“Congrats to Skip Cohen, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 WPPI Honors of Excellence Awards.” Those words were a long time coming. My friend Skip has been a major force in the photography industry for his entire adult life. For more than 40 years he’s had a passion for helping people find a better life through photography.
Skip will be the first guy to tell you that he is not a professional photographer. Unlike almost everyone else we feature on this site, Skip doesn’t deserve mention for his photos. He deserves mention for his passion for photographers.
It all goes back to his first real job – which happened to be at Polaroid. Not a huge name in the photo business now, but back in the day, Polaroid was a giant in the photo business.
For many years at Polaroid, Skip and his team put that funky magic stuff in instant Polaroid Films emulsion that made it spring to life before our eyes. Then in 1988 he was named President of Hasselblad USA. During his tenure there, the “Blad” as we called it, gained recognition as THE camera for wedding, portrait and other professional photographers.
After twelve years at Hasselblad, Skip was then named President of WPPI, the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International. He helped to develop the very conference and association that eventually recognized his lifetime achievement.
Skip left WPPI a while back and went on to become involved in several online businesses and educational ventures related to photography. He currently runs Skip Cohen University and yes – even though he may be one of the only people in the world older than me, he’s still actively helping photographers and their careers every single day to be better at marketing, sales and photographic technique. He truly has given more to photography than anyone I know.
I first met Skip back in his days at Hasselblad USA. We ended up becoming close friends years later and I am proud to say that I have been able to be a small part of several of his recent endeavors. We even wrote a book together called GoingPro. I can guarantee you that I’ve learned a lot from Skip and I hope to learn even more from him from many years. He’s taught me about the value of friendship, and that’s a lesson worth more than gold.
What has always impressed me most about the big guy is that he loves people and photography – in that order. There’s no better friend to have. There’s nobody who will root harder for you. There’s no one person I know with a bigger heart. And there’s not a human being on this planet that loves photography AND photographers more than Skip Cohen.
This lifetime achievement award is extraordinarily well-deserved. But no single award can truly be enough to thank Skip for his important roll in growing our industry. Most of you reading this have benefited from Skip’s handy work, whether you know it or not. Do yourself a favor and take just a minute to visit him at skipcohenuniversity.com. I am sure you’ll quickly find out that Skip is a guy you wish you could have a beer with.
Thanks Skip. I can’t wait to see you at next year’s WPPI. We can both wear our “NOT DEAD YET” ball caps.
P.S. Some fun facts about my pal Skip
- He once drove Ansel Adams’ Cadillac across the country to Yosemite – true story
- He’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity
- He’s been scuba diving all over the world
- He hangs out with the love of his life, Shiela – whom he met in second grade but didn’t marry until he was in his 60s
- He’s never had a hair on his head go out of place