Author Archives: skipcohen

GoingPro Podcast Episode #75

Welcome to the GoingPro podcast.

You can direct-download the MP3 here.

Or get the entire GoingPro stream here –

Skip and Scott offer their final episode of the GoingPro podcast.


This post sponsored by Adorama – More than a camera store

Changes At Going Pro

Skip and I have really enjoyed working on the GoingPro project. For more than two years we’ve put our hearts and souls into trying to help each of you improve your photography business. We’ve had a great deal of help from our sponsors and guest photographers who made sure you got a variety of perspectives, but now it’s time for a change – even the TV show Friends went off the air eventually.

We find ourselves at a crossroads. The GoingPro project has helped so many aspiring photographers, but in its current form it’s pretty much run its course. You should start by reading our book GoingPro – available at Amazon and other major booksellers).  We will continue to maintain the GoingPro2010 Twitter site.  There we’ll continue to offer free daily advice and answer your questions as best we can in 140 characters or less 🙂 – follow us @GoingPro2010.

In addition, you’ll find plenty of help at and, Skip’s new expanded site – going live within the next week or so. Even though we’re ceasing the podcast and daily updates to this particular blog, we will continue to be there to help you. Just an FYI – The GoingPro website goes into storage on May 14, 2012.

Why the change? The market is constantly changing and we want to develop a set of new tools to help build your business and strengthen your marketing efforts. We’re not disappearing, just working on new ideas that we think will help emerging professional photographers. We may use Twitter instead of a podcast but that doesn’t in any way impede our goal of helping you go from an aspiring pro to a profitable professional. We’ll continue to develop projects along those lines.

In the meantime, part of the new direction is toward individual consulting and training. We have spent a lot of gratifying time on the phone, in person at various conventions and via email with many of you, helping to solve your professional photography business challenges.

After May 14, 2012, we will also be available as consultants to help you any way we can. Our services extend from help building Twitter followers, designing a logo, picking a studio name, advice on pricing, help with sales, insurance, HR, PR or anything else. We’re available on a retainer basis and we’ve got an incredible staff of experts in every area of business and marketing. If you think you need help, read our book “GoingPro” first. There are so many of the typical questions we receive that are already answered there. If you still need help, then consulting services are available on an hourly basis.

If you need either Skip or me, you’ll always find us at our respective email addresses: or

For those of you who have participated in the project we extend our most sincere thanks. With your support, we’ve taken this concept further and faster than we ever dreamed. Hundreds of you have contacted us to say we’ve helped. We’re happiest about that above all. We wish you the best and will continue to be available to help you take your photography business from surviving to thriving.

Thanks again,

Scott & Skip

Real Life Real Lessons for Photographers: Your Website

One of this year’s benefits for Summer School attendees is a fairly thorough website review prior to the August event. What’s amazing to me is how few people have even realized they had the benefit, but so far, having done at least thirty of them, the experience has been pretty valuable.

First let’s talk about the process. It’s nothing more than a phone call and we literally go through the site page by page. Calls have ranged anywhere from 30-90 minutes. I’m doing these because I wanted everyone to be able to focus on a business changing experience before August! It’s that simple. In fact, Summer School may be the only program that evolves into something that runs all year long.

I start the process and the community takes over afterwards. For example, on Facebook there are 109 members of a Skip’s Summer School forum that help each other every day of the week. Throughout the Internet there are dozen’s of little clusters of past alumni who have stayed in contact and are helping each other.

Two big issues I’ve noticed on almost every website involve galleries and about sections. First, there are too many images in everybody’s galleries. The record so far is over 4000. No viewer to any site is going to go through those, especially when many of the images shouldn’t have been posted in the first place.

So many photographers think they have to show the potential client EVERYTHING they’re capable of shooting. The truth is, this is the Tiffany window scenario that Bambi Cantrell talks about all the time. Tiffany’s doesn’t show you everything in their inventory, just one or two items well lit and nicely displayed in each window.

LESS IS MORE…it’s worth remembering. You’re much better off to just show a few great images than a hundred that Uncle Harry could have shot! Show quality and make each image a wow print.

With every image you post ask one question, “If this was the only image I could show would I hire me?” If it’s strong enough that you’d even hire yourself than it’s a keeper – otherwise toss it!

The other area a lot of people need help with is their “About” section and it’s actually a topic this week on the podcast with me and Scott. People hire you because of why you’re a photographer, not because of what you provide or what you use. They’re not that interested in your life story…where you went to school…what gear you use…or how many awards you’ve won…

They interested in why you’re a photographer. They want to know they can trust you to see the world through their eyes. They want to know you understand who they are and why they want a professional photographer at their event or sitting.

In Justin and Mary Marantz’s abut video,, which we’ve talked about so many times, Mary finishes the video with the comment, “…we believe in love.” I’m taking it out of context, but I’ve suggested to EVERY Summer School attendee they watch the video, no matter what their photographic specialty might be. This is about establishing trust with your client.

I’ve even re-written a number of About sections for this year’s attendees. Why? Because so many of you are just too close to your own business. We all have the same challenges and building a stronger website should be a vital component of everybody’s marketing plan. Your About section and galleries are the two primary hooks to getting clients to hire you – everything else on your site is secondary.

I know a number of people have come into these reviews with the same apprehension as an IRS audit, but that’s not what this is about. Fortunately everybody has left smiling! And yes, you can tell when somebody is smiling on the phone – your voice changes. Remember that the next time you’re dealing with an upset client – a smile will go a long way, even if they can’t see you!

If you’re registered for Summer School and haven’t had your website review yet, don’t worry, more photographers are being scheduled ever day. If you haven’t registered for Summer School yet, what are you waiting for? It’s the only program in the industry that pretty much is there to help you all year long!

This post sponsored by Bay Photo Lab

Photographers: Nobody is Interested in Your Excuses

A small leak in the roof after a pretty serious storm last week prompted me to call a roofer. I got somebody with a great reputation. I talked with the owner personally. As promised his guy showed up the next day and promised me he’d be back the following day to do the repair.

NOT! Three days went by until I heard from the company again. I got a call this morning from the owner, who I had talked to originally. He apologized and wanted to let me know the work would be done this week. Then he made the fatal error of telling me why I hadn’t received a call. His guy is down with the flu and then he was on vacation last week and…

Here’s the point: I didn’t care what the reasons were. When you don’t provide the service that either you promised or is expected it’s absurd to think excuses are going to bail you out and suddenly put you on the right path again!

I had a battle with Comcast year’s ago over a technician who didn’t show up at our home for an installation. Comcast told me he did show up, but we weren’t home and they claimed they left a tag on the door. When I met the technician two days later he apologized and told me his father had a heart attack. Once again, I felt badly for the guy, but my issue wasn’t with him – it was with the boneheads at Comcast who didn’t dispatch another technician or, at the very least, call us. Instead they tried to blame the problem on us.

Over a year ago Bruce Berg did a guest post on He had a client whose shoot he completely missed and totally forgot about it. He wrote in the post:

“They said the refund was all they wanted. They understand mistakes happen. Goodbye. I don’t like goodbyes. I could let it go, but it troubled my soul deeply to have failed so big like this.
I like resolution, redemption, hope. I sent a card and months later, no response. With one last college try, I sent another card pouring out my heart, telling them I really wanted to try to make amends and would they please accept a $1000 credit from me for another session?
The good news? I photographed them this week. Yes, the bride was greatly disappointed 3 months ago, but she said as she left, ” I really appreciate your commitment to making it right”.
If people recognize our sincerity and we truly step up to the plate then yes, redemption is a possibility. Despite our failures, there can be hope.” Bruce Berg

Don’t make excuses for your mistakes. Accept ownership and then work to figure out how to resolve the challenges. Let your clients know they can always hold you accountable no matter what the issue. It’s one of my wife’s favorite lines, “Own your own sh##!”


This Post Sponsored by: Smug Mug PETE

Real World Real Lessons: A Customer Service Example for Photographers

Earlier this week at I published a post about Matthew Jordan Smith’s new site, built by SmugMug. The site looks terrific, but what I liked most about it was the process. It wound up being a fitting reminder of how we all need to pay attention to every aspect of our business, especially the customer service side.

Like every post I write, there were a few different lessons to pay attention to:

*Matthew made it a point to be directly involved in the development of his site. So often I’ve heard from photographers who didn’t feel it was their job to really get involved. They told the developer what they wanted and then ceased to be there. In the end they were disappointed. They didn’t allocate the time the project really deserved for their personal input.

*SmugMug spent a lot of time listening to Matthew and what he wanted. In the same respect, you have to listen to your clients. Don’t assume you understand them and know what they want.

*Matthew has been listening closely to his clients and understood exactly what they wanted. He built a site that served their needs not his. If anything, he recognized their needs WERE his needs.  Remember Dean Collins’ old favorite, “Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!”

*Last on the list, SmugMug finished the project not only on time but ahead of schedule. They exceeded Matthew’s expectations.  You’ve got to do the same with every client. Give them more than they asked for – learn to exceed their expectations and you’ll become habit-forming!

Professional photography is a word of mouth business and nothing spreads faster than the words of a happy satisfied client! Your goal is to make every client an ambassador for your business!
This post sponsored by Album Epoca

GoingPro Podcast Episode #74

Welcome to the GoingPro podcast.

You can direct-download the MP3 here.

Or get the entire GoingPro stream here –

Skip and Scott answer audience questions about the business of photography.

This post sponsored by Adorama – More than a camera store

More On Photo Critiques

Friday’s post here at GoingPro was about photo critiques. Some of you didn’t like the fact that I suggested that you should bring your worst images – not your best for critique.

I think there is a basic misunderstanding. Some of you do not appear to know the difference between a photo critique and a portfolio review. Your portfolio review should include only your best images. That is where you show off.

Image critiques are where you show your mistakes and try to learn what you did wrong and how you can fix it from photographers who know more about photography than you do.

This Post Sponsored by: Smug Mug PETE