PPA Today: Search Results

Results tagged “imaging usa” from PPA Today

booray_ask_me.jpgImaging USA 2015 speaker, Booray Perry, CPP has signed up for a dangerous assignment--he's going to be our very first subject in theLoop's Ask Me Anything on August 20 & 21! There are two really obvious questions you might have right off the bat: 

First, what's a Booray? (It's ok - he gets this all the time.) Booray is a Cajun name. This particular Booray is an accomplished wedding and portrait photographer based in Tampa, Florida. He started his journey in photography in 8th grade and started with football games and pep rallies for the yearbook. Now he's a Certified Professional Photographer that recently went Bronze at the International Photographic Competition. We'd like to think that's a bit of an improvement from Chess Club Vice-President. He's a fun-loving, ukulele-playing photography machine. Read up on his bio here.

On Monday at Imaging USA 2015, he'll deliver his "Wedding Photography: Prepare to Succeed" program (here's the link to the full course description)! 

Second, what's an Ask Me Anything (AMA)? An AMA is a simple conversation where you can ask the "me" anything. In this case, try to keep it  photography related, but really anything goes! We're excited to make a place for you to get to know your Imaging USA speakers before February. There will be a discussion in the ImagingUSA community on theLoop, and Booray will take all of your questions Wednesday, August 20 and Thursday, August 21st! 

Start asking your questions - we can't wait to see what sort of great things you'll have to ask one of the most fun-loving photographers at Imaging USA!

by Mariah Ashley

Thumbnail image for giant sneaks.jpg My son Jacques is not a joiner, not a jock and let's just say not terribly motivated.

Upon my insistence, he has committed himself to participating in a high school sport. Since he abhors football, is bored to death by baseball and can't dribble to save his life, he is running on the cross country team.

The "unofficial" team training started in July under the very loose control of three senior brothers, triplet captains whose parents were Olympic runners. The coach has devised a running program that divides the team into three categories: those who will go on to be Olympians like their forefathers, those with gazelle blood in their veins and my snoozy soon to be sophomore son. After the team warms up together Jacques is left plodding along alone in his size fourteen sneakers while the other boys with normal sized feet rocket past him.

Each morning at 7 a.m. we have same routine.

"Jacques get up it's time for running."

"I don't want to go today," he pleads from under a mountain of blankets. "Can't I just run on my own?"

"No!" I insist, shaking the lump of blankets that contains my son. "You are part of a team; that means you run with the team. You joined this team, so you need to BE MORE dedicated!"

"But I don't run with the team. I run on my own. How about I run with you? Mother-son time?"

"Nice try. The captains need to see that you are showing up. It's about being together as a team. You need to BE MORE social."

"I don't care about that." He groans, rolling over and scooting like a 6' 1" caterpillar toward the far end of his bed.

"JUST GET UP! YOU ARE GOING!" I shout, slapping the lump. "Really, you need to BE MORE motivated."

The teenage lump finally rises and I drive it to the high school and park inconspicuously so as not to embarrass it. I notice a few cross country kids sitting on picnic tables at the far end of the parking lot. The lump doesn't move from his seat.

"Jacques, aren't you going to get out?"

"I'll wait a few more minutes till the rest of team shows up," he says reclining his seat all the way back, making himself invisible.

"Why? What's wrong with those kids? Why don't you go sit with them?"

"I don't like them," he mumbles. "They're seniors. They're jerks."

"It's weird to want to sit in the car with your mom. You should BE MORE friendly. Go ahead, get out of the car and go sit with your team," I insist pushing him out the door.

He makes his way reluctantly over to the older kids and sits down awkwardly at the far end of the table. Without a word directed in any direction he stuffs his headphones in his ears and stares at his phone. The rest of the team chats casually. This is painful to watch. The other boys are older, fitter, confident. Shirts are stripped off, flirtations exchanged with the girls running team and then they are off like a pack in one direction with Jacques running off alone in the other. My heart breaks a little for him and I fret about him for the next hour while I wait to pick him up.

Written by guest blogger, Danielle Brooks 

It's crazy to think that six months ago I was wandering around the expo floor in Phoenix wondering about the future. If you had told me in January that come June I would be working full-time for Danielle Brooks Photography, I would have called you a liar. I honestly cannot believe that in six months' time, I went from a steady 9-5 job to the crazy world of being a business owner. It has been a good ride so far, but it would not have been possible without the lessons I learned at Imaging USA. 

There were 3 big takeaways for me at Imaging USA: 

1). Don't give away the digitals

This was a big one for me to learn. When I first started out doing photography part-time, I just had one price and that included everything. It worked for me and was easy. 

But then I heard a lot of controversy about this at Imaging. Most people frown on giving the digitals because your sale stops there. I didn't really understand it at the time because I had no way of selling prints to people. Over time, I found a printer I loved, and began showcasing photos to clients online so they can make purchases.  

I know most people with studios would say online sales isn't the way to go, but they work for me right now and it's a good way for me to get my feet wet in selling products. Plus I don't have a studio, and I would also argue that it's better than giving away the digitals. 

2). SEO is king

Most people find me via Google. My business is slowly spreading by word of mouth, but I am proud to say that I don't spend money to advertise on Google. I show up on page two thanks to a class I took on SEO at Imaging. The tips and tricks I learned there were key to getting my website to climb the Google ladder. I have done a lot of personal research beyond that class but it was the kick-start I needed. 

About 75% of my business comes from the work I've put into SEO and helping people find me before they find my competition. Researching SEO has also opened my eyes to all the classes PPAedu has for PPA members. I am currently working my way through classes on finance. This is a great resource for photographers. If you haven't looked into it, you're missing out.

3). One size does NOT fit all

Just because you take classes and learn from professionals in the field doesn't mean it's right for you or your business. It's almost like having a child. You can get advice from your parents and friends, but ultimately you know what's best for you and your child. 

I remember calling my husband from Imaging all freaked out because I didn't have studio and couldn't do in-person sales. We researched options for doing in-home sales, but the thought of doing that freaked me out. I wasn't ready, but I didn't say "never". 

Since then, I found a system that really works for me. I educate clients on print products from their first phone call through the last email. I can definitely see doing in-person sales in the future, but it has to be an organic growth and can't be forced or it will not be successful. 

I learned an incredible amount of information at Imaging USA and I cannot wait to go to Nashville next year. Who knows where I'll be in another six months! If you haven't already registered for Imaging USA in Nashville, do yourself a favor and do it now! It is such a great resource for photographers. You will not regret your decision. 
01-13-PPA-ImagingUSA-4953.jpg
Imaging USA 2015 is heading to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center in February! Although that's not exactly around the corner, it is 243 days away (at the time this post was uploaded) and we couldn't be more excited! (We apologize in advance if this blog has too many exclamation points.) 

Why this much enthusiasm so far in advance of the event? Maybe it's the amazing line up of speakers, or the range of topics they'll be teaching across the 12 tracks or because we're back in Nashville! And from what we can tell on Facebook and Twitter, a lot of us love it too! 

Not only will the programs be the best yet, but Opryland itself has some pretty nifty deals worked out for you. Did you know that if you stay at Opryland, not only will you be in the middle of all of the action, but included in your room rate is free (yes - FREE) in-room WIFI, two bottles of water each day, access to the fitness center, a complimentary shuttle to Grand Ole Opry House, General Jackson Showboat, Gaylord Springs Golf Course (the round of golf is not included) or the Opry Mills Mall next door! PLUS if you have a car on site, you'll be paying less than half the standard rate for parking (from $21 down to just $9 with super convenient in-and-out privileges). 

Now all of that stuff might be great, but one of our favorite (we have no shame) features of the hotel is that you can have your choice of country music star give you your wake up call! Love Trace Adkins? He'll be giving you a ring to make sure you're up in time to hit up one of the two coffee shops before your 8 a.m. session. More of a Kellie Pickler fan? She's also on the list, along with a slew of other famous country singers that'll make sure you're up and at 'em before all of the action! 

And to keep you on track, we'll have the nifty Imaging USA app for you (it's still in production, but when it's ready to download this summer, we'll let you know)! The app has a lot of the great features you may have enjoyed last year--like creating your own schedule, connecting with other attendees, or planning how to dominate the Expo floor--but there are more great options with this year's app, like a new game (details coming soon!) and an interactive map to help you find your way at Opryland! 

Registration for Imaging USA is already open at imagingusa.org/register. And remember - if you become a professional active PPA member, we'll waive the registration fee for your first Imaging USA (that alone is a $323 value)! 

We'll be bringing you periodic updates about the conference as we get closer, but there is a lot of action on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @imagingusa, so don't be left out! You can also hop on over to theLoop's Imaging USA community to find a roommate, catch a ride or just make new friends that will be in Nashville! We can't wait to see you there!

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!

ppalogo.PNG

Thumbnail image for DANIELLE BROOKS.jpg
Written by guest blogger, Danielle Brooks

It has only been 34 days since Imaging USA and already my business looks completely different. 

I knew going to Phoenix would radically change my business, I just didn't know how. I hate change, but I know it represents progress. My last article addressed the fact that Imaging gave me whiplash. Now that the pain has subsided, what would my next steps be? I decided to focus on what my business needed most: print products. 

While at Imaging, my main goal was to find a print lab to offer products to my clients. When you start out as a photographer, no one gives you a road map. No one sits down with you and says, "Here's a great print lab. You should start offering these products to clients at this percentage of markup in order to make a profit." And truth be told, even if they did, it would only be a jumping-off point. Only I can know what my market will bear in terms of pricing. So the thought of finding a lab, selecting my products and figuring out markup was a little stressful. 

I visited every single lab that had a booth at Imaging. White House Custom Color met my needs completely. I know everyone has a lab that they advocate for and WHCC is mine. Their representatives in the booth were so helpful and friendly. I appreciated that when I asked a seemingly basic question, they didn't look at me like I was stupid. They answered them in the best way possible. Making sure I had a grasp on their products and how to offer them to clients. This was such a huge help to me as a beginner. 

Next on the list was finding a way to showcase my products to clients and whether or not I wanted to do an in-person ordering session. Since I do not have a studio, I have decided to offer online purchasing. I know many of you will say I'm leaving money on the table, but for me, right now, it works. I would love to do in-person ordering, but you have to start somewhere. 

So at Imaging, I stopped by the Shoot Proof booth. They offer a great option for online ordering. I can select from their partner labs, or add my own and self-fulfill. Their interface is super easy to navigate. I can literally select products I offer, and then add the price I offer them for. 

Another big change to my business is partnering with other businesses. At Imaging I was challenged to look for ways to make connections that would help word of mouth. About a week after the conference, I visited my husband at work and as I was leaving, I noticed a gymnastics place across the way. I went home and thought about ways I might be able to partner with them. Here was a business that caters to children, and their parents are waiting in the lobby for an hour or more a week. What better way to get my name out there as a family photographer than to put my materials in their lobby?

I quickly found their website and Facebook and noticed that they had a crazy amount of photos, but none of them were particularly good. The next week I was able to schedule a meeting with the owner. I explained to her that I was a new photographer to the area and wanted to get my name out there. I told her I would be willing to photograph an event for free in exchange for letting me leave some information in their lobby. Some might frown on the idea of giving away photos, but let me tell you it has come back to me tenfold. 

After the event, she posted some of the photos, and she immediately told me she had parents wanting to buy proofs. She also wanted to know if I could do team photos and sports photos of all the kids. What a HUGE opportunity! It will be so easy for me to talk to the parents about a family session while I'm photographing their kids. If there is ever a way to invest in your community, do it. The results might surprise you.

As things stand now, I am not generating enough consistent business to leave my "day job" but I'm hoping that by planting the seeds now, I will reap a harvest in the future. This year holds so many possibilities and I'm glad I started 2014 off right by attending Imaging USA. I cannot wait to see where my business will be this time next year. 

Written by guest blogger and Student Photographic Society Member Tessa Smucker
To read more of Tessa's blog, click here

As the snow continues to fall, I figured there was no better time to write about my trip to Phoenix. Last week this time, I was enjoying palm trees and sunny 70 degree weather. What I would give to still be there!

I have been a member of PPA (Professional Photographers of America) for about a year now and have been receiving their monthly magazine for over three years. PPA is a "non-profit international photography association that helps those serious about photography live their dreams profitably." Members enjoy the benefits of equipment insurance, educational resources and the connection to thousands of other professional photographers.

Among the benefits is the opportunity to attend their yearly conference, Imaging USA. Last year, I attended as a student volunteer in Atlanta, GA. It truly shaped my entire 2013. I had the pleasure of attending Imaging USA once again this year in Arizona. Because of the impact it had previously, I was anxious to be back.

Although I am "technically" no longer a student, they let me slide for one more year. The role of a student is to volunteer about 4-6 hours a day. In exchange for our time we receive free lodging, free entry to the event and the chance to attend amazing workshops put on by world renowned photographers. We also have the opportunity to have our work individually critiqued by very established professionals in the field. Pretty much, it is a sweet deal.
DANIELLE BROOKS.jpg
Written by guest blogger Danielle Brooks 

Imaging USA gave me whiplash. 

Have you ever been in a car accident and experienced whiplash? It serves as a constant reminder of the event that caused the discomfort. Whiplash is defined as a type of motion that strains muscles of the neck beyond their normal range of motion. 

Yeah, I have Imaging USA whiplash. 

I was stretched beyond my normal range of motion mentally and emotionally. Let me explain: Attending IUSA is one of the best things I've ever done for my business and myself. So this whiplash, while uncomfortable, isn't a bad thing. It reminds me that I went through an incredible growing experience, and it drives me to be more.  

IUSA goes by in a blur. You are going a thousand miles a minute for three days and then it's over, and you're left wondering, What just happened? It can be hard to figure out what steps you need to take next. 

The greatest lesson I learned while I was in Phoenix was to be confident. I don't want to give you the impression that I am suddenly the most confident person because I'm not, especially when it comes to my work. But how am I supposed to sell myself to others, when I'm not confident in the product I'm selling? My first lesson in confidence came from my mentor, Paul Skipworth. 


Check out some photos from #IUSA14 below, including the opening party, Imaging Expo trade show, classes, World Photographic Cup, the Kenny Rogers Q & A and more. We'll have many more photos to share, so be sure to check imagingusa.org for the 2014 photo gallery (coming soon) and our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for more photos! Thanks to Alex the Photo Guy for providing images. 

untitled-6154.jpg
untitled-6198.jpg
01-13-PPA-ImagingUSA-4922.jpg
01-13-PPA-ImagingUSA-5261.jpg


For the next few days, Phoenix is officially the photography capitol of the world. Really.

Photographers from across the globe streamed into the Phoenix Convention Center to pick up their registration badges. They've come from New York and Colorado, from Florida and California, from Mexico and France. Denmark, Belgium and Brazil. More than 30 countries, actually. Photographers by the thousands.

Wide-eyed, they inspected the convention center's grounds. There were handshakes and hugs as old friends and first-timers came together.  They grabbed show guides and goodie bags. They wondered what lie behind the Expo doors.

Behind, the tradeshow floor was abuzz with many hands making light(s) work. Beeping forklifts delivered "fragile" crates which exhibitors turned into a bright spectacle. It's a sight to behold.

And it all starts tomorrow!

Attendee registration opens at 7am and closes at 7pm and is located on the Lower Level of the North Building of the Convention Center. At 11:15am at the bottom of the escalators, a ribbon cutting with PPA President, Ralph Romaguera Sr., and the board of directors will signal the official opening of the Imaging Expo. 

Classes begin at 8am and run through 8pm. Day one will feature eight of the 10 speaker tracks. Catch live presentations in the PPA Booth (#925) with (PPA guest-blogger) Mariah Ashley & Trish Gilmore at 3pm and Jeffrey Shaw at 4pm and don't forget to snag a limited edition Team Captain PPA build-a-bear! 

It all wraps-up with the Imaging USA Welcome Party sponsored by Canon, which kicks off at 8pm in the North Building, First Floor, 120 Ballroom.

So plan at your days and lay out your outfits. Get a good night's sleep!

Imaging USA starts, TOMORROW!

In a short 72 hours Imaging USA will kick off with 10,000 of your closest pro-photographer friends! How can you get in on the conversation and connect with other attendees? Let us count the ways...

#IUSA14: This is our official hashtag! Use it to tag all of your content across all of your social media! We'll be sharing your stuff as the show goes on, because who better to tell the story than you, the attendees?

Facebook: Like Imaging USA on Facebook to see behind the scenes content, share your own images and stories from the event! This content will also be broadcast on the various Social Monitors around the Expo and registration. We will be closely monitoring Facebook during show hours, so if you have questions and can't find an Imaging USA orange shirt, feel free to send us a message and we'll respond ASAP! Remember to check in to Imaging USA from Facebook places! 

Twitter: We'll be live tweeting the whole show! Tips, tricks, announcements and more - follow @imagingusa or our official hashtag (#IUSA14) to get all the great access. This information will also be broadcast on our Social Monitors - the more you tweet, the more famous you'll be! If you can't find an orange shirt and have a question, feel free to tweet it at us too! We'll do our best to keep responses under 140 characters.

Instagram: It's a photography conference, so you better believe we're on Instagram, snapping photos! Same rules apply from Twitter - follow us @imagingusa or #IUSA14 to get photos from command central, the parties and maybe a few candid shots with Kenny Rogers!

FourSquare: Want to be the Mayor of Imaging USA? Check in on FourSquare! Connect with other attendees and find neighborhood deals for lunch, dinner or post-show fun!

theLoop: Join in on the conversation on the Imaging USA community on theLoop! Find last minute roommates, friends or session buddies. 

The Imaging USA App: Head to Imagingusa.org/app to download the app. Once you've registered for the conference, you should receive an email from Imaging USA 2014 with your login credentials--these are different from your standard PPA information. If you can't find it, just call our Member Care line at 800-786-6277 and they'll get you sorted out. Log in, create a profile and start searching for members with similar interests! Send messages, schedule meet ups, and connect face to face! (Check out our handy app videos to get all the details!) (LINK)

So there you have it! We can't wait to see how you experience Imaging USA 2014! Get packing & we'll see you in Phoenix!

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?

winter.jpg







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. 

Back in the fall, we launched the first-ever PPA Kickstart Scholarship. Four lucky PPA members have been selected to head to Imaging USA early for a pre-convention class--completely on the house! The winners were given the opportunity to choose between a full-day of hands on classes or a two-day Studio Management Services workshop.

Let's meet the lucky winners and learn what they hope to take back from Imaging USA in Phoenix.

21180953_mike-bw-0167.jpg

Five-year member Mike Kemp of Mike Kemp Photography in Arkansas will attend his first Imaging USA thanks to the Kickstart scholarship. The longtime staff photographer hopes to start his own photography business with the help of knowledge gained at Imaging USA.

"I would love to be able to benefit from the mentorship of the Studio Management Services (SMS) classes," said Kemp. "I have a decent grip on my craft, but I definitely need help with the marketing, sales and business skills needed to attract clients and maintain a healthy business. By learning the ins and outs of financial planning, pricing schedules and marketing plans, I would be able to pair my photographic knowledge with sound business practices. I desperately need that skill set to make my leap to becoming a self-employed photographer."

Kemp will take the SMS Business Basics Portrait class.

 



21180953_josiah-1.jpg

Two years ago, Josiah Freeman quit his job in a call center in Washington and moved to Phoenix. Now he will get to attend his first Imaging USA in his new home city. Josiah will seek some assistance from the Business Basics class as well.

"While I have some traction in the art side of things, it always seems like I'm falling behind or flat on the business side of things," admitted Freeman. "I've always wanted to take an SMS class, so I can better explain to others what my prices are and why, and to be able to stick to them. I frequently find myself agreeing to discount my work and I need to find a way to stand up for myself and my pricing, and know that I am worth it. We manage to eke out a living, but I need to get to the point where I can actually be a success as a studio, and not stuck doing a ton of work for very little money."

 

welch.png

Only 27-years-old, Indiana photographer Abigail Elizabeth Welch already feels like she is becoming out of touch with high school seniors and the latest trends. Abigail shared her photography journey thus far, and hopes the Business Basics class and the Imaging USA experience will help push her to the next level.

"In year two of owning my studio, I hit a wall. My studio had grown to the point that I could not keep up. I was doing it only with the help of my mom (she kept the books, and held my reflector.) I felt like I was working non-stop. I worked myself to pure exhaustion. I had penny pincher clients who didn't see the value in my work, and I even considered quitting all together. 

Around the same time, I married, and decided to join my husband in Italy to get away from my business. I literally ran away. After a few months, he encouraged me to shoot again. I was hesitant, but the culture in Italy is so laid back, the scenery is just beautiful, so I gave it a shot. I started shooting again, many times in Venice, and my love for photography quickly returned. 

We returned to the states in 2012, and I relaunched a new website to start fresh. I made guidelines for myself so that I could keep my sanity, and up until two months ago, it was working. Currently, I am starting to get so busy that I cannot keep up. I DO NOT want the past to repeat itself, but I feel that I do not have the business knowledge to successfully grow my business. I don't even know where to start. Hiring employees, finding a building, pricing to make sure I turn a profit; it is all a daunting task. 

I feel the Business Basics Workshop will give me the tools that I need to grow. I feel like I have the potential to build something amazing, but I have accepted that I cannot do it on my own. I have read wonderful things about the class and I imagine it will help save my business from taking over my life again. What I really love to do is be behind the camera, and I am hoping that I can learn how to grow my business so that I can spend more time shooting, and less time managing."

 

untitled.png

Tennessee photographer Ann K. Farrar, CPP, has attended Imaging USA every year since 2007, and thanks to the scholarship, will continue that streak in Phoenix. Ann will take a variety of pre-convention classes, and is even taking Tiffany Reed Briley's "Finding Freedom in Landscape Photography" on her own dime just because she'll be there early! That's the kind of "Be More" attitude we love to see!

"I think I have attended a pre-convention workshop every year. I find it a great way to learn, to have access to top talent when it is not as crowded as the convention, to network with other photographers. It has been very useful to me as I increase my skill.

Since I have attended many ImagingUSA conferences, I have first-hand experience at the expertise of instructors and what I can gain from the classes. I like the pre-convention classes because you really have an opportunity to learn and meet the instructors, as well as other photographers in the class. It gives me access to top-notch instructors that I might not encounter otherwise.

I just entered the International Print Competition (IPC) this year for the first time and had an image accepted into the General Collection. I never really thought that would happen and I have been bitten by the competition bug! I want to continue to learn and improve and take my photography to the next level. Earning this scholarship will help me do this. I have gotten so much out of PPA, Imaging USA, classes, earning my CPP and everything PPA has to offer. I am so glad I joined!"

 

When you think of Kenny Rogers, chances are you think of his long and impressive career as
Kenny_Rogers_Portrait_Blog.jpg
a country musician. But did you know that Kenny is also an accomplished photographer? In fact, he'll be at Imaging USA in Phoenix this January to host a Q&A about his work as a photographer and to receive an Honorary Master of Photography degree!

On January 14, Kenny's "Places I've Been, Things I've Seen" Q&A will be held from 5 to 6 pm (you just need an expo pass, which you can get for free here, or your full conference badge). Kenny Rogers will share some of his favorite images as well as take your questions about his work during this exclusive session. If you want to read more about his photography, check out the "Kenny Rogers Storymaker: The Entertainer Earns Acclaim for his Images" feature story from the December 2013 issue of Professional Photographer magazine. 

Kenny brings a lot of passion for photography, so you won't want to miss his special guest presentation! Plus a lot of his work will be on display for our viewing pleasure.

Along with this memorable Q&A, there are other special events happening at Imaging USA you won't want to miss! After long days of learning and product browsing, the opening and closing parties are there for you to celebrate with your fellow photographers. You'll also have opportunities to receive critiques on your work and mentoring from successful pros with PPAedu Business Mentors and the Coach's Corner, AND you can view ALL the Loan Collection images from PPA's International Photographic Competition and the World Photographic Cup Images at the International Photographic Exhibit. 

Two more places you'll also want to be at: (1) the Grand Imaging Awards, where the top images from the International Photographic Competition will be announced, and (2) the Award & Degree Ceremony, where we'll honor professional photography and the individuals who set themselves apart in the industry by earning PPA degrees and awards. There are even special events just for Certified Professional Photographers and new PPA members! Find all the details for these events on the Imaging USA Event Highlights page. 

Of course, these special events at Imaging USA are just part of the overall conference. There's also the full line up of photography courses to help your business and your craft, and the Imaging Expo (that's the trade show), where you'll be able to check out, touch and demo all the latest photography products! 

It's all included with an Imaging USA full-access pass. So, register for Imaging USA now! If you register by December 31, you'll also be entered to win an all-expense paid trip to Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville, TN. See you in Phoenix! 

Read more about Imaging USA:


Image © Jay Fletcher
DANIELLE BROOKS.jpg
Written by guest blogger and Imaging USA first-timer, Danielle Brooks.

Every August when kids go back to school I get jealous. 

I used to love getting new pens, binders, notepads and best of all, having new classes. I loved school. Every year in college, when a new course catalog would come out, I would spend the afternoon reading the course selections. I got so excited looking forward to what I could study the next semester. It's okay, I can admit I'm a total nerd. 

However, the same is true of Imaging USA. As soon as I signed up to go, I immediately got excited about the dozens of classes being offered. And who wouldn't be excited about this opportunity to learn? There are so many great teachers and classes that it is seriously difficult to choose from them all. How do you pick? And more importantly, if this is your first time to IUSA, where do you start? 

I first started planning my classes based on seniors. They are the number one market I want to break into, and I want to be able to market myself to them effectively. However, after the initial "course catalog high" wore off I really started to question if those courses would be the most beneficial to me at this stage in my business. 

When you are first starting out at IUSA it is probably best to analyze your skill set and plan your courses accordingly. For me, IUSA is about kicking my business into high gear. No more playing games and wasting time. I want to focus on my skills and make my photos the best they can be. 

I sat down and took a hard look at my photos and determined that I need to focus on lighting and posing. I need to learn how to really SEE light. I need to focus on how to look for it, how to use it, and how to control it. Posing clients can always be a struggle. I have ideas, but how do I effectively communicate them to my clients? How can I constantly create new poses without my work looking the same? How can I make my clients look less awkward? All of these questions need to be answered before I can really take my business to the next level. 

Learning how to market to seniors won't help me when it comes to posing or lighting. I can have the best marketing plan in the world, but if my clients' pictures are subpar, no amount of advertising will help. 

As a newbie to IUSA it is my initial defense mechanism to puff myself up and pretend to be a better photographer than I really am. When I was coming to terms with my skills, I would tell myself, "I don't need help with lighting and posing, that stuff is for beginners." 

But the reality is: I am a beginner. That was a hard pill to swallow. 

We all have to start somewhere, and after a tough conversation (with myself) about my wants versus my needs, the answer was crystal clear. I'll probably take a few classes aimed at marketing to seniors, but the majority of my time will be spent in posing and lighting. 

I don't want to roll in to IUSA prideful, giving off the impression I don't need help. It might make me feel good in the short term, but it's just a mask for my insecurities and it wouldn't be beneficial to me in the long run. The reality is that the people I look up to in the field were in my shoes at some point in their career. So I will be as humble as possible; accepting help any way it comes. Even if I am the worst photographer at IUSA, I know that I wont leave with the same skill set I came in with. After all, when you are surrounded by greatness the only place left to go is up.

So sit down and really analyze your work. What are your wants versus your needs? My advice would be the 75/25 principle. Take 75% of the classes you know you need, and take 25% of the classes that you want to just for fun! IUSA is more than just learning. Yes, improve your skills, make the most of your time there, but don't overlook opportunities to have fun! Take the chance to meet new people and get some sweet swag! You chose photography as a career for a reason. Reconnect with your passion and remember why you fell in love with your camera in the first place. 

And if you're a veteran of IUSA you should look into the Alumni Program. They will sign you up with a newbie such as myself. It gives us first timers a chance to ask any questions we may have for a more seasoned individual. You would also be able to help us navigate the tradeshow floor and make sure we know where to spot good deals. What better way is there to spend a couple of hours at IUSA than imparting your knowledge and wisdom to the next generation? 

We need and want your expertise. We are hungry for it. After all a wise man once said, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." 

Not to say that we are children, but you get the picture. 

From the IUSA Mentor Booth to the Loan Collection: The Journey of an Image

By Christine Walsh-Newton, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

Last year was PPA member Christine Walsh-Newton's first trip to Imaging USA. While there, she not only picked up her master of photography degree, but also took full-advantage of the 15-minute mentoring sessions with an affiliated judge.

She learned more about her competition images--and even her overall shooting style--than she could have imagined. She flew home inspired to take her images to the next level.

Christine shared her story on her personal blog, read it and see the results!

And make sure you check out our blog from a couple weeks ago on mentoring opportunities at this year's Imaging USA in Phoenix!

ppalogo.PNG

The 2014 edition of the Imaging USA app has hit the shelves of the app stores (quick, download it now--this overview will make a lot more sense!)

There are plenty of amazing features on this year's app--from planning your Imaging USA Expo strategy before the show to selecting your top classes day by day. There's even a feature to connect you with other fellow attendees before the show. It couldn't be easier to make new friends at Imaging USA!

Once you download the app, you'll see the main nine icons: 

Home screen.PNG
Exhibitors
This is where you'll find all of the vendors at the Imaging USA Expo in alphabetical order or by categories. Want to favorite an exhibitor? Open their listing and click the star at the bottom, or if you'd like to make a note on their listing, like what products to talk to them about, click the notes button in the middle. These notes will be saved in two places: on the Exhibitor Details page and in the "My Event" tab (we'll get to that). If you found something your friends might like, you can even tell them about the listing with the share button. 

Schedule 
Search classes by date and time or by class track! Create your personal schedule by clicking the star button for the classes you'd like to attend (located in the session details screen). You can also find speaker bios and social media information so you can connect with our speakers before (or after) they take the stage. To access your agenda, simply click the star button in the upper right corner of the schedule home screen. 

Speakers 
This is where you can search for your top speakers alphabetically. Check out their bios, connect with them on social media and see all of the wonderful sessions they are leading! This is also another way you can add classes to your personal schedule.

Mapping 
Get a bird's eye view of downtown Phoenix in this nifty tab. You'll also find basic convention center information and labeled Light Rail stops and parking decks. We'll soon be adding interactive maps of the convention center as well as the tradeshow floor. 

My Event 
This tab is all about you! It's your quick access to all of those favorites you saved before (like speakers, exhibitors, etc.), allows you quick access to your custom schedule and access to all of your notes. You can also select favorite places you want to visit and easily find your favorite contacts (you'll find those under the "Networking" tab in a moment). 
This is also where you sign in to the app! You'll receive your log in credentials by email once you've registered for Imaging USA. (Registered but haven't received them yet? Give our Member Care team a shout at 800-786-6277. They'll get you squared away.)

Info 
Need some general information about Imaging USA? This is the place to find it! Get show information, hours for the Expo, travel information and more. You can even register for the conference (but let's hope you've already done that!).

News & Social 
Want to stay up to date on all of the latest happenings at Imaging USA? Check here for all of the Twitter and Facebook updates your heart desires! Follow the official @ImagingUSA account for official show info or #IUSA14 for tweets from attendees, exhibitors and more. 

Local Guide
If you find yourself with a little down time around Phoenix, this local guide is a great one-stop-shop for your dining and entertainment needs. Check out area activities and attractions, Imaging USA hotel info and a quick guide to area restaurants. You can favorite any of these places and they'll be saved under your my Events section. 

Networking 
Here's one of the most advanced features of the app--you can now connect with your fellow attendees in one easy place. The first time you click on the networking tab, you'll have to enable networking features in your profile (you can also update your profile with a photo, dates you'll be in Phoenix, your studio/company name and a brief bio about you and your interests at Imaging USA). Back in the main networking tab, you can search by last names, company names or by keywords (or interests) to meet some new friends. Once you've found someone you'd like to connect with, you can send messages or arrange a meeting through the app. You can also make a note about the person (they won't be able to see it, but keep it clean) or add them to your My Events section as a favorite contact. 

With all the great features the app has, we know it's a lot to take in with just one blog post. We'll also have videos coming shortly to give you a more visual representation of what the inner workings of the app look like. 

In the meantime, follow @imagingusa on Facebook, on Twitter and Instagram for the most up to date event announcements, speaker features and great behind the scenes access! 

And to get some tips & tricks on making this your best Imaging USA yet, check out our two videos (by PPA staffers). You're guarenteed to have a chuckle and hopefully learn something new!






My enthusiasm is ramping-up for Imaging USA 2014. Trish and I got our official badges in the mail today. Eeeek! 

It's hard to believe that this time last year I was dreaming of ways to fake-illness myself out of the trip to Atlanta for Imaging 2013. In my very first post for this blog, I confessed my panic and nausea induced by a stalled cash flow and floundering business. Thankfully, my business partner Trish dragged me kicking and screaming out from under the covers of my fake sick bed to IUSA 2013 and it profoundly changed...everything.

I once heard Trish say, "A problem shared is a problem halved."  That's been true for us so far. Sharing our problems, exposing our soft underbellies and swallowing our pride opened us up a support system of expertise, good will, and creative inspiration from PPA.

bright is the new bleak photo.jpg

Writing about our woes started out as an experiment.  I've been chronicling our trials and tribulations here for nearly a year and it's helped me foster a new way of looking at my business and my life. The experiment would either end in total failure with me at my new job as a sectional saleswoman at the local furniture store (love me a sectional) or it would end in success with "Bright being the new Bleak" when it comes to the future of Snap!. Sharing mistakes has also taught me to see inspiration for success in the most ridiculous, outrageous and mundane places.

Take for instance, when Queen Latifah called us recently. Queen Latifah is only (according to Google and um, the rest of the world) the very coolest singer-songwriter, rapper, actress, drop dead gorgeous model, television producer, record producer and talk show hostess. Not to mention she's considered one of hip-hop's pioneer feminists.

So, the phone rings the other day and it's Queen Latifah (in the interest of full-disclosure it was actually a lovely woman named Chelsea who works for the Queen Latifah show, but close enough).Chelsea was looking to get permission to use a photo from our Pinterest page pinned by one of their upcoming  guests. You may have heard about this couple in the news, Ryan Leak and Amanda Roman. Ryan planned an entire wedding from Amanda's "My Dream Wedding" Pinterest page. A photo we had taken of earrings was pinned by Amanda and used by Ryan in creating their wedding. Ryan proposed to Amanda, she said yes, and then they had the wedding all on the same day.

We had a nice chat with Chelsea and were about to hang up when she said something really momentous. She said, "Congratulations on your life." Chelsea wanted us to know she had spent a lot of time on our website and was really impressed by the photography but was even more impressed by the passion and zest we have for what we do. Gosh, Chelsea (a.k.a. Almost Queen Latifah) that was awfully nice of you to say. Lightning bolt moment: It's important to remember that a bad day for us doing this is better than a lot of people's best days at work.

Other times the inspiration for success comes from humbling places. One of the goals we set for ourselves at Imaging 2013 was to get involved with PPA Charities' Operation Smile. We were moved to action and tears after attending a PPA Charities party at Imaging and listening to all the wonderful people involved with Operation Smile speak. We had no idea then that we would get so inspired... really inspired... to donate all we could to Operation Smile.

The more we read about Operation Smile, the more we watched the videos of the children whose lives had been changed by Operation Smile, the more we wanted to do. One day we had an idea to donate the amount of one surgery ($240) for every wedding we booked. When given here and there, the $240 was hardly missed and before we knew it, we had booked 28 weddings and donated $7,487 (and counting), making us the Top Studio Donor in the country for the year.

I hardly know how that happened; after all, we don't have a fancy studio. We are just two ladies plugging away here at my house in my spare room. Sometimes it's a struggle to make ends meet, but I've never missed a dime of the money we've given to help children in need.

In the course of a year, it turns out that I shared my problems and halved them too by reaching out to PPA and asking for the help we needed. Ironically, what has really reenergized our business hasn't been what we've taken from PPA but what we've given back. It turns out that Joy shared is Joy doubled. I'm thankful to be doing what I do every day knowing that I'm pleasing my clients by involving them in an uplifting charitable cause. Sharing our passion for photography and the joy of our good fortune makes a bigger impact than I could have thought possible a year ago.

I hope you are considering going to Imaging USA 2014. If you are struggling like we were, don't crawl under those covers, share your problems and halve them! Reach out and get a little help. Things will turn around. Once they do, remember what Almost Queen Latifah said, "Be grateful for the life you have."

You're doing what you love! Once you're feeling good and joyous about how lucky you really are, start spreading the joy and love around. PPA Charities' Operation Smile is a great place to start. Remember, bright is the new bleak.

Hope to see you in Phoenix!



Tags

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories