Back in the fall, we launched the first-ever PPA Kickstart Scholarship. Four lucky PPA members have been selected to head to Imaging USA early for a pre-convention class--completely on the house! The winners were given the opportunity to choose between a full-day of hands on classes or a two-day Studio Management Services workshop.
Let's meet the lucky winners and learn what they hope to take back from Imaging USA in Phoenix.
Five-year member Mike Kemp of Mike Kemp Photography in Arkansas will attend his first Imaging USA thanks to the Kickstart scholarship. The longtime staff photographer hopes to start his own photography business with the help of knowledge gained at Imaging USA.
"I would love to be able to benefit from the mentorship of the Studio Management Services (SMS) classes," said Kemp. "I have a decent grip on my craft, but I definitely need help with the marketing, sales and business skills needed to attract clients and maintain a healthy business. By learning the ins and outs of financial planning, pricing schedules and marketing plans, I would be able to pair my photographic knowledge with sound business practices. I desperately need that skill set to make my leap to becoming a self-employed photographer."
Kemp will take the SMS Business Basics Portrait class.
Two years ago, Josiah Freeman quit his job in a call center in Washington and moved to Phoenix. Now he will get to attend his first Imaging USA in his new home city. Josiah will seek some assistance from the Business Basics class as well.
"While I have some traction in the art side of things, it always seems like I'm falling behind or flat on the business side of things," admitted Freeman. "I've always wanted to take an SMS class, so I can better explain to others what my prices are and why, and to be able to stick to them. I frequently find myself agreeing to discount my work and I need to find a way to stand up for myself and my pricing, and know that I am worth it. We manage to eke out a living, but I need to get to the point where I can actually be a success as a studio, and not stuck doing a ton of work for very little money."
Only 27-years-old, Indiana photographer Abigail Elizabeth Welch already feels like she is becoming out of touch with high school seniors and the latest trends. Abigail shared her photography journey thus far, and hopes the Business Basics class and the Imaging USA experience will help push her to the next level.
"In year two of owning my studio, I hit a wall. My studio had grown to the point that I could not keep up. I was doing it only with the help of my mom (she kept the books, and held my reflector.) I felt like I was working non-stop. I worked myself to pure exhaustion. I had penny pincher clients who didn't see the value in my work, and I even considered quitting all together.
Around the same time, I married, and decided to join my husband in Italy to get away from my business. I literally ran away. After a few months, he encouraged me to shoot again. I was hesitant, but the culture in Italy is so laid back, the scenery is just beautiful, so I gave it a shot. I started shooting again, many times in Venice, and my love for photography quickly returned.
We returned to the states in 2012, and I relaunched a new website to start fresh. I made guidelines for myself so that I could keep my sanity, and up until two months ago, it was working. Currently, I am starting to get so busy that I cannot keep up. I DO NOT want the past to repeat itself, but I feel that I do not have the business knowledge to successfully grow my business. I don't even know where to start. Hiring employees, finding a building, pricing to make sure I turn a profit; it is all a daunting task.
I feel the Business Basics Workshop will give me the tools that I need to grow. I feel like I have the potential to build something amazing, but I have accepted that I cannot do it on my own. I have read wonderful things about the class and I imagine it will help save my business from taking over my life again. What I really love to do is be behind the camera, and I am hoping that I can learn how to grow my business so that I can spend more time shooting, and less time managing."
Tennessee photographer Ann K. Farrar, CPP, has attended Imaging USA every year since 2007, and thanks to the scholarship, will continue that streak in Phoenix. Ann will take a variety of pre-convention classes, and is even taking Tiffany Reed Briley's "Finding Freedom in Landscape Photography" on her own dime just because she'll be there early! That's the kind of "Be More" attitude we love to see!
"I think I have attended a pre-convention workshop every year. I find it a great way to learn, to have access to top talent when it is not as crowded as the convention, to network with other photographers. It has been very useful to me as I increase my skill.
Since I have attended many ImagingUSA conferences, I have first-hand experience at the expertise of instructors and what I can gain from the classes. I like the pre-convention classes because you really have an opportunity to learn and meet the instructors, as well as other photographers in the class. It gives me access to top-notch instructors that I might not encounter otherwise.
I just entered the International Print Competition (IPC) this year for the first time and had an image accepted into the General Collection. I never really thought that would happen and I have been bitten by the competition bug! I want to continue to learn and improve and take my photography to the next level. Earning this scholarship will help me do this. I have gotten so much out of PPA, Imaging USA, classes, earning my CPP and everything PPA has to offer. I am so glad I joined!"