Author Archive

Contractual Thinking

Posted: September 28th, 2015

[by Charles Gupton] Without exception, anytime I’ve had a difficult, unresolvable conflict or misunderstanding arise as part of a project, it was the result of not having a written contract. That’s not to say that misunderstandings don’t arise at times even when I have a solid contract in hand. But, I’ve never had a disagreement [...]

Starting With The “Why” Of The Story

Posted: August 24th, 2015

[by Charles Gupton] Taking the plunge from being a still photographer for 30+ years to creating motion projects was a huge one for me. As I started out, I thought the greatest obstacles were going to be learning the technical aspects of editing and audio or the learning curve related to purchasing and understanding how [...]

The Value of Beautiful Constraints

Posted: July 21st, 2015

[by Charles Gupton] Creative people often don’t understand that to produce creative work, you need boundaries. While it’s true that too many limitations inhibit creativity, not having any boundaries reduces creativity in much the same way. Finding the sweet spot is what we all seek. In their book, A Beautiful Constraint, authors Adam Morgan and [...]

Can You Look Back to See Where You’re Going?

Posted: July 1st, 2015

[by Charles Gupton] Seldom does the arc of your career – or your life in general – ever follow the path that you thought it would when you planned it out. It’s only when looking back at the journey that you can see a connection between the seemingly disparate dots — a pattern or a [...]

5 Suggestions for More Effective Interviews

Posted: March 24th, 2015

[by Charles Gupton] The ability to ask good questions and draw people out of their anxiety over being photographed has always been an important skill set to have as a still photographer. But over the past several years, I’ve gone from being behind the camera exclusively to taking a more active role in interviewing subjects [...]

Can You Embrace Multiple Media?

Posted: March 6th, 2015

[by Charles Gupton] For several years, I avoided the idea like it was a virus. I associated it with the sleazy spam-meisters of the business world. Until I realized its value and embraced it. As I looked around, increasingly more and more creative people I respected were not only doing their particular craft well, but [...]

May Your New Year Have A Freak-y New Perspective

Posted: December 16th, 2014

[by Charles Gupton] Are you able to say the words “I don’t know” when you really don’t know the answer to something you think you should? Until you’re able to admit what you don’t know, it’s virtually impossible to be open to learning what you need to know. In the early chapters of their newest book, [...]

Creating Space for Gratitude

Posted: November 24th, 2014

[by Charles Gupton] Creating time and emotional space to be thankful in the midst of a deep struggle — or even a time of emotional darkness — does not seem either intuitive or congruent with the over-riding fear of the moment. However, I’ve come to believe that it is one of the most important and [...]

A Wake-up Call to Play

Posted: September 2nd, 2014

[by Charles Gupton] “It’s a miracle she’s alive.” The surgeon was reporting on the success of removing my wife’s burst appendix and the tumor she’d found while doing the procedure. Linda had miraculously walked around for two weeks feeling bad but having no idea her body was harboring a life-threatening medical condition. Like most of [...]

Freak Out! And Show It!

Posted: June 24th, 2014

[by Charles Gupton] If you’re the owner of a small business, it’s easy to feel isolated – on the margins of activity – from time to time. As an artist working in the commercial field, I’ve frequently felt like the misfit in the room of corporate suits. The trick in that situation is to turn [...]

Successfully Learning From Failures

Posted: June 11th, 2014

[by Charles Gupton] Several months ago, I made a huge, bumbling mistake. Recently, it reared it’s shaming head and bit me. My mistake was not delivering a proposal for a project we were hired to do. After being hired, I was asked for – and usually, routinely deliver – a written description of what our [...]

Balancing Demands through Blending

Posted: April 10th, 2014

[by Charles Gupton] When I hear people talk about getting a life, my internal response is almost always, “You’ve got a life. It’s the one you’ve chosen. If you want a different life, make the choices that’ll lead you there!” I want to be clear that although I think this response, I never say it [...]

Finding Balance

Posted: January 15th, 2014

[by Charles Gupton] When I started my dive into social media, finding the balance of business to personal was the most difficult part of the process. Although I don’t hit the mark perfectly every time, I’m becoming more comfortable with the direction I’ve taken. As you’ve probably heard countless times, people don’t do business with [...]

Holiday Reads

Posted: December 19th, 2013

[by Charles Gupton] I frequently use the holiday breaks as an opportunity to catch up on some more intensive reading that I’ve put off because of the busyness of the everyday tasks that are screaming for priority. Among the books I’ve read but plan to revisit are: Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by [...]

Mindful Thoughts to Effective Efficiency

Posted: November 22nd, 2013

[by Charles Gupton] One of the most challenging goals that creative professionals face on a daily basis is staying on task so that important work gets done in a timely manner. It’s certainly a trial for me, particularly on days when I’m in the office working. I feel as if I’ve read about – and [...]

New Story Insights

Posted: October 24th, 2013

[by Charles Gupton] You can’t swing a stick in the business world these days without encountering the need for better stories in all aspects of a company’s communication. But how do you discover a better story to tell? One key to a better story is to tell a different story; to step away from the [...]

Choosing Your Vision

Posted: October 1st, 2013

[by Charles Gupton] The morning that two planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center, a traumatic wake-up call rang around the world. But a few months earlier, a call had come to me that had an even greater impact on our immediate lives. In that call, I lost – for most of the [...]

Advice to Self

Posted: August 14th, 2013

[by Charles Gupton] Although I don’t believe there’s any value in looking back on your life with regret, I do believe there is much to be learned by assessing your missteps. Why continue to make the same ones repeatedly? A couple of tips I’d share with my younger self would be to develop meaningful relationships [...]

Keepin’ It Real, Keepin’ It Fresh.

Posted: July 29th, 2013

[by Charles Gupton] Over the last several years, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time, it seems, engaged in business development. And there have been stretches where the assignments I’ve shot didn’t require an ounce of creativity to complete. During those periods, my heart felt as dry as an old bone in the desert sun. [...]

The Value of Checklists

Posted: July 11th, 2013

[by Charles Gupton] As an artist, I have a fair amount of disdain for formulas and routines. What I’ve discovered – many times, I’m afraid, though – is that having some well thought out routines can be very liberating. They allow you to focus on the creative aspects of a process while freeing your mind [...]

Summer Reading

Posted: June 3rd, 2013

[by Charles Gupton] Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath When most people have an important decision to make, it’s surprising to realize how few have a logical process to follow in making that decision. Even in the case of critical business matters, the final decisions are most often swayed by emotional bias based on the [...]

Power of Following Up

Posted: March 18th, 2013

[by Charles Gupton] Thirty years ago as I was trying to get a significant break into the editorial market, I would visit New York a couple of times a year and schlep my portfolio around from one magazine to the next. Knowing that I was one in a million photographers rapping on the picture editors’ [...]

Cherish the Process

Posted: March 12th, 2013

[by Charles Gupton] Humans, especially Westerners, seem to be addicted to results. Whether in sports, politics, business, or academics, people are obsessed with outcomes based on numbers. When the victories we desire fall short of our expectations, we frequently suffer emotional set backs that can cause creative paralysis. But the trouble with results is that [...]

The Power is in the Question. Isn’t it?

Posted: January 8th, 2013

[by Charles Gupton] The quest started for me at ASMP’s SB2 conference in Atlanta several years ago. It was the quest for better questions. Our brains are incredibly powerful and magnificent organs. The calculations and associations our minds make every moment of the day are amazing. At the same time, our mind can be rather [...]

Freedom in Constraints

Posted: December 7th, 2012

[by Charles Gupton] I’ve never been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, but I have the classic symptoms. Maintaining my focus on almost any task is usually a challenge, sometimes a monumental one. As a result, I’ve come to appreciate the value of constraints. Having too many options available always slows down my ability to make [...]

Your Best Year Yet!

Posted: November 19th, 2012

[by Charles Gupton] Thanksgiving week is a good time to catch up on reading. Often the days leading up to the holiday are a bit slower as many people gear down for their own time off. It’s an ideal time to review the year to date and evaluate what adjustments we need to make for [...]

My Favorite Lighting Gear

Posted: August 21st, 2012

[by Charles Gupton] From my early days as a photographer, I’ve always been far more captivated by lights and lighting than I have with cameras. Although I continue to shoot stills, as a result of shooting more motion projects I need equipment that will serve both areas well. I shoot on location in a lot [...]

Summer Reading Suggestions

Posted: June 29th, 2012

[by Charles Gupton] As the days of summer grow longer, one of my favorite activities is to get outside early before the heat builds and read. Reading a great book feeds my mind and creativity and often bolsters my business resolve. Some recent books that may inspire you too: Spark by John Ratey When work [...]

Story First. Story Last.

Posted: June 20th, 2012

[by Charles Gupton] If, like me, you have made or are in the process of making a transition to shooting more video as another communications tool in your repertoire, it’s probably because of the relatively inexpensive costs to enter the field as well as the accessibility to editing and other software that simply didn’t exist [...]

Negotiation Starts with Value

Posted: June 13th, 2012

[by Charles Gupton] The most important element in any negotiation process is defining the value of what is being exchanged. Without a clear understanding of what you have to offer and its value to the person you’re communicating with, the negotiation process will quickly become frustrating. The challenge for many commercial artists/photographers is that they [...]

Qualities of a Workhorse Mailing List

Posted: April 26th, 2012

[by Charles Gupton] The foundation for building a workhorse client contact list is formulating a good idea of the different ways you plan to use the list — and the simplest method of grouping the names so that they can be easily sorted. I’ve found it’s very easy to over-think and over-complicate the process of [...]

The Habits of Inspiration

Posted: April 10th, 2012

[by Charles Gupton] I think about inspiration a lot. What I’ve realized is that, not unlike food, I want to have it everyday. And even though I try to have it every morning, I like to have it in the afternoon and evening as well. As creatures of habit, we usually look for inspiration in [...]

Where is Your Mind?

Posted: February 14th, 2012

[by Charles Gupton] Where is your mind when a client calls or emails you about a project? Invariably, my mind is buried in the details of some other project — or I’m on location shooting. Where my mind isn’t, at that moment, is on the client’s needs or concerns. But I know that if I [...]

Pareto Applied

Posted: January 30th, 2012

[by Charles Gupton] Have you ever received a message from the universe that wouldn’t let you escape it? Something so clear, simple, and obvious that you feel silly when the realization occurs? In the last couple of weeks, I have encountered one consistent message from over a half-dozen sources including several conversations, blog posts, books [...]

Using Collaborations to Up Your Game

Posted: January 23rd, 2012

[by Charles Gupton] Most of us have heard the old adage: “You’re known by the company you keep.” This can be especially true when it comes to collaborative efforts. Collaborative projects often present an opportunity to raise the bar for our own work. Foremost when considering collaborative partners, seek people who want to do what [...]

The Power of Differentiation -or- What’s Your Hedgehog?

Posted: August 29th, 2011

[by Charles Gupton] One of the most important components of the sales process is differentiation. Establishing what makes you different in the eyes of a potential client can go a long way in shortening the time it takes for you to land a prospective client . I can’t even estimate the number of times I’ve [...]

The Creative Process Illustrated

Posted: June 29th, 2011

[by Charles Gupton] Would you like to have the chance to get a peek into the process of some of the most respected creative minds in the advertising business today? In the book, The Creative Process Illustrated: How Advertising’s Big Ideas are Born, you’ll have that opportunity.  The authors approached nearly 300 top creative directors, [...]

Of, Not Above

Posted: June 24th, 2011

[by Charles Gupton] Social media platforms allow possibilities for connection that we could not have conceived of just a few years ago. The opportunity to be “friends” with a prospective client opens up a new way of getting to know that person, and provides a rich resource of information to help in developing a better [...]

Swallow Your Frog First

Posted: March 30th, 2011

[by Charles Gupton] Although time management is a concern for everyone these days, it seems to be a particular challenge for people in the creative fields. One of the biggest obstacles to effective use of our time is getting the things we all dread having to do out of the way so that we can [...]

Reduce your Competition Through Loyalty

Posted: March 21st, 2011

[by Charles Gupton] There are usually a couple of reasons why a client initiates working with a photographer for the first time. It’s often our style of shooting, our approach, or our expertise that distinguishes us from our competitors in the mind of a client. But it’s usually a different set of values that builds [...]

Admit a Mistake and Move On

Posted: February 25th, 2011

[by Charles Gupton] We all make mistakes. That’s a given. But how we respond when we make a mistake is not. In our response – or lack of one – lies a key to our potential success in relationships, both personal and business. Once we recognize a mistake has been made, our first response should [...]

Will Your Likability Help You Succeed?

Posted: February 11th, 2011

[by Charles Gupton] At the start of a new year, many photographers focus on building their revenue by focusing on finding new clients for their services. Those prospective clients, like all of us, solve their daily challenges by selecting people and services that add the most value to their lives. Most photographers define “providing value” [...]

Planning for a Warm Business Season

Posted: January 14th, 2011

[by Charles Gupton] One of the activities I enjoy most during the winter months is building a fire in the fireplace then relaxing on the couch with a good book to watch the flames. I find it far more enjoyable, however, when the work to build and maintain the fire has been done in advance. [...]

Telephone Tips

Posted: August 11th, 2010

[by Charles Gupton] With the rise of on-line social media and texting as means of communication, there seems to be a breakdown in the awareness of proper and effective use of telephone skills in the business environment. After witnessing and experiencing a number of breaches, I thought I’d offer some observations that may offer some [...]

Efficient Freedom

Posted: August 6th, 2010

[by Charles Gupton] I once had a strong disdain for franchises as a means of business ownership. It seemed to me to be a sell-out to a system that limited the freedom of an owner too much for my liking. Especially after I watched a photography buddy of mine give up his heart and passion [...]

Start to CUS

Posted: August 2nd, 2010

[by Charles Gupton] Are you feeling the financial heat build along with the summer heat? Do you need to build some cool business and generate some cold cash? Well, before you get frustrated and start to cuss, why not CUS instead! CUS is an acronym for Courage, Urgency and Shamelessness. Courage does not indicate a [...]

Deep or Wide?

Posted: March 31st, 2010

[by Charles Gupton] The primary business of every business – be it banking, plumbing, restaurant or photography – is the work of acquiring and retaining customers. No buyers, no sales, no business. To that end, most business owners use the strategy of casting their nets in more directions in an attempt to draw in practically [...]

Jumpstart Your Business

Posted: January 20th, 2010

[by Charles Gupton] While presenting her program, “I Need to Jumpstart My Business,” during a recent visit to our chapter, Judy Herrmann emphasized the importance of developing deeper relationships in one’s approach to business development. More than ever, it’s critical to form alliances and collaborations that will expand opportunities you may have never had before. [...]

Action Trumps Inaction

Posted: December 22nd, 2009

[by Charles Gupton] Although it’s against my perfectionist nature, I am finding that with today’s fast changing market conditions, I’m needing to make a huge number of decisions without first having all the information I’d like to have in hand. However, as I look around, I’m seeing way too many people living in fear of [...]

How I Learned to use Twitter without being Consumed

Posted: December 18th, 2009

[by Charles Gupton] At first blush, I found Twitter to be nothing but noise. Thousands of people (and companies) screaming “look at me, me, me!” A large number of them, when they run out of anything meaningful to say (which is fairly quickly) simply get a book of quotes and tweet their way through them. [...]

Social Media – Conversation or Bullhorn?

Posted: December 14th, 2009

[by Charles Gupton] For more than a year now, I’ve been wading into and through the murky waters of social media (SM). I have found the process challenging at best with a lot of frustrations in the process. All though I’ve learned a tremendous amount along the way, I still have a long way to [...]

Navigating the Gift-giving Minefield

Posted: December 1st, 2009

[by Charles Gupton] This time of the year between Thanksgiving and Christmas draws our attention to not only giving thanks for the rich blessings in our lives, but saying “thank you” to people who’ve helped us make progress in our lives during the year. But it can be a very awkward time because of the [...]