Friday, July 02, 2010

Food For Thought Friday: Are You Paralyzed By Perfection

Good Morning Everybody,

FEAD-2 Logo Vert Hey, just a quick note about next Tuesday’s webcast “Fast and Easy Digital Design” [link] – we are at capacity (1,000 registered) as of late yesterday.  Typically a few folks won’t be able to make it at the last minute, so we will be accepting new registrants on a standby basis.  That means that folks registering today will probably still be able to sign on to see the program on Tuesday.  My thanks for everyone's enthusiastic support for my webcast.  I’m looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday!

This webcast is going to go WAY beyond album design.  This time I'm going to show you a variety of projects that you can use to promote yourself to your vendor friends and get them to promote you as well.

I'm also planning to show you a lot of cool new products you can create for your clients. These digitally designed products add sizzle to your photography and your product line. 

Just like last time, the projects I’ll discuss are not software dependent - you can create all these projects in Photoshop - it will just take you a lot longer.  In next week's webcast I'll show you at least 10 in-depth Lumapix:FotoFusion tips and tricks that will really get you up to speed in no time with this easy to use software! 

If you are new to Lumapix, I promise you, you won't believe your eyes! You can save $200 on Lumapix right now at our Digital resource Center [link].

OK gang, time to get on with today's post.

Are You Paralyzed By Perfection: 7 Ways To Get Unstuck

Stuck LR Have you ever felt that you were just stuck, you just could not get moving on a project.  Other projects were piling up because they needed no more than a tweak or two?  Man oh man, what a frustrating place to be!  Hey, I must admit, I've been there a time K&R two myself - and I can't stand it!

Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

One place we sometimes experience this feeling is when working in Photoshop.  I tell a joke during my programs, "You can work 3 hours  on a project in Photoshop.  It will inevitably turn out to be your best work of art, OR ruined beyond recognition!" Lots of times, it's the latter.

A few years ago, I was asked to retouch a snapshot of a woman that had passed away.  The company wanted to hang it on the wall along side the other 25 framed images I had made for them.  Unfortunately the only image they could find from family and friends was a low quality snap shot.I thought I owed it to the company to make this snapshot look like a professionally touched portrait. I worked and worked on the image.  I thought I was getting closer to a decent result.  My staff did not like the fruits of my efforts.  I insisted we send it on the client. 

Dead Woman - LR I have lived with this image through hours of retouching so I was "hypnotized" by my extensive efforts that the final image looked fine.  The company didn't like it either and kicked it back to us.  We went with a Plan B and everyone was happy.  Now if someone around here is spending too much time on a retouching project, our mantra is, crude as it sounds, "Remember the dead woman." That brings us back to earth in no time.  It’s a quick reality check for us.

Money Falling - LR Being paralyzed with perfection can also crop up when we are editing our images from a wedding.  We load them into Lightroom and begin the editing process.  I remember when we training a new employee how to do the edit - it was taking her FOREVER!  I was watching payroll $$$ go through the roof on this project.  She was trying to make each image perfect for the Internet upload.

I took to heart a quote I heard from my buddy, David Jay, at a program a few years ago.  It was good common sense editing advice.  He said, "It doesn't have to be perfect, just really good." It's that working to the perfect image that was "hamstringing" our design process. LaDawn now has a sign posted in our production area that says the same thing - good advice worth noting if you want to get a good job done in a reasonable amount of time.

Yes, we want those images nearly perfect before they hit the client's album, but now we're talking a much smaller number of images, not the original 1,000's of images.

How about a different kind of paralyzed feeling? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with a huge list of things to do that you felt you could never get everything done?  Or, even more seriously, didn't even know where to start.  This is not a good place to be, yet we all find ourselves there on occasion.

Elephant LRI know when I feel that sense of impending, smothering doom with an overloaded project schedule, I FORCE myself to pull out the pencil and pad of paper.  I call my solution "Eating the elephant - one spoonful at a time."

This most important thing you can do to dig out of this sense of feeling overwhelmed is to make a list.  As simple as that sounds, it is truly one of the best ways to manage these kind of paralyzed feeling.  First Break all the projects out separately into their own entity.  Now, subdivide each project further into it's separate processes. Delegate if possible.

Soon the paralysis begins to dissolve away.  Now you can see the "spoonfuls of the elephant" that you need to tackle. Think of it as a "divide and conquer" strategy to get control of the situation.  Hey, if it worked for Caesar, it will work for you ;~)

Here are my 7 strategies to for getting “unstuck.”

1. Don't strive for PERFECT on all your projects. But Shoot for NEARLY PERFECT on the most meaningful ones.  As I once read, “The path to perfection only leads to procrastination.”

2. "Remember the dead woman.". If you are killing the production budget on a project, take a step back and re-evaluate what you've done and what still needs to be completed. Know when the project is nearly complete and know when to STOP.

3. "Eat the elephant one spoonful at a time." Understanding this concept will make all your overwhelming projects seem much more manageable and doable.  Remember to divide, conquer  and where possible delegate all BIG projects.

4. Have regular staff meetings to evaluate project workflow issues in your business.  Look to you whole team for solutions in tackling the larger issues. 

Don't have a large staff?  In that case talk it over with your spouse, partner, friend, and/or family member.  The secret is in a support team. These are family, friends co-workers that are willing to give a listening ear and help. This secret to why this works is the fact that others bring perspective to the issues you are standing too close to.  They help you see the entire picture and that can be a huge help with project paralysis.

Positive LR 5. Be a positive thinker and look at the bright side of life.  I'm reading an autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men in the world for his time.  Then he turned around and gave all his money away. 

Here is what he said in the opening chapter.

“I think my optimistic nature, my ability to shed trouble and to laugh through life, making "all my ducks swans," as friends say I do, must have been inherited from this delightful old masquerading grandfather whose name I am proud to bear.  A sunny disposition is worth more than fortune. Young people should know that it can be cultivated; that the mind like the body can be moved from the shade into sunshine. Let us move it then."

AWESOME advice, if you ask me.

6. Clean up you desk.  It will make you feel better and you will feel like you got something accomplished. And, it will make you feel like you've got that fresh slate to get started on your projects.  Simple as it sounds, it's works.

Roses - LR 7. Go out and "smell the roses". Just take a short walk around the block.  Breath in the fresh air, smell the smells, listen to the sounds around you.  Just take a break, but make it a meaningful break that is totally void of any of your mundane daily duties.  My mom was always reminding me of my own advice for the many hears I was building my business.  Too many times I forgot to take my own advice about those roses, but my Mom would always bring me back to the power of  "smelling the roses."

We all go through these feelings these road blocks one time or another.  These are just a few of my strategies I use when I sense the quicksand setting in.  And, guess what, anyone or even a combination of these 7 strategies works for me all the time. 

My wish is that you don't find yourself there very often, but when you do, you have a way to get moving again.  Let me share with you one of my favorite YouTube videos.  It is a compilation of interviews with well known actor, Will Smith. I think he has a good take on our subject today.  Hit the PLAY button below and ENJOY! 


Hey gang, I'm out of here and looking forward to the holiday weekend.  I'll be back again on Monday for a short reflection on the holiday and to remind you about our webcast on Tuesday.

Everybody have a great weekend.  And may all your 4th of July pixels be colorful, bright and sparkle.  See ya' next week.

Adios, David


  1. Can't wait for tuesday!, I'm wondering... afterwards are you doing to sell a DVD of it like you did with the first one? I liked the last one so much was about to order the DVD but the thought occurred to me that if you do as great of a job with the 2nd one, i'd like to get both at the same time and save on shipping. What is your plan?


  2. Regarding your retouching portrait, I'm curious what your Plan B was? I'm in a similar situation in that my grandmother just recently passed. My father has an old inkjet printout of one of the few photos that she had a genuine smile in (she was notorious for avoiding a camera!). Sadly, the original digital photo is now gone and the print is barely newspaper quality. I'm sure I can clean it up a bit but not to a proper photo standard. If a viable alternative existed I'd probably go that route instead.