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Tom Bochsler's 50-plus year career took him all over the world as a photographer and speaker, but he didn't have to look far to find a home for his massive collection of images.

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The 82-year-old Burlington, Ontario native decided to gift his life's work to the Hamilton Public Library. The recently completed donation took place over about six years and contained a total of 500,000 negatives. The library found value in the images as they provide a visual history of the area. 

Bochsler, who was designated as having Outstanding Significance and National Importance by the Heritage-Cultural Property Export Review Board, started his career in Hamilton in 1956 and joined PPA not long after.

The collection spans the well-known industrial photographer's early years in photography and thousands of local images. Many of his black-and-white historical photographs were created using the 10-pound Speed Graphic camera, which used one-shot flashbulbs as its lighting source. Bochsler has photographed every single nuclear power plant in Canada, and the collection includes images of nuclear reactors, salt mines and steel factories from across Canada. The photos will stay in a climate-controlled archival vault to ensure the images don't decay over the years. The library's history and archives department is tasked with scanning the images and making them available to the public.

Last month, Bochsler also had the opportunity to give an audio/visual presentation in a display of selected images during Super Crawl, an annual art and musical festival downtown Hamilton. In addition to the collection, Bochsler published a book, The Art of Industry, which features 272 of his favorite images from 1950 to 2003.

According to Bochsler, he donated his life's work rather than the alternative--throwing them in the trash. 

"It's all very exciting for me," he said. "There are many members out there who find their old negatives and files a burden. I initiated the contacts to explore a home for my collection. Along the way I found people interested in saving history."


Got a cool story to tell? We're always looking for more! Email PPA's communications specialist, John Owens, with yours (put 'PPA Member Story' in the subject line) and we'll see if you're worthy of a spot on the mighty PPA blog! 

Ty Swartz, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, had great plans for his "retirement." After more than 20 years serving as a photojournalist in over 60 countries, he came home with a goal of joining PPA and becoming a full-time professional photographer. He joined upon his return in 2010 and recently took things a step further when he achieved the status of Certified Professional Photographer last November.

With his status as a professional firmly solidified, Ty took on his next challenge: building a business he could be proud of. This part of his vision included attending his first Imaging USA in Phoenix. As is his nature, Ty went for more and departed his Virginia studio early for some pre-convention classes.

Ty highlights his experience at Imaging USA in the first of this two-part series below. On Wednesday, he'll update us on how he is already implementing what he learned into every aspect of his business.

Folks, this is how you Imaging USA.

 

My Imaging USA

By Ty Swartz, MBA, CPP, USN Ret.

The first class I attended was the two-day Business Basics for Wedding Photographers workshop taught by Carrie Wildes, CPP, and Bridget Jackson, a CPA and manager of PPA Business. This class is designed to help identify what I need to do to establish a profitable business.

Carrie took the lead Thursday and we learned about competitive advantage among other wedding photographers, business models, marketing, sales and pricing structures. Friday's class was mainly taught by Bridget. She discussed a variety of business-related items that helped us focus on setting our prices and business strategies. It helped me create a profitable solution to many of our initial start-up circumstances.

If you operate as a professional photographer, then this is one class that you must attend. The knowledge and guidance you receive is simply amazing and you leave with the knowledge that you are a small business owner who happens to do photography.

Instead of exploring Phoenix Saturday, I decided that attending another pre-conference class was more important. The course that I selected was Getting Schooled with High School Seniors, taught by Bruce Berg. Bruce spent the first part of the morning talking about a variety of marketing plans and how he implements them.

Just before lunch, Bruce had two high school seniors come in and showed us his senior portrait techniques. The class was small enough that we were able to get involved and use our cameras and the studio lights provided. It was a great hands-on class and really helped me understand this market. Although I am a wedding photographer, it was a good learning experience in case I decide to dabble in seniors in the future.

From the time I arrived at Imaging there were so many things to see and do relating to photography. I spent most of my time taking notes and meeting some really awesome people. Saturday night had so many events happening that you really had to choose what to attend.

I attended the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep informational seminar with Sandy Puc'. We spent most of the evening doing hand- on photography with Sandy--a very rare one-on-one opportunity with a PPA great. Afterwards I caught the end of the PPA Charities event and bid on a couple of items. Thankfully, I was quickly outbid. I wasn't really committed to spending my "new equipment" money just yet.

Before I knew it, it was Sunday and Imaging USA was officially in full swing. I started my day with The Subtle Art of Persuasion taught by Jon Allyn. This was a great class on building client relationships and how to differentiate from other studios.

It was hard to choose just one out of the mid-morning classes. I'd even recommend making friends to trade notes from different classes with. I selected Prosperity & Purpose: The Photography Business Through a Different Lens, taught by Jeffrey Shaw. He had a really good perspective on how to look at your business so you are moving forward and not staying stagnant--takeaways that I can easily implement.

In the afternoon I was able to attend The Fundamentals of Photographing High School Seniors, taught by Kibbee Walton. He was very focused on engaging the parents and grandparents. You create an emotional experience and through that experience you build lifetime relationships helping your sales and customer loyalty. Great tips for me!

For me, Sunday's must-attend event was Getting it Right in the Camera, with Sandy Puc'. She spent the program going over how to manage lights and build your studio setup from a single light source all the way to five lights. This way you can create amazing in-camera images that require zero editing. Amazing! So if you're spending any time on color or exposure correcting after your shoot, you need to go back and learn how to get a perfect exposure.

Later that day I headed over to theLoop Up and had an opportunity to meet many of the photographers around PPA that I have communicated with using theLoop. If you are a member of PPA--get connected with theLoop! There are some really smart people there and they want to help you when you're stuck with a question.

After mingling for a while it was time for the Imaging USA Welcome Party! They had the red carpet rolled out and everything. I really liked the food and it was great to meet some more photographers. 

Monday morning came too quickly, but I arrived to see Jared Platt teach his class on Post-Production Speed in Lightroom 5 and Photo Shop. It's always great to learn tips and tricks to speed up your workflow!

Next I attended My 10 Favorite Money Making Nuggets taught by Kimberly Wylie. This was a great class to gather additional sales tactics. I was starting to see an overall theme as a small business owner: Building relationships is key to success!

The final class that I attended was Steve Kozak's session for new Certified Professional Photographers. He provided his insight about photography, where it is going and how to leverage our certification to stand out from other photographers. The big take away from Steve was don't just Facebook and send emails, but actually pick up the phone and call people! He was right. I had recently sent emails to potential brides and right after his class took the time to make some calls. I wound up booking three right away!  Who would have thought the phone works for business?

I then headed over to the Grand Imaging Awards and was stunned by the work presented for competition. Since I have a goal of achieving my master of photography degree, I really need to step up my game and start entering photographic competition!

I was scheduled to fly out and return to reality Tuesday afternoon but not before I was able to sneak in one more class: Maximizing Your Senior Sales with Kent Smith and his wife Sarah. They were very motivational and helped me visualize how I want to set up my consultation room and present my brand as an experience, not just a sale.

I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the Expo floor! There were tons of vendors there demoing and selling new products and I was able to buy new photographic accessories. Remember that money I saved at the Charities auction? I used it on soft boxes, another pocket wizard, custom USB thumb drives, a ring light along with backgrounds and a floor from Silverlight. The Expo really has everything and more you could have on your photography shopping list.

After three full days of education I was ready to jump on a plane and head back to Virginia and dive into building my business the right way... 


Check back Wednesday to see Ty's progress since the convention!

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The healthcare insurance open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act closes March 31. That means you only have a couple weeks to enroll in a qualified health insurance plan and avoid tax penalties!  After March 31, everyone will have to wait until 2015 to enroll in a qualified health plan. You don't want to have to wait a whole year!

Read more about the plans offered by Pallay Insurance Agency below:

 

Are you familiar with the health insurance options available to you as a PPA member? That's right! PPA can help you and your family find the best medical and dental insurance in your area, with several different plans available.

PPA partners with Pallay Insurance Agency, Inc., to assist members in securing affordable and quality medical and dental coverage.

Ross and Scott Pallay are both very knowledgeable about all the options available to you and are very open to speaking with you. They can answer any questions about the new healthcare structure, open enrollment, fines for not having coverage (you read right, you can be fined for not having coverage) and more. They are also able to quote members on policies if you live in any of the 50 states except the ones listed below.*

Make sure you check out all of the insurance options available to you and reach out to Pallay Insurance Agency with any questions or to receive a quote.  

*coverage not available in AK, HI, ID, MA, ME, MT, NJ, NM, NY, RI, SD, VT

P.S. After open enrollment ends, Pallay can still offer Limited Benefit Fixed Indemnity AND Short Term Medical Insurance Plans to members looking for some form of health coverage. While these plans are not qualified health plans, they do provide members and their families with benefits to assist them with medical expenses which can help them get by until the next open enrollment.

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By Mariah Ashley

Last night I photographed a wedding that I had been dreading. Unfortunately, the actual day turned out every bit as disastrous as I had imagined it would be. Actually, it was worse.

The day before the wedding, the bride called to talk to Trish and me about the groom and his attitude about being photographed. To put it bluntly, she said, "He loathes being photographed, doesn't value wedding photography, and really doesn't care for photographers in general."

Apparently, every conversation they had had about the wedding-day photography had ended in an argument. They had finally reached a compromise with him conceding to a strict twenty minutes of allotted time for wedding portraits. She told us to anticipate him walking away when we'd used up our time regardless of whether or not we were finished. She also told us we should stay far away from him during the rest of the day and shoot with a powerful telephoto lens in "compression mode" (whatever that means) so he wouldn't know we were taking his photo. We briefly debated returning her money, but it was the day before the wedding so we felt we couldn't leave her in the lurch without a photographer.

The next day things went from bad to worse. Trish and I arrived early at the first look location, a pretty, but crowded park. To our horror, we discovered that the videographers and the couple had also arrived early and the first look was happening at the opposite end of the park without us. We hadn't even unpacked our camera bags!

I ran toward the couple in a desperate attempt to stop the action. Trish scrambled back to the car to grab our things, leaving one of our bags momentarily unattended. As she wrestled with the lighting equipment, some lucky thief promptly made off with the bag that held all of our cameras and lenses.

Meanwhile, the groom sauntered over and told us our twenty minutes had just begun. I told Trish to assemble the 22-person bridal party while I searched the trunk for anything I could use to make a photo. The only thing I keep in my trunk is an old Hasselblad medium format camera and three ancient of rolls of unused 220 film that I intended to sell at the local camera shop.

I ran toward the bridal party, who by this time were all waiting impatiently and staring daggers at me, and desperately tried to remember how to load the film. The first roll I tried to load popped out of my fingers and rolled to the feet of the groom who glanced at his watch and said, "ten minutes." I unwrapped the second roll and discovered it had melted in the trunk. The third roll came lose in my hands but I managed to get it loaded in the back of the camera with guaranteed light leaks.

I stood up and turned around to face the crowd, posing myself to take the first and possibly last shot.

I pressed down on the shutter, it wouldn't fire.

I pressed again, nothing happened.

The lens was jammed and I was out of time. The groom was absolutely disgusted and the bride was panicking.

As we stood apologizing, a man with a camera and a tripod rushed over and offered his help. He stepped up to the bridal party and began shooting the group Trish had posed. The groom yelled out, "We should have hired this guy, he has equipment that works!"

We were absolutely defeated and completely horrified. I took out my checkbook and offered to write the photographer a check in the amount the couple had paid me. As I made out the check, I glanced at the back of his camera and saw that every photo he was taking cropped the bridal party at their chins and the background wasn't a pretty tree we had posed them under but some type of green screen with lasers and the Milky Way imposed behind them. My jaw hit the ground.

And then I woke up.

I shot my first wedding in 1996 and every spring these dreams start. Yes, it's been eighteen years of wedding day disaster dreams.

In one of my dreams I didn't have a camera at all. I just stood in the aisle as the bride and her dad walked toward me, making a square with my fingers and a clicking noise with my mouth. I remember hoping the photos would come out, but wondered what kind of cable could transfer the photos in my mind to the computer. And then there's the reoccurring dream where the ceremony is about to begin and I'm at the wrong church in the wrong state. Whomp.

I'm not alone in my worry-filled nights either. Trish has even stranger dreams. Once her camera was a shoe box covered with sea shells and another time she opened the camera to find that the film in the back was covered in wedding cake and frosting. Yet another time, finding herself with no camera, she speedily built one from her sons Legos.

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Maybe these dreams are just our subconscious way of preparing us for a worst-case scenario. Or perhaps it's the brain's way of reminding us that photographing a wedding is a huge responsibility not to be taken lightly.

Still, the longer I shoot weddings, the easier it gets. I no longer feel nervous before a wedding like I used to, because I've handled so many real life disastrous scenarios and lived to tell the story. Besides, we take so much time preparing before the wedding with shot lists, photo plans, and getting to know our clients that there are rarely any more surprises.

It wasn't like that 18 years ago. Back then I would just show up to the wedding with no information about the couple. No shot list. No plan. No clue.

The bride's father was deceased? Didn't know that until I asked the bride if she'd like a photo with him. The groom's parents divorced and hate each other? Didn't know that until I tried to put them in a photo together and caused a scene. Being ill-informed and insensitive doesn't have to be as dramatic as all that though, sometimes it is much more subtle.

Last week I got an unusual phone call. A trembling female voice asked, "I have kind of a strange question. When you shoot a wedding do you ask the client what shots they want and who the important people are?"

I said, "Yes. We always work out a shot list and we ask our clients to provide us with a who's who. We don't ask for obvious shots like bride walking down the aisle, but we do want to know if there is anything special you want photographed that we might miss otherwise. Why do you ask?"

The trembles turned to sniffles, which turned to restrained crying as the woman explained that her photographer had never asked her those questions or created a shot list. She said that her photographer had missed some photos that she felt were obvious and very important, such as a photo of her grandmother and shots of her mother at the house helping her dress. She said it made her so sad that she couldn't look at her wedding photos at all even though there were some nice shots mixed in. The photos she was missing spoiled the whole experience for her. In her words, it had turned her happy day into a "nightmare".

Between sniffles she said she didn't realize she should communicate her specific requests to her photographer because, after all, she had never planned a wedding before. Even worse, she had tried to request a few shots and they were dismissed by the photographer as too difficult to make happen. All I could think as I tried to console her was, I never want to get this call from one of my clients!

This is my 19th wedding season, and it might be easy to get complacent but I don't ever want to dial it in on someone's big day. Getting that call was an important reminder of how emotional people are on their wedding day and how emotionally attached they are to their photographs after the wedding. It's not enough to take pretty photos for ourselves; we also need to be sensitive enough to take the right photos for our clients. We need to prepare and then prepare some more to try to insure that we understand what those important photos are.

Then, when the big day comes, we need to take out our box covered in seashells  cameras and shoot that wedding like there's only one chance to get it right. Because that's the reality--the alternative is a nightmare.

 

About the author:

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Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree.

 

By Mariah Ashley

You know that feeling when you act really badly and you're ashamed of yourself?

In the words of Grumpy Cat, I had that feeling last week. It was awful.

Allow me to set the scene...

It's the end of a long week, Friday evening and it's past my bed time. My daughter returns from the middle school dance complains that she isn't feeling well. She's prone to low blood sugar, so I insist rather unsympathetically that she eat something. She feebly protests that she can't eat because she's nauseous. I bark, "You're nauseous because you haven't eaten!" and send her whimpering to her room. I begrudgingly prepare a snack of orange juice and a granola bar.

Meanwhile, my sweet, concerned husband enters the kitchen and asks what's wrong with our daughter and why am I slamming the orange juice around? I have no answer for why I am angry so I just rant about no one listening to me.

"Why are you yelling at me?" he asks.

To which I reply, {in a demon voice} "Because I'm a {blank}!" I knew that was a mistake as soon as it left my evil little lips. "Good night," says my husband with hurt and disgust and then closes the door to our bedroom, and is not seen until the next morning.

Incidentally, my child with "low blood sugar" actually has a hideous stomach virus that keeps her vomiting for four hours straight and me stripping bedding and holding her hair out of the toilet right alongside her. These many hours on the bathroom floor give me plenty of time to think about my bad behavior. Truthfully, I am shocked at what came out of my mouth and I honestly don't know why I feel so mad.

Around four in the morning I have my answer. While my daughter is sleeping, I go downstairs to my office, and with one sleep deprived look at my desk, my mini rage episode makes sense. Piles of notes on ideas and projects I want to start cover the entire surface of my workspace. Grandiose-itis, brought on by my recent trip to Imaging USA has reared its ugly head once more.

Grandiose-itis is a hereditary disease which was passed on to me from my father, a farmer and part-time mad scientist. A person suffering from Grandiose-itis is compelled to take any spark of creativity he or she has and immediately mentally turn that spark into a grand money making or life-changing scheme.

The victim is then compelled to incessantly and obsessively work to make the grandiose idea into a reality, regardless of whether the idea is even a viable one. Generally people who suffer from grandiose-itis juggle dozens of these ideas/schemes at the same time, inadvertently sucking the people around them into their vortex of crazy. Because I had filled two notebooks with ideas and to-do lists while I was at Imaging in Phoenix, my vortex had reached cyclonic proportions.

When you have Grandiose-itis you are incapable of doing anything small. For instance, when I was growing up my dad decided it would be fun to throw and annual Labor Day party. Then he decided it would be fun to make it a fish-fry. My family lives in Cape Cod where Fish & Chips is a big thing. My father built a fish fry shack (think Tiki bar meets sea shanty), bought an industrial restaurant fry-a-later, vats of oil, sacks of batter, 50 pounds of codfish, 75 pounds of French fries, and then invited the entire town to partake.

Of course, the kiddos need something to do so he built them a wooden waterslide lined with plastic. The top of the slide came out of the top of our barn and the bottom of the slide ended in an inflatable boat filled with water. A hose running at the top kept everyone from plastic friction burns. Epic fun, but hitting the bottom of that rubber boat at 10 miles an hour is probably the reason I have a flat butt to this day. Ouch!

And that was just the first year of the fish fry, every year the party got bigger, live entertainment, a fishing contest, a Ferris wheel he purchased from a defunct amusement park (this grand idea ended up rusting behind the barn, probably vetoed by my mother).

The fish fry was a successful example of Grandiose-itis, and there are many other examples of my father's ingenious ideas that solved the constant problems of farm life. Once and a while though, my father had less than successful ideas. For instance, the day my father spread two tons of chicken manure on our property and singlehandedly killed any chance of popularity for me at the bus stop on my first day of middle school. Then there was his all pickle diet.

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Pickles (a natural superfood haven't you heard?) were apparently all my dad thought he needed to ingest for survival. For weeks my mother made constant trips to purchase oversized barrels of dill pickles for my father. Then there was the all fruit diet, this idea ended badly... in the hospital. Another slimy idea that thankfully never made it past the drawing board: the "frog-leg" farm.

The last time my own Grandiose-itis was this out of control it nearly resulted in my own death... by cow. I was on a tropical vacation with my husband and children on a remote island in the Grenadines. After an already adventure packed day I insisted my husband drive us up and over a mountain in our rental jeep so we could take the "scenic route."

A harrowing thirty minutes of rutted, washed-out road later we were off-road for real with a flat tire and no spare. Nighttime was approaching and rain threatened and it was all my fault. Determined to make things right, I set off running in flip flops down the jungle road to find civilization. That's when I heard it. Jungle cow stampede.

Running at top speed I glanced over my shoulder to see a hulking brown beast bearing down on me. So naturally I stopped. Surprisingly the beast stopped too. It's no fun to chase a flat butt if it's not running I guess. The beast lumbered off, shaken I limped back to my traumatized family. Later that night as the kids drifted off into recurring cow induced nightmares, my husband asked me, "Why when we were already in OZ did I need to go looking for hyper-OZ?" Grandiose-itis that's why.

So now here I find myself again suffering from a bout of Grandiose-itis. Only this time, much like the deranged jungle cow I am mowing down my own family. This madness must stop! I sat, realizing in the still of my pre-dawn surrounding that I might not be able to stop myself from generating ideas but I need to figure out how to wield them. I don't ever want my big ideas for business to interfere with caring for my family or even for my clients. I don't want to be the kind of mother who is unsympathetic to her sick child or the kind of wife who is cranky to her very patient husband because I am stressed from self imposed lunacy. I don't want to ignore the needs of my clients because I am busy with yet another new business venture.

Just then, a thought hit me like a runaway cow. The thought was a mission statement for my business. A small business with a big heart.

After tending to my child and begging my husband's forgiveness I went to work the next day to rid myself of some of the Grandiosity. Trish and I decided that any project or idea that didn't fit our new statement could be immediately discarded. A book idea, two inventions, a few educational goals, a marketing scheme and a partridge in pear tree left my desk and went into the trash. I felt much lighter and much less cranky. After slicing and dicing the grand idea list we ended up with several ideas for charity, a few ideas for caring for our clients and a big project that will help our fellow photographers. All grand yet doable projects that fit our new mission statement of big heartedness.

Does any of this tale sound uncomfortably familiar? Do you think that you too may suffer from Grandiose-itis? Take a look at your desk. If it looks like the photo of mine, then you might. Do you feel constant pressure and crankiness like I did? Are you ready to explode? Are you drowning in your own ideas? Stop suffering needlessly! All those pickles ideas can drive a person to madness.

Break the awful chains of Granidose-it is! Save yourself and the ones you love. It's great to have grand ideas, it means you are a visionary! Remember though, you are only one person. You can't do it all. Stop and ask yourself about your vision for your business. Don't let your ideas carry you away like a bovine on the loose.

Do you have a mission statement? A simple guideline that you can weigh all those big ideas against? That's step one. Once you have your statement, start making room on that desk. If the big idea doesn't support the mission it doesn't deserve to take up real-estate on your desk or in your head. Good luck!

P.S. Love you dad. I'm a chip off the old pickle.

 

About the author:

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Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree.

 

By John Owens


An excited voice was on the other end of the phone.

It was Holly Howe, longtime PPA member and co-owner of Photographic Images, a high-end portrait studio in North Platte, Nebraska, which she operates with her husband, Keith.

"Thanks so much for the invite to participate in the Faces of PPA campaign!" she said. "I think it's great. We love PPA and love that you're showcasing members, but I don't think we can participate at this time. I definitely think we have a story to share, I just don't know if this is the right place or... It's not that we don't want to, we do, it's just... We wouldn't look our be--, becau--, well...

"Keith has cancer. We're actually at the hospital right now for treatment. And I've been reading everything you guys send out and I just want to tell you: There's a membership benefit you don't talk about..."


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Keith Howe, 55, started getting sick November 2012. New and puzzling symptoms seemed to emerge with each passing day. Keith and Holly would go in to the doctor and he would say, "Well, this is weird. I'm worried" and they'd think well, yeah... us too.

In December, Keith felt a lymph node in his hip. He went in for a biopsy, but the pathologist couldn't make a diagnosis. Tissue samples were sent to the University of Nebraska for a second opinion, where he was told no, he had a granuloma (a bacterial inflammation). But Keith wasn't getting better. He continued to seek help.

He went to a neurologist, an infectious disease specialist and was referred back to the University of Nebraska for a second third opinion. Keith underwent hundreds of blood tests on top of spinal taps, biopsy's, MRI's and even brain scans.

Somewhere along the way, Keith actually started to get better. Still without answers, he was on the road to recovery. He built up his strength and started to resume his normal workload and life as a photographer. Then, one day when he was feeling about 95%, he went to run some errands and had a hemorrhagic stroke (a brain aneurysm). Keith was airlifted back to the University of Nebraska.

"You're not old enough," the doctors told him. "You're not overweight, you're not hyperactive... there's no reason for you to have a stroke."

After further inconclusive tests, Keith was sent home. A month later he went in for a follow-up. At an eye exam, the ophthalmologist noticed hemorrhaging in his eyes and said, "Well, that's not good." Keith was sent back to Omaha for a brain biopsy and repeated a bunch of the previous tests. After his third spinal tap and more blood work, he was sent home.

The brain biopsy again came back negative for cancer, but there was a silver lining: They had an answer. Keith was diagnosed with neurosarcoidosis, an auto-immune disease of unknown causes which produces granulomas. It seemed to fit the bill. After some initial treatment, Keith started to get better.

By September, he got worse.

Keith discovered new enlarged lymph nodes. He went back to Omaha for more MRI's and CAT scans. The doctors initially thought the new lumps were due to an infection from Keith's chemotherapy and steroid treatment. They wanted to remove the lymph nodes. He (underwent more tests. had another surgical biopsy)

Finally, the rheumatologist returned in tears, and told Keith he had lymphoma.

 

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"It took him a long time to ask me out," recalls Holly. "We both had tremendous crushes. I even wrote in my journal at the time, I can't eat, I can't sleep, I just think about being with him.

"When people talk about love at first sight--this was it."

The Howes met back in college at Kearney State, now the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and the feelings were indeed mutual. Keith was just a bit shy and seemed to have some competition for Holly's affection.

"If I checked out the odds, things didn't look too good for me," said Keith. "She was on the phone with one guy and getting flowers from anoth--"

"Ohhh one was just a friend and the other was a bad date that I was never going out with again," arm-punched Holly, as if she had a thousand times before. "It took him a year to ask me out, but once we started dating we both knew."

Keith spent much of the first date talking about photography.

"We went out on a Saturday night, and the following Tuesday I started a part-time job at a local photography studio, Denny's Photography."

It was there that Keith learned about PPA.

"I planned to work until I had enough money to go to school for fine art photography, but Denny got me hooked up with the Professional Photographers of Nebraska (PPN) and sent me to seminars and conventions," he said. "I think I wound up getting a much better education that way. Photography school will teach you the technical aspects, but they don't tell you how to handle a two-year-old or a bride that has had too much champagne before the ceremony."

Holly was in school to become a child psychologist, but that quickly changed as she lost the emotional investment in her career path. Instead, she followed her heart and fell further in love with Keith and photography. After graduating, they married and opened their studio in 1980.

"Initially, we wanted to work together just to be together," she said. "I worked behind the scenes doing our marketing, sales, bookkeeping... vacuuming... all of that background stuff that goes into running a business. Then it became a creative outlet."

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Over the years, they learned that Keith was actually better at sales and Holly at marketing promotions and design work. They work together behind the camera. The Howes quickly became known in the community and rapidly outgrew their cozy downtown studio, eventually settling on a home.

"Our reputation built over time because we continue to enter photographic competitions," said Keith, a nine-time Nebraska Wedding Photographer of the Year and three-time Nebraska Photographer of the Year along with Holly. "We've become known as the studio that wins awards. People assume that if we're in the paper, we won another award.

"If people have issues, we're the ones that get called. If other people aren't getting good images, they ask if we can work them in. If there's a big local event, we get brought in to cover it."

It doesn't hurt that they have each earned their master of photography degrees from PPA (Keith in 1991 and Holly in 1999). 

"I don't know if a client ever says, 'I want to go to a master photographer,'" said Keith. "It's more about the process it took to earn the degrees. The continued excellence. We've been at the top of our field for years."

 

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The fast-paced nature of a photo shoot is too much for Keith. He can't move fast enough anymore and will lose his balance and fall. He had to resign as a councilman for PPN. While he is on this much chemo, his immune system is weakened. He wears a mask when he is around large groups of people. He uses what strength and resources he has to get better and do what he can around the studio.

"We're big believers that there's a reason for everything," said Holly. "Now we know there's a reason why I learned so much more about photography, I needed to know how to light and how to set up a session on my own."

Throughout their 30+ years with PPA, the Howes have made countless connections. They regularly participate in photographic competition and Keith has been an affiliate judge for 22 years. They have established lifelong connections through mentoring across the country and Imaging USA.

They have given so much to other PPA members, that when word spread about Keith's health issues, it was time to give back.

The Howes annually photograph a local dance school each April, but after Keith's stroke, they didn't think they would be able to do it. There were whispers among the mothers that someone else would have to be brought in, but the Howes had an unexpected back-up plan.

Somewhere along the way, they had helped two PPA members from Wyoming start their studio. When they heard about the Howe's situation, they dropped everything and flew in to photograph in Keith's place so he and Holly would have that much needed income.

Insurance will cover Keith's treatment, but it won't take care of their day-to-day expenses. With their focus on his recovery, the Howes will shut down the studio for the next four to five months. When a friend and fellow PPA member learned that they wouldn't have any income, she set up a fund in Keith's honor to help with their expenses.

Donations have poured in from all over the world and to date, they have raised more than $6,000. But to the Howes, it's been about so much more than financial assistance.

"It's just that feeling of support and caring," said Keith. "Just knowing that all of these people from all over the country are pulling for me is a constant reminder to keep our spirits up and have a positive outlook."

The Howe's upbeat attitudes and candor are major components in their cancer-fighting arsenal.

"We're trying to stay light-hearted and find the humor in the weird things that are happening to Keith," said Holly.

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When the chemo caused Keith to lose all of his hair, they dug through the attic and started taking pictures of Keith in funny hats. They created a modeling portfolio on Keith's Facebook, and it took on a life of its own.

Hats started arriving from all over the country. Members sent prop sunglasses with mustaches and stick-on eyebrows. They even received a box from a member now living in Japan.

"Almost every day we get a card or package from a friend through PPA, we've had so many thank you notes to send," said Keith. "Even the Archbishop of Quebec reached out. It's just amazing the people we know through this association."

"That's the benefit that no one talks about. PPA membership is so much more than equipment insurance or the indemnification trust. It's the lifelong connections you make, that heaven forbid, you might need sometime. I don't even know some of these people. But they are taking the time to send a silly package or a card. I can't describe how much that helps."

 

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The Howes still don't know the source of Keith's cancer. Doctors re-examined his brain tissue and didn't find anything. They suspect transverse myelitis--an inflammation along the spinal cord. They've tested for multiple sclerosis and diseases you can only get in Asia and Africa.

"We fell in love at 19 and have been glued to each other's hips," said Holly, with a laugh. "Our friends were all very relieved to learn that he did not have HIV or syphilis."

Keith's lymphoma continues to only show up in his hip, but there had to be some explanation for his central nervous system issues. Doctors are treating him as if it is a reoccurrence to his lymphatic system. Although brain scans continue to show nothing, Keith is gearing up for a second round of aggressive chemotherapy.

"I said 'Let's just get it done.' Even though it's not showing up, something is going on."

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Keith's treatment program is a 28-day cycle. It starts with a day of outpatient chemo, which is rough on the body and takes six hours to run in. Once it is finished flushing, he checks-in for inpatient treatment. For the next four days, his routine will consist of a 24-hour cocktail of three different kinds of chemo followed by a flush of saline. After that, he gets another kind of chemo and goes home for 16 days. He returns on day 21 for yet another round.

On day 29 he starts it all over again. Keith spends 10-12 out of each 28-day cycle in the hospital, always with Holly by his side.

"I'm doing pretty good considering," said Keith. "The legs don't work like I'd like them to, and I have some fatigue, but pretty good."

"He's definitely feeling much better than he should at this point, physically," said Holly.

 

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Years back, the Howes decided to come up with a Christmas promotion that was different than your average photo with mall Santa.

"Christmas is a big deal for us," said Holly. "I mean, my name is Holly Joy..."

The idea eventually came from a speaker at Imaging USA, where they learned that people have a family dentist, doctor and mechanic, and when something comes up, they don't even think about it, it's where they go immediately. For photographers, it takes three times to establish that trust. The third time someone comes into your studio, you're now their photographer.

Holly thought: How can we get them back a second or third time in one year?

santa  photo.jpg

She came up with a low-priced, themed Santa Claus session. Each year, they decorate the studio with a different twist. One year, it was Woodlands Santa, made to look like he built everything. Another year, Santa wore an apron and a chef hat. Last year, they went with a giant gingerbread house.

"I want real reindeer but I don't think PhotoCare covers live animals," joked Holly.

This year, they declared they would forge ahead in the middle of Keith's first round of chemo. Keith mostly had to keep his distance, so once again a friend and PPA member took two days out of their life and stepped-in to photograph in his stead. They went with a vintage 1930s Santa and Christmas tree, complete with period-accurate thin flannel Santa suit and a tree adorned with antique ornaments and popcorn strings.

The Santa session brings people into the studio that would normally find a full-session with the Howes to be out of their budget. It shows them what the Howes can do and helps them understand the value in a high-end studio. It also has become a Christmas tradition for many of their clients. One 19-year-old has been coming since she was a newborn.

"It's a fun, hectic couple of days," said Holly. "A lot of people said 'Thank you for doing this.' There was no way we could not do it while Keith was sick. It's our tradition too."

 

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The Howe's will miss Imaging USA this year, which hits extra hard since Keith is sponsoring two photographers who will receive their master of photography degrees.

"It's hard to sit here and know we can't go." said Keith. "They feel like my little sisters. I wanted to be there to hang the ribbon around their necks, but I had to call and say I can't."

"These are the things we get excited about celebrating--the WOW moments," said Holly. "Those times are still exciting. It still feels good to win a trophy or have a great sale, but it's not as exciting as those first few times. So what's the adrenaline rush now? It's seeing someone else achieving those accomplishments and knowing you helped them get there. These two young women are having their moments and we don't get to be there and that's hard."

santa.jpg

Keith and Holly will spend Christmas in the hospital, but they won't let it hurt their spirit. They're making stockings and passing them out to the other oncology patients. They have each other. They have their support system.

"I'm so grateful for all of the experiences I've had through PPA," said Keith. "We've learned a lot, gone places and done things we never dreamed we would. Without PPA we never would have had those opportunities."

"Where would we be?" asked Holly. "We'd probably still have a business, but where would we be without the support?"

It also helps to have something to look forward to. The light at the end of the chemo tunnel comes in May, when their eldest son (they have two) is set to be married. Keith vows to be there, and although he photographed his first wedding at age 14, he promises to leave the camera at home.

As the Howes push forward, their support system remains steadfast. In January, PPN will hold a print auction in Keith's honor. The Wyoming photographers already have the dance school on their calendar for April. Donations keep rolling in on the fundraising site. Cards and packages continue to arrive, many from total strangers. Every little bit helps Keith stay strong. Even just the power of a few words. 

You don't know me, but photographers have to stick together.

 

 

 

 

Want to get to know the people who make up the staff of PPA? Check out this fun infographic below. You'll gain intimate knowledge of the people that are helping you to BE MORE!

Don't bother squinting! Click the image to view a full-size version.
PPA_Infographic4.jpg

As a photographer, the one thing you probably love more than (or at least as much as) creating a beautiful photograph is the gear you use to capture it. We don't just mean your prized camera, but also the lenses, the lights, the tripods and even the laptop and other computer gear you use to produce the finished product!

Recognizing your love of gear and the role it can play in helping you stay ahead of the competition, PPA has offered members the ability to access free and affordable equipment coverage. We want to make sure that we're helping you protect not only the equipment you love, but your livelihood as well. Read more here.

PPA is pleased to announce a new benefit for members: an ongoing series of free, member-exclusive webinars designed to provide members with inspiration and tips on photographic art, technique, and workflow.

The first series, "From Capture to Client, presented by Adobe, will begin on September 21, with the webinar "The Art of Facial Retouching. Canon's "Exploring" webinar series begins on October 5, with "Photographing Children. Both series were designed to help photographers gather ideas and solid advice for growing their creativity and business.

EXPLORING...
This monthly series features Canon "Explorers of Light" sharing their imagery, techniques, and insights.

October 5 / 12-1pm ET
Photographing Children
with Michele Celentano, Cr.Photog.

November 2 / 12-1pm ET
New Ways of Working and Seeing
to Win Clients

with Ken Sklute, M.Photog.Cr.

November 30 / 12-1pm ET
FONG Shui: Harmony with the Art
of Posing and Lighting

with Hanson Fong, M.Photog.Cr.

FROM CAPTURE TO CLIENT
This four-part series, sponsored by Adobe, offers tips and tricks for each step of your digital imaging workflow, from dynamic raw processing to flawless retouching.

September 21 / 12-1pm ET
The Art of Facial Retouching
with Jane Conner-Ziser, Cr.Photog., API

October 19 / 12-1pm ET
Streamlined Post-Processing with Lightroom
with Nathan Holritz

November 16 / 12-1pm ET
Dynamic Camera Raw Processing
with Katrin Eismann

December 14 / 12-1pm ET
Shaping Master Prints Using Photoshop CS4
with Greg Gibson

Graham Wilson's Vision Photography was almost out of business in 2003. Thanks to a revamped incentive program and a few years of help from PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS), they grossed $1.1 million in 2008.

Just two years after Todd and Jamie Reichman posted a 12-month loss, they were able to pay salaries to themselves and their employee and finance a $33,000 studio renovation...solely with their 2008 net profits.

After the SMS workshop, we literally saw results in our bottom line overnight. And they continue to help us each step of the way. - Rebecca &  Michael Zoumberos, Limelight Photography

If those aren't success stories, what are? Be inspired by these stories in May's Professional Photographer. And don't miss the "Ask the Experts" column, where the SMS team answers questions about specialty marketing, payroll services, and generating more cash flow for your business.

JOIN AN UPCOMING WORKSHOP
This year, we're taking our SMS Workshops on the road, as well as hosting them at PPA headquarters in Atlanta. Space is limited so register today! Contact us at sms@ppa.com, or call 888-851-0405 to register and learn more.

Celentano_EYE.jpgNow more than ever, professional photographers need affordable and innovative ways to promote their businesses and reach new customers. One of the most sought-after promotional methods for portrait and wedding photographers is mall advertising, yet it is not always easy to secure space at a reasonable rate. Today, Professional Photographers of America (PPA), in conjunction with Marathon Press and EYE, announced a new national advertising program that makes mall advertising easy and affordable for photographers.

Through an exclusive arrangement with EYE, one of the nation's leading providers of mall display advertising, PPA has secured preferred advertising rates in over 250 malls for member photographers. These preferred rates provide PPA members discounts of up to 20% off the standard 4-week advertising rate.

We have received reports that PPA members are being contacted by sales representatives from MatchMaker Marketing, a UK-based Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firm, promising to place studio Web sites on the first page of Google searches. MatchMaker Marketing is attempting to close sales by indicating that they are affiliated with PPA or are extending this service as a PPA member benefit.

Please know that PPA has not arranged a member benefit with this or any other firm offering SEO services. We believe that this firm has obtained photographer contact information via the Find-A-Photographer search engine, and we are currently taking action against them.

For your information, we have listed the phone numbers from which MatchMaker Marketing has called members. Please note that they may also use other numbers:

  • 016 123 91001
  • 016 123 91010
  • 718 374 6942

If you receive a phone call from MatchMaker Marketing (or anyone trying to sell you SEO services claiming they are affiliated with PPA), we encourage you to document any details about the caller; promptly end the conversation; and report the call to PPA by contacting us at csc@ppa.com or 800-786-6277.

Take a look at the smiles that are created when you participate in Family Portrait Month. By participating in this charity event, you help PPA Charities raise funds for Operation Smile, allowing them to continue their work with children around the world.

Since 1982, more than 115,000 children and young adults have been treated by thousands of volunteers worldwide and thousands of healthcare professionals have been trained globally. For as little as $240 Operation Smile can change a child's life by giving the gift of a surgery. Revenue in excess of surgical costs is invested into our sustainability programs, empowering our partner countries to treat more children on their own and making your investment go even farther. In as little as 45 minutes, one cleft lip surgery can change a child's life forever.

For More information, or to participate, visit www.PPACharities.com.

Slideshow prepared by Angie Weedon for PPA Charities.



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