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Results tagged “photography business” from PPA Today

By Bridget Jackson, CPA, PPA Business manager

As you look to 2015, it's important to assess where you've been and where you want to go. It's impossible to achieve your goals if you don't have a plan to get there.

Here are 6 things you can do in 2015 to meet your financial goals:

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.

hillenga_jennifer_blog.jpgJen Hillenga, M. Photog. Cr., was kind enough to join us in the PPA Studio to film some upcoming PPAedu segments. While not wowing us with her endless creativity and knowledge, Jen took the time to answer your questions submitted to us @OurPPA (Twitter) or /OurPPA (Facebook). From practical advice on photography to the best sno-cones in the world, we learned all about the oh-so-creative Jen Hillenga.

Mary Lou Guinn asked: Studio management software - any recommendations?

Keep it simple. We use a combination of Quick Books and Google calendar. It has color coordination and a quick glance feature that makes our lives so much easier. It's also really great for marketing plans and counting out from deadlines. We haven't had a need for a big system, but use additional things like PhotoBiz to see who viewed images and incorporate that into the sales process. Pro Select is also great for sales. We're kind of old fashioned with client traveler, but it works for us. There's no "one stop shop" for what we do, so we put together our own system with a variety of software.

Denise Hasty asked: Having trouble with lighting, especially with darker subjects. What is the best setting for my camera when shooting in the studio and how do I avoid grainy and shadowy photos? / I have a Canon XSI450d

To create the best image, it usually works best to use a low ISO to minimize the grain and make sure you're using enough light. It helps to utilize the best equipment and tools to capture the best image. If you're in an indoor setting with limited light, investing in a camera that can go to a low ISO setting will greatly reduce the granularity in the image. In the outdoors with plenty of light, it's not as important, but you definitely need it in darker situations.

OurPPA asked: What are your thoughts on digital backgrounds?

I think there's a great place for digital backgrounds! I use them more for composite images. For example, we will photograph individuals on white, create the composition and drop in the digital background when working with a group setting. They can be nice with the right situation, but it's not a fix-all. It can be easy to get carried away and the digital can be overdone, not as natural.

OurPPA asked: Favorite color?

Black! It's the absence of color with light, and all of the colors with pigment.

OurPPA asked: Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry?

Mint chip.

OurPPA asked: Early bird or a night owl?

Night owl.

OurPPA asked: Favorite food:

Sushi!

OurPPA asked: Favorite (clean) word:

Clean? Oh man. Probably "Yes."

OurPPA asked: Where did you attend college? What did you major in?

I graduated from Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. I double-majored in Fine Art and Graphic Design, with a double-minor in Art History and English.

OurPPA asked: What was the worst job you've ever had?


I worked concessions at a stock car track one summer. I did the sno-cones and nachos and it was a mess. It was the worst combination of salty and sweet--just the worst.

OurPPA asked: You love to travel - What's your favorite place to visit?

I spoke to the Photography Association in Denmark a few years ago, and that was wonderful. I also enjoy going to Hawaii--they have the best shaved ice! I also did the first trip down to Ecuador with Travis Gugelman and Lori Nordstrom with Dando Amor, photographing orphans.

Jen Hillenga, M. Photog. Cr. is the co-founder of Jen's Fabulous Stuff and a PPAedu contributor. You can find her educational videos, along with many industry greats on PPAedu. PPA members can easily access PPAedu by logging-in and watching the 150+ online videos. Not a PPA member? You can create your own personalized educational program by completing the Self-Assessment tool and subscribing to PPAedu!

brokencamera_blog.jpgAs a professional photographer, you know that the unexpected can (and will) happen during a photo shoot.

We asked you to share your stories of some of the strangest occurrences while photographing on theLoop, the social network just for PPA members! Ten of our favorite stories are below. While these stories can be hilarious, they also highlight the need for things like equipment and malpractice insurance for your photography business (both of which are available through PPA as part of your membership!).

Fainting brides! Fire ant attacks! Mother Nature! And excrement! You'll find all these situations and more in these stories.

1). "I managed to break my camera and my 35mm three minutes before the bride walked down the aisle. I have no clue what happened to cause it either. The top plastic grid thing of the mirror fell off. Literally broke and just fell off. It was like a quantum leap into suckdom! I almost cried. Thank GOD (or a brain) for insurance AND backup equipment. Being without my 35mm was so hard though. Sigh!" - Jessica Williams Dorris

2). "While taking photos of Girl Scouts at a farm, the peacocks started mating. We were so happy that the male peacock was showing his beautiful feathers for our photo shoot. Well, he was trying to attract Mrs. Peacock and it worked!" - Karen Hoglund

3). "I stepped in dog poop! Matter of fact, It was a dog photo shoot. I'm usually careful about such things but I backed up to get a shot and...squish. I didn't have another pair of shoes either. Needless to say, I took off my shoes when I went in their house later!" -  Karen Hoglund

4). "I was on a shoot outside a decommissioned Air Force (Loring AFB) in northern Maine. On the base is a place where old military vehicles go for upgrades and repairs. I used to do lingerie or swimwear photos on the old trucks that were placed just outside the gate and were either scrap or awaiting repairs. The model went to change and I informed her I would be waiting on the back of one of the trucks, it had been a long day of shooting and I was not watching where I was going, I also did not see the pipe that the cable of winch went through nor did I realize that it had been welded in place.  

"As I jumped on the back of the truck and turned I rammed my left temple into the end of said pipe. I didn't think much of it until I felt a bit of blood on the side of my face... Yep, I drew blood... That caused the saying that 'No one but me is allowed to get injured during shoots', although I have learned to make sure of where I am going before I leap to it." - Jason Grass

5). "I had a bird poop on my face while shooting an engagement once. Not fun...right down my face." -  T. Blair Wright
You might remember receiving a survey from InfoTrends sometime last summer. Some of yousurveyimageblog.jpg might even remember filling it out! It was long, but for a good purpose and well, the results are in! They paint an interesting picture of the photographic industry. See where you fit...

In the published report entitled Digital Imaging and Professional Photographers: 2012 Results, InfoTrends examined the behaviors of 2,315 full-time and part-time professional photographers in the U.S. The results uncovered some of today's key opportunities for photographers.

Photographers' Demographics
Sorry fellas, but we have to give some props to the ladies here. The photography industry has historically been dominated by older males, but it looks like that is starting to change. InfoTrends conducted a similar survey in 2009, and only 16% of those who responded were female. In the 2012 edition, that number more than doubled to 33%. You GO girls! Turns out the female photographers also tend to be younger, clocking in at an average of 41.0 years old to the males' 50.5.

Out of those brave men and women who completed the survey (thank you!), 60% were full-time photographers and 40% were part-time.

Photography Specialties
The results here demonstrated that most professional photographers identify multiple specializations. That tells us that many pros are doing a good job of being well-rounded! On average, professional photographers specialized in five different types of photography, and here's where InfoTrends got crafty.

Because photographers identify themselves in multiple areas of specialization (see:  well-rounded), InfoTrends asked them to indicate the percentage of their business that was devoted to the various categories. If his or her company generated more than 40% of their business from one particular type, they were determined to have a concentration in that area.

The most popular areas of specialization were:

infortrendschartspecialties.jpg



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