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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
blocking out time for Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville!
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