuff. You can. This is also a sign of somebody that works in a home office and there’s nobody to talk to.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:42:42] Well, I know of all the time, too. So it is nice that I got to you. I totally understand that.

Skip Cohen: [00:42:47] Well, that’s it. The point is that I forgot where I was. This goes this goes with being an old fart. No more. Ah, I used to say it’s it’s brain cells. I lost too many concerts in my younger days. I was brain cells back.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:43:02] I wish I could remind you, but my brain cells that we can see that. Right. So I’m not totally sure I remember that. I was I was thinking that you’ve hit on so many important things and things that whenever I’m talking to prospective students, I might want to join our course. The three best predictors of success I found are, one, having solid work, which we’ve talked about to being open to the change, which we’ve talked about. And then the third is just being hungry for it. And it’s so funny that I found, as I’ve talked to so many people in the industry, that we all kind of come to the same conclusions, whether it’s like we didn’t have this conversation before we obviously talked before, which not specifically about this, but I think that we all eventually come to the same conclusions, the ones of us that are successful. And we may get to those places in different ways and take different paths. But eventually we come to a similar answers about things. So I think it’s so interesting hearing you speak as it’s, you know, things that I thought about, conclusions I’ve come to, too. It’s great. So listen to a different perspective. So.

Skip Cohen: [00:44:11] Well, you know, finding. Balance. I had a conversation with Tamara LACKY years ago, and she hated the expression finding balance because it’s become so abused and she’s right. But it really is about your priorities and that goes back to how you define success. I couldn’t dive out of bed with a smile on my face every morning and it is obnoxious. I mean, she was one of those people you don’t talk to until she’s had a cup of coffee. Yeah, she’s great. I’m one of those knuckleheads that’s in your face. Read out of the blocks and it’s. Yeah, it’s it’s finding it. It’s all part of finding that balance. It’s about a partnership and it’s also about you’ve got to share what’s going on in your life. You can’t expect your family to understand why you want to kick the dog. If they don’t know what’s wrong. And I’ve met so many photographers over the years and I have to admit a lot of times it seems to be more of a guy thing where we. We’ve been taught that that it goes back to the old days that real men don’t eat quiche. Well, not only do I eat it, but I know how to make one. Yeah, it’s it’s it’s holding all of that stuff in.

Skip Cohen: [00:45:23] It’s it’s the importance and pride of being a DIY guy, which is such bullshit because you really there’s so many resources out there right now. Every now and then I would try and clean up something on my Web site. This is going back about seven years ago and I figured, well, I don’t know h._t._m._l, but if I copy the code and all I’m trying to do is change the data on something, I can get away with it and I can make change. Well, then I would hit something wrong and totally screw up the Web site and I’d wind up calling my buddy Scott Bourne to say help. And then he would come back to me and say, well, just call me in the first place. Well, because I didn’t want to bother, because I wanted to be proud of the fact that I could do it all by myself. And the reality is that if you’re in a group, let’s use a IBP again. If you’ve got a group like that to draw from who supports you, then that ability to find balance in your life, to establish your priorities, to not take too long on working on something that just gets you so frustrated, you’ve got somebody that to draw from.

Skip Cohen: [00:46:30] So it does go back to priorities. I don’t I don’t think there’s any one. Clean answer. It’s about sleep, it’s about being happy, it’s about defining success. It’s about obviously when you do have the money and you’re making some good money. And this is an incredible industry. If you do it right. Every photographer I talked to today, if I say, how’s the year going? If they say it’s been an unbelievable year and a good one. And this would have been at the close of 2019. They’ll also add but I’ve never worked so hard in my life. So business is out there. But you’ve got to be diverse. You’ve got to have a Web site. I absolutely believe you have to have a blog. A website is about what you sell. Blog. It’s about what’s in your heart. The two of ’em work together. And then finding that balance. And I keep using word balance stuff I just told Yahoo! Tamara Locky hates it. You’ve got to have those. You’ve got to have that. Those priorities may lie. Let’s let’s hit on one more and then I’m shutting up and let you get back to work. And we’re going to end this podcast.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:47:37] This limit podcast has been so valuable, though. You’ve had such great. And I say this is really great.

Skip Cohen: [00:47:45] Well, you’ve got it on on the list of priorities. Making money changes everything so that when you start to make money, you’ve got to have you’ve got to pay attention to that understanding of business so that, you know, you’ve priced things fairly. So you’re not feeling like you’ve become a philanthropist. And everybody always has that problem because you start photographing a lot of people, start photographing friends and their families. And then somebody is getting married and say, hey, is there any way you’ll shoot Mary’s wedding for me and my really good friend and you want to do it?

Skip Cohen: [00:48:20] You’ve got to be able to learn to say no sometimes. And I’m not saying that that means that you go ahead and you make your best friend feel like like garbage because you’re not going to support. But it’s finding that it’s recognizing that you need to take care of yourself. And I guess that’s where I was going. And I got off track a little bit. You’ve got to take care of yourself the same way. I don’t know if you’ve read if you read Melody Beadie or anything anybody else out there. But every now and then, I do a blog post quoting something from Melody Beatie. She had got me into Melody. I read a different page every morning. She’s really about. She’s really about codependency and recovery. But the stuff she writes about is relevant to all of us. And it’s that it’s that moment when you’re depressed, because I don’t know, you’re sad about something and it’s owning you. It’s about guilt that somebody is dumped on you, that that really isn’t justified. But it had it hit your home. Look for motivational things. Even if you’re just going into Google every morning, going to Google, everybody that’s watching this and just go into the Google box and type in quotes about life, you will be blown away by some of the things you find. That’s where you also have to. That’s the last piece of this is just remembering that you’ve got to take care of yourself. You eat three meals a day or or some of us only make it to two and do a lot of snacking. Yeah, right. Yeah. But the point is, you feed your body. We’ve also got to feed your soul. And as sappy as that sounds, and I’m not trying to sound like an evangelist here, but you’ve got to have. Well, you’ve got to if you’ve got a you’ve got to pay attention to a little spirituality, including your own spirit.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:50:11] Yeah, I love that. This has been so great. Thank you so much for your time today. Know talking about work life balance, we’ve covered so many topics and this very sharp period. So it’s been so good seeing you. Tell us again where our listeners can find you.

Skip Cohen: [00:50:26] You know, everything I write is it’s Skip Cohen University dot com. I’m also Skip Cohen on Facebook. I’m Skip Cohen on Twitter. Nothing particularly fancy to remember. Hard to remember there. And if anybody’s got any questions or if anybody thinks I went way off track here or feel free to criticize me, my email is Skipp at M E, I am the number five hundred dot com and I answer e-mail. I’m on it all day long. I’m also doing I’m going to throw a quick infomercial in here. I’m having a blast. And this is also about finding balance stepping outside your comfort zone. I’m doing a lot of interesting stuff with Plaid A. Go take a look at plaid, a podcast. I’m having fun with them. I’m actually in the role of CMO for them, which stands for chief marketing officer, which is a very fancy law for. Yeah, it’s a it’s a big word that just says. Yeah. I don’t know. Go ask Skip. Yeah. And one of the new things that I just I just learned recently was going into go to Platteville dot com P L A T y b._a l l dot com because it’s the first Kickstarter campaign I’ve ever been involved in. And it’s really. Interesting process as sourcing product, but and what types of products do they have? Plot a pod. Plot a pod essentially is a sidekick to your tripod. There get a lot of places you can’t go with with a tripod like steam, for example. Most churches and houses of worship will not let you set up a tripod. It’s a pod is gives your camera a big footprint. It goes directly from the footprint to the to a baldhead to your camera.

Skip Cohen: [00:52:05] And in addition to that, you’ve got. I’m sorry.

Skip Cohen: [00:52:13] Oh, I’m sorry. No, we’re all right. This is live, everybody. I’ll see you out.

Skip Cohen: [00:52:19] She couldn’t hear you because we’ve been talking about her for the answer. Hi. We’ve been talking about you. She needed the checkbook, which happens to be sitting right here.

Skip Cohen: [00:52:29] And plot a ball is a revolutionary ball ahead where the founder and inventor has taken the ball ahead and turned it upside down. So you’re balancing at the top. You’re finding your your level at the top of the tripod. You don’t need to buy. You don’t need to level your tripod. Now. And it’s all in the control. It’s all in the ball. That’s so important that into an infomercial. But that’s awesome to me. It’s part about it’s finding that balance and finding that that happiness, because it’s with happiness comes balance every priority.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:53:05] Yes. You’re like discovering new things. I’m definitely going to have to check that out. I’m sure our listeners will, too. So thank you again for your time and so good seeing you. And you can find skip it, Skip Cohen University dot com. You can find me at the High Rollers Club dot. I’ll definitely join our Facebook group. The High Rollers Club Business and marketing for photographers. And I’ll see you guys around.

Skip Cohen: [00:53:30] Ok. I just want, you know. Well, we’ve been doing this. Your house has been bugged. I’ve had somebody in there so that if I hear after you hang up. Oh, my God. I thought he wouldn’t shut up. I know where you live.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:53:41] You know, that’s not going to happen. And if you know where I live and that also means that you have to watch some children and give us that night out that you were talking about.

Skip Cohen: [00:53:50] I bet I also have to deal with cold weather and snow, and I don’t do that.

Jenn Bruno Smith: [00:53:54] Very true. You know, we haven’t had snow at all here. Really? Not winter in your around Indianapolis somewhere, right? No, I’m actually in Delaware.

Skip Cohen: [00:54:02] Ok. I don’t know why. Why do they think it used to be an MP? No. So I. Yeah. But that’s OK. You do have. You do have Rehoboth Beach, which I used to hang out at eight years ago. So we we do wrap this up for our listeners. Thank you so much, Skip. Everybody wants you to get.

Skip Cohen talks about Finding Balance and Learning from His Mistakes

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