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PPA is proud to announce a HUGE agreement the Nickles Group to help us out on Capitol Hill. This will put us front and center during the ongoing copyright discussion at the most critical time. Momentum is really building toward that Next Great Copyright Act and we will now be more plugged in than ever. 


In fact, with the Nickles Group, we're now the only photography association with a full-time presence! This agreement is a really big deal and you need to know about it.


Here is the press release in its entirety:

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Professional Photographers of America (PPA) announced today it has reached an agreement with The Nickles Group, LLC, to represent PPA on Capitol Hill. The Nickles Group will help the association's lobbying efforts for photographers' copyrights.

Through the Nickles Group, one of the preeminent lobbying firms on the Hill, PPA will be at the center of the action on a daily basis. Using the Nickles Group's extensive network, PPA will make introductions, build relationships and arrange meetings with key players and also create opportunities to testify at Congressional hearings. The partnership looks to build upon the strong foundation PPA has established in Washington over the past 15 years.

Founded in 2005, the Nickles Group brings together an accomplished team of public policy advocates and experts to provide strategic advice, policy development and political navigation for clients seeking to engage in the federal legislative or executive process.

"We're pleased to join forces with the PPA to be an important advocate for the rights of photographers and other creators," said Don Nickles, chairman and CEO of The Nickles Group. "With copyright issues becoming more complex as Congress reviews the laws that govern rights, we look forward to partnering with PPA and impacting policy for the better."

Nickles, a Senator for the state of Oklahoma from 1981 to 2005 certainly knows his way around the Hill. In his tenure, Nickles built a legacy of advancing free enterprise causes, from natural gas deregulation and repeat of the windfall profits tax in the 1980s, to repeal of onerous ergonomics regulation and the fight against federalized healthcare during the Clinton Administration. He was the author of the Congressional Review Act and the Child Citizenship Act, and the principal sponsor of President Bush's economic growth package in 2003, which cut capital gains and corporate dividend taxes to 15 percent.

Thanks to this agreement PPA now has the ability to put its members front and center, a coup for PPA given the recent discussions on orphan works and the U.S. Copyright office's push for the Next Great Copyright Act. 

"This could not come at a better time for us," said David Trust, CEO of PPA. "We are entering one of the most critical eras in the history of copyright law. This relationship with the Nickles Group will ensure that PPA members, and photographers in general, will have an increased position in the copyright discussion on Capitol Hill."

The Nickles Group represents the likes of the Comcast, Eli Lilly and Company, Exxon Mobil and now PPA. The agreement makes PPA the only professional photography association with a full-time presence on Capitol Hill.

In addition to having the photography world's only copyright and government affairs department, PPA provides a wealth of resources for photographers online, including sample contracts and model releases. For more information, visit ppa.com/copyright.

 

Of course, as the Nickles Group reports back to us, we will forward the info on to you! Things are really cooking up there in Washington. BE MORE!

 

Here are the 10 photography blogs from March 30 - April 4, 2014, that we hope will inspire you and professional photographers around the internet to be more!

Since April Fool's Day was earlier this week, and hopefully full of tom foolery - here's one of our favorite cartoons, What the Duck to give you a giggle

First things first, don't try this at home. Check out how Katerina Plotnikova used some furry (and some not so furry) friends to make beautiful, dream-like portraits. 

Sometimes your skills need a bit of a workout to make sure they are where they need to be. Digital Photography School has your top three moves to sharpen your skills and up your game. 

Tax Day is right around the corner and the folks at PhotoShelter want to help you keep every penny you can! Check out their top 10 common tax deductions that could save you a bundle! 

That's right--it's a whole month dedicated to educating the greater photography industry on copyrights! What do they mean to you, your clients and your vendors! See you how you can get involved here. 

This is amazing! Instead of just guessing if it's going to rain (or snow), there's a website that predicts cloud cover! This is perfect for landscape, night, or nature photographers, as much as for outdoor portrait image makers! 

Andy Smith took the helm of Rick Sammon's Photography blog and talks about all of the beautiful ways you can capture a sunburst effect. Not only is it great information, but has some beautiful examples! 

The CANIKON is here! Well--not exactly. Get the quick and dirty on why this new M15P-CL is making an impact on the market from PetaPixel. 

The man behind the images of Jane Goodall sits down to talk to National Geographic about his experiences behind the camera, interacting with the scientist and the natural habitat around them. 

If you want to get into the world of making videos from your images, but don't know how--PhotographyTalk has a wonderful first step in using your photo booth images! Get the details on how to expand your offerings here.

There you have it, the favorite blog posts of the week from your PPA team! Don't forget that you can share your own posts, or other stories you have enjoyed, on theLoop.

with Bridget Jackson, CPA and PPA Business manager

 

Say hello to your newest guest column! It comes to you from none other than Bridget Jackson, resident guru for all things numbers and profitability. Bridget is the manager of PPA Business and also a CPA. She's helped hundreds of photography studios be more profitable and will address some common questions each month. Heed her advice folks--this lady knows her stuff!

Hopefully you've filled out your taxes for 2013 by now, but if not, Bridget's got your back! She's got some advice on how to get the most out of your 2013 tax return. Here are some last minute tips for you slackers.

 

There's plenty to be on the lookout for in these last couple weeks of tax season!

1) The first tip is a big one for you photographers! Are you familiar with Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code? It allows a taxpayer to elect to deduct the cost of certain types of property on their income taxes as an expense, rather than requiring the cost of the property to be capitalized and depreciated. This property is generally limited to new or used tangible, depreciable, personal property which is acquired by purchase for use in the active conduct of a trade or business. This means you might be in line for some tax breaks on your photography purchases as long as they were done for your business. The deduction is limited to the taxable income of the business.

2) How about even more money coming your way? Bonus Depreciation means you can take an additional 50% special allowance for new qualified property placed in service in 2013. The allowance is an additional deduction you can take after any Section 179 deduction and before you figure regular depreciation under MACRS for the year you place the property in service. There is no taxable income limitation. If your 2013 business income is low, opt to depreciate equipment purchases over time rather than all at once.

NOTE: You can't depreciate more than you purchased! For instance if you buy a computer for $3,000 and you take section 179, you only get $3,000. You would not get any additional depreciation under bonus deprecation. Talk to your accountant to ensure you file these purchases correctly!

3) Think ahead! Effective for tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014, the De Minimus Safe Harbor Election can elect to treat amounts paid to acquire, produce or improve tangible property costing $500 or less as an expense, rather than capital. The election is made annually by including a statement with the taxpayer's timely filed original tax return for the year elected.

4) Do you have a home studio? Home Office Deduction is for the 100% business use of a portion of your home. Determine whether you can use the simplified home office deduction, which allows you to write off $5 per square foot of home office space, and up to $1,500 for 300 square feet. There is no home depreciation deduction or later recapture of depreciation for the years the simplified option is used.  However, due to the maximum deduction of $1,500 for the simplified method, it might be more tax advantageous to use the regular method.

5) The business use of your automobile is based either on the standard mileage method or actual expense method. Keep in mind, once you elect to use the actual expense method you cannot switch back to standard mileage method. The standard mileage rate for 2013 and 2014 is 56.5¢ and 56¢, respectively.

6) Pay estimated taxes. If you're self-employed, don't forget your first 2014 estimated tax payment is due April 15. One way to avoid penalties is to take your 2013 tax liability and pay 100 percent of it (110 percent for high-income earners), split into four installments.

7) Fund your retirement. Yes, it's 2014, but you can still contribute to an IRA for the 2013 tax year through April 15. For tax year 2013, you may deduct a maximum contribution of $5,500 to a traditional IRA if you are less than 50 years old. Those 50 or older may deduct up to $6,500. Contributions to a SEP or 401(k) are required to be made by the due date (including extensions) for filing your federal income tax return for the year.

8) Avoid penalties. Failing to file your tax returns on time or failing to pay taxes you owe will cost you. The corporate tax filing date was March 17, so if your company is organized as an S corporation, every shareholder will be charged $195 a month, for a maximum of 12 months, until your return is filed, if an extension was not requested.

9) Healthcare! In 2014, the Affordable Health Care Act requires that you will either need to keep your current insurance plan, purchase coverage, face a penalty tax or get an exemption. The requirement to have insurance is known as the Individual Mandate. The March 31 deadline has been extended two weeks. The penalty for failing to obtain coverage will be inputted on your 2014 tax return due April 15, 2015. The penalties for 2014 are 1% of taxable income or $95 per adult and $47.50 per child for a maximum penalty of $285. However, the maximum penalty for 2015 increases to $975, and $2,085 in 2016. Beyond 2016, the penalties are adjusted annually for cost of living increases.

 

 

 

Here are the 10 photography blogs from March 23 - 28, 2014, that we hope will inspire photographers to be more!

1. Head in the Clouds: Mike Olbinski's Storm Photography

From the B&H blog, we found this great interview with storm photographer Mike Olbinski. It's a good look at how to do storm photography and there are some awesome photos as well.

2. 8 Essential Underwater Photography Tips from Sarah Lee

Are you curious about how to capture great images underwater? This post from PetaPixel is for you! Experienced underwater-photographer Sarah Lee shares her advice for how to get the best images in this setting.

3. How to Deal With Blushing Red Skin in Adobe Lightroom

If you've ever faced the challenge of re-touching blushing skin, check out this post from the Phoblographer. You'll get some great tips for how to tackle this challenge using Lightroom.

4. Bigger Than Life - Ice Caves

This video from Firefight Films is just plain cool! The filmmakers used a drone with camera attached to take you inside the beautiful 12-mile long Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau, Alaska. You can also watch the behind-the-scenes video to see how they did it. 

5. 6 Good Reasons to Organize your Portfolio

Does your portfolio needs some organizing? This post from Photography Talk will show you why you've got to stop putting it off and get organized today.

6. Getting Started With Aerial Photography

The rise of commercially available drones has led to exciting new possibilities in aerial photography. If you're considering getting involved in aerial photography using a drone, check out this guide from Camera Dojo on what you need to know before starting.

7. Getty Images Image Embed: Progressive or Destructive?

If you're a stock photographer, you can't miss this post. Photoshelter provides a guide to Getty Images' new rule allowing images from their library to be used for free online for editorial and non-commercial purposes. Needless to say, this has caused quite a stir in the photography community! As this piece points out, it might not be all bad news. Find out how the new rule affects you and read the reactions of some of the stock photography community.

8. Can You Apply Multiple Presets in Lightroom?

If you use Lightroom, this post from Lightroom Killer Tips is one you'll want to check out. Find out how you can speed up your workflow by applying presets in Lightroom.

9. New Documentary Focuses on Mysterious Photographer

This article from the New York Times reviews "Finding Vivian Maier," a documentary on the famously mysterious street photographer. The film searches for the enigmatic woman behind the lens, and also ponders her as an artist. And more importantly, it takes on the question of if photography itself is an art form.    

10. How To Make Fantastic Wedding Photos Even When It's Raining

Rain on the wedding day can be a major challenge, but as Fstoppers shows you in this post, it can't stop you from getting great, memorable photos for your clients.

There you have it, the favorite blog posts of the week from your PPA team! Don't forget that you can share your own posts, or other stories you have enjoyed, on theLoop.

By Danielle Brooks

daniellebrooksphotography.com

About a month ago, I started the Insanity workout program. If you have no idea what Insanity is, look it up. You will legitimately think I'm insane. I break a sweat just watching the infomercial.

So why would I choose to put by body through such a rigorous workout every day? I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and push myself. I needed a challenge. Shaun T, the creator, is always encouraging you to, "dig deeper," and push yourself to your limits.

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Part of Insanity is mental. You are training your mind to imagine yourself doing the impossible. When I'm working out and I am completely exhausted, I start saying, "You can do this, Danielle, just a little bit longer. You love working out." By replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones, I am able to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone and I get stronger everyday.

There are a couple of life lessons I've learned from Shaun T. that I have been able to apply to my photography business. One of them is tracking my progress. As you do Insanity, Shaun T. has you do a fit test every two weeks. This way you can track how your cardio has improved. There are eight moves, and you do each one for a minute. In that minute you do as many reps as possible. It serves as a constant reminder that your body is changing even if you can't see the external changes. One of the ways I track progress in my business is by blogging.

Right after Imaging USA, I wrote about how I was going to start a senior rep program. My goal was to have 1-2 senior reps. The thought of having more seemed slim since it was my first year running the program. I ended up with 5 reps and had to turn girls away! That's insane!

When I have a goal, I blog about that too. I keep my followers interested by posting my progress. Not only is this good for creating a community of followers, but I also now have a record of my improvement. When I am discouraged I can look back and see where I started. No matter how small the progress, you are still moving.

Another lesson I learned by doing Insanity is to push yourself to your limits and, as Shaun T. says, "Dig deeper!" The last time I wrote for PPA Today, I mentioned I had partnered with a local gymnastics business. I had a meeting with the owner, and she started talking about her need to have sports photos taken of all the kids. I'm not a sports photographer and I have no idea how to set up a shoot like that. She wanted to do the photos in the gym with backdrops and studio lights. As a natural light photographer, I didn't have any of that equipment. The thought of doing a shoot like that terrified me, and yet I found myself saying yes and setting a date for photo day.

I am not saying you should say, "Yes," to every job that comes your way. Sometimes it's best to let your client know your limits; I knew I could handle the situation. As Shaun T. says, "It's a stretch." I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

My list of obstacles was long. I needed backdrops, lights, a lesson on how to use the lights and order forms for parents. I already knew someone who had backdrops and lights that I could borrow. Thankfully I had stopped by a booth that specialized in sports photography at IUSA and picked up some info just in case. They were able to help me organize my thoughts and get some order forms for parents to take home. I am certainly stretching myself, but I'm growing and am a better, more experienced photographer because of it.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed thinking about the shoot and how I'm a fish out of water. Cue photo day nightmares. But this leads me to my next lesson learned by Shaun T.: stay focused. Throughout the workouts, Shaun walks around and encourages those working out with him. He does the moves next to other people and corrects their form if they are slightly off. Shaun is always shouting out encouragement to keep going. At one point he looks into the camera and say, "Keep going, you can freaking do it." Normally by that point, I am so tired and want to just stop, but Shaun's encouragement calls me back to reality and I recompose my focus on my workout. I am able to push harder and hang in there just a little longer. 

The same goes for my business. It is easy to get distracted by the obstacles in front of me and sometimes I just get worn out, but we need to constantly refocus ourselves on the task at hand. Make sure you have a couple people you can call if you need encouragement. It's always helpful to have some cheerleaders in your corner who can spur you on when you are stalling. For me, it's my husband. He can always motivate me to keep going and he helps me to grow.

I do Insanity because I want my body to change. I want to be the best version of myself I can be. It is a lot of hard work, which is why most people don't do it. The same can be true for photography. To grow and develop is a lot of hard work. To truly excel in this industry you need to push yourself. Getting out of your comfort zone is a good place to start. So get up and get moving. In the words of Shaun T., "You can freaking do it." 

Did you read part one of Ty Swartz's Imaging USA blog on Monday? If not, check it out! Otherwise part two (below) won't make any sense! On Monday, he gave us a day-by-day breakdown of his Imaging USA. Now, learn where his business is at today thanks to what he learned at Imaging.

Afterword:

When I returned to Virginia, I took Bridget's advice and returned to "Square-One" by identifying my prices. The Business Basics workshop taught me that you have to know the value of the service you provide and then target the audience you want to market. Imaging USA allowed me to develop a twelve month action plan that first focuses on developing a brand, building an audience through relationships and then growing the brand.

While at Imaging USA I developed a relationship with Mark Weber from Marathon Press and we were able to develop my branding and marketing strategy. This month, Pashion Photography is sending our first direct mail advertisement to pre-screened targeted brides!

It took meeting Carrie, Bridget, Mark and Bruce to get the idea that working as a photographer is more than working countless hours, but developing a business model that focuses my talents. I am humbled at their patience and willingness to continue teaching long after class.

Since Imaging USA I keep in regular contact via email with Bruce, who has so much advice and guidance. Mark spends time talking on the phone with me to help identify what type of marketing I am able to do. Carrie created an SMS Superstars Group on Facebook and I am not only continuing to learn from her, but she has introduced me to a whole new level of professional networking. I now have a team of professionals to help me make business decisions. I'm not all alone anymore!

Thanks to their mentorship I've been able to bring my marketing and networking to a new level.  I have developed new partnerships and a highly effective constant contact email program that targets newly engaged brides.

We are now offering a "No Obligation" engagement session. It might sound crazy, but we don't charge the couple. And instead of following them around for hours, we now have them come to our studio. We even formed a relationship with a makeup artist and hair stylist to assist with the session.

After the couple arrives, she goes upstairs gets pampered and he gets to hangout and watch sports, relax and learn about our shooting style. By the time she is ready, the "Wow!" on his face says it all, and we start an intimate portrait session.

Once we are finished shooting, the images are edited in about 15 minutes. Yes, 15-minutes! Using what we learned at Imaging--consulting, getting the lighting right and stylized editing--our workflow is incredibly streamlined. We then give the couple a Sticky Album and Animoto Video--products we acquired at Imaging. 

We tell the couple that they owe us nothing because this is our interview as their wedding photographer. And believe it or not, we have not had one couple leave without making our minimum purchase of $400. It is a modest amount, remember we are just starting and we are using this as an interview to become their wedding photographer. We are still making money and developing relationships. The whole purpose is to educate and excite the couple to hire us for their wedding.

As my journey as a CPP continues, I am carving my niche and working toward my master of photography degree. I returned to school to finish an MBA program in Project Management and Marketing.  I will also teach my first Super 1 Day class on May 18. My talent as a public relations, marketing and social media analyst is allowing me to educate other photographers on the power of developing a marketing and social media management program. The class will help them manage their social media instead of having their social media manage them. 

I'm even entering competition! The Southeast District print judging is happening this month and I am hoping to achieve my first photographic merits. I have a lot to learn in this area but learning is the best part! I learned so much about what the judges are looking for at the VPPA print competition and am feeling confident! 

When I made the commitment to stop everything and attend Imaging USA I didn't know how I was going to afford the travel, hotel, food and all the cool photographic toys I required. Now two months later I am kicking myself for only seeing a monetary value to Imaging USA. The value is returning home with a list of quantifiable objectives coupled with the motivation to achieve and a network of mentors that want to see you succeed as a professional photographer.

The value that Bruce, Carrie, Bridget and Mark have brought into my life is nothing short of amazing. I now know what it means when I hear other say, "You can't afford not to go." I have been a member of PPA since February 2010 but it wasn't until January 2014, nearly four years later, did I realize that I am part of something bigger. I'm part of a family.

Before Imaging USA I was just happy to get a phone call from someone who wanted to hire me because they believed I could take pictures. But Imaging opened my eyes to the fact that I am part of a profession that is bigger than taking pictures. I am an artist that has a choice in what I create.

Two months later I have established a full-time, home-based studio with a consultation room. Our phone is ringing and we are booking because we are able to develop a product and service that is different from other wedding photographers in the area.

We are building the business from a brand point of view and it's working. We've created a network of vendors and a marketing program that is effective. I've been able to grow my Facebook audience from zero to nearly 1,200 people in about five months and am up to 600 Twitter followers in the same time period. In fact we just decided that we are able to grow and are now looking for a new home that will better support our photography business. I estimate that I will be able to switch over to photography full-time in the next 3 months. 

We've already passed our original goal of making $50K and our new goal is to double it. We hope to book 30 weddings and photograph 100 couples for engagement sessions. I can't wait to show Bridget the books when I attend the 3-day business course.

I'm already blocking out time for Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville!

Ty Photo.jpg



Ty Swartz, MBA, CPP, USN (Ret.)

Ty Swartz, owner of Pashion Photography, is an award-winning, internationally published Certified Professional Photographer (CPP). After serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy and traveling to more than 60 countries, Ty retired as a Public Relations Officer/Mass Communications Specialist Chief Petty Officer in 2011. He is a native of Greenville, Ohio, and currently lives in Chesapeake, Virginia, with his wife Nicole. 

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!

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.

 

Before you imbibe some food-colored beverages and get your Irish up over the weekend, take a look at our 10 favorite blogs from this week. Who knows, maybe you'll find that inspiration you've been looking for. Be More!

1) Blogger Fights Fair Use Over Stolen Bikini Pic
Stealing an image is one thing, but taking a photo from a blog about body acceptance and using it for your diet product ad is quite another entirely. Read on to see if blogger Rachele Cateyes has a case! (via Yahoo!)

2) Check Out How Google Mapped the Colorado River
Talk about a cool gig! The adventure-seekers at The Clymb bring you the story of Google Street View's mission to map out America's most endangered river. Do you have a 15-lens camera in your bag? (You don't, it totally wouldn't fit.) (via The Clymb)

3) We Can't Get Enough of These Wild Horses on the Beach
While you're checking that 10-day forecast to see when you can get your butt outside and (finally) enjoy some sun, the savvy folks at The Weather Channel have links to several galleries of beautiful pictures along the sidebar. This one in particular caught our eye, of the wild horses that inhabit a tiny island of the coast of Maryland. It's probably because we have not one, but two Super Monday classes coming up on photographing these majestic animals! (via The Weather Channel)

4) Need Some Help Finding Your Niche?
You've heard it before right? "You just need to find your niche." Although you might not want to feel pigeonholed into one thing or another, it actually will help your clients if you can specialize in particular areas! The folks at Photography Talk came up with five easy ways to help you figure it out. (via PhotographyTalk)

5) Model's $450,000 Lawsuit Against Getty Goes to Trial
Oh boy... We've talked about how badly you need to use a model release, right? Heck, we even provide samples for free. Well, here's an extreme example why.  (via PetaPixel)

6) Calumet Photography Declares Bankruptcy and Closes All U.S. Stores
Well, this is a weird one. Just this morning via their now-taken-down Facebook page, Calumet Photography declared bankruptcy and announced that it was closing all of its U.S. stores immediately. There are even reports that the company did not notify many of its employees. Weird! (via SLR Lounge)

7) Need a Photography Quote? Here are 50!
There's nothing quite like a good inspirational or motivational quote to add to a compelling image. It's even better if the words come out of the mount of a legend in the photographic industry. PetaPixel put together this list--see if you find any you like! (via PetaPixel)

8) A New Take on Stealing Photographs on the Web
This might be a good one to re-post on your social media. The Chicago Tribune came up with this clever, totally bogus list on reasons to steal photographs. You've probably heard them all before, but have your clients? (via Chicago Tribune)

9) Target Makes a Big Photoshop BooBoo
Now... that's not exactly the place you want to make a Photoshop goof. Target has since apologize, but it's... interesting to say the least. (via Jezebel)

10) First Kiss Viral Video Actually An Ad for Clothing Line
We wanted to believe in this one. We really did. It was compelling and beautiful and emotive and... an ad for WREN Studio's Fall 2014 line. Wait, what? Viral marketing at its finest folks! Slate has the info. (via Slate)

 

This year is flying by - so quickly that Daylight Savings Time is already coming up this weekend. Remember to 'spring ahead' on Sunday! So what are some top posts you may have missed this week? We have the 10 photography blogs from March 2 - 7, 2014, that we hope will inspire you to be more!

Imaging USA speaker, Rachel Stephens talks feel-good inspiration with CreativeLIVE. Go forth and conquer your fears (and your weekend) after reading this one.

Nature photographers often get an unfair rep. PhotographyTalk would like to put an end to it. Here are the 5 myths about pro nature photographers. 

How about a little flash back Friday? Here are 40 photographs that will make you appreciate today just a little bit more and will put the value of your work as a photographer in perspective. Documenting history is one of the reasons why photography will never go away!

Long exposure photography has started to gain popularity over the last few years - here are Digital Photography School's top 8 tips to consider before venturing out to try this approach. 
 
Ryan Williams and SLR Lounge got together to talk specifics when doing portraits in the beautiful golden hour. Talk shop, settings and post processing to get this magical, natural look.

We've all been there--you're contacted by a bride-to-be and all goes swimmingly. You're on the road to a great working relationship when (out of nowhere) she stops returning your calls. SLR Lounge has the four things you can do to fix the situation.  

Thanks to Ellen (and her famous friends), the Oscar selfie seen round the world raises some interesting copyright questions. Who has the copyright on the most shared photo on Twitter? 

This crowd-sourced movie is coming to a theater near you (schedule to be released at the end of the month!) Check out the trailer of this private photographer's work--or if you live in Portland, check it out now!

Getty Images announced they are dropping their watermark from the bulk of its collection this week--and to many WordPress bloggers with no budget, it's looking like a free stock imagery field day! Get the full story from the team over at the Verge here. 

Want to better you black and white photographs? Skip the grayscale button and go for the Zone System! Get a review of it here from Photofocus.

There you have it, our favorite blog posts of the week! Don't forget that you can share your own blog posts, or others that you have enjoyed, on theLoop

By Mariah Ashley


Last week we had a meeting with a bride, her mother, and her sister. Somehow we got on the topic of the book "Orange is the New Black" and its author Piper Kerman. The mother of the bride mentioned that her friend had met Piper Kerman at a party and that she was a real disappointment. According to the friend, Piper Kerman wasn't dramatic or interesting at all, just a regular person with nothing engrossing to share. 


I felt myself blushing and looking down at my hands and notes when she described the author this way, and not because I spent the night in jail when I was fifteen either (that's a story for another day). I felt nervous because I wondered if like me, Ms. Kerman sometimes feared she was perceived as more fun on paper than in real life. I felt really rattled by the conversation but couldn't quite figure out why. 


Similarly, last summer Trish and I arrived at a wedding and were greeted by a very enthusiastic bridesmaid. She gushed that she had been following our blog for a year and loved reading all of our hilarious posts. Trish graciously told her that I was said hilarious blog writer. The bridesmaid turned to me and told me that meeting me was like meeting a celebrity. Huh? This did not make me feel good. 


grumpy phone.jpg

In that moment I absolutely wanted to evaporate. I immediately felt a crushing pressure to be fabulous and simultaneously felt every shred of interesting, witty, and clever in my body dry up and blow away like dust. Poof. 


I had shrinkage, not the physical kind, a-la George Costanza takes a dip in the cold water and his "inadequacies" are revealed to all, but the personality kind. It was like she threw my brain into a bucket of ice water and my brain was all like, "Sorry, I got nothin'. Shrinkage!" 


In that moment I became the most boring person on the planet and for the duration of the event was unable to recover from it. Just like George my social inadequacies were revealed to all. How very disappointing.


Have you ever felt like that? Well, you may be an introvert like me. I'm reading a book now called "Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain. She poses a 20 question quiz for identifying yourself as introverted. 





See if you answer yes to any of these questions:


1. I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.

2. I prefer to express myself in writing.

3. I enjoy solitude.

4. I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame, and status.

5. I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in-depth about topics that matter to me.

6. People tell me that I am a good listener.

7. I'm not a big risk taker.

8. I enjoy work that allows me to "dive in" with few interruptions.

9. I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale with only one or two close friends and         family members.

10. People describe me as "soft spoken" or "mellow".

11. I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it's finished.

12. I dislike conflict.

13. I do my best work on my own.

14. I tend to think before I speak.

15. I feel drained after being out and about, even if I've enjoyed myself.

16. I often let calls go through to voicemail.

17. If I had to choose, I'd prefer a weekend with nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.

18. I don't enjoy multi-tasking.

19. I can concentrate easily.

20. In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.


Well, I'm 20 for 20. You? 


I've always felt "less-than" in this world that prizes extroverts. Introverts get a bad rap. They are often perceived as shy or weak. 


But according to Cain, 


A few things introverts are not: The word introvert is not a synonym for hermit or misanthrope. Introverts can be these things, but most are perfectly friendly. One of the most humane phrases in the English language - "Only connect!" - was written by the distinctly introverted E.M. Forster in a novel exploring how to achieve "human love at its height." Nor are introverts necessarily shy. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not over stimulating. 


That's me! I can be super friendly but then I need time to myself to recharge my batteries. Being around people is fine for a while but it doesn't fill my tanks, it depletes them.


Recently though, I have found a way to really make my introversion work for my business: phone Conversations. Seems counter intuitive doesn't it? For a while now I have felt that I have been letting potential clients slip through my fingers. Email inquiries pour into my inbox and I respond in kind with personalized friendly emails (love expressing myself through writing) and attached price list. 


Then I wait. 


Some people book, but many others are never heard from again. Our ratio of leads turned to bookings seemed out of whack to me. Deep down I knew that although I preferred to express myself through writing the email, the real me would actually be more fun and effective in person. Ugh, my worst nightmare. 


Then I remembered something I heard at Jeffery Shaw's seminar at Imaging USA. He promised that if we would face our limiting beliefs that our biggest fear could become our greatest joy. Shortly after when I watched a lecture from photographer Susan Stripling and she talked about calling her leads, I decided it was time to pick up the phone. The next time I got an email I responded with a friendly greeting and a request to chat on the phone. 


Later that day I found myself deep in conversation with Marion. She told me all about her partner, Erin, and how they were so thrilled to be able to be married in Rhode Island. We talked about marriage equality, the blending of their families (Erin had children from a previous marriage), and the importance of their family and friends being bearing witness to this amazing day in their lives. 


Marion expressed that they were both camera shy but understood the importance of documenting the day. I told her how at my own wedding (a second marriage for me) the most important photograph for me was the portrait of my blended family, and how I hung it proudly in my living room. I thanked Marion for taking the time to tell me about herself and her plans and encouraged her to call me with any questions. 


Later that day she emailed me, she didn't have any questions but she did have this to say: 


I just spoke to Erin about our conversation and SNAP as a good option for our photography. We did not intend initially to invest this amount into photography, but it is an important day and lasting memories will be important and a source of enjoyment for years to come. As we discussed--we don't have many photos of the two of us and so this alone is of great value to us. Finally, photos of the four of us on this day are also of great value and I suspect may be the photo of the day for us. Your work is clearly exceptional and so booking leaves me comfortable that this part of the day will be well covered.


I never would have booked this wedding had I not asked Marion to chat with me over the phone. Had I just sent my standard email she would have disappeared into the internet abyss. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was using 5 of the 20 traits cited in the introvert "quiz" above. 


Trait #1: I may not be great in group activities, but I am really good with one-on-one conversations. When I called Marion, I didn't sit at my desk, I curled up on the couch and even threw a blanket over my lap like I would do when chatting with my sister. This put me in the mood to talk to Marion like someone I already knew.


Trait #4: Introverts care less about wealth and fame. I feel uncomfortable talking to my clients about money for this reason: I will never be able to "hard sell" or "close the deal." That's just not my style. I gave Marion a range of prices on the phone, but told her I would email her the specifics after our conversation which made it easier to focus on connecting with her.


Trait #5: It's also true that I dislike small talk, but enjoy talking in depth about subjects that matter to me. I was able to skip over the small talk and focus on meaningful topics like marriage equality and the importance of documenting Marion's new family--both subjects that I believe in strongly. For this reason I believe Marion felt connected to me and comfortable that our ideals were in line with each other.


Trait #6: People tell me I am a good listener. I used to think that calling a potential client meant that I had to do a lot of talking and that's why I avoided it. What it actually means is that I should do a lot of listening. I asked Marion a few leading questions such as; "What kind of photography are you drawn to?" and then I just let her talk. 


Trait #14: I tend to think before I speak. This ties into trait #6. Because I am listening intently, it's easy for me to deliberately add sensitive observations and insights to the conversation. 

Marion felt heard and we made a personal connection. For her, hiring us became a no brainer. I felt rewarded and energized by our conversation. I tried my new approach on the next five inquiries. Within 48 hours, four of them had emailed to say they would like to book with us. Now that's the kind of lead conversion I'm talkin' about!


Introverts of the world! Hear my words! Did you know that Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bill Gates, Dr. Seuss, Steven Spielberg, J.K. Rowling, Barbara Streisand, Gandhi, Warren Buffett and Albert Einstein all identified themselves as introverted? We're in good company my friends. 

Your perceived weaknesses are actually your greatest assets! Harness the quiet power within you and reach out to potential clients who are looking for a personal connection (i.e. reason to hire you over your competitor). You can do it, curl up on the couch and have a nice old fashioned conversation with someone you don't know. 


Your business, but more importantly your heart and your clients will thank you for it.


About the author:

Thumbnail image for winter.jpg
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.

Pickle Pic.jpg

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:

Thumbnail image for winter.jpg
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.

 

Happy Valentine's Day!  Here at PPA, we love (Get it? Valentine's Day? Love?) helping you be more as a professional photographer. With that in mind, here are 10 photography blogs from this week, that we think will help make you fall a little bit more in love with the industry.

For the do-it-yourselfers, pyro and light painting fans out there - this is a great how-to for steel wool photography (along with some pretty nifty examples).  Just remember, PPA doesn't condone lighting yourself or your neighborhood on fire.  

Afraid of heights? You might want to skip this one. Two Russian climbers summited the second tallest building in the world (Shanghai Tower) without safety equipment or ropes and caught it all on film. (Please don't try this at home!)

Jim Richardson, accomplished National Geographic photographer, gives you the basics on panning motion photography. Take these simple tricks to the next level.

Ok, we don't love this at all. Facebook made a video saying "Remembering the big day is easier with friends" (you can check the video out on the link). But one creative photographer did come up with a beautiful parody video. 

The article above brought us back to thinking about an infographic from Buzzfeed. If you missed it earlier this week, it's worth the chuckles. (If you have some of your own, post them on our Facebook page!)

Adventure photographer Lucas Gilman talks social shop with the team at Photoshelter. See how 14,000 Instagram followers (and 9,000 on Twitter) has helped his career, creativity and business strategy. 

SLR Lounge has the tip of tips to help you drastically improve your black and white images from bland and boring to (dare we say) majestic. Get the details here, you're sure to find a couple of nuggets for your own business. 

Sochi has caused quite the hubbub leading up to the Winter Olympics- so what's it like now that the competitions are underway? Sports photographer Robert Hanashiro checks in with an up close and personal look at the games. 


Max Jackson, a Florida Atlantic University student, allowed the Color Run to use one of his images on their Facebook page. When he found that image in their print and marketing materials, he asked for some compensation. What happens next will blow your mind. Read on! 

We're not kidding. Make sure to clear the room of children, or adults with sensitive ears because you might be spewing four letter words (and we don't mean l-o-v-e) after reading this post from PetaPixel. Oh! and the comments will be worth your while too!

There you have it, our favorite blog posts of the week! Don't forget that you can share your own blog posts, or others that you have enjoyed, on theLoop

By Mariah Ashley

I believe after Audi's Super Bowl commercial we can all agree with Sarah McLachlan that cross-breeding Dobermans with Chihuahuas (Doberhuahua) is a really bad idea. Clearly the Doberhuahua is an unholy combination best left to the imagination of Audi's creative marketing team, but it did get me thinking about a cross-marketing situation we had here at Snap a few days ago.

Before I can tell you about that though, I need to tell you a regretful story based on real life events.

Once upon a time (last winter) there were two photographers who got a call about shooting a wedding for a fellow wedding vendor. This vendor, a lovely young woman, happened to be the event coordinator at a very exclusive venue.

 

The young woman told the photographers that she was planning a small wedding on a tight budget (about half what the photographers would normally charge), but it was her dream to have the photographers shoot her event. The misguided photographers told her "sorry", but she'd have to pay regular price because she was getting married on a prime Saturday during wedding season.

 

The lovely young woman was disappointed and hired an inexpensive photographer instead. The photographers were disappointed because they never did book that prime day with anyone else. The photographers lost out on the coordinator's wedding and an opportunity to solidify their professional relationship with her. They sat home and twiddled their thumbs on her wedding date.

 

The lovely woman's photos didn't turn out as lovely as they could of and the photographers felt really bad about that. The photographers vowed that if ever faced with this scenario again they would be generous to their industry friends and everyone would win.

 

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Of all the mistakes we made last year, this was probably the most regrettable. It was so regrettable it actually had three separate heavy layers of regret. Regret number one, we had a long personal relationship with the coordinator and we felt like world-class jerks when we turned her away and worse when we saw her photos and knew we could have done better by her.

 

Secondly, the universe punished us repeatedly for our greed by book-blocking us every time another inquiry came in for that date. And finally the biggest business regret, we realized all too late what a huge marketing opportunity we had missed out on. Up until Friday, I couldn't even think of this incident without working myself into a dark self-degrading mood.

 

What changed on Friday you wonder? Well, the universe delivered us a chance at NOT repeating history. Another lovely young woman/coordinator at another fabulous venue had contacted us about shooting her wedding. I hadn't heard from her since sending her our pricing, so on Friday, I sent her another email to check in.

 

When she wrote back she told me she was looking into less expensive options because although it was her dream to have us there she was planning a very informal event and didn't have the budget. Actually her exact words to describe her budget were "borderline unrealistic." Without pausing to think, I emailed her the story I just told you and told her that if her "borderline unrealistic" budget covered our expenses then that would be good enough for us. The unrealistic budget actually turned out to be a quarter of our average booking. Big mistake you think? No.

 

This is where the Doberhuahua effect comes into play. I told her that after our expenses were covered, whatever was left over we would donate to Operation Smile through PPA charities. "Oh no you didn't!"

 

Oh yes I did!

 

I just cross-marketed; Vendor Relationships with Charity resulting in the kind of Word of Mouth you just can't buy. Not even for $4 million for a 30 second spot. Do-ber-hua-hua! It's a HAT TRICK TOUCHDOWN and everybody wins! (See that I just crossed hockey and football, I'm virtually unstoppable!)

 

Our borderline budget bride was so happy, so grateful, so overwhelmed that she told me she was borderline crying. Her "unrealistic budget" actually covered our expenses and allowed for a $1,000 donation to Operation Smile. Four children will have life changing surgeries thanks to her borderline budget, and that is nothing to scoff at.

 

The Moral of our story? Greed does not pay. We screwed up last year, but this year we had an opportunity to do things differently. Yes, we may miss out booking that date with someone who is able to pay full price. Ultimately though, our hearts will be richer for having helped an industry friend and for donating those four surgeries. I can guarantee our pockets will be richer too for all the priceless referrals the lovely coordinator will send our way.

 

Doberhuahua.


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                                                

He wasn't technically voted into office, but he just might be the best president we've ever had.

Whether Democrat, Republican, Tea Party-er, or Teetotaler, at least we can all agree on Kid President's platform, Be More Awesome.

It's hard to argue with the message to "Be More Awesome" (in everything you do). Kid President teaches us that we should be more kind and be less boring, not to mention that that Diabetes is pronounced (dahy-uh-bee-teez), not Diabeetus. Thank you for clearing that up Kid President, Wilfred Brimley sure made a mess out of that one.

Kid President has met President Obama, kissed Beyonce, interviewed Macklemore, and danced with Steve Carell and the Despicable Me Minions, all because he spends his time being more awesome. Kid President knows what he is talking about. It's time to listen to Kid President.

Do I digress? This article is supposed to be a recap of my own awesome experiences at #IUSA14. You may wonder, What exactly does Kid President have to do with PPA?

Turns out, everything!

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Everywhere I turned at IUSA14 I saw PPA's message to "Be More." Be More was plastered on pamphlets, flyers, posters, photographs and videos all over the convention and I have to say the message got through to me. I do want to Be More! Much like Kid President, PPA's inspiring campaign of awesome has encouraged me to contemplate my full potential of Being More.

The best part about PPA's Be More message? You fill in the blank yourself. For example, this year, I will Be More __________. There's no wrong answer!

And let's face it; most of us are going to Imaging because we are looking for answers, some of us with a little more desperation than others. In 2013, I was the blurry eyed, traumatized, desperate type. I needed to Be More... able to stay in business and Be More... likely to pay myself. I was looking for fiscal answers to my woes and I found them by going to seminars about branding, marketing, social media and also by getting advice from our friends at PPA Business (formerly Studio Management Services (SMS)).

This year I needed different types of answers. I was looking to Be More... Inspired, Be More... Educated,  Be More... Purposeful and Be More Thankful. I even found an answer to a question I didn't know needed answering, how I could Be More... Extroverted.

The magic of Imaging is that the answers are all there, no matter what your questions. You just need to Be More Present, and Be More Focused to find them. And so Trish and I set off to find the answers we both needed.

What's the best way to Be More Educated? Take a class! And so we did, More Crazy Stupid Light with Scott Robert Lim. We were hoping to get our lighting learn on and walk away with some new flashy tricks up our sleeve. Scott taught us some cool lighting techniques but something else he taught us about inspiring confidence in your clients was infinitely more valuable.

He said, "If I don't feel like I am a beautiful or worthy person I won't be able to get that from my client. It will be the blind leading the blind. You've got to come in strong and confident to see the beauty in a person and bring that out. You've got to overcome your own baggage."

Woah. I've never heard anyone say that before. Lots of people talk about how to pose your subject. But who says you've got to feel beautiful yourself before you even step into the room with your client? Thank you Scott, I will strive to Be More Loving of myself.

Another class we attended was From Concept to Creation: A Fashion Shoot with Brian DeMint. To say Brian is a character is a major understatement. He bought his camera at Best Buy because the sales kid there told him to. He uses a kit lens and when questioned, appeared to be unsure about what f/stop he was using. His lighting system is a 100 watt bulb with a metal cover, which is generally used to hatch baby chickens not to glamorize models. By all accounts, his photos should suck.

They don't. They're lovely, interesting and unique. Brian is the Jack White of photography. He could literally pull a camera out of a dumpster and make a beautiful image with it. Brian added this gem to my pile of treasures, "If everyone loves your work maybe you are a little too bland." Thank you Brian for inspiring me to Be More Daring, and to focus less on my equipment and more on my imagination.

Our next stop was a lecture, Moments Not Poses with Ross Oscar Knight, where we learned to Be More Prepared. Before listening to Ross I felt that Trish and I had the market cornered on being prepared. After all, we practice the 7P's; Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. However, Ross's level of preparedness makes us look like a couple of circus clowns. Blending the math and science side of his brain with his creative side, he has literally developed a formula for success. He unselfishly shared his biggest mistakes, in the process tossing me this gem, "You honor your clients by being prepared."

What does being prepared have to do with moments? When you are as prepared as Ross is, you can live in the moment "letting go and letting the images flow." Thank you Ross for showing us how to Be More Prepared and therefore be better photographers.

Another lecture we attended literally blew my mind. Seriously, my mind exploded around minute 45 of Jeffery Shaw's, Prosperity and Purpose: The photography Business Through a Different Lens. It does hurt a little when your mind explodes, which would account for the sobbing and sniffling. Seriously, it was embarrassing. Jeffrey had many great things to teach us about our business, but what he taught me about myself has forever altered me as a human being. I know, crazy right? How you ask?

Well, first, Jeffrey talked to us a bit about "Finding Your Purpose." What it is that keeps you going? What do you value? What do you believe? What is the deeper need of your clients beyond lovely photos?

 These are questions he urged us to ask ourselves, but my mind was a blank! I sat struggling with these questions for the next 15 minutes until Jeffrey shared a little story about his "Limiting Beliefs" (his baggage). There's that word again!

As a child, Jeffrey hated games, (so do I) because it meant someone would have to lose. He also feared he wouldn't be picked to play when teams were chosen (me too). He said, "It wasn't that I would be the last one chosen, it was that I hid in the back of the line because I didn't want to play the game."

Commence flowing of tears, running of snot, and choking back of sniffles. I know it's hard to believe, but as a child I was never the first one picked for any team and was never a shining star to anyone but (maybe) my mother. Like Jeffrey, after a while I just got sick of the game and hid in the back of the line. In that moment, I felt sad for the little Mariah who used to hide and I decided that big Mariah wouldn't be doing that anymore.

Then I was struck with the answer to the question: What do I believe and what is my clients higher need?

I believe I am really good at drawing out the beauty in the self conscious client, the shy client, the introverted client, making them feel like a shining star on their wedding day. My clients are not celebrities but come hell or high water they will feel like one when I am done with them. Give me your worst case wall flower, they are putty in my hands because I understand them, they are my peeps. Because of Jeffrey's insight, I can Be More Purposeful and will Be More Extroverted.

I have so much gratitude in my heart for the wonderful speakers who shared of themselves. In a room full of hundreds of people, I often felt they were talking directly to me. Thank you also to Gregory Heisler who taught me to Be More Evocative and Roberto Valenzuela whose hilarious, self-deprecating stories inspire me to Be More Spicy. I'll be "adding some hot sauce" to my pictures for sure.

This brings me to my final Be More wish. I wish for myself and encourage all of you to Be More Thankful. Don't sit by and be a "taker." If someone has shared with you a story, useful information, words of encouragement, or a piece of themselves that has helped you personally or professionally, tell them so! Talk to them face to face, tweet about it, or send them an old fashioned thank you note. It doesn't matter the avenue of gratitude as long as you express it. Heck, kiss them if you feel it's appropriate.

 

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About the author:

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

Long dark days. Cold sleepless nights. Sad empty bank accounts. All of your clients have flown south.

Winter is coming.

Well, let it come! This year I am not afraid. Not afraid of White Walkers (gratuitous Game of Thrones reference). I am not afraid of my bank account. Last year at this time I was desperately faking the flu to get out of our trip to Atlanta for Imaging 2013. After struggling all year to stay afloat, all I wanted to do was stay home and cling to the few pennies we had left. My unrealistically optimistic business partner Trish dragged me to the airport and shoved me on the plane to Atlanta, unexpectedly setting us on the bumpy road to success for 2013.

Going to Imaging breathed new life into my defeated self. We left bursting with great ideas to pull ourselves up by the old bootstraps. Since then, we've implemented all we learned in Atlanta and it's made a monumental difference to our business. For starters, this year I will skip merrily onto the plane to Phoenix ready to learn, instead of clawing at the escape hatch desperate to hide. The state of Snap in January 2014? We've booked all the weddings we need, our bank account is pleasantly plump, and my brain is humming along peacefully instead of spiraling into dark places. This is winter people. This is unheard of.

If you are feeling anything like the old panicky broke me, please tell me you are going to Imaging 2014 this week in Phoenix! It's just what the doctor ordered for anyone suffering with a fake flu and dwindling enthusiasm. You may even want to do a little pre-gaming before your trip. To get you in the mood, here are the top 10 things we did this year to turn ourselves around. Imaging was the catalyst for it all.

1. Make Out With like a Cowboy and Brand Everything. Your logo, website, blog, collateral all has to be complementary and cohesive! After Imaging we stopped being schizophrenic with our branding, going so far as to create a Rules For Branding manual. Anyone who doesn't follow the manual gets the hot poker treatment (you don't want to know). P.S. Bonus! If you are already well branded you can skip this step and just make out with a cowboy... or cowgirl while the rest of us are catching up.

2. Join a Cult, of Personality. Selling yourself (not in the biblical sense) is more important than selling your photographs. Show people who you are and they will love you and they will hire you. (Or they won't and you'll get over it because it's them not you). We created a funny video with bloopers, and started a "Behind the Snaps" theme on our blog to give potential clients a glimpse into the charmingly wacky world of the snap girls.

3. Give Til it Hurts (Because it Won't). We stumbled into the PPA Charities party last year and decided we wanted contribute to Operation Smile. We became the top donating studio in the country by donating the money for one surgery every time we book a wedding. This year that means we paid for 43 surgeries. We don't miss a penny of the money we donated and I love imagining 43 smiling little faces in front of me. Bonus! Brides are excited to book with us knowing that they are helping to save a child's smile!

4. Shut Your Pie Hole. It's time to stop talking and really listen to your clients. When you do that, you can start giving the people what they want and not what you think they should have. We used to just tell people what they should buy instead of listening to their needs. We call this "getting off High-Falutin" Highway. As soon as we took the exit to reality town, the bookings began pouring in and our average sales went up.

5. Expose Yourself (But Not in a Trench Coat Kind of Way). I know, it's human nature to want to hide your problems and flaws and pretend everything is alright. But trust me on this, as soon as you start exposing your soft underbelly, your bleak situation will improve. Pull your head out of the sand and start with a PPA SMS consultation. A whole world of non-judgmental support will open up to you.

6. Write Your Wrongs. Writing about the sinking Snap ship and sharing it with the world on the PPA blog (hello...is anybody out there even reading this?) was a scary biweekly occurrence for an entire year. It took me way outside my introverted comfort zone, but it also helped me organize my thoughts and kept me honest with myself. Chronicling our adventures started out as an experiment but became an instrument for positive change. Buy a journal and record your own trials and tribulations. If nothing else, it will help you see how far you've come as you prepare for Imaging 2015!

7. Forget About Losing 20 Pounds. Set yourself up for success. Don't let your business goals go the way of your New Year's Resolutions. Seriously, you are not going to drop 20 pounds by that cruise you are taking in March. Set clear, realistic goals for yourself and your business. For us, that meant paying ourselves every week and eliminating all of our debt. We did both. Still working on that muffin top though. Mmm, did somebody say muffin?

8. Give Your Lazy Butt the Boot. If you do not like to work long hard hours then hang it up now. There is no easy breezy magic recipe for a life of leisure as a wedding photographer. You must hustle, you must work hard, sacrifice your weekends and give it your all each and every day. I used to whine about shooting 30 weddings and then I learned a photographer I really admire shot 50 this year. By herself. I am not worthy. I will never whine again.

9. It's So BAD it's Actually Good. Turn every negative experience you have into a learning experience. We made A LOT of mistakes this year along with the good decisions. Honestly, we learned more from the bad then we did from the good. Do not ignore unhappy clients, jobs you failed to get, or vendors who didn't recommend you. I've started asking every bride who doesn't book us why she went in another direction. Most everyone has shared why and I've learned invaluable insights.

10. You've Got Guts, Trust Them. A low point for me this year was purchasing another photographer's price list for $195. I am mortified that I did that. I was at a weak point, unsure of myself, desperate for anything that could help me price myself correctly. You know what I discovered? The price list I paid $195 was virtually identical to the one I had sweated over for weeks creating. You could buy a lot of muffins for $195. Trust your gut; you have the muffins answers inside you, only you can know what is right for your business.

I want to thank you faithful blog followers for reading along with me this year. I hope that in sharing my follies and foibles I've helped you to feel less alone and maybe even elicited a chuckle or two during your busy work days. If you see me at Imaging, please say hello! I would love to hear from you. Good luck and Godspeed.

Sure, winter is coming, but we've kicked it's frosty butt and so can you. Now where's my hot cocoa?

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About the author:
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?

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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.

 

 

 

 

I think we can all agree that if there was such an award, Kanye West would be in contention for the prestigious "Most Obnoxious Person on the Planet" honor. Yet, if there's one thing this year has taught me, it's that there is valuable insight to be gleaned from even the most insufferable sources. Don't think Kanye can teach you anything about your photography business?  Well, hold onto your leather jogging pants people because you are about to get schooled.*

* A reference to Kanye telling the press that it was he who brought leather jogging pants to Fendi six years ago and was flat out denied. To quote Kanye directly, "How many [expletive] you done seen with a leather jogging pant?" Too many to count, Kanye, too many to count.

Last week I had two objectives. The first was to create welcome boxes for our four new clients. I figured I would complete that task by lunch time, freeing up my afternoon to dive into my second priority which was blogging our last wedding of the season. Sadly, when 4 pm rolled around I found myself making a dash to the post office with my four boxes just in the nick of time. I felt so frustrated with my slow self! The urgent voice in the back of my head (born of one too many lectures about maximizing time and streamlining workflow) makes me feel like I am always playing  beat the clock.

Could I streamline my welcome box assembly? I considered the steps...

1. Bake (from scratch) a batch of our signature Snap! Vegan Salted Oat Cookies. Sprinkle in a few choice swear words when you realize you are out of vanilla, craisins, almond milk, etc.-- take your pick because there's always something missing! Run to the grocery store for said missing item.

2. Cool cookies on racks, beating back family and business partner as they attempt to consume the cookies that are supposed to be going to clients. Keep one eye on your computer screen and one eye on the cookies while you attempt to complete step 3.

3. Go to the PPA charities website and start donating. (We donate $240 for every wedding we book to Operation Smile).  A separate donation form has to be filled out for each new client. Print out a receipt for the donation to include in the welcome box.

4. Hand write a note to each client explaining the awesomeness of Operation Smile, and the awesomeness of them booking us so that we can donate to the awesome cause.

5. Wrap the gift (a set of pewter heart shaped measuring spoons) with fancy wrapping paper and ribbon.

6. Package the homemade cookies in a bag with luxe ribbon and custom cookie recipe tag.

7. Assemble boxes with confetti paper, spoons, Operation Smile card and cookies.

8. Hand write (another) thank you note on our special letterpress thank you cards and nestle it on top of the presents.

9. Tape the Box and fill out a mailing label.

10. Run to the post office to mail the package--fresh baked cookies need to be eaten straight away after all!

croissants.jpg

Ideas I came up with for trimming some time from my welcome box assembly included; store bought cookies... out of the question! I'd sooner eat Kanye's leather jogging pants. Besides, the snap cookies are addictive, they've been tested. On the scale of addictiveness you have cigarettes, then heroine, and next Snap's vegan salted oat cookies. I guess I could skip the hand written note part, but I really love receiving a handwritten note. Doesn't everyone?

Putting the cookie conundrum on the back burner, I dove into my next project, blogging our last wedding of the season. Surely I'd crank that right out.

Wrong, this took me two days. Is taking two days to blog a wedding an outrageous waste of time? There's a popular "blog every day" movement among some photographers, but I wonder how to create a quality post if you have to churn them out daily. Again I considered my steps.

1. Carefully choose 85-100 photos. That's a lot of photos for sure but that's what it takes for me to successfully tell the story. I am VERY picky about what shots make it onto the blog. They must be flattering to the client, flattering to the other vendors involved and flattering to us because if everyone is flattered than everybody wins.

2. "Jazz" the photos. That's a technical term we use around here for photoshopping. Every single photo is retouched, jazzed with an appropriate photo shop action, sized for the blog and watermarked.

3. Rename the photos for SEO and upload them to the post.

4. Write the post. I find a clever or sentimental quote and share some personal thoughts about the couple and the wedding. Then I mention the other fabulous vendors. Finally I tie it all together neatly with some expert advice or a funny behind the scenes peek.

5. Post the blog, share the link on Facebook, and notify the bride and the other vendors involved that it's up. Hurray!

6. Take a nap before my head explodes.

Maybe there are some things I could trim here too. Less photos? No jazzing? Skip the personal writing which takes so much time? I suppose... NOT. Doing so would feel like sacrificing quality.

I'm really happy with the QUALITY of my cookies and I am happy with the QUALITY of my blogging. More importantly, so are my clients. Here's the thing about quality: most often it takes a long time to achieve. This is where our friend Kanye's valuable lesson comes into the story. Kanye was recently schooled himself by the Association of French Bakers in what can only be described as the most sarcastically perfect reprimand in the history of lambasting.

It seems Kanye wrote a song that really pissed off the French. The offending lyrics were from the song, "I am God" (no, actually that's not the offensive part).  The part they took umbrage with was these lyrics,

"In a French-ass restaurant
Hurry up with my damn croissants"

I know! The nerve, right?! The scathing letter from the bakers to Monsieur Kanye West was lengthy, so I'll just give you a few of the more biting and poignant bits.

Certainly, you are not a man to be satisfied with pre-made croissants from the baked goods case reheated and tossed out on a small platter. No -- you had demanded your croissants freshly-baked, to be delivered to your table straight out of the oven piping hot.

The croissant is dignified?--?not vulgar like a piece of toast, simply popped into a mechanical device to be browned. No?--?the croissant is born of tender care and craftsmanship. Bakers must carefully layer the dough, paint on perfect proportions of butter, and then roll and fold this trembling croissant embryo with the precision of a Japanese origami master.

For us mere mortals, we must wait the time required for the croissant to come to perfect fruition, but as a deity, you can surely alter the bread's molecular structure faster than the speed of light, no?

Hee-Hee, that last line was my favorite! You've got to hand it to the French, they really know how to sling an elegant insult. Much like the treasured croissant, the Snap! experience is multi-layered;  flaky on the outside, tender in the middle and worth waiting for.

It may take me all day to send four welcome boxes to new clients, but every one of my clients sent a thank you email for the delicious cookies and gift. Every one of them said they felt warm and fuzzy about donating to Operation Smile. I even had a bride tell me recently that she makes Snap! cookies once a week for her groom because... you guessed it... he's addicted to them. That kind of feel good customer loyalty and branding is priceless.

I feel the same way about blogging. We don't post everyday but I've had clients tell me they look forward to the posts and savor reading them, just like a good book. Would you feel compelled to savor something that you could have every day? I know I wouldn't. I've never been there, but if I do ever make it to Paris, I plan to savor me a few croissants and I'll wait patiently to get them.

The next time you find yourself beating yourself up about how much time you've spent on designing your website, networking with vendors, or creating a kickass album design remember that quality attracts quality. Take another page from Monsieur Kanye West's book because, after all, he attracted Kim Kardashian. Guess it works in reverse too.

Just sayin'.

 

                

What having our hearts broken taught us about our ideal client

The other day Trish and I had a meeting with a potential bride (Annie) and her mother (Ruth). They were two smartly-dressed, funny, warm, interesting ladies. The most endearing thing about them was that they work together as a mother/daughter dynamic-duo realty team. During our meeting, we laughed, we chatted, we shared ideas and inspirations, relating to each other on a sassy-ladies-in business kind of level.

Annie and Ruth were planning a big fabulous wedding at a fantastic venue with a fancy wedding coordinator we love. We thought to ourselves, now these two are our "ideal clients!" We could have spent all day chatting with Annie and Ruth, in particular picking savvy business lady Ruth's brain about what her "ideal client" was like.

It's safe to say we fell a little in love with Annie and Ruth and when they left, we found ourselves staring longingly at them as they walked away, calling out with a hint of neediness, "Don't be strangers! Bye-bye... Call us!"

The problem with falling in love is it puts you at risk of rejection. Unfortunately, it turned out that Annie and Ruth weren't as "into us" as we were "into them." One-sided love never works out, and a few days later after our date meeting, I got a "Dear Snap" letter from Annie. It was the usual, "It's not you...it's us" excuse.

WHY Annie!? Why Ruth?! What is it about us that drove you away?!!! WHAAAA!

This question kept me awake, so I felt compelled to email Annie back and ask her... casual-like... why she decided to break our hearts go in another direction? Exactly what did the other photographer have that we didn't? Perkier Albums? Curvier frames? Tell me Annie, tell me what I could have done differently!

Annie was gracious enough to return my email. She reiterated it wasn't us, they loved us. Our albums were indeed perky and our frames curvy, but what really turned them on was slimmer packages. The other photographer was cheaper more budget friendly. That's it. Budget trumped our deep personal connection and charming personalities, end of story.

goat photo.jpg

While Ruth may not have given us a deposit to shoot her daughter Annie's wedding at that meeting, she did give us something invariably more valuable, a little gem of advice. Remember how I asked Ruth about her ideal client? Her answer gave me pause then but really got me thinking after she dumped me.

She said, "My ideal client is one that pays me. If I only worked with clients that I loved, I'd have like five clients and that doesn't pay my bills. I keep my eye on the prize. Being able to work with all kinds of people affords me a nice home, nice vacations and the ability to plan a nice wedding."

There's a lot of photography talk out there about "Finding your Ideal Client"--a concept that has always kind of confused me. What is my ideal client? I thought sassy, funny, fashionable Annie and Ruth were ideal, but I was wrong about them.

Seemingly, some photographers "ideal clients" get married in a field and have rustic-barn-Anthropologie-type receptions because all their photographs contain those elements. Other jet-setting photographers seem to only photograph tall, thin, fashion forward model-types who marry in European vineyards and/or castles because all of their photos are taken in European vineyard and/or castles with unbelievably beautiful people. Others yet seem to only photograph really creative tattooed people that seek alternative venues like abandoned airplane hangars.

Why then, on any given weekend might I find myself shooting a wedding on a boat, or in a moat, or with a goat? It makes me wonder, how can moat, boat, and goat clients ALL be my ideal clients? Is it weird that my weddings are so varied in style, location, and budget?

Here's where we circle back to Ruth and her gift to me. The common denominator with the moat client, the goat client, and the boat client is that they were all really excited to hire us. Eureka! Mystery solved...my ideal client is... wait for it... a client who is really excited to give me their money in return for us doing a really great job.

For whatever reason our photos, bad jokes, lack of fashion sense, or quirky personalities speak to them. They feel comfortable with us, confident we'll do a good job and are happy with their decision. Our clients are tall, short, big-boned, skinny, type A's, artsy types, fancy, down-to-earth, educated, hard-working, old money, blue collar, funny, shy, preppy, alternative, silly and serious. They are all of these things and more and I am grateful for their differences. I don't want my photographs to all look the same, the same type of venue and the same type of people in the same type of lighting. That gets really boring really fast. Besides, I'd like to shoot 40 weddings this year. What are the odds of finding 40 clients who want to have goats at their wedding?

A few days after Annie and Ruth rejected us we had another date meeting. (Gotta get back on the proverbial bicycle, right?) Had I been thinking along the old "ideal client" lines, gauging clients on their shoes or their venue, I might have missed out on a nice booking. This wedding was to take place at venue we are unfamiliar with and with vendors we don't normally work with. The couple was kind of quiet and shy, the conversation was a little awkward and the meeting brief. In times like that it can be hard to muster the razzle dazzle, but you know what? This couple was interested in our photography and had taken the time to come and see us. They deserved a little sparkle and we happily gave it to them. Although the meeting was brief, the shy bride told us we made her feel really comfortable and she would be excited to have us photograph her wedding... oh, and where should she send the check?

Ideal clients? Yes, without a doubt.

 

Need a little help boosting your numbers? Have you considered PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS)? You should.

We could tell you all about SMS, but why not hear it from someone who has actually been through the process? Arkansas photographer Clark Sanders, CPP, knows well the benefits of SMS and shares his experience below. It's the first in our new PPA Member Story series.

How was your business doing prior to signing-up for SMS?

It was going well, but I knew I needed to make some changes if my business was going to continue to grow and become more profitable.

ClarkSanders1.jpgWhy did you decide to sign-up?

I attended Imaging USA in Atlanta in January and visited the SMS booth. I had already been interested in a consultation for a while. I knew that many profitable studios in the country had already benefitted from an SMS consultation and knew if I didn't seek the advice/counsel of SMS my studio might wind up being less than profitable and I didn't want that to happen.

What were your emotions going into the consultation?

I was excited and nervous all wrapped in one!

Can you take us through your mentoring experience?

Prior to visiting on the phone with Bridget Jackson, CPA, and Allison Rodgers, Cr.Photog., CPP, I completed a comprehensive list of items they needed to better help me out. Just going through that task alone really opened my eyes! I thought I had all my numbers in my head, like the number of sessions, average sale of those sessions, who I photographed the most, was I really pricing my work to make a better profit, etc. Boy was I wrong!

Seeing the numbers on paper (actually in excel) really took me back! WOW. Bridget helped me set up a budget, set a plan for how many sessions I should book during a month and more. Allison helped me make sense of my price list and gave some amazing suggestions to improve it as well as advice on some of the promotions I was working on.

One big thing I learned is I don't have to photograph everyone in my market! There are lots of prospective clients in my area, and surrounding area, that are who I consider my ideal clients and who aren't afraid to invest both their time and money in me. That's who I want my business to benefit from. The numbers Bridget helped me understand who my ideal client really is, and helped me to make a "road map" of sorts, not only for 2013, but one that will help me be even better and more profitable in 2014 and beyond!


How did you use what you learned?

After my consultation with my SMS mentor Allison Rodgers, who I think she's the best thing since sliced bread, by the way, I made lots of changes to my price menu and have even more planned for 2014. I love that the Rodgers' provide such an amazing experience for their clients from the moment they call and have a session consultation until they come back to pick up their portrait order. The experience you provide your client with will determine the outcome of your sales session and will lead to future business with them and their friends that they're going to talk to you about! We discussed some of the mini-sessions I had planned and Allison again gave me some amazing advice for them.

ClarkSanders2.jpgHow has your business changed since your consultation?

I raised my prices after my consultation and will be increasing them again soon! I had always been scared to death to raise my prices to a point where I would lose clients, but as a lot of successful studio photographers have said in the past, you'll attract the clients who value what you do and will make up for the ones that don't. And that has rang true! I'm able to prequalify clients based on the price of my session fees and my collections.

Why should someone consider an SMS consultation?

The old saying, "don't reinvent the wheel," comes to mind when seeking the services from SMS. If you're currently operating a studio or thinking of starting one, there is a wealth of knowledge from the SMS mentors that can help get your business off on the right track. My SMS mentor was able to take a look at my pricing and other aspects of my business during my consultation. The suggestions she made have helped steer my business down the right path. If anyone is struggling with their business and don't know what they should do to turn it around, an SMS consultation is a no-brainer!


So what's your number? Do consider PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) if you need help finding it.

 

PPA Member Stories:

This series serves as an opportunity for you PPA members to tell your story. How has PPA membership helped you and your business? It could be PPA's Studio Management Services, copyright protection, PhotoCare equipment insurance, the Indemnification Trust, Imaging USA--whatever! We want to hear from you, and so do your fellow members.


Have a story you'd like to share? Shoot John Owens an email at jowens@ppa.com.



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