Intro by Skip Cohen
Virtually every photographer is dealing with the same challenge today, how to rebuild their brand and business as we come out of the pandemic. Sadly, too many of you are making it a more complex task than it needs to be.
In this recent “Tuesday Tidbits” from Beverly Walden, she hits the importance of simplicity hard. It makes so much sense. For example, we’ve all been to restaurants with too many items on the menu. Watch a couple of episodes of Robert Irvine in Restaurant Impossible, and you’ll see him repeatedly rebuild restaurants that simply had too many items available. They had become masters of mediocrity instead of building a reputation on a few solid specialties.
Now, think about your own business. In terms of the products and services you offer, keep it simple. And whatever you offer, make your skillset stand out and be the very best in the community.
And one more thing to pick up from Beverly’s wisdom. They didn’t just do black and white portraits – they offered “Relationship Black and White.” The name alone gives their target audience the understanding their work is about much more than just a portrait.
Visit Walden’s website, and you’ll understand the beauty and power of their black and white work. You’ll see some of the most powerful portraiture in our industry!
Years ago, we were speaking to a group in Virginia and for lunch, we were taken to the Roanoke Weiner Stand.
It was a small place, and its entire menu was as follows:
Hot dogs (with or without chili and mustard)
Chips in bags (help yourself)
Drinks in cans (help yourself)
No hamburgers or fries. Just hot dogs.
They have been in business since 1916. We ate there in 2005. What a testimony to doing less and doing it very well.
I was watching the show The Food that built America, and they were talking about McDonald’s in the early days. The comment was made that they understood the menu needed to be very simple and focused, so they limited their menu to 7 items. They could then concentrate on making those 7 items the best they could be.
The T.U.F. principle by Dave Anderson states the same principle. Here are my notes from one of his teachings.
“Focus on fewer things. TUF=The Ultimate Few. Out of the good things, what are the GREAT ones? Narrow your focus. There is power in focus. Do 1-3 things. Incredibly Focused! Apple is the most focused company in the world. We say no to good ideas every day to focus on great ideas! Think about the story of the dog dropping the bone in the river and diving in after reflection only to lose both. Opportunity does not equal Obligation.”
This concept reminded me of our studio when we introduced what we called Relationship black and white portraits years ago, telling people’s stories instead of capturing empty smiles for the camera.
These sessions were done in the studio, no props were used with a very simple background, they were only available in black and white in three sizes, and they were hand-printed in our darkroom on archival papers that would outlast those in the portrait.
This was at a time when color photography was just coming to the forefront.
What were we doing? Were we crazy? We wondered and questioned ourselves and worried.
But…we put a stake in the ground.
Those that loved it came and fell in love with it as much as we did.
We were different and that was ok.
In fact, Relationship black and white photography became our iconic brand and still comprises much of our business today.