Leading up to the Visual Storytelling Conference, we’re putting the spotlight on some of the instructors! Meet them and find out what you can learn from them at the conference, plus some pre-conference insights.
Skip Cohen is President/Founder of SkipCohenUniversity, an online resource center for aspiring and working professional photographers. His marketing consulting firm specializing in projects dedicated to education, primarily in photography. He also serves as CMO for Platypod. He’s been actively involved in the photographic industry his entire career and previously served as President of Rangefinder/WPPI and earlier, President of Hasselblad USA. Prior to Hasselblad he was with Polaroid for 17-1/2 years.
He’s a writer, educator and consultant. He’s written for Shutter Magazine, Resource Magazine and Digital Industry Reporter and co-hosts three podcasts: “Mind Your Own Business,” and “Beyond Technique” through Photofocus.com and “Tamron Recipes.” He’s a speaker and workshop instructor at several key conventions every year and has business and marketing modules with both Creative Live and Lynda.com. He has co-authored six books on photography with Don Blair, Bambi Cantrell, Joe Buissink and Scott Bourne.
Can you tell us a little about what you’ll be teaching for the Visual Storytelling Conference?
“I’m doing two programs. Both will be fast-paced avoiding ‘death by PowerPoint!’ The first program is a non-stop collection of ideas to help get your business back on track. The pandemic has had an impact on EVERY business. I’m sharing a long list of low-hanging fruit, ideas people can implement almost immediately to jump-start their business and start increasing revenue.
“The second program, equally fast, is about things you can be doing right now to make your website and blog work better together. There are more people active in social media today than any other time in history and your real estate is your storefront – but are you doing everything you can to get people to walk through the door? And if you hate to write, I’ve got a solution for that too.”
How did you get started in photography?
“I guess it really started in high school in the camera club and working for a small-town newspaper in the darkroom after school. Out of college, the job market was ugly and I started at Polaroid working in research — washing bottles in a lab! I spent 17-1/2 great years there, leaving as the Photo Specialty Dealer Manager (camera store sales) when I got an offer to be President of Hasselblad USA. That’s where I consider my career in photography really took off.”
What makes you push the envelope in terms of your creativity?
“There’s that old line that both Confucious and Steve Jobs get credit for: ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ At a time when most of my counterparts have retired, I’m still pumped up every day, excited over what new approach to marketing, social media and technology I’m going to learn.”
What’s one piece of advice you can give related to your courses?
“Stop thinking you’re alone in the challenges to build a stronger business and brand. We’re all dealing with many of the same problems, but there are some terrific success stories out there and it’s time to get out of ‘analysis paralysis’ and get things going. Join me with an open mind and one goal — to help you thrive, not just survive.”
What’s one challenge you’ve had in your career, and how have you overcome it?
“I was president of WPPI/Rangefinder. At the time we were the biggest convention and magazine in professional photography. But I wasn’t happy. When I was considering leaving to start my own company, my wife asked me, ‘What are you afraid of?’ My answer, ‘Failing!’ And there it is — it’s that fear of change and risking everything for something you believe in.
“I could say I overcame it with hard work, etc, but the truth is, it’s thanks to my wife and a couple of great friends who encouraged me and helped me stay focused. It really does take a village.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“There’s so much potential in the business of imaging right now, but not if artists procrastinate and think things are going to come back by themselves. The pandemic has created some incredible opportunities for people to demonstrate leadership and creativity. Just remember, hunkering down is about your health — NOT about your business, skill set or creativity!”